6 things that made Sumail world champ in Dota 2

Sumail Dota 2

Sumail, 15, wins $1.2m Dota 2 Asian Championship and $6.6m TI5. Source: Evil Geniuses

August 2015: Our latest stories from TI5:

Sumail, richest esports player by age in history, bags $6.6m online game championship

Exclusive backstage photos of Sumail, richest esports player by age

By Danyal Zahid (aka Danger)

When legendary Arteezy () won MLG Columbus in 2013 and later became the 2014 MVP (most valuable player) of Dota 2, I scrambled for insights into his gameplay and what made him stand out, I found very little on the Internet.

Not until I have had a personal Q&A with him in which I asked him how not to choke against big players, and he said: just turn off player names.

This week, Dota 2’s new global star, Sumail (), a 15-year-old Pakistani-American, broke the internet after winning the $1.2 million DAC2015 Asian Championship for Team Evil Geniuses. Sumail became the 7th Twitter global trend.

Sumail was like my little brother, over all the years we played together which were made up of innovation, sheer joy, fights, countless arguments and whatnot.

I see myself winning in his big win. It feels as if I have achieved it myself. Sumail has given me a whole new perspective and a regained confidence, and for that I would be forever grateful.

I have tried to put together this piece for those who are looking for insight into Sumail’s play and what made him what he is at age 15. These are the six things that created the Sumail storm in Dota 2 DAC15.

1. Global ambition

The first noticeable thing about Sumail was his ambition: to be the best mid player in the world.

When I started all I wanted was to be the best player in the country, which I did achieve by age 13. After that it was only a ritual until I got bored and moved to Canada for my studies.

In Sumail’s case, his first major tournament was against my team and he beat me – the best – at mid. So, in one go he became the best in the country.

Later when we both formed a team and including his elder brother Yawar and Munchy, being the best in Pakistan didn’t mean much to him, his eyes were already on something bigger, perhaps being the best mid player in the world.

Arteezy Sumail Dota 2

Arteezy and Sumail. Source: Conrad Janzen

2. Persistent skill practice

Sumail played 10 to 13 games a day, for four years, in front of my eyes, mastering his game-play, mechanics, game-sense, controlled aggression, item builds, individual hero play styles, and last hitting skills ( won’t like if I don’t mention the last-hitting bit).

The result: where we once were equal in 1×1’s we went to the point where I could not stand in a lane against him! As late Greg Plitt would say, he trained himself mercilessly so he did not have to wake up in the midnight hours wondering “what if!”.

3. Self-confidence

He was super-confident in his game and play style as well as reflective.

For instance, during game if he ever died at mid, he looked at the replay of his death 10 times, asking himself, how could he let that happen. But always telling himself that it was his mistake not the other player’s skill (I will call this ‘champion mindset’).

In some instances of self-doubt, I always told him that Dota is a psychological game. You have to believe you can win before you even set foot in the mid lane, otherwise there’s no point.

This belief was later reinforced when Arteezy said exactly the same thing in his MLG interview and the International: you have to have the winner’s mindset, so I am aiming for first.

Sumail’s confidence reflected in his unique item choices and play style on the world stage.

Our earlier story on Sumail: Pakistani, 15, becomes Dota 2 world champ

4. No fear (pun intended!)

As Al Pacino says in movie The Recruit, I am a scary judge of talent. I immediately recognized this style of Sumail when I played against him that he does not care of who he is facing. Initially, he gave a little respect and at times choked.

As he grew as a person and a player, he stopped caring about the name of the player. He could care less if he was facing one of the best mid’s or just any other.

Evil Geniuses Sumail Dota 2

Team Evil Geniuses that won $1.2 million DAC15. Credit: Korie Yang

5. Passion

His love for the game is unimaginable. He would watch my game with curiosity and sustained interest until 6pm and then had to rush back home to avoid curfew imposed by his parents on the young soul.

He played countless hours without any care in the world, be it being tired or hungry. Speaking of hunger, he once played 24 hours straight without eating anything (source: His brother Yawar). If Internet was disconnected or if the game lagged during important games, tears would come down his eyes.

Dota players are now in for money and fame. Then, Sumail didn’t even know if this game would qualify for a decent international tournament. His love for the game was solely for the game and the passion he brought to it.

So much passion and purpose that these daily discomforts did not even come on his radar of tunnel focus. Sumail sweat, cried, sacrificed for this game knowing one day his passion would pay off.

6. Superior talent

There’s a luck factor in every endeavor. Sumail is gifted with superior talent in Dota; it just comes naturally to him. His success at such an early age put him into the child prodigy category.

There are countless other players who give it their all, day in day out, yet fall short. In addition to being extremely skilled you have to be a little lucky as well.

PS: Sumail: Thank you for the shout-out to me in your 1 February interview. The reality is you are my inspiration now! Good luck in TI5.

Danyal Danger Dota 2

Danyal (game name: Danger) has been playing Dota for nine years. He played with Sumail for four years when he was in Karachi, Pakistan. He has seen Sumail grow from Garena Pakistan Room to the MVP Mid Laner of DAC2015. His Facebook & Twitter.

By Wali Zahid

Wali on Pakistan of future

A miracle: Pakistan score in Long Term Orientation goes from Zero to 50

Pakistani culture through 6-D Model

Native languages in Pakistan

How future oriented are we?

How we messed up Pakistan: A series by Wali

Pakistan’s two value crimes no one talks about

Aviation enthusiast with eye on 2050

MH370 apology: Technology is so overrated!

Shall I? Shall I not?

Good to see good coming out from a public-sector entity

Humanize medical: The movement begins!

Pakistani passport ranks at 71, with 46 visa-free countries


  1. Cheers to him. His ambitions and confidence are great. I hope he will shine for long time. Not a kind of person I’d say “humble”, but for the god sake, fanguys love that! — 15 YO, brilliant at game, tries to be cocky. He got so much adoration. Only thing he must keep in mind is Media STUFF for fans, WORK for team. I believe, papa Fear knows how to care for his sons.

  2. Didn’t know the kid, watched a couple of games he played and must say superb skills. Reading the story makes one marvel at the dedication he put in. Indeed he lifted the country stature by his achievement. Godspeed for TI5. Nice post by the way, his progress should be followed to let the world get a glimpse of what he can do.

  3. Heroic words!

    You are also patient and very hard working gamer in leagues and LANs.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I remember you sometimes used to play with your 4 newbie friends in a gaming cafe just to test your 1v5 skills or something :P. You were dangerous though.

    Best of you luck for the future.

  4. Wouldn’t you think that any people would have been as great as Sumail is now if they had the proper environment to culture their skills? I mean, from the way you talked about his parents, it seems like they knew full well what was happening with their kid playing DotA2 10-13 games a day for four years. Any other parents would have kicked their kids out of their house for doing that, and where would his PC be then? My point is, as hard working as Sumail may seem, he probably wouldn’t be where he is now, especially when he is so young, if it wasn’t for the support of his family and friends. I personally believe that is the biggest factor in anybody’s success, and that is something you failed to discuss (or acknowledge) while painting Sumail as a heaven-sent child of DotA2. Unless I am wrong here (in which case it would mean Sumail was just a simple game addict who played excessive amount of games in disobedience against his parents), Sumail is just another gamer who had the opportunity to thrive at the right time.

  5. That is like calling a 15 year old gymnast a prodigy. A 15 year old gymnast is in their prime. I would argue it is easier to be a better gamer at 15. I certainly was. To say he is a prodigy is simply a marketing tool. He’s a good gamer, but at 15 it is expected.

    Congratulation Suma1L, but don’t let these people get into your head. You’re not a prodigy and you will fail in the future if you start thinking you are.

  6. sumail is not even close to the top player in dota 2, sorry. S4, puppey, fear, arteezy, universe are all better and thats not even counting the chinese players. while he is probably in the top ten, the ONLY reason you made this article is because he is pakistani. it reeks of racial favoritism, to be honest. Go watch s4’s stream for a while and you will see “world champ” quailty, bud. And no, i’m not swedish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *