In today’s interview, It’s Gosu retraces the career of Wu ‘2009’ Sheng who is none other than the pioneer of DotA in China and one of the most versatile and respected players the MOBA world has ever known. Although 2009 is no longer a professional player, his involvement and passion for the game remain intact as he is now a talent seeker for World Elite, a video-maker and a commentator.
Not only is he an emblematic figure within the DotA community, Sheng is also a very clever person having recently graduated from Zhejiang University, one of the best universities in China. How did Sheng manage to play a video-game professionally whilst studying at one of the best universities in Asia? It is one of the numerous questions that “Long Live Great 9 God” will answer.
Hello 2009. On behalf of It’s Gosu, thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions. You are an internationally recognized and renowned player in DotA but your lack of appearances in DotA 2 may have some people not know of you. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us more about you and your gaming background?
I am 25 years old, graduated from Zhejiang University two years ago. I played quite a lot of e-sports games like KOF, O2JAM, SC, WAR3, etc. I started playing DotA about 5 years ago in my sophomore year. I was in a college team but never got any titles. I went to EHOME in 2008 and got a runner-up in an Asian tournament. I formed team FTD in 2009 and won IEM & SMM grand finals. In the year of 2010, my team changed name into LGD.sGty due to sponsorship, but I left competitive DotA scene on September of 2010. Later on, I left LGD for WE and became a coach.
Your professional career truly started in 2008 when you joined the ranks of EHOME notably thanks to Zhang ‘GK’ Wenli and Huang ‘LongDD’ Xiang who had nothing but praise for you. How were you discovered by these two while you had no major achievements?
My position was solo mid, where I spent most of my time. I was very dedicated into it; I consider I was one of the top solo players in EHOME at that moment. My performance was decent as well in my previous college DotA team, so EHOME asked me to join them after a couple matches.
With eight titles within four months, we can convincingly affirm that joining EHOME was the best decision in your early career. Nevertheless, despite great results, you eventually left the team. What did you suddenly leave the team despite your great results?
When I first went out of college, I wasn’t sure how everything would go and I was a little negative when facing difficulties. There were some disputes when I initially joined EHOME, I asked our manager if I could quit because I didn’t think we could go through this. However EHOME couldn’t find anyone to replace me, so I stayed just for ACG. After ACG, we were surprisingly happy with what we had achieved and my manager desired me to keep moving. At that time, I felt an Asian tournament title was a top honor for a Chinese DotAer. I left EHOME at the end because I didn’t think a game could give me a future that I wanted, so I returned to Zehjiang University for further career plans.
You made a short comeback in the competitive scene shortly after leaving EHOME as you participated in Making Games Colourful with KingSurf International. Why did you make the decision to team-up with a European team and how was it to play with non-Chinese players?
I remember they needed one more player to go. KS’s manager – ERYC met me at ACG, he knew me well, and considered I was an experienced player. Therefore, he invited me to join. First of all, I admire Puppey and Jolie and I also wanted to have a try to play with non-Chinese players. I mostly used my noob English and body language to communicate with them J
You then had to pursue your studies but you eventually came back during the summer of 2009 where you created For The Dream. The team was composed of ZSMJ, KingJ, Sharingan (later known as beNz), Gx and you. Most of these players had no achievement before joining you. What caught your attention in these players?
Sharingan and I know each other since PDP. We had some fun in some online tournaments. He recommended ZSMJ and then ZSMJ recommended KingJ. At that time, there were many players who wanted to become competitive, but I eventually chose them as my teammates. There was a very good and successful inhouse league called CDEC led by some well known players, recruited about 100 players in one group, using BOT statistic system provided by QQ to record all players’ stats, randomly separating players to play matches. It had up to 3-5 matches going at the same time; it really helped the improvement of our team FTD. Shout out to Tim
With this roster, you managed to win the Intel Extreme Masters as well as the second edition of the SMM Grand National DotA Tournament in 2009. Those great results earned you a sponsorship with LGD-Gaming. How can you explain your success in these tournaments over teams that were supposedly stronger on the paper?
In my opinion, our team was very close to CD, CH and EHOME. We started to play later than them but we trained very hard. We cannot make up the disadvantage of lacking experience, but on the other hand, we were not feared at all! We were under a huge pressure on our shoulder (leaving of sponsorship). We knew how important that tournament was going to be, we couldn’t lose! We had strong believes and executions in intensive matches. Additionally, we were ahead on strategy with 3 semi-carry split pushing and pressuring.
We only picked Sniper once in all SMM matches; SF was picked almost every time as long as he was not banned, offset the feeling of not being able to use SF in EHOME.
You and your team continued to perform very well under the LGD tag but you unfortunately announced your retirement as a player after the National eSports Open. Could you please tell us the reasons that led to you retiring once again?
At that time, I didn’t have enough desire to win. So, I think it was time to leave and give the position to someone else still having that dream, or I would have dragged my team down. Actually, before WCG, I had already realized this and hoped someone could replace me. We picked ChuaN but he resisted sticking with TOT. Then we felt like there are no better options. Consequently, I finished WCG with my team and I was hoping to end on a positive note but we unfortunately lost to Nirvana.cn in the final.
During your career, you have played with a lot of players. If you could make a Dream Team line-up, which players would you pick and why?
I have many teams in my mind like GL, 7L, old EHOME, EHOME 2009, FTD, EHOME 2010, DK 2011 but I don’t think there is anyone who can 1v9 since DotA is a team play game even though personal skill is very important. When a game goes into a white-hot stage, a good team play is the main factor, including execution and having the strong faith in mind. Therefore, a championship is never a composition of five all star players. For example, the first half of 2011 was very good for DK.
If I have to pick players, I would pick: LongDD during the second half of 2007, 820 during mid 2009, BurNIng from 2010, YYF from first half of 2011 and YapehtS from mid 2010.
After retiring as a player, you decided to become the manager of LGD-Gaming and it paid off as your players won SMM Grand National DotA Tournament 2010. How did your role as a manager influence your team’s performance at this event? Do you consider yourself as a winner of SMM 2010 or just a contributor?
I think my contribution was small; a runner-up in 2010 SMM is mainly accomplished by them. Sharingan was our old buddy; we know each other very well.
Due to internal issues, you decided to leave LGD-Gaming. A few months after your departure, you were appointed as World Elite manager. Why did you decide to join World Elite over a team you are more familiar with like EHOME?
I wanted to learn E-sports club management from seniors, and I also can offer some help to WE as much as I can.
Most of the players of the current team have been chosen by you to represent World Elite. What exactly is your role within this organization?
I am more like propaganda in WE, but all WE’s DotA players are picked by me.
The non-Chinese fans are more familiar with teams like LGD-Gaming, Team DK, Invictus Gaming and EHOME. Could you please take the time to introduce each players from the team and what role they play in game?
JKK is our new player, replacing JIEJIE in DotA. JKK usually plays 2 or 3 position. Chan and Fnty are better with intensive laning and mid game team fight. ICY and Luo can fit in any position.
As previously mentioned, you discovered those players. How did you discover them? What are your criteria and how did you know that they would be doing well at high level?
If a player’s name can be written in DotA history, it’s unlikely for an unknown player to achieve good results. I usually find new players from high level public games and non-pro small tournaments. Some friends recommend me some good players as well.
I would like to touch on a new topic; DotA 2. Before asking questions related to the game, there is a question in particular that a lot of people ask themselves. Will you make a comeback at high-level through DotA 2?
I don’t think I will play Dota 2 competitively.
The game is still in BETA for about one year now. What are your thoughts about the game and its progress?
Very humanized. I like many of DotA2’s settings. I still need more time to like the animation.
DotA and its successor are both similar and different. What do you think are the major differences between both games and does it have any impact on the gameplay?
Lots of Chinese players are still getting used to the whole animation, magic rendering, attack animation, etc. More humanized changes improved DotA a lot more as we can see the resolution of IceFrog’s team.
The vast majority of DotA heroes have been implemented in DotA 2. However, is there a hero from DotA that you would like to see added in DotA 2? (Please, explain why).
Skywrath Mage, I Like SM Very Much.
A few months ago, the hero-pool favored an aggressive/pushing style but things have changed since the addition of Lone Druid, Lycanthrope and Chaos Knight. What are your thoughts about the current metagame?
Give pressure on the laning and positive&direct team fight ability.
Heroes like Anti-Mage and Faceless Void were very common picks a few months ago but the release of more carries made them less and less picked. Do you think that we will encounter the same problems in DotA 2 like in DotA, where only the same heroes are picked over and over again?
Naga is very hot now!
One of your best heroes namely Shadow Fiend is rarely picked in competitive games while he was a common pick in DotA. Why do you think are the reasons for his lack of appearances in DotA 2?
Mainly because of the shorter duration time of BKB and the introduction of Smoke of Deceit. The meta game has much more ganking and pushing possibilities than before, a non-BKB SF can barely face it unless one line-up will fully support SF as a carry allowing him to get an early BKB. Otherwise, my previous SF style doesn’t fit the current game trends, which is split pushing and containing.
Viper is as well a hero that you are particularly fond of. Nevertheless, he is almost non-existent in competitive games despite his excellent early and mid game. What are your thoughts about this hero and do you think that he can fit in the current metagame?
I was surprised that how Viper was used in The International by Na’Vi. Viper’s passive skill is very strong now. Nevertheless, his DPS increasing ratio is not good, so it’s hard to put Viper as carry or solo regularly but only in a specific line-up.
I would like to talk about another aspect of the game, players and teams. You discovered numerous players back in DotA such as ZSMJ and YYF not to mention the players of your current team, World Elite. Do you believe the world of DotA still has some hidden talent that has yet to be discovered that could compete internationally?
JKK has the potential and along with some other solid new players. I think they will do well but need a good environment to grow.
PS: they have to get the permission from their parents to become pro-players first, haha.
ZSMJ unfortunately announced his retirement after failing to show results with LGD Gaming. He has been replaced by an ex-World Elite player in Sylar. He is often compared to DK.BurNIng. What are your thoughts about this player? Do you think he can ever reach the level ZSMJ once had but on a different game?
In the early year of ZSMJ’s career, his ability to make up gold was insane. He is the best over all players in the history at this point and his items have the ability to join early team fight as well. Obviously, he still didn’t wake up from the second place in SMM 2010. In that match against EHOME, BurNing showed us his super strong understanding of the game including his soul ring Morph, Diffuse Alchemist.
The captain of your team, Luo is considered as one of the best strategists in China as he comes up with good strategies, interesting picks and more. Do you influence his decisions?
I think some of the new heroes they have been picking are working very well in their BP line-up like, TC, WL, NAGA. However, I don’t participate in their daily training, discussions and decision-making.
Your team will unfortunately not attend the second of The International but World Elite will somehow be represented as you will head to Seattle as a commentator. How does it feel to leave China in order to cast the greatest DotA 2 event ever?
I feel very honored!
The best teams in the world will attend this event including first edition’s champions, Natus Vincere. What are your thoughts about the participating teams?
I think Na’Vi, Zenith, LGD and iG will do very well.
Speaking of Natus Vincere; the team’s captain is none other than Clement ‘Puppey’ Ivanov, a player you played with during your short time in KingSurf International. Four years ago, in an interview with SGamers, you said that Puppey was your favorite player and that he was very brilliant. What do you think about him now four years later?
They snapped the highest prize in DotA history last year, I am very happy for him and his Chen should be written in the DotA history.
He and Ivan ‘ArtStyle’ Antonov from Darer are considered as the best captains in western DotA. You are considered as one of the best captains and strategists ever. What do you think about these two in terms of captaining and strategy?
Puppey and I were teammates. I know how good of a strategist he is. At the same time, I watched ArtStyles’ games. They both are very excellent captains. Puppey may ban and pick with some random thoughts while ArtStyle might have faith with certain heroes. Puppey’s teammates are more powerful than ArtStyle's at the moment.
Natus Vincere also have Danil ‘Dendi’ Ishutin in their team. He is often compared to you and he is the current star of western DotA 2. What are your thoughts about this player?
He grows too fast!!
Five teams will represent China at the event. Do you think that they will do well against American and European teams who have played the game a lot longer?
I believe IG and LGD have shown their strength at a certain level. Tongfu, EHOME and DK as long as they adjust their internal state of affairs. They can show the power, just like Chinese teams performed in SMM 2009.
Chinese teams have had a hard time against the Singaporeans from Team Zenith. What do you think is the reason for this?
I think Loda and Hyhy had bad memories against Chinese teams in the last few years, deep resentment in my opinion. They might get lots of strategies ready. Of course, from personal skill and experience perspective, Zenith is a top team as well if putting them in China, joining Chinese LAN events and tournament.
Chinese teams play differently than foreigners. Knowing this, do you think that they will adapt well during the event?
Yes, they will. I think at least two teams will finish in the top 5!
Not only are you a commentator, you are also a coach as you produce educational videos for the community. How did you get the idea to produce coaching videos?
One friend of mine invited me to give a speech and he expected me to add my gaming topic. Additionally, Haitao was already a very successful video maker. I think that was a very good way to share.
Your videos are posted on your Youku and have more than 140 million of views. However, your videos are for DotA only. Do you have in the idea to produce videos for DotA 2 as well?
I am making Dota 2 VODs already.
Furthermore, only Chinese players can benefit from your videos. Do you plan to release your videos in English as well?
Er…this is very difficult for me to accomplish unless I can move to an English-Speaking country for a while. Otherwise, my oral English is way behind to make VODs.
You also have your own business as you sell products through TaoBao. What are you selling exactly and are you preparing your final retirement from eSports?
Clothing, and e-sports equipment. I want to become a businessman.
Let’s go with some personal questions if you do not mind. First of all, what is the story behind your nickname 2009?
In China, people cannot legally get married before 22. I got 22 years old in 2009.
We know that you graduated from Zhejiang University, what were you studying there?
The community often calls you “Long Live Great 9 God”. How does it feel to have such support from your fans and how did they come up with this nickname?
Half people are just making fun of me, the other probably like me. I actually don’t have any clue about when they started calling me like that. At least, I am happy to see some of them favor meJ
You are now a professional commentator in DotA and you also secured your future as you can probably find any job you want in your domain. What are you going to do? In other words, will you continue with DotA 2 in the next years or do you prefer the safer way?
I hope I can operate a company which belongs to me.
I suppose that your parents are very happy of your success. However, what are their thoughts about you playing/working in DotA?
They fully support me!
Do you have a girlfriend? If yes, what does she think about your passion for DotA?
I don’t have a girlfriend yet.
Alright, let’s go for some quick questions:
Favorite food: Rice
Favorite drink: Tongfu gruel
Favorite movie: Crash
Favorite actor: Stephen Chow
Favorite model: I don’t know too many models
Favorite song: eternity memories of light and waves
DotA or DotA 2: None of them, just IceFroG
Favorite player: BurNIng
Favorite teammate: Sharingan
Favorite team: Every strong team in their era, Zenith at the moment!