One star who’s hoping the crowd’s backing will help him to do that is Feras "Feero" Hroob, the Jordanian pubstar. Best known for his performances in B)ears and Complexity Gaming, the talented youngster will be looking to emulate the success that his former Jordanian teammates Yazied "YapzOr" Jaradat and Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barqawi have managed to find.
Joining him in Team WG.Unity is the Russian veteran Khaled "sQreen" El-Khabbash and three of SEA’s finest in Galvin "Meracle" Kang Jian Wen, Kim "Velo" Tae-sung, and Kenneth "Flysolo" Coloma.
On paper, this is one of the strongest rosters in the SEA region along with Fnatic and TNC Gaming. We spoke to Feero to find out more about his new home, reasons for leaving to Malaysia and his plans with WG.Unity
Feero was introduced to video games at a very young age. “I've always been playing video games growing up. I used to play mostly for fun on consoles like Playstation 1/2, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and those kind of old school consoles. The only pc games I played was Diablo and some casual RPG games like Dragon Quest and those sort of things”
His first tryst with Dota came through his sister, a famous Dota streamer, Ephey aka Mira. “A friend of mine introduced my sister to Dota when I was in 9th grade and then she introduced it to me, and that's when I got into it. She’s been doing well for herself minus the load of hatred that she gets lol”
In addition to his sister, Feero’s younger brother is at the 4k MMR mark as well. We were quite curious about what dinner and other family activities were like in a Dota oriented household like his.
"Well I've always been playing at net cafes in Jordan so I would never really be at home. I was out all day playing Dota and then when I come back home I just go to sleep and repeat. But yes, we do talk about Dota to each other since it's a common interest between us. My parents aren't the most supportive of me choosing Dota as a career so they would always nag me about going to college, but you could say that Dota is definitely something that's discussed a lot in the house”
Oddly enough, Feero’s gaming career could have gone in a completely different direction if it wasn’t for his sister and his friends. “TBH, I hated Dota when I first started playing it, I actually didn't even want to play it because there was this other game I was playing but my sister and friends were playing it all the time so I kind of got into it too so we can have similar interests”.
He admits that he wasn’t really that good initially “I was so bad when I first started playing that people were flaming me so hard I wanted to cry. The matchmaking system in Dota 1 was terrible you could get matched with the best players in the world when you're awful. I was always feeding in my games and I didn't enjoy playing it”.
But after a while, his hard work and constant practice started to pay off “After like 6 months of playing, I became kind of decent and then that's when I started to enjoy the game. Once I started getting good at it I had a lot of fun playing”.
Among other sources of inspiration, the old-school YouTube montage videos served as motivation for Feero to constantly improve himself. “I was always watching these cool moves that people were doing and I wanted to do them too. IDK if you remember all the Dota 1 videos that were made but those were hype. I played Dota 1 for two and a half years”
He then took a brief hiatus so that he could focus on school. “It was my junior and senior year in high school and I had to take that seriously. At that time Dota 2 just came out but I never really played it and I wasn't aware that Dota 2 would turn into such a big thing. I figured quitting the game and focusing on my academics would be what's best for me. So I quit the game for around a year”
His return to Dota was sparked courtesy his younger brother who had downloaded Dota 2 on his laptop and obliged to Feero’s request one day to let him play for a little while.
He adds that “I might not even be playing right now, if it wasn't for my little brother coincidentally downloading the game on his laptop.”
His story of how he became a pro player is inspiring and frankly quite awesome, “I started playing Dota 2 at around 2014 (TI4) and I first calibrated 4.9k MMR. Then, I grinded all day every day for a month and I got to 7k MMR. At that point I realized I was actually pretty good at the game because there weren't very many 7k players at the time - only about 10 or so on Europe. And then when I saw the money that was in Dota 2 and that a lot of people were making a career out of this that's when I realized that there's actually potential in the game and it would be worth it to pursue this as my career since I'm passionate about the game and I enjoy playing it. That was when I made the decision to become a pro player”
Although he played for a couple of Jordanian teams alongside Miracle and Yapzor, his first serious foray into the competitive scene was with B)ears, a European team comprised of Fata, Yapzor, 343 (aka ADAM), Forev and himself. While their performances in the European Qualifiers of the Kiev Major and DAC 2017 surpassed all expectations, they didn’t qualify to either LAN. They disbanded soon after.
“So when Complexity talked to me about joining them one of the biggest things that attracted me to play with them was that they are a solid organization that has been around for quite a while. I wanted to focus on myself and live in a healthy Dota environment where I could focus on my grind, eat well, and have good equipment. So that what was prompted me to join Complexity and play on the NA region.”
Feero’s performances in the Complexity roster particularly in the TI7 NA Qualifiers would earn him a lot of praise and attention in the Dota 2 community.
His playstyle is on some level comparable to that of Ana or Miracle, given his flexibility to oscillate between the mid and carry role based on his team’s composition. However, after a few games with the Complexity roster, he began to stick to the Mid role exclusively. Commenting on this he said, “well I've always been a position one player and at the same time the mid lane is the lane I'm most comfortable and dominant in - it's the role that I excel most in. Like you said, with Bears, sometimes we drafted heroes that we didn't want to put on mid such as Slark, so we would switch it up occasionally. With Complexity, however, rather than switching it up, we only picked the position 1 mid heroes such as Lina, Qop, SF, Invoker, etc so that way we wouldn't have to switch it up.”
However, after his team didn’t end up qualifying for TI7 he decided to take a break from competitive play. “After I lost the TI qualifiers with Complexity, I decided to take a break from Dota for a month so that I don't burn out. Then when I came back to Dota after my break, I got offered to join WG.Unity.”
“We talked about the roster and what the team would offer me as a player and it was similar to what Complexity offered me - stability. a bootcamp to live in, a salary, a budget for food, and all those kind of accommodations that one would expect.” He decided to take the offer and moved to South East Asia.
“I’ve never really been the kind of person that cares what region I’m playing in because I believe that with enough hard work, you will make it regardless of what region you're playing in. I believe that talent and hard work will always be rewarded”
Elaborating on his willingness to go beyond borders for Dota he added, “I've always said that I will go wherever Dota takes me - so I’ve never really thought that regions matter that much when it comes to Dota. No matter what region you're playing in, there are always going to be talented players. The only requirement I have is that my teammates and I are able to communicate (and seeing that SEA players speak English relatively well there's no problem there)”
On being asked about the differences in ranked games in the three servers, he says “I would say that all three regions are equally challenging TBH. Europe might seem a little easier and inflated but it's not because of skill level, but rather there's a larger number of high MMR players over there that are very motivated to win. For example, let's say that there are 100 7k players on SEA or NA, there would be 200 7k players on EU.”
While Feero’s ambitions are lofty, his expectations seem grounded when asked about his short term and long term goals with WG.Unity.
“It’s too early to say. My only goal is to win TI, whether this is the team that I can do it with or not we'll find out in the near future”
His current team, a Malaysian organization will be quite a diverse roster with a Singaporean Carry (Meracle), a Jordanian Mid (Feero), a South Korean Offlaner (Velo), a Russian-Filipino support duo (SQreen-Flysolo) with a Sri Lankan Coach (Shenal). On being questioned on whether this will give them some unique advantages/challenges, Feero says that “Diversity is never a bad thing, but I wouldn't particularly say that there are specific advantages with an international roster. The reason each player was brought from their different countries was under the pretenses that they're good Dota players. So the main factor behind it I would say by gathering this sort of roster is an emphasis on talent rather than for example settling for a roster that's more convenient such as having 5 Malaysians for example.”
However Feero’s WG.Unity is not the only international roster setting up shores in the SEA region. Fnatic have also announced quite a strong roster with three international stars (EE, Xcalibur and PLD) joining their squad . The competitive scene in the SEA region will be fierce and very interesting with teams like TNC Gaming, the returning TI6 MVP squad as well as Fire Dragoon all bringing in International experience to the SEA region.
When asked about who he thinks will be their toughest competitors, Feero amusingly says, “If I'm going to be honest with you I have no idea. I'm not really that familiar with the SEA region yet, so I wouldn't be able to say. However, there are a lot of talented players here so it should be interesting”
The region will have a really good shot at proving themselves on the grand stage as a result of Valve’s new major-minor system. “Yeah, it's definitely gonna be really hectic. I think that it's a really good system the only downside being that it's going to be really time-consuming seeing as there are going to be so many tournaments back to back. it doesn't leave you with much spare time which can translate into you not really having much time for a personal life or a vacation, whether it's spending time with your girlfriend, friends, some alone time, or whatever - but then again, Dota has always been a lifestyle that consumes you so we'll see just how this new system plays out”
“Dota has always been a lifestyle that consumes you”
This is a statement that many a pro player has echoed. The esports scene isn’t as alluring as it seems from the fans’ point of view. It requires a lot of practice, dedication and grinding which may result in mental burn outs. Pro players need an outlet to relax. For Feero, it’s usually watching shows, reading or hanging out with friends that do the trick. “But I'm usually playing Dota all day. I will say that I'm a huge fan of reality TV singing shows like ‘The Voice’ though.”
Interestingly enough, he hasn’t jumped aboard the Game of Thrones bandwagon.
But he revealed that he is quite a big fan of Harry Potter, “Harry Potter's my shit. I have read all the books. F**k the movies though, they suck”
So we asked him to imagine himself as the sorting hat. We gave him a few of his ex-teammates and friends’ names and asked him to sort them.
Meracle (Teammate) – “TBH I’m not so sure about Meracle, he's probably some Ravenclaw Huffelpuff hybrid”
Velo (Teammate) – “He is probably Gryffindor.”
Sqreen (Teammate) – “He is a Slytherin for sure”
Flysolo (Teammate) – “I haven't gotten to know Flysolo yet because he hasn't come to the bootcamp and I haven't really spoken to him much either so I’ll have to hold on that one.”
Shenal (His Coach) – “He is probably Huffelpuff.”
ADAM aka 343(Ex-Teammate from B)ears) – “Ravenclaw”
Swindlemelonz (Ex-Teammate from Complexity) - “He is a Gryffindor”
Demon (Ex-Teammate from Complexity) – “He is a Hufflepuff.”
Ephey (His Sister, Twitch Streamer) – “Mira is a Ravenclaw”
Moo (Ex-Teammate from Complexity) – “He is also Huffelpuff i think.”
Yapzor (Ex-Teammate from B)ears) – “He is also a Huffelpuff “
“THEY'RE ALL A BUNCH OF HUFFELPUFFS. Filthy Huffelpuffs.”
It is quite a big transition for Feero traveling all the way to Malaysia to pursue his dream to win The International. Naturally, some amount of culture shock is to be expected, but Feero surprisingly says that he isn’t bothered in the slightest about it. “Yes, this is my first time in Malaysia. TBH I’ve never been the kind of person to experience culture shock, I’m kind of weird. No matter where I am, everything just kind of feels natural to me so it doesn't really hit me that ‘this is different’. Like obviously there are differences but I’ve always felt at ease no matter where I am.”
“The culture is actually somewhat similar since they're both Muslim countries. For example, I thought I was escaping the Athan (Muslim Prayer) when I left Jordan but I was mistaken. Food is a little similar but much spicier. Obviously, the people look different too and the native language is also different, but they speak English so all is well. Also, I was living in the capital of Jordan, Amman, which is quite industrialized and not in the outskirts, and I am in the capital of Malaysia so they're both fairly advanced. Although I will say that the night life here is pretty crazy. There's a lot of partying and fun going on at night which is nice to see”
Feero has already started adapting well to the Malaysian culture. Here he is pictured along with the WG.Unity coach Shenal in one of the local hangout spots.
For now, Feero remains the embodiment of a humble yet ambitious pro Dota player that’s aiming for the stars. When asked for a message for his fans, here’s what he had to say.
“Haha I don't think I have that many fans, but thank you to everyone who supports me and believes in me. It can be really encouraging and heartwarming when people believe in you whether you know them or don't. Sometimes when you lose faith in yourself, the people that believe in you keep you going. A shoutout to Shea, a very important gem in my life”
This is just Feero’s second season and he is showing maturity well beyond his age. He is staying grounded and recognizes that there is still a lot of work that WG Unity need to put in as a squad and is clear about the personal progress that he needs to make. This is not the end of the Feero story, rather, this is just the beginning. We can’t tell you whether Feero will write an epilogue to that by winning the International but we can tell you that the man certainly is dauntless, that much is clear.