Get to know the Mr. Worldwide of Dota, Whitemon of Tundra Esports. Top 100 in Europe and top 10 in North America and Southeast Asia!

From east to west, Matthew "Whitemon" Filemon is the first Indonesian Dota pro player to have competed outside his home country in both North America and Europe. Esports.gg spoke with him nearly two years ago when he was just about to depart for the US.

Now, Whitemon plays among some of the best players across the world with a TI (The International) champion team, Tundra Esports.

In the last major LAN tournament, ESL One Birmingham, Tundra had achieved third place. This is by far their best accomplishment in 2024, showing the team's steady improvement. In fact, Tundra had dominated the records throughout the tournament.

Behind Tundra and Whitemon's recent achievements, we decided to follow-up with another interview to find out about his experience in playing with Tundra and everything he had learned throughout his journey.

Tundra's last two series at ESL One Birmingham

Hello Whitemon and thank you for doing another interview with us. I'd like to open with ESL One Birmingham. Tundra had a strong performance and won third place. Although, I'm curious as to what happened in that last two series against BetBoom and Team Falcons. Would you please share your insights?

Whitemon: "In the first game of our upper bracket final series against BetBoom, we had the advantage at one point. But when we had the Aegis and went for the high ground, we overextended and decided to go for kills instead of hitting racks which resulted in our team being wiped out. We lost our tempo, especially since our draft was not meant for the late game. Meanwhile, BetBoom had a Phantom Lancer in the team. After that the enemy just turned the tide against us."

What about game two?

Whitemon: "I think it is mainly because we played by reacting to their actions instead of taking initiative. But I would also say it was because we took so long to ban heroes during the drafting phase. So when it came to picking Topson’s hero, we ran out of time. He gave us a choice between Pugna and Puck. The team felt like Pugna was the better choice at first, even though Topson suggested otherwise. By the time we wanted to go for Puck, it was already too late as we had already selected Pugna. And that game was definitely not a good Pugna game."

Do you think that BetBoom series affected the team’s mindset during the lower bracket finals against Falcons?

Whitemon: "Perhaps. Our communication was slightly off that day. We weren't in sync and there were a number of miscommunications. I think we’re just tired."

On having little practice time and what to improve next

"We were able to come together as a team and understand each other’s playstyle. In fact, I’m confident in my team’s chemistry."

Whitemon is confident that Tundra is on the right track despite having little practice

In any case, a top three finish is still a solid achievement. In fact, it seems that Tundra has been steadily improving. What contributed to that?

Whitemon: "Honestly, we did not practice much going into Birmingham. There’s just so many tournaments going on that we actually did not have time to practice. Right after Elite League we had to immediately prepare our visas for Birmingham. And when we arrived, we only had one day of practice which was the day after media day.

"That said, it was because we were in so many tournaments that we were able to still improve. Through all that, we were able to come together as a team and understand each other’s playstyle. In fact, I’m confident in my team’s chemistry."

What other areas would you like to see yourself and Tundra improve?

Whitemon: "For me, just keep watching replays and find something new to learn. Maybe expand our hero pools as I think we still lack flex heroes. I’d like us to diversify our hero pool to make it more difficult for opponents to read our drafts."

Tundra Esports had the fourth lowest hero pool at ESL One Birmingham (Image via <a href="https://stats.spectral.gg/lrg2/?league=esl_one_birmingham_2024&amp;mod=teams" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Spectral</a>)
Tundra Esports had the fourth lowest hero pool at ESL One Birmingham (Image via Spectral)

Does Whitemon prefer new competitive format or DPC?

As you mentioned before, Tundra has been participating in so many tournaments recently. And there are still more to come. Does the team feel any burnout?

Whitemon: "Fortunately, we still have breaks in between. And we maximize our well-being however we want in those breaks. Whether we want to relax and rest up or continue playing Dota, it’s totally up to us. So no, we don’t feel any burnout. Personally, I love playing Dota. I’d still play anyway outside of tournaments. Playing ranked brings me joy."

So do you prefer the current tournament format or the old DPC (Dota Pro Circuit)?

Whitemon: "The current format is definitely better because there are more opportunities to compete. Although this comes with a tradeoff which is a lack of time to get visas. This is especially problematic for Southeast Asian (SEA) players like myself who are playing abroad because we’d have to go back to our home countries to get our visa. With all the many tournaments I need to prepare visas for, this can become very costly to me."

However, the DPC comes with a strict set of rules. In the current format, it seems like teams and players can make changes freely with little to no repercussions. How is that good for the competitive scene?

Whitemon: "Maybe. But look at it this way. We now have a lot more urgency to perform well. Because we are expendable, we need to make sure we give our best every time. At least that's how I see it. I’d like to see the positive side of things."

Expectations and hopes for a new meta

Tundra Whitemon hopes for buffs on Warlock and Lich
Tundra Whitemon hopes for buffs on Warlock and Lich

That’s a great mindset. Speaking about the positive side of things, I’m positive that a gameplay patch will soon be upon us [laughs]. What are your hopes for that?

Whitemon: "I definitely would like to see some map changes. We have been on this map iteration for a long time now. I also want more hero buffs this time. There had been mostly nerfs in the last patches. So why not do a patch where all heroes are buffed? I want to see heroes like Silencer and Treant make a comeback."

What about you personally? Which heroes do you want to be buffed?

Whitemon: "Warlock and Lich. They are very fun heroes to play so it’ll be nice if they get some buffs this time."

"They [supports] currently enjoy the biggest advantage in this current meta and are the easiest to raise MMR with"

Whitemon states that support heroes are strong in this meta

What’s your take on the support role currently? Is it in a good place?

Whitemon: "Yes, honestly. If you look back to Birmingham, a lot of the bans were for support heroes. They currently enjoy the biggest advantage in this current meta and are the easiest to raise MMR with. Heroes like Shadow Demon, Disruptor, Chen and Mirana are absolutely overpowered."

From Indonesia to America and Europe

Let’s talk about you. What have you learned about yourself and your pro Dota career throughout your journey across the globe?

Whitemon: "I feel I have improved a lot as a player. I have a better understanding of my gameplay and have become a much better shot caller since my T1 days. Of course, there’s still a lot of room for more improvement."

In a previous interview you have done with us, you also mentioned that Dota players shouldn’t just be good at the game but also in networking. Is that how you were able to join TSM and Tundra?

Whitemon: "Every time I match up with pro players in ranked pubs, I’ll always try to add them on Steam, especially if I often play with them. Because you’ll never know when you perform really well in pubs one day and someone from a team shows interest in you. So yes, networking is very important.

"I remember chatting up Pure at Kuala Lumpur even though he didn't really know me. I tried introducing myself and we just started talking about me as a player. He asked a lot of questions and in the end everything just worked out and I ended up joining this latest iteration of Tundra."

And how’s playing with this Tundra so far?

Whitemon: "It’s been really fun. Everyone is open minded and is easy to communicate with. None of us are stubborn and we’re always open to feedback. Even if we get into a disagreement and argue, we do it calmly."

Tundra Esports team photo at ESL One Birmingham 2024. Left to right: MoonMeander, Topson, Tobi, Pure, 9Class and Whitemon (Image by Tundra)
Tundra Esports team photo at ESL One Birmingham 2024. Left to right: MoonMeander, Topson, Tobi, Pure, 9Class and Whitemon (Image by Tundra)

On playing in SEA again and Whitemon's all-star SEA team

"Honestly, I still want to play in Europe as long as I get to. I have learned a lot here and Europe pubs are just so much better than anywhere else."

Whitemon on Europe having the best pubs

What about your home region SEA? Would you ever want to come back?

Whitemon: "Honestly, I still want to play in Europe as long as I get to. I have learned a lot here and Europe pubs are just so much better than anywhere else. This is because there are four regions playing here in ranked pubs–WEU [Western Europe], EEU [Eastern Europe], NA [North America] and SA [South America], which means more exposure to different playstyles."

What if you get to captain your own team back in SEA?

Whitemon: "I believe I still have ways to go before I am ready to be a captain. Maybe co-captain. But a captain? There’s just so many responsibilities as you need to be a leader both inside and outside of the game. I definitely still have much to learn."

But play along for now. If you were to captain your own SEA-based team, who would you pick as your teammates? Besides Xepher, of course.

Whitemon: "I would say 23Savage [Aurora] as my carry, Mikoto [Bleed] as midlaner, Ws [Talon] as offlaner and TIMS [Blacklist] as position four."

Tundra Whitemon's all-star SEA teams. Left to right: 23Savage, Mikoto, Ws, TIMS and Whitemon
Tundra Whitemon's all-star SEA teams. Left to right: 23Savage, Mikoto, Ws, TIMS and Whitemon

Why has SEA been lost in the radar for a long time

SEA is still in a rut right now and haven’t held up a trophy in a long time. Why do you think that is? What does it take for the region to get back in the saddle?

Whitemon: "How do I put this? Our highest level of scrims are from the Chinese teams. And we become overdependent on them in keeping up with the meta. It’s not like in Europe like I mentioned before where we get to play with teams from four different regions. That kind of exposure has a huge impact."

I see, so it’s the lack of diversity in SEA scrims and pubs. The last time a SEA team ever held a trophy in a major international LAN was BOOM Esports at Gamers Galaxy Dubai 2022. Do you think SEA will get to do it again any time soon?

Whitemon: "Man, I don’t know. SEA players actually have very strong mechanics, but I’m not sure what we’re lacking. Just not enough stability and consistency. I feel like every time a SEA team reaches peak performance, it resets and pretty much loses its momentum. And then it starts all over again which takes a long time. At least that’s how I felt when I played in SEA back then."

<a href="https://esports.gg/news/dota-2/boom-esports-are-your-gamers-galaxy-invitational-champions/?utm_source=twitter&amp;utm_medium=dota?utm_campaign=news&amp;utm_content=y" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Gamers Galaxy Dubai 2022</a> was the last major LAN tournament where a SEA team, BOOM Esports, claimed championship
Gamers Galaxy Dubai 2022 was the last major LAN tournament where a SEA team, BOOM Esports, claimed championship

Whitemon: Immortal bracket in Billiards?

Understood. Let’s move on to a lighter sight of things. Whitemon, you’ve been traveling often. What has been your favorite experience?

Whitemon: "I got to learn more about myself, what I need and what makes me happy."

And every time you go back to Indonesia? What is it that you like to do?

Whitemon: "For sure, I want to hang out with my friends. I’ve also been trying to keep myself healthy by doing some in-home workouts. I’m also trying to get into jump roping."

What about billiards? I noticed that’s what you always do every time you come back to Indonesia.

Whitemon: "Yes, billiards’ my hobby outside of Dota. And every time I come back I must play billiards with my friends."

Are you good at it?

Whitemon: "Yes."

Immortal at Dota, Immortal at Billiards! I hope you get to play more now that you have a slightly longer break! Thank you for your time and good luck for your next tournaments!

Tundra will play at DreamLeague Season 23 next

With the recent news on Tundra not being able to play at PGL Wallachia Season 1, the next tournament they will compete in is DreamLeague Season 23 starting May 20.

Stick around esports.gg for more Dota 2 interviews and updates.

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