Whitemon talks about representing Indonesia at IESF WEC 2022, playing with Topson and ana and joining TSM to compete for North American Dota.
Matthew "Whitemon" Filemon is a household name in South East Asian (SEA) Dota. The 22-year-old Indonesian has been playing Dota professionally in the last four years for various reputable teams such as EVOS Esports and Geek Fam. That said, many truly got to know his name during his time at T1; where he became one of the first Indonesians to play at The International (TI). Along with his good friend and fellow countryman Kenny "Xepher" Deo, Whitemon made strides that placed Indonesia on Dota's international map.
And now, not only did he represent his country, winning the Dota 2 world cup at the International Esports Federation (IESF) 14th World Esports Championship Bali 2022 (WEC 2022), he also joined TSM and will soon start a new life chapter as the first Indonesian to play in North American (NA) Dota.
Esports.gg conducted this interview on Dec. 8 prior to Whitemon's championship victory at IESF WEC 2022. The interview was conducted in Indonesian and translated by Esports.gg staff.
On representing Indonesia at IESF WEC 2022
Hello, Whitemon! Thank you very much for speaking with me. Congratulations on beating Kazakhstan and making it to the next round. What are your thoughts on representing Indonesia’s national team?
Whitemon: "This is my first time doing something like this. Previously, I’ve always been busy with team activities. But I happen to be free this time and got permission from my team (TSM). I’m excited about this opportunity because I get to represent my country."
How did you end up getting scouted to represent Indonesia? Were you one of the first choices?
Whitemon: "There’s a selection process. Indonesia really wanted Xepher and Fbz at first, but they were not able to get permissions to play from their teams due to other priorities. That leaves Jhocam, Hyde and myself. But Hyde only wanted to play pos 4, which was why I was able to secure my role in the team playing pos 5. Meanwhile, Jhocam came in as the pos 4 whereas Hyde became coach."
Whitemon stresses on the importance of networking to succeed as a Dota 2 pro player
Being a good player is one thing. But knowing how to network and finding connections is absolutely important.
Do you think this event can potentially help raise the skills and reputation of aspiring pro players?
Whitemon: "Maybe these sort of events are still overlooked by the tier one scene at this time. This tournament helps to increase the reputation of certain countries in the scene, but maybe not so much for the players. There are just so many factors for players to be considered by tier one teams.
You obviously need to have high MMR. Having competitive experience is a plus. If not, having a good attitude and communication skill is essential. You also must have connections and know how to network with the right people in the scene. Like I said, there are so many factors. It’s definitely not easy."
Certainly. And in your opinion, what is your advice for aspiring Dota professionals out there?
Whitemon: "Being a good player is one thing. But knowing how to network and finding connections is absolutely important. Especially in SEA. In SEA, you usually see the same names at the top. That’s because they have already established their network and know each other within the scene. SEA teams are more likely to pick up known players with the right attitude. Socializing is really important here.
I played with various five-stack parties here and there to build my connections. Having fun while making new friends. Adding my friend list on Steam. I then became close to Xepher while he was playing for Geek Fam. At the time, they needed a pos 5 player so he referred me to the team. And the rest is history."
On playing with Topson and ana
You’ve been through a lot during your time at T1. You placed 7th-8th at TI10. This year, however, was rough even though T1 picked up two-time TI winners Topson and ana. Tell me your what was your experience like playing with them?
Whitemon: "I was quite nervous and excited at first. I mean I’m playing with two-time TI winners. I was concerned with respecting them too much and putting them on this pedestal that could affect our gameplay. So I shaped my mindset to treat them just as I would with any other player--to just focus on the game. We’re all the same human beings in the end. Also, I just wanted to learn as much as possible during my time with them."
And what did you learn?
Whitemon: "What I learned from Topson is that we lack objectives while we train or scrim. In Europe, Topson and his former teammates on OG will have a specific objective to hyper-focus on during scrims. For example, they would have an objective to fix their mid game during a specific scrim and that’s all they would focus on. Nothing else. Other objectives include how to improve laning phases, how to better move around the map or how to pressure the enemies more efficiently.
Meanwhile in SEA, we usually scrim just to practice our heroes and learn the meta. However, metas always change even in between TI or majors. SEA players and teams could stand to learn a thing or two from European mindsets."
Broadening the horizon and exploring a new region
Of course, broadening your horizon is definitely important. I mean isn't that why you are making the exciting move to TSM? What are your thoughts on that? And how did you end up joining TSM?
Whitemon: "MoonMeander was the one who approached me. At first, they wanted 23savage to join the team. But it turns out they needed a pos 5 as well. So 23savage recommended me to them because he wanted to play with me. Unfortunately, he later chose to stay with Talon Esports. MoonMeander then asked if I still wanted to join TSM even without 23savage. The thing is I was also offered to join Talon, and this got me into a bit of a dilemma. In the end, I decided to join TSM."
Why did you end up choosing TSM?
Whitemon: "It’s a whole new environment for me. I really want to try to get out of my comfort zone. I also heard that if you play in NA, you get to queue ranked matches and scrim in Europe without having too high of a ping. From the last TI, we all know that Europe was the strongest. So, I’m really looking forward to learning from that region as well."
Thoughts on playing in NA
What are your other thoughts on NA as a region?
Whitemon: "I know many can be quite critical of the region. It’s always been either EG, TSM or Quincy Crew that pops off. But I believe this region is still quite competitive and can go toe-to-toe with other regions like China or Europe. Then again, I still don’t know that much which is why I’m going there."
Will you be bringing your SEA style of gameplay there, or will you rather adapt to theirs?
Whitemon: "We’ll just have to see later. I’ll find out if I can insert my gameplay style. If not, I will certainly adapt to theirs."
Whitemon will head to NA early January 2023
Please keep supporting me wherever I go. I know my hours in NA is not great for SEA supporters, but I hope you will continue to watch my games.
When and where will you be located in the US?
Whitemon: "I’m heading there in the beginning of January next year. TSM’s bootcamp will be located in Los Angeles. But we won’t be bootcamping immediately. I’ll first be going to Washington D.C and scrim online. I’ll be staying with Timado there. Once we are ready, we’ll be playing from LA."
Is there anything you would like to share with your fans and friends around the world?
Whitemon: "Please keep supporting me wherever I go. I know my hours in NA is not great for SEA supporters, but I hope you will continue to watch my games."
SEA Dota will sorely miss you, Whitemon! We wish you all the best on your new and exciting adventures in the US. Make NA Dota great again, SEA style!