Alliance is one of those staple names in history that has contributed towards the development of the esports scene in general, especially Dota 2. Having won The International 2013 with a legendary roster consisting of Loda, Akke, Bulldog, EGM and s4, they were once the dominant powerhouse that took the entire Dota 2 scene by storm. However, post TI3, Alliance started fading away from their glory days and in the past few years they have been unable to make their in the scene.
With Jonathan "Loda
" Berg stepping down as a player, Alliance were looking to assemble a team that'd represent the brand at the highest levels of competition. They were quick to assemble a roster consisting of miCKe, Insania, Taiga, Boxi and Qoqjva to duke it out in the TI8 qualifiers although the team failed to make it to Vancouver, Canada for the event. However, they decided to stick together and have met with considerable success at the recently concluded Kuala Lumpur Major
and ESL Hamburg
qualifiers as well as taking the gold at WePlay's Reshuffle Madness
Esports Heaven was lucky enough to have a chat with Max "qojqva
" Broecker, one of the most prolific and mechanically gifted players the scene has ever seen. He discusses on a wide array of topics such as his recruitment to Alliance, his absence from the scene due to his temporary break, thoughts of Loda as a coach, team's plan after failing to qualify for TI8 and much more.
Hey Max. Firstly, congrats on qualifying for KL Major as well as ESL Hamburg. Alliance displayed some tremendous execution towards the game. How does it feel to be back in the bigger circuit of competition?
Hey, thank you! It feels very good to be back to playing LANs again. I've had mixed success in the last 1-2 years so this is a nice change and I'll continue to work hard in order for us to do well at upcoming LAN's.
You were chosen as Loda's replacement at Alliance and those are some pretty big shoes to fill. After all, you're playing for a team as well as replacing a player that has won TI in a very dominant fashion. How did this recruitment come to fruition? Who approached you?
Well I've played with Micke and Insania before, that's how they knew me. When Loda decided to take the mantle of a coach they thought I would be a good fit for the team and thus approached me.
You're one of those players that has taken a step away from competitive gaming in the past only to come back stronger. Why did you decide to take a break in 2015? How difficult was the decision?
In 2015 I was not hungry for success. If you're not hungry to win then you are not gonna win, it's as simple as that. When I played less and less Dota back then I missed it more and more. After a few months I started playing a lot and started to improve again. I became addicted to the game again and 2 or 3 months ago Insania and myself even had sort of a daily challenge: whoever plays more games a day wins that day. We started with like 16 games a day and ended the challenge with like 21-22 games a day. It was insane!
Nonetheless, you came back to the scene with No Diggity (later known as Escape Gaming) and participated at TI and DreamLeague thereafter. This is 2016 that we are talking about and you've just qualified for KL Major and ESL Hamburg. That's a pretty solid gap of 2 years of not playing on a bigger stage. What is the difference between Qojqva of 2016 and Qojqva now?
I think during those two years I matured a lot as a player. I started thinking in more of a team aspect if that makes sense. I used this time to practice new heroes as a big hero pool is always an advantage. I think I work much harder now and play more in general as well as practice a lot of 1v1's.
You were recruited at Alliance during a period where the team was at it's lowest as the once dominant Alliance was but a shadow of their former glorious stature. The task of being recruited just before the TI8 qualifiers must have been daunting. What emotions were you going through at that point of time?
There was not much time to prepare for the The International 2018 qualifiers. With the limited amount of time that we had and being a new team it was a difficult qualifier. After the TI qualifiers though we had a lot of time to try out and find things that work for us.
The new generation at Alliance has stuck it out despite not being able to qualify for TI8. Was it predetermined that the team would stick together no matter the result at the time or during the time of your recruitment?
We had a talk after we lost the TI8 qualifiers if we all wanted to keep playing with each other and we did. We were all bummed out of course but I think we all knew the team just needed a little bit of more time to succeed.
As mentioned before, you previously played with Micke and Insania on Tuho. How are they as team-mates? How well do y'all gel? By the way, it'd be rude to leave out Taiga and Boxi too, so don't forget them! :)
I liked playing with Micke and Insania, because they are easy-going and already back then I saw that they have the potential to become very good. I think we all, Boxi and Taiga included, get along really well outside of game too. Everyone is just hungry to win which is why I enjoy playing in this team a lot.
Alliance has basically focused on fielding an all Swedish line-up. This time around, however, that isn't the case. Do you've any knowledge on this?
They might have put emphasis on that in the past for communication purposes, but I never had the feeling that I wasn't welcome due to me not being Swedish. (smiles)
Besides qualifying for the aforementioned tournaments, you also won WePlay's Reshuffle Madness. How is it playing an online tournament after all these years that has a substantial prize money? Does it jog any memories of the good old online days?
Yeah it's so different playing from home when you play all these qualifiers at the boot-camp. But I always get used to my setup at home quickly again so that's no problem. I remember back in the day where playing online was the norm. Good old days!
Alliance has been on the dominant side related to performances. However, you dropped the series against Ferzee in the UB finals only to meet them in the grand finals once again where you took a convincing clean sweep over them. What do you think went wrong in the earlier series and what went right in the grand finals? Any differences the team particularly worked out on?
We played the Upper Bracket finals on the same day of us travelling home from boot-camp. Probably something we will try to avoid in the future since everyone just wanted to go to sleep. We were confident we would win against them in the finals if we all just try and give our best!
Speaking of which, Alliance still has a long way to go. According to you, what needs to be worked on and which area/s is the team currently lacking in?
Good question, kinda hard for me to say at the moment. I think it'll become more clear when 7.20 is released. Whoever can figure out a new patch the fastest usually dominates for a while.
The big question is how do you expect Alliance to fare at LAN events against bigger teams?
I think it depends. We will get some LAN experience before the Major and see what we struggle with so that we can sort it out. I'm confident that if we keep working hard we can do well at the Major!
How does Loda contribute towards the team ever since he assumed the role of a coach? What perspective do you gain in your role from his mentoring?
Loda gives us an objective opinion, which is always helpful to have in case we get close-minded about things. After the games he tells us what he felt went wrong and what we should work on.
What is your opinion on the new DPC season from the perspective of a player?
I have not attended events last year so it's hard for me to judge how busy and stressful exactly it was but I imagine, since it was so many tournaments, that players needed more breaks. Our schedule is already packed this month but it's nice to attend events at the same time!
Strongest teams as of this moment, according to you? Also, who'd you want to face more eagerly at KL Major?
LGD, Secret, Liquid. I want Liquid to win the Minor so that we face them in the Major.
Tell us about your teammates in one sentence.
Alright, that's a wrap. Anything you'd like to say before signing off?
- Boxi : barks a lot and makes a lot of noise but in his heart he's a nice puppy,
- Taiga : will be exactly like Bulba in 2-3 years.
- Insania : if he wouldn't be a Dota player he'd be a rapper.
- Micke: To the outside world Micke seems like a quiet talented kid but once u get to know him hes a big clown.
- Marcus: one of the most professional managers I've ever had, very easy to work with.
I'd like to thank Alliance, DXRacer and Monster and all Alliance fans for the continuous support and thank you Karan for the Interview!
You may also want to read DotaHaven's analysis guide on Alliance.miCKe's Anti-Mage here
If you would like to know more about my work, you can follow me at KarY.
Feature image credits: Alliance
Image credits: GosuGamers