Deth spoke to Esports.GG following his remarkable performance as a stand-in for Neon Esports at the Singapore Major.

The real story of the Singapore Dota 2 Major was not Invictus Gaming reverse sweeping Evil Geniuses in the grand finals. Yes, that was a memorable series, but Dota 2 fans will remember the performance of underdogs, Thunder Predator and NEON esports. The two teams finished 5-6th, won $25,000 and secured 300 Dota Pro Circuit points. NEON Esports competed in the Major with Yang "Deth" Wu Heng, a last-minute stand-in. caught up with Deth to talk about his experience with NEON and all things Dota.

Deth: "I’m glad they recognized me as an option at all"

Deth was sleeping, unaware of the problems facing NEON esports ahead of the Major. He woke up to a bunch of calls from NEON esports’ captain, Rolen Andrei Gabriel "skem" Ong.

After a one-year lull in the Dota Pro Circuit, the ONE Esports Singapore Major was the first International Dota 2 LAN event. Teams from across the world, six regions in total, were to fly in and play in this $500,000 event. However, the Major had quite a few hiccups before the first match. The Dota 2 esports scene saw a flurry of COVID positive results and professional teams had to scurry for stand-ins. Natus Vincere and Beastcoast pulled out of the Major. 

NEON esports is one of the best teams from Southeast Asia and earned its group stage spot with a second-place finish in the DPC season 1. But days before the Major, the team announced Rafael "Rapy" Sicat Palo would stand-in for John Anthony "Natsumi-" Vargas who was ‘unfit to travel’. But the team’s problems were far from over as it soon came to light Rappy had come in close contact with someone who had COVID-19. Despite four negative tests, the player had to undergo quarantine and therefore could not play with the team at the Major.

The rest is history as Deth joined the NEON players at Fairmont Singapore, the venue of the ONEEsports Singapore Major 2021. The Dota 2 community had pegged Southeast Asia to be the weakest region. But they were in for a surprise as the handicapped SEA team exceeded expectations to finish in the top six. NEON esports shattered the myth about Europe’s supremacy in Dota 2, even taking Team Secret to three games in the playoffs. 

Adapting to NEON was all about finding the perfect mix of heroes

NEON esports’ announcement said Deth is the best option available for the team. It was a recognition of the player’s skill and consistent performance in the Dota 2 scene. 

I think I definitely played well but there was still room to improve in some of the games, especially that last game on Pugna. 

Deth played the offlane role on NEON at the Major standing out on heroes like Death Prophet, Leshrac and many more. Deth was one of the stand-out players on NEON esports. The offlaners playstyle allowed the rest of the squad the freedom of its trademark aggression. It must surely have been a big adjustment to play with four completely new players. Deth had no experience playing with any NEON esports member before the Major. We asked Deth about the adjustments needed for his integration into the team. 

I don’t really think there were any huge playstyle changes stemming from me joining, it was more of just finding the right heroes that fit with Skem’s carry hero pool and expanding from there.

NEON stands tall versus the Dota 2 heavyweights

NEON esports’ journey to the top six was not an easy one. The team had to go through some of the biggest names, including potential tournament favorites Vici Gaming. Vici Gaming had made it to the playoffs despite starting in the Wild Card stage.  The team started slow. Barely making it through the group stage, NEON showed glimpses of brilliance when it took games off Thunder Predator, Team Aster and Alliance. The Southeast Asian team also beat Team Liquid 2-0 on March 30. 

<em>Deth was a big reason for NEON’s upset victory over Vici Gaming. Image Credit: </em><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow"><em>NEON esports</em></a><em>.</em>
Deth was a big reason for NEON’s upset victory over Vici Gaming. Image Credit: NEON esports.

The playoffs lit a fire in the players, one that brought out the best of SEA Dota. The first series saw NEON upset Fnatic and eliminate their local rivals. The game against Vici started with a nearly-unkillable Bristleback for the Chinese squad in Game 1. NEON was quick to adapt to an aggressive playstyle with Spirit Breaker in game 1 and Leshrac and Tuskar in game 2. Vici struggled to keep up with NEON esports and lost the series with a 1-2 score. Nature’s Prophet was a very versatile pick for NEON allowing the team to continue its aggressive early-game focus while itemizing for the late game. Deth played Nature’s Prophet in game 3 that eliminated Vici from the tournament.

[...] I think Neon put up a great fight against Secret, albeit they are not in their greatest form right now. I would have loved to find out how Neon would have done against the other teams if we did manage to beat secret. For me personally, I’ve always been a fan of playing really fast Dota and I think to break this very prevalent 4 protect 1 meta, the only way is to play really fast and take over their map, so that’s the only thing I think sea players could try to do.

When asked how NEON would match up against the best teams in the world, Deth said he was excited about the possibility of going up against the best teams in the world. Speaking of the best in Dota 2, NEON Esports finally lost to Team Secret in the next match, but not before they took Clement "Puppey" Ivanov and co. to a game 3. 

Expectations from the Dota 2 update

<em>Valve will release the 7.29 gameplay update on Friday. Image Credit: </em><a href=""><em>Valve</em></a><em>.&nbsp;</em>
Valve will release the 7.29 gameplay update on Friday. Image Credit: Valve

With the conclusion of the Singapore Major, Dota 2 fans are eagerly awaiting the release of the 7.29 gameplay update. Valve has promised several balance updates as well as a new hero release

I think [Leshrac’s] laning for one is incredibly strong paired with the right support. For me, it’s strong in the current meta but also really dependant on the teams. For a team that plays fast like Neon, it can be really good. But for some other teams that prefer to have a hard carry that takes a long time to come online, the effectiveness of the DP isn’t as strong.

We asked Deth which heroes he thinks require a nerf, especially after the Singapore Major. 

I guess IO and Puck are the obvious ones. Maybe Tuskar as well? I think it’s mostly due to their damage output that’s just a little too high at times.

Despite being the most-picked hero at the Major, IO maintained a 63.16% win-rate. Puck was also extremely popular and rarely made it past the first pick-ban phase. 

Deth feels offlane heroes don’t require significant nerfs, although Valve might tweak the base stats for some.

I guess maybe DP’s base stats and movement speed are kinda too good? But I think the hero itself has innate weaknesses that don’t make it necessarily overpowered.

What’s next for Deth?

<em>Deth at ESL One Mumbai 2019. Image Credit: </em><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow"><em>ESL</em></a><em>.</em>
Deth at ESL One Mumbai 2019. Image Credit: ESL.

Deth is taking part in the open qualifiers for Dota Pro Circuit season 2. He will play in a new stack, called ‘Team D’. He has some experience playing with his new teammates, although it will still be a new adventure for him.

Yup, I am. I’ve only played with Ponlo before in RSG, haven’t played with any of the others in a team.

Deth is open to new opportunities and many teams might already be eyeing the talented player from Singapore. 

I’m mostly looking for a team in the SEA region. But I am willing to shift out if there are very good teams.

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