" Nielsen is one of the staple names in Dota 2 industry and is a man of many talents. From being a pro player to a caster as well as an analyst, Synderen is one of those versatile personalities with deep in-game knowledge that only a select few are aware of.
He's been to every The International either as a pro player or as a broadcast talent and is popular for his casting alongside Toby "TobiWan
" Dawson and together they have created so many memorable moments that one can only be nostalgic about.
EsportsHeaven had the chance to have a casual chat with Synderen and discuss on a wide array of topics such as his dynamic and captivating chemistry with TobiWan, thoughts on the versatile talent line-up this TI, a brief overview on the DPC season, meta expectations at TI8 and much more.
Hey Synderen! Congratulations on being invited to TI8 as a talent. What do you feel is going to be different this year other than the change in venue?
Thanks! Well, it's a lot of new things. Being in a different country should definitely make for a different experience. Since the last six TIs have been in Seattle, everyone had kind of got accommodated to the area and what was available. This time it's new for everyone!
You'll be attending TI8 as a caster, and your compatibility with TobiWan is one of the best that Dota 2 has to offer. What makes this duo so interesting?
I think half of it is nostalgia and familiarity. We've been casting events together on-and-off for ages, so many people probably connect a lot of their enjoyment of watching Dota 2 with our casting. The other half is just the way we complement each other in our work and have lots of experience casting together. We're good at giving each other space and making the commentary flow, and since we know how each other works so well, we can play to our strengths.
Besides pairing up with TobiWan, is there anyone else you'd like to cast with considering the vast talent line-up this season at TI8?
I like working with lots of different people, so any pairing of play-by-play + me would be fine. I also think it could be fun to do one or two really analytical casts with Kyle or BSJ, for example, but I don't think Valve will want to experiment with that at TI.
Speaking of which, this time around the talent line-up is versatile to say the least with both; old and new faces being invited. What do you make of this considering new talents continue to struggle to make their mark onto the scene?
It's good to see that so many people got invited. I like the variety and it's good that there's something for everyone's taste. It also ensures that the work load stays reasonable for everyone involved. As far as new talent, I'm happy to see new people getting to work at TI. It's really rewarding for them and keeps the broadcasting scene in development. Hopefully some of the talent who didn't make it this year continue to work and get their chance next time around.
I still vividly remember the Captain Jack Sparrow duet song both of you sung. Can we expect something similar in the near future and on which song, if possible?
That's many years ago and it was a different time. I don't think we'll do something like that again.
Every year around TI the competition keeps on getting intense. What do you expect out of teams from different regions in terms of performance?
I expect the teams who are strongest in lane mechanics and have solid drafting to go far. Lanes are more important than ever right now. Some notable teams in that regard would be Virtus.Pro, Team Liquid and PSG.LGD. I expect all 3 teams to at the least reach top 8, most likely top 6.
I've asked this questions in my previous interviews as well. Tell us in short what you make of the old and new DPC season? What can be done better?
I still think there's work to be done. You have to try out the system to see how its implementation works in our community. There's been some attempts with different versions of roster locks so far, and the issue seems to be that teams ultimately (at least this season) didn't care and just ended up going through open qualifiers, basically rendering the roster lock relatively useless.
Apart from that, I think it's still too hard for tier 2 and 3 teams to be sustainable, and would love to see some work done to benefit them and grow the scene. The original idea of the minor/major split seemed to be exactly that, but the minors ended up almost always having 2-3 top tier teams that would just clean house. Perhaps something could be done to separate the tournaments into a more "division"-type structure, to help the tier 2 and tier 3 teams. Currently, Dota 2 is exceptionally top heavy.
As a player, you've struggled for the past few years for various reasons with roster instability being one of the major issue. What can we expect from you in this aspect in the coming season?
I'm still interested in playing in the coming season. It depends on what players are available and if the project is something I believe in. I'd be especially looking to join another team instead of building something myself from scratch, but we'll see what happens.
I do wish you luck in your upcoming endeavors. Let's talk about the meta for a moment. For someone with deep knowledge of the game, what kind of game-play/meta are you expecting at TI8?
I'm expecting that a decent amount of games will be realistically decided sub-15 minutes (that doesn't mean the teams will GG at that point, but that it's pretty clear where the game is headed). This will happen when one team is severely out-picked in lanes and end up getting 2 or even 3 almost impossible lanes.
Apart from that, there's hopefully going to be a lot of close games with even lanes that end up in exciting mid-game team-fights. Dota 2 right now is very fast, so it's about being able to quickly transition from a good laning stage into a strong mid game. High tempo cores that have solid laning and supports that are independent of items and strong in lane (so for example not heavily dagger-reliant supports like Sand King or Earthshaker) will be prevalent picks.
Have you ever considered coaching a team again?
Yes, and I did actually coach Alliance during The Manila Major. I enjoyed it, and it may be something I do at some point again in the future, but for now it's not on the top of the priority list.
Do explain your views on openAI vs Humans Dota 2 match that concluded few hours ago?
It was interesting to see how far the development of the AI has come. I actually thought it was only able to play mirror match, but it has an understanding of counter-picking and playing against a decent sub-set of heroes now.
I'm curious to see how much they can progress before TI, and obviously especially when they are adapted to play "real" Dota 2 (currently, they play with 18 specific heroes and have an invulnerable courier each to use among other limitations. This basically means that the players are playing the bots' game and not vice versa, but we'll get there).
Who do you think will lift the Aegis this time?
Always hard to call, but if tradition is to remain, an Eastern team has to win this time around. In that case, I consider PSG.LGD the favorite, but I would say this year there's probably realistically a handful of teams in contention for the victory.
This concludes the interview. All the best at TI8, eagerly looking forward to your casting. Anything you'd like to say?
Thank you to everyone for reading and showing interest. I wish you all a great TI8.
Image credits: ESL, Valve
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