Always smiling and in high spirits, Danylo "Kingrd" Nascimento is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in Dota 2. He's also one of the nicest, most talkative and carefree people in the national -- and, perhaps, international -- esports scene, which has transformed my mission to interview him and tell his story into something extremely entertaining.
Born on Jan. 2, 1992, in Recife, Pernambuco, Kingrd recalls that his first contact with video games was in the neighborhood of Arruda, within "a LAN [local area network] house" of consoles and arcades, where he spent several afternoons with friends.
He ended up falling in love with Super Nintendo and asked for one from his mother.
"Until I was 13 years old, I had only played Super Nintendo. I beat Mario and I loved Bomberman," he said.
Eventually, Kingrd's family moved to Boa Viagem, where he lived near a computer LAN cafe and had first contact with the game that would change his life.
"I remember until today that I started playing Dota in the 5.84c update, which was released between 2004 and 2005," he said. "I played for a long time, but it was more of a hobby. I studied. I had my school. The beginning of my Dota [career] was another division between studies, going out and the hobby."
Growth of a hobby
By playing Dota from practically the origin of the game, Kingrd had no problem setting up teams with players from the northeast [of Brazil] as well as other regions to play. However, being a professional player was not his initial focus.
"At the beginning of my career, I never thought that's what I want," he admitted.
Kingrd revealed that he completed an internship in the legal department of the Savings Bank and even went on to enter the bank full time. "My mother worked at Caixa and my father is a federal police officer, so I had the head to follow this public tender path," he said.
Between competitive bidding attempts and occasional Dota championships, Kingrd did two years of administration and one year of economics at college, but it wasn't what he wanted. He then tried to enter the healthcare industry after taking a course in Radiology, but again, it wasn't the right path for him.
Heroes of Newerth in Sweden
Despite being a hobby, Dota brought a very important friend into Kingrd's life: Arthur "PAADA" Zarzur. Owner of paiN Gaming, PAADA was the first to believe in the potential of Kingrd, who joined his organization in 2011.
At the time, Kingrd had the chance to have his first international esports experience, but not with Dota. He joined paiN in a Heroes of Newerth championship, another famous MOBA at the time -- the team won the Brazil Game Show 2012 to play at the World Cup at DreamHack Winter the same year. This was also the first time Kingrd had problems with his family because of esports.
"I was very young and my parents did not understand that they would pay someone who did not even work to play in Sao Paulo and Sweden," he said.
His parents divorced early on, but Kingrd remembered he fought first with his mother about his career aspirations. "I'm very much like my mother. We do not usually go back and enjoy arguing -- and we discussed a lot about it. I would get pissed, go to the beach and drink some coconut water and relax my head."
Then it was his father's turn to discover his son's plans to go to Sao Paulo. "I had to argue with them and even made drama, threatening to leave the house if they did not accept it. I had already explained everything and had no more arguments," he said.
It worked, and Kingrd won the Sao Paulo stage with paiN and traveled with the team to play at DreamHack. Out there, however, paiN was eliminated without a single win.
"There's even a video of me saying that I'm going to win over everyone, but we just lost in that championship," he joked. "We took a beating."
League of Legends
In 2013, when Kingrd was on Keyd Stars, he surprised everyone announcing his departure from Dota 2 to play League of Legends alongside names like Mateus "yeTz" Vieira (now a streamer), Rodrigo "TaY" Panisa (current top INTZ) and Gabriel "MiT" Souza (ex-coach at paiN and Flamengo).
"I started playing LoL because of MiT, who used to play Dota," he recalled. "At that time, you played Dota more for honor, because there was no prize money, no tournament, no investment and no competition to improve. At the same time, LoL was growing a lot, and many Dota players had already migrated, such as brTT [Felipe Gonçalves] and Dans [Daniel Dias]. Then I thought, 'What's the point of staying in Dota?'"
In two months, he got to Diamond and started playing at the top of the ladder, but he changed to the "sniper" (AD Carry) position because he found himself better at the role.
"Few people know why I did not stay at LoL. The team that we made was planning to set up a gaming house and improve as a team. I did not go because I was studying, I had already paid for the course, the quizzes, and I wanted to know what would happen in the public contest area. I thought -- the guys really want to invest. Do I have this passion to make that investment in my life? In my head, I saw that it would not work -- that it was not something I liked, so I gave up," he said.
Six months later, he jumped back into Dota 2.
Formation of a career
In 2014, Kingrd won the Zotac Starleague and played the qualifiers of The International 4 with CNB e-Sports Club. The following year, again in the Netherlands, he played online championships and won the X5 Mega Arena in the first half. Still in 2015, he had passed by INTZ and T Show, with which he lost the Brazil Game Cup to paiN.
The competitive landscape of Dota 2 was in constant growth in South America between 2015 and 2016. That is what made Kingrd finally "give up my life of studies and work" to focus 100 percent on being a professional Dota 2 player.
Back on paiN in the beginning of 2016, Kingrd left his mid lane position to become a support. He played alongside Adriano de Paula "4dr" Machado, William "hFn" Medeiros, Otávio "Tavo" Gabriel and Emilano "c4t" Ito.
The group defended paiN until October of that year, but undisclosed differences made the team play the American finals of Dota 2 of WESG like "Kingão + 4." Despite qualifying for second place, the formation secured a place in the "Games Olympics" and drew the attention of the newly established SG e-sports, which decided to invest in the players.
Contracted in November 2016 by SG, the squad made history by becoming the first Brazilian team to play in Valve's Dota 2 major the following year. The qualification for the Kiev Major in 2017 and victory over Team Secret in the round of 16 are considered milestones and have elevated players to international fame but also increased the pressure.
SG lost to the Peruvian Infamous in the dispute for the South American spot in The International 7. According to Kingrd, the defeat triggered a series of fights between players in an environment that was toxic.
"The initial goal was to continue the team and only change a player, but a couple of weeks after the qualifier happened, fights and everything changed," he recalled. "We went to The Final Match [in Peru] to comply with the table, and even then we were in second place."
"If you ask, I've already discussed it with everyone on my team. We have fought, cursed, almost punched each other -- many things happened. But that's life," he said. "So the SG team ended because it got kind of saturated. Nobody wanted to play with anyone else, so we said we could not play."
After SG's split, Kingrd decided on a solution: create a mixed team of Peruvians and Brazilians -- Digital Chaos SA -- to fight in the first season of the Dota Pro Circuit.
Despite being one of the most experienced and vocal players, Kingrd said DC.SA was his first true experience as a captain. The team was formed by him and hFn, Abraham "Kingteka" Canez, Farith "Matthew" Puente and Juan "Atun" Ochoa (later replaced by Leonardo "LeoStyle-" Sifuentes).
In order to be the captain, Kingrd played at support position 5. Things seemed to work, until he and hFn moved to Peru.
"We played and won the qualifier for the PGL Open at Bucharest easily," he said. "I think the team would have worked better if we had not gone to Peru. We did not adapt to the gaming house, we did not feel very comfortable."
With the team disbanding, the opening for PGL Bucharest ended up with Infamous. Kingrd returned to Brazil to play at DPC. After playing for Midas Club in the qualifier for Captain's Draft 4.0, the team with two players, Leonardo "Mandy" Viana and Heitor "Duster" Pereira, was acquired by paiN, who decided to invest again in Dota 2.
Mandy left the team after less than a month, and his departure sparked a period of turbulence for Kingrd. "The time we spent trying to find someone to complete the team was very difficult, because we did not feel we were capable of winning," he said.
But everything changed when Aliwi "w33" Omar joined the team.
The Galaxy Battles II, held in January this year, was a turning point in Kingrd's career. The tournament marked the first time that paiN played with w33.
"Few people know this, but that championship meant a lot to me," he said. "I couldn't stop thinking about Dota. I had trouble sleeping because I just kept watching replays and thinking about the drafts. I only slept five hours each night."
When paiN lost to Team Spirit on knockout stage, Kingrd fell apart. "It was the first time I cried because of Dota," he said. "I felt responsible for the draft, the calls and the decisions, so when something went wrong I felt very guilty, even if it wasn't my fault."
One of the reasons for the surmounting pressure was because he felt insecure playing with w33.
"I didn't want him to get a bad impression of South Americans. I didn't want such a high-level player thinking Brazil does not take Dota seriously. If we couldn't sign him, we would like at least to stay in touch, and for that reason it was important that he liked the region."
"After the sadness passed, I realized that the defeat was good for me. It helped me focus, take the right decisions and grow faster. It changed my lifestyle and my view of responsibilities. Definitely it was a moment that made me grow in the game," he admitted.
Pick Lycan and Dazzle
According to Kingrd, his responsibilities grew gradually. Initially, the drafts were made "in an open way," but things started to change during WESG. "I asked the players to keep their opinions to themselves," he said.
At the time, the players didn't feel comfortable with that idea. Its first opponent, after all, was TI7 champion Team Liquid.
"At ESL, the first game was against Liquid. I thought to myself, 'We're f---ed,'" he said. "But that goal was one of the best for us so far because they had so many comfort heroes for the players, except for Duster."
"We won the first game against Liquid easily. Then we lost to OG because we could never beat them anyway, and we had to face Liquid again in a three-game playoff -- whoever lost would go home. As we went to knockout stage in all the previous tournaments, we did not want to lose sooner this time."
"So in the second round of the draft, Duster said, 'Get me a Lycan with Dazzle. It is very strong, I saw some guys doing it.' When we get to define which characters we would play, the question appeared, 'Who's going to play Lycan?' In the end, hFn had to play with Lycan and we were trashed," Kingrd said, laughing.
No one else said a word in the following drafts.
This seemed to work and they secured another victory over Liquid.
Thinking about paiN's path during the Dota Pro Circuit, Kingrd said he's sure of one thing.
"We had a lot of troubles on the way, and we only got to the level we are today because we suffered a lot. We grew together and we learned to live together, to respect our environment," he said.
At first he had to avoid his teammates and Dota for two or three days after losing a championship, but that changed over time, as the communication between them improved.
"I wanted to stop being the captain after a while, because I felt I couldn't take it anymore," he admitted.
TI8 was the exact moment when he felt he could no longer be captain and support 4 at the same time.
"I did not play this TI very well, but not because I had no level, but because I stopped focusing on my game to focus on controlling the team and the situation. There were many things happening at the same time and I could not focus on being a support 4 -- and that was a very important position at the time, one that needed autonomy," he explained.
The best option was to change Duster for Rasmus "MISERY" Filipsen, paiN's coach at the time. "We had already tried Duster as sup 4, I would become sup 5 to continue as a captain, but he did not feel comfortable, nor did I. We feared that this change might not work, so we invited Misery to play with us."
He says however that Misery wouldn't be solely responsible for running the team.
"He's helping on the draft and sharing the shotcalling [duty] with me," he said.
He felt that change during qualifier for the Kuala Lumpur Major, the first tournament of the Dota Pro Circuit 2018-2019 season. paiN's first lineup won and qualified along the second lineup, paiN X.
"Team communication is much better now. We played the first qualifier and we finished unbeaten. Sure there was some pressure, but we didn't feel at any point that we could lose. We are very confident," he said.
Taking the responsibility of being the captain off his shoulders also helped Kingrd feel comfortable.
"After we hired Misery, I felt relieved and it gave me tranquility to play. I feel free to play the way I like and test my limits," he said.
"For the first time I feel this high level of confidence in the team, and I think we'll get where we have never been before," Kingrd said.