Our very own Michael "Torte De Lini" Cohen was on hand at ESL One in Katowice to talk to Team Liquid's Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen about Team Liquid's post-TI hangover, his wishes for the meta, and exactly what he did with all that TI cash.
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- Talking about your performance at Katowice. You didn't get number one but still did pretty good, and you guys are looking good in the DPC rankings. How would you, overall, describe your time here? Did everyone step up their game, are you guys still number one in your hearts?
Ah, in our hearts we haven't been number one for a while. Everyone starts with a clean slate after TI, we just happened to be champions.
- "Just happened"...
Yeah, just happened, a coincidence. [laughs] I mean there was also some hard work put into it. A little bit.
But I feel like teams are very hungry to beat us. They really want to beat Team Liquid. They are just [saying], "I want to beat Team Liquid" every time and I'm like, "Oh, OK, we really have to work hard for these wins." I feel we weren't really sharp enough this event. We were very close to beating Vici, but something just didn't work out in the game.
- We talked to a few other players and they said Vici were really going to be the top team for these coming tournaments. Do you agree?
For a while, they actually changed the meta a little bit. Even in our series, we started figuring out their most comfortable heroes that really help them to win. They abuse Batrider to crazy extent. They were something like undefeated on Batrider even against borderline counter picks. They had DKs, Razors, these early/mid game heroes, finishing the game in 20 minutes.
I feel like teams are very hungry to beat us
- DK is pretty hot shit right now, talk about tankiness.
Yeah, they play pretty tanky line-ups.
- Did you try to look into that, and play more tanky line-ups, or is it not really your style?
Yeah, we can't adapt completely, of course. There are some hero limitations, we can't just pick up new heroes like that. We try to pick some stuff and add it to our own thing.
- You won TI7 and there's one thing I never asked but always wanted to: what did you do with that sweet, sweet money?
I actually bought an apartment in the city center of Helsinki. I also invested quite a bit of the money already. I didn't buy any sports cars or anything.
- So you like your home country?
Yeah, I can't really imagine myself moving out. Maybe [in the future], but not for now. My family, all my friends are in Finland. I feel like if I moved out, I'd be pretty miserable. It's not worth it for me. Of course, I can move to a country that gives me better taxation, but it's not worth it for me. Money is not everything in life.
I would like us to be the most dominant team in Dota 2 history
- Saying this after winning TI7. [laughs]
Haha, I can talk shit here all day, because I have money. Is it hypocritical? I don't know. I hear a lot borderline rich people saying because they have money they don't care about money. It's kind of funny. But what else can I say, you know? [laughs]
- What are your goals now after winning TI7? Just winning TI8? Is that still a strong passion or are you just playing for the sake of the game, love of the game?
I would like us to be the most dominant team in Dota 2 history. [We haven't achieved that yet,] we have to take a couple of more steps. At least three Major titles would be nice. [laughs] But it's super hard to keep yourself motivated all those years to play Dota at the top level all the time. It's not possible to be in your best shape all the time.
- On the topic of it being impossible to stay on the top all the time, we spoke to players like Fly and PPD who also spoke similarly about how, as they got older, they developed other interests, which is normal. But they said how sometimes their team reinvigorated their love for the game. Is it the same with Team Liquid? What's the atmosphere like?
I feel like I'm still very new to this. I've been a pro for two and a half years. I don't think we really have had this feeling yet — that we need to reinvent this love for the game. It kind of just stayed there. But come TI this year, I think we have to sharpen up a little bit more, start getting better again. Quite honestly, we rode the wave from TI7 to this day. Here, I felt like we started getting better again.
- Your playstyle, particularly during TI7 and in the months leading up to it, has become more accommodating to your team-mates at your expense. As a carry player, that must be tough. How did you feel about accepting such a sacrificial role?
There are three cores in the game. One of them always has to sacrifice their game. Realistically, you can't win three lanes, they can't all have a nice game.
- That could be your next goal!
Yeah, winning three lanes would be nice. [laughs] Usually you win that game. I think I sacrifice myself quite a bit for the team but I really just aim for the win. I don't really think about sacrificing myself in the game. I don't have that mentality of, "I'm going to sacrifice myself for the team again." It's more like trying to find the optimal ways of playing the game to achieve [victory].
- What's the optimal way in this patch?
I feel it's very five-man heavy. Everyone is going early BKB, they BKB up and go as five, kill towers, kill Roshan, end the game at 20 minutes. If you don't you might lose, because their team is better late game.
- I think we saw that in yesterday's game vs. Vici, where you tried to finish at 20-25 minutes and then after that the question is "how do we kill them?"
Yes, we didn't have a sharp execution. We felt we really had this game, but we missed some crucial kills.
- Is there any way to comeback when you miss that timing? Because it looked like whatever you built on Phantom Lancer, he would never take down that Alchemist.
I feel like we could've won. I feel like also the itemization on our part, on my Ursa for example, wasn't the most optimal to kill their cores.
- In a TI7 interview with LiquidDota, you talked about how you felt more mature and confident the second time around at TI, because you had a better understanding of what you need to play optimally. What are some examples of that you wouldn't mind sharing?
At TI7, I really had this crystal clear role. Everyone in the team knew what their job was in the game. I knew what I had to do. There was no pressure, I didn't have to freelance much, I just did my job and that was it. We practiced every single hero almost. We knew what was up, all the counter match-ups on everything. So it was very easy for me.
- Is there anything you wish for in terms of TI8, or for the future of the DPC system?
For the next year, I really wish there would be fewer Majors. Maybe we can keep 10 Minors or so, because Minors are good for the semi-pro teams, but having 10 Majors in a year is too much.
- Has this system with the Minors really given semi-pro teams the opportunity?
Yeah, we're Team Liquid and still playing all the Minors. [laughs] They didn't make a clear policy who can play Minors. It's weird, because nobody's sure if they're going to TI. There are no guaranteed invites so of course you're going to play all the events that you can. It's the logical way of thinking in our position. They never said they'll invite the defending champions so we have to grind all these events.
They are very good practice for us, because we're playing all these teams that are giving their absolute best to beat us. It's not quite the same as scrims.
- Do you have a wishlist for future patches? Universe, for example, wished for more offlane heroes to be buffed or improved because the role has got a little bit stale. Fly mentioned the same thing for support heroes.
I don't know, I don't feel the hero-specific things are important in Dota. It's more like the overall game balance, the creep pull, the camps, the map — these are more important for me. I wish actually that there was no lane swapping. I feel like it's ruining the game.
- How would they force that?
The thing is, it's hard to force. It's very stupid in a way, because what happens is people picking these certain counter match-ups. For example, you play Ursa against Underlord, Ursa against a melee hero. You play safe lane, alright? And then there's a Razor in the enemy team. And what is super crucial for the game is you start in the right lane.
I wish actually that there was no lane swapping. I feel like it's ruining the game.
- And there's no way to foresee where the lanes are going to be.
Exactly. Everyone is trying to mindgame each other. Is this Razor going to be vs. Ursa or not? Then you end up with Ursa on the Razor lane and you can't swap the lane because everyone can TP. You swap, they swap. And whether you get the better laning set-up is a gamble, you're flipping a coin for the game.
- Maybe what they can do is put less emphasis on the early game so that swapping isn't as emphasized.
Maybe. That's a good solution. What they tried to do at TI7 was creeps meeting in the middle, so the lane was actually pretty good. But then, they realized people didn't really play carries anymore. It was more like these lane dominators, the 1v1 was super important.
More Katowice Major interviews
— LeBron: "I feel disappointed with our results, but we have more time to improve"
— Kyle: "We got drunk and bashed our heads against the keyboards"
— zai: "NA used to be very strong because of cocky players"
— 9pasha: "We didn't learn how to properly use RodjER yet"
— Solo: "We've known that RodjER is a very good player for a long time, even before TI."
— EternaLEnVy: "We definitely outdrafted Team Liquid pretty hard."
— Puppey: "Fata thought about switching his role for a while."
— Resolut1on: "I haven’t seen my girlfriend for a month and a half now."
— YapzOr: "It’s cocky to feel bad about a loss you didn’t even practice for."
— Arteezy: "We probably would've won TI5 if I was a better team-mate, honestly."
— Fly: "Not doing so well [...] is what motivates me the most."
— Matumbaman: "I would like us to be the most dominant team in Dota 2 history."
— PPD: "I can be the loser. Somebody’s gotta play the villain, right? I’m just a competitor."
— Kyle: "I want to build a team that succeeds as part of compLexity."
— Nahaz: "The pro Dota 2 scene is eunambiguously in a better place than it was a year ago."
— MISERY: "Nobody really cares if Secret or Liquid are winning, but if EG does anything, everybody's all over them."
— UNiVeRsE: "I never thought I'd see myself moving from America to another country just to play Dota."
— Patos: "We need to step back a little and not try to play everything."