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Photos of Team Liquid Dota 2 team at the ESL Katowice Dota 2 Major in Katowice, where Team Liquid took 3rd

Matumbaman Returns to Team Liquid!

Nov 302021

Lasse Aukusti "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen is one of the most well known carries to embrace the game of Dota 2. After lifting the Aegis at The International 2017 with Team Liquid, Matu went on to have a successful two year stint with Team Secret, in which he won multiple Majors and culminated his journey with them with a third place finish at TI10. As he prepares for his return to Team Liquid, we caught up with him to talk about his decision to come back to Team Liquid, his expectations for the year with the new roster and his time with Team Secret, amongst other things.

"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."

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!

The last time Matumbaman played with Team Liquid, they were a force to reckon with. In the past few years, even though the team has had some strong showings, consistency has been lacking. If the new roster can harness Matu’s potential and experience, Team Liquid could return to their dominating ways and take the EU DPC League by storm.



You’ve mentioned it a couple of times now that this will be your last year as a professional Dota 2 player. Is there anything that would change your mind? If not as a player, would you like to make your presence felt in the Dota 2 scene as a coach?

There’s nothing that would change my decision to call it a day a year from now. I don’t really think I want to make the switch to being a coach.

Well, in that case, I hope the Dota 2 community gets to experience Matu to their heart’s content this year. Going back to TI10, how did you like the meta? It seems like we will be going into the first DPC season of the new year on the same meta (with a few balance changes).

The meta gets really stale when there aren’t any map or objective changes for a long time, which is what has happened now. It leads to regression in play for the professional teams, because the repetition hampers gameplay. It has gotten quite dull for me.

That’s how a lot of people in the Dota 2 community feel as well. How does the carry position feel right now? Do you like the diversity?

It surely is a solid carry meta. There is a plethora of viable carries, and position 1 players aren’t forced to play the same few heroes every game. The choice of hero is very game-dependent, which is a positive sign. There are few heroes like Naga Siren who haven’t seen the light of day for a long time but are decent in the current meta. She’s not the best carry out there, but she can be strong in certain situations.

We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for some Matu Naga Siren in the upcoming DPC games! What would you like to see in Dota 2 patch 7.31, when it eventually does arrive?

Ward mechanics is something I’d like to see changed. First off, it should be easier to deward hill wards than it is right now. Sentry ward mechanics should also be improved, as to how they block camps. I can’t pinpoint my finger on what the best fix is, but the way sentry wards and dewarding works, [it] feels like an unnatural part of the game. It is like a mini-game in the game, which makes you forget the flow of the game and the big picture.

The other thing I’d like to see changed is Outposts. Either the channeling time should be reduced or they should be changed to a different building. But please don’t bring back Shrines! The element of having HP and mana regeneration in the jungle is not something I want to see added back to Dota 2. The last major change I wish to see is with Healing Salves. Position 5 players should not have the ability to keep on healing the carry with multiple Salves in the laning stage.

Just under a week for the new DPC Season to start now. Going ahead, would you like to see a bit more time to rest?

There should surely be a longer break. Two and half months seems like a good time for the players to recover. For the past few years, it has been around a month and the grind begins again. A month is not enough for teams to fully recover after The International, which is why a lot of teams previously skipped the initial part of the year. But now with the new DPC system in place, players don’t have the option in the bag anymore.

A bigger break could mean the new patch drops before the first season, which would make it more interesting for spectators as well. Do you like the DPC system as it is or would you like to see any changes?

I like the DPC Leagues and the fact that the number of Majors has been increased to three, but I would definitely shorten the duration of the leagues. It would also be nice to see the old Majors be brought back – the Eaglesongs and Mystic Staffs for trophies and, even though not realistic, the $3 million prize pool can be a massive incentive for players.

When you're not playing Dota 2, what do you like to do?

I like to eat hot chicken wings and drink beer!

Any shoutouts?

A big shoutout to all the supporters of Team Liquid.