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Loda: Creating a Legacy

Nov 202017

I am not the right player for Alliance.”

That thought is what prompted me to take my break from Dota. We were restructuring the organization and because of that, there were sometimes things that needed to take my focus away from the game. I was sitting on the board and I had to be involved in a lot of the details with setting up the company. Owning Alliance and being a part of it is a huge blessing, but sometimes I wonder how I got to where I am now.

When I started playing Dota 2 I didn’t think about trying to run an organization. I was playing with people I had known from the past: Pajkatt, Misery, Akke. It started quite smoothly. When Alliance first formed we were a small group that grew into something bigger. We didn’t just play to win, we played together because we enjoyed playing together and our goal to win The International united us even further. It’s difficult trying to recapture that feeling, that bond between five players, but it's worth trying to do. 

I have been on a lot of teams and they all had different reasons for why they were successful. Sometimes you try to recreate what was successful in the past but it doesn’t apply to the current situation. It can even feel as if you’re being too innovative in your approach. This can be very vexing when you know it has worked before. 

Right now, I’m focused on finding the right people to play for Alliance. Players who want to be a part of something that is bigger than any one of them individually; to create something that will be more than the sum of all of them combined. I’m not looking to build a team that will switch three or four members over the course of the next Dota 2 season. I want to build a core group of players that will last long after I step back, and that is why it’s so important that I take the time, effort, and energy to make sure I get this right. 

It’s asking a lot of players to invest a part of their careers not only to play with me but to then build something themselves in the future with what we are creating now. It’s why the players I’m trying to find have to be willing to invest more than just one year for this. I’m trying to find people who not only believe in what we are doing, believe in building a team and sticking with it even when things are rough, but also want to represent the fans of Alliance and respect what being a part of such a team would mean. It’s by no means an easy feat to accomplish but so far I’ve found some players who agree with this vision and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in the future.

Sometimes you can pick a player up at the perfect moment, the right part of their career and do tremendous things with them. GH is a good example of that. The politics of putting together a team can get in the way of picking up a player like GH, though. That player might be somebody you believe will do very well on your roster but your teammates may not be convinced. So you go with a safer option, a middle ground that everyone seems happy with, but that isn’t necessarily the right decision. It’s difficult to make those kinds of choices. However, you have to trust your instincts and believe in yourself. That is what I’m doing now, trusting how I feel about who will fit best in the roster, even if we don’t dominate the scene immediately.

 

It’s very rare now for teams to come out swinging as soon as they form now, anyway. It’s not that I don’t want us to be good now, but what I really want is to recreate the atmosphere that I had during my first year with Alliance. There was this sense that we all knew TI was the goal but we weren’t stressed out about proving ourselves in order to get an invite there. It was about building a good team and to keep improving on that. We always moved forward and helped each other develop so that we would get there. This is a very difficult feeling to recreate in a team and I’ve even seen strong teams break apart when people get annoyed at losses. 

 

You can win four games in a row and then lose one series, but instead of continuing to build on what you are strong at, you dismantle everything and start over. The playstyle you’ve worked so hard to create, the meta you’ve developed in your team — everything that has been working in other games — you get rid of it. I think it is much more beneficial to keep working on what was bringing you success previously instead of starting over from square one. If you get rid of everything you stop moving forward and that can just end teams.

 

Synergy is another very important thing I am looking for when building Alliance. Back in Dota 1, I was in an all-star team but I had a very bad experience in it. A lot of strong egos were on that team, including my own, so we clashed a lot and took things the wrong way. Communication between teammates is so important, not just in-game but outside of it as well. You need to be comfortable enough to call each other out when you make mistakes but do so in a way where everyone knows you’re doing it to improve, to make each other better. This also removes the fear of not knowing what your teammates think about you — if they think you suck, or if they are going to kick you. All these thoughts that can really hurt a team’s atmosphere are extremely toxic.

 

This is part of the reason I stepped back from the latest iteration of Alliance. As I stated before, I honestly did not believe that I was the right guy to play on that team. I was having trouble giving 100% of myself to the team while also trying to balance operating the organization. It was kind of a strange situation where I ended up in a place that wasn’t really in my original plans. I started out just playing Dota and somewhere along the way the rest of it became just as big as Dota itself.

 

When I had just started to do both — play for and taking part in the operation of Alliance — everyone told me it would be impossible, yet I was convinced that I could do it. I was able to balance it for a while but I’d say somewhere after the Kiev Major qualifier it started becoming harder and harder. After we lost to Team Secret in the finals it was a big hit for the team. Motivation issues and performance issues arose when the rest of the team was giving their all but I couldn’t go beyond what I was currently doing. That’s when it became too much for me.

 

At the same time, watching what happened to that team was really disappointing for me. We had quite a lot of success in boot camps and going into TI qualifiers we had really good results in practice but the team fell apart in the later stages of the tournament — it was extremely disappointing. At the same time, it felt like the team lacked something. I think they lacked somebody who could keep them together and make the hard decisions. I knew there was always a chance Limmp would go back and play with his brother Chessie again; they’ve played together a lot in the past so that was always a possibility. I will also say after playing with Era, he has a lot of potential as a player and I believe he will grow into something more as he continues to play professionally. He is capable of becoming one of the best carries in the West.

 

Watching them go their separate ways made me realize just how much I needed to work with players who wouldn’t give up just because things don’t always go our way, though. I invested a lot of time, emotion, and work into making that team and then seeing them break apart is a pretty disheartening thing.

 

Now I’m looking for a mix of established players and up and comers. Veteran players usually have these senses that newer players won’t have. You need to be able to be relaxed even if you’re in a very stressful game and when you have one guy who sounds like he’s in control and knows what he’s doing — even if he doesn’t — it has a big positive impact on the younger guys. They need that positive influence when they are starting out.

 

It’s both complicated and simple in that regard. People need to listen to the guy calling the shots. He might not even know what he’s doing, he might just sound like he does but it makes everyone else play better because they’re listening to one voice and they’re on the same page. That’s what I want my team to be. Unified and all trying to improve while aiming for the same goal.

 

I’m hungrier to compete than ever. The fans and my own stubbornness motivate me to keep going. It’s as simple as that. The fans have always been such a driving force in how I am able to accept losses and keep trying. I want to reach a LAN tournament, to have some great games and to build something lasting that I will be proud of for years to come. I might be nearing the end of my career and I need to be able to enjoy myself and have fun playing on Alliance while I still can. I think people will really be able to see that when they watch us play again — I think it will be obvious to anyone.

 

I am the right player for Alliance. I know that now. I believe that being a part of Alliance will allow me to build a legacy that will stand long after I am gone — but what I will accomplish now will never be forgotten.

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