Hello Matumbaman! How’s it going? How have things been in the post-The International break?
Things have been fine for me. The post TI10 break was quite short again; the next season starts quite early after The International. You had to start practicing one month after TI10 ended but I did get pretty good rest, and I’m ready for the next season.
Have you met up with the Team Liquid roster or are you guys planning on playing from home for the first DPC League?
We’re currently bootcamping together, and will be for the first few games of the EU DPC League. But at some point, we will go back and play the rest of the games from home.
Let’s talk about TI10 – are you happy with the third-place finish?
I’d say I’m somewhat happy about it. In the moment when we were knocked out, there wasn’t a lot to be cheerful about. But as time passes, you start appreciating it. In the grand scheme of things, the third-place finish with Team Secret didn’t really change anything for me [having already lifted the Aegis at TI7]. In that sense, I’m still disappointed.
For a TI winner, it’s all about getting that coveted second Aegis. Did Team Spirit catch everyone by surprise, or was it expected based on scrims that they’d do better than most people expected?
I don’t put a lot of weight on scrim results, as they’re not the best indicator of a team’s strength. I can’t remember if we scrimmed Team Spirit or not, but it definitely was a big surprise to see them perform so well at TI10 and win the whole thing. The organization and the roster hadn’t won any other tournaments coming into TI10, so it wasn’t something anyone would have expected. But credit where credit is due – the Team Spirit players are extremely talented. In hindsight, their position 5, Yaroslav “Miposhka” Naidenov, is ranked 20 in the pubs. I can’t think of any other player who could reach rank 20 playing position 5!
Why did you decide to leave Team Secret?
After our loss at TI10, I told the team I was thinking of retiring. But after going home and thinking about it with a calm head, I came to the conclusion that there still was one more year in me. During that time, my former teammates [at Team Secret] were quite stressed about the situation because of my uncertainty. After a while, it didn’t feel [like] I was a part of Team Secret and it didn’t feel right for me anymore.
What was the biggest takeaway from your two years with Team Secret? Do you think your gameplay evolved a lot in that time?
It would be hard to be a Dota 2 professional if your gameplay didn’t evolve with every year, as there are always younger and better players coming up. There were quite a few things to take away in my time with Team Secret though. Clement “Puppey” Ivanov gave me a new outlook on drafting; he’s the best drafter I’ve had the pleasure of playing with. There were a lot of individual tricks to be learned from Michal “Nisha” Jankovshi; just looking at him is mesmerizing at times. On the whole, it was a pretty good learning experience.
Congrats on your migration back to your roots, Team Liquid. What made you decide on coming back?
I resonate with everyone working at Team Liquid. I wanted to join Team Liquid a lot earlier [after TI9, before joining Team Secret], but back then, it wasn’t possible. But this year, I was willingly taken in!
You’ve played with Ludwig “Zai” Wahlberg for a couple of years now – do you guys have a special bond, coming in from Team Secret? Was he one of the factors that influenced your move to TL (or vice versa)?
I got along with Zai extremely well when we played together at Team Secret, but he wasn’t a factor in my decision to join Team Liquid. When Zai left Secret and joined Liquid, I was still pondering about my future as a player and was yet to land on a decision on whether or not I would be playing. In the end, things just fell in place for me to go back to the organization with whom I lifted the Aegis.
With your return to Team Liquid with this new roster, what do you hope to achieve?
The ultimate goal is always to lift the Aegis at The International. But I would like to win it while enjoying myself and doing it right. It will be my last year as a professional player, so I want to have a positive work atmosphere without experiencing burnout. Even if I don’t win The International with Team Liquid again, I’d like to see the newer players benefit from my experiences so that when I retire, I can take credit for their insane plays!