Chaos Esports Club offlaner Khezu spoke with us right before departing for Shanghai where his team has been bootcamping for TI9. Our conversation covered a variety of topics ranging from MATUMBAMAN joining the squad to his experiences and struggles in the Tier 2 / 3 European Dota 2 scene.
Maurice "KheZu" Gutmann has had one hell of a journey this season. Kicking off with Team Lithium which got up by Vega Squadron and was then eventually dropped due to poor performances. A Stint in Kingdra followed, post-which he finally got a spot in the Chaos Esports Club roster.
With them, he battled his way through the EU Qualifiers to make it to TI9, his third appearance in the prestigious tournament.
Hi Khezu, congratulations on qualifying for TI9. Has the Bootcamp for TI9 already kicked off for Chaos Esports Club?
KheZu: Hey there, thank you, first of all!
The Bootcamp hasn’t started yet. We were practising for about a month leading up to the TI qualifiers. So right after we qualified, we went home to apply for our Visas, and in a few days, we’ll be heading to Shanghai to start preparing for TI9.
It has been a rollercoaster of a season for you. What were the highest and lowest points of the season for you, personally?
KheZu: It’s been a rollercoaster of a season, I can’t say I was happy up until I got this opportunity, nor did I achieve anything, not really at least. I ended up being one series short of qualifying to a minor/major 2-3 times this year.
My lowest points of the season. I’m not sure to be fair, but I assume when I realized over and over that we can’t beat the teams that matter. (OG, Alliance, Secret, Liquid, NIP). Continuously losing out while practising all the time and giving it your all, is rough
My highest point of this season has got to be qualifying for TI9. Especially because after last TI, I tweeted that I’ll do everything in my power to NEVER miss a TI again. That was the lowest point of my last season, for sure. I hated the feeling of watching TI from home. Another high point for me other than simply achieving something was knowing that we’ll get vtFaded and MATUMBAMANNNNNNN in our roster. That shit boosted my morale through the roof.
At some point this season, did you think that you wouldn’t be able to make it to TI9?
KheZu: No, I never thought I wouldn’t make it, I didn’t give myself a 100% success rate, but I knew it’s possible. As I stated earlier, there was no way I wouldn’t give it my all this year to make it to TI. So no matter what team I played for, what opportunity I was given, I’d do my best.
What got you through the lows of the season and kept you believing?
KheZu: What got me through my lows, is that I knew myself that I was improving as a player, constantly. Which gives you some confidence. Also, other EU teams qualifying with points surely helped.
What are your thoughts about Matumbaman? Did it change when he switched from being just another pro player to becoming your fellow teammate?
KheZu: My thoughts about Matu is that he’s never been given the credit he deserves. Like many space creators/position 2/ playmakers, whatever term you want to use. My perception/thoughts about him didn’t change, I just got them confirmed to myself. He’s a sick player, he’s a good teammate, he knows his shit, and is able to help people improve, cause obviously he’s played at the top, right? I couldn’t have wished for a better player to join our team.
You had a rough start to the European Qualifiers for TI9. How do you reset and recover mentally?
KheZu: There are different ways, what we did was just talk it out. Leave out all the shit you have boiled up inside, talk about the mistakes we did. Take a look again at our preparation & what we did in the tournaments. And to make sure that we loosen up, and not to play so scared.
We also knew that Navi had a rough group, but was still able to end up winning their qualifier, score in groups don’t matter as long as we make it out.
We just told ourselves we need to reset, give it our all, and just focus on OUR play, and not the opponents. We knew we had to win every game & at the same time hope that there aren’t some unfortunate outcomes of the other teams, cause we could’ve potentially been knocked out despite winning out on day 2.
Tell us about the European Qualifiers. Despite 5 teams from the region making it to TI9 through the DPC, the competition was still tough with Chaos, Hippomaniacs, and The Final Tribe putting up a tough fight for the final European spot. Do you feel like Europe should have had more qualifier slots?
KheZu: Should Europe have had more qualifier slots, for TI? Certainly no. We already had 5 teams that qualified through the DPC, and now +1 slot with the qualifiers, just like every other region. This was announced long before, and certainly should and was kept this way for a reason.
But, Europe should’ve had at least 4 Slots for the last 2 or 3 Major qualifiers, and I want to emphasize 'AT LEAST'. Europe is a damn strong region, for sure. And it will continue to be this way, with all the best teams being here, means that you get the best practice in Europe, furthermore increasing the skill level of the region.
There has been a lot of discussion about the Tier 2 scene in the Dota 2 community. What is your perception of it? Is the scene healthy, or does it need some influx of money from Valve to keep it chugging?
KheZu: I don’t think the Tier 2 scene is healthy at all.
Had I not been somewhat successful previously, before I played Dota, in HoN, and then at the start of Dota, with Escape & Secret, I don’t know how long I could’ve continued to play Dota 2 this way. Without my stream, I wouldn’t have made any money in this entire season. Apart from Dreamleague Minor (where we replaced Liquid) and now that I qualified for TI with Chaos.
The Tier 2 scene, I mean I don’t even know if it’s fair to say that there is one? There are barely any tournaments for Tier 2 teams, sponsors aren’t interested in Tier 2 teams either, and you can’t blame them either, it’s how Dota works and functions right now.
You’re either Tier 1 and made it, or you’re just below like I was the entire last 1 and a half seasons, and you don’t get jack shit. While playing, practising, boot camping whenever you can. There are many people who will quit Dota because they won’t be able to sustain playing fulltime Dota/trying to. Qualifiers for Majors/Minors should perhaps have some sort of prize pool. Or why not do something like, after $30,000,001 USD you put the rest into the next year, whether it’s the tier 2 scene, some League, or just the qualifier slots (just make sure you make it slightly above $30 Million so you can say it’s a bigger tournament than Fortnite’s world cup .)
Do you think that the western region should begin following China’s approach to the Tier 2 teams with online tournaments and youth teams?
KheZu: It depends what exactly you mean with this question. Should western organisations pick up Tier 2 teams/youth teams for online tournaments? The answer right now is no. Because there are no online tournaments to play. If there were any, surely you could do that. The start of this season actually had a few online Tournaments that were pretty nice. Some Weplay tournaments, Lootbet, ggbet, some Megafon tournament, I’m sure I’m missing some, but this was a decent way of making some small amounts of money, for non-Tier 1 teams.
I understand that you can’t share too much about these things, but what do you think Chaos E.C.'s biggest strength is? Do you see room for improvement in any particular area?
KheZu: I don’t really want to go into our strengths for obvious reasons. One small thing I can say is that we can adapt well & understand Dota well.
There’s definitely room for improvement on countless areas, just like any other team, no team is perfect, everyone has flaws, you can constantly improve in many different ways & areas, whether it’s individual skill, strategy, mental game and so on. I won’t name any specifics for us.
Who do you think is your biggest challenger/rival at TI9? Why?
KheZu: Ourselves, we were nearly the reason we didn’t make it to TI in the first place. Not to discredit our enemies in the TI qualifier. But once we made sure we’re not our own worst enemy, and understood what to focus on, we didn’t lose a single game anymore.
Finally, what advice do you have for aspiring teams trying to make it to TI?
KheZu: I really don’t know what to say. But, I’ll try my best.
TI is obviously the most ideal end goal, but you gotta be realistic. If you’re a team full of 4k’s, then you can’t think about making it to TI. Your next goal is to get 6k, then 8k, now you can start to actually play Dota and start thinking about trying somewhere.
If you’re 8k, you should try to start qualifying to closed qualifiers and so on. You need to be realistic, and go one step at a time. TI is the end goal, but in reality, you have to overcome so many bigger hurdles that only seeing the end might hinder your ability. If it’s truly your dream, take it one step at a time, and try for a reasonable amount of time. Just be realistic and not naive while you do so.
That's all from our end KheZu. Thank you so much for your time! Do you have any shoutouts you'd like to add here?
KheZu: Just shoutout to my team, our sponsor, Chaos esports CLUBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB. & to all my fans and supporters. All the stream viewers, and my personal sponsor and friends over at Bitburger0,0. Thanks!