Esports Heaven in partnership with Afkgaming
is proud to bring coverage from ESL One Mumbai 2019 to our viewers. We caught up with Zakari "Zfreek
" Freedman from Complexity Gaming for a little chat.
Zfreek talks about ESL One Mumbai, the ongoing meta in North America, his expectations at MDL Disneyland Major, his advice to youngsters trying to make it in this industry and more.
Hi Zfreek. Welcome to Mumbai. Let’s be honest, this tournament hasn’t been up to your expectations. Is it disappointing after performing so well at MDL qualifiers?
It sucks but it’s not that weird. I think NA has a very different meta going on than most of the international competition and its take a little bit to adjust back to international competition when we have been stuck in NA for a while now. Everyone kind of just gets used to playing against themselves and you know you got to get out in the world to get your ass kicked a bit.
What would help you much better? Attending events like ESL One Mumbai or boot camping somewhere in EU or China?
I think both LAN events and boot camp have their own importance. LAN events help a lot making a player more comfortable playing at the next LAN, of course.
You get a lot of experience and having to adapt to the internal meta at a LAN but at a boot camp you can work on specific things a lot more easily. Everything you do is a secret so you can change up what you’re doing and not worry that other people are still going to look at it. In the end, they both help.
Let’s go a bit back. You started your career in HoN alongside your brother, Kyle. Which one of you started in HoN first?
We got in pretty much at the same time. He played competitively before I did until he made me play with him. Besides that, we got into gaming at the same time
Do you play a lot of sports with your brother because Kyle seems to be the guy who follows a lot of American sports?
We used to play a lot of sports together. Growing up we used to hang out quite a bit so we used to play Tennis, Basketball, Football, Soccer, Baseball, etc – pretty much played everything
When did you decide to get into Dota 2?
It was right around the beginning of TI4, if I remember correctly. It was a couple of months before TI4 when HoN hit a bit of a decline and on the other hand Dota 2 was improving and getting better. It finally didn’t look terrible as it was in the beginning because it looked pretty bad, to be honest.
You spoke about how NA meta is very different from other metas. How do you adapt or change your play style going to a new event?
This is a difficult question to answer. In past years where certain teams were in the upper echelons didn’t have to play in qualifiers. They could just stay in this mode of “we are playing internationally and we know what to do”.
We had to go back and play qualifiers and completely change what won the game because you’d go back to this place where they had a completely different play style.
You don’t adjust to that stuff and end up losing but I think in general it is pretty hard to make the switch. I don’t think there’s a secret to it. You just got to be better.
This year you started off with an almost entirely different roster but now you fully transitioned to a primarily SEA based roster. How has the play style changed as a result of that?
I don’t think the play style changes really that much. I think every time you change a roster irrespective of the region, each player is going to have a different understanding of the game and try to mold everybody to their own style. So it’s probably changed completely but it is hard to say how.
What are your personal expectations as well as coL’s expectations going into the MDL Disneyland Major?
We are pretty confident going to the Disneyland Major. We’ve got a few weeks to get our shit together but I think we’ll be okay. We are either going to do well or get crushed. There’s really no way in-between in Dota 2.
Who are you looking most forward to playing in Disneyland?
I haven’t played Team Secret in a while. I guess we were at the same event in Hamburg recently and we didn’t end up meeting them because we lost before we got to play them. There are really good them right now so it’d be exciting to get crushed by them and watch our replays.
Do you watch Game of Thrones? How would you like for it to end?
Yes I do watch Game of Thrones. I’m rooting for the White Walkers to tear down the wall.
What do you do when you’re not playing Dota 2?
Generally when I don’t play Dota 2, I play other games. Lately, we have been playing Ping Pong all day when we are not playing Dota 2. I also play Apex Legends here and there.
You’ve been obviously playing for a long time. Can you tell me how this scene has changed over the years and how you also have changed? Any significant changes?
I don’t think I’ve changed that much from how I was. I have only got better and better. Every year I look back on my previous year and I go like, “I was shh ..terrible”.
The scene has gotten really serious. There are a lot of people who are grinding day in and day out as a team. The whole team house revolution came about and everyone is pretty much taking the game seriously since there is a lot of money involved.
Obviously NA has a huge esports market and India is just starting off. Do you’ve any advice to the new kids looking to get into Dota 2 in general?
I’m really bad at the “how do I get into the scene advice”. My main advice is to don’t because you shouldn’t give up your life to try. It is really rare that you actually succeed in it. It’s kind of like trying to be a rapper.
Like don’t pull an EE?
Hey it's worked out for him. There are probably ten other EE’s for whom things haven’t worked out for. You just don’t hear about them.
Do you’ve any stories from the old days?
No, none that I can share.
Any shout outs?
Shout out to India. I love the food. You guys actually use spices that are great.
If you would like to know more about my work, you can follow me at KarY.
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Headline image: Complexity Gaming