MidOne on reaching the top of the leaderboards

© Team Secret
Written by Ollie Ring
We caught up with Zheng ‘MidOne’ Yeik Nai, the latest player to join the illustrious 9k MMR club.
Zheng ‘MidOne’ Yeik Nai, Team Secret's Dota 2 star
Zheng ‘MidOne’ Yeik Nai
“If I am [going] for 10k, I’m going to do it in the same style [everyone] is playing every single role. That way, I would feel great about getting there if I was to achieve it,” reveals Zheng ‘MidOne’ Yeik Nai, the Team Secret mid laner when asked about the potential of reaching the so far untouched landmark.
To the average Dota 2 player, 4,000 MMR remains but a distant dream. There are team-mates arguing over the middle lane, language barriers and even those who have a temperamental internet connection. As every Dota player will attest to, grinding MMR is often painful and it’s not uncommon to play for hours, only to go backwards. It’s what makes the achievements of the professional players pushing the boundaries of MMR even more impressive. When the ranked system first graced the game, 6,000 MMR was considered impressive. Watch a top tier streamer now and the term “6K scrub” is thrown around. It’s evident now that most have gone above and beyond. Only few have broken the 8,000 mark and even fewer the 9,000 MMR mark. We caught up with MidOne to further discuss his journey through Valve’s ranked system so far and what he expects for the future.
Understandably, there are many professionals in the scene that simply don’t wish to grind pub games to the extent that it takes to reach the top. “I mean, when I hit 8k in SEA I didn’t have the drive or desire to get to the 9,000 MMR mark. When I heard that a player had reached 9k my reaction was never ‘wow’ so I didn’t care too much about climbing,” admits MidOne when discussing the road to 9k.
“One day, my old team-mate Forev messaged me and just said to me that we should both get to 9k. I kind of accepted the challenge, started to queue and play more pubs and now I’m here,” says the Secret midlaner. There was video footage from Epicenter when Amer ‘Miracle-‘ Al-Barkawi became the first to reach 9k and the hype and reaction was palpable. Zheng has edged out Miracle- at the top of the boards for the time being, but he admits “I didn’t aim to beat Miracle-, it just happened.”
So, what of the mythical 10,000 MMR? We never expected players to breach the 8,000 mark never mind the 9,000 mark so it may just be a matter of time. “I would say it would take me around three months, but I don’t really play solo queue Dota 2 when I am back in the SEA region anymore. Whenever I head home to Malaysia I prefer to do anything that is unrelated to Dota,” says MidOne, revealing a little more about his personal life. “I learn programming, hangout with friends, watch movies and go hiking. I even will just be lazy and useless and lie on a bed and do nothing. I tend to do anything besides playing Dota,” he explains when we probe into how he winds down at home.
I would say it would take me around three months to reach 10k.
Zheng ‘MidOne’ Yeik Nai
Over the somewhat brief history of ranked Dota 2 matchmaking, there’s been some debate as to whether or not the ranked system needs a revamp. We’ve seen historic arguments for a seasonal reset on MMR, whilst some still argue for a divisional format. We asked MidOne his opinion and he sharply responded: “I am actually happy with the current Dota ranked system. If you develop a divisional format, you differentiate people into some sort of stupid group system and the game would not be as fun anymore.”
It’s something that Zheng clearly feels passionately about as he continues: “It’s almost like having friends but you differentiate your friends into categories like rich, medium and poor and you will never be able to hang out together at the same time. It’s actually so boring. I would say divisional format is a terrible choice, and everyone in one big pool like now is definitely the best.”
Away from the public leaderboards, Zheng is considered one of the best mid players in the world. His current roster, Team Secret, have yet to make their mark on the international scene, however. As we all know, there’s a vast gulf between pub games and pro games in both strategy and mindset. “I actually think you should play any role that your team is lacking in pub games,” say Zheng when discussing how to climb. “For most of the professional players, they want to practice certain heroes in the games, so for normal pub players they should just be playing any role that fits the team.”
“I don’t actually think there’s strategy in public Dota. I would just say have fun with your team-mates. You have to pick your hero wisely which is crucial to win the game. When you’re playing solo queue your pick is effectively your way of drafting against the enemy picks,” states MidOne emphasising again the importance of hero selection. “Make sure you communicate with your team-mates so they know what you want. Sometimes I don’t feel like talking so I don’t and that’s fine too. Just make sure you have fun.”
“Getting to 9k MMR doesn’t boost my confidence for professional games. The way that I boost my confidence is playing and practicing heroes that I think I am absolutely terrible at. I should be good at Magnus and Kunkka and I like playing them, I just think I’m bad,” MidOne admits. It’s clear that he places importance on having an extremely diverse hero pool, asserting: “I think Roshan is super important following the meta changes over the last few months. I don’t really care about how the meta changes, it’s just vital that I can play every hero so I can adapt to the meta. Any heroes can be in the competitive scene no matter the meta so we have to be ready”.
With ex-team-mates MidOne and Forev becoming the latest to earn their place in the 9k hall of fame, several others will be looking to breach the landmark. For those players wishing to break into the competitive scene vis-à-vis Miracle-, 9k will be the new aim. “747 looks pretty close having just had a look on the leaderboard, so I would say he’ll join us soon,” admits MidOne before showing affection for his home region.
“I would love to see some SEA players getting to 9k. The matches are relatively similar to Europe, it’s just that matches are slower as there are fewer high MMR players there and genuinely there’s just too much whining in games. That’s what made it hard to climb in the region.” His advice for those looking to climb? “Stop whining, remind yourself that you’re just playing a game and you’re getting 9k, 8k or 7k or whatever and just enjoy and embrace the journey.”
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