Community predictions that certain teams would stick together and remain stable were dashed when even OG announced they would no longer remain as five. For now, the only two members that remain for the boys in green are Johan ‘N0tail’ Sundstein and Tal ‘Fly’ Azik. With the release of Amer ‘Miracle-’ Al-Barkawi fans will be licking their lips at the prospect of seeing how the hottest talent in Dota 2 fits in at a different home.
What will that home be though? We caught up with record-breaking, young prodigy Miracle- at his home in Jordan after his surprise departure from OG to discuss his first year in the competitive Dota 2 scene and where he wants to take his career next.
For Miracle-, the journey from a stomper of high-level public games to a top-tier professional player has been well documented. It’s early days for Amer, though, as he adamantly states that “this is just the start of my professional career” and that he has “no interests other than being a professional gamer” at the moment.
The record-breaking 9,000-MMR-man is finding it tough in pub games currently, softly mentioning “nowadays it (solo games) can be pretty rough, it depends on the game. Sometimes I will get really weird players in my games that just abandon or start feeding and are just really negative about the games. I don’t know what to think about pubs any more.”
In the down-time between Majors and without a team, life has quietened somewhat for Miracle-, who suggests that the hard practice regime in and around premium tournaments has subsided for the time being.
Tantalisingly, however, he suggests that may change. “In general, I don’t practise as much at the moment. Due to the fact that the teams are still not announced for this season and there’s not many tournaments going on, we’re not officially practising but after a while it’ll recommence and we’ll see.”
His typical schedule at the moment is heavily centred on friends and family, with Amer smiling and telling us that a life in the day of Miracle- involves “breakfast whenever I wake up, which is extremely random, before playing a couple of games and then leaving the house to meet friends.” He adds; “we will typically go out and genuinely do whatever we want depending on what everyone wants to do; whether it be movies, going out to eat, going to a mall or just chilling out at a random place."
With two Majors under his belt in a very successful first year on the Dota scene, Miracle- admits life as a pro gamer is not always as rosy as it seems to the outside world. Although he stubbornly states “LAN events are way more exciting and lively (than online)” and that he enjoys the hype, he concedes that “I actually hate travelling. I have had some problems with travelling. At first it was really tough for me but in the end I sort of got used to it.”
When asked about the positives of travelling he replies bluntly; “nothing is good about it – at least not to me”. It’s often well-documented that eSports bootcamps can be tough, with long hours spent playing exclusively Dota 2 in the lead up to a large tournament.
Amer seemed relaxed as he discussed the importance of work/life balance at bootcamps and told us “from time to time I like to change it up just a little bit. It’s not always positive to be playing every single day, for 10 hours a day, for 10 days in a row. You might get really bored of it and it’s important to get away from the computer and do whatever with your friends and just chill out – even if it’s just for one day.”
OG’s split was one of the bigger surprises to the Dota community as the well-loved and hugely successful boys in green had established themselves firmly amongst the fan favourites. The split was tough for everyone and although Miracle- admits “at first I thought I would stay with the team, but when I knew someone was leaving and the five of us would no longer be together, I thought that it wouldn’t be the same and decided to try something new."
There are no hard feelings between the previously formidable force, with Amer reaffirming that he still gets on with everyone. “We are really close, I still treat them like my brothers and I have no issues with any of the OG players.” With a broad smile he states “they are like a family to me”.
Miracle- still talks passionately about Dota 2 and the meta. When he first broke onto the scene he reminisces that “there were some broken heroes that were pretty imbalanced. Since then though, there have been some great patches where every hero has been open and playable.”
When asked his favourite patch, Amer states without hesitation “I think its 6.87 – every hero could be played viably and nothing was particularly overpowered.”
However, the portal of the final original Dota hero, Underlord, to Dota 2 has ruffled Miracle-’s feathers. When we asked him to name a hero that he would remove from the game if he had the choice he deliberates before declaring his hatred for the new hero: “Whenever I play a pub game everyone picks this hero and no one has a clue what to do”. He adds: “The hero is really weird; I don’t know what to think of the hero. I have never played it and don’t think I ever will. It just genuinely doesn’t seem to do anything.”
Fasten your seatbelts, Dota 2 community. The post-TI roster shuffle will soon be done and dusted and we can start to look forward to another year of unpredictable yet sensational eSports from the very best – and it seems Miracle- isn’t going anywhere.