Manila, Philippines (February 23) - “Toxic.”
That’s how esports personality and gaming content creator Pinda Rika “PindaPanda” Dorji described her experiences in playing Dota 2 for the last decade.
The Bhutanese Dota 2 icon, who is now one of two Insiders for all-Filipino Dota 2 team Blacklist Rivalry, looked back on the game that essentially changed her life.
“It (the Dota 2 scene) only got more toxic, but in a good way,” PindaPanda told Beyond The Rivalry in an exclusive, one-on-one online interview. “That one word sums up my entire journey.”
Don’t get her wrong though - she did not mean to describe the game itself as toxic. Pinda referred to the competitive and intense nature of Dota 2.
“The thing is, when I say the word toxic, everybody thinks, you have this negative opinion, right? But for me, and if you play Dota, you know that the toxicity just remains in the game. And if the game doesn’t have that banter between the teams, it’s not fun,” Pinda said.
“It was because of this toxicity that I was able to make more friends, I was able to meet more people online, I was able to make content. It’s basically my definition. I got toxic, and that’s how I got here,” she adds.
Pinda also clearly stated that toxic behaviors in-game - such as trash talking and other similar acts, should only remain within the confines of the game.
“I’ve never mixed the toxicity in-game and in real life. Most Dota players understand that,” Pinda said.
And for sure, her mindset of being able to focus on that competitive spirit and after a decade of being part of the Dota 2 scene, landed her a spot to tell the stories of Blacklist Rivalry.
She was officially launched in December 2022 as one of two Insiders - the other being Pinay gaming icon and Tier One Talent, Bianca “Biancake” Yao.
“As spectators, when we watch matches, the game will always be top number one. But the most important (thing) we wanna see is the other side of the players, like those fun moments we have. I just don’t want to see them like they’re sitting in a computer, they’re playing, but its also really nice to see what makes them the professional players that they are today,” Pinda told Beyond the Rivalry about her new role.
Before being an Insider for Blacklist Rivalry, Pinda had - and still has - a thriving gaming career. When she turned 18, she went to Malaysia to study Civil Engineering and eventually graduated in 2015. After five months working in a construction firm, she returned to the one thing that has been in her DNA: gaming. She was introduced by her grandmother to the gaming world, who taught her how to play when she was three years old.
Now 27, she has come a long way from playing her old console and the slow internet connection of days past. As of posting time, PindaPanda has close to 800,000 Facebook followers, over 179,000 followers on Instagram, over 190,000 YouTube subscribers, hours of great content - and a lot of Filipino-related videos - not to mention her work as part of eGG Network in Malaysia.
She says, those years playing Dota 2 helped her build her into the PindaPanda we know today - fun-loving, competitive, and driven - but also staying true to her personality and knowing her core convictions.
“I learned about patience. I learned about letting go. I learned that the comeback is stronger than the first 20 minutes of the game. I learned about controlling my temper. I learned how to break keyboards more efficiently. It feels like I got into this whole world of network that I never imagined I would be a part of. And it feels like a family. There’s no place I’d rather be. I’m super grateful for this 10 years of the Dota 2 journey. Although I could have played other games, I’ve remained faithful. Ten years,” Pinda said.
PINDA’S ADVICE TO THOSE JUST ENTERING THE SCENE: “If it doesn’t work out, don’t pursue it any longer.”
PindaPanda is well aware of the road she took to get to this point where she can create content, play the game she loves, and make money out of her passion - qualities that really resonate with her audience.
Pinda says her journey to being the PindaPanda we know and love today started in an era where people are still trying to grasp the esports and gaming scene as part of an entire ecosystem.
She advises those who wish to enter the scene to recognize if this is one they’d want to spend time with in the long-haul, and work their way up smartly.
“Back then when I was starting, there wasn’t a tight competition like it has today. Everybody wants to be a streamer, a content-maker, everybody wants that online presence and I can understand why. Time does play a huge role in this,” Pinda said, remarking that starting to enter the scene five years ago is easier than starting today.
“Definitely, it’s harder. I do believe in working hard, but for me it’s always been trying to work smart. That’s always worked out for me. I say that if you’re gonna be a streamer, you need that one good, viral content. You can stream for one, two years. But if you don’t have any good content, you’re not gonna boost yourself up, it’s not gonna help much,” she adds.
She even went further to say how people should know when they’re able to continue pursuing the world of content creation or streaming.
“I’ll be brutally honest - if it doesn’t work out, then you should probably not try to pursue it any longer than you should. Usually I’d be like, “don’t give up,” but in situations like this especially when everything is very competitive, I would say like, you should know when you should give up and when you should continue. If you have the luxury of time and you don’t have like, the pressure of doing anything else, then I would say go for it, take your time and find it. But do know the point where you have to stop and find the balance. The balance was the key for me,” Pinda said.
Pinda believes that her style of being funny fully defines her nature. She tells those aspiring to be in content creation to find what they’re good at and start there. “You just need that one piece of content to go viral and then after that, it’s a rollover, you carry on. It just gets better after that,” she said.
After a season full of challenges for the black-and-orange gang of Blacklist Rivalry, Pinda believes that this “redeem team” will be able to take the Dota 2 world by storm.
“When the team qualifies for the Majors or other tournaments, we’ll be with them,” Pinda said. “And then, we’re gonna have some fun, because during the tournaments we see those content pieces where the players engage and its really lively to see them.”
Pinda also believes that the team is already composed of strong men who are veterans in the pro circuit - and that she won’t replace anyone in Blacklist Rivalry even if given the chance!
“I absolutely refuse to answer that! They’re all great players, they’re all veterans. I couldn’t think of one player to replace,” Pinda said.
But when she’s not with the Blacklist Rivalry team, Pinda says you can find her at home playing Dota 2 - the very same game she loves. This Tyde Hunter, Shaman, and Silencer main rarely uses Invoker, Mipo, and Morphling, and the longest time she spent playing Dota 2 was three full days - fueled by soda and pizza. (Pinda reminds readers that this should not be replicated and is unhealthy.)
Pinda’s had her own share of traditional final questions when the press asks her about Blacklist Rivalry and their fans.
However, she just chose five simple lines to tell the entire Blacklist Rivalry team, supporters, and those covering them, the writer included.
“Eat. Watch. Sleep. Break the Code. Repeat.”