Anywho, I think I was most nervous for our matches vs All.in as we had no information on them, and I had traumatic flashbacks to Season 2 where I was bounced in the first round, but we managed to win! I got to play Storm twice, and after that I felt at ease. I love that hero because I just feel I know where to be and what to do with him even when losing. In game we actually started to ease up and were less tense, when our team is making jokes and shouting and stuff we play our best. After that my team can attest to the fact that I continued to be a nervous wreck, and I had a lot of health issues as a result.
Our next game was against MVP.hot6ix that also had a bunch of foreigners, and we were semi not prepared for this match at all. We just sort of scrimmed and then played and managed to win a close 3-1 series. Mood was still pretty good, and we felt they were going to be our toughest test, but a 3-1 felt stress free! After that was sort of where we went off course. We felt unhappy so we switched roles and had Eosin play offlane, and against EoT Hammer we had little to no preparation, we didn't even scrim 2/5 days, and we sort of just took it way too lightly and lost as a result. The day after that loss, we had a huge emotional (at least for me) talk within the team, and we corrected a bunch of stuff. We analyzed scrims, played better teams (mith.trust, Orange, first departure, scythe) and actually won vs those teams after we switched roles back and had Bamboe do picks. We actually kept a schedule where we all independently woke up at 10-11am, whereas before the match vs EoT we all kinda did w/e and half our players woke up really late and we almost missed the match. I think it didn't really hit people how serious it was until we were in a position to lose, and so I'm actually really glad the loss happened when it did. If we somehow managed to sneak a win vs EoT and 5Inq after that, we realistically could have lost in the finals. But we took the proper steps to prepare for the matches after that, contacting friends like Liquid`Fluff who helped me go over replays for like 2 hours which I recorded and shared with the team, and gave us his opinion on everything. Before him coaching me, we had a bad set of games, then we like 3-1'ed Mith and 3-1'ed First Departure, and threw a 5k adv vs Orange so obviously it paid off. If Fluff were a free agent we'd buy him as a coach in a heartbeat, man did it help so much. HUGE props to him, I accredit 50% of our 12-0 streak to that initial loss to EoT, and 50% of it to Fluff helping, it was honestly that huge. The loss helped us take it more seriously, and helped correct a lot of issues for us, and Fluff helped our actual play out. On a side note, most of the Korean top teams, Startale, 5inQ, MVP.Phoenix were actually on par with some of the SEA teams we played against like Scythe, FD, and MITH.trust, and so the scene isn't as bad as everyone seems to believe it is.
Anyways, day of our finals was Valentine's day back home, and I feel really bad admitting this, but I actually stayed up till 2am to catch my girlfriend online! We hung out, I ordered her food, we watched Tangled together, and in all it helped me really relax. I ended up only getting like 3 hours of sleep, but I've been a really shit boyfriend so it was worth it. Plus my relationship means more to me then winning which I feel again bad admitting but it had to be done!
Day of the finals, its like 10am, we have this ritual where we go to the studio, get food from a soup place (as an excuse we failed to do all this vs EoT due to being lax/late) and then Eosin plays Bamboe 1v1 mid (Eosin is up 5-1) I felt really awful, due to some health issues and having to stand in a rocking bus, I have realllllly bad motion sickness. It gets really hot in the studio and the smell of everyones makeup made me feel really nauseous but I powered through. Doom is a hero I'm still uncomfortable with, and I felt a sense of urgency because we were getting outfarmed so heavily, but Bamboe helped keep us in the game by constantly looking for the next fight, and screaming at me it doesn't matter Doom keeps a hero out of a game. I honestly thought after they got Roshan the game was over and that we had lost, but they played really timidly I think due to the lack of experience with each other, and we were able to slowly push our way back into the game. The great thing about Doom as a hero, and the reason we've comeback from a huge deficit with him twice now is that he essentially shuts out a hero, even if they are 6 slotted, and just gets so farmed and tanky. Plus I didn't doom any creeps
After Game 1, I had a quick vomit in the bathroom, had Chobra (THE BEST MANAGER EVER, SORRY CHARLIE) bring me a coffee (which my doctor forbid me from having) and a water and it was onto game 2. Game 2 felt a lot easier, we were able to execute a strategy that punished there cores, and we sort of just rolled. Kevin made a comment like, we need a mek, and I said oh I've got the money here I'll get it, and thats when I knew we won, being able to casually buy a mek with my excess gold. Game 3 was even easier then that, although we had a gold disadvantage, it was solely due to towers, and once we evened it up there it felt great. I actually got to play Storm as well, a hero we intentionally avoided picking the last 2-3 weeks so that we'd surprise them with it. Once I got that first blood mid solo, I think I shouted 'get the fuck out of my country Jeyo' because of the adrenaline haha. I know it makes no sense because I'm american but I wanted to hype myself up. (side note: I love Jeyo, I've known him like 8 years)
Corey said after that he knew we won, and I guess I did as well. You can kinda feel in game how ahead you are, and for me its how my stomach feels. If it's upset and grumbly I know were having issues, and if it isn't doing anything, then I know we are ahead. After the actual game was over, I put my head on the desk which you can see if you watch the gomexp vod's and had a bit of a cry for like 10 seconds because my girlfriend was watching and kept telling me how proud she was, and then I was completely emotionless haha. I didn't even feel very happy, just sort of in a daze. We went to Taco Bell after the match because Bamboe kept harping throughout the season how important it was for him to have it if we won, and then we were off back home! JK I saw a fucking Krispy Creme donut and ordered a dozen for myself, holy shit I'm happy. Anyways after a bus ride home, I don't know what the others did but I ate 2/12 and then crashed.
Whats next for Zephyr is to continue to train and try and be less awful by the day. We were all so happy, it was just an awesome feeling. I can't imagine playing a solo game like Hearthstone or SC2 competitively, because being able to share this win with my friends was so great. Seeing all of them able to make there friends and family proud, Steven and Corey being able to show there parents and friends that this is a sustainable career for now, I felt it all and it was amazing. Were going to be playing in KDL, and pretty much whatever else were allowed to signup for in the foreseeable future. We have no plans of leaving, our lease is 6 months at least, and if all goes well, hopefully we can play beyond it.
As far as what's next for me is streaming more haha I feel so bad for my fans that follow my stream, but I had to put this first so I hope you understand. I have to get surgery for some stress related and health related issues that hopefully goes well! Although I thought it was a bad thing at first, I look at it as such a minor detail. Being in Korea has done so many positive things for me as a person. My entire family, my grandparents, my mom, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins all watch my games no matter what time it is. My family is really bad at showing emotion, but I felt it all yesterday. My mom especially is really hardened after years of being a single parent, and having to fulfill the role of provider and disciplinarian but she was a nervous wreck for me yesterday and was my biggest cheerleader throughout it all. I know she was disappointed in me not going to law school, but it meant a lot to me that she sent me encouraging messages throughout the tournament. People look at playing competitive games as a negative, but really I have to look what it's done for me. Its brought me closer to my family, given me a healthy competitive outlet, helped me get over my social anxiety, and it's made me friends around the globe. I've never had a lot of friends throughout my life, and I never really felt like I fit in anywhere, but with DotA that all goes away. We could've lost yesterday, meaning we'd actually have lost money on the trip, but me and Kevin agreed before the games it was all worth it. Being able to experience a different culture and growing my friendship with all these guys was something I wouldn't trade away for anything. I refer to them as friends rather then teammates because that's what I view them as first and foremost. That 4 people, 2 of which I've met only once, took the risk to come out here and place there legacy on my promise is amazing. Imagine if we had lost, 5 careers would essentially be over. Bah enough of that loser talk! (Merlini says that's loser talk William maybe 20 times a day)
In traditional NADota fashion here is the long shoutout list that must accompany me every time I write anything of significance.
Thank you to the random strangers across the internet who have supported me and my team throughout our journey. I'd refer to you as fans, but you mean so much more to me then that. If I ever meet any of you, please approach me, I'd like to embrace you as a friend and give you a kind word in return for everything you've done for me.
Thank you to my girlfriend (who deserves as much credit as possible for helping me) for sticking with me and encouraging me even when I was a loser, I'm coming back home a winner!
Thank you to my friends, EGM, LD, PyrionFlax, Godz, Merlini, Fluff, Bulba, Hotbid, Charlie, Alex, Eleine, Chobra. If I missed anyone, its because I'm dumb not because you weren't essential to this.
And thank you to my family for supporting me throughout all this. It was amazing being able to bond with you over a game none of you understand.