Quinn firmly believes that there is no reviving the North American Dota 2 scene – calling the region “permadead.”
Gaimin Gladiators’ midlaner, Quinn "Quinn" Callahan, has collected outstanding achievements in 2023 - winning three back-to-back Majors and two DreamLeague events. But he is not done yet. Quinn has one more championship to bag before 2023 ends, and he is currently a step away from victory.
Esports.gg had a chat with Gaimin Gladiators’ Quinn to ask him about the TI curse, the state of North American Dota 2, Riyadh Master vs TI, and more!
Quinn talks about TI12 and the TI curse
Gaimin Gladiators is a relatively new organization in the Dota 2 scene, having entered this competitive territory in February last year. However, it is already touted as one of the most successful Dota 2 teams in history.
The team absolutely owned the year 2023 following three Major wins - the Lima Major, the Berlin Major, and the Bali Major. They also bagged two victories at the DreamLeague million-dollar tournaments.
But the team's consistent wins were met with a second-place finish at the most significant tournament of the year, The International 12. While this result is FAR from disappointing, many consider it an upset considering their insanely dominant form throughout the year.
Dota is just a hard game to keep winning in. It’s hard to keep winning in any game, but Dota is special because the game changes.
Quinn looked back to TI12 and briefly explained about what happened at the tournament. He believes his team played extremely well and they were happy with their performance, though Team Spirit just ultimately outplayed them.
“I think we had a very very good tournament. I think we played extremely well for the majority of it. We were pretty successful at fixing a lot of our issues. Which we had, like, earlier in the tournament like, the very beginning, I think we were a bit shaky when fixing a lot of problems and got really good... We were pretty dominant with that tournament. At the very end, I think we were extremely exhausted and Spirit’s also just an incredible team and incredible players. They just played better than us on that day. But overall I don't think any of us were unhappy with the tournament,” Quinn said.
For a long time in Dota 2's history, it seems like the favorites never get to lift the Aegis of Champions. Some even call it the "TI curse". But Quinn isn't very superstitious...
“No, (I don't believe in the TI curse.). I think Dota is just a hard game to keep winning in. It’s hard to keep winning in any game, but Dota is special because the game changes. If you're good at stuff, then your stuff will get nerfed and people will also steal your stuff. So you need to continue innovating. It’s just hard. But it will be done, like a team will win major tournaments and TI in a year. It will happen. It’s just a matter of when,” Quinn said.
Money or title?
There has been a new discourse in Dota 2 following drastic changes to the competitive scene. The lucrative TI prize pool, which used to grow multifold each year, plunged at TI111 and TI12. From big numbers like $40 million, TI's recent prize pool barely scraped $3 million.
With TI no longer having that prize pool grandeur, some pros have expressed feeling less excited for TI. Shopify Rebellion's carry, Artour "Arteezy" Babaev, casually revealed that he wouldn't care about TI if he wins the $15 million Riyadh Masters.
Saying you won Riyadh is cool and all but saying you’re a TI winner... I think I’d feel happier quitting the game with that.
During our interview with Quinn, he disagrees with the sentiment, saying he would feel happier to make an exit from the Dota 2 scene with a TI title in hands.
“I’d for sure take TI over Riyadh. I make plenty of money already, like, I’m very privileged in that, so like, chasing more? I just don’t find so much value in it. It’s a very privileged thing to say but for me, I think being able to say you’re a TI winner.. saying you won Riyadh is cool and all but saying you’re a TI winner... I think I’d feel happier quitting the game with that.”
Quinn believes North American Dota 2 is “permadead”
For a long time, Quinn has been the poster boy of North America. He was the number one player in NA pubs and used to represent NA teams. Even though he now plays in Western Europe (WEU), Quinn still has the NA spirit.. well sort of.
"(Q: Do you still have the NA spirit?) I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or an insult. I’m not sure how to respond. (laughs) In some ways, maybe. I guess I certainly DON’T miss it but there’s some sense of comradery with the region for sure," Quinn stated.
NA is just sort of doomed due to like a lot of random factors and I don’t think it’ll ever really get better. The region just has player base issues that have been there for a really long time and I don’t think it’ll ever be fixed.
We asked Quinn about the dim lights of NA Dota and how the region might completely plunge after the abolishment of the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC). Quinn isn't very optimistic and firmly stated that NA Dota 2 has always been dead and there is no reviving it.
“I think NA was dead before DPC, dead with DPC, and will be dead after DPC. I think the region is just sort of doomed due to like a lot of random factors and I don’t think it’ll ever really get better. (Q: Any suggestions to make it alive again?) Nahh, I think the region just has player base issues that have been there for a really long time and I don’t think it’ll ever be fixed. So I think the region is just kind of like, permadead.”
Speaking about regions, Quinn also mentioned that he's contented in WEU and will never play in another region.
“I’ll never play in another region, for sure. When you move to Asia, there’s a bit of a cultural divide. An American moving in to a Southeast Asian team.. I don’t speak Chinese obviously so I couldn’t try out a Chinese team. It’s sort of the same thing in Eastern Europe, I don’t speak Russian so there’s a lot of cultural barriers to cross,” Quinn said.
Reaction to Patch 7.35: "Valve is full of surprises."
During the interview, we also addressed the elephant in the room. The surprise mid-tournament Patch 7.35 was released hours before a Playoffs series began in the ESL One Kuala Lumpur.
Hopefully, this doesn't become a trend.
Quinn finds Valve amusing with its surprises. “We have an off day today so it’s better for us than other teams. I don’t know, it’s a bit clowney, Valve is full of surprises. It’s alright you know. If it was TI or Riyadh, I’d be really mad. But this tournament is not either of those so it’s fine, you know. It’s not the end of the world to me. Yeah, hopefully, this doesn’t become a trend."
Quinn described Patch 7.35 and praises the change to item builds. “It’s fine, I don’t think it’s overly offensive, it’s not overly impactful, it’s mostly just a hero patch, item build patch, which is fine. I think item builds are becoming somewhat stagnant in some ways so I don’t have an issue with an item build patch. Although some of the hero changes makes no sense, some of them are good.”
Will Gaimin Gladiators and Quinn end 2023 with a bang?
Following a lengthy and successful year, Quinn plans to spend time with his family as he didn't get to spend the last Christmas with them. But before the holidays, he has one more mission to complete. And that is another tier 1 tournament victory to end the year with a bang.
Quinn and the rest of Gaimin Gladiators are already waiting for their next opponent in the Grand Final of ESL One Kuala Lumpur. Catch Quinn playing the final series of the tournament tonight!