We got hold of Eric "Ryoya
" Dong for a quick interview post his unceremonious departure from Geek Fam. Ryoya talks about his unexpected kick after helping Geek Fam qualify for WePlay! Bukovel Minor, how a similar situation would have escalated had it been some tier 1 player in his stead, expectations from the upcoming Minor/Major, and more.
To read the full interview with Ryoya, read below:
Hey Ryoya. Nice to meet you. How are you doing?
I'm good, how are you?
I’m doing well. Thank you for asking. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in America, single child family. And I've played DotA since I was like 14.
How and when did you get into video games? What was the moment that made you realize, “Yes, this is why I want to commit to gaming full time as a career”?
I learned about DotA from one of my cousins when I was over at their house. And when I came home I bought WarCraft III myself to play. Probably my first LAN was ESL NY. [ loved the feeling of playing on stage and the thrill.
This past year has been pretty rough for you career wise. Being in NA and undergoing a lot of team changes, and possibly missing out on TI with promising teams such as beastcoast and Flying Penguins. Kindly describe the roller-coaster of emotions that you’ve had to go through due to all of this.
Umm, it's not much different I think from normal but it's also not the ideal. You want something stable and to grow together and that's hard if you're not always with the same roster but it kind of goes with the game and job. But it's getting a lot better a lot of teams are preferring stability these days.
The current DPC season hasn’t been easy either. You got recruited to a promising Geek Fam roster and got off to an okay start by qualifying for The Bucharest Minor and participating at The Summit 11. With what objective was this team formed in the first place and what made you decide to relocate from NA to SEA?
I just really wanted to play with Raven. I thought he was really good for a really long time and Dubu asked me to join and I really enjoyed playing with him as well from my time in Immortals.
Despite the hurdles, you once again qualified for the upcoming WePlay! Bukovel Minor with your team. Unfortunately, you got kicked from the same team you helped qualify. It might be demotivating to miss out on a Minor that you qualified for. How are you holding up so far?
I'm fine. I was really excited to go to WePlay! because I've never been to one and always heard good things about the tournament so I'm sad I can't attend, but it's fine. Again it kind of comes with the job sometimes even if it sucks.
Did the kick come as a surprise to you? Was this decision discussed with you beforehand or did the kick come unceremoniously?
I'm not sure to what extent teams pre-meditate kicks and stuff but I don't think they go to players and are like, “If ‘X’ doesn't go well then we're going to make roster changes.” I've only ever had this happen once in my entire career. But I think it did come as a surprise.
We’ve had team meetings in the past but it's mainly about what we can do to improve and play better as a team. Definitely isn't a vibe of trying to ostracize someone, I guess?
But I didn't think I would go home for Christmas break and get kicked mid break since I think we finally figured out exactly how we wanted to play and I thought we were meshing well. but of course you also always have the looming feeling if your team isn't performing up to expectations.
Was it a collective decision to remove you? What reason was given for the same?
I wasn't really given any information at all, so my guess is only slightly better than yours. I don't think it was a personal issue. Maybe more on the Dota side. But I still really like all of them; I had probably the most fun I've ever had playing with them, so I wish them the best.
Don’t you think it is unfair to get removed from the team in this manner? If it was some other player, say in a tier 1 team, an uproar would have been caused by now. What can be done to avoid such situations?
I think it's a bit unfair but I think it's out of control. It's just going to be in favor of the fan favorites.
I hope distribution of prize money for the Bukovel Minor has been discussed. I also hope that you’ve not encountered any issues regarding payments/salary!
Yeah it was discussed and so far no problems.
That's great. Are you enjoying the new patch? In your own words, describe the patch for us in short.
Yeah, I think the new patch is great. Mmm hard to describe the patch in short but maybe “fresh”?
Moving on, what do you expect to see from the upcoming Minor and Major? How do you evaluate teams now that most of them have competed at ONE Esports Invitational?
I think the top teams will always be the top teams. You know EG/VG/Secret etc... because the top teams are the ones that know how to improve no matter what the patch is.
Quick thoughts on Gambit: will they be able to come out of the mental block they seem to be currently facing in terms of performing well under pressure?
I think Gambit is a good team, especially GPK. He is probably one of the top mid-laners in my opinion. They're a new team and I think none of them have had the experience of being on the top except maybe FNG. I think they have room to grow.
Alright Ryoya, that's a wrap. I wish you all the best in the New Years. Anything you'd like to say?
Just want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Thanks.
We wish Ryoya the best of luck wherever he ends up next.
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Headline image courtesy: Dreamhack