What It Takes To Be a TI Winner
Peter "PPD" Dager talks about his experiences and the mentality necessary for players to triumph over their rivals.
Dota 2 is a game that pushes your mind to make decisions constantly. Should I go in? Should we try to kill Roshan? Should we go highground? Thousands of calculations stirred over by 5 players, which lead to an inevitable decision as your opponents debate over their own unique list of opportunities. Experienced players have an advantage here because of the amount of variables presented in the game, some of which they have seen before. This gives them the ability to see into the future and help them maybe avoid a perilous fate. Improving at Dota is sometimes as simple as playing more. With enough games, no matter how much focus you bring, you will likely lose. If you can combine experience, mechanical skill, and focus, you might just find yourself in every gamer’s dream, competing for millions at TI.
In today’s article, I’ll be focusing on, you guessed it, focus. How do we better prepare our minds for the game ahead? Stamina and intensity both contribute to our ability to focus. Why do pro players play so much? It’s because they need their body and mind to be physically prepared for the potentially extensive time ahead of them where they require excellence. (Can you still be focused during hour 6 of your best of 5?)
Next up is, “How important is it to you, and how seriously do you take yourself?" If you want to triumph over others, I think it is paramount that your desire to win is greater than theirs. It’s an advantage that can’t be underestimated because it directly relates to your ability to focus on the match. How distracted will you be when the game gets too hard? Will you rise to the challenge or roll over and admit “they are just the better team"
In our first main stages series at TI5, we faced up against Complexity and found ourselves behind by almost 5,000 gold. We were distracted and unfocused. We looked at Complexity and saw a team that was delaying our match against the winner of Secret/Ehome rather than a worthy opponent. However, by what some would call a miracle, the internet in the stadium started lagging. Supposedly, the arena was being DDOS’d, which led to an hour delay before we returned to our booths. During the break, we talked about how we were playing and how things needed to change quickly if we still wanted a chance to win. When we came back, we went on an almost flawless run of hero kills and won the game decisively. The energy in the room matters; if you don’t bring your A-game, you can lose to someone you might think is beneath your skill.
Fast forward a few years to NiP’s minor win in Kiev in the summer of 2019. This day was one of the most taxing days of my entire life as I was terribly ill with food poisoning. The arena itself was hot and packed full of people. Couple that with the spotlights that were fixated on our faces… I was having a tough day. We won our lower bracket match against China’s Team Sirius 2-0, which landed us in the grand final rematch versus Alliance and went all 5 games. I’m honestly surprised that I played well enough to win during that series. The hardest moments were in between the games where I could hardly stand up straight without wincing in pain. Dota kept my focus and actually helped me forget about the pain that was happening in my body during our matches.
Earlier this spring, I made the tough decision to step down from NiP and competitive Dota after Covid indefinitely postponed the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC). I stopped playing Dota for about 35 days before I couldn’t resist the urge to play again. As frustrated as I can be with Dota sometimes, it always pulls me back in. What is it about this game that propels us into the next? For me, it’s the focus it brings.