As you may have heard White Rabbit Gaming Dota player, Travis ‘Castaway’ Waters, recently hit the 7k MMR mark in Dota’s ranked matchmaking. That’s quite an impressive achievement for any Dota player, but it’s particularly impressive for a South African playing with 200ms ping to European servers.
When we heard the news we did some classic investigative journalism to get some of the details for our beloved readers. By that we mean we asked Twitter. And here’s what we discovered: He’s only the second South African to ever do that, first was Donio ‘Doni’ Teixeira, and Castaway is currently the highest ranked Dota player in South Africa. (GLHF: Thanks Profeci.)
Not impressed yet? Well, what if we told you that when he plays in local tournaments he doesn’t even plug in his keyboard. True story.
It’s not a true story.
But, the real reason you’re all here, to hear from the man himself on how how he made it to 7k and how it felt to get there.
“It was a weird feeling, I was playing Earthshaker, we won a fight and took all lanes of rax, I just pushed my chair back and thought ‘I guess I did it?’ It was really weird, but then after seeing the number change from 6999 to 7024, it really felt good.
To be honest, I felt for a long time I was never going to get 7k, that I wasn’t good enough. Now I definitely want to push and get a leaderboard spot first (around 7.2k) and work to 7.5k and upwards in 500 MMR increments, slow and steady. There’s going to be a lot of learning ahead, haha.”
A 7k MMR Dota player who still believes he has a lot to learn, that’s something you don’t hear everyday. Certainly not in the heat of a Dota game. And it’s probably a lesson to all of us sub-7k players, which is everyone in South Africa besides Castaway, that we shouldn’t act like we know better than everyone else.
On that soppy note, let’s talk about learning. And by that we mean losing and how Castaway deals with it.
“It depends. For me, I learnt a while ago that there are many reasons why you lose in ranked, so I try to identify the reason. I got outright beaten by skill, I had a feeder, we lost a crucial team fight.
Going from there I deal with it in a black-and-white manner. If I lost and it honestly wasn’t on my ability or if I’m happy with how I played, then I tell myself that if I can repeat that level again, I can win that MMR back, the loss means nothing. So I don’t really get tilted if I lose a lot anymore.
Just dissecting each loss and finding out why you lost takes away all those needless emotions that drive one to delete friends/play in offline mode/mute everyone (I’ve gone through all of these XD). Just make sure you’re playing as well as you can.”
How old is this guy again? He’s so wise. Much more so than we are and we’re esports old. We should at least have some reasonably good advice to impart onto the younger generations. Compared to Castaway, we’ve got nothing.
So let’s get the wise young man’s thoughts on something else all gamers will be familiar with, fear of losing the next game.
“I do encounter feelings of doubt, they definitely creep in (Constantly thinking, ‘Oh you’ve been winning a lot lately, now you’re gonna go on a losing streak’). I found that these are just lies. You need to take it one game at a time. One play, one click at a time.
Try your best and play good Dota, you’ll end up winning the majority of your games. I try my best to block those feelings and thoughts out as much as possible, they also seem to come during tournaments and official games.”
So wise. So good at Dota. At least he’s unattractive. Oh wait, he’s not. Tech Girl semi-recently voted him the Face of South African Esports in her private awards show, hosted by her, voted for by her, and presented by her on Twitter. Proof:
Expect a Nivea for Men sponsorship soon to go along with all the gaming peripherals. We’re only semi-joking here, Nivea should really look into this.
Castaway has been blessed with incredible God-given talent, he’ll be the first to tell you that. That his talent was given to him by God, not that he’s incredible. The confidence he gets from his faith clearly plays a major role in helping him continuously improve.
On top of that he recommends watching a lot of replays of players who play in the role you’re trying to improve in and learn what they do with certain heroes. Castaway believes SumaiL and Ana are the best mid players around at the moment, so they’re his go-to educators.
But now for the unfortunate question we inevitably ask South African esports pros, how does being in South Africa hinder your growth in esports? And as a Dota player, your MMR?
“I think it does hinder your MMR because of the ping difference, or at least, I thought this for a very long time. But to be honest, a lot of dota is decision making, which ping does not hinder at all. It’s something you can work at and get better at.
For example, it affects my role a lot, especially the laning stage, but through playing a lot, you learn to live with it. I just try to get into situations where I don’t need to rely on ping to be the deciding factor. e.g. popping BKB before a stun or dodging a crucial spell.
I think a lot of how you grow as a player is in how you think about the game. How much time you put into improving constructively. So it comes down to the individual. I mean, if you really want something bad enough, you’ll get it.”
So where does that leave South Africa’s highest MMR Dota player? His stats in local tournaments are incredibly impressive. His KDA (Kill/Death/Assist) ratio at the VS Gaming Masters event was 20.33 and at the Mega8 Winter Cup it was 14.33. That’s insanely high. Does he have to look overseas if he wants to reach his full potential?
“Hopefully my team and I can qualify for something international and get something going overseas sometime soon. If not, I have plans to go and do something similar to Doni, just going and living there for some months and getting higher MMR. Try and join a team. Hopefully next year.”
While it would be sad for the local scene to lose such a talent, it’s nice to think he’ll go make a mark for himself, and all of South Africa’s esports fans vicariously through him, on the international scene.
With reaching the grand heights of 7k MMR comes the pleasure, and sometimes the pain, of playing with famous international players. That must be super cool, right?
“I think it’s fun to play versus people who you look up to, it’s really good for improving. I played against NoOne’s smurf the other day, he was Templar Assassin, I was Invoker, and wow, he made me look like a 2k scrub. I just thought, it’s so cool to think you can become that good at a game. Similar story to when I versed Sccc’s TA and I was Shadow Fiend, game was hard man.
But, when I watched the replays, I learnt sooo much about those heroes, not just in lane. So it depends on your attitude on losing to people better than you. Of course when I’ve beaten pros it feels really good, haha.”
As a last little treat for y’all, we’ve got some of Castaway’s more memorable interactions from the stars we all know and love. Most of the time.
“There’s been quite a few if I must say. Friend’s Bignum called my Earth Spirit plays Godly when I won him midlane and he commended me after the game so that was nice.
I once killed Dendi’s QoP as SF and he called me a dog in all chat, which I had a nice laugh at.
Arteezy called me a useless retard and muted me on stream back in Team Secret days, which made my life 😀 (I’m a big Arteezy fan).”
Aaah, classic Arteezy. Must be really awesome interacting with stars of your favourite game like that. We met Paul ‘Redeye’ Chaloner once and we still talk about it. Like all the time.
We love a good sign off, so this week we’ll leave you with the words of Bruce Lee, ‘Be like Water(s)’.