The road to The International may look the same for both players and coaches, but the challenges they face vastly different.
Very few players come close to his level of experience playing Dota 2. Mushi first began his competitive career at the age of 16 playing while playing DotA Allstars — the original Warcraft mod — then eventually Dota 2 under Orange Esports in 2011. Alternating between being a player or coaching over the years, it wasn’t until 2021 when he decided to coach fulltime.
As one of the most senior figureheads in the Southeast Asian Dota 2 scene, ONE Esports spoke to Mushi to find out more about his newfound experience as a fulltime Dota 2 coach.
Mushi declined offers to play the 2022 DPC season in favor of coaching BOOM Esports
When asked if he had planned to be a coach for the upcoming 2022 DPC season, Mushi revealed that he only really started to express interest in coaching fulltime at the start of 2021. Before this, he was still keen to play competitively.
During the post-TI10 offseason, Mushi received offers from various organizations to play in the upcoming 2022 DPC season, all of which, he declined.
At the same time, Timothy John “Tims” Randrup and Rolen Andrei Gabriel “skem” Ong approached Mushi numerous times to coach them under BOOM Esports.
Now, he’s enjoying the challenges coaching brings as it’s all still fairly new to him, even though he coached on and off in the past.
He doesn’t view the players any differently than himself just because he’s the coach
As a competitive Dota 2 player in the past, Mushi knows what it was like to work with a coach.
Whilst competing under, Tang “71” Wenyi, a notable coach in the Chinese scene, Mushi praised him for his unique vision when approaching the game.
However, one thing 71 failed to do in Mushi’s eyes was to “make the team a whole”. A team is at its strongest when everyone is on the same page, and Mushi tried to incorporate this philosophy into his own coaching style.
“When I’m coaching, I don’t separate myself as the coach, and them the players,” he said. “I see us more as friends and that we’re all on the same level, so that everyone gets a chance to speak.”
He makes an effort to get to know them through casual banter, jokes, and just have fun all around. Not only does this make the players feel comfortable being around him, but also lets them feel confident enough to share their thoughts during team discussions.
This was especially true when he first joined BOOM Esports as some players were actually afraid of him due to his history of being a “fierce” leader.
“I used to have this expectation that my teammates would do the same as me, but not everyone had the same vision,” he said. “Forcing isn’t a good way to do it, instead proper communication and making my teammates feel comfortable to do it is a good way”.
He has since then become a much more relaxed compared to his former self.
Mushi ensures that the team doesn’t get carried away with pre-set expectations when competing in tournaments
Going into tournaments, Mushi doesn’t set any expectations on himself or the team. Instead, he looks at every series and opponent as a new challenge that the team needs to overcome.
Regardless of whether the team wins or lose, he’ll sit down with the players to discuss the game and what they learnt. They’ll then take their newfound knowledge into their next series and look for learning experiences rather than dwell on pre-set expectations.
The team has already enjoyed two tournament titles thus far — winning both the BTS Pro Series Season 9: Southeast Asia and Mineski Masters — and are off to a great start in the DPC SEA 2021/22 Tour 1: Division I, claiming their first 2-0 against OB.Neon. The squad is scheduled to play against Fnatic on December 11 at 4:00PM GMT+8.