I Can Go the Distance: An Interview with Daihuu

Daihuu onstage at ESL Burbank

Photo Credit: ESL

For me, interviews are a chance to meet people and get to know them better. Not everyone can afford to go to events and meet the pros and the casters in person, so—like me—the best they can do is watching streams or following their favorite players on Twitter. We don’t get that face-to-face time that really allows us to meet people as friends, family, equals. There is so much more to people than their onstage persona or the avatar they play as, and I want to share that with others.

With that in mind, Daihuu seemed like a perfect candidate for an interview. Daihuu has been on several all-star teams including Resurgence, Afro Doge, and now Vox Nihili, and has really separated himself from the pack with outstanding tank plays. On top of that, he’s legitimately one of the most chill guys to talk to via Twitter, Skype, etc., and I greatly admire his drive and determination to become the best player he can be.

On Personal

I notice that you’re pretty vocal in old interviews. Do you just have a lot of opinions?

Yeah, when people ask me questions, I just flood them with all the things I’d like to say about the topic. Since I’m so quiet, not a lot of people ask me things, you know? So when they do I’m just like: omg, here—have everything. I also just love talking about games so there’s that.

Hahaha I see. Delving into your past interviews, you’ve mentioned that you’re a very emotional player. Do you think that impacts your play negatively?

I think it definitely used to prior to joining Vox. I started playing competitively when I was 18, and right when I started, I discovered I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. At the start of my career, the stress of playing and the constant mood switches heavily hit me on a mental level. I was super down on myself all the time. I would take it out on my teammates by griefing them with random unprovoked passive aggressive comments, and I had no confidence in my performance. From Lunatik to, I’d say Squirtle Squad, I wasn’t as good of a teammate as I could’ve been.

But then I really started taking the time to learn myself. I would record logs of when I would switch moods, what were the triggers, and how to handle myself when I switched to a specific mood. Bipolar Disorder, if not treated properly, is really hard to play competitively with. Imagine one day you can play to your heart’s content like you know you can: you’re landing every skill shot, you can see everyone on the map, you can predict movements and call all the shots. But then the next day comes and now you’re sluggish, you feel like you’re the worst player in the world, and nothing is going right for you…but then you go back to having an extremely good time [later]. That’s the struggle with playing with this. But now that I’ve grown and have had help from Zoos, I think, emotionally, I don’t get impacted as much as I used to. I’m more focused on the game now and Zoos helps me get through my issues if I ever have them.

One thing I’ve really learned about myself is to just be quiet after a tournament or a scrim and just empty my mind. Because I get really flustered even now when things aren’t going right. I would like to say I’m very meticulous when it comes to things. If we move to A and B and we’re 3 levels up, but we move to C and it goes horribly, I get out of place because C should’ve worked, and then I start losing track of things. By emptying my mind, or meditating after a game, I reset myself and am able to focus on learning or winning.

My mood swings are very very frequent. But luckily I’m still around and I’m finally able to conquer it.

I understand exactly what that’s like, that stuff is difficult. As for your playstyle, you’ve pretty much always been a Warrior player ever since alpha. What was it about the role that drew you to it?

I was actually forced into it when I first joined haha. I was looking to play Support for my very first team but no one wanted to play Warrior so I ended up doing it. Then I started really learning the role and realized it fit me really well. I like taking charge and leading my team through fights. I’m a very observant person, so I can feel [the] cooldowns of the enemy team and my own team (i.e. something like: Medivh has no portal, kill him! Or our healer has Cleanse, still keep going!). I’m a huge huge huge fan of ganking and teamfights. Those two things are the reason why I play this game as much as I do. The fact that Heroes enables me to play to my strengths as well as I do now makes me really happy, haha.

One of the things that always interests me is how progamers balance their progaming career with their daily life (school, work, etc.). Did you go to school while playing? Do you work a day job?

Yeah, so early last year I was working a full time job on top of playing. I actually lacked a lot of sleep due to this haha. But then I started getting more and more issues with my disorder and ended up dropping everything for a few months. I quit my job, I stopped playing competitively, and I just laid in my bed depressed all day for a solid month. Thankfully, my mom, stepdad, and my girlfriend supported me through this, despite just dropping my entire life. After that month, I started showing signs of life again and made an effort to do the things I really wanted to do, so I rejoined the Heroes scene, I went to classes for my GED, and I worked part time when I could. Not all at the same time, of course; I took all these steps very very slowly, but that was the order I started to do those things.

As for present day, let’s see. I currently do not work anymore, as my job relocated. However, I’ve obtained my GED! I currently just play Heroes full time until either this kicks off or a job calls me back. Then I’ll balance work and Heroes once more until I can live my passion of playing professionally full time without worry.

So you plan on staying in esports indefinitely if possible? Do you have a job or profession in mind if you don’t?

Yeah, that’s the dream, right? Haha. If progaming doesn’t end up working, I would love to be a sports psychologist or a motivational speaker. I have a passion for getting people to smile even when they’re down (even while I’m down, for that matter lol), and being able to do that for a job is something I see being very realistic in my future. My life doesn’t end when I stop being a pro, you know? I feel like people have this misconception that taking time away from school or working at a young age—I’m 20—is wasting time away from your life. But life is what you make it, right? You gotta do the things you can while you can.

I had this existential crisis when I dropped everything for that month. It was wondering how life worked and why we got up everyday to go to work, slaving at a 9-5 and either being happy about life or extremely unhappy, right? It got me thinking if I was wasting my life doing nothing. Then I thought about Indian people who immigrated to the U.S. who own convenience stores. Those people are extremely hard working, and I can’t praise them enough for being able to start a store, do what they gotta do to live, and be happy because they’re doing something with their lives.

Daihuu meditating between games at ESL Burbank

Photo Credit: ESL

The reason I’m bringing this up is because they started generally from nothing, and despite all the turmoil they could’ve faced after years and years of stress and wondering if they could survive the next day, they end up [surviving] and becoming successful. That crisis actually made me realize: just put in the time, do what you can do, and at the end of the day, as long as you know you tried your very best—whether it’s practicing as much as you can or studying all night or working as hard as you can—you can be happy with what you’ve accomplished.

Absolutely. What are your personal goals as a progamer?

I think an obvious answer that everyone will say is that they wanna be the best in their region or in the world, which is obviously one of my goals as well. However, my goal is more [about] fame and glory. I want to be recognized as that play making Warrior player in NA. I want people to be like, “Yo Daihuu on (insert random team name)? Yooo, that’s such a good pick up omg. What a great tank!” Sure, money and being called the best is great, but being acknowledged for being world class is truly all I want in being a pro.

On Teams

You’ve been on…A LOT of teams throughout your Heroes career. What would you say are the qualities for good teammates?

I’m really glad you asked that. I think for a game as team-intensive as Heroes, you really need to like everyone on your team. You don’t have to see eye to eye on everything, but you do need to be able to tolerate them and be able to put the team’s success over your own quarrels. A good teammate will pick you up in-game when you’re down. If you start feeding your ass off and have that inevitable hatred of self-pity, someone—it doesn’t have to be everyone, but someone—has to be like, “It’s fine, don’t worry about it, we’re still okay/still even/ahead. Don’t worry, we got this.” This actually happened in our Road to BlizzCon match when I was on Panda Global vs Team Blaze. It was 1-1 and I burrowed on Anub past their fort wall and just randomly died. I legit tilted my ass off after that and Zoos was the one to be like “Daihuu, it’s fine. Pick it up, we’re gonna win.” and he brought my morale back up.

I think another good quality to have is the work ethic. This might sound weird, but a team needs to have the same goals in mind, and with that goal comes the work ethic. You can say, “Oh, I wanna be the best in the world” but only play an hour or two a day. If you and your team put in the hours needed to be good, then it’ll show in tournaments. And the final trait that comes to my head at this time is the perseverance. Teams take about a month to fully flesh out, and throughout that time you’ll go through a bunch of trouble. But if you endure that and you like everyone on your team, you’ll go far. Let’s take my team, for example. We formed a month before Burbank qualifiers, we managed to qualify and get top 4, right? PAX comes around, we did a roster swap, and we end up not qualifying at all. Despite all that, we’re still together, and we even added Zoos back to the roster to bring back that top 4 team that showed at Burbank.

On the flip side, you left Panda Global about a year ago because of “toxicity”. Have you experienced an environment that bad since then?

Before I answer that, David and Alan [the owners] from Panda Global did nothing but positive things for the team and me, and I’m truly grateful to have met them and blessed to have my first contract with them. They’re a great group of dudes, and PG has gotten better and better after my time with them. To answer the question though, no, I don’t think so. There are a few times on random teams that got too tense for no reason due to egos or people not seeing eye to eye, but nothing got as bad as PG.

So let me explain more as to why PG was toxic. The team on PG wasn’t like [trash] talking each other every day or anything that negative. We just started getting worse and worse results, and from the result of that, [we] just stopped trusting each other. Lex and I actually didn’t like each other at some point. He and I would bicker so much for no reason—one, due to my immaturity, and two, due to how everything was going wrong with the team. Obviously, now Lex and I have great respect for each other, but back then noooo, haha. We would play a scrim, and mid scrim we would either just passive aggressively make comments at each other or just bicker after the game. Now scrims are two hour blocks generally, and you can fit three to four games in those two hours…so you’d get two hours of us going back and forth every 30 minutes. Nowadays though, it’s really chill. I truly respect Todd (LexUther) as a player and think he’s one of the best Supports in NA—and if we ever bicker, it’s constructive and purely to get better.

Good to hear that things weren’t that bad. I think a lot of young teams suffer from that sort of attitude, especially when you’re gathering a bunch of young guys who haven’t had much experience working together on a team.

Yeah, after leaving PG, I really learned a lot from that experience and, though I regret all the negative things I did, I’m glad I was able to learn from it.

I first started paying close attention to you on Resurgence back in the day, and I thought you had potential to be one of the best tank players in the scene. Unfortunately, RSG didn’t think so at the time…can you run through your thoughts about being kicked from the team?

Being on Resurgence for the first week or two, I was actually really confident in my ability to improve. However, things started dwindling really fast for me. I lost my confidence, and I felt like I kept getting judged on every little thing I did. I actually lost confidence in a game every time I missed a Storm Bolt on Muradin. It was really crippling my performance and it showed in scrims. Now, if you asked me this the week after I got kicked, I hated the hell out of them. But if you ask me now, I don’t blame them. You gotta do what you gotta do to win, you know? If I’m not performing then hell, Fury definitely will.

Nowadays, I don’t really have any negative feelings towards any of the players from RSG. I was blessed to be able to play with Equinox, Kilick, Ryxie, and Shot, and I was able to learn so much from them during my time there.

Oh I’m dumb, it was RES, right? Or was it? I always get it confused with the Singapore team Resurgence.

It was RES. RSG sounds way better though.

Yeah, I remember we had a meltdown on what name we wanted to do, and we were just like, “Eh, let’s hope Singapore’s RSG doesn’t mind.” We didn’t make the name up until like a few hours before a roster lock, if I recall correctly.

Let’s talk a bit about Vox now. Vox Nihili came out of left field for the first NA Fall regional. Why do you think that the team suddenly became so strong?

I think there are two reasons as to why we were so good at Burbank. So the first one is how much time we put into the game. We spent nearly every day during qualifiers and heading into the event just breathing Heroes. Here was a daily schedule for me: I’d wake up, do whatever I needed to do, play Hero League by myself or with Zoos for three to four hours. [Then] take a break and watch replays of any performances I thought I did badly [in]. Then scrims came around for four hours, six if we were feeling frisky that week. Then we’d do team VoD review for an hour or two, and then people would either sleep at this point, chill, or play solo queue at night. We put so much time in, and we were able to luckily reap the rewards at Burbank.

Vox Nihili onstage at ESL Burbank

Photo Credit: ESL

Secondly, I think a huge part of our success was our trust in each other. We have a really good dynamic where we don’t micro [manage] each other. Let’s say an opportunity arises where we can do a Gust play into a Mosh, right? I won’t tell Hosty. “Gust them into the wall, and I’ll Mosh them.” He’ll tell me he’s about to Gust and I’ll Mosh right after. I see the opportunity for him to Gust, but I don’t have to tell him. I trust him and everyone else on my team to be able to do things like that. If someone says go, even if it’s bad, we will all listen to the call.

Aside from Vox, have there been any other teams you’ve been on that you thought could go the distance and shake up the NA scene?

Yeah, obviously Resurgence with Ryxie, Shot, Kilick, Equinox, and me. Hmm, what else…. Team Banana with Tigerjk, Haeun, Skullkid, Jun and I. We had a super stacked random team called Afro Doge with Khroen, HaoNguyen, Tigerjk, Jun and me. I think that’s about it though.

I notice a lot of Jun in there. A lot of people didn’t know Jun Jang before Murloc Geniuses’ sudden rise to prominence in the last two regionals, but you’ve been playing with him off and on for a long time, haven’t you? Do you think he deserves the “god tier” title people have been giving him? :p

Haha, he’s so good! To answer your question, yes, because he [works] extremely hard and does everything he can do to have that title. People don’t know this, but prior to playing with Tiger for the first time on, I believe Bang Bang?, he never spoke. Tiger actually molded him to talk more and be so active in his communication. And you can see it’s working now with his current team. I’m super happy for him. I always told him he was gonna be one of the best in NA—hell, even the world. And now he has two titles to prove it!

Do you think the long-term dominance of Cloud9 and Tempo Storm had an impact on the amateur/up and coming teams in North America in 2015? Do you think some of those issues have been solved in 2016?

That’s an interesting question, I personally don’t think C9/TS had an impact on rising stars, but I can definitely see the argument behind it. You see C9 randomly form, automatically get #2 in NA, then after a sudden rise in play, become the best team in NA for like what, a year, right? It’s very daunting to see players like iDream be so good, while someone like me has to put hella work to be able to play as well as he can. So I can definitely see how that could be a thing.

Daihuu at ESL Burbank

Photo Credit: ESL

I actually don’t think the scene started getting better until the Rosterpocalypse. During the C9/TS reign and even a little bit now to this day, all the players that were being put on good teams were just recycled from the list of other notable good teams. But due to the Rosterpocalypse, it caused all the talent to split up, for the most part, and form all these amazing teams: Denial, Murloc Geniuses, Naventic, Gale Force eSports. Fun fact: Astal Authority (King of Blades [Alpha] back in the day) is the only team I’ve seen from the C9/TS days that was able to make a splash on the scene from nothing. They were amateur players that ended up mauling other teams to be a top 8 team. So yeah, [in] 2016 it’s been a lot better, and I think NA is stronger than it’s ever been.

Interesting. A lot of people would contend that NA is weaker than it’s ever been, at least on a world scale.

Hmm, maybe I worded it wrong. Before NA only had two good teams: C9 and TS. But now we have MG, Denial, NVT, GFE, Astral. I’d have to agree though I think Korea and China really stepped up with their play and they’re probably the best regions.

[Revised statement:] So yeah, [in] 2016 it’s been a lot better, and I’m glad we have more teams being able to play at a top caliber level in NA.*

On the Game

Right now, a lot of people are saying that first pick (FP) has always had an advantage during drafting. Do you agree with this argument, or do you think it’s largely meta-dependent?

I’m not that involved in drafting, so I feel like my answer isn’t going to be good of good input. However, I do agree that FP has a huge advantage during draft. I recall in Burbank, after we lost a coin flip to determine if we were first or second pick, we would huddle up for a second and be like, “Okay, what maps should we pick for second pick?” Because some maps just have the worst [possible] time being second, and other maps slightly elevate it to a closer chance of SP winning. Even the Korean match that occurred recently (SPOILER) ended up in a 3-2 where first pick won the series.

How do you account for MasterLeague.net’s near 50% win rate over 6 months of data though?

I actually don’t have a good answer to that question, but I will say if both teams are performing well that day, I feel FP has an advantage. FP doesn’t have an advantage if one team is choking extremely hard or not performing (i.e., GFE vs Denial at PAX, us vs MG in top 4 at Burbank).

Blizzard is trying out something new with this Nexus Games tournament before BlizzCon. What are your thoughts on it?

I’m so glad, haha. Prior to the Nexus Games, there was a big period of time in between the last qualifier and Worlds that had nothing for teams that didn’t make it to Worlds. So if you didn’t qualify, you’d sit around for like three months doing nothing and practicing just to kill time. I’m really glad Blizzard is stepping up and giving pros more things to do who didn’t make it.

Do you think the onus is on Blizzard to provide more opportunities, or do you think we should fill these gaps with more community tournaments like SolidJake’s Bloodlust tournament?

I think if Blizzard didn’t step in for the Nexus Games, then it’d be on us, the community, to produce tournaments for the pros to play in. Let’s look at how the two big name MOBAs do it, okay? [The] League of Legends scene is 100% all Riot’s doing. They host the LCS, they host Worlds, everything is on their end of things. Meanwhile [for] Dota 2, outside of The International, [everything] is community-based with Valve outsourcing their casters for the community. The HotS scene is kind of in the middle of the two, with Heroes United and regional qualifier stuff, so I think it’s a shared responsibility on both Blizzard and us to help the pros out.

Do you have any particular criticisms about the state of the game, matchmaking, balance, etc.?

Yeah, I truly wish Hero League wasn’t as annoying as it is right now. I love PPL (shoutout to Panda Pro League), but sometimes I just wanna listen to music and work on my mechanics instead of talking to people all the time. I think there’s a few Heroes that could be reworked to be better: Artanis feels clunky, [and] Dehaka has random delays on his spells and can’t unburrow himself, for whatever reason. But balance is really good other than that. I actually believe Heroes is heading in the right direction finally, and I’m really excited to see what’s in store for the future.

[On Artanis:] I don’t know why he can’t just cancel his Q at any time or why he has to stop in place when he swaps people, but something has to change.

Wrap-up

If you could go back to the beginning of 2015, would you change the course of your progaming career?

No, I don’t think so. All the things that occurred at the start of 2015 really allowed me to mature and be the person that I am today. Let’s hypothetically say I just got on an amazing, great team at the start of my career. right? I think I’ll just end up being an asshole and a bad teammate. I got to understand myself so much from my humble beginning, and I really don’t wanna forget it.

Daihuu and GOAT celebrating their victory over Gale Force eSports at ESL Burbank

Photo Credit: ESL

I went from a no-name to one of the most well known tanks in NA, from zero to Hero—from human Hercules in the Disney movie to being able to climb on Mount Olympus with KingCaff and Fury hahaha.

Any last statements? Do you have any shoutouts for teammates, fans, or supporters?

Yeah. First off, huge shoutouts to my fans and the Heroes community. I would not be here today if it wasn’t for ya’ll. Shoutouts to my team and Zoos especially for shaping me to become the player I am today. Shoutouts to my girlfriend Basheerah for being my rock, my high school sweetheart; she’s shaped me to be the man I am today. Shoutouts to my family—my mom, my sister Ly and my brother Lam for being my “parents” while my dad went to work and the love they’ve shown me unconditionally. Shoutouts to my dad as well, I know he’s up there in the sky proud of me. And thank you for interviewing me!


EsportsJohn remembers like a few years ago when every other guy was named Jason and all the girls were Britney. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

2 comments

  1. DKWings · September 11, 2016

    Excellent interview. Just want to say the link of “past interviews” at the start of the article is broken.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s