Ephey talks remote paneling at TI11, BTS Dota 2, and her exceptional effort for voicelines
We caught up with Ephey who is currently covering TI11 from Oslo, Norway to talk about some Dota 2.
TI11 kicked off on October 15th and unlike the previous The Internationals, this year sees a shift from normalcy with remote panels. While the event itself is happening live in Singapore, on-panel talents are away in Norway.
Among the long list of invited talents, 27-year-old Jordanian, Mira "Ephey" Riad, is covering TI for the second time in her career. She first appeared as a broadcast talent at the WePlay AniMajor in 2021 and has since then covered multiple Tier 1 events including ESL One Fall, Gamers Galaxy: Dubai, and ESL One Malaysia.
Esports.gg caught up with Ephey who is currently TI11 Playoffs. She shared her thoughts on covering TI remotely, her fond memories of Beyond The Summit, her Dota 2 voicelines, and more!
(This interview was conducted on the day TI11 started - October 15th)
Ephey talks off-site paneling for TI11
Ephey is currently off-site paneling for TI11 in Norway.
Hey Ephey, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. How are you feeling right now? How have things been going for you?
Ephey: As of now, exhausted! I’ve been in Oslo for less than 24 hours and I’m trying to shift my sleep schedule to Singapore time and it hasn’t been easy, haha. Otherwise, very good! I just spent two weeks in the U.S visiting friends and family, particularly my little brother Rudy, and had a great time before coming here to work TI. I really feel like I un-winded in a way that I needed.
From what I heard, you are doing off-site paneling. When you first found out about not being in Singapore for TI11, how did you feel?
Ephey: Oof. To be honest, I felt so disappointed and discouraged initially. I had first heard about the off-site panel from the rumor mill, because some talent at Arlington had heard it from some higher-ups and let me know. Didn’t want to believe it at first, so I bookmarked it in my mind but stayed hopeful until we got the official e-mail.
I genuinely was so let down, I was looking forward to meeting fans and working my first TI in front of a crowd, and hopefully being able to watch the finals from the arena and feel a part of the magic myself. I got over it pretty quickly though, because at the end of the day, it is work and work can’t always be fun. Now that I’m in Oslo, I just want to focus and do a good job and I really hope that FOMO (Fear if missing out) doesn’t kick in so that it doesn’t reflect in my mood.
How do you prepare to do work remotely compared to doing talent on-site?
Ephey: There won’t be much of a difference honestly, I’m still going to prep the same way and watch as many games as I can every day. The one key difference is that I won’t be able to pick the brains of pro players, or the on-site casters like Fogged who is always interesting to talk to because he’s always got some cool random bug or interaction to share.
A tribute to Beyond The Summit
With all the bad news surrounding Dota 2 right now, what do you think is the ONE reason Dota 2 will stay alive?
Ephey: Honestly, Dota will stay alive because the community will keep it alive. We are addicted to this game and can’t shake it no matter what happens. We mostly hate other games (and ourselves) and no game gets us going quite like this one. The only thing that will kill Dota is if the balancing team does something crazy or disconnected, which hasn’t ever really happened. It always feels like the game is in a playable state.
A couple of days before TI11, Beyond The Summit's co-founder, David "LD" Gorman revealed that BTS did not get the deal to produce next year's DPC league. This is heartbreaking for the community as BTS has been the foundation of Dota 2 events and is a major part of the community's growth.
What do you feel about BTS Dota’s recent news?
Ephey: It just feels so... wrong tbh. I was so surprised when I heard that they didn’t get a DPC season this year. BTS is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of a Dota TO, and since I’m not really informed on most of the ongoings behind the scenes so I can’t think of a reason why they wouldn’t have won the bid, but I have to assume there had to be some greater reason that involves both parties that we weren’t informed about.
Do you have any fond memories of BTS?
Ephey: My brother Feero and I spent a lot of time together growing up and playing Dota together. While we were super addicted to pubs and played 10 a day, we didn’t care enough about competitive Dota because we just wanted to play, but we would tune in to BTS hubs often just because of the cozy environment and share some laughs together while feeling that pull of community that BTS expressed so well.
"China had a difficult year due to a lot of circumstances outside of their control."
TI11 feels way more intense than usual and there are talks about the shrinking skill gap. Who is the one team you think everyone should watch out for?
Ephey: I mostly have my eyes on Thunder Awaken as my dark horse in this tournament. They’ve been so consistent within the SA region, while gradually racking up international experience and their carry player Pakazs is currently one of the best carry players in the world in my opinion.
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China seems lackluster this year and even PSG.LGD seems to be struggling at the moment. What do you think about the state of the Chinese region? Are they falling behind or are other regions just catching up?
Ephey: I think China had a difficult year due to a lot of circumstances outside of their control: missing the first major due to covid restrictions, visa issues in the second, and potentially a lack of motivation from their players because of feeling that sense of injustice. In spite of this though, I do think that the three Chinese teams currently in TI are incredibly strong, and that this region has consistently produced the most stable teams and players.
EG seems very strong during the Group Stage. Can Arteezy win his first TI?
Ephey: EG’s performance in Groups really surprised me. I, like many other viewers, was starting to lose faith in the roster’s ability to succeed, but it seems like they’re getting it together in the 11th hour. I’m not inclined to think they’ll win it all to be honest, but who knows, TI magic can lead to anything.
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SA: Wild, NA: Boring, China: Steady, WEU: Dominant, SEA: Inconsistent, EEU: Macro.
Can you describe every region with only ONE word?
Ephey: SA: Wild, NA: Boring, China: Steady, WEU: Dominant, SEA: Inconsistent, EEU: Macro
If you can build your own Dota 2 all-star team, who will you pick up?
Ephey: I would clone Slacks five times, and coach this clone army. The original would be free to not be involved in this winning team.
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Most pros and talents really enjoy the current patch. For you, what is the best thing about this patch that makes it most enjoyable?
Ephey: As a support player, I love that the roaming type strength 4s are in meta, and that the heal slave meta is long gone. It feels like a lot of picks are viable, the game slowed down enough to allow for comebacks, but not enough to punish early-game dominance, and the Dire map changes fixed a lot of issues I had in my own pubs.
Predict a surprise hidden pick that might come up this TI.
Ephey: I’m expecting a Meepo pick at some point, to clutch a draft out. If any team is going to do it, it’ll probably be Gaimin Gladiators.
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Back then we used to see more midlaners under the limelight. But in this Dota 2 age, offlaners like Collapse, SaberLight, and Faith_bian shine. Why do you think there is that shift?
Ephey: Right now, it feels like the most constant way to secure your team’s early game advantage is to deny the enemy carry’s farm early game, and open the offlane tower as early as possible. You can’t really play around the midlane early on in the same way and have the results that prioritizing a dominant offlane can provide.
Also, with the change in Dota economy and there being more gold in the map, neutral items, ways to have impact early on, it enabled offlaners to play a core style that gives them versatility in not just playing the typically initiator role, but also third core role, or push role depending on what a draft needs.
This creates more opportunities for teams with excellent offlane players to shine. Over the years, the mid lane has become a bit more of a boring lane, with the water runes, and the small camp which was thankfully removed, and mid players playing for item timings instead of rotations. This is also slowly changing though, and it feels like the mid laner in the TI patch is mainly going to be tempo style.
Ephey's immense effort for her voicelines
Just like the previous Battle Pass, this year sees more talent voicelines on board. Ephey submitted a 'hehe..sorry!' voiceline, one quite similar to hers last year.
What are the other voicelines that you submitted?
Ephey: We’re required to submit three to Valve, and they pick one. My other two were “ara ara” in an exasperated voice, and “aww, poor baby” in a mocking voice.
What’s your thought process when making the voicelines?
Ephey: I actually put a lot of effort into voice lines! I wrote down dozens of ideas over a couple of months, depending on if I thought of something randomly or heard something that might work, and narrowed it down to five that I liked the most. I spent around 4 hours total doing takes for each line, and played for some friends and pro players to see what was most popular.
I then submitted the three with the most positive reception to Valve. After last year, I realized delivery was more important than the words you use, because you want it to be appealing to not only English speakers, so I spent a lot of time trying to make sure the tone of what I was saying was melodic. It also had to be short, sweet, and spammable. We aren’t allowed to submit anything outwardly negative so you have to toe the line because a good voice line is used for tilting purposes, haha.
The “hehe, sorry” that was selected this year was something I submitted because I thought last year’s voice lines would be removed, and I wanted people to still have access to the line they enjoyed while also being fresh. I tried to channel an annoying little sibling “sorry not sorry” energy because it felt like something that could be used in any instant of a Dota game.
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Sarah "KZ" Zulkiflee
Editor | Twitter @kayzeesarah
Born and grew up in Malaysia, but a citizen of the world. High-key addicted to everything Dota 2. Spams support heroes but Ancient Apparition is an all-time favorite (a 100% Ice Blast accuracy). Only PMA during the day.