The TI5 Dota Russian Hub has aired an interview with MVP.Hot6ix support player Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka. During his talk with Ineska, the Finnish player opened up about his decision to go to Korea, his family’s reactions to his choice, the adjustments to the different culture he had to go through and his team’s recent success in qualifying for the TI5 main event.
Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka gained notoriety thanks to his Earth Spirit, having played over 500 games with the hero, at a 75% win-rate. JerAx can now add another record on his list of achievements: the Finnish player is part of the first Korean team to participate in the main even of The International championship.
In March 2015, he made the decision to travel half-way across the world and embark on a new adventure that would ultimately pay off in his favor.
Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka’s team, MVP.Hot6ix, surprised everyone when they secured the first place during the TI5 SEA Qualifiers, after besting MVP.Phoenix, 3:1, in the grand finals.
They topped their group in the group phase and then defeated MVP.Phoenix in the Upper Bracket finals, and moved forward directly to the grand finals.
Comprised of four newer Korean talents and one seasoned Finish player, MVP.Hot6ix have found their success together, marking a powerful moment in both national and individual history – a debut at The International’s main event for both Korea and each of the five players.
The road to Korea
JerAx had played for QPAD Red Pandas, 4 Anchors + Sea Captain and Team Tinker just before he joined the Korean squad. Although he played for QPAD back in 2013 and then took a year off of competitive Dota, he returned to the scene to play for the newly formed Finnish squad 4ASC, alongside Kalle “Trixi” Saarinen, Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” and Riku “Buugi” Fält. He took the role of captain and drafter and stayed on the team for approximately four months, but with little to no achievements to show for it.
During his chat with Ineska, Jerax revealed that he had parted ways with 4ASC due to a lack of motivation as a team and the poor results. Reflecting back, he acknowledges that when things start to falter, people only see the bad things that happen, the negative side. His decision to leave was mutually agreed on. In fact, there is no bad blood between 4ASC and Jesse was rooting for them in the TI5 European Qualifiers. “I really cheer for them, I really wanted them to go to TI and to meet them here. I just wish the best for them, it’s really sad it was just like one game, one step away,” Jerax said.
The Finnish support player didn’t have to wait long or look far for his next opportunity. In January 2015, Team Tinker – featuring Sam “BuLba” Sosale and Max “qojqva” Bröcker – was looking for players and Jesse gave it a try. With frequent instability and roster turnover, Jesse points out that his time with the team was “rather complicated” and that he wasn’t even really sure himself if he was standing-in or a full member of the team.
Interestingly enough, Team Tinker’s next permanent player after Jerax’s departure was Dominik “Black^” Reitmeier, whom Jesse gives credit to for recommending him to MVP.Hot6ix. Black^ is now the Korean team’s TI5 coach.
A whole new world
Jesse was no stranger to moving to a foreign country to play with a team: he had already done so once before, when he moved to Sweden to play for QPAD, in 2013. However, Korea is an entirely different story. Although he had some doubts about going, he had only four days to tell his family and get all of his preparations, vaccinations and arrangements in order – a process that normally takes at least a month.
He laughs and says that his sister was more worried than his mom, fretting over things like his living arrangements and his relationship with the teammates, but he admits that although “they [his parents] were against it, I take my decisions on my own and I had to go. (…) I just feel like I have to do the choices myself. because they [his parents] are gonna support me no matter what; that’s how I feel, nobody’s gonna betray me”.
The first month was really rough, in terms of communication issues and trying to push people to talk more in English. The difference in play-styles between the two regions was something that took a long time for the team to come together on, as well. Jerax recalls: “I used to play really greedy – and I still play really greedy – but there were arguments every day that I shouldn’t play so greedy and I wanted to play how I wanted to play. In the end, it settled down and we found the golden road so to say. After that things were really easy and things worked out”.
One of the cultural differences that Jerax highlights is how much pressure there is on people to try their hardest in whatever they do.
Koreans are used to trying harder than most, because they are pressured to do what they most like. If they don’t do that, then other people are going to do it instead. This is their culture there.
The team plays for approximately eight hours a day, which makes it difficult to maintain focus and motivation. However, according to Jerax, MVP.Hot6ix has started to adapt to some other so-called Western approaches and spend more time analyzing replays. Having a cook and someone to clean the house helps the players focus on playing only.
TI5 SEA Qualifiers
Jesse admits he didn’t expect his team would win the TI5 Qualifiers, despite traveling all the way to Singapore to play the qualifiers in order to benefit from a better ping.
From all TI5 contenders, MVP.Hot6ix is the team with the fewest games played, the fewest achievements and the fewest years of experience combined. In May, MVP.Hot6ix won the MPGL Season 7 LAN finals – their first major LAN tournament since becoming a team, in January.
About two weeks before the TI5 Qualifiers, MVP.Hot6ix started to feel more confident. However, according to Jerax, they were convinced that if they were to have qualified, it would have be as the Wild Card team instead.