Ninjaboogie, also known as Michael Ross, is one of the rising stars in the Southeast Asian region. He switched to Dota 2 from HoN in early 2012 representing Duskbin. However, he would catch his first real success at Neolution.int in 2013 that gave his career the required boost.
Ever since there's no stopping this young fella as he performed under various organisations such as Rave, Execration as well as Mineski until most recently where he joined TNC Predator post TI8.
Esports Heaven was lucky enough to have the chance to interview the charismatic captain who's looking forward to compete in the upcoming season and reiterate the success he found at Mineski with his new home; TNC Predator.!
Hey Ninjaboogie. Firstly, congratulations on qualifying for the Kuala Lumpur Major. How does it feel to qualify for the season’s first major with a new team altogether?
I was nervous coming up to the qualifier because our results in training wasn't as good as I wanted but we kept improving on a day to day basis. It seems everything just clicked when it was game time!
You were part of the Mineski roster before joining TNC Predator that saw quite a bit of success such as winning a Minor and Major as well as DAC. What went wrong at The International 2018 that led to a sub-par performance from Mineski?
I believe there were a lot of things wrong with the team but I will only speak of my own issues. During the last couple months of TI I just didn't feel comfortable playing in the team anymore because of that I played terribly in TI.
When did you make the decision to leave Mineski and why? It’s known that Mushi is often that person who pushes his teammates to achieve excellence, however, that creates a lot of pressure. Was it one of the reasons why you ended up leaving the team?
To be honest I didn't make the decision to leave Mineski. Contracts were up and they didn't want to keep me as a player so I respected their decision and approached TNC. I have no issues with Mushi, yes he has that attitude but it's because of that attitude that I was able to learn and improve so much during my time with him as a teammate.
How did you end up joining TNC Predator? Why did you end up on joining TNC as opposed to other offers that you might have gotten? What exactly made you think that TNC is the perfect fit for you?
I approached them. I'm all new when it comes to this TI shuffle and having to be aggressive to get a new team. That's not the type of person I am so I had no confidence to approach teams trying to sell my abilities. But after a couple days of thinking about where I think I could fit and who I wanted to play with, I decided to approach TNC.
Even though we managed to knocked them out of TI, I believe they were the strongest SEA team. Having played against them so much over the year I always respected the fact that they stick to their play-style and that's a team I want to be part of.
Besides the core roster of TNC, Gabbi is one of the newest recruits. What do you make of him? Did you have a say in him joining the team?
I was worried at first because he has the least experience among all the players in the team. The team wanted to stick to being all Filipino so I do believe he is the next best choice. He still has a lot to learn but under our guidance hopefully we can bring out the best in him. But if I were to summarise everything I've seen from him, he has definitely impressed me.
TNC doesn’t have a coach as opposed to many teams that currently employ such services. Are there any plans on recruiting one as of now? Do you think it’s needed? Also, how does having a coach benefit the team?
We have had a talk about that and I don't believe we have plans on getting a coach. As captain of the team, I would prefer if we focus on getting an analyst for the upcoming major just to help with data collection. The reason why I believe we aren't ready for a coach is because we are still learning how to be a team. Having another mind would just complicate things. Yes, you can argue that it could help things but i believe this is something we want to overcome on our own.
According to you, which SEA teams can be your biggest competitors? It can be one or more .. up to you. (smiles)
Fnatic and Mineski (when they bounce back)
Let’s talk about KL Major SEA qualifiers for a bit. TNC qualified admirably to the main event, however, it was a close call. You suffered defeat at the hands of Fnatic twice and had a tough fight against Lotac. As a captain, what do you think the team lacked in those games? On which area does TNC need to focus on so as to improve their play?
I told the team after we qualified that we need on work on closing out the qualifier. I'm not sure if its the nerves or emotions but I realised we had troubles closing out the series when its one game away. The decisions made in game were rush and I take the blame for not being able to control the team better. The series against Lotac should have been a 2-0 and I learned a lot about what the team needs to improve on after that series.
Speaking of tournaments, this year’s DPC has 5 Majors and Minors each as opposed to the hefty number of events last season. How is this for a change as compared to before? Do shed some light on this topic and mention the pros and cons, if any.
As a player, the new DPC makes me feel like we don't have to join all events and can avoid being burned out. So many changes keep happening every year and I don't really put much thought on the changes. If you play well and do well nothing else matters
How is the atmosphere within the team ever since it got together? Also, why did you end up taking the captain’s mantle? How does your role as a support help you see things differently as a captain? What are the key differences?
The atmosphere in the team is good. The foundation of the team is still intact with Armel, Kuku, and Tims so it is just me and Gabbi adjusting. The team and management have been very welcoming. The team was looking for a captain and I approached them and told them that I feel capable to lead them. As a support you are used to looking at the bigger picture as you aren't just thinking about yourself.
It's not unheard of to be able to do the same as a core player but it definitely gets difficult once you have a bad game and need to focus more on yourself rather than the team. I was put as the captain of Mineski for sometime but the difference with then and now is I don't have any trouble expressing myself as I feel comfortable with the team.
Explain your teammates in one sentence each!
Kuku - The joker of the team
Tims - The guy who tilts the easiest (especially when he has a losing streak in pubs)
Armel - Person who is always eager to learn
Gabbi - Surprisingly calm player (even after getting first blooded and his magic wand recipe destroyed)
Alright, that’s a wrap. Thank you for the interview. Anything you’d like to say?
Nope I'm all good. Thanks for the interview.
If you would like to know more about my work, you can follow me at KarY.
Feature image credits: GosuGamers