Dota 2 veteran Yeik “MidOne” Zheng has been benched by Team Secret and will be taking an extended break from the competitive scene. While the Malaysian star is one of the best players in the world, a combination of his The International 2019 performance and the lack of open rosters might shoehorn him into subpar teams.
MidOne remains one of the most brilliant and versatile players in Dota 2. He’s proved himself both as a talented space creator and a capable late-game carry. He also has a tremendous hero pool that includes cheese picks like Broodmother, Visage, and Meepo and a championship pedigree that few Southeast Asian players can boast. He’s played with some of the best captains the game has to offer and was the first Southeast Asian player to hit 10,000 MMR. So why has his stock fallen after TI9?
It started off well. Team Secret’s first game was a dominating Broodmother showing from him where he made all the right moves. He helped Secret secure a win in their first match of the tournament even after being down mega creeps.
As the days wore on, he grew more inconsistent. He still showed the capability to take over matches and looked like the best player on the map on several occasions, but for a player of his caliber, it was underwhelming. Despite achieving fourth place, the joint-highest placing of his career and Team Secret’s highest, the mercurial mid player showed flashes of mortality on the main stage. He looked uncomfortable and it’s easy to tell when one of the best players in the world wasn’t on top of his game.
TI9 ended and the Dota Pro Circuit’s most dominant team weren’t even present on the final day. Chalk it up to a combination of homesickness, Clement “Puppey” Ivanov’s need for change, and the TI9 result, but MidOne ended up being the one that got away.
Starting from last year, MidOne has already mentioned his desire to leave Secret and play closer to home. It seems inevitable that he’ll end up back in the SEA region eventually. But with the new Dota Pro Circuit rules coupled with the surprising stability of SEA rosters, it’s possibly one of the worst times for MidOne to be a free agent.
One by one, the biggest organizations in SEA confirmed their rosters. Unlike Anathan “ana” Pham, MidOne won’t have a team to welcome him back with open arms. So where does the superstar mid laner go next? Here are some potential landing spots for MidOne.
Fnatic and TNC Predator
Southeast Asia has two obvious top dogs in Fnatic and TNC Predator. Even if MidOne was available, it’d be surprising to see these two teams give up their mids for the mercurial Malaysian.
It was with Fnatic that MidOne first put his name on the map, and the path was clear for the prodigal son to return when “Abed” Yusop left the team for Evil Geniuses. Yet, it took so long for Secret and MidOne to let go of each other and Fnatic moved on, picking up Kam “Moon” Boon Seng to fill the mid role.
TNC have become the best team in the Philippines and they’re deadlocked in the crown for the king of SEA with Fnatic. Their mid player, Armel Paul Tabios, is young, perfectly capable, and a homegrown hero to boot.
Arguably, MidOne is a superior player to both Moon and Armel right now by razor margins. But Moon has gone from strength to strength, earning praise from top-tier players and analysts like Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan and Kyle Freedman, while Armel has so many factors that favor his inclusion in the TNC squad. There’s almost no scenario where Fnatic or TNC would take a chance on such a big change and risk the stability of their lineup, even for MidOne.
Mineski were the first SEA team to win a Dota 2 Major, achieving the feat in 2018 with their Dota 2 Asia Championship trophy. Now, their roster has been utterly ravaged, losing three players from their Major-winning squad to Fnatic, experienced offlaner Damien “kpii” Chok to TNC Predator, and breakout star Nikolay “Nikobaby” Nikolov to Alliance.
But a fresh start just might be what the organization needs. Once the premier organization in the Philippines, Mineski’s throne has been usurped by TNC. The most success they’ve had in recent years was placing their faith in Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung’s hands, giving him the freedom to recruit his own squad in 2018. Maybe it’s time to entrust the roster to another Malaysian.
There are several reasons why this might not work out as well with MidOne. For starters, Mushi is a legendary player and veteran in the scene with tons of contacts, and he’s shown that he’s capable of putting together a roster and achieving results with it.
Meanwhile, MidOne has only played on two teams in his entire career, with the bulk of it spent in the European region. If he plans to get a fresh start in SEA, his only pull will be his star power and ridiculous skill.
When MidOne wanted out of Fnatic, Lee “Forev” Sang-don was the one who convinced Puppey to bring him in. This time, Forev could bring the Malaysian into one of esport’s most prestigious organizations.
But Forev and MidOne parted on bad terms. In an interview with RuHub Media, MidOne had some scathing words for Forev, saying that he “was not a nice person” and was bullied during his time at Secret due to his juniority.
The biggest question mark here would be the relationship between the players. Forev became the first and only official player to sign under T1 in August, with no other progress being made. For that reason alone, MidOne might refuse to sign under the Korean banner. Otherwise, there’s a lot of factors that could work in both MidOne’s and the organization’s favor.
T1 signing MidOne would instantly give both parties credibility. T1 would obviously make a statement by signing one of the best players in the world, while MidOne would gain renown outside of the Dota 2 circle due to T1’s status. The Korean organization would be able to promise world-class facilities and could even base the team in Malaysia to suit their star player’s needs. It’s not unheard of for Dota 2 organizations to switch regions based on their roster—Chaos Esports Club changed regions three times in a year, for example.
For now, MidOne will be taking a well-deserved break as the DPC season gets underway without one of Dota 2’s brightest talents. MidOne will undoubtedly return to the scene. The only questions are when and where.