In Australia, one of the first gamers who dared to make a career out of the stigmatized form of entertainment that was esports is Justin “xMusiCa” Yuen. Read our feature piece on the man behind the Oceanic Esports Dota League.
Everything that we enjoy now is the product of our forefather’s vision, dedication, and perseverance. The esports industry is no exception—if not for those who challenged the norm, it would never be recognized for its competitive aspect, let alone grow into a multi-million-dollar industry. The first athletes probably never even knew what it was that they were doing since the term has yet to exist, yet their passion for the craft fuels their desire to play video games competitively.
In Australia, one of the first gamers who dared to make a career out of the stigmatized form of entertainment is Justin “xMusiCa” Yuen. He first started playing Counter-Strike 1.5 at 13-years-old, before discovering the Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne mod Defense of the Ancients, and by 2006, he was already venturing into the game’s competitive scene as a part of a local Singaporean team.
“My memories of my first few Dota games were very fond,” xMusiCa recalled. ”It was when I was still in Singapore and whenever we had finished school, we would (go) to a Net Café to play some Dota games against the locals there. We soon started joining local comps together and before I knew, Zenith (arguably the strongest team in the world back then) approached me and asked if I wanted to join.”
xMusiCa’s time with Zenith was fruitful, to say the least. They won a bunch of local tournaments like the Cyberathlete Professional League Singapore, World GameMaster Tournament, World Cyber Games, and most importantly, the Electronic Sports World Cup 2008, where they competed against the world’s best and ended up bagging the gold medal. But the main highlights of his career as a professional player happened after moving to Australia.
Before the world knew the Land Down Under from the two-time Aegis of Champions bearer Anathan “ana” Pham and The International 2017 runner-up Damien “kpii” Chok, the first IGNs that come to mind whenever the brand of Australian Dota 2 was mentioned were MiggelZ, Xemistry, blackshatan, Snoopy, Godot, and of course, xMusiCa to name a few. In fact, the last four guys that were mentioned were the first to represent their country in the grandest Dota 2 stage back in 2012 as Absolute Legends.
But when asked about his fondest memory as a professional Dota 2 player, xMusiCa has something else in mind.
“It would definitely be when we won the OKDota cup as (Can’t Say Wips),” xMusiCa said. “Although it was not as prestigious as (The International), but actually winning a semi-major LAN event during then with the audience and stage set up felt really good. Second best experience would, of course, be attending TI. Though we did not come in any major placings, the experience was definitely something else.”
Being a professional player, despite the benefits that come with being able to do what you love the most for a living, still has its challenges. For xMusiCa it’s the constant need to commit time and effort, while maintaining a level of professionalism expected for a pro. Obstacles will also be ever-present, and how you get past those is what will set you apart from the rest.
More than a decade of representing Australia in various Dota 2 tournaments prompted xMusiCa to explore another medium to express his devotion to developing his region’s esports scene. While the world was locked down in their homes due to the pandemic brought by the COVID-19 virus, the decorated esports personality went out of his way to organize an online tournament dedicated to ANZ’s most promising Dota 2 talents, the Oceanic Esports League.
“The decision was based on how I would be able to help the scene most. Was it as a player or as an organizer? Which of course turned out to be the latter. The transition was not that hard, as much as I love playing, I also love watching the players within my region growing and improving. So in this scenario, it’s a win-win for me,” xMusiCa explained.
The Oceanic Esports League features three types of players: veterans, experienced, and those with high MMR. One of the main goals of the competition is to revive the ANZ’s striving Dota 2 scene while providing the players brimming with untapped potential a medium to hone their skills. The tournament also boasts an AUD $25,000 prize pool, considered to be the largest tournament reward for a local Dota 2 competition.
Despite the significant number of talented prospects contained within the region, ANZ’s Dota 2 scene may be considered to have been reset. It lacked grassroots-level tournaments for long years and some players chose to just take their talents elsewhere. Those who are left dare to compete in Valve-sanctioned tournaments but are too inexperienced to get past the qualifiers most adjacent for them. With this opportunity, xMusiCa aims to catch up with the level of competition achieved by its neighboring regions.
“We definitely need the players to step up and play more, not in the SEA server, but within the ANZ server. I understand that (the) quality of the games might be slightly lower, but all regions start somewhere, and we need all our best players at the moment leading the charge so that the rest of the up-and-coming players have a platform to improve. Of course, there need to be more incentives for the players to do so as well, which is what we are trying to do as a (tournament organizer),” he said.
More than appealing to the players’ need for a competitive outlet and reawakening their sleeping Dota 2 community, xMusiCa is also keen on creating a stable esports ecosystem for all of ANZ’s stakeholders. They may still be ways to go, but he believes that they are well-equipped for the job and has his own means to do so. He’s done it before, there’s no telling now that he can’t do it again.
“When the world opens up again and we are called upon to compete in the world stage, we will be ready as a region,” xMusiCa ended.