ImmortalFaith: A unique path to TI
From getting crushed at 9 years old in DotA, to qualifying for The International, Daniel "ImmortalFaith" Moza traveled a long way to become one of the top tier coaches of the professional scene and a much-needed assistant to the entire Dota 2 community through his in-game hero guides.
ImmortalFaith became quite popular among Dota 2 players way before stepping into the spotlight as a team coach. His in-game hero builds are used by thousands of players every day, however, when he started to create them, he had no clue that they would become such an important tool for the community.
We had the chance to sit and talk with ImmortalFaith, who in the next season will get to work alongside legends of the Dota 2 pro scene. The 2023 Dota Pro Circuit will have him moving from Gaimin Gladiators to Nigma Galaxy, but when we met, he was still prospecting and deciding what the next step for his career would be. His now former team, Gaimin Gladiators, was just eliminated from The International 11 and he was one of the two members who would part ways with the organization.
How it started
“I discovered DotA around 2005, the game was in its really early days and I was about 9 years old,” ImmortalFaith recounts. It was his cousins and a few friends of theirs who were playing the game and got him hooked immediately, despite his young age.
ImmortalFaith grew up and lives in Oradea, Romania, a picturesque medieval town in the northwest part of the country. Given the city layout, which is split in two by a river, he had to take an hour long walk every day when he was a kid to travel to an internet café to play DotA. Although the game had him hooked pretty hard from the beginning, he wasn’t skipping school, just yet, he says. The walks to the internet café would usually happen after school and he was doing that for years.
“At the beginning, we were 5-6 kids going to the internet café to play,“ he remembers, “and we were usually playing 1 vs 3 with a guy who was way better than us and was always beating us. We didn’t know how to buy items, we were buying the recipes, as it was back in the DotA days.”
Getting crushed 1 vs 3 by the older and better dude only determined the young ImmortalFaith to understand the game in its finest details. While his cousins stopped playing at some point, he continued to go to the internet café and play every day until he became “pretty good.”
He began playing on the Eurobattle.net DotA platform and on Garena and from there he transitioned to Dota 2. Initially, his plan was to aim for a Dota 2 professional career as a player.
“When I transitioned to Dota 2, I think I was at my peak in DotA,” ImmortalFaith assessed his form.
When he started playing Dota 2, there was no ranking system, but there was Dotabuff, and on their leaderboard, he reached top 100 in a matter of a few weeks. So, what prevented him to make a break into the pro scene?
Why not a pro player
Bluntness or lack of diplomacy, a bit too much confidence, and a young age can make for a toxic mix that might cause someone to miss opportunities.
“It was my temper, my way of being at that time, and a very bad attitude in general, that didn’t help me at all,” ImmortalFaith acknowledges. “It didn’t matter to me if you were a pro player or a Dota 2 personality. If I was noticing that you are doing something I deemed as wrong, I would go and tell you that. The problem was that I wasn’t saying it in a polite way.”
“You can’t make friends in any industry if you don’t know how to be civilized, how to talk to people, if you are arrogant.” These are lessons ImmortalFaith learned the hard way. “I didn’t try to change the way I was, to become more tempered, to control my words a bit better for a long time,” he recalls.
“You can’t make friends in any industry if you don’t know how to be civilized, how to talk to people, if you are arrogant.”
So, while burning bridges and missing on opportunities to play in the pro scene, he continued to play with his close friends on FACEIT. Around 2014, when Dota 2 has finally introduced a rank system, ImmortalFaith reached top 30, which could have gotten him into a pro team. However, that overlapped with a period of his life when he had to take some other decisions as well.
He was just graduating from high school and didn’t want to pursue his studies at a University, so he left the country to work in the US for a few months.
“I think that’s when I actually matured,” ImmortalFaith says about his transition from a teenager to a grown-up. “I was definitely changed when I returned from the US. I realized what it means to have a job, to earn your own money, and make a living for yourself.”
Back to Dota 2
He returned to his hometown, Oradea and the first thing he did was to find a job, and actually start the University, despite still not being fully convinced that continuing his studies was what he wanted the most. Having a full-time job and uni studies to follow, he was left with no time to play Dota 2 anymore. Nonetheless, he was still following the game and its pro scene.
It didn’t take too much time for ImmortalFaith to realize that he didn’t enjoy the job he had at all so he started to play again reaching once again the top 100 on the leaderboards. With his attitude changed and a bit more self-control, he began to play with lower-tier teams and in 2017 he reached the European closed qualifiers for TI7. He didn’t end up winning those, but it was enough for him to decide that Dota 2 was what he wanted to focus on.
“I feel like when I was trying to build a pro career I never found teammates with whom I could share the same hard-working mentality I was and I am still guided by,” ImmortalFaith says about his return to active play. “I tried to play with a few teams here and there, but I was never a very social person, it didn’t come naturally to me to poke people and ask for try-outs at bigger teams,” he says while he once again mentions that his way of being when he was younger didn’t help him at all in his struggles to build a professional career.
"I was never a very social person, it didn’t come naturally to me to poke people and ask for try-outs at bigger teams"
Instead of staying connected with all the important people in the scene and making friends, he focused on improving his gameplay, on understanding the game in all aspects, so he switched roles, going basically through all five positions. When he was a kid and began his journey in DotA, around 2005, he started in the mid lane, ten years later, he would have played in all five roles, going through all Dota 2 heroes while still staying at the top of the leaderboards.
This is what actually helped him to become a good coach, he says.
How did the coaching start
While being beyond bored at a job he didn’t like, ImmortalFaith thought he would give it a try to a coaching platform, to see what’s that about.
“I was putting myself available for 1 hour, whenever I could do it while I was at work,” he remembers his first experiences with online coaching for people who would be interested to learn more about different aspects of the game or to improve in specific gameplay areas.
It turned out that his advice would really work and in no time he was booked so much that he could finally hand in his resignation from the job and start making a living only by doing online coaching for community members.
This marked another big step in his development as a person. “Although I was still rather blunt with my students, I quickly realized that you cannot be rude with someone that pays you to teach them something,” ImmortalFaith mentions adding that by now he realized how toxic he actually was in his youth and how nobody should ever be toxic with someone no matter the context.
While he became extremely busy coaching members of the community, he was also being booked every now and then by pro teams to help them with different aspects of the game.
One of the first teams he actually helped to start from the first rounds of open qualifiers for TI and reach the closed qualifiers for The International was the Indonesian-based team EVOS Esports. That happened back in the days when they had a young promising support five named Whitemon. And much like Matthew "Whitemon" Filemon’s pro career, which took off from an open qualifier to reaching the upper echelons of Dota 2 organizations, ImmortalFaith’s hard work was bound to take him to a new level.
Dota 2 guides
Hard work pays off is what guides ImmortalFaith to the present day and this mentality helped him find solutions to give his best in everything he is doing. One of the “problems” with online coaching was that he felt he wanted to help his students with so much more that the basics.
Some of the basics in Dota 2 are starting items and skill building. However, to walk someone through those would take him at least 10-15 minutes from the 1 hour that he was paid for, and that didn’t feel right to him. So, instead of “wasting” that time talking about items and skill build, ImmortalFaith started to create excel sheets for his students. When the option became available to create in-game guides, with the help of a friend of his, Hoodoo, he uploaded those into the game.
“I never thought that the guides would ever be used by someone else than my students. The fact that the community started to use them and the fact that they became so popular was a total surprise to me,” ImmortalFaith explained to us. As we reached this topic he also took this opportunity to tell the community members that they shouldn’t use them word by word.
“You should try to learn something from the guides you are using,” ImmortalFaith explains. “The idea is to learn the items in general, the starting items and the late game ones, to understand the benefits that you have from certain items and be able to take decisions based on what is actually happening in your game.”
A general advice for anyone who plays Dota 2 given by ImmortalFaith is to “learn to adapt.”
“The build that you are selecting at the beginning of the game should only help you to take decisions faster while having in front of your eyes all the recommended items for the hero you are playing,” he explained.
A lifetime dream
Collaborating on short terms with a few teams for different qualifiers opened a new perspective for ImmortalFaith. He discovered how different it is to work with a team and what kind of motivation and fulfillment that brings, so at the beginning of 2019 he started his own team.
He put together a group of people that would share his values and would be ready to put in the hard work to fulfill a common goal, to play at The International.
The grind was huge. As a new team, filled with up-and-coming players, Vikin.gg had always to take the open qualifiers road. For DPC and for third-party tournaments alike. Despite clearly making a splash as newcomers, Vikin.gg’s road to the highest peaks was put on hold by the pandemic.
But, the online era in esports and Dota 2 alike gave ImmortalFaith the space to improve even further.
“I wasn’t a super good coach when I started Vikin.gg” he told to us. “I can say that I formed as a team coach during the Vikin.gg times. It was during that time that I truly learned how to adapt my speech to reach every player. I learned when I should talk and when I should not. Vikin.gg is the place where I learned what I am good at as a coach and what I can bring to a team. This is when I also learned probably one of the most important things in team coaching, which is that the human aspect of each of your players is the most important aspect.”
By the time the world would return to normality and the tournaments returned to a live audience, Vikin.gg were already a force to be reckoned with and a fierce opponent in the Western European Division I league. ImmortalFaith was seeing the dream happen. Starting from open qualifiers for DPC in 2019, his team went through a few changes and finally was signed by an organization.
"I can say that I formed as a team coach during the Vikin.gg times"
Gaimin Gladiators claimed a spot at the pinnacle Dota 2 tournament in 2022 via DPC points, skipping the qualifier process. Traveling all this road, one of the most important things that ImmortalFaith learned is that “when you are a part of a team, there is no point in having an ego because everyone is working towards the same goal.”
“We all wake up in the morning to fulfill the same dream”
With that attitude, GaiminGladiators made it to the Main Event of TI11 while everyone on the team, with the exception their offlane player, was a TI debutant.
Now that the first step was made towards fulfilling a lifetime dream, ImmortalFaith embarks on a new journey and will get to work next year alongside TI champions and with one of the most appreciated captains in the Dota 2 world, Kuro "KuroKy" Takhasomi.
ImmortalFaith will be coaching Nigma Galaxy in the 2023 DPC season.
“I knew that I will get to TI,” he told to us after TI11 was over. “I knew that I will get to TI this year just as I know that I will win TI one day.”