On July 25, 2019, Newbee acquired the ex-Forward Gaming roster. They were already qualified for TI9 when the NA organization called it quits from the Dota 2 scene and many expected them to take the risk and play without a sponsor at this year’s International. The Newbee announcement was shocking for the entire Dota 2 community although it made a lot of sense.
Upon their departure to Shanghai, to settle in the Newbee training house for the pre TI9 bootcamp, the entire team was interviewed by Perfect World and revealed all the details of how the acquisition happened, why they chose Newbee and what it means for the players and their manager to have the opportunity of playing for one of the most important organizations in China. The entire interview was published in Chinese on the Dota 2 official Weibo account and we are pleased to share with you the English translation courtesy of Yuhui Zhu.
About Shanghai and TI9
Jack: I was born in Shanghai and most of my family members still live in Shanghai. It’s incredible to be able to compete at the biggest esports tournament in such a great city like Shanghai.
Sneyking: This is my second tournament in China and I’m super excited about it. Growing up in Guangzhou, I love watching Chinese and Cantonese TV series like “Nirvana in Fire” and “Big White Duel”. I love Chinese songs like “Stranger in The North” (G.E.M cover). I’m honored to join Newbee, to practice in China and experience the Chinese culture. I’m really looking forward to TI9, hopefully we can make it to the venue and meet those enthusiastic Chinese fans. That’s the reason why I play Dota.
Aui: My parents were born in Hong Kong but my grandparents are actually from Shanghai. It’s really exciting to play in my ancestral home. I would love to try Xiaolongbao and Hot Pot again. I’ve been to Shanghai several times and those were amazing experiences. I really hope I can bring my best performance this time as well.
About the 2018 – 2019 season
Jack: We’ve had our ups and downs this year. We set a high goal at the beginning of this season that we couldn’t accomplish it. Then, we hit rock-bottom at ESL One Katowice, DreamLeague and the following Major qualifiers, but fortunately, we managed to pull ourselves together and conclude this season in a good form.
Sneyking: I started this season later than most of the players: I only joined Mineski after the first Major. My original plan was to stay in Mineski for the rest of the season but then I got kicked. However, that turned out to be a new opportunity for me. In general, I’m pretty happy about where I am now.
MSS: Overall it’s been a tough year, we had a not-so-bad start but then everything went downhill really quick. I have even thought about quitting Dota and taking a break. But when we reached the end of the season, I felt we’ve regained our form and I’m excited to enter TI9 with our current shape.
CCNC: This season I’ve renewed my understanding of “working as a unit.” Last season I was super lucky to be with Optic and play with those outstanding teammates for a whole year. This season has been the opposite, I jumped from team to team and played with lots of different players. I think I’ve learned a lot and figured out what I really expect from a team other than results.
Aui: Results-wise, it’s been a terrible year. We lost a lot of games and we were mentally crumbled, what made it worse was that we felt we didn’t play to our potential. Eventually, we managed to pull ourselves together and it makes me really happy. In a word, it’s been a meaningful year for my personal growth. The people I worked with and studied from, are the best of the best.
From Forward Gaming to Newbee
Jack: I’m extremely grateful for the support we’ve received from the community. Many people contacted us to either comfort us or offer help/sponsorship. Moments like this really remind me of how great the Dota community is. We are from all over the world and this game unites us as a whole. To be honest, things weren’t that bad, the situation of Forward has been lasting for a while and we have thought about all possibilities of how the whole thing might have turned out. It’s just a pity that we weren’t not able to keep it going when we were in our best form of the season. But in a sense, it’s a blessing in disguise: We now can represent Newbee, a legendary Chinese team, and we have many Chinese fans rooting for us.
Deep down, we know the current situation is pretty good for us as we can prepare properly for TI9. It’s the first time this season when we can get a comprehensive preparation for a major tournament. Moreover, going into TI with our current form really makes me excited.
Pieliedie: It’s a pleasant surprise to see so many people contacting us trying to offer help. And I’m also really excited to compete under Newbee’s banner.
MSS: It’s heartwarming to see all these support. Considering we are a NA team, throughout my career, I’ve never thought about that one day I would play in Newbee, but now the future looks really promising to me.
Aui: In the esports industry, a professional player can easily be affected by negative comments. Recently I was really upset when I was communicating with other people on the internet. But the response we received from the community really helped me. About 50 esports orgs reached out to us and offered acquisition or help. It’s heartwarming and exciting to see that many people contacting us.
Jack: Many clubs have offered generous deals to acquire our team. But what makes Newbee unique is that they are very sincere and dedicated. It was their CEO, Tong “CuZn” Xin, who negotiated with us directly. In fact, when you have a lot of attractive options in front of you, what matters the most is the detail. During the whole process, Tong “CuZn” Xin didn’t seem to get much sleep. He was always online, answering our questions, offering unique and wise solutions, and even proposed to fly to New York to talk to us face to face and sign agreements. He didn’t seem to reserve anything about this. It was crucial because, despite the fact that Newbee has a legendary history record and good reputation, there were also many other good choices in front of us at that time.
The clock was ticking, thus we had no intention of bargaining or going back and forth with the other party in the negotiation. Newbee is very frank and honest, coupled with their history, influence and various resources. Having taken all these into consideration, we think Newbee is our best choice.
Aui: With one TI championship title and one TI runner up spot under its belt, Newbee is one of the best clubs in Dota2’s history. It’s also one of the clubs we’re willing to fight for.
Jack: Scrims and tournaments are two different things, so it is difficult to evaluate our current status. We will know more about that when we arrive at the training base. Obviously, we were in good shape during the TI9 qualifiers, and we hope we can have a better performance in Shanghai. We’ve been traveling all over the world for tournaments this year and this is the first time we will have enough time to adjust and prepare prior to the tournament. As for special strategies, we do have something special in mind. I still think our preparation and communication this year have been as good as any other team. We haven’t played against EG before and haven’t played many other NA teams due to various complicated reasons. But the most direct reason is that when we prepared for a tournament this season, we did it in our training house in New York, which is not the case with other North American teams. We also had scrims with EU teams and played pubs on the EU servers. But, due to the time difference, we could only play one game a day. EU has a really good competitive environment and high quality matches.
Aui: We are feeling good but we haven’t been really tested yet because the qualifiers are different from the actual event. When we were preparing for the qualifiers, we didn’t get many chances to practice with other NA teams. It’s actually pretty odd because many teams told me that they couldn’t practice with us due to schedule conflict or other different reasons. But then I saw them practicing with other tier 2 teams. NA teams have a weird attitude towards scrims, moreover, there weren’t that many suitable teams that we can practice with. Apart from the first Major, the schedule of other tournaments this season makes practicing really inconvenient. For example, if I am a player in a tier 1 team, we attend every Major. After one Major concludes, I have to fly back to the team house and start playing the qualifiers which gives me probably one day to solve the jet lag and the rest, and a few days to scrim.
After qualifying for the Major, there will be a game-play update, at that point scrims are pointless, because you need to play pubs to get new ideas. So, everyone starts to play pubs, after that, the next Major starts. Every single Major this year is geographically unfriendly to NA teams. So, bootcamp is actually the best solution if you want to bring your A game in the tournament. This year due to the schedule, strong teams actually didn’t have time or didn’t want to practice with the teams of their region, they simply played a lot of pubs and then they went bootcamping in the city where the Major was held. We were actually pretty lucky because we’re based on the east coast, which allowed us to practice with some EU teams. But I think this year we didn’t practice enough with NA teams.
Jack: We will arrive in China at the end of July and we will have plenty of time to adjust to the jetlag. We will be scrimming with the teams who are already here in China, as well as teams who will be arriving shortly. Taking into consideration the current schedule, it was extremely difficult for a team who is boot-camping on the other side of the globe to take time out to train in China. The intervals between the major tournaments and their respective qualifiers was very short. It is extremely tiring to constantly travel between countries with 12-hour time difference. To be honest, if you want to train in China for 1-2 weeks, after factoring in the time needed to adjust, you will need to spend at least 3-4 weeks from start to finish. The matchmaking environment in China is also disadvantageous to Western players. Apart from the language barrier, the professional scene in China focuses too much on scrims.
Aui: Considering the schedule of the Dota 2 circuit, I feel that training long-term in China is not realistic. If a huge tournament is organized in China, it is very useful to boot-camp in China prior to the tournament as the scrims in China are organized very well. However, I don’t think it is a good thing for Western teams to boot-camp in China for a long time, mainly because Random Draft mode is not a very good mode for training. I think it is very important for players to improve by solo-queueing.
Which Chinese teams do you want to play against the most?
Jack: VG and LGD. These two teams are the strongest and most popular teams to scrim against. Last season, several of our players trained with VG. At that time, we were the brother team of VG and we bootcaped at VG’s team house under the team name of VGJ Storm. LGD are very familiar with our playstyle and they are an extremely strong team. We respect the players of LGD a lot and it will mean a lot to us if we will be able to defeat them.
Shout-out to fans
Jack: Dota 2 is able to bring people from all kinds of nationalities together and TI is the best proof for this. Thank you to everyone for your continuous support. It is an honor and perhaps fate that I am able to return to my birthplace and be present at the Dota 2 International hosted in Shanghai. Your support means a lot to our team and we will do our very best to live up to the expectations.
Sneyking: Thanks to all of our fans for their support and caring, I hope I can return it to you with amazing matches and make both CN and NA fans proud!