Yawar on Soniqs at TI11: “We can really do some damage at this TI.”
We spoke with Soniqs’ carry, Yawar, right before TI11. Read more about his upbringing, Soniqs under Fata, and expectations ahead of TI11.
Prominent carry player, Yawar "Yawar" Hassan has been at the core of North American Dota 2 throughout his pro career. He actively competed since 2014, playing together with numerous NA stacks including Digital Chaos, VGJ.Storm, and now Quincy Crew which was recently acquired by Soniqs.
Yawar is the brother of popular prodigy, Syed "SumaiL" Hassan who won TI in 2015. Both the Hassan brothers grew up in Pakistan and later moved to the United States. Esports.gg spoke to Yawar to talk about his upbringing, Soniqs' confidence at TI11, the state of North American Dota 2, and more!
Yawar's personal life
Let’s first start with your upbringing back in Pakistan. How did you start gaming and how did your family react to the gaming culture?
Yawar: “There was a gaming cafe close to our house and my brother used to go there so we just followed him. People were playing CS first, then we started playing CS, then Warcraft and Dota. We used to tell our parents we were going to play sports like cricket or something but we would go to the gaming cafe instead.”
When did you move to the US and is the whole family there?
“We moved to the US in 2014. My father’s side still lives in Pakistan and my mother’s side lives in the US.”
Since June 2022, severe monsoon rain triggered the deadliest flood in Pakistan's history. We asked Yawar if his family in Pakistan was affected by the flood and fortunately, his family is safe.
How different is it living in the US compared to Pakistan?
Yawar: Nothing really changed for me, I stay home and play Dota so I can’t really tell. But Pakistan has more real-life friends for me, that’s the only difference. Obviously, I’m different from all of my teammates here in the US because of my roots and I consider myself more Pakistani than American even though I live here.
You and SumaiL are the only Pakistani in the top Dota 2 scene. What do you think is the reason you guys make it this far?
Yawar: “The thing is, we stopped playing LAN games in Pakistani gaming cafes. The people there would just play in the cafe together but we stopped playing like that and started playing on the Europe server. We would practice in the EU server even with high ping, so that’s why we improved faster.”
Who are the people in Dota 2 that are very close to you?
Yawar: I keep my circle very small. Other than my teammates and SumaiL, I talk to Nigma’s manager (Mohamed Morad) sometimes. I don’t really talk to Dota people that much.
On SEA pubs: "This has been my worst experience so far in Dota."
What is it about Dota 2 that makes you happy? Why do you play this game?
Yawar: No one said that I’m happy playing Dota by the way. (laugh) I’m happy when playing officials and scrims. But I’m not happy playing pubs. And I play this game because I’ve given this game like 15 years, at least I think. So I’m not quitting before having anything else.
Why aren't you happy playing pubs?
Yawar: The Dota culture is just bad, people are just - I don’t know I used to be like them too so I can’t really complain. But the pub culture is really bad and there’s no other way that you can practice other than scrims so yeah it’s pretty rough.
Speaking of pubs, how is your SEA pubs experience right now?
Yawar: This has been my worst experience so far in Dota. (laugh) I’ve lost a lot of MMR but it’s okay. It doesn’t matter what hero I play, I've been losing with any. Pubs are whatever at this point. I’m working hard as I can, that’s all that matters.
Yawar played 53 pub games in the last 8 days, currently holding a 47% win rate in pubs. His most picked heroes are Shadow Fiend (12) and Morphling (11).
Yawar's latest pub record.
Source: Dota Pro Tracker
Source: Dota Pro Tracker
Under Fata's lead in Soniqs
Has anything changed in terms of energy or mindset after Quincy Crew became Soniqs?
Yawar: Soniqs basically gave us a bootcamp and decent salary but our mindset remains the same, we want to win and we still want to win.
Ahead of the season, Soniqs announced the addition of a new team captain, Adrian "Fata" Trinks. He is a notable player who last played for Tundra Esports before he was replaced on the team. After a period of inactivity, Fata joined the NA squad.
How did Fata come into the picture? Who made the call?
Yawar: So at that time it was only me, Quinn (Quinn "Quinn" Callahan), and Jack (Jack "KBBQ" Chen). We needed a pos 5 player and Quinn really likes Fata so he suggested him.
What has it been like playing under his leadership?
Yawar: It’s been good, he’s very different from the last leader we had. Fata can be annoying but he has to be because we can act like kids at times and we need someone who can keep us in check. He makes sure we are doing the right things, showing up on time, not making excuses, and owning up to our blunders.
A different TI than the rest
There’s a little more time before TI begins so where is Soniqs right now in terms of confidence?
Yawar: We are very confident, we all think this is the best chance we have so far. We can really do some damage at this TI. Scrims have been 50/50, some days are great and some days are off but that’s how it is. But we are doing well in practice so that’s why we are feeling confident, we just feel well about ourselves.
The last few years with SumaiL in TI actually impacted me in some ways. Back then I would be thinking about his team too but this year might be better because I can focus on my team.
For the first time in history, Yawar will not compete against his brother SumaiL at TI. SumaiL and the rest of Nigma Galaxy failed to qualify for the event through the Regional Qualifier.
What do you feel about SumaiL not attending TI this year?
Yawar: Right now I don’t feel anything but when he lost the qualifier I was pretty sad. But it is what it is you know?
Will his absence impact your mindset at TI?
Yawar: Not really, but the last few years with SumaiL in TI actually impacted me in some ways. Back then I would be thinking about his team too but this year might be better in a way because I can just focus on my team.
Yawar vs SumaiL - The Hassan Bowl at TI10
You've played in the NA region your entire career. Do you feel like the region has grown more competitive throughout the years?
Yawar: NA has gotten harder and stronger than before for sure. Back then there were only two good teams, our team and Evil Geniuses. But now there is also TSM. Even nouns and Wildcard Gaming, you have to be on top of your game to beat them otherwise they can beat you too. As you can see from the LCQ, Wildcard just took one game of T1 - you really have to be on top of your game. Previously, you can pretty much have fun and still win games but now is different.
What do you want to say to your fans and the supporters of Soniqs?
Yawar: Keep supporting us, we will bring it to NA this year. And CCNC will be the best mid at this TI.
Stay tuned for more TI11 coverage and exclusive interviews on Esports.gg!
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.