Jorien “Sheever” van der Heijden is energetic once we sit down to talk. A five-time veteran of The Worldwide, this occasion isn’t fairly the identical because the earlier ones. In Could, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sitting on the concourse ground in Key Enviornment in August, a number of weeks into the Dota 2 event that yearly consumes Seattle, you may assume it was her first day there.
“Coming into this occasion, I’m feeling good,” van der Heijden begins. “I’ve a unique position than I usually do, so that may make me really feel just a little bit totally different, maybe. However I’m coming into it with good vitality and as a little bit of a working vacation, if you’ll. I’m in a very good place proper now.”
Van der Heijden’s profession in Dota 2 stretches again to 2012. She was laid off from a job selling PC parts, however van der Heijden had been an admin for Dota 2 tournaments and even dabbled with commentating an novice event, so with some cash saved up, she determined to take a stab at making Dota a full-time job.
Over the course of the final 5 years, van der Heijden has change into one of many faces of Dream League and a distinguished member of the Dota 2 group. She’s commentated matches at The Worldwide, hosted panel and analyst segments, and streams recurrently to a stable viewers of Dota trustworthy. A lot of that safety was upended, nonetheless, with the information of her analysis.
“Prognosis got here in, type of felt like, okay,” mentioned van der Heijden. “Profession, labored extremely onerous for that, and it’s a really aggressive atmosphere to do the job that I do, so it type of felt like that’s down the drain. That’s over. That is it, I’m performed, I’ve to search for a brand new job after the entire course of is completed. In my head I used to be like, I’m out for a 12 months, that’s type of what I used to be anticipating. To be out of the scene for a 12 months. It type of felt like that’s over.”
Van der Heijden says she’s needed to overcome lots of adversity in her profession, not just as a woman in a predominantly male scene, however as a commentator generally. A clip of a missed Ravage as Tidehunter turned synonymous along with her screenname, and in a crowded Dota 2 panorama, it may be onerous to carve out a distinct segment for your self.
“I imply, any feminine, any male has to beat that as properly,” mentioned van der Heijden. “There’s not that many new individuals coming into the scene and all people has to seek out their very own area, all people does it in their very own means.”
However, persevering and turning the joke back around on others, van der Heijden has constructed a reputation for herself in Dota 2. Most cancers was simply one other hurdle to climb. Acceptance, van der Heijden says, got here sooner than she thought it will. Greedy the realities and transferring on to what got here subsequent got here quickly after the primary spherical of chemotherapy.
“Getting over it, I solely began doing that when the primary chemo was out of the way in which,” mentioned van der Heijden. “Earlier than that, I type of lived in the direction of that black day of first chemo. As soon as the primary one was over, I type of felt like, okay, I can do that. I can overcome this and cope with this too. Then you definitely begin getting ready for the subsequent one and take it a pair days at a time, and sooner or later you understand, I can do that higher, I can begin to plan a few weeks at a time.”
In some unspecified time in the future, it turned clear that the celebrities had aligned: The most important event in Dota 2 occurred to fall proper between chemo appointments. As the belief of this chance set in, so did a brand new set of questions. May she attend? Would she be invited? Would she be properly sufficient to work?
“I wasn’t completely satisfied but, as a result of clearly I needed to ask my physician if it was even potential,” mentioned van der Heijden. “As a result of airplanes, airports, lot of germs. An esports occasion? Not essentially the most clear occasion of all of them. So there’s lots of hesitation there. There’s additionally this factor known as chemo mind, it truly does have an effect on your mind, and I did discover that. Particularly after the primary chemo, I sooner or later observed that I used to be not as quick-witted as I used to be earlier than, not as quick with studying issues or understanding issues.”
There was fear and doubt, compounded by the misery of how this may have an effect on her future job prospects. The “germfest” of The Worldwide, the lengthy days, countless broadcasts and hype might be draining.
However when van der Heijden set foot on U.S. soil, all the things modified. Usually, she says, a visit to the states from her hometown within the Netherlands leaves her jet-lagged and drained. This 12 months, although, she was glad to be on the town and heading off to commentate a few of this 12 months’s group stage matches.
Initially, van der Heijden tells me, she had not deliberate on telling anybody about her breast most cancers analysis. It’s a private matter—“one thing that’s very near coronary heart, actually and figuratively”—and he or she was involved concerning the group’s response. Her sister finally satisfied her to open up, to let the followers who had seen her solid at multimillion-dollar occasions even be there when she’s going by means of onerous instances. Initially, the response was incredulous: An electronic mail despatched out to van der Heijden’s subscribers was regarded as faux, and the mods of the Dota 2 subreddit weren’t fairly certain what to make of it. After a stroll round to clear her thoughts, van der Heijden went dwell on Twitch and defined the entire scenario.
Since then, the response has been extremely supportive. Others inside the Dota 2 group and within the common video games business reached out with recommendation and properly needs. The Dota 2 subreddit allowed customers so as to add a pink border to their aptitude, in assist of Sheever. At a number of factors earlier than, throughout, and after our chat, followers would cease by to say hello, snap a selfie, and need her the very best of luck. In some ways, van der Heijden is an inspiration to the group simply as a lot as its embrace has been an inspiration to her.
“Wanting again now, I can’t even think about me contemplating not telling all people,” mentioned van der Heijden. “As a result of what would have occurred? ‘Sheever has mainly stopped doing occasions, no one is aware of what is occurring.’ This fashion, individuals know that I’m nonetheless right here, I’m nonetheless preventing, it’s only a totally different struggle altogether.”
In her day-to-day work, van der Heijden has stayed in touch with event organizers, a number of of whom have assured her that she can have a job to return to. Although she’s been on a break from internet hosting and commentary exterior of The Worldwide, she nonetheless streams Dota 2 on Twitch, enjoying video games and interacting along with her followers.
At The Worldwide 7, van der Heijden solely labored the group stage matches, so her fundamental occasion time was largely open and freed from analyst panel stress. She tells me her favourite second was getting to sit down in a set as only a spectator, for as soon as, for the Virtus.professional vs. Staff Liquid collection, cheering together with the group. Dota 2, as van der Heijden describes it, is a continuing wrestle to enhance your self, a recreation about studying and rising by means of each match; An fascinating analogue to her personal experiences as commentator, host, and analyst.
Her first day again house after The Worldwide, the routine will begin once more. Van der Heijden will head to the hospital and have her blood checked, adopted by reviewing an MRI end result. Then she’s going to get the inexperienced mild to start out chemo once more, and it will likely be again to therapy.
However sitting on that concourse, seeing the outpouring of assist from followers, it’s clear that van der Heijden isn’t on this struggle alone. Matthew Bailey, director of operations for Staff Secret, started a rumor on Twitter main as much as The Worldwide 7. A number of treasure chests—random loot packing containers—have been launched with distinctive objects inside, and every one might be bought with the signature of a commentator or analyst who would attend TI7, giving them a small portion of the earnings. Bailey tweeted that van der Heijden’s treasures appeared to have a better probability of eliciting a uncommon end result. Whereas in jest, others directed fans to hunt van der Heijden’s signature over their very own. She laughingly confirmed to me that there aren’t any better odds on her treasure over others, however it’s one in all many gestures that present van der Heijden isn’t on this struggle alone.
“All the troubles that I’ve about not with the ability to work within the coming months, or not as a lot anyway,” mentioned van der Heijden. “That assist that they’ve proven makes me not have to fret about that.”