Leong “ddc” Fat-meng has been at his eighth The International this year. He didn’t miss a single edition of Valve’s annual event, but from the handful of players who boast the same achievement, he is the only one who still waits to engrave his name on the Aegis of Champions.
As someone who has always been fascinated by how committed are the Chinese players and by the amount of effort they put into making it at TI every year, I’ve always had an enormous respect for ddc whos nickname given by the Chinese community is “the ticket man.” He got it because of his capability to qualify at every TI regardless of what team he plays for. Be it LGD, Vici Gaming, VG Reborn, EHOME, LFY or VGJ.Thunder this year, ddc was in most cases the leader who kept the ship sailing.
Now at VGJ.Thunder, he has Bai “rOtK” Fan who decides the strategies the team should use and what drafts should be played and when. He is not the team captain,nor the in-game shout caller and while I was talking with him on the press day at TI8 about all these changes, I realized that he is a very humble person, who despite having a lot to brag about, he would rather look you in the eyes and bluntly say “perhaps I’m not good enough.”
At the beginning of the interview, we were three persons sitting at table, me, ddc and Josh Lee, who helped with the translation and to whom I would like to take this moment to thank for all his work on the press day. A couple of minutes into our interview the entire VGJ.Thunder team gathered around ddc and started to listen to what we were talking, sometimes having small comments to make on some of my questions and on some of his answers. They were all giggling and smiling every now and then, but god knows what they were saying, as I’m not even close to understand a single Chinese word. Anyways, they had a good vibe and they seemed like they were there to listen to what one of the Chinese Dota elders might have to say to the western media. With every team having a limited amount of time allocated for taking interviews, I focused my questions on the TI8, and I tried to go a bit back with ddc and understand how and why LFY let him go after such an impressive run at TI7.
Hi ddc, how is it going, feeling good about the group stage results or perhaps you had hoped for a little bit better?
On day one of the group stage we were 1-5 and it was really terrible for us. After that day the atmosphere in the team wasn’t good, but we started day two with a 2-0 over Winstrike which gave us a bit of a morale boost, so we ended the group tied for the 5th-6th place, which all in all it’s ok I would say. It’s acceptable, but we didn’t really play to the best of our abilities and that’s kind of sad. Going forward we just need to play well, we know we can.
The Chinese community is calling you the “ticket man” for obvious reasons, however, from the four players who made it to all the Internationals, you’re the only one who still has to claim that Aegis. You’ve been so close so many times, but how do you feel about your chances this year?
I don’t feel we have that much chance to get this far this year because of how the team is going right now. Our goal now is to get top eight, at least try to get top eight. As far as putting my name on the Aegis, if I haven’t’ done it after so many years of coming to TI, perhaps it just means I’m simply not good enough for it.
Because in the western world we have little to no access to what happens in behind the scenes of Chinese Dota, I’m going to take this opportunity to ask what happened with you and LFY? The TI7 run was absolutely amazing and we didn’t expect you to be the first kicked from that team.
The decision was mainly taken by the organization. After TI7 we had a couple of months with bad results and ultimately they decided to make some changes. As far as I know, they asked everyone in the team who would they want to replace and I guess it was just a unanimous decision that the person who should go should be me. They just told me after the decision was made.
You were the captain, the drafter, the mastermind at LFY, but now, at VGJ Thunder you have rOtK taking care of all these things, right? Do you still have any sort of input on the drafts or the strategies that should be prioritized?
I got nothing now. All we have to do is listen to rOtK. He is taking all the decisions.
Alright, so blame rOtk meme is justified then. Was there any point in your career where you considered to become a coach?
I think that my personality is pretty bad for even trying to coach someone. I’m not good at encouraging people, I’m not good at inspiring someone so, no, I don’t think I could be a good coach.
Talk to me a bit about the support heroes nowadays. We saw during the group stage so many heroes that used to be cores now being played as supports. Wraith King, Tiny, Windranger sometimes, how did you guys came down to this and why?
It’s because the current meta is focused on securing the lanes and for that you need support heroes that can stay in the lane, harass and protect their cores at the same time. Right now it all comes down to whether a support hero can do all these or not. That’s why if a player has a hero in his pool that can do that, although he is not exactly a support one, you just draft that hero. In the past if you were a five position and you wouldn’t really want to play a melee support, but today for example, Ogre Magi is very good hero for position 5.
I actually learnt to play Disruptor watching your games. Do have any love left for this hero?
He is still viable, but he is a bit too weak in lane. However, once you get past the laning stage he is pretty good at getting pickoffs, at securing kills, I’d say he is still good in the mid stage. I do love this hero but he is not that good in the current meta.
Understood, well, I hope we get passed this super laning stage oriented meta someday. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today, and I hope you will enjoy your time at you’re eighth TI!