There’s a new team on the proverbial North American block and they’re certainly no pushovers. Whilst Digital Chaos, Thunderbirds, NP and compLexity look to be the more established names in the now competitive scene, isGG have thrown the cat amongst the pigeons and proved that they can mix it with the best. As we move quickly towards the date where rosters must be submitted before we move towards Valve’s flagship event, The International 7, isGG are dreaming of a spot in Seattle come August.
Jingjun “Sneyking” Wu is arguably the best known of the five players. The American has competed at two iterations of The International, back at TI3 with Team Dignitas and TI4 with Natus Vincere North America. Although neither resulted in great success, the off laner is the most experienced of his team-mates. Support duo Francis “FrancisLee” Lee and Stanley “Stan King” Yang have both been in and around the North American scene for a while yet have failed to really make an impact on the scene. The carry of the team, Yawar “YawaR” Hassan is the brother of Evil Genius’ prodigy and Kiev Major MVP Sumail “Suma1L” Hassan and will be looking to emulate his younger brother’s achievements in the Dota scene.
Finally, the mid laner is a man that recently became better known to the Dota community. Quinn “CCnC” Callahan sits at over 8,500 MMR and second on the North American leaderboards and recently played with everyone’s favourite caster/talent team, Vegetable Esports Club. After his exemplary performance he attended Beyond The Summit’s casting hub for the qualifiers and the Dota world got to know the talented mid player better. Now with qualification to the ZOTAC Masters in Taipei confirmed and notable victories against compLexity and Thunderbirds under their belt, CCnC is dreaming big. We caught up with Quinn to discuss his past as well as his aspirations for the future.
You kind of appeared on the scene out of nowhere. People noticed you when playing with Veggies and since then isGG have had some great results. Did playing with Veggies teach you anything?
I had played on FDL back for TI6 quals but we were quite bad at the time. The NA region was just really weak so we didn't do terribly – we just lost to all the ‘actual’ good teams. Other than that I wasn't ever really on any teams, I was just grinding away in pubs. I learned quite a lot from playing with Veggies. Blitz is really, really Dota smart and taught all of us so much. It wasn’t just his thoughts on specific heroes but also different ways to think about the game and general concepts. The whole experience of just playing with a team again after not having done so for several months as well as casting all games at the hub and talking about Dota with all those people for several weeks really made me want to get back into playing competitive Dota. I think it just kind of rekindled my desire to play.
Sitting at over 8k, do you think that the public leaderboards are enough for players to get noticed now? Do you think platforms used in CS:GO such as FACEIT and ESEA help create a better environment for up and coming players to get noticed?
I think leaderboards and pubs are fine to be honest. I think as long as you have the opportunity to play with the really good players like players in Evil Geniuses, Thunderbirds and Digital Chaos then those people can see you in action and form an opinion on you. There's been NA in-house leagues several times in the past and it just doesn't really work super well in Dota for a lot of reasons. I think it’s just extremely important that you prove to these experienced players that there’s something about you – by whatever means possible. As far as ESEA or FACEIT goes, I don’t think it matters that much as it’s just the culture for those games so it causes a little snowball effect. A few pros start playing them then the other pros do then everyone plays it. As long as almost everyone uses the same means of playing non officials it's basically the same.
The level we're currently at is the hardest one to get past. You're sure you are improving and you scrim here and there but these other teams have veteran players with tons of knowledgeQuinn “CCnC” Callahan
Your team is a combination of well known players that have not quite achieved what they would have wanted to out of the game. Is there confidence that isGG can be their best effort yet?
Most of us have played really small tournaments or had a few close calls except for Sney who has competed at two TIs. We're confident in our skill as individuals and our potential to become a real team. The level we're currently at is the hardest one to get past. You're sure you are improving and you scrim here and there but these other teams have veteran players with tons of knowledge and years of experience so you have to work extremely hard and try to learn faster than them so you can overtake them. It definitely boosts your confidence when you beat a second place TI team like Thunderbirds. We still have quite a way to go but I am very optimistic about it.
You've had some great results against some very well established teams. Do you feel like you can go toe-to-toe with the best?
I think we definitely have the potential to when we play our best. That's the hard part though. Playing your best every game is not easy and comes with experience, as well as lots of team building and practice which is what we're working on most right now. I think the gap between us and these bigger more well known teams is huge, but like I said, the gap is a tricky one to bridge. These very small things or things typically thought insignificant can often be some of the most important things about Dota and hardest to learn so it's just a matter of hard work and time before we manage to make it to the other side.
With YawaR you have the Suma1L relationship. Does he impart any wisdom on the team?
Occasionally he'll give us hero suggestions or something but outside of that not so much although how Suma1L thinks about the game may rub off on YawaR because they're brothers.
What are your personal goals in Dota 2? Are you fully set on playing professional Dota?
My goal for a while has been to make Dota 2 something I can do for a living. Whether that was casting, streaming or playing, I just really love the game and want to be able to do what these people I watch on streams do. I genuinely think this team has the potential to make it very far so for now both my personal, and our team’s goal is to make TI. There’s nothing else to it at the moment. In the future I'm open to casting or streaming full time. It depends on what opportunity presents itself but as of now I'm just here for the ride trying my best to make it as a pro.
What are the team’s next steps and goals? You announced that you're going to cut back as the team becomes more serious – is that due to recent results?
As I mentioned earlier, our goal is to just become more of a team as opposed to five solid smart players. We’re focused on putting in the work and research required to consistently beat the more established teams. I will be streaming a lot more infrequently, not so much because of results but just because streaming takes a lot of time out of my day and when I stream I am not talking to the team or thinking that much about the game. It’s just another thing that will hinder our current goal of making TI. Also, if I’m honest, Twitch chat gets on my nerves sometimes so it’s probably good if I have a break for my blood pressure and mental state!