In conversation with DOTA2 pro TeeHee and manager Klowrees from Reckoning Esports
Today, Esports is as significant as any other mainstream sport. There are several hundred teams with young talents that are competing at the highest levels. We recently spoke to Linuel "TeeHee" Abanto who is the IGL and Claurice "Klowrees" Sta Ana who is the manager of the Reckoning Esports DOTA2 squad. They shared their insights about being a professional gamer and some obstacles they faced in their journey so far.
How did you join Reckoning Esports?
Klowrees: Sharang reached out to me via discord wherein he was looking for players for the Reckoning Esports DOTA2 squad and asked me if I knew or could suggest someone that would be perfect for his team. So together, we scouted for young talents and picked up a few that we found to be the best. Eventually, the roster was ready, and Sharang saw me fit to be a manager and an analyst for the team.
TeeHee: Klowrees reached out to me and told me about the new DOTA2 roster of Reckoning Esports and I was very much interested in the offer!
What made you get into DOTA2?
Klowrees: DOTA is famous here in the Philippines. I was hooked to the game since high school and have also played some betgames during my high school and college days.
TeeHee: I have always loved DOTA. I remember watching pros grind DOTA2 while I was still playing the original DOTA and eventually even I transitioned to DOTA2.
So was your family always supportive of you becoming a DOTA2 pro? Must've taken everything from your side to convince them.
TeeHee: Initially when I started playing competitive DOTA, the esports scene in the Philippines was not as significant as it is today and even the salaries were not high enough so it was not easy to sustain ourselves, and as a result, it was much harder to convince my family back then. But eventually, there was a shift in the competitive DOTA2 scene in the Philippines as several young, skilled talents came forward and their skill was acknowledged by organizations. Tournaments with massive prize pools were being organized and from there, the scene just kept growing. I competed and also won a few of these tournaments. My family then realized that I can make this a viable career and since then they’ve supported me in this venture.
Who is your favorite hero to play with and why?
TeeHee: My favorite hero keeps changing according to the meta, but currently I think Keeper of the Light is a very fun hero. With his high movement speed in lane, you can harass and dominate the game from early stages. If you could remove one hero from the game who would you pick? I would really want to remove techies from the game, no surprises there. It’s a very annoying hero to play against and you need to be cautious at all times when you’re playing against Techies.
You're the IGL of the team. Tell us what makes a good IGL?
TeeHee: I think a good IGL is someone who leads the team and not bosses your teammates around. This means growing and learning with teammates together and generally having a positive environment around yourself. I’ve had the opportunity to be led by many great IGLs so I try to apply the principles that I learned from them. What inspires you to get up every day and do what you do? My family is my biggest inspiration and I owe my success to them! I do what I do to repay the loan of trust they put in me.
Let's talk about the new DPC system. What is your take on it? Do you personally welcome this move?
TeeHee: I like the new format of the DPC as it promotes tier2 and tier3 teams. Initially, there was no system that would allow the tier2 teams to get the spotlight. The league system also ensures stability in rosters which is very important for the competitive scene.
Do you think the DOTA2 scene in the South Asian region needs to improve? What change do you propose and how can it be implemented? Can people from outside the gaming spectrum help?
TeeHee: The DOTA2 scene has had its ups and downs this year. Many organizations shut down due to the pandemic and even The International was not played last year. Right now I’m happy that Valve has taken some decisions to revive the scene and restart the DPC. As a player I would want more stability in rosters at lower levels and more tournaments to find local talent. With online tournaments being the new normal, I would love the Tournament Organisers to conduct tournaments at the lower levels of the spectrum. This would allow increasing fanbase and revenue which would help the competitive scene overall.
One of you is a professional DOTA2 player and Klowrees you are managing a professional DOTA2 team that is going into the SEA DPC league. Tell us something that others don’t see but you as a pro team have to go through together.
Klowrees: For me going to the DPC Season as a scratch team is really tough where you need to play the Open Qualifiers. Playing the Open Qualifiers is really hard because all the matches are bo1 and an upset can be pulled off easily. So the pressure is really on the team to perform.
TeeHee: The fans only see the games and not what goes behind the screen. Players deal with a lot of mental pressure, as most of them live from paycheck to paycheck. Also, arguments and heated discussions break out within teammates which can upset them so there is a psychological factor as well that we have to deal with. Ultimately, it's about managing your stress and staying positive and giving your best every time.
Can you tell us about the worst experience you’ve had so far in your career?
Klowrees: One of my worst experiences was with an organisation that would not keep their promises of paying salary on time. I was forced to use up my savings to keep the team afloat and make sure they had everything before their tournaments. But everything has a reason, so I moved on.
TeeHee: There are many toxic elements in every scene. If you’re determined about what you want to do then you need to rise above these and give your best shot. I try not to get affected by such stuff and focus on doing my job as best as I can.
Klowrees, how much practice do you ensure that the players get every day? Is there a specific approach you have getting into the SEA DPC league?
Klowrees: We try to keep a balance between practicing as a team and playing solo games, as it is important to be on top of your mechanical skills too. We also ensure that our players don't get strained and face burnouts. We have a daily schedule where we play around 2-3 scrims which is about 5-6 hours of daily practice. Before any tournament, we increase the number of hours we put in for analysis and have longer spells of practice.
Burnouts are common in competitive Esports. How do you move forward with practice sessions if one player is not feeling it and can’t give his best?
Klowrees: We have to remember that at the end of the day we’re all humans. When a player is facing such issues we try to understand what’s causing this and aim to correct it. Sometimes taking a day off of practice to rejuvenate helps them come back into the competitive zone. It’s also very important for the teammates to be friends and create an environment where everyone can be open about such issues. This helps us move forward.
What kind of mindset do you have before a competitive match?
TeeHee: If we’re playing a well known team, then we analyze their games and strategy. Our coach ‘Dot’ helps us on how to go about such games. More often we’re playing against teams that aren't that well known. For such games we go with our prepared strategies, where we play with what we’re more comfortable with and favorable matchups. The games for the DPC qualifiers are bo1, so they are hard to prepare for and we generally play a few warm-up matches to get into the groove.
TeeHee, how do you manage your education and pro career?
TeeHee: It’s all about time management. You have to be responsible and make time for things that are important to you. I make sure that I put enough time and effort for my education and my practice as well. Sometimes it can be a daunting task, but I’ve learned how to balance the two.
What are some aspects of your pro career that you have inherited or have helped you in your personal life?
Klowrees: Playing games online teaches you how to ignore the toxic elements and on how to focus on the good things in life. I’ve learnt to be patient and positive in tough times.
TeeHee: Playing in a competitive team has taught me a lot. It has taught me how to be more disciplined and punctual. I’ve also become better at managing my time and making sure everything is done right and by playing for a professional DOTA2 team along with other professionals, I have also learned how to cooperate with people better.
What are your short term goals and long term goals with the team?
Klowrees: Currently my goal is to work with our DOTA2 roster and make them strong enough to attend DPC tournaments. I also want to promote Reckoning Esports outside SEA and to spread the word that it is not just an organization, but it is something that you can associate with as your home. The team’s principles and vision are very player-friendly and they aim to uplift the scene not just in India but all of SEA.
In closing, tell us something that you both enjoy outside your esports careers.
TeeHee: I love cooking and eating of course! I watch a lot of online cooking shows and I can never get enough of Ramen!
Klowrees: I’m a big CS:GO enthusiast and watch a lot of CS:GO matches besides DOTA2. In my free time I like to go partying or clubbing!