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Quincy Crew’s YawaR: “Personally though, this year might be my last year in Dota 2 unless (Valve) changes something to the competitive format because this is getting very boring to me.”

We sat down with Quincy Crew's YawaR to talk about his TI10 experience, his new teammates and the 2021/2022 Dota Pro Circuit season so far.

This interview was conducted by our Community Writer Pedro Romero.

Few in North America have managed to curate a career as long as Yawar “YawaR” Hassan in Dota 2. From when he started his professional journey in 2015, YawaR has since appeared in three consecutive TIs, played in numerous Majors, earned hundreds of thousands in prize money, and acquired a reputation of being the one of the best carries around, thus becoming an undeniable staple in the region.

Nevertheless, obtaining acclaim from your peers didn’t happen without enduring setbacks along the way. As a member of Quincy Crew, YawaR was eliminated from The International 10 at the hands of OG, which featured his younger brother Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan in a riveting sibling bout. This meant he bowed out of the tournament in 9-12th place for the second year in a row. Truthfully, it was a bitter pill to swallow for a player that firmly believed his team had the potential to engineer a deep run.

Whereas most people would join a new team for the next DPC season as a way to mentally reset themselves, YawaR stayed put with Quincy Crew to play with teammate Quinn “Quinn” Callahan and three new players: ponlo, MiLAN, and KheZu. With them on board, YawaR hopes to surpass what he accomplished last season and finally get his hands on that ever-elusive Aegis of Champions.

Almost halfway through Tour I of the 2021-22 DPC season, esports.com interviewed YawaR to discuss a variety of subjects such as his team’s performance at TI10, why he decided to remain with QCY, the current state of the NA regional league, his career in general, and what his life will look like after Dota.

Staying with Quincy Crew for 2021-22 DPC

Thanks for doing this interview, YawaR. Your team has been off to an impressive start to the NA Division I season, so the first thing I’d like to ask is how you’re doing right now.

YawaR: We are doing very well. We are progressing very well. Every day we are learning something new about our individual personalities. For this season, I think we’re going to do better than before because everyone’s on the same page. Everyone’s hungrier for success. Last year, the COVID season was very frustrating for us because people lost their drive. It was very hard to stay motivated, but so far in this Tour I, I think people are motivated once again. We have a new guy in Ponlo and he’s very excited to play his first LAN so we will try to qualify for that.

Of course, you mentioned one of the three people who joined Quincy Crew ahead of the 2021-22 DPC season. Besides ponlo, QCY will oversee the arrival of MiLAN and KheZu. What has it been like to mesh with the three new members of the team?

YawaR: Working in Dota is honestly like a double-edged sword. It can be fun and it can be annoying, but with these three new people so far–talking about KheZu, I think he’s very smart. I didn’t think he was this smart about Dota but after playing with him, I respect him even more because I think he’s very skilled and intelligent about the game, so it’s very easy to work with him. He’s also a very nice guy. He makes sure people are fine when they’re playing. They’re not getting mad at each other or something.

Ponlo is new in the pro scene. He’s always excited to play. He brings a lot of hype. He’s learning new stuff but we are learning stuff from him too. He’s very smart about the game so it’s good. MiLAN is just a funny guy. He’s a high-skilled Position 4 player and he makes a lot of calls which we didn’t have before. I mean, MSS was very good too but this team has a nice balance. MiLAN covers some of our weaknesses which is very good and he also makes sure that people are not losing their concentration in the game. People are not tilting and they’re focused so that’s what he offers to this team.

What is the difference between working with the newest members of the team (KheZu, ponlo, and MiLAN) and working with the old team from TI10?

YawaR: The thing is we had the same roster for like three years. Myself, SVG, MSS, and Quinn all played together for around three years. I played my whole career with them. Working with them was fun in the beginning, but after we lost so much, we started having doubts by throwing questions such as ‘Can we win with this team?’

Even though we did well in scrims and stuff, I always had doubts going into the game. I thought ‘We’re going to make a mistake at some point,’ which was very bad. With these new guys, it’s just a different vibe. There’s a new air in the team. I became more motivated to work with them. Hopefully, I can learn with them, learn from them, and teach them too. It’s just that I think we just need some change. People don’t like to change but sometimes change is necessary and we needed that. I needed that, so yeah.

After TI was the annual roster shuffle where teams reload their lineups for the upcoming DPC season. QCY wasn’t unaffected by this trend as they brought in three new players in early November. However, you and Quinn stayed with the team. What was the decision process like for both of you to remain with QCY?

YawaR: Quinn and I talked to each other after TI. I told him I would leave if I got an offer from a good team and that he should do the same because we needed a change. But it’s a good thing we didn’t get many offers because we got this team to fall back on. Quinn and I received some offers but in the end it didn’t work out for us, so we ended up playing together because we respect each other a lot. We understand our gameplay as well so we decided to stick together and get three new players.

And how did Quincy Crew pick up those new players?

YawaR: To be honest, I didn’t have to work much to find them. I told Quinn there were some players I wanted to play with. I mentioned MiLAN because we scrimmed with him when MSS wasn’t available at some major because he got COVID and I really liked how he discussed and played the game. I just told Quinn that MiLAN is a good option for us.

About KheZu, Quinn and him got along very well at TI, so Quinn told me he’s good and smart about the game. And I believed my teammate Quinn’s words because I think he’s a very good player. He’s also a smart person so I just trusted him.

With Ponlo, there weren’t many Position 5 players in Dota 2. If there are any out there, then they’re just straight up bad. People think that if you’re a Pos. 5 player you just don’t have to play DOTA but it’s not true. You have to work hard. Otherwise, you’ll become a washed up player. We saw this guy Ponlo who was a Top 20 Southeast Asian Pos. 5 player and played that role a lot which I highly valued. We just wanted someone new who cares about the game and is also high-ranked, so we got Ponlo.

With one game into the season, do you feel the team has improved (under the context of the roster swap) or do you see it as a work in progress?On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the absolute best, what number do you rate the team?

YawaR: I think we’re underperforming right now but I can already see the improvement. Right now, I think we’re a four or five. We have a long way to go but we’ll become a good team.

Recovering from TI10

YawaR at TI10
YawaR at TI10

What has the process of recovery been like for you following TI10? How did you recover from that event?

YawaR: Mentally, I was very sad for the first few days after TI, but then I thought to myself everybody else worked hard. Only five players win in the end. To be honest, I told myself that we were actually not good enough to win TI, so I wasn’t really that sad after a week or two. I just realized that we were actually fucking bad. Sorry for the swear word, but we were just not good enough. I just told myself that I’m going to work harder and be smarter for this year, not get lazy about things, and be a good teammate. After that, I just started playing Dota again. Nothing crazy. I just came back home and started playing Dota again.

So the full process of recovery lasted for a few days. You didn’t even take a few weeks off?

Only a few days.

While it’s impressive that you qualified to TI with an orgless team, that doesn’t take away the fact that you were eliminated at 9-12th place for the second straight year. How frustrated were you in not progressing further than what you would’ve hoped?

YawaR: That’s the reason I ended up leaving SVG and MSS off the team. For all my career I’ve played with them, but for this year, it became my last dance with them. To be honest, TI9 was more frustrating because I thought we were actually good enough to get Top 6 or something, but we ended up getting Top 12. For this TI, I knew we were going to get either Top 8 or Top 6 because, as I said, I just thought we were not good enough. We just didn’t play like champions.

What do you think of NA’s performance in TI10 since it was represented by your team, Undying, and Evil Geniuses?

YawaR: Yeah. I mean, Undying got Top 16. I thought they would reach Top 12 or something but that was kind of expected of them. No offense. But EG surprised everyone because they got Top 2 in the last two majors and then crumbled at TI. I don’t know why that happened, but from the outside, I saw that they didn’t have good strats nor did they see the big picture. They were playing in the same way they did from the Majors and it simply didn’t work at TI.

TI is just a different tournament. You cannot just rely on winning the laning phase. EG always underperformed at TI even though they finished fairly high in the last two editions. Nevertheless, I think they should have gotten better results, but yeah, they’re known to underperform there–for some reason.

On the NA regional league

With the conclusion of TI10, your team now directs their attention to the 2021-22 DPC. What do you think about the overall field of teams in Division I for NA? Has the entire competition improved in a general sense compared to last year?

YawaR: I think the competition got better because EG just lost to teams like Black N Yellow and Wildcard Gaming, so it’s good for the scene. Just like the presumed good teams have been improving, the rest are doing the same too.

There’s no need for me to ask who you think is the team to beat since the answer will be self-explanatory so I’ll steer it to another direction. What makes QC the team to beat for this season?

YawaR: Because we have the best manager–Jack “KBBQ” Chen. *laughs* I’m just kidding. I think what makes us hard to beat is that we have very good players. I would say our players make each other better. On the other hand, there’s EG who has five superstars. They may be struggling right now but we are the team to beat because we are actually playing as a team.

 

 

What do you think of the other teams within Division I? This accounts for teams such as Arkosh Gaming, BNY, simplyTOOBASED, Wildcard, 4 Zoomers.

YawaR: Arkosh has Kyle, right? Their mid player is Kyle so we don’t have to worry about them. He’s going to throw the game at some point. *laughs* Then there’s the Hustlers (Wildcard). They’re well known NA pub players but that team needs to work on their mindset in the DPC. All in all, I think we are the best and they’re not up to par.

About the DPC format, do you feel there are few games in the season since it’s done in a single round-robin format? Keep in mind, the first tour lasts for approximately across two months.

YawaR: If you want me to speak about the DPC system, I can go on about it. I really dislike it. You only play one game per week for some reason and I don’t know what they were trying to do there. They were trying to improve the Tier-2 scene or something but that doesn’t really help anyone. You play for two months and then you end up getting $20,000 per team which means nothing if you are living in the USA.

I don’t know what they were trying to do with the DPC system. They took away the thing Dota had like a lot of LANs. There used to have around two LANs every month which kept people motivated and hyped. Nowadays, you have four games a month and most of the games aren’t even that amazing. That’s because in NA there aren’t that many good teams to be honest, so it’s very hard to stay motivated. Basically, we are only paying for TI at this point. We are just training for TI for the whole year. There’s nothing to do. There are no LANs. There are no more games and you only have one series a week.

On his entire career in professional Dota

Quincy Crew playing at TI10
Quincy Crew playing at TI10

Unlike a fair amount of pro players, you’ve had a lengthy Dota career in which you played for seven years for numerous teams in NA. How many more years do you think you have left in your career? Have you ever thought of what life will look like after Dota?

YawaR: For me, I’ve been playing Dota since I was like eight or nine and I’m 24 now so I actually have no idea what it will look like. For all my life I’ve played this game. Maybe I’ll go back to Pakistan, my home country, and live there. I could help people around and try to enjoy life, but I don’t know. I don’t really think about the future to be honest.

Have you thought about transitioning to another role (i.e. coach or analyst) within Dota once your time as a player is up?

YawaR: Not really. I’ll only stay in Dota as a player. If I’m not playing, then I will probably leave the scene unless I get to work with the people I like. Then again, there are not that many people I like in the scene. There are only a few. So yeah, if they would like to work with me in the future, maybe I’ll work with them, but there’s nothing else really.

What do you make of your career in a general sense since starting out roughly seven years ago?

YawaR: When I started, I was a very cocky kid. I couldn’t talk at all. My first team was Digital Chaos and it was a failure for me because we didn’t make it to any LAN and stuff, so I had to take a break. I went to school for a year, finished it, and then returned to the scene. I struggled for one more year before joining VGJ.Storm. With VGJ, I learned a lot from people and gained confidence in myself. Jack helped me a lot and I became a better person and player in that team.

In this team, I’m like a leader type of person or whatever you can say. People respect me since I’m a veteran now. I think I’m the kind of sub-leader who makes sure their players are doing the right thing. I’m on the side trying to make sure things are right but I’m not really up there (as the main leader). I don’t think I will ever become a leader like Seb for example, but I can be the right hand man or something.

What will you focus on for this upcoming year besides aiming to appear in the Majors and TI with QCY?

YawaR: Obviously, we want to play at our best at TI and all the other LANs. Personally though, this year might be my last year in Dota 2 unless changes something to the competitive format because this is getting very boring to me. There are no LANs and stuff so I’m just going to give my all, work on my communication in the game, work on my habits, and make sure other aspects are not affecting my gameplay like sleep and stuff. I’m just going to give it my all and try to accomplish everything. Win the Majors, win TI, and then just go away from the scene.

More Dota 2:

Our Community Writer Pedro Romero:

Freelance writer with approximately three years of experience. Worked for numerous outlets including esports.com, while covering League of Legends, Valorant, and Dota 2. Currently at Bronze I in NA LoL solo-queue.

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