The Great Zenith Exposé

It’s three days to our departure from Singapore. The team, accompanied by Tammy and myself, will be flying off on the 23rd at 2am. As The International draws closer, a slew of special ‘spotlight’ articles and ‘profiles’ have been/are being published. We, the Zenith content people, have decided that we should also hop on the bandwagon and give you one of our own special articles of insights into Team Zenith.

[Some people will probably think that my opinions are biased. It may very well be that case. But nevertheless, my observations are based upon fact – very real incidents that occur throughout my interactions with the team.]

Ant: An important distinction! It used to pain me that most people consider the only difference between a “fact” and an “opinion” is that a “fact” requires that their best friend agree with them (nowadays I find that very little on the internet causes me pain). The crucial thing to note is that Aloysius’ “biased opinions” (as he so puts it) are a result of having a lot more interaction and real-life observation with the Team – he has a lot more reliable information to work on, a lot more observations (an empirical observation is synonymous with fact, unless you pull out a more cryptic school of philosophy) to draw his opinions from.


As we begin our final countdown to one of the biggest gaming events of the year, I felt that it was important that both fans and neutral observers (see I left out haters – mainly because I think the word ‘haters’ is dumb and also, it doesn’t matter what you say to them, they’ll still be irrational in their criticism of you) understand a little more of how Team Zenith works and how the players think. It pains me when some of these guys get maligned. And recently, in my humble opinion, they have been maligned quite a lot. But it’s up to you to decide if they were maligned, misunderstood or were just plain douches after reading this piece.

Ant: It pains me… not! Clearly when dealing with his grief about the internet forum, Aloysius is still at stage 2 whereas I have progressed to stage 5 (ref: Kubler-Ross model, the 5 stages of grief, which you can honestly apply as the 5 stages of <insert emotion>)


One of the most common things that Zenith has been called recently is ‘unprofessional’. It is natural for people to expect professionalism from a team competing on an international stage – I fully agree. The management team is here to remind the players what they should and should not do. But the global community is holding this team to a standard higher than they should. Because everyone assumes that the Zenith players are being paid a salary to train and represent an organization at DotA 2 events.

Let’s make this clear once and for all: Zenith players do not receive any forms of monetary remuneration for training and playing. Razer is our only sponsor and what we get from Razer is non-monetary support. The players get a facility to train in peace and equipment to use and bring up to Seattle. Basically, when you take away the inflated expectations and fancy branding of the Zenith name, what you have is just a group of friends coming together to challenge large international gaming organizations for the cash prize at The International. Sure, they want to win a cool million bucks. Who wouldn’t? But it is also something more than that. It’s about being able to say ‘my team is the best in the world!’.

Ant: We’re all doing this pro-bono! The management included (so we’re not draining funds or anything, I swear).

They’ve been trying very hard to be professional as a team, because they’re in the spotlight of the world’s DotA community. Right smack in the middle of it. Not because they have an obligation to sponsors. Not because their livelihoods depend on it. But because it’s just the right thing to do. It seems that during the whole BTS World Tour fracas, people forgot that Zenith waited 5 hours for LGD to relocate and find another LAN facility to play against them in the Gigabyte DOTA Masters finals. And even after that, they took the eventual loss gracefully. I have never felt prouder of Team Zenith.

[I find it slightly amusing and quite offended when David ‘GoDz’ Parker calls Zenith out for being unprofessional. Other than the fact that GoDz has a vested interest in his own tournament, some of the current team Zenith lineup actually extended GoDz hospitality, going for dinner and a LAN café to train together in Thailand (ESTC 2010), because it seemed he was there casting alone. I still cannot fathom why he would air his displeasure on such a public forum when the option of contacting either the players or manager was present.]

Ant: We do exist to hear your grievances. Seriously. In theory. Because it seems only the fans like to contact the team personally. It does go to show something, doesn’t it? (I’m not too sure what that “something” is, so don’t be puzzled if you don’t get it either. Just take whatever you think the sentence implies, and know that I support you, because I’m sympathetic like that)

In this past month, Zenith has also been labeled as money-grubbers and described as greedy. To someone who knows the players well, I feel that these remarks are more sad than offensive. More worthy of a facepalm than an angst-filled retort. Prior to forming Zenith, players like hyhy and iceiceice were approached by an organization (that I will not name) to play competitive League of Legends for a monthly salary that exceeds a fresh Singaporean graduate’s starting pay. An offer like this was unprecedented in the history of e-sports in Singapore. Yet the players chose to turn down these offers, because their interests lie with DotA 2 and not League of Legends.

Ant: I too knew about this and, I kid you not, I would quit school for that pretty ludicrous salary (ok, maybe I would “consider” temporarily suspending my education).

As I penned the first paragraphs of this article, I asked myself – “what exactly is the point of writing something like this?”. I believe I have the answer now. The objective of this article is not to portray the Zenith players as saints. No, they need work on their punctuality. They need to respect deadlines. They should give opponents more respect. But to describe them as ‘unprofessional’, ‘bad-mannered’ and ‘greedy’ isn’t fair. The point of this article is to show the people out there who bother and care that the Zenith players are not like that, to let them understand these players that they adore a little bit more.

Ant: The point is that we spend so much time with the team, and we know so much stuff about them, that hearing people comment with incomplete information (thus drawing false conclusions) make us feel like we need to do some charity and give away information (which wants to be free, yo)! Also, as far as needing to work on punctuality goes, holy shit have they made drastic improvements over the years.

Tammy, Ant and myself have spent more time with these guys than anyone else. We are working for free. Ant goes back to Boston to further his studies in two weeks, I start my full-time banking job in September while Tammy will be focusing on work as well as her PMS Asterisk team. We are not holding out for any kind of incentive or reward. We are in this as well because we believe in the five of them. Zenith started out as underdogs. No monetary sponsorship. No professional administrative and content team for support. No full-time manager to plan schedules, fix matches and coordinate with various tournament organizers. Having achieved this much, at this point in time…. I would credit it to the five players who have put in extraordinary effort to chase a dream. Using whatever remains of their free time outside of National Service (iceiceice/xy-) or school (hyhy/xFreedom).

Call them cocky or arrogant, that’s fine by me. These guys earned it. But just think it through the next time you want to call them ‘unprofessional’. They have made sacrifices that you, the spectators, would never know about.

Valve’s DotA 2 Documentary Trailer



  1. Gaurav Jhaveri (@gaurav_jhaveri)

    Great article. As a fan of the game, I don’t believe that Zenith are as bad as what other people make them out to be.

    However, I would like to say one thing in GoDz’s defense – His frustration wasn’t completely unjustified. If Zenith didn’t intend on playing the tournament, they shouldn’t have participated in the first place. Playing only 3 matches and backing out is kind of silly. I don’t know GoDz personally nor have I ever had any interaction with him. I’m just saying that I might have done the same were I in his place. A lot of teams back out of tournaments all the time. However, this isn’t even a tourney with a huge prizepool. It’s something that was organized for the benefit of the teams so that they could get some practice prior to TI2.

    Finally, I’d just like to say that what you guys are doing is great. Especially considering that you guys are doing it without any sort of salary.

  2. DarkkkChocolate

    i started watching livestreams since TI 1, played against ice in random pub game in d1 as well. still rmb him from the LoL road to sweden interviews. What i feel is that even if he(or the team) is cocky, noone can say that they have no skills to back it up. One of the most entertaining and skillfull teams around always bringing something new to the game.

    Im singaporean too. Here we send china nationals to the olympics and flaunt achievements that “our” athletes get in the olympics. yet there is no pride in it for we all know at the end of the day, they were bought over. It might be sad, but i am so proud that these guys worked their way up and it feels good to see that a bunch of friends can make it big even in SG, where meritocracy squashes out the thirst or passions in people that are non-academic.

    On a lighter note, it would be just hilarious to see ice trolling dendi. BUT DONT DO IT PLEASE GUYS GOODLUCK GO GET THAT MILLION BUCKS.

  3. Randy

    It’s easy to throw around insults. All players, despite what team they are on or what tournaments they win or lose, work their asses off. A lot more effort that what it takes to sit down and watch a game.

  4. 133|-|4x012

    What’s up Zenith.

    First off I’d just like to congratulate you guys (team and management), for all the hard work you’ve put into this team. And train hard for the competition! 🙂

    For the effort you guys are putting in into this competition(and into the whole E-sports scene), I have never came across such vile and disrespectful comments for this team. Being a Singaporean myself, its great to see some people actually trying to put effort into something they are interested in, in other words chasing their dreams. You guys put it out there for us. And to those who talk sh*t about you, forget them. You don’t need them.

    Anyway, all the best, and I have to sleep soon (need to study lah, can’t play DOTA 2, got ‘A’ levels!)


    P.S. Sorry for the long message, thought this site needed some comments

  5. Joe

    You should play games for fun. If Zenith play for fun, not money, then they have one of the greatest recipe to be a champion. You guys should find a way to work on punctuality and deadlines that feels fun. Don’t make it a burden. Remember, if it’s not fun why you do it? GBU Zenith. I love that phenomenal mid Axe. Win the international for me, will ya?

  6. Thadeu Muller

    wow guys don’t get a salary? really sab but whatever, great asian team and the strongest team of dota2, you can and you guys go to win the TI2, I asking to myself why you guys don’t do some stream to raise some, but now seeing xy/freedom on army and ice³ hy² on school it’s hard, but about loda? he streaming a liitle bit in SG but stops with some issues on stream someone can help loda to fix this issues? or he doesn’t to stream anymore? GL at TI take 1kk and PLAY HARD GO PRO

  7. Pingback: Team Zenith responds to BeyondTheSummit World Tour controversy | Cruel Ultimatum

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