Why Lordboonz Play

Posted by Maouie March 30, 2021 in ESPORTS

Io background via Valve

In 2017, Phuc “lordboonz” Nguyen took another step closer to playing for The International when Skatemasters clinched a slot in the Southeast Asia main qualifier. No one really knew anything about the team, save from the fact that they were from Australia as their Liquipedia profiles indicated, and only the nerdiest Dota esports fans could recognize his name.

The nature of their qualification didn’t help with their introduction as well as they made it by being the only team to register in then newly-introduced Championship Qualifier system. They could have given the intrigued community more reasons to pique their interest only if they didn’t end up winless in the 10-team, round-robin group stage.

It was a brutal way to end a run, but for lordboonz, who has been competing professionally for four years when that happened, it’s far from the worst.

The Australian representative has played in a lot of Dota tournaments since his younger years, but if there was a moment that officializes his professional career, he claimed that it was when he temporarily moved to Malaysia when he was 16 years old to play for Invasion E-Sports. 

The opportunity was presented to him by veterans, Alex “blackshatan” Chang and Trent “sLiCKz” Tucker. They managed to compete in The International 2015 Southeast Asia qualifier, though the result hardly differed from his 2017 stint. While he found the food experience to be enjoyable, lordboonz admitted that it was uncomfortable being out of his comfort zone.

“It felt pretty weird and scary but I was well taken care of by the organization and players… I was really out of my comfort zone. The people I knew were just the two guys, blackshatan and sLiCKZ… [I] barely met [them in] real life before I’ve made the commitment,” he recalled.

The majority of his career was spent trying to place his country on the map of competitive Dota. He has been a part of every vintage Australian team such as Seventh Heaven, Natural 9, and Can’t Say Wips, to name a few. Until now that he’s playing in the Oceanic Esports Dota League with the new generation of Oceanic talents, lordboonz remains as the region’s bastion.

“I think the region right now with OEDL can be built strong enough to fight SEA teams consistently if it’s step by step… because it’ll take at least [a] couple years for the veterans to pass on enough knowledge and train new blood as well as themselves to be competitive enough,” he said.

While the possibility of taking a game off of prominent teams from the neighboring region remains slim, lordboonz advised that it could be greater in no time if the current Oceanic hopefuls would improve the way they handle criticism, continue to grind it out, and crunch on some game theories.

For lordboonz, taking some insights from established players also works wonders. He greatly appreciated how Kim “QO” Sun Yeob took him under his wing, giving him fresh ideas, offering different mindsets, and much-needed confidence. He even encouraged the rest of the OEDL teams to seek advice from the Oracle founder, noting how a “third perspective” is an invaluable advantage.

“… One of the most important things is taking and progressing with hard criticism, though I would admit it’s still hard for me to take [that]… grind it out… and think about game theory here and there so you got something to work with when you’re playing competitively,” lordboonz advised when asked about the significant aspects of being a pro that hopefuls should adapt.

Taking some insights established players also worked for lordboonz. He greatly appreciated that Kim “QO” Sun Yeob took him under his wing, giving him fresh ideas, mindsets, and confidence. He even encouraged the rest of the OEDL teams to seek advice from the Oracle owner, noting how a “third perspective” is an invaluable advantage.

Out of all the remarkable moments that transpired in his storied career, lordboonz’ favorite happened in the World Electronic Sports Games 2017 Asia-Pacific Finals and it was all made possible by the boss of OEDL himself, Justin “xMusiCa” Yuen.

xMusiCa’s clutch five-man Ravage into lordboonz’ Io Ultra Kill helped Team Australia clinch a fourth-place finish in the said tournament. He had the chance to create more plays that will be forever etched in his heart as he managed to qualify to the Global Finals of WESG 2019 after Oracle.Youth’s drubbing of Athletico Esports in the Oceania Finals. Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic, the $800,000 tournament was canceled.

“Covid [sort of] ruined my Dota career,” lordboonz followed up after refusing to answer what keeps him busy if not playing as position-four for Sadboys V2 in the third season of the ongoing grassroots-centric league. “… It’s a bit sensitive.”

For someone competing for as long as lordboonz has, being denied with the break that he has been waiting for so long due to a circumstance that is totally out of his control is beyond frustrating. The emotional toll is nothing compared to exiting a qualifier without winning a game or being pushed out of a comfort zone.

As much as it was taxing to deal with the challenges brought about by the pandemic, it will never be enough to kill lordboonz’ love for the game that stemmed from his childhood moments when he would come home from primary school just to smash out the Warcraft III-modded DotA games until he drops.

“I’m still faithful in my ability to make it,” lordboonz declared. 

Dealing with the pandemic has been taxing, to say the least. It claimed lives, destroyed dreams, and made lives harder than it already is. But for us who have endured and thrived, let lordboonz’ resolve serve as a gentle reminder to never give up.