Hey guys this is SUNSfan...
I’ve gotten a lot of messages over the past few months wondering where I’ve been and what my plans are going forward. It’s kind of a complicated answer, and I’m personally not a fan of saying much unless I can elaborate fully. If there’s one thing I’ve learned with my experience in life, it’s that nothing is black and white and people tend to draw their own, often incorrect, conclusions. That’s why I feel I should give you my perspective, even though it may end up as a wall of text. Sorry about that.
I think the easiest way for me to accomplish this is to talk about what I did over the last year or so in the Dota space. Obviously this is a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things, but this is long enough as it is.
The TLDR (if you wish to read no more) is that I am fully invested in Artifact. This doesn’t mean I will be quitting Dota by any means, but I have taken an extended break from the game. Below you can read more details as to how I arrived at this decision. I included pictures for those that suffer from ADD.
In November of 2017 I attended DotaPit Season 6 as a caster. This was in large part because a lot of other talent decided not to go for whatever reason. Although I’m never a huge fan of travel, I’ve always found that Croatia is one of my favorite places to visit, so I jumped at the opportunity. This tournament also took place after a huge patch in Dota, and I found it incredibly fun to cast as a result. I was penciled in to cast the finals, but decided that Maut deserved it more as he had a long history with DotaPit.
Midas Mode came a few short weeks later. I wasn’t really involved with the planning of the tournament, as this was a Slacks special. It was one of the most fun experiences of my life. It was the perfect combination of Moonduck casual craziness and our usual impromptu style.
Captains Draft 4.0
Then in late December and early January came Captains Draft 4.0, one of the best and worst experiences of my life. I don’t know how to write about this experience in a short amount of text, but I’ll do my best. The prep for this tournament was a long and arduous process. It took the better part of a year of constant work to pull this thing off. In terms of workload, it was a literal 2-person operation. Sajedene and I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this project. There were many times we weren’t sure if it was possible to pull off, as Moonduck as a whole had never done an actual LAN event before. And because of the prep needed for Midas Mode, we were stretched very thin.
One thing I learned from organizing this tournament is that it takes a SHIT ton of time and money to pull off. We also did not get a great time-slot. It is fairly common knowledge that Q1 of any year is a terrible time to run a tournament, as sponsors will be hard to find. Not to mention the fact that it was just at the start of a new year, which meant a lot of tier 1 teams declined our invite. Of course, this was all we had to work with. We applied for many other times of the year, but this was the only one available. Later we would learn that several other organizers got multiple slots secured, yet many of their events never materialized.
In terms of sponsorship, we got a lot of help from EventsDC. Without them, we would never have accomplished anything. Even with their support however, we had to make a decision months before the tournament itself. We still didn’t have enough money to pull it off and we were at the point of no return. There were talks of whether we should just cancel the event, even though we’d already announced things. I felt like this was our one chance to prove ourselves to the community, so after a lot of worrying and deliberation, I put in a substantial amount of my own money up front to keep things going. There seems to be a meme out there about how rich I am. I’m not really sure how this started, but I can assure you it is far from the truth. As I talked about in my blog a few years ago, I kept $0 of the prizepool from DC’s TI6 run.
Fast-forward to the tournament and things go pretty smoothly. I was obviously quite nervous about the event, especially since I was casting and would be largely unavailable for any of the big-picture decisions needed. Luckily we had plenty of people step up. Sajedene took care of the project as a whole, Slacks did the event content, and bukka was an absolute god. A lot of other people helped out and I can’t tell you how much it was appreciated.
The event as a whole was definitely a success. We had some hiccups to be sure, but I think it was one of the more memorable events of the year and I’m proud of that. It was my first time casting a LAN finals before, and I didn’t let the fact that it was my own tournament ruin that for me (haha). In terms of financials, I was able to at least get a good portion of what I put in because of ticket sales and additional sponsors we found. In the end however, the event was still a big net-negative for me in the financial department.
In March of 2018, I, along with some Moonduckers, were invited to the Bucharest Major by PGL. Due to some small miscommunication internally, I thought I was going as a caster. When I found out I was a panelist, I became super nervous. People who follow me know that I can be very self-deprecating on camera. That is actually how I am in real life as well. In terms of paneling, I’d never really done it on an official capacity and as a result was never really comfortable doing it before, but during this tournament I started to feel more comfortable day by day and the audience seemed to enjoy it.
And then the final event, the Super Major in China. I won’t really get into this as much, but I was invited as a panelist again by PGL. Things went quite well until I had to leave abruptly because of a family death. I have to give a shout out to PGL, who flew me back home immediately at their own cost.
Weeks later, the invites for TI8 came out and I wasn't on the list. I won’t lie, I took this hard. Over the course of my career covering Dota, I have been telling other people (and myself) that not being invited to an International is not a death-sentence. I think that was more about me trying to make myself and others feel better about our misfortune. The reality of the situation is the fact that not being invited to TI is a huge deal for every personality, as the invites for the next few months will go exclusively to those who worked TI.
I think the main problem is that the only tangible thing we as personalities can do to try and gauge our worth is reddit. It sounds weird to say, but it has become very obvious over the course of the last few years that reddit truly dictates most things in the Dota space. And if you go back through any of the tournaments that I talked about above, every single one had at least one prominent thread of positivity towards me specifically. This sounds a bit egotistical to type, but I have to stress that this is the only barometer we as personalities can use to truly understand our overall worth. Suffice to say, I thought the overwhelming support of reddit gave me my best chance to finally get invited.
Once I got over the initial disappointment, I started to think about my career as a whole. I finally came to grips with the fact that I’m just not what Valve is looking for in a personality for their event. Once that set in, I truly began to understand. I can’t really blame Valve for this. If I’m organizing an event myself, I will hire people I know will work well together and that I enjoy working with. If that does not include me, then I will have to live with that. I think the thing that bothered me more than anything is the fact that there were some people invited that have literally never done anything in the Dota space before. Between that and the fact that I’ve only been invited to one International in my career (and even then I wasn’t even on the main stream or on camera), really solidified in my mind that it’s just never going to happen.
Taking everything I just wrote into account, combined with the fact that I have been absolutely obsessed with Artifact, means the transition makes that much more sense for me. Artifact hasn’t exactly gotten off to a great start, but I have faith that Valve will add things over time in order to right the ship. I think with their new mindset of consistent balance changes in addition to the expansions planned, this game will get to the place we all wanted it to be. This of course won’t happen overnight, but as long as Valve is dedicated to making it great, then I feel very comfortable continuing to support it. I think one thing I can say is that my love for the game at its most basic level is not manufactured. Some in the community have called me a shill, which I find hilarious. I’m making less money now than ever. But I needed a change and I truly enjoy Artifact. I’ve even picked up streaming, which I do around 3 times a week (http://twitch.tv/sunsfantv). For me, it can be more exhausting to play than Dota, but I don’t feel as much stress from a streaming perspective. It is much more chill which I of all people can appreciate. Some other stuff I’ve been working on include the Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/artifactcinema) & Artifaction website (https://artifaction.gg/). The latter is a project started in collaboration with Slacks, Cyborgmatt, Noxville, and my boy bukka. It has in my humble opinion the best learn section for people starting out with Artifact. Plus you can take a Harry Potter-like quiz in order to find out which Artifact House you belong to. As per norm, we are the masters of fluff.
Keep in mind that just because I haven’t touched Dota in a while, doesn’t mean I’ll be cutting ties. I’ll still be doing DotaCinema stuff like Fails of the Week (yes it’s still alive) assuming Slacks actually shows up. And perhaps in the future I’ll be a part of some Moonduck tournaments.
Finally you can stop reading
So all in all, this last year had a lot of ups and downs for me personally and professionally. I was a panelist at 2 Majors, cast at Midas Mode & 1 Minor, and then organized and partially funded the only DPC LAN that people could attend in the US. And all I really have to show for it is a lighter wallet. Having said that, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Over the course of my career I’ve been a Youtuber, owned a team, founded a studio, commentated, paneled and organized tournaments. After listing that out, I can safely say I’m a pretty lucky person. And I’m looking forward to what is next in my career.
I hope trying to be transparent with the last year has helped you understand what I am up to these days. Worrying about assumptions or how people will take things I say can be very tiring, but honestly that passion and support is what makes doing all this worth it. Thanks for reading, friends.