by Sören ‘Fantasy’ Vendsahm
This week I was able to talk with the new compLexity DOTA team’s captain, Kyle “swindlemelonzz” Freedman. We were able to get a look into the process of transitioning to a new game, selecting a roster, setting goals, and joining up with a professional gaming organization. Enjoy this look into one of the mind of one of the brightest up-and-coming captain’s in DOTA.
Hey Swindle, thanks for taking the time out of your busy practice schedule for this interview. First, want to talk a bit about your past. You’ve recently switched from HoN to DOTA 2. What was the hardest thing to get used to in the new game?
Turn rates and attack animations for sure. Players switching from HoN to DOTA often complained of how laggy it was (myself included), but it’s really just a huge variance in individual hero’s turn rates, whereas in HoN nearly every hero can stop and change direction on a dime. 100-150 games and you get used to it, but man was it frustrating at first. The other thing that takes getting used to is being forced to click on enemy heroes to see how much mana they have remaining, whereas in HoN it’s simply displayed under the health bar.
Was there also the opposite effect? Things you got into really quick and easy because of the extensive HoN history?
QoP for sure. I think every ex-HoN player loves qop. Other than that, utilizing blink dagger. I love DOTA’s blink. HoN’s had 75 mana cost and a 15 second cooldown; using one in DOTA is amazing in comparison. I almost always played the initiator role, and my main heroes all revolved around buying an early blink. In DOTA you just buy a blink no matter what hero you’re playing, and boom – viable.
Why did you decide to leave HoN and go to DOTA 2 at the time you did?
I thought I was done with gaming entirely after we won the last HoN Tour World Finals. It was our fifth lan win – my goal all along – and I thought I was ready to move on in life. Then I saw the prize pool for TI4 just go up, and up, and up, to the point where even placing in the top 8 could drastically change your life. The tipping point was when I realized peterpandam had a legitimate chance to win five million dollars.
PPD is a very nice segway into the position you have in the team. You drafted in HoN, you now draft in DOTA 2 – with much more scrutiny from the community. What would you say is the biggest thing you have to adapt to in terms of the draft?
For starters I need to play more, much more. As of this interview I’m just about hitting the 3 month mark since starting my DOTA 2 career. I’ve only been actively scrimming/playing in tournaments for maybe…3 weeks. The wonderful thing about DOTA is that there are so many unique heroes that do completely different things for your lineup. There’s no hero that could replace say, a Pugna, a Furion, a Brew, a Rasta, so I’d say the hardest thing as far as adapting goes is just figuring out how ALL of the heroes fit into the metagame at large. It’s something that requires lots of scrims, lots of replays, and lots and lots of work :).
swindlemelonzz and brother Zfreek hoist the trophy at Garena Star League 2013
Do you have any ties in the competitive scene of DOTA 2 to assist you in those matters? Or are you learning it from scratch?
For the most part I’m learning from scratch, with assistance from the rest of my team. I have a few friends in the pro DOTA scene that I can ask for tips and tricks, but in my opinion you learn much more rapidly and effectively by reviewing your own mistakes and failures versus listening to someone else describe theirs to you. I was an awful drafter in HoN for quite a while before finding success, I won’t be surprised if I’m the same in DOTA for a little bit.
Reddit certainly agrees with that opinion. Are you phased at all by the criticism?
A couple years ago, definitely. Now, it’s just noise. As Teddy R said, “The credit belongs to the man actually in the arena.”
Switching gears from you as an individual to you as a captain. Can you walk us through the process of forming this team? How did you pick the players?
Quite simple, really. Zak and Limmp were my teammates in HoN; I would choose the two of them over any other players in the game. I’ve wanted to play with Riser for a while, even offered him a spot on my team a full year ago. He declined then, but we still remained friends. The last spot was tough, we were really hoping to get Chessie, which would have been my dream team. When I realized that wasn’t likely we tried out a few people; none of them really impressed us. That led to Moon. It might appear to an outsider that he’s, well, an outsider, but his mindset and dedication match what we required exactly. No one on the team is pursuing further education. We don’t have a backup plan. We will succeed in DOTA not because we want to, but because we HAVE to. It is hard to bring five people together who share an almost unhealthy desire for victory. Luckily for us, we have.
In HoN, you and Moon sometimes collided verbally. Was that an issue?
When I approached him at first about the team I was planning on just extending him a tryout offer. However, from around 1 AM to about 5 AM we spoke at lengths about what transpired in the past, our prospects with compLexity, our mutual plans and goals, and most importantly why we both wanted to win so badly. By the end of the conversation I knew he was going to be the right player for us, and I straight up offered him the spot on the team. I do not foresee any issues caused by our personalities clashing, nor do either of us hold any lingering grudges.
You keep talking about the desire for success, the need to win. First you have to grow together as a team though, right? What are reasonable expectations in the short term?
I honestly have no idea. At the moment, we’re bad (by our standards). There is a long road ahead of us. My only promise is that from now until our inevitable dissolution we will be the hardest working team in the world. Obviously we want to succeed, and succeed as soon as possible, but I have no idea how long that might take.
Team stayGreen on stage after winning the 2014 HoN Tour World Finals
If there are no set short term goals, what are long term goals that you guys set for yourself?
Our ultimate goal is to be the first team to win more than one International.
That’s a fairly big goal to set. Are you worried at all, that this pressure you guys put on yourself might work against you someday?
Better to aim too high and miss, than too low and hit. We don’t want to find limited success and become complacent. Most will call this goal unreachable, even impossible. If we are unable to win an International we will be considered a failure – what better way to ensure we always remain diligent and motivated?
That’s a nice way to look at it. To become the best, you also have to prepare against the best. What is your training routine and scrim schedule look like currently?
We play a minimum of 5 hours a day scrimming together as a team, with an additional 4+ hours of matchmaking or alternative training methods. At present we are winning too many scrims, which suggests it is time to find better opponents so that we can lose far more often.
Where would you see yourself within the NA scene at the moment?
Outside of the top three. We really want to go to ESL, thus it is imperative we make to the top three as soon as possible, preferably yesterday.
If you aiming for ESL One, you also aiming to play against the top teams on this planet. You have any team you are most eager to face off against?
Ask any educated fan 😉
Fair enough. We talked about the members of the team, we talked about your goals, the thing we haven’t touched on is the organization. How did you get to be with compLexity?
Zak, Riser, and I have been friends with Beef for quite a while now, seen him at a few LANs as well. He set up a meeting with the Jasons, who were familiar with our HoN history. We said some things that they liked, they gave us an offer and we accepted.
Were there any other teams or sponsors approaching you?
No. We had planned to go without a formal organization, much like we did in HoN. I don’t think we’d have signed with any other organization.
Good news for coL then. To close this interview, can you tell your fans tournaments in the near future where they will get a chance to see you?
When this interview goes live we’ll be playing in the WePlay tournament. We also have ESL qualifiers this weekend. Other than that, we’ll play anything and everything we get invited to.
Awesome! Have any final words, thoughts or shoutouts?
Big shoutout to my dad, without whom my career in gaming would have ended a long time ago as a miserable failure. My mom and my four younger brothers for their constant support, both in and out of game. Thanks to compLexity for having an incredible amount of faith in a team that offered nothing but a promise to work hard. Thanks to all of our sponsors, Sound Blaster, CyberPower PC, Creative, Twitch, Corsair, DXRacer, Scuf Gaming, and PWNIT WEAR. And of course, huge thanks to all the fans that have stuck with me throughout the years. We will not disappoint.
Big thanks to swindlemelonzz for taking the time for this interview. You can check out the new coL.DOTA team playing in lots of events in the near future, and make sure to enter our contest to win the same gear used by the coL.DOTA team!