Letter from the Team: Update on Fnatic.Dota 2
Posted 2014-06-26 H4nn1
Provided here is an account of the events in the past half year, based on what has unfolded within the team The purpose of this post is to establish an understanding of our current circumstances and how it came to be. We feel that we owe this statement to the Dota 2 community and our loyal fans. The details disclosed are permitted by Era.
Early this year (January – April)
As many already know, Adrian ‘Era’ Kryeziu has not been participating in recent tournaments due to health issues. As some might remember, the first LAN that Era refrained from playing was the D2L Season 4 LAN Finals in Las Vegas, NV in January of this year. To the rest of the team, this came as a big surprise as there had been no prior indication of sickness (at the very least, Era had never mentioned this before). Our team managed to get 2nd place with two stand-ins. This feat in itself demonstrates the level of commitment and dedication we have to the game.
Later that month, we participated in SLTV’s Starladder Season 8 LAN Finals in Kiev. Era did not exhibit any noticeable health issues and did not voice any concerns. We felt that things were back to normal. Fast forward to April, Dreamhack Bucharest LAN Finals. Again, Era was fully able to travel and appeared normal. However, the rest of the team was completely unaware that Era’s health condition had taken a turn for the worse.
Bootcamp (May- June)
In our preparations for this year’s The International, we were planning on bootcamping in London, the location of Fnatic’s headquarter office. I flew there after DHBucharest, while the remaining four members were to follow suit in late May. Shortly before our scheduled arrival date, we were informed by management that Era would be arriving a few days later than planned. There was an unforeseen relapse in his health condition, and he would be accompanied by his girlfriend and her parents. When he finally arrived, he was not the Era that the team had come to know and love as a brother; he was not himself—he was vomiting every day from anxiety attacks for the short duration of his stay, which was less than a week. He later explained to us that panic attacks would arise every time he had to travel. His condition forced him to return home shortly after his arrival.
The moment that Era left for home, we immediately informed Valve of our circumstances. At the same time, we searched for a stand-in for BeyondTheSummit’s The Summit LAN Finals in Los Angeles, CA. Of course, we considered the possibility of a more extended leave of absence from Era, which is why we chose Steve ‘Xcalibur’ Ye. We were looking for a talented player who could synergize with our team and had the potential to grow, but would also have a completely clear schedule, as none of us knew when Era would fully recover. At the time, Xcalibur felt like the best shot we had.
As we have explained in many interviews, we only had two short days to train with Xcalibur before flying out to BTS. Even with a bleak outlook, we managed to beat arguably one of the strongest teams to date, DK, as well as ViciGaming, who took 1st at EMS, and Na’Vi.US, the winners of TI4’s US Qualifiers. Yes, we were disappointed with 5th/6th place, but given the time we had to prepare, the team felt Xcalibur had raw skill that had the potential to achieve great results with some guidance.
With DreamLeague Season 1 around the corner and ESL One later this month, there were decisions that had to be made, and quickly. Time was not a luxury we had. At this point, we were emphasizing communication on all channels—between Valve, future tournament admins, Era and his family, Era’s doctor, and Fnatic’s upper management. Although we were quite depressed as a team, we could not even begin to imagine Era’s position. His doctor had advised him to avoid games for some time to relieve some anxiety and pressure, so we could not practice with him, even from his home. This would inherently diminish our chances at LANs, so we did not know how to proceed. On the other hand, Era wanted so much to compete with the rest of the team, but the world was against him. This frustration led to his tweet where he states “Not allowed to play at any LAN during the summer. I would’ve loved to, though”. In the end, we hoped to get more practice with Xcalibur while giving Era more room for recovery.
After DreamLeague, we reassessed the situation. Again, Era and his doctor were voicing concerns and again, we were unsure if he would be ready to participate at ESL One, and the fast approaching The International.
As many have seen, we have been playing the past month with Xcalibur. We have beaten Na’Vi in a best-of-three and Alliance in a best-of-five, culminating in a 3rd place finish in D2L Western Challenge and 2nd place in D2CL Season 3, respectively this past week. As mentioned before, we have taken games off other top teams, including DK, VG, and Empire.
It is important to note that we have been in constant communication with Valve from the very beginning. We have kept them informed of our situation and Era’s recovery progress, however slow it has been. Valve consistently stated that those five players that were originally invited to play (namely, Fly, N0tail, Era, Trixi, H4nn1) remain the five players expected to be present in Seattle.
Even though we understood Valve’s position, we appealed to them, stating that our circumstances were starkly different from prior roster changes, as Era’s health condition was unforeseen and has been inconsistent thus far. This is not carpal tunnel or a broken finger. Era’s health condition is psychological in nature and, if not handled correctly, can have detrimental effects extending into his adult years. This is a risk no one wants to take, least of all Era. We want to be 100% confident in Era and his condition. Nevertheless, Valve insists that the original five players play or we cannot play at all.
As we approach TI4, we are at a crossroads—to play with Era without knowing if we are damaging his health, or to be disqualified. To play with Era would also mean extreme lack of preparation. We have not been practicing as the original five for some time now because of everything recounted in this post. As such, even if we were once able to perform on that level fans love and crave, we cannot reproduce this performance without practice and preparation.
It is Era’s goal to participate in The International (and our hope); we support Era and hope to see him play alongside us, but in the event that something should happen, we would still like to be granted the opportunity to compete to show our Dota 2 fans and community that same level of commitment and dedication we have to the game.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story. Thanks to friends and family who have stood by us during this difficult time, and to our unwavering fans. We hope to see you all in Seattle!
Fnatic Dota 2:
- Tal ‘Fly’ Aizik
- Johan ‘N0tail’ Sundstein
- Kai ‘H4nn1’ Hanbueckers
- Kalle ‘Trixi’ Saarinen
- Adrian ‘Era’ Kryeziu
- Patrik Sättermon
- Sahil Deva