We couldn’t fit all the stories of NAVI players‘ parents into one film, but if you find this type of content interesting, we’ll surely share them with you. He was very calm and obedient as a kid and never gave us any trouble. Sasha was very active. Danil wasn’t the kind of guy to just sit around.

Always nimble, that was something… as if he had a propeller. He is purposeful and always works hard towards achieving his goals. Ilya was always different from other kids: he was always more mature than his peers in terms of his views.

Teachers always loved him and spoke highly of him during parent-teacher conferences. I still can’t believe that my son is so famous that people in most countries probably know about him, because people play Dota everywhere. It’s wonderful. Let’s start with the easiest question, tell us about Vlad’s childhood. What was it like? He spent most of his time at home, mostly on the computer, because I bought a PC very early, when they just appeared on the market, Vlad was 4-5 years old at the time, I got it for the older son, Oleg.

But it was mostly Vlad spending time at the PC. He was a kind boy, played football, he was a school team captain until the third grade. Daniil never bailed on school, we always made sure he did his homework, there was no lack of discipline, everything was strict. He studied very well and had been a straight A student, although during high school, his grades dropped a bit. But he finished school with good grades, enrolled at Foreign Languages University into the Chinese language program.

He told me right away he wouldn’t go to Moscow and wanted to pick a college closer to our home. He probably decided to try to become an esports player back then, so he told me to choose his profession. He wanted to become a chef after school, he even found a college. But I talked him out of that, he couldn’t cook anything apart from eggs, how could he become a chef?

Few people know that after school, Daniil wanted to join an acting class. He had those thoughts, he wanted to achieve something. He went to the specialized English language school, there were also sport and ballroom dance classes, he knew I loved it, so he went there, found a partner and he did it until ninth grade. I remember clearly, from the first or second year of school I pushed him a lot. Like in many families nowadays, he was always told to study instead of playing PC. I was always an example in those arguments: “Look at Sergey, he studied English, you should learn English instead of playing video games.”

Nowadays all our friends, relatives who have known Sasha can’t believe he’s changed so much. He became calm, I’d even say shy. In elementary school, he’d beat someone up almost every day, it was awful.

Other mothers looked for me when I came to pick him up. I waited until they’d go home to pick him up because they wanted to complain about my Sasha. Like actors sometimes try different roles. Look at his eyes here, he is in a role. Here are Danya and Katya at the mountain river. Danya’s smile hasn’t changed.

Here is Katya with a penny bun mushroom. Talking about mushrooms, we were gathering them once, and Daniil saw how locals did that. They sniffed the ground, found mushrooms and then dug them up. Daniil picked up doing the same thing and he did a good job finding them. I remember he’d sniff and say, “The mushrooms are here”.

I thought he was joking when he was telling this story. Esports came to his life by chance, it was just a child’s hobby at first, but it snowballed from there. He often asked us to let him go to a PC club at night. Those PC clubs worked during the night, so they played during nights, and some parents were afraid for their child. I’d let him play there, it was close to our home, and I knew the owner of that place.

He just went there to play games, it’s nothing to worry about. He loved that, he even wanted to attend computer courses. I told him he’d better study instead of playing, but it all started from there.

There were exams coming, and it was hard to get him out of games, so I scolded him a lot for playing. But grandfather always stopped me, he said I wouldn’t achieve anything by yelling. He asked to leave him alone, let him decide himself. When I’d come from the university, I wanted to practice, but I had no one to practice with. I remember I had a laptop, and he had a PC. I set up a connection, and we sat in a small room in two chairs.

I always tried to encourage him for playing bonus slots in US. He wakes up at 11-12 a.m, eats breakfast, does some exercise and starts playing. He might take short breaks in between games and go on like that until midnight. He spent a lot of time practicing.

I don’t know how he managed to juggle it, because our dad is strict, we studied well at school and university. We were not allowed to play until we finish our homework. Parents would hide wires, they thought we didn’t know where, but we knew everything. When I saw he was doing quite well, I started following that game myself.

Don’t peek! Good job, Electronic, he saved us. They figured out our playstyle by the tenth round. Our economy is good. Sasha, great job!

High five! He went to a PC cafe to participate in competitions, he’d win some. He came back winning a cup, I was glad and satisfied. That’s how he got into this. He was in eighth or ninth grade, he was 13-14 years old at the time.

He had spent all the weekends in the PC cafe at Shulyavka playing. The entrance fee was 50 UAH, so he asked me for money. I didn’t really like the idea of giving him money to play video games. When he won tournaments even 100 UAH worth, he gave the money to the parents to buy something. It was like this, mom didn’t need money, but he was raised this way, he knew he should help his parents, grandparents. He took 50 UAH, then he came back and gave me 250.

I asked him where did he get the money, and he told me he won it. I was surprised. I had no idea where he was going, I was afraid he would end up in a bad company. Then he explained that everything was fine there.

I understood that it was serious only a year before he made it into esports. He was around 17 years old at the time, I had a loan, my job wasn’t stable back then. We talked once and he said something good was going to happen, but he didn’t go into the details. In 2010 they won the first world championship title. Those moments were very encouraging. Those first big victories were really exciting.

Half a year before we had a chat, and I asked what he wanted from life. He said he wanted to win the world championship, and he knew how to do it. Those words were very confident, I remember it clearly. I remember one day I came from work and he told me he was invited to join a team, and there was an upcoming tournament in Moscow a week or 10 days later. He invited me there, I attended it and I saw them winning their first tournament. When he earned first prize money, he covered our loan.

Is this his grandmother he was growing up with? It’s his another grandma, his father’s mom. I picked a name for a girl, I wanted to name her Katya as I thought it’d be a girl, but then the nurse showed him to me and said, “Congratulations, you have a boy!” His skin was a bit dark, I wondered why he was like that when he was born. When a tournament is held in Moscow, his another grandmother and I always attend it.

I don’t understand the game completely though, I know there are various maps, like Train and Mirage. He doesn’t tell me a lot about it, I figure it out myself, I support him during tournaments. Now we know the maps, callouts like Banana, but back then I understood only the skull mark.

If there were skulls in the opposing team, it’s good. I understand there are rifles and sniper rifles, like the one Sasha has. Shox and Body have Deagles. I don’t know about the armor and helmets though. I watch all of the games, even if I’m at work. I watch him take down towers and stuff, jungling, hiding.

I understand some things, but not all of them. I have no nerves, my nervous system is completely broken, Yana. Life was difficult. Among my main rules, he had to earn money himself pretty early, even if it wasn’t much.

When he was 18-19, I told him firmly to rent his own apartment. I told him he was an adult already. He’s achieved a lot, he’s been playing for a while now, there was a great period, when everything was perfect, now it’s kind of a slump. It’s hard to see a close person struggling. Before he moved, I saw him once in three months, I’d visit him for a week, I tried to be soft, to understand him. We are humble, I work in a shop, the father passed away one and a half years ago.

His older brother is 26 years old, also grandmother is a retiree. Egor lost his father at the age of two, his mother’s health was weak, she couldn’t raise him, so we took him in when he was two. A person should be put in such conditions when he understands he must work and earn money to eat and pay bills. He should experience it himself. I have the same attitude, I grew up without a father. Neighbors, friends, streets…

I know what it means to grow without a father. There were some difficult times in our lives, and when you don’t have anyone around, you have to get by on your own. His father passed away one and a half years ago. It was difficult for me, he calmed me down, he said everything will be fine, he will earn money.

His grandfather worked in different ministries. When the USSR was dissolved they were shut down, and since I also was head of a department, we decided I would stay there, and grandfather would raise Egor. So he drove Egor to school and dance lessons. Of course, Egor remembers him well, because during tenth grade, maybe the hardest year, grandfather passed away, there were two of us left. He is very gullible. Now he is more mature of course, after all those stories, he has a different approach now.

I realized you can only count on yourself in life, I tried to explain that to them. They understand it and they live by this rule. Life can’t only consist of either ups or downs, there must be both. He’s experienced a few betrayals in his life by the people he considered close to him, so it’s hard for him to trust people. He spent days and nights playing.

He may have taken doing what he wants to do after me, even though it doesn’t always look good. He needs victories, he loves to win, he is ready to work all day long to achieve the result. Looking at my son, I know how hard it is, sometimes it’s very hard to live like that. For Danya, Dota is his career, so he has to sacrifice something. Sometimes I want to go out with him, but he must play 7-8 games a day, not fewer. Sometimes they play scrims during the daytime, which makes it hard to go out, because you know you have to come back home at noon, so you have morning and evening free.

So it’s hard to plan something for a day. When he is not playing Dota, he tries to find some time for his family, but he doesn’t have any time for himself. We worried a lot when he joined NAVI, he spent most of the time traveling and living in Kiev or abroad.

I worry when they’re flying, when they’re playing at tournaments, I want them to win, sometimes I cry because I miss him so much. You get used to this, it’s his dream. When the kids are happy, grandmother is also happy. As I say, he played, played, and now he is here, thank god things turned out this way. Of course we cheer for NAVI and want them to win. Losses are stressful for us.

I hope they need time and everything will be fine. They need to find their synergy, because of constant roster changes they might not have enough time to get teamwork going. Who is that?

It’s his father. Egor looks like him. Yes, he does, three of them look similar. Three? Grandfather, father and Egor.

He is three years old here. He had curly hair. He is laughing, smiling in every picture. He doesn’t smile that much now. Yes, it’s true. Gamers are very specific people.

They can use a lot of short acronyms talking to each other. We were on holiday when Sasha told us he was invited to NAVI. He was very happy, it was his dream. He told me about NAVI a lot before that, but I didn’t know back then. Zeus come on. Flamie, good job!

Oh… not like this. There you go. Was it KennyS who took Flamie down? What he does, his lifestyle is a sacrifice to some extent. Probably it’s not worth it, but people are like this, if we set goals, we pursue them and put in all our efforts in order to achieve them.

It’s great when you win, everyone loves you, everyone supports you and idolize you. But when Danil’s team loses, the comments are completely the opposite. You need support even more during hard times, a friend in need is a friend indeed. I think it was some school play, Danil is very artistic, his performance was brilliant.

It’s him in the costume. It’s very funny, especially this hat. Mother directed fairy tales with Danil performing there. We always say that 99.9% depends on him.

You joined the team as a leader, people will watch you closely. You have to do your job with honor, and you need to lead and adapt to everyone. He works hard, he needs victories.

After you’ve experienced this victory once, you get passionate about this idea. Life showed that if you do something once, you can repeat it again. This is an old photo, it’s me, Danya, and Bogdan. It’s 1995. I have Daniil’s 6th grade report card. Let’s check his grades.

Ukrainian language – 3, Literature – 4, Russian language – 3, Maths – 3, and History – 5. He has 5 for all terms, interesting. This is one of the latest family photos. Bogdan with Alina.

Danya is very young here. Yes, it’s two years ago. People outside started to recognize him, when we went to a hairdresser, some guys asked for an autograph.

Some leave wish notes on his car, so nowadays it doesn’t make sense to teach him otherwise. When he just started to play, he was secretive, he didn’t tell me much. But now he’s probably matured over the past two years, he often asks me for advice, shares a lot of things.

He told me he feels he’s gotten more mature lately. Did he have high demands as a kid? No, we bought everything ourselves, he never made a scene when he needed something.

Once I came to the kindergarten to pick him up, they were making 8 March presents for their teachers. I stayed there with other parents, but he didn’t see me, so he went home on his own. I looked everywhere for him, I told him the police could’ve stopped him. He said he knew where the home was, he was already seven. After they placed 8th at Genting…

He got home very upset and told me their relations went south, the team pressured him mentally. He said everyone made mistakes, but he was the only one blamed for it. The thing that they told him to change or otherwise they would kick him, it didn’t happen. In other teams no one warns anyone before the kick, right?

It happens this way. It’s a good life lesson, there is some reason behind it. Before that, his main goal was the International, but after certain situations he realized that one should enjoy every day and try to enjoy everything in life. I was overwhelmed with pride. I realize it’s a big part of his life.

There was a very fast growth in, I think, the early ’00s: There were more tournaments popping up, increase in prize money, market development. To be honest, I didn’t know about NAVI. He used to go to Moscow when he played on Double Dimension. I was strongly opposed to the idea of him going there because he was only 16 at the time. I even had to sign a notarized travel consent letter. But he insisted, saying he was already an adult and it was his decision.

He went there a couple of times, but in the end, things didn’t work out with his previous team. I’m very happy he joined NAVI, they are a good team and I see that he really likes it there. You have a family tradition of accompanying Daniil to the airport and meeting him when he comes back.

I go with him to the airport every time, but I don’t always meet him there when he gets home from a tournament. Yeah, it has developed into a supportive tradition. – We discuss our plans on the way there… – Tactics and strategies, too? Well, we don’t discuss tactics and strategies, he’s got Misha for that.

Just discuss some things and get a winning attitude going. Come to grandpa, Kristina. Hop up here, pumpkin. Do you get nervous when watching official matches?

You know, I can never sit through a difficult game — I might watch a pistol round and then turn it off. I mean, when it’s a very important game. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a grand final, it might be a game against an eminent opponent. For example, at the Krakow Major 2017, the key series was against Astralis. These kinds of matches, yes, but in finals, I don’t get nervous at all.

However, during the Major Grand final my nervous system was going out of whack. I couldn’t sit still watching it. During the last map, I was overwhelmed with emotions, I was cheering very hard and loudly, So I got into the car, put the stream on my phone and was just driving around the city to stay away from anybody. Vlad’s got lots of fans. I work at a store, and people always ask about him.

They recognize me from his first interview and always ask how he’s doing and tell me to say hi to him. The guys from our neighborhood know that I’m the NAVI’s player grandma. They still can’t believe he managed to achieve this. I’m extremely proud, like any mother would be. People just don’t believe it, but it did happen.

Not because he was lucky, but because he strove and worked hard for it. Are you happy with how he’s doing with this roster? Yes, absolutely.

They’re doing well. Sasha talks calmly about it, he says how he admires Zeus, how everyone’s doing a great job. I remember he used to tell me that this guy couldn’t do stuff, that guy played poorly; but with this team, hard work seems to be paying off now that they’re doing really well. You know, I didn’t understand a thing about video games, I’ve only recently started to realize what this is all about. Probably until Alexey told me, “Mom, this title is like football or any sport, you’ll see.”

And then we started following it. Our mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa know all the maps, all the positions on the maps, tactics, players. It’s really fun to watch CS with them. You’ll start filming this now and you’re gonna see it for yourself. They do know the best way to throw a flash, why that guy picked up an AWP, they even calculate economy. Mom might message me after a game saying, “Did you see that?

What was that?!” I’ve got HLTV and Twitch app on my tablet, I follow NAVI social media, and we also watch videos. Of course now we realize that it’s a serious thing. We’re following all the players, transfer news, who’s joining what team, trying to keep up to date.

Come on, Zeus. Carefully, don’t push, guys… They’re pronouncing Zeus funnily. Gosh, how did we actually miss that? Don’t get caught, Sasha.

SmithZz’s around. Sasha’s woken up, he’s on 4 kills now. I’m sitting here and the mom is standing in front of the TV, I tell her to step away. Well, I can’t see where they’re going from here.

Good job, boys! I prefer not to watch when they’re losing. He’d say, “I’ll see about what to do next after a TI. I don’t want to assume anything.

For now, I’m still playing Dota.” He’s very passionate about the game. Sometimes I read comments like, “They’re slacking off instead of practicing!”… Guys, Danya plays all day long, he works hard. How can you say that? A true fan always believes in their favorite player, and if that player is good, they believe he’ll get back on top again.

Fans should have faith and be supportive. Our life is a game with possible ups and downs, and one has gotta be ready for both. Many people have sacrificed a lot in order to achieve their goals.

And obviously, so has Danya. Dota’s a team game, and winning is a team effort, which requires having all the necessary conditions and trusting each other. You’ve gotta have a very strong morale to be able to withstand this kind of pressure.

If a team loses, they start putting the blame on each other, which is the worst thing to do. It’s not right, they have to support and communicate with each other, get on the same page in-game and work as a team — only then they’ll succeed. When he was 17 years old, I’d read comments saying, “S1mple is an uncontrollable teenager.” Guys, which one of you wasn’t acting a bit crazy at 17? Anyone who’s watching this video was exactly the same.

I told him, “Sasha, it is frustrating reading that stuff.” “Mom, don’t pay attention to it.” I was really worried. Of course, when someone’s saying uncalled for mean things about your son, it makes you feel bad. Of course they read it and get upset. I think any parent would be upset if someone said bad things about their child.

As obvious as it may sound, there are a lot of haters out there. Some will say one thing, then 5 minutes later they change their mind and say the opposite. One has to be ready for this and be mentally strong enough to take criticism gracefully. I guess it comes with the job. These are just emotions, not some constructive criticism that should be taken into account. Maybe I learned this myself.

If it were 10 years ago, I would be feeling upset and worried about this situation. Maybe Danya taught us to take it this way, as he always says, “I’m asking you, don’t read any of it.” When Danya’s here, I support him, when he’s not here, I support Irina Nikolaevna, because it’s also difficult for her having to read all that.

I’ve noticed that Danya leaves nobody indifferent. Some may be happy for him, some may not, but no one stays neutral. If he makes a mistake in a game, he immediately gets criticized. He always brings out emotions in people.

I’m not sure if it’s a good or a bad thing, but no one remains indifferent. Either positive or negative, but they are emotions nevertheless. I think it’s cool. I know how strong he is inside and how much he believes in himself. He doesn’t tell me that, but I know and feel it. I think he believes in himself, believes he can do it and is capable of winning, that he got the fire to keep going and that he’s still got the potential.

If he didn’t believe in himself, he would quit, but he believes. There’s a team, they are playing, putting in efforts, doing their best — they either get good results or they don’t. If they don’t, they keep working to get better. If they do, then it’s great and that’s when the support comes in. I don’t get the point of spreading hate and negative comments.

What is this supposed to achieve? Frustrate the players? Upset their families? Fans? What’s the point of all this?

How do you feel when Daniil and the team get bashed? – I really like it. – You do?

– Very much. – Why? Well, who does the team play for? For their fans, obviously.

But how do you find out their opinion? And how do you know whether they like the team or not? Well, it’s impossible to be liked by everyone. No one’s trying to.

Actually, all criticism is beneficial as long as you can separate empty insults from constructive criticism. There are always different points of view; the guys also see things differently. Commentators judge the same player differently.

Players often argue and there’s nothing wrong with it. Let them speak out their mind; on the contrary, that’s a good thing. Everybody makes mistakes, and so do they. They’re young guys, they stumble every second step. This gives them a valuable life lesson and experience, teaches how to become leaders and the best at what they do. There’s no learning without mistakes.

I’m shocked reading all these comments about NAVI. I read a lot of them, in fact, practically everything people write. I guess there are normal people and then there are really strange ones.

What do they want to achieve by putting out negative comments? Someone posted about Vlad, “He jumped from his chair into NAVI and took my spot.” Why didn’t you jump from your chair into NAVI then? You’ve gotta be worthy for people to notice you. Not everyone can become a pro player. It requires a lot of perseverance, fast reaction time and brainwork, to be able to understand what you have to do in a certain situation.

I think everyone whether from poor or rich family can get into esports. The main thing is desire and perseverance. If he does an interview, I try to make sure I read it. Regarding those comments from fans or followers saying that his parents bought him a car or something, I don’t pay attention to that stuff. If he reads it, he’ll feel bad because he’s very sensitive and takes things to heart.

He’s shy and it’s usually hard to get him talking, but sometimes he feels like having a chat, sharing or asking for advice. To become a pro player, you need things to come together for you. Being excellent at Dota, having necessary personal qualities: commitment, diligence, the ability to be kind and good to people, to be able to communicate and get along with them. This is also essential. When you have all these things and manage to find a team that will enable you to prove yourself, then you may succeed.

A person has to fully realize what they’re signing up for. This involves giving up a lot and sacrificing the things you enjoy. One day you’re playing, the next day you say, “I’m tired, I’ll better go hang out or go to the movies, or do something else.”

You stop playing for a day or two, or a week, then you come back and start playing again. No, it doesn’t work that way. Not everyone can be a pro player. Every player has their own life story. They have one thing in common: gaming is their job, but every single one has their own story and life situation. Someone was raised in affluence, someone wasn’t, someone has a goal to become the best player, somebody wants to be the best captain or the best AWPer.

It seems that all these victories are a given, but in fact, that’s far from being the case. Personally for Daniil, and, I think, everyone who sets the bar high, money has never been a factor; he never said, “I’ll play there, they pay good money”. Nothing of the sort has ever been brought up. Achievements, winning medals, and titles has always been the priority.

You gotta make a name for yourself, gain something, show everyone what you’re capable of and prove that you’re good in your line of work. And try to be the best at it. If you’re not trying to, then what’s the point? If you commit to a job, any job, be it a janitor, lawyer or pro player, you have to make the most out of it and be as concentrated on it as possible. He spends all his money on the family.

He obviously buys some stuff for himself, but he mostly spends the money on his family. For example, we set out to build a house, and he offered to give us money for that. Now thanks to Sasha we are able to build the house we want, so the whole family can gather there, because our country cottage is small.

He supports me financially and helps with everything. When I fell sick, he gave me money for treatment as it’s hardly affordable on my pension. It’s much easier to live now because it’s pretty difficult to get by in this country on our salaries. Especially when something bad happens in a family… It’s a disaster.

We’ve lived through it and hopefully, the future will only get brighter. Apart from video games, I think he wouldn’t succeed as much — gaming is his thing, it’s everything for him. I’m very positive about gaming and all this. They’re like one big family with common interests. Someone might have a negative attitude towards it, but I don’t.

He has a dream to win a Major. Of course he got really bummed out when he was on Liquid and they lost to SK in the Major final. I told him, “Sasha, this is not your last Major, there’s gonna be more, and you’ll surely win one.”

He said, “Mom, you don’t understand, had we won it, I would’ve been the youngest Major winner.” You know, it’s important for him to set a record, not just to win a Major. We didn’t even think about it, but he wanted to achieve that. There was a good chance, but it didn’t quite work out. So, winning a Major is really important for him.

This takes practice, although he practices an awful lot and spends a great deal of time on the computer. Whenever I call him, he tells me he’s busy practicing. He probably wants to be number one, get first in the HLTV ranking so that everyone knows he’s the best. Video gaming can already be considered a real sport, and it’s already being recognized as a sport. Esports shares much in common with traditional sports: Teamwork, coordination, practice, and a lot of other things.

Also, spectators’ emotions during tournaments held at stadiums — already stadiums, mind you — and arenas. What emotions they experience, it’s really fascinating. I think that modern CS is like chess. There’s the brain that manages the process and the rest are good players who execute the plan and fully trust their leader. If everyone is pulling the blanket on themselves, nothing’s gonna work out.

Our team, NAVI, has a very good chance with the current lineup. By the way, a lot of people talk about age and stuff. Maybe they get a second wind at 30 and that’s when they prosper. They gain immense experience and knowledge, as is the case with Daniil. He knows how to win tournaments, Daniil has won everything there is to win, and everybody knows that. And I think there’ll be more.

I tell him every year, “Maybe it’s time to retire and finally live for yourself?” He says, “I still feel I can do it, I got the fire in me and I’m full of energy.” I think we’re in for something exciting. Well, you know, I’m not a pro player so I don’t know what to advise as to how to get into esports. But to those who are already involved in this, in particular, our team, NAVI – I want to wish success, to have good chemistry in-game, never forget about friendship and always help each other out.

I think they can achieve everything, and victory will always come to them. Don’t dwell on defeats. If you lost, learn from your mistakes, put the loss behind and move on. This will be a huge boost for you and your careers. To everybody who wants to become a pro player, I would advise to try and do well in school. If you get good grades, your parents will let you play video games.

Like we let Sasha go to a PC club, which was where he started playing. Always be well-disciplined and you’re gonna make it. That’s my advice to you.

I wish all the players the best of luck, success and, most importantly, good health. Respect and support each other and may God bless you all. What else can an elderly person wish? Strong health. Always get back home to your mothers, fathers, sisters and be in good spirits.

It’s a sport, someone wins, someone loses. I wish you all the best and, most of all, be healthy. I want to wish all the gamers and the guys who are doing this the best of luck. Always work hard towards self-improvement, never give up, get better, be strong and go forward. My advice to the young ones who doubt this: take risks, guys.

And to parents – it’s worth it. It’s truly worth it. Bye.

Esports has a lot in common with traditional sports. I deservedly consider it a sport, and it should be recognized as a sport everywhere.