“To compete in The International Dota 2 tournament, hopefully once we complete a team geared up for that level of play. Qualify. Compete. Perform well. To be able to go there and have fun is my dream.”
In the midst of these trying times, it is understandable that the general mood has taken the back seat to dreary. But not for Zedrik ‘Jeff’ Dizon, the recently crowned national champ for the Red Bull R1v1r Runes Philippines. He outsmarted more than 100 players with his unorthodox style and impressive game mechanics.
Jeff is a ray of positivity, candidness and inspiration. Coda caught up with him to share his thoughts on his road to glory, how he juggles student life, pro-gaming and humanitarian work, and his stunning victory over no less than Dota 2 superstar and OG captain Johan ‘N0tail’ Sundstein.
Coda: How did you become interested in gaming/eSports?
I got into video games because of my older brother playing PlayStation 1 and Gameboy Color, and I said I want to play that. He introduced me to Warcraft III and Dota 1. Obviously, he was always better than me*HAHAHA. When we started playing Heroes of Newerth (HoN), I finally surpassed him. In High School, I shifted to League of Legends and reached Challenger. In college, I got into Dota 2 in 2018 because I wanted to compete in the Collegiate Dota 2 Tournament called Impetus.
Parents supporting him playing games, responsibly
My parents actually didn’t support me playing video games prior to college because I had a tendency to ignore school work and just play *HAHAHA. But after finding success in Impetus with the Ateneo Team, they started supporting me in my tournaments. They watch my games when they are live-streamed on Facebook even if they don’t understand what’s happening.
After a month of intense competition, how has winning the R1v1r Runes changed your life?
It was a really big opportunity and an unforgettable moment. I haven’t really won any big tournaments so it was a great change of pace. Winning the R1v1r Runes 1v1 Tournament and beating N0tail really gives me confidence in my individual skill level, however it isn’t an indicative of how well I will perform in a regular Dota tournament. Dota will always be a team-based game and if you can’t find a team you have good chemistry with, you’ll definitely fail.
Watch as Zedrik talks about his gaming roots, his strategy for the R1v1r Runes and playing against N0tail.
What was your battle plan for the R1v1r Runes?
My initial battle plan was to outplay all my opponents and kill them 3 times to win. I wanted to make flashy plays on any hero and just stomp my enemies. However, I was knocked down to the lower bracket because my opponent (who had 2 deaths already) focused on just pushing my tower. I decided that it didn’t matter what strategy I used to win since I really wanted to be able to fight an OG member. So I built items very defensively and then built a Meteor Hammer to focus on destroying my opponents’ tower. Luckily, most of them were not able to adapt to this playstyle and still tried to kill me 3 times, eventually losing every round. For N0tail, I decided not to try to push his tower and just try to have fun and duel it out.
‘You can’t go into a game na malamig ang kamay mo.’
As for pre-game rituals I usually play with friends, whether Dota 2 or VALORANT, just to get my reflexes on point. Then head to the demo hero mode right before the match and play around with my favorite heroes. Everything you do from the start will have an impact on the game. You might as well get used to it before the game itself.
How’s it like going toe-to-toe with N0tail?
They told me I was fighting N0tail, mentally I’m prepared. But then I was very overwhelmed because we were placed in the same Discord with our videos on, so I wasn’t able to focus well since he was literally on my phone beside my laptop. I was like “Wow this guy is the captain of the 2-time TI champion team and I’m casually talking to him”.
A rematch with N0tail on a Team Match, what are the odds of your team beating him?
I think we have a 20% chance of winning since knowing OG, they would just have fun fighting a random team. Although if they were to play seriously, like in a TI tournament, we would probably have no chance at all. They’re undeniably good.
How do you feel about eSports potentially becoming more integrated into college/university curriculum?
It’s a very good opportunity to integrate eSports. Right now, in the Philippines you get discovered just for playing and reaching a high rank. There’s a lot of untapped potential, hidden gems that don’t have a medium to display their skills. But if you put it into a curriculum, with eSports thriving in our generation, it will help in the growing eSports scene in the Philippines. Hoping for more schools to push for it. Solid!
What dream do you want to achieve in eSports?
My biggest dream is to qualify and compete in The International Dota 2 Tournament and be able to perform well as a team.
As a student, which school subject is your end-of-level boss? How do you balance playing games and working for Habitat for Humanity?
Any school subject with multiple objective type tests will be my end-of-level boss. I’m still not the best with time management like preparing for an exam. Although I’m always able to make time playing video games and Habitat For Humanity Blue Chapter since I am very passionate about them. I believe you can make time for the things that you really want because it’s your choice. Hard to balance pero kinakaya.
Fast Talk: Describe the following in one word:
Meteor Hammer – Funny! *Chuckles hard
N0tail – Idol
Quarantine – Sad
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