Two months ago Jonathan “Loda” Berg achieved one of his dreams as he acquired the Aegis of Champions at The International in Seattle. We caught up with him and asked how his life has been, post-victory, and what’s next for him.
Hello Loda and thank you for joining me today! What have you been up to since the International?
Hello! And thank you for having me. I just relaxed at home in Sweden the first week after TI. After that I went for a two week trip to Singapore with my lovely girlfriend Kelly. There we enjoyed ourselves by indulging in awesome food, movies, and hanging out with friends. It was a great trip, but I was quite active there (I even had a meet-and-greet), so when I came back to Sweden I still felt I had to relax a bit! As you know we’ve been playing our officials, but other than that we haven’t had very good practice. The past week we kind of started to practice for real though so hopefully we’ll we back to our usual level soon.
I’d like to start by talking a bit about TI3. Throughout the tournament you seemed almost unstoppable and all of you played near perfect. But in the finals, especially game 2 and 3, it seemed like nerves had gotten the better of you. What happened?
Hehe, well, I’m not sure if something “happened”, sometimes you win sometimes you lose some. But honestly I just think that Na’vi played really well, and also we had some issues with our draft. On top of that we were more nervous than we have ever been before. There were a lot more mistakes made than we usually make aswell; so a combination of all I would say.
Before the finals Alliance went through the group stage undefeated and you only lost one game to DK in the Winners Bracket. Did you, in any way, expect this? Were you surprised that no team seemed to be able to figure you out?
Of course we were a bit surprised that we did as well as we did. But already at the bootcamp day in Seattle we started to feel quite confident of our playstyle. Though even if we did win the group with 14-0, we took every single game as seriously, and we knew that the hard games would be coming up. So when we lost a game against DK we were not SO demoralized that we couldn’t turn it around and win the third match. Though I have to admit I was quite sad when our streak in TI3 was ruined.
In interviews with other players at TI3 many of them said that Alliance seemed to be the hardest working team; how much did you actually practice during the bootcamp? I’d also like to know how you practice, do you just scrim 5v5 or do you practice trilanes or something similar as well?
Haha well yeah, I did hear that as well. We have surely been practicing A LOT the past year, but at the same time I wouldn’t say we are practicing so much more than other teams. A few teams had a longer bootcamp. I think its more about the quality during training rather than the quantity! We bootcamped [for] 3 weeks, where only the last week was good training.
Honestly, I always get a smile on my face when other teams use us as an example for watching other teams replays and such, because I think we’ve done that like once with the current lineup. There is single player practice though: lasthitting, pulling, warding, 1v1 and so on.
I think that practicing trilanes is something that could be very good, and it’s something we’ve discussed doing, but at the same time Dota is a very hard game to try to recreate in a practice environment like that. 5v5 training is still the best way to do it in my opinion.
Winning The International is pretty hard to triumph, perhaps the only thing would be winning it twice. Do you ever feel like continuing competing is kind of pointless after winning such an event?
That’s a good question! I have to admit that achieving one’s dream was a very weird feeling. When I went back to Sweden after playing for Zenith my goal was to create my own team, where we had a little bit different approach than a lot of other teams. First our goal was the TI3 invite, then once we had that we had our eyes on the prize! After winning it you just have to set your eyes on a new goal, otherwise you wont be able to keep up the same kind of motivation. But at the same time if we win The International again we would be the only team to have done that so it would be an even crazier achievement to be honest. Na’Vi has been VERY close to doing it, but it still feels like it’s almost impossible for the same team (same roster) to win it twice.
What kind of reactions were you met with at home after you won TI3?
Good ones! We’ve gotten a lot more recognition from Swedes in general I think, and it’s a lot more common that people walk up to us for photos or autographs!
If TI2 was all about China flexing their muscles as the strongest scene in the world TI3 was all about the western scene proving that they can be just as good as the Eastern scene. However, many still seem to believe that China is the best place for a team to grow strong; LGD.int are staying in China and Rattlesnake.int is set to move there in a couple of months. Is this still a viable way to build a strong team?
LGD.int always felt that their place to be is China, but I think their reason for staying there is a lot due to culture as well, they just genuinely like the country. I feel that anywhere that has a good and active scene is a viable place to build a strong team. I was never one of those that felt that “The Chinese are just so much better in every single way.” I felt that the way they ran teams, how serious and professional they were about it, and so on, was the reason to their success. They do have some insanely skilled players, but as I keep saying: DotA is and will always be a team game, and the best team will end up winning. The best way to reach success at this point is to have some experience from all the scenes in my opinion. You need to know how other teams play, or rather FEEL how they play. You can watch 100 replays, but it will never be the same as playing one real game on LAN versus the Chinese (or SEA).
I have great faith in both teams for next year, but personally I’m rooting for LGD.int! I’ve played together with Pajkatt and Misery in more than one previous team and I still love those guys!
The great shuffle is finally finished and the Dota 2 scene has awoken from its post-TI3 coma. Just by looking at the rosters, which team gained the most from the shuffle?
I think that us and Na’Vi gained the most; stability before everything else! Other than us I would probably say DK and iG from China and Empire from Europe. I mean DK has just turned into a BEAST with their new lineup, iceiceice and especially Mushi seems to be destroying the opponents in China. iG looks really strong as well, Hao is one of the best carry players out there at the moment, and the rest of the team is, as we already know, very good. I’m happy that Banana can get some space on a team like this as well, though it saddens me that Chuan may retire.
Empire just has a very strong lineup at the moment. I think it was a really good decision of them to poach some players from Iccup (I had great faith in that team) and then finalizing it with Silent as carry. They will need time to improve of course, but I think the chances of them making it to the next TI is quite big. VP is also a team that could become a success story, but it depends on whom they’ll add as carry I feel.
A while ago you played Team Liquid in WePlay where they picked up Medusa and Elder Titan which they also defeated you with. We have seen Elder Titan a couple of times already and he seems like a quite viable pick, the commentators even suggested he might be first ban/pick material. Do you agree?
Without a doubt he will be (if he is not already) first ban/pick material. The hero is just too strong to be honest, and I’m 99% sure he will be nerfed in the next patch. Bulba will obviously hate me for saying that though!
[Note: This interview was conducted on 10th October 2013, a week before 6.79 was released. Loda was in fact, right, Elder Titan did receive a nerf.]
Medusa is a risky hero, if she doesn’t have a somewhat good start she can easily end up doing nothing at all. Do you feel she is strong enough to have a part in the meta after teams have started getting used to the new Stone Gaze?
Well it’s very hard when it comes to heroes that haven’t really been used to their full potential. I believe that Medusa is rather weak at the moment to be honest, if you don’t count the fact that her ultimate is damn strong! She just gets efficient too late in the game. At the same time I’m quite certain that there are some special strats where Medusa could fit perfectly, but we’ll just have to wait and see I guess. I’m quite sure it wont get as popular as it was for a while in Dota though.
Alliance has a busy autumn ahead with a lot of tournaments and LANs. How are you going to prepare for these? Are you moving back into the apartment in Stockholm again for another bootcamp?
I’m not sure to be honest. We haven’t discussed it in details. Since we are going to be travelling a lot I doubt that we will put in a bootcamp on top of that. We will pretty much be busy travelling and playing from mid November to mid December. At some point we will get ourselves a team house though.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, are there any additional words or shoutouts you would like to add?
Thanks to all my fans out there, shoutout to my team, my lovely girlfriend Kelly and our sponsors Razer, XMG and Monster!
Images thanks to VALVe
Written by Erik Barge