My name is Dominik Reitmeier, but you probably know me better than Black ^. I've been a professional Dota 2 player for a decade now and, as far as I know, the only professional who has played in five of the six main regions – CIS is the only one I miss (so far).
As most people know, my last team was T1. My short time with T1 was not what you would call successful, but I am grateful to the organization for giving me the opportunity to play with them.
I have already left teams and will not lie all the time there was a certain level of sadness and regret.
The reason I left T1 is that it just didn't suit me, not so much as a player, but because I am a person right now.
It may sound like a cop-out, but I've spent the last week thinking about my career and the events that have led me to where I am now, and I know that leaving was the right thing to do .
So that you understand what I mean, I would like to take you back to 2013.
Seven years ago
In August 2013 I played my second TI with Mousesports. We had a difficult group phase with 4: 10 and lost in the first round of the Losers Bracket against LGD.int.
After TI, LGD.int actually turned to me and asked me to be part of their list. I was over the moon. I have always respected Chinese culture and how hard they work and train every day, and I immediately accepted.
But then something happened that changed me forever.
Shortly after I decided to leave, I lost my father to cancer in China. I was devastated. My father was the person who first introduced me to video games and he was always the person I looked up to the most. I will never forget it in his last days when he said to me: "Dominik, go to school and promote your studies or your degree will be lost."
Obviously I did not listen to him and decided to continue my dream , but for me it was something to pursue Dota that helped me to overcome my loss. My father taught me never to give up and get up after your fall, and I've always tried to live my life that way.
Looking back, I find that his words put more pressure on me than I originally thought, but now I like to see them as motivation, not pressure.
To this day, my greatest motivation is to make him proud and to show him that I have not made the wrong decision.
Shortly after my dad died, I got really sick myself. I went to a doctor and found that I had advanced non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Cancer. I made the decision not to share the news with anyone, not even my mother or brother, because they had already suffered enough and I didn't want to let them hurt anymore. The doctors gave me about a year to live unless I could get a bone marrow transplant.
Fortunately, a donor was found. I was away from home a lot with boot camps and tournaments and somehow I managed to hide the whole treatment process from my family. The operation went well and I recovered completely. But while I was sick, I always remembered what my father taught me. Never give up. Always live life to the fullest. The memory of him and everything he taught me gave me the strength to master this situation.
When I finally arrived in China, I learned a lot – not just in Dota – but about myself. With everything that just happened, life in China taught me to be a better person.
Although the team had pretty bad results, it was the first springboard for me in my international career. The team disbanded later this year, but I decided to stay in China and look for more opportunities to improve and learn.
Six years ago
2014 was a big year for me. After a few months in China, Team DK asked me to stand up for the then sick BurNing. Finally, I thought my hard work would pay off. I had spent countless hours learning Chinese to communicate better with my Chinese teammates in the past few months, and more hours practicing games in Dota.
After a very successful time as deputy for DK, Team CISGame asked me to join their team and not only that, but also to be their captain. Even though the team had four relatively unknown members, I knew this was an opportunity for me to show how good I really am.
I joined the team and led the four youngsters through a very tough Chinese TI qualifier. Everyone thought we had no chance, but we proved the opposite and made it to TI4. We ended up losing to Team Liquid in the Phase 1 playoffs, but I will always be proud of what we have achieved.
After our run at TI4, I became better known especially in China. As a result, I was eventually asked to join Vici Gaming, TI4's runner-up. It was a great honor to be asked to play for such a famous team but at the same time I knew that all eyes would be on me and I knew that I had to fill some big shoes.
I immediately decided to double myself and work even harder. When I got back to China, my manager quickly helped me find a private Chinese teacher, and I studied two hours a day to further improve my language skills. It was very difficult at the beginning and I struggled to adapt to the high level of the team, but over time I felt more comfortable and improved a lot as a player. I honestly think I was one of the best players in China at the time.
In October of this year Vici Gaming won the ESL New York 2014. It was the first time that I won a LAN tournament against the best players in the world.
I will never forget the grand final against Evil Geniuses. I played much better than anyone ever expected and the third game in this series is probably the best dota game I have ever played. It was fierce, but I played obsessively and carried Vici to victory. I can't even begin to describe the feeling.
When EG called GG and I knew we had won, I let out a cry of joy that was so loud that even the commentator heard it. This was the moment that proved that I had what it takes to be the best in the world.
Five years ago
In 2015 we played the Dota Asian Championship, which at the time was known as the Mini TI due to its $ 3 million prize pool. We drove through the group stage and made it to the Grand Final without dropping a single series.
We played against EG again in the Grand Final, but this time we were no match for them and they beat us 3-0. EG was the best team this year and they later won TI5, but losing them so badly was one of the worst in my life.
After the finale, it was announced that Newbee would disband, Vici said. I took the opportunity to sign Hao, who was generally considered the best carry in China at the time, and to make the list completely Chinese.
I knew what that meant to me. I had lost my chance to start at TI, and just a few months after my greatest performance, the dream I had worked so hard for was about to slip.
My confidence was severely affected and I fell into a very dark place where it took me a long time to get out. Looking back now, I know why it happened, but at the time it felt like my whole world had been destroyed.
Four years ago
It wasn't until the following year that I came back to a real team when I joined Faceless. We did very well in the Southeast Asia region, but unfortunately we always underperformed in international competition.
Frankly, I blame myself. I still hadn't fully recovered from what had happened to VG, and I wasn't in the best mental state at that point. When I look back now, I regret many of my decisions. I was not a good teammate and I kept pushing and pushing people to play better because I felt I had to get back to the top immediately.
In the past, I was the guy who raised the team morale and kept everyone happy and hyped to play, but at that time I was the opposite. Nothing was ever good enough for me and I kept trying to push people to their limits. Unfortunately, this time also damaged my relationship with iceiceice, whom I still consider one of my closest friends and to whom I owe a lot in my life.
Three years ago
In July 2017, Faceless dissolved and I spent some time outside of the pro scene. I took on jobs as an analyst and caster, but while enjoying these roles, I always wanted to play again, but I knew that it took time for the negativity that had formed in my head over the past few years had to reset and overcome years.
I don't know what the future holds for me. If so, I've had a good run. Better than most.
But I know that my story is not over yet. I've never been better off than I am now. I have received professional help to finally get over everything that has happened in the past, and this is the first time that I have felt really comfortable talking about everything that has happened.
Leaving T1 was bittersweet, but my short time with the team ignited a fire that I thought I'd lost forever. I've never been so determined to prove myself. I am now more mature and have learned so much from my experience. I now feel like a better player than ever.
It has been a long and winding road, but I know that I am just beginning.