The Buy Back: The Resurrection of Jimmy "DeMoN" Ho

The notorious Dota 2 Mercenary talks about hitting rock bottom and the climb back to the top.
Jimmy "DeMoN" Ho professional Dota 2 player
Jimmy "DeMoN" Ho © Cameron Baird / Red Bull Content Pool
By Ryan Smith

As a professional Dota pro, Jimmy “DeMoN” Ho says he’s living the dream. But at the same time, it’s a dream that’s been filled with many different chapters.

DeMoN has played on 11 different professional Dota teams – including multiple stints on Evil Geniuses -- during his seven-year gaming career and eventually would like to add at least one more to that list.

“I’ve been comfortable being a stand-in for multiple teams, but at the end of the day, you want something stable and concrete, you want something to wake up to practice with the same people and connect with them on a personal level and build team chemistry,” said the Chino Hills, Calif. native, who is currently teamless.

Jimmy "DeMoN" Ho professional Dota 2 player
Jimmy "DeMoN" Ho © Cameron Baird / Red Bull Content Pool

There’s good reason to believe that DeMoN could hook up with a solid team soon. He was invited to play with Cloud 9’s Dota 2 team at a tournament held at South by Southwest Gaming Expo in Austin, Texas last month. With very little practice with the team, Cloud 9 and DeMoN fought their way into the Grand Finals against his former team Evil Geniuses. They lost to EG, but DeMoN sees the upside in defeat.

“I was a much more successful player in three months than the two years with EG when I put everything into the game,” he told Red Bull eSports. “That’s why there’s nothing that will stop me from reaching the top once more.”

The road for DeMoN began almost a decade ago, at a time when he didn’t even consider himself a “gamer.” But in 2004, he was introduced to WarCraft 3 and the original Dota shortly after that.

“I was really never a gamer, but something about this game captivated and brought out the best in me,” he said. “I decided that I wanted to be the best player in the world.”

Jimmy "DeMoN" Ho professional Dota 2 player
Jimmy "DeMoN" Ho © Cameron Baird / Red Bull Content Pool

He joined his first serious Dota squad in 2006 with a team called hi2u, but didn’t start blooming into a top pro until joining the Danish squad Meet Your Makers in 2010. MYM emerged as one of the top Dota teams in the world, finishing in the top three in almost every European tournament. At the first ever The International world tournament MYM – led by DeMoN’s stellar performance on Puck – finished in fourth place. It’s a moment DeMoN calls his most memorable since first picking up a mouse and keyboard. But the team disbanded shortly afterwards and DeMoN joined Evil Geniuses – a team he played with briefly in 2009.

The new Evil Geniuses had some successes, but never quite lived up to its full potential. They were invited to participate in The International 2 in 2012, but the missed out the last crucial two weeks of practice before the tournament due to one of the players dealing with a serious medical condition.

“Our lack of practice led us to a so-so showing at the tournament, we were one game from beating iG, the eventual winners in a very close match in the winner bracket,” said DeMoN.

Jimmy "DeMoN" Ho professional Dota 2 player
Jimmy "DeMoN" Ho © Cameron Baird / Red Bull Content Pool

EG reformed their roster after TI2, but DeMoN admitted he began losing some of competitive edge.

“I began to lack the motivation and drive to compete and chose to prioritize my social life over gaming. This led to us not receiving an invite to TI3, which was very disappointing,” he said. EG ended up removing DeMoN from the roster in Sept. 2013.

Instead of marking the end of his Dota 2 career, DeMoN sees the disappointing move as a rebirth.

“It was then I came to realize what I needed to do to rebuild myself as an individual. You can never be too comfortable and should always strive for greatness, and even once you’re on top, keep going,” he said. “This was one of the greatest lessons I learned and it took hitting rock bottom to realize it.”

Now DeMoN is the process of finding the right mix of players to join, but not just to be a great Dota 2 player. He also wants to be an ideal teammate.

“My goal is to again be the player I once was but in a very unique fashion this time around. Influencing and motivating others to always continue moving forward despite the struggles and pain you may go through.”

UPDATE: Team Liquid Signs DeMoN to their Dota 2 Team.

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