Dota 2 Feature: Tundra Esports talk about their TI11 playoffs run, the tournament meta and the week long break


GosuGamers caught up with Tundra Esports before the TI11 finals week to talk about their amazing run at the tournament.

If there’s one team that has taken everyone by surprise at The International 2022 (TI11), it’s Tundra Esports. Not losing a single series in their group stage games, they went on to demolish OG and Team Aster 2-0 in the upper bracket to secure a place in the top 3 at TI11, thanks to their unique playstyle. As they prepare in the week off to face off against Team Secret in the upper bracket final, GosuGamers caught up with them to talk about their stellar run in Singapore.

Tundra Esports roster:
Oliver “Skiter” Lepko
Leon “nine” Kirilin
Neta “33” Shapira
Martin “Saksa” Sazdov
Jing “Sneyking” Wu
Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling (coach)

 

Hello! Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Hopefully everyone is healthy and well. How is the team feeling?

33: The team is feeling great. We had a few days of rest, and now we are back to the Dota grind to get ready for the finals weekend.

 

Has the realization of being top 3 at TI11 sunk in yet?

Nine: With a break after the first part of the playoffs, there is some time to realize you are in top 3, which can be both good and bad. We are trying not to think about it too much, keeping the same mentality which we have had before, which is just focusing on our game and playing our best.

 

Entering the tournament, what were your realistic expectations at TI11? Did you always feel you would make it to the last day of the tournament?

Nine: We really did not have any expectations coming into TI11. None of the other teams had their eyes on us, and we didn’t feel any pressure. All of us know we are good players and we focused on performing without expectations.

 

Was the change in meta a big factor in your ascent? Do you think you figured out the meta around patch 7.32 better than the other teams?

33: The meta is what you make it to be. As long as you’re confident in your ideas and heroes, you can play whatever feels strong. But I do think our idea of the patch is definitely better than most teams.

33: The meta is what you make it to be. As long as you’re confident in your ideas and heroes, you can play whatever feels strong.

You face Team Secret up next, a team you have faced multiple times throughout the year. What do you think has brought on their resurgence? Did the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) help Team Secret and Team Liquid gain the momentum they needed to make it to the top 4 at TI11?

Aui: I think Team Secret greatly increased their synergy with their roster changes. The LCQ definitely helped them gain momentum and learn a lot, as high-stakes games provide an improved environment for competition. Both teams also got to learn a lot from the Wester European TI11 qualifiers when they lost to Entity, which allowed them to adjust their styles and improve.

Aui: Team Secret greatly increased their synergy with their roster changes. The LCQ definitely helped them gain momentum and learn a lot, as high-stakes games provide an improved environment for competition.

Do you think that the TI11 meta is set in stone, or is there room for exploring some corners and the possibility of seeing some sort of pocket starts or unrevealed starts during the finals weekend?

Nine: I do not think anything is set in stone, and for sure there are unrevealed strats. Some heroes popped up during this tournament and it usually takes some games to figure them out. For example, in the group stages, Shadow Fiend was looking good, but in the playoffs, the hero has won almost no games [1 win in 10 games].

 

After watching the RNG vs Entity game, do you feel like the backdoor protection buff is too big and should be slightly nerfed?

Aui: No, I think RNG had several separate win conditions and didn’t think of any of them. The backdoor protection buff is at a good level right now.

 

When thinking about drafts, what does Tundra Esports value more- the opponent teams’ weaknesses and your personal strengths or the other way around?

Aui: It is a mixture of both. You can’t ruin your draft just to ‘counter’ an opponent, but you also can’t blindly pick only your own comfort heroes. I’d say we favor picking to our strengths if it’s one or the other.

 

How tedious is the process of working on drafting for a particular encounter? How long does that take?

Saksa: During the group stages, it doesn’t take that long. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or two. During the main stage, it’s a much longer process. Usually Aui or Sneyking will come up to people and ask questions on certain matchups and hero priorities. It is a process that goes on for a day or two, and we make the final decision close to game time.

 

If you could pick a highlight of your TI11 run till now, what would it be? What is the best memory that you have from this year?

Skiter: For me, it would have to be the series against Team Aster on the main stage. Everyone brought their A-game, and it all just clicked. There weren’t any indicators of losing those games, even though our coach [Aui_2000] told me after the series was over that we were down around 6000 gold in game 2.

 

What have you been doing in your week off? Has the team gone sightseeing in Singapore, or has it been just concentrating on Dota 2?

Skiter: We took a break for one day, but other than that, the team has been fully focusing on Dota. The usual stuff –  playing pubs, scrimming and reviewing game replays.

 

Is this format of breaking up the playoffs into two parts ideal for the teams, or would it be better to have the playoffs in just one week?

Saksa: It is definitely better to have the playoffs in one week. The week long break ruins the momentum for all the teams and to an extent, also destroys the hype that builds up during the initial matches in the playoffs. Hopefully, this was a one-time thing and we won’t see it again.

Saksa: It is definitely better to have the playoffs in one week. The week long break ruins the momentum for all the teams and to an extent, also destroys the hype that builds up during the initial matches in the playoffs.

 
Thank you for your time, and all the best for the games ahead. Any shoutouts?

33: Shoutout to Tundra Esports [the organization] for all the support in these past two years and to everyone watching and enjoying our games.
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Tundra Esports take on Team Secret in the second series on Saturday the 29th of October, which is scheduled to start at 3:00 pm SGT. The winner of that series will secure top 2 at TI11, and will play in the grand final on the 30th of October.



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