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EternaLEnVy Is Still a Dota 2 Hero

By Kenneth Williams in Sports
| May 1, 2019 12:00 am PDT
EternaLEnVy - Dota 2 Hero

Esports bettors are always debating on what the best team is, and that same discussion inevitably turns to players.

Unlike in sports, esports gameplay changes constantly, and Dota 2 is no exception.

Every patch brings reworked mechanics, adjusted heroes, and a new metagame to discover. Players that were gods of the game one patch can fall out of the sportsbooks in the next.

That’s the exact situation that Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao has found himself in. The Chinese-Canadian carry player has been facing difficulties ever since leaving Team Secret in 2016.

Since then, he’s been bouncing around various tier-two teams and random stacks. Not helping him is the metagame, which has shifted further and further away from the hard carries Envy used to carve out his name.

But his playstyle is only one half of what makes EternaLEnVy such an icon.

He’s a risktaker both in-game and out.

He’s one of the few players who can win or lose the game for his team in one split-second decision, and he usually bets on himself. Add in his very apparent love of anything Japanese and controversial public statements, and you get a player that you either adore or can’t stand.

But Kyle Freedman doesn’t see anything to appreciate.

Hungry bettors who were watching ESL One Mumbai with bated breath likely had it taken away when the commentator unleashed his rage on Jacky Mao after two of his teammates were removed from the team right after getting knocked out of the event.

In it, he called Mao a “villain” and urged the crowd to “stop cheering for the villain.”

So what led to such a callout on a big stage? Why Kyle of all people? And is EternaLEnVy really on the wrong side of everything? Let’s look at the carry player’s career and then Kyle’s claims to see if they hold up to scrutiny.

No Stranger to Risk

EternaLEnVy’s career is surprisingly well documented, even down to the very moment he decided to pursue professional Dota 2.

In a forum post on LiquidDota dated December 9th, 2011, he outlined his plans to drop out of college and pursue Dota 2 professionally. He set up a streaming plan, asked for advice, and stressed that he would return to school if everything went belly-up.

Unsurprisingly, almost everyone in the comments told him that he was an idiot and that he was throwing away a chance at a decent life. He made it clear that they weren’t going to change his mind, and in retrospect, we can see that that was for the best.

In less than three years, he was pulling in hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money alone. It must have taken nerves of steel to stick to his guns, especially after such a discouraging reaction to his announcement.

He stuck to his word and began streaming regularly to support himself, all the while looking for teams to join.

His first major squad consisted of himself, Black^, AdmiralBulldog, s4, and sizzles. This was a star-studded roster from the early days of Dota 2, and they saw some immediate success, taking first place at DreamHack Winter 2012 over Evil Geniuses.

While he’s best known for his carry play, EnVy played Position Five for the international team with sizzle playing Four. The roster churned through some players until EnVy himself was the only non-Swedish player, and he was dropped from the team in 2013 without a replacement ready.

The other members wanted it to become a Swedish national team, and EnVy stood in the way of that.

The team would later go on to become Alliance, one of the greatest names in Dota 2 history and the winner of The International 2013. It all began with EnVy, and it took off after his dismissal.

Team Secret, Cloud9, and Beyond

After giving up everything for Dota 2, EnVy once again found himself without a team to call home. The squad he had fostered had gone from nothing to everything, and he was unable to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Most players would quit right there, but those nerves of steel came back for Jacky Mao.

He’s been with tons of teams since his departure from No Tidehunter, but some were more successful than others. He’s most remembered for his time on Cloud9, where he began making his name as a great carry player. His Terrorblade was considered the scariest hero to play against during the 6.87c patch.

His tenure on Team Secret, a pan-European superteam, lasted almost a year. They took the gold at the 2016 Shanghai Major and had several podium finishes throughout EnVy’s time there.

Despite the roster changing multiple times, Jacky Mao was considered the team’s safest player, other than Puppey himself, of course.

After Team Secret shuffled their roster in late 2016, EnVy was left out in the cold. He decided that starting from ground zero couldn’t be much harder than it was the first two times, so he started Team NP. The unsponsored stack would later get picked up again by Cloud9, though only for that year’s International.

Since then, his skillset has simply become less and less important. Hard carries like Terrorblade, Spectre, and Naga Siren have slowly become less and less popular due to the game speeding up.

If you’re a longtime Dota bettor, you’ll know how boring those games can get. So, Valve did away with them entirely.

So where is EE-sama now? Simply put, at a career low.

His current stack, TEAM TEAM, hasn’t put up good results. As of writing, they don’t even have a full roster. They performed poorly at ESL One Mumbai and almost immediately released two of their players.

It was at that same tournament where caster Kyle would go on a minute-plus-long rant about EnVy’s career.

Kyle’s Rant…

ESL One Mumbai is the latest event that TEAM TEAM attended, and it did not go well for them. My heart goes out to any EE fans that put money on him because the losses were pretty embarrassing. Almost immediately after the losses, it was announced that Gunnar and Newsham would be parting ways with Brax, ixmike88, and EternaLEnVy.

In response to this, Kyle on the analyst desk broke out in a long call-out centered around EternaLEnVy’s selfishness.

He claimed that every time a team starts failing, EE is quick to blame everyone but himself and immediately kick other members of his team.

He goes on to state that he usually kicks teammates to make room for “his friends,” explicitly referring to a particular roster shuffle while he was on Team Secret. He caps his callout by encouraging fans to “stop rooting for the villain.”

His rant was taken well by the /r/Dota2 subreddit, which has a lot of power in Valve’s decision making.

Immediately, threads on both Reddit and Twitter praised Kyle for his bravery on calling out a player at his all-time career low.

Meanwhile, EnVy had to begin personally defending himself on social media from some of Kyle’s claims that were simply not true.

…And Why It’s Wrong

What Kyle fails to mention, likely because it would destroy his whole argument about kicking teammates, is that EnVy has been on the receiving end of that treatment just as often as he’s inflicted it.

No Tidehunter could very well have gone on to become an all-time great team with Jacky Mao playing support, but he was kicked because he wasn’t a Swede. Cloud9’s disbanding came right after he established himself as a great carry player.

His tenure on Team Secret ended only because of a surprise roster shuffle that saw the entire team disbanding (except for Puppey, of course.) EternaLEnVy understands that sometimes ruthless decisions have to be made and that those affected are just caught in the crossfire. Sometimes it’s EnVy getting kicked; sometimes he’s doing the kicking.

But even that doesn’t explain why Kyle pinned the blame on EnVy.

Team Secret is controlled by Puppey. EnVy no doubt had an influence on the decision to kick MiSeRy and w33, but Kyle forgot that those “friends” EnVy had were UNiVeRsE and Arteezy, two role-codifiers in Dota history.

I can’t think of any team in 2016 that wouldn’t have dropped players for them.

Regardless of what Reddit and Twitter say, we shouldn’t be calling this a callout. This was a tier-two analyst kicking a controversial player while he’s down because he knows that social media will praise him for it.

Kyle himself was a professional player and no doubt understands the reasoning behind every single one of EnVy’s decisions, especially the ones that Jacky Mao was barely involved in. Every single thing that has gone wrong, many of which hurt EnVy’s career, was pinned on him and him alone on Mumbai.

This might be a setback for EternaLEnVy, but it might also be a new beginning. He’s gone through worse and taken much riskier bets only to persevere regardless of the results.

An analyst making half-baked arguments on stream won’t be the end of EnVy.

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