Team Liquid was one of the teams invited to The International 2016 for good reason.
The European squad took second place at both the Shanghai and Manila Majors, and first place at Epicenter shortly before its strong performance in Manila. Many casual and dedicated viewers of the professional Dota 2 scene would have picked Liquid as their favorites to win The International. After such a long time together with no roster changes and strong results throughout the year, it seemed like a natural choice.
Team Liquid is now in the lower bracket after a rough group stage and will play Natus Vincere in a best-of-one. With Liquid’s future in the biggest tournament of the year in jeopardy, Slingshot’s Cameron “Turbo” Regan caught up with Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen to see how confident he felt about the team’s chances in the lower bracket and what he felt went wrong in the group stage.
Cameron “Turbo” Regan: The group stage didn’t go as well as you might have hoped. What, in your opinion, went wrong for you guys?
Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen: It was quite hard. We went into the groups and we were pretty confident, but things didn’t work out as well as we expected. Some heroes we practiced didn’t work out and it was just a shitshow. People played these random ass heroes and they won, and we were like “oh shit.” So then we tried to adapt and in the process we lost some individual play. We just started playing pretty bad. It was deserved.
CR: Do you think it’s difficult to adapt with so many different heroes being played?
LU: I think this patch favors really good individual play. You just play your Dota game. There’s no certain strategies you run over and over again. You just have to be versatile and play good Dota.
CR: Which is more important, do you think: individual skill or teamwork?
LU: I mean, you always have to find a balance between individual and team play. What I think is that when you have good individuals they will become a team. They’ll compensate for each other and then they just — they just play well together. That’s being good individually. You might split push well individually but you might not win. You always have to find a balance.
CR: So you have today and tomorrow to get some practice in before your best-of-one against Na’Vi. Are you confident about your chances?
LU: I’m always confident going into these games. I just want to win. I think we have the edge over Na’Vi but in the end it’s a best of one, so anything can happen (laughs). Let’s see what happens.
CR: What was the team atmosphere like after the groups? Were you immediately discussing things with your team or did you just want to be alone for a while?
LU: Everyone wants a bit of time after such a group stage. It’s rather disappointing. We were pretty down, but now we’re just working towards a goal again… you can’t just drown in your misery. You have to snap back into it and start working again no matter what. You have to think about how you can play good Dota again and move on to the next series.
CR: So what do you do when you’re feeling down? How do you snap out of it?
LU: For me, I just need a moment. I need a couple of hours and then I’m good to go again. At the end of the day I just lay in my bed and read reddit r/all, just random stories about how to make like a submarine or something. I don’t know, whatever you find from reddit. Like, all these guides about how to make stuff and people telling their life stories about some random stuff. I just read it. It’s relaxing for me.
CR: So think about something that isn’t Dota for a while.
LU: Yeah, I just reset my mind. Don’t think about Dota-related stuff at all because it stresses you out all the time if you’re going fully at it. So refresh, go again next morning and just start working again.
CR: What do you usually do to prepare for your first game of the day?
LU: For me, I try to eat some sugar. Either soda or chocolate, so I can get my sugar levels in my blood high and I’m ready to go. Rub my face a bit and try to snap into it so I don’t feel so tired or anything, I’m just ready to play and focus. Then I warm up my hands by clicking the keys on my keyboard.
CR: We’ve seen teams go through the lower bracket to win tournaments before. Do you think that if you get a few wins the momentum will help you?
LU: Of course in the lower bracket losing means you’re out, so you always have kind of like a — you have the confidence to go into the game. Going through the lower bracket is kind of like riding a wave. You have to roll with it or else (imitates the sounds of a wave) it goes away. I’d prefer best-of-threes to start with, but what can you do? Starting from the lower bracket is like — you deserve it if you start from there.
CR: What was the most difficult team for you to play against during groups?
LU: I’d say EHOME and Newbee, even though we won one game against both. We played well on the first day, but we couldn’t keep up I guess. We actually don’t know what happened. Something happened.
CR: Were you satisfied with your individual play? Did you notice certain things that you could improve?
LU: I definitely could have improved my own individual play. It was rather disappointing to come here and play bad in the biggest tournament of the year. Everyone’s just playing their hearts and souls out during these games, you just have to give it your all and you’re disappointed if you can’t perform to your old level.
CR: What other team has impressed you the most so far?
LU: The team that impressed me the most was actually DC, how much they improved in so little time coming into this event was amazing. How they play as a team, they just do every correct move. It’s pretty beautiful Dota watching them play.
CR: So you didn’t think DC and EHOME would do well?
LU: I expected EHOME to do well. I knew they were good. I was expecting them to stomp teams left and right, but that was because we scrimmed them. I knew what to expect from them, so it wasn’t that impressive when it happened. But DC I didn’t know, they came here and they just rolled over teams. They showed everyone how to play proper Dota.
CR: How do you feel the carry role has evolved this year?
LU: It’s pretty much hitting creeps, but you also need to move with your team. It’s not as slow paced anymore so you have to be with your team a bit more. I don’t know how to get into that, because some teams treat their carry position differently. Now I think it’s coming back to that the carry has the most priority in games. It used to be mid [was more important] but I think now it’s coming back to the carry again.
CR: Do you think it’s more important to group up and five-man sooner, or can you just be off on your own and farm?
LU: I think it’s more important to secure objectives with your team. It doesn’t work out if you’re alone pushing towers, because people defend those towers now. They go “it’s only one hero. We can defend the tower.” Then you put your hands in your pockets and tell your team, “I dunno, I can’t do shit guys. It doesn’t work anymore!”
CR: You guys are one of the most stable rosters, starting out as 5Jungz. Are you satisfied with what your team has achieved so far?
LU: I’m rather satisfied. We made a long journey together, and we did some great stuff, but coming here and not playing so well is disappointing, honestly.
Photos by Helena Kristiansson/ESL, eslgaming.com