Azure Ray was created in May 2023 and its results so far have been surprisingly good. This is a team that succeeded spectacularly fast, largely thanks to having players like Somnus, fy, and chalice, all of whom are former TI finalists, and LaNm as coach.
In 2023, these players finished Tour 3 of China’s DPC in 4th place, then got a top eight result at the Bali Major, qualified for The International 12 by winning the regional qualifier, and then finished 4th at TI. For a roster that was put together less than six months before The International and had to compete in China for a spot at the tournament, this result is phenomenal.
But those who were familiar with Somnus and fy were not surprised. These players are legendary in the Chinese region and their accomplishments speak for themselves. Their decision to leave the organization doesn’t seem to have anything to do with a better offer received from some other organization. Rather, it seems to be related either to fatigue or to a change in priorities.
Gaimin Gladiators is victorious over Azure Ray with a dominant 2-0 series. Gaimin Gladiators advance to the Lower Bracket Finals to face LGD Gaming. Azure Ray now exit the race for the ultimate prize, finishing fourth place.#dota2 #ti12 pic.twitter.com/UhHwSFKw68
— The International (@dota2ti) October 29, 2023
Early retirement or just a break?
Dota 2 is a very challenging game. To be among the best, you need to train hard every day and treat it like it’s a lot more than a job. Top players spend around 60 hours per week or even more working on their skills and trying to find winning strategies as part of a professional team.
After a certain age, players start to prioritize their personal lives. And when that decision is made, Dota 2 becomes a very stressful experience. You continue to love the game, but you instantly realize that you can no longer fully dedicate yourself to it. And since you hate losing (everyone hates losing, even 1000 MMR players), it’s no longer fun.
Because you practically anticipate going to events just to get destroyed by stronger teams. You anticipate disappointing investors and teammates. For exceptionally good players, that is not a pleasant experience. It’s much easier to quit playing professionally.
To be fair, we don’t know at this point what the former Azure Ray players have decided to do and for how long they’ll be out of the game. Maybe they’ll come back in a few weeks or months or a year, or maybe they’ll retire completely.
The new Azure Ray roster seems considerably weaker than the previous one, but maybe that’s because we haven’t seen what it can do.