Coaches have played an important role in traditional sports, but esports took a while to warm up to the idea of a sixth man in the booth. Legendary names like Kanishka "BuLba" Sosale of Evil Geniuses
and William "Blitz" Lee helped legitimize Dota coaching in the West, and the East was quick to follow suit.
The two regions look for different qualities in their coaches. Southeast Asian teams look for international talent to bring a fresh perspective to the squad, while Chinese organizations pounce on the most decorated player they can find. Both approaches have brought these five strategists to the forefront of Asian Dota. These are the five best coaches in the eastern hemisphere.
Yao "QQQ" Yi
Many western fans will recognize QQQ as “the old guy who drafted for LGD.” After his star-studded career playing for legendary Chinese squads like Team DK and EHOME,
QQQ first took his talents to the backroom in 2015. His tenure coaching PSG.LGD
led to multiple podium finishes at The International and championships at EPICENTER XL and the MDL Changsha Major.
He’s the oldest coach on this list at almost 35 years old, putting him above even Clinton “Old Man Fear” Loomis. After leaving the LGD organization in late 2019, he’s helped bring Team Aster
up from a fledgling stack to a permanent fixture of China’s Tier 2 scene. His ability to work with champions and less developed talent, combined with his five years of experience, put him at the start of our list.
Bai "rOtK" Fan
Another oldhead from China Dota’s days of yore, rOtk is one of the most well-known players outside of his home region. The archetypical offlaner of China spent most of his career jumping from superteam to superteam until taking his first coaching position with Invictus Gaming
in 2017. He later jumped to coaching VGJ.Thunder, but is best known for helping Vici Gaming
become the most consistent team in China over the past couple of years.
rOtk’s crowning achievement as a coach is having two 5th place finishes at The International with two completely different rosters. That accolade alone would put him in the top five. He’s also one of very few coaches to attain multiple championships from Valve. He led Vici to glory at EPICENTER Major 2019 and DreamLeague Season 11. rOtk is currently a free agent in the current CN Shuffle, meaning that the upcoming superteam might also have a super-coach.
Lee "SunBhie" Jeong-jae
is the winningest team of all time, and a huge portion of their victories came at the direction of SunBhie. He first rose to prominence playing mid for MVP HOT6ix, but the dissolution of the Korean scene pushed him to work with western talent. Now he’s one of many Koreans-in-exile to find a home in Southeast Asia, currently coaching Fnatic.
Joining the team in late 2019, SunBhie has pushed the team to overcome TNC Predator
as the region’s flagship. In terms of achievements, Fnatic’s February-to-June undefeated streak coincides with his arrival at the end of last year. He’s only been with Fnatic for a short tenmonths, but their current performance hints towards years of collaboration. His globetrotting success and incredible resume put him on the pantheon of SEA coaches.
Aaron "Clairvoyance" Kim
Far from the most decorated name on this list, Korean-Canadian Clairvoyance finds his way onto it thanks to his incredibly wide perspective, which he’s used to turn BOOM Esports
from an underdog to a contender in Southeast Asia. Since his joining in mid-2019, BOOM has reached the final four of every tournament they’ve played except one. If the purpose of a coach is to bring consistency, Clairvoyance is an exemplar.
First a pro player, then a top-level caster, to coaching, then back to player, then back to coaching, Clairvoyance’s career is full of historical moments. The double-coaches controversy at The Internationa 2018, Ninjas in Pyjamas returning to the scene, and VGJ.Storm’s surprise Minor victory at GESC: Thailand; Clairvoyance has been there for it all. For his omniscient perspective and stalwart direction, Clairvoyance lands in our top five.
Zhang "xiao8" Ning
Dubbed “The Director” by fans and detractors alike, xiao8 is the most experienced player in China. Champion of The International 2014, he’s played with almost every hallmark player in his region. No other player carries as much influence as xiao8, and moving from esteemed captain to respected coach of EHOME
was all but obvious.
The Director has stayed loyal to EHOME since joining the organization in mid-2018. While not the richest team on the block, xiao8 is adept at maximizing his talent. He’s kept the team in the top tier of SEA Dota through several roster rebuilds and trades, never letting the team fall behind their contemporaries. The team’s recent victory at DPL-CDA Professional League Season 2
is a testament to his longevity. His tactical prowess in-game and out puts him as the final coach in our top five.
Catch these coaches in action at China Dota2 Pro Cup Season 1 and BTS Pro Series Season 3: Southeast Asia