Q. As a professional filmmaker, you have an oeuvre of remarkable accomplishments. From winning the Tribeca Film Festival, New York, and the Beijing Film Festival, to being the in-house director for Leo Burnett, you have a lot of accolades. Where does the persona of ‘Mohit Israney the gamer’ come in? Just how much of your passion do video games take up?
Mohit Israney: It all started with video games, way before films came into the picture. I would say a lot of my personality and my way of doing things were shaped because of video games. It has made me learn how life can be the ultimate game, and we need to do certain things to level up and defeat the boss to complete the level, just as you would in any game.
I learned various aspects of leadership, communication, and teamwork while playing different games, translating to the skills required to become a good director/filmmaker.
I still practice and stay updated with the latest games, just to keep the competitive spirit alive. I think, even today, playing video games is the ultimate stressbuster for me, and I love how your mind can refresh and make new connections while you sit back and enjoy. It helps fuel my imagination and creates the right atmosphere to come up with new ideas.
Q. I heard an interesting anecdote about your childhood, where it was your elder brother who first introduced you to video games. You were just three years old at the time, and both of you were avid console players before you entered the Counter-Strike and Dota 2 scenes. Can you walk us through some of your fondest childhood memories where video games played an important part?
Mohit Israney: Yes, I was introduced to video games when I was three, as ‘the player 2’ for my brother, because it’s not fun to play games individually. This moment transformed the way I looked at life, and it became an everyday tradition for us to play video games and catch up on life.
Think of it as a bonding session where two kids talked about life and beyond while focusing on video games. This, to me, was the essence of playing video games because although you played the game with another person, it was also a chance to connect, interact, and showcase your skills.
It became an integral ingredient for me to develop my social skills and connect with like-minded people.
The fondest memories from my childhood were when we kept aside everything in our lives to complete a particular game. The feeling of accomplishment after clearing a game after hours of hard work was always a moment to cherish.
Q. In the field of competitive esports, you were quite successful as a professional Dota 2 player. Can you tell us a bit about your time as a Dota 2 pro, and what made you love the game so much that you ended up devoting so much of your time to it?
Mohit Israney: I was more of a competitive Dota 1 player than Dota 2 pro, and my professional career started accidentally. There was a cyber cafe next to our college, where Rushi and I were introduced to Dota and competitive Counter-Strike players. Soon enough, we were hooked, and suddenly, Dota’s all we played.
The teenaged me was bored of playing the long Warcraft 3 games and wanted some fast-paced action, so I explored various custom games, and Dota was something I landed up playing before it even got its name. This single-hero system became one of the most vital elements that made Dota ready for esports.
In a random lobby, a guy called Grape Soda was impressed with my gameplay and asked me if I’d like to play on his competitive team. At that moment, I did not want to say no to the opportunity, so I agreed and began playing Dota on a competitive level. It was a fantastic journey towards learning how a team prepares for a tournament and what goes on behind the scenes to keep a team afloat.
The learnings of an esports athlete’s life have become an integral part of what we do at Global Esports, and it was an honor to take part in so many professional tournaments.
Q. Is your Dota 2 profile still active? Who is your favorite hero in the game, and why?
Mohit Israney: Since I played Dota competitively, unfortunately, the profile is not active, but I am sure that I can find some exciting highlights from the tournaments I played.
My all-time favorite hero is Pugna because there’s so much I can do with this hero to harass the enemy team. I enjoyed the aggressive playstyle he had to offer, and he was my go-to pick when I wanted to play casual and have some fun. But when it came to competitive, I would usually pick a hero like Rubick, and later in my career, Anti-Mage became my go-to hero.
Q. What are your thoughts on the current state of Dota 2, and how Valve has dealt with all its various issues, which have persisted for some time.
Mohit Israney: It’s highly unfortunate because Dota 2 still has the potential to be one of the greatest esports titles in the world. The problem lies not within the game but with the publisher, Valve.
While the game’s highest level is hugely glamorous, with tournaments going into the millions, the grassroots level is a desert because not enough effort went into cultivating it. A lot of talent with the potential to make it to the top tiers didn’t get a chance to compete simply because of a lack of infrastructure and opportunity.Published 10 Nov 2020, 19:00 IST