One successful tryout at the ESL One Berlin Major 2023 is all it takes for Team Aster to decide they want Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan. While placing eighth in a major isn’t much to call home about, it’s certainly the best SumaiL has had since he left Evil Geniuses.
Hence, the upcoming Aster line-up will be a top candidate, as talks about foreign players in Chinese teams have always been controversial.
Team Aster and SumaiL at Berlin Major
Beforehand, recapping on the Berlin Major, SumaiL stand-in for Team Aster amidst the team’s decision to bench Zhai “Xwy” Jingkai. At first glance, SumaiL went under everyone’s radar, since he last played underwhelmingly for Nigma Galaxy at DreamLeague S19.
Yet, Aster looked phenomenal with SumaiL despite the potential language barriers and miscommunication. In fact, in a recent post-match interview with SumaiL, he shared that it was relatively simple to communicate with his Chinese teammates via the use of in-game chatlines and standard words, such as “Attack!”, “Fall back!” and even “Sorry”.
Nevertheless, fans thought nothing of it, considering it was rare for Chinese teams to recruit foreign players who can’t speak Chinese. For instance, when Vici Gaming experimented with Nuengnara “23savage” Teeramahanon, a Thai player by hiring a translator. It didn’t work out as 23savage’s time at VG only lasted four months.
Road to the International 12
As of today, Team Aster confirmed SumaiL as their official mid-player, at least until the International 12 (TI12). While negotiations for long-term plan is still under negotiation, expect Sumail to be playing under Team Aster tag in the upcoming Tour 3, Bali Major 2023, and hopefully TI12.
The King has left the building👑
Thank you @SumaaaaiL for everything this past year and we wish you all the best💙💜 pic.twitter.com/CjfCGTx9So
— Nigma Galaxy (@NigmaGalaxy) May 8, 2023
While this is certainly great news for both parties, it wasn’t without hiccups to get this deal rolling. According to the Team Aster boss, “XiaoFei” on a livestream, SumaiL initially declined their offer. Understandably, he was hesitant on moving to China just to play for a mere six-month term (until TI12). Hence, why they are negotiating for a longer term until the following year’s TI13.
Besides that, SumaiL has most things covered, such as already owning a Chinese work visa and his family is supportive of his move. He’s also apparently getting a generous salary, albeit undisclosed by XiaoFei, who would even go as far to hire a Western chef if SumaiL isn’t comfortable with Chinese cuisine.
Hence, the King himself also made a bold statement by reaffirming Aster will qualify for TI12 under his arms.
Crippled Chinese esports scene
Team Aster players have shared that SumaiL is “the perfect mid-player” after playing with him at Berlin Major. That said, the decision to hire a foreign player isn’t exclusive to SumaiL as XiaoFei also shared that they might consider Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen or Gleb “kiyotaka” Zyryanov if SumaiL declines.
This means there is a lack of great Chinese mid-players in the scene that could potentially rival the foreign talents. Worse yet, the match-fixing scandal in the Chinese scene led to the devastating state of Chinese talents this year.
Regardless, this is a milestone for Chinese teams to eventually rely on foreign talents to spice up their game. And perhaps, we might just see more Western European star players get offers to play for China at TI12.