Rivers: Start Right Here

13:46 May 07 2013
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Photocredit to Kat, find more of her artwork at http://qelixlovesdota.tumblr.com/

It's becoming more and more apparent to me that everything in life comes full circle. What I feel, how I feel, and why I feel: These things have influenced every aspect of my reality. My last blog is very closely correlated with some of the issues I talk about here.

In the past couple of weeks I've grown tremendously. My mind has completely shifted gears and I can feel it. I'm always in a great mood, feeling productive and happy. This has been one of the happiest periods in my life. In this blog I want to explore the differences of now and then, realizations, and why I will never look back.

Before I continue, I always have to preface my blogs by saying that I do them in one complete sitting without pause. It is a personal blog and I use it as a tool to look introspectively on my journey.

Why I didn't deserve to win TI2:

Back in 2012, compLexity was a very successful team. Consistently ranked highly, taking tournaments and our team felt great. Our greatest moment before TI2, would've been during our bootcamp where we were crowned champions of The Defense 2. This, in our minds, marked a major stepping stone into proving our strength as a team to the Western Scene. Utilizing that momentum, our team underwent a relatively arduous practice schedule. Our practice had given us a lot of confidence because our win rates were through the roof and our play was solid. Surely, we thought, our dreams to make a top 3 finish at TI2 could be actualized. Here was where I was wrong.

On paper, yes, it seemed like we had every reason to succeed. However, there is so much more that goes into success that is even beyond the game itself. I strongly believe that everything we are in life comes full circle, even when it comes to professional gaming. Being capable of winning and being deserving of winning are two completely different things. This is why I didn't deserve to win TI2.

The Truth:

Honestly, I felt alone. In my last blog I talked about how I separated myself from my friends and my social groups. Most of us know this quote, "Have you ever felt alone in a crowded room?" That was it.

I felt weak, my body wasn't physically active and the only exercise I got was mental exercise. I didn't feel healthy, both physically and mentally. I didn't feel happy, only in those moments of triumph did I feel a mild complacency. I was always unhappy with our results or strategies no matter what our results with them were. I was always searching for the "new" thing and "innovating". I was obsessed with the idea of "different". The main reason why was because it granted me momentary happiness because I was validation seeking. I liked the praise and the recognition so much so that it drove my every thought and action. I wanted to be special...

Realistically and embarrassingly, I was depressed; Depressed and unwilling to acknowledge it.

DotA can often be an escape, for me it was:

"All people operate from the same two motivations: to fulfill their desires and to escape their suffering"

Some irrational voice inside of me told me that something tragic was going to happen to me following TI2. I really thought that this was it for me, that I was going to leave behind a legacy by succeeding in reaching my dream and that was it. Either I was going to disappear and fade away or that I was actually going to die (yeah, I know). This lead me to disregard the most important aspect of my life: taking care of myself. It paralyzed me for a few months after the event, leaving me unwilling to compete. However, I realized that my journey had just begun and I had more dreams to reach for.

+ Show Spoiler +


A lot of people ask why Tony "HANNAH_MONTANA" Talavera was removed from the team and where he is now. There was also a lot of speculation about Jio "Jeyo" Madayag. I won't disclose any private information, however I do want to comment on the lessons I learned from them.

Tony had been my oldest and longest remaining friendship from DotA. I want to honor him here briefly:

+ Show Spoiler +

Tony was the very person who taught me that you can't change people, they must change themselves. This is very closely associated with: If you want to change the world, change yourself first (discussing later). To be frank, I was fed up with Tony and all of his idiosyncrasies. I wanted him to suddenly feel inspired and motivated to improve and to innovate. I barked down at him like I was in any position to do so. I put him down and made him believe that he wouldn't have gotten this far without me. Day in and day out, hours of lecturing and private messages flooded our collective existences (this went on for months). It wasn't right, but that was all I knew.

Tony had met stagnation and everyone noticed. He no longer felt compelled to do everything in his power to succeed and just went through the motions. This prompted me to act out and lose respect for him. I devalued his ideas and indirectly sapped his confidence. No matter if what I said was true or agreed upon by everyone, he wouldn't budge. I told him that I couldn't bear to see him like this and that he had so much more potential that he was allowing himself. However, it was me disallowing him to breed his own potential and capacity for growth. I honestly didn't know better and that forged so many limiting beliefs that crippled my team.

Read these carefully:

+ Show Spoiler +

+ Show Spoiler +

I needed to see him as a capable individual who would contribute and grow on his own terms. I needed to see the value in his character and be the type of leader who learns from his followers. I was no leader, I was a dictator. I needed to change first; I needed to be the one to set the example and to have the clarity of mind to map out our path.

I believe leaders are cultivated. I used to look at myself and say, "Why me?" I was no leader, nor was I in a position to do so. I had problems, I had issues that needed to be resolved and I had so much to learn.

I've gotten far, but I'm still learning. I'm learning to let go of my ego and to give everyone a chance to express themselves. I try my best to set an example for my teammates. A team is a reflection of their captain, after all.


+ Show Spoiler +


I briefly mentioned wanting to feel special. Really what this is, is just a form of validation: Which is to say that I relied on other people to tell me my self-worth. I wasn't self-actualized at all and I read every comment like a hawk. I fell into the, very natural, human tendency of seeking validation. It's fool's gold and only grants momentary pleasure, albeit great pleasure. You see, in other blogs, I talked about how critics hit hard and how I wasn't able to cope very well at first. I also talked about how I dealt with it, but I've realized that I solved half the puzzle and walked away.

I learned to ignore the critics, trolls, and haters. However, I still read too deeply into the support of my fans. Ignoring the negative and focusing on the positive only concealed the underlying issues. I find this quote quite true:

People only love you from yesterday

So when push comes to shove, the people eventually turn (bandwagon effect). We went through many slumps and poor performances. It was natural for me to ignore that, by this point, although I still wasn't grounded in my own beliefs. I let other people's perceptions of our team affect my confidence, both personally and collectively.

Now, I really understand how to maintain long term happiness and things like this don't affect me that much anymore. As I write this there's a Reddit thread that's suddenly become the number one post (for some odd reason, it's 6 days old guys). I briefly looked into the comment section to see what kind of feedback I was getting and there are always nasty people who will criticize every little thing. However, I read some of those comments and realized: I DON'T CARE and it feels great. It feels great to know that I actually do not care whatsoever and that the happiness that I've accrued passes yet another test.

I feel happy because of who I am, what I have and where I'm going. I could lose G-1, at this very moment, and still feel happy. The reason is because I see further than just the present. I know that G-1 will be the absolute best practice possible for TI3 and that I will learn so much. I talked about how I didn't take care of myself and it's true. I have one awfully crooked tooth on the bottom row of my mouth. I didn't work out regularly or eat healthy foods. I have had acne related issues that haven't been addressed, and reminders of that (scars). I have lost many friends and put off public speaking going into TI2. However, I know where I'm going and I've taken so many steps to rectify things in the past couple of weeks.

I put myself out there because I was afraid to do so for so many years and now I feel so liberated. I have nothing to be afraid or ashamed of and I love my life.


Eating healthy and working out:

Both of these things have had very noticeable impacts on my mind. I think quicker, faster, feel smarter and I have great ideas much more often. These things are no-brainers, but there are so many people who avoid these things. I've reached a new clarity of mind that only strengthens by the day.

Working out is something that never seemed congruent to my goals with DotA. However, I've found that it is something that I can't live without anymore. No matter how tired I feel or what kind of excuses I make, I always find that I have enough energy to power through it. It energizes me and I find that It motivates me to be productive.

Teaching patience, not passivity

When Korok and Bulba joined the team I feel that I intimidated them a little by being very open. Bulba expressed to me that the environment of his past teams never allowed for room to openly criticize each other without any emotional backlash. In this case, I have no problem addressing issues openly because I don't like beating around the bush.

Both Korok and Bulba have also overcome some serious issues very recently. They are still progressing, but I think this is an important thing to note.

Don't apologize for who you are and take responsibility for taking what you want. I have standards and anything less than those standards are pathetic. I try to teach my team that patience is a virtue and that we can overcome so much because of it. However, there is a fine line between patience and passivity. I feel that they both took my words as passivity and thus, met a breaking point somewhere during the process.

Without ousting the fine details of our differences, I'd like to vaguely describe the scenarios.


Bulba has definitely learned about patience. Before he realized some of his own character flaws, he was quick to lash out and place blame. Not only did he place blame, but he very emotionally intensified each situation. The tone of his voice escalated situations far beyond their relative importance. We spoke multiple times and I feel that he mistook my words as passivity, in other words to bite his tongue. After several more defeats, it came back. It came back and it affected our team in a couple of negative ways.


Korok has grown as well and I'm quite grateful for that. However, I will hold him accountable. I, very recently, referred to Korok as a "Wild stallion, who needs to be tamed". In essence, Korok is an intelligent player who pushes all boundaries, yet he sometimes acts recklessly. We have had issues with Korok getting punished for such behaviors, while other times being rewarded (high risk, high reward plays). In effect, his inability to find pressure sometimes would often frustrate him and our team would feel rushed. I'm referencing his frustration, at this point, not his play. I spoke to him and butted heads constantly with him due to some negative behaviors. His emotional response was to assume passivity which, again, yielded some short term results. Much like Bulba, these losses broke him down.

Korok said some things that were unacceptable, which he apologized for. Immediately I call him out on breaking a standard in which I set for myself and for my team.

Now both

So what happened? Both of them took steps in learning patience, not passivity. Looking back on our G-1 qualifier matches, I saw tremendous growth in both of them. Some mistakes were made and Sam calmly expressed his thoughts or didn't say anything at all. Other mistakes were made and Korok didn't utter a word. Both of these things propelled our team into a position where we could constantly focus on our next objective. As a leader I was able to shrug off lost teamfights, wipes, and mistakes. Previously we were unable to move past certain disagreements and it forced our team into awkward situations that I couldn't control. I really love the fact that our team is utilizing patience and that everyone's making an effort to calm each other down.

This is something that we're all working on, but I just wanted to note the progression. We're nowhere near perfect, but I'm grateful for their abilities to change from within. It took a lot of losing and probably will take some more, but I'm willing to go through that with you guys.

+ Show Spoiler +


It's been about 5 hours since I started this blog and I think I've run out of steam. I got sloppy at the end again, so I decided to end it. There are a lot of things that I want to talk about still. I put myself out there so that everyone can, hopefully, learn from my experiences. I've come a long way since the last International and I have such a long way to go. I hope that the lessons that I learn, the mistakes that I make and the actions I take will help me reach my dreams. I'm excited for the future.

If there's one lesson I want everyone to take from this blog it's: If you want to change the world, change yourself first.

Please support me by following me on Twitter @LiquidFLUFF
Shoutout to Neha aka Rinoa for showing me the song Christian Linke - Start Right Here: Song!

"I believe we have some obsessions, I believe we have different sights"
"I believe I'm used to hurt, Let's start right here"

I love my teammates.


I love you Kat.

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