Mushi interview: “Only after officially becoming a coach, I realized how important this role is”
With a new patch just released, a few of tournaments already revealing a couple of new meta trends, and with The International 10 just around the corner, we reached out to Chai "Mushi" Yee Fung to discuss a few Dota 2 topics from both coach and player perspectives but to also find out what his plans are for next competitive season.
During our talk, we learnt how he actually made the decision to switch from competitive play to coaching, what kind of rewards this new role brings on a personal level and what it means to him to be able to land a helping hand to others.
Knowing Mushi as someone who has always been interested to bring a ray of hope to those less fortunate in life, we were glad to learn that he is still actively getting involved in charity work and this time we actually found him right in the middle of a new plan that he developed to help those left without a roof under their head. More about this charitable side of his, but also about how he sees the coach role in Dota 2 and who is top four in regards to TI10 performance in his book, in the interview below.
Hello Mushi, first things first; how are you? The pandemic situation is pretty tough in Malaysia as far as I know, and I hope you are safe.
I’m good, I just completed my vaccination on the 17th of August. The vaccination rate in Malaysia is progressing well and I believe by the time we achieve herd immunity, Malaysia's situation will get better gradually.
I can only imagine that the pandemic has messed up your plans as well, so how did you deal with the whole situation for the past year and a half?
I can’t really complain, as I believe the pandemic messed up everyone’s plans, me included. We have no choice but to deal with every situation that hits us. Since everyone has to cope with the situation, I consider myself lucky to be given the opportunity to coach TNC online. I was supposed to travel to the Philippines but was unable to due to the lockdown. Also, I picked up exercise and reading to improve myself.
Over the last couple of years, you explored the coaching area. I know you always liked to spend time and help others break down what can be improved, but stepping down from active play to fully dedicate to a coaching career is something else. How is that going, and how do you enjoy your new career path?
I realized that I definitely enjoy the coach role more nowadays. Perhaps because it is a completely new role for me. As you know, I have been playing competitively as a player for so long, thus, coaching is fresh to me. And actually, only after officially becoming a coach, I realized how important this role is. Other than the need to handle a team consisting of 5 players in gameplay, strategy and so on, a coach also needs to cover other areas outside of the game, especially attitude and mentality.
What made you decide to switch from active play to coaching at first, when you worked with Mineski, at TI9?
I was still a player at that point and prior to the TI9 qualifier, I had a bet with Kenchi Yap, the fomer owner of Mineski Malaysia.
We basically said that if I fail to qualify for TI, I will coach the team. However, my intention was to continue playing until very recently, when I realized that I would actually prefer to switch to coaching as my main role. The active play option is now my second choice.
I remember talking to Nikobaby at TI9 and he was praising you so much. “Mushi helped me a lot during the bootcamp, because I’m a new player in the tier one scene. He helped me with the in game practice, he prepared me for this tournament mentally, psychologically, etc. Honestly, he is such a great guy. I don’t know why people say that he is toxic, he is just amazing,” he said about you.
Do you find it more challenging and at the same more rewarding to work with players that are somewhat new to the pro scene, or it doesn’t matter that much?
Thanks and shoutout to Nikobaby!! During that time, Nikobaby was considered a pro in the scene but perhaps lacked big stages, international experience.
When I coach or captain a team, it is never about young or old players. I only look at one attribute: everyone’s willingness to put in the same effort to win. Nikobaby is willing to give more than that, thus it was so easy for me to share my insight and knowledge with him.
I’m always happy to share my knowledge with players who are thirsty for success. It is not just for my benefit or anyone’s else. This is a team game so, as a coach or a captain, it is my responsibility to create an environment where everyone is chasing the same dream, and work together delivering the same amount of effort.
When I coach or captain a team, it is never about young or old players
How do you look at the coaching job? Does the coach need to be very active in pubs, have a high MMR, etc, or is it more important what he can bring to the table in terms of game analysis?
A good coach doesn't mean that he needs to have a high MMR or even be good at playing the game. The most important attribute is still the knowledge of the game. It is even better if he is good in areas outside of the game such as mental strength.
A great coach is able to maintain a team where every player is on the same page with the rest of his teammates, mentally. On the other hand, the game is constantly changing with new patches, and to fully understand the meta from a pro player point of view, I am still actively playing in MMR, thus hitting 10K MMR recently. Since DotA 1 time, playing in pubs has been one of my key training methods and I'm still practicing the same method as a coach. I am able to relate with my players better this way.
A lot of players looked up to you when they started, you’ve been an inspiration source, a role model for many of them, but who is your role model, who do you appreciate the most from the competitive scene in the coaching area?
I didn’t really have a role model during my career as a player, and even now as a coach. My approach is that everyone is different with strengths and weaknesses. I take everyone’s strength as a guide to improve myself and execute it in my own way.
Whenever I guide someone, I don't suggest to them to follow my way, but rather I share the way I do it for him to find his own way that better suits himself. So basically, I learn coaching from many different people and I deeply respect each and every one of them.
I take everyone’s strength as a guide to improve myself
You are currently with TNC Predator, but are you planning to switch back to active play after TI10?
Yes, my current official role for TNC is the coach of the team. But anything can happen after TI 10. Whether everything remains the same or there’s any changes, my goal is still the same, winning.
I know you have some plans regarding coaching, can you tell us more about that?
Since we are practically unable to do much during this pandemic, I’m planning to host a donation drive by hosting a few Dota 2 classes this September in collaboration with Cooler Master, XPG and Zotac. Basically, I will share my insight and knowledge online with participants who are interested, and at the same time, I will help to raise donation funds mainly for the homeless people whether directly or indirectly affected by Covid-19. All proceeds will be donated to KECHARA Soup Kitchen.
I hope that through this donation drive, I can encourage the Esports community to join forces and lend a hand to people who are suffering from the pandemic. On the other hand, I hope that I am able to contribute to the Dota 2 community in Malaysia as well.
I hope that through this donation drive, I can encourage the Esports community to join forces and lend a hand to people who are suffering from the pandemic
I remember that back in the Fnatic days, your team has donated a part of the tournament winnings to a children's charity, for a better environment and education, and as far as I know you are someone who always looks for ways to help others. I want to take this moment to commend all your initiatives but also to ask where is this nature of yours coming from?
I’m thankful to my ex-teammates from Fnatic who agreed with me to donate to charity. I’m not from a rich family and I'm grateful that all my family members are healthy. But there are many people who are not as lucky as I am. I’m pretty sensitive/emotional to news of unfortunate events involving less privileged families, especially kids. I guess donating to the less fortunate is just a small gesture that I can do to help.
Let's come back a bit to Dota. The much awaited 7.30 patch was just released. Are you happy with the changes made and which hero do you think will surely need a balance before TI10?
Personally, I think there are no big changes in the 7.30 patch. However, I do notice that Pango is pretty OP now, but I believe it will be fixed before TI10. I actually hope for a big patch after TI10.
How about the new neutral items, do you find them too OP?
Yes, they are. And some of them are just fun, like the Pig Pole and Tumbler’s Toy.
I will not ask you to predict the TI10 champions, but to wrap this one up, I would love to hear which are the top 4 teams in your opinion and if Southeast Asia is a threat this year.
PSG.LGD and Evil Geniuses are the most likely top 4 teams. Other than that, it is really hard to predict. At the end of the day, it all boils down to preparation and live/LAN performance. Southeast Asia teams are very dependent on performance on the spot, but I'm looking forward to seeing if T1 and Fnatic will surprise the world.
With that being said we will wrap up this interview here. Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to us and we look forward to hearing more from you this September and after TI10!
Thank you for having me. It’s my pleasure to talk to you and to see that GosuGamers is back!