Yeik ‘MidOne’ Nai Zheng is somewhat of a rarity in professional Dota. Despite being at the very top level of the competitive scene since 2015 he's only played for two teams so far in his career. Having got his big break with Fnatic he moved over to Team Secret in 2016 and stayed with them until the post TI9 roster shuffle just a few months ago. In that time he's competed at The International every year, including two fourth place finishes and won multiple majors. When it comes to constantly being at the top level, few have a record like MidOne.
Technically, he's one of the most skilled players in the world, becoming the first player from South East Asia to go above 8,000 MMR a few years ago and while he's known for flashy heroes, such as Ember Spirit and Invoker, he has a unique ability to perform at a remarkably stable level for long periods of time, unlike many other players in his role, who can go from single-handedly winning a game to getting destroyed in the space of a series.
After years with the same team and always coming up just short at the biggest event of the season, MidOne decided it was time for a change. He took some time away and now returns to action with OG, the reigning TI champions, who are looking for a third straight win at the biggest esports event in the world – alongside new signings SumaiL and Saksa.
“I decided to leave [Team Secret] because I was very tired and I wanted to take a four month break, which was too long for them,” says MidOne. “I ended up joining OG because Johan ‘N0tail’ Sundstein asked me if I wanted to play with them. I wanted to play with N0tail, Topias Miikka ‘Topson’ Taavitsainen and Sébastien ‘Ceb’ Debs and I couldn't make a better team in SEA or other regions.”
Refreshed after his break from top level Dota MidOne explains that he's excited to get back to playing and working with his new team. As of yet the new OG lineup hasn’t played together officially, but even so it's clear to see that this new roster of stars will be one of the best teams in the world. With former TI winner Syed Sumail ‘SumaiL’ Hassan and TI runner up Martin ‘Saksa’ Sazdov joining N0tail, Topson and MidOne this line-up has more talent than most and in these early stages all is going well, even if they're all former rivals.
“I think my team-mates are really good and I've been getting along with them well,” says MidOne. “I don't feel strange [playing with former rivals] at all to be honest. I don't know if it's the best roster [I've been on] yet, but it’s definitely one of the best rosters, I'd say.”
On paper this may seem like somewhat of a strange line-up for OG. Topson has been the mid player for the team since he joined prior to TI8 and has been a key factor in the two back-to-back TI wins for the team. Sumail has long been thought of as one of the best mid players in the world and continues to improve his game. And MidOne literally has the word 'Mid' in his name and has years of experience at the position. Unfortunately, you can’t have three world class mid players on one team and let them all play the position in every match, but the new recruits are trying something new and the results could be incredible.
“I'll be playing position three for OG, Sumail will be the carry and Topson will be the mid,” says MidOne. “But I definitely could see me playing other positions if needed, that's how Dota works.”
With players from North America and South East Asia joining the European core of OG the roster is now one of the more international line-ups out there. For MidOne this certainly won't be an issue, having played on similar style rosters over the past three years and he knew it was his best chance for success this year. As nice as it would be to return to his home region and build something from scratch as many other top players have tried to do, right now it wouldn’t give him the best opportunity to win a TI, for that he needed to be with OG.
“The Europe region is probably one of the better regions in Dota right now compared to others,” says MidOne. “Building a team in SEA is pretty unrealistic for now because the players are inexperienced and it's going to take a few years before I can get to TI there.”
Like all Dota players MidOne’s ultimate goal is to lift the Aegis of Champions at The International. He's come agonisingly close twice, making it to the final days of the competition, but he's never been able to break into the grand final and actually lift the trophy. With two thirds of the 2019/2020 season already gone it may seem like OG have made life hard for themselves on their quest for a third TI win, but for MidOne he knows that once they make it to the biggest event of the year, anything can happen. “Winning TI 10 is a question mark to me,” he says. “I only know that I want to play my best Dota at TI 10.”
If all five members of the OG line-up play their best Dota at TI 10 then there's no doubt that they'll come away as champions once again. This new roster features more experience than any other and all of the players are sure to end up in the hall of fame once their careers come to an end. Super teams don’t always work in Dota, but it seems almost impossible that this one won't be winning championships within a few months.