Mushi's journey for Dota, Malaysia and a TI title

posted by Abelle,
Mineski's win at the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018 was huge for Southeast Asia, but it was also big for Chai 'Mushi' Yee Fung, who has been pursuing a TI title since making the switch from DotA to Dota 2. Here's a look back at his last six years.
Winter, Xtinct, Yamateh, Frank (Orange Managing Director), Ice, kyxy, Mushi

By the time he was 19 Mushi was already a star of the DotA scene but, despite achievements, his parents were not supportive of his interests. He persisted in playing despite even being locked out of the house by his own mother. Mushi was very determined to show them that esports was a viable caeer path. In an interview with his parents, his father said "At last, he told us to give him 1 year. If I fail, I will quit DotA and find a job. So we gave him 1 year because of his determination." When Mushi was able to help his parents financially with his tournament winnings, they finally started to come around. Mushi set himself to his goal of elevating the Malaysian esports scene and becoming one of its best players.

When Dota 2 was introduced to the world at The International 2011, Mushi was not on one of the 16 invited teams. Players were still largely focusing on DotA events while Dota 2 keys were slowly being handed out. Mushi joined a new team in September 2011, shortly after the original TI, but that roster didn't have very good results. In December, he decided that he needed a break and became the team's coach. Shortly afterward, the roster shuffled to add two members of MUFC, the only Malaysian team at TI1. That roster is the one seen in the photo above, with Mushi as coach and Chan 'Winter' Litt-Binn as Captain.

Mushi returned to play with and captain his team in official matches in July 2012, just in time for his first International. In an interview with Orange when they first formed, Winter had said that beating Na`Vi was "his single biggest challenge." At TI2, they did just that - albeit in the group stage. Orange did quite well at that event, taking down TI defending champions Na`Vi 2-0 in groups and finishing the group stage tied with them for 3rd with a 8-6 record. Unfortunately, their only win in the playoffs was a single-game lower bracket series against CLG.

Orange and CLG shake hands after their match. Visible CLG player faces left-right: Misery, Lacoste and Akke. Source: Valve

In an interview shortly before TI2, Mushi had said that if he won The International, he would like to help develop the Malaysian esports scene. He'd seen a large amount of skill but very few opportunities for players to develop themselves or even to compete, and he wanted to change that.

In the same interview, Mushi was asked whether he would choose to go on a dinner date with Taylor Swift or Icefrog. Despite such a frivolous question, Mushi's answer was quite revealing:

"In my Dota life, I found that it is not my education that shaped my life, not my parents or my friends, but a game of Dota. Ive had the chance to meet a lot of new people and learned a lot about life. It helped me understand the world much better."

In January 2013, it was time for another roster change. Winter, who had been benched for several months and had already started co-casting with Beyond the Summit was removed from the roster alongside Chua 'Ice' Chee Cai. Among the new members was Chong Xin 'Ohaiyo' Khoo, who previously played with Orange's Academy team as an understudy for Mushi and would later become one of his longest-running teammates.

That roster had a strong season in the lead-up to The International 2013. They consistently outperformed other Southeast Asian teams and were competitive with some of China's strongest teams in a time when China was still considered the region to beat in Dota 2. Their performance earned them a direct invite to TI3 as one of three invited SEA teams.

Orange on-stage at TI3. Source: Valve

Orange weren't just the best performing SEA team at TI3, they were one of the best performing teams at TI3 period. They were the only SEA team to start their run in the upper bracket, but they faced Na`Vi in the first round and lost 1-2. Despite being knocked down so early, they battled through two rounds of single-game series followed by another two rounds of best-of-threes to earn themselves a rematch in the lower bracket final. Along the way, they knocked out the legendary Chinese squad Team DK.

Unfortunately they could not get revenge against Na`Vi in the lower bracket final and lost 1-2 a second time. Still, Orange had taken 3rd place and gained fans all around the world for their achievements. Despite this, Orange dropped their entire Dota 2 team just about a month later. Most of the team joined the newly created Titan organization in Malaysia, but Mushi struck out on his own to join Team DK.

Mushi was not a stranger to China - he had played there much earlier in his DotA days. In an interview with SGamer in 2012, Mushi said that he missed his time in China, but didn't have any immediate plans to return since the Chinese scene was still more focused on DotA at the time. About one and a half years later, he made his return.

Team DK: MMY!, Mushi, iceiceice, BurNIng, LaNm

His stint with Team DK lasted just one year, but it was very important year for his career. The Team DK lineup that formed in September 2013 lasted all the way through The International 2014. Captained by Chinese Dota legend Xu 'BurNIng' Zhilei, Team DK were one of the best teams in China (or even the world) during the run-up to TI4. This was also the first time that Mushi and current Mineski teammate Daryl Koh 'iceiceice' Pei Xiang played together. They were also coached at the time by Tang '71' Wenyi, who recently joined Mineski as their coach.

DK played incredibly well at TI4 but fell short of the championship after playoff losses to Evil Geniuses and Vici Gaming, who eventually finished 3rd and 2nd themselves. Again, despite a very strong finish in Seattle, Mushi's team went their seperate ways shortly afterward. iceiceice stayed in China, but Mushi went home to form Team Malaysia and give back to his local scene.

An era of rebuilding

This was the beginning of a low period for Mushi's career. After the highs of his early Dota 2 years, it would take some time for him to build a roster that could reach such a level again. Something impressively consistent through all this time, however, was esports organization's trust in Mushi's ability to build such a roster. He had many chances before he was successful, but he never gave up and he always pushed his teams to be the best they could be.

Team Malaysia was built from Mushi's former Malaysian teammates but Mushi himself lasted just over a month with the team before announcing that he had left, seemingly due to what he called a "peaceful breakup." A few months later, Chinese squad EHOME and 71 were looking to rejoin Dota 2 after a long break from Dota 2 for the organization. They recruited both Mushi's newly build LV Gaming squad, which consisted of Ohaiyo, Yang 'NeverEnd' Pu, Leong 'ddc' Fatmeng and He 'InFlame' Yongzheng.

LV Gaming after taking first place at HyperX D2L Season #5. Source: D2L Facebook

EHOME did not find success with the roster, but the organization allowed Mushi to return to Malaysia and play under a newly formed EHOME Malaysia squad. The only member of the old Team Malaysia that joined this new team was KyxY but this new venture was even more short-lived than the original Team Malaysia roster - EHOME dropped the roster after 26 days.

That's not to say that was the end of the team, they decided to stick together under the name Team Malaysia and things gradually began to improve. After qualifying for a few events and securing strong finishes in some LANs, another big organization chose to make their return to Dota 2 with a Mushi team - this time, Int Fnatic. In June 2015, Fnatic signed the full Team Malaysia roster and were directly invited to The International 2015.

Team Malaysia in new Fnatic jerseys, as tweeted by Mushi

It was Mushi's worst TI yet. Fnatic didn't win a single series in groups, started their run in the lower bracket and were eliminated in the opener by The organization decided to rebuild around Mushi and Ohaiyo, dropping the rest of the roster. It took the rest of the year for the two of them to land on a roster that worked, testing out several different players and rosters along the way. Since this was the first year that Valve implemented the roster lock system, Fnatic missed out on The Frankfurt Major.

In December, they had finalized a roster that would last for the next few months - Yeik Nai 'MidOne' Zheng, Djardel 'DJ' Mampusti and Wai Pern 'Net' Lim. That roster qualified for The Shanghai Major and did quite well - they came 2nd in their group and finished 5th-6th overall.

Still, things weren't perfect and another change was made in the pre-Manila Major shuffle. Fnatic dropped Net and brought in Adam Erwann 'Adam' Shah. This roster went on to take 5th-6th in Manila and 4th at The International 2016. The team was strong, but the post-TI shuffle was stronger. MidOne was snatched up by Team Secret while DJ and 343 left for Execration. Once again, Mushi and Ohaiyo were left with a roster to build.

Mirroring the previous year, Mushi's first attempt at building a team didn't go very well. Fellow SEA squad TNC had impressed fans around the world with their TI6 performance, and three members of that team were brought in to play with Fnatic - Jimmy 'DeMoN' Ho, Marc Polo Luis 'Raven' Fausto and Nico 'Eyyou' Barcelon.

A still from the first episode of True Sight. Left to right: Ohaiyo, Mushi, DeMoN, eyyou

Their next few months were extremely public, as Fnatic were one of two teams Valve chose to focus on in the first episodes of True Sight, a documentary series. The first three episodes were only released to owners of the Fall 2016 Battle Pass. The scenes with Fnatic cover the time from DeMoN's arrival in Malaysia through training for and playing in The Boston Major. Fnatic's manager Eric "ReiNNNN" Khor says very early in the first episode that the post-TI6 shuffle is one of the messiest he's ever seen.

True Sight's portrayal of Mushi resulted in a tidal wave of judgement from the Dota 2 community on places like Reddit and Twitter. What was telling was how quick Mushi's teammates and team management came to his defence. Fnatic's coach at the time was Muriƫlle "kipspul" Huisman, whose reply on reddit gives great insight to the story under the surface.

Mushi does not mince words. He sees a mistake, he calls it out. Everything he does is meant to improve performance next time. There are no exceptions--he's pressured me like this as well. But you know what? I'm really grateful for that because it has allowed me to improve massively over a very short amount of time.

True Sight did not show all the time Mushi spent coaching every single player on the team. True Sight did not show the self-deprecating jokes. True Sight did not show him poring over his own replays, criticizing every single move he makes. True Sight did not show the deep and sincere apology for the high five thing.

The Mushi I know only showed up all the way at the end, when Ohaiyo was outside.

True Sight did not really focus on the people--only on the pressure. After two months together without results, yes, this is what happens under pressure.

Fnatic came 4th in The Boston Major qualifier. Initially, the three ex-TNC members were dropped and Fnatic looked for rebuild around Mushi and Ohaiyo for the third time, but after a few more months of failed attempts, Mushi left Fnatic. About one month later, the announcement was made that Mushi would be rebuilding again - but this time, with Mineski.

Mushi with Mineski CEO Yap "Kenchi" Chee Loong. Source:

Mushi missed out on The International 2017 during this lengthy rebuild, but still he kept at it. The first member of the current roster to join was Michael 'ninjaboogie' Ross, who was part of the first attempted roster formed days after Mineski's announcement. iceiceice and Anucha 'Jabz' Jirawong were added in August after TI7 and the collapse of Team Faceless, who were a dominant SEA squad led by iceiceice after his eventual departure from China post-TI6. Kam 'Moon' Boon Seng came to Mineski at the same time, having previously played with WarriorsGaming.Unity

That brings us to today's Mineski roster, who have just taken the biggest title of their careers with a win at the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018. After so many years of rebuilding, it must be extremely gratifying for Mushi to have a roster come together so beautifully. Now, we're excited to see what Mineski can do next.

Header photo source: StarLadder

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