The Fall of Newbee and the Importance of Well-being
As the roaring tide of the crowd recedes to the solace of extinguished glory, the ghosts of regret begin creeping into the foreground. The bewildering reality of abrupt defeat settles in - followed by the bitterness of self-doubt and disappointment. In the short-term, it's easy to become trapped in the minutia of errors and miscalculations, despite our best efforts to move beyond them. For team Newbee, their day one elimination from the Main Event affords them the opportunity to assess their weaknesses and begin making necessary corrections.
Fortunately, this interview with Damien "kpii" Chok following Newbee's loss to Team WinStrike depicts a professional who has taken ownership of the loss, while recognizing the sufficient amount of work that lies ahead.
The Shadow of a Former Self
It was only a year ago that team Newbee took TI7 by storm - besting formidable opponents such as Evil Geniuses and LGD.Forever Young, only to advance to the Grand Finals to get swept by Team Liquid three matches in a row. Many thought team Newbee would go on to claim the Aegis of Champions only to be taken aback by how efficiently Liquid was able to exploit their weaknesses. What strikes me most about Newbee's poor performance in TI8 is how similar their weaknesses were to one year ago.
With the numerous meta transitions this DPC season, teams had to remain versatile and each player had to be willing to step outside their comfort zones to transcend the various obstacles laid out before them. This tended to be a major blind spot for Newbee, as they predictably stuck to the script of passive play that became incredibly simple to counter. There was a sense of hesitation to Newbee's strategy and playstyle that risk-taking/adaptable teams such as WinStrike and Liquid could capitalize on. If Newbee is to stand any chance moving forward, they must begin to evolve their hero selections, playstyle, and strategy beyond the conservative approach of yesteryear Dota.
Logistics aside, there are some interesting correlations to be made between successful teams that manage to strike a balance between healthy lifestyle and work, and losing teams that prioritize work at all costs. While the classification of professional gaming as "eSports" tends to get mocked by traditional sports fans for its lack of physical demand, the importance of physical maintenance is synonymous. For many players, professional Dota means waking up and playing Dota until it's time for bed - diminishing both health and enthusiasm. The prevalence of malnutrition, wrist injuries, and sleep deprivation experienced by many professional Dota players is well evidenced by the grim appearances on display throughout the entirety of TI. Owners, coaches, and sponsors that want to see their team flourish must address the elephant in the room, while adopting the perspective that there are other elements to success outside of hard work alone.
Newbee appeared visibly drained at TI8 in comparison to teams such as EG that have attributed much of their recent success to their prioritization of health, wellness, and life outside of Dota. I strongly believe the most successful teams in Dota are those that understand that peak performance can only be achieved when both body and mind are operating optimally. The grueling schedule of wake-to-sleep Dota is counterproductive and saps the fun out the experience almost entirely. The importance of a healthy outlook is built upon the foundation of balance and facilitates focus and clarity which professional players can then apply to a game with similar demands.
Image courtesy of Perfect World
Newbee may find themselves best served by a radical shift in their approach to developing an effective strategy, scheduling, and lifestyle alterations in favor of each player's overall well-being. Adaptability is more relevant now than ever before with the professional meta evolving at such a rapid pace. Newbee seemed to overlook the significance of a strong laning phase in the current meta, in conjunction with many questionable choices made that cost them their place in the Grand Finals.
While Newbee's performance at TI8 left much to be desired, each player fought hard to earn their invite this year. Despite the imposition of the numerous changes ahead, Newbee has ample opportunity to embrace the unfamiliar and reemerge as a dynamic force to be reckoned with next season. Hopefully, we see a refreshed, recharged, and evolved Newbee next year but only time will tell. Best of luck until then.