What does it take to win a long game?
With the clock almost hitting the hour mark, IVY's networth against Brame was 100k+ gold. But the players were in no hurry to counterattack considering the megacreeps, carefully clearing their own base from these endless waves and waiting for the right moment. Legit: enemy Lycan had a Rapier and Travel Boots, so leaving the base building on their own could be fatal. Still, the defending team knew they had to wait for the right moment and execute it.
Since it was a match-deciding map for Jonas "jmn" Matz's team, one could imagine the pressure. Nevertheless, they managed to win and then turned it all around on the third. Jonas himself admits: the squad felt calm and confident.
"I wouldn't say nervous, but we knew if we played safe, we cannot lose. So we had no stress, we were just playing it safe, just picking them off. Terrorblade had a really rough game, he got Chronoed every time he tried to push. We weren't nervous or anything, we just played it super safe so we can't lose".
In an exclusive interview with Blix.gg, IVY's hard support Ivy Jonas "jmn" Matz spoke about:
• Org's current state in the WEU DPC Division II
• His teammates, the responsibilities, and the original forming
• Early career and connections with other games
• Degree in electrical engineering and hard life choices (spoiler: favoring what's closer to the heart)
• National tournaments and German players
• DPC system, the future of esports, and a desperate need for more tournaments
• Combining tasks and planning for the future.
Brame Game And State
"The mood is very good. When we beat Brame, even though we were huge underdogs and everyone was pretty sure we're gonna lose against them, we were confident and we knew that we could beat them. And now we're super happy, we are in a good state. So right now there's a very positive attitude in our team and we are looking forward to the next games and even to the TI Qualifier. I mean, we're still not super good, but we're progressing a lot right now. And I think we maybe have a chance."
Even though this Brame game wasn't a record-breaking one (Elephant and their 150k+ lead in a match against EHOME seem forever unrivaled), it was still utterly entertaining.
"It's hard to finish a game so late because it's always risky. And we know if we play safe, we cannot lose. And even if there's only 1% chance to lose, we are out 0-2. So we just wanted to make sure to have all lanes outpushed because if we don't push out the lanes, they can maybe back to our throne, although they couldn't fight us in team fight, they could just kill our throne. And we were very scared of that. And we knew if we play it safe, we cannot lose. So that's why we just took some time."
In games like this, who do you think should be the person to call?
"In this game, specifically Faceless Void was super important because his Chrono is the biggest team fight spell. So he has to decide when we go, but generally, in a situation like this, you always have to look out for the sidelanes when you're playing against megacreeps. But generally, I think the carry or the strongest hero will make the calls.
What's next for your team?
"We're very happy, but I think it's still not easy. There are still some good teams, and we have to beat Into The Breach, DGG, and Team Bald. They're not weak. So we're not really planning that much ahead. We're taking every game as a hard game and we're not underestimating any opponents. So right now, we really haven't planned what to do after this season. The focus is on improving, taking every game seriously, and having fun because if you have fun, you improve the fastest."
Teammates And Forming IVY
Originally, the team was Mo13ei, low-skill, TheBloodySky, Qupe, and jmn. They formed to take part in a national tournament, the ESL Meisterschaft, a German national league. And eventually, the gang decided to play international. But they lost Tim "TheBloodySky" Meese-Marktscheffel on the way as he got invited to SimplyTooBased and went to NA.
They had to find a new offlaner. Jan "Qupe" Tinnemeier suggested Runec, or Bektur "Max" Kulov, since he knew him for some time. Max was invited two days before the open qualifier, and the team happened to show good synergy.
"Lowskill is a pretty young guy. He's been on the pro scene only for about two years; we discovered him for this national league one and a half years ago. And he really developed into a very good player, rank 50 in high skill, even though his name's Lowskill. [chuckles] I think he's also best player from, from his country.
"Fabian 'Mo13ei' Knehr is a German player who has been playing for a long time. He's played Heroes of Neverth also for a long time. And he hasn't really been on the pro scene. He has been very high-ranked, but he's a bit shy. We also picked him up for this national league.
"I've known Qupe for ten years or maybe even longer. We're friends from way back, maybe even DotA Allstars. We have also met a lot of times in real life for some German LANs. We wanted to play together.
"Runec [Max] is a friend of Qupe also. They've played together in some tounrmaents and you know how we got him already. So that's how the team got formed."
TheBloodySky was the original team's captain. After resigning, IVY had to find a new player to do the drafts and prepare for games, but also to lead. And this is where things get interesting.
"Mo13ei is doing most of the drafting but we don't really have one captain. We're a team-decision-making team. So everyone will say things. Naturally in games, I think Max is a bit quieter. He's not saying so much. Mo13ei is also not saying so much in the games. It's mostly, I think, lowskill and the supports, Qupe and me who will say a lot. But preparation and drafting, Mo13ei's doing that."
You won't see a lot of midlane players preparing for games and doing their analytics, right?
"Yeah. It's very unique. We also thought about it at first. TheBloodySky was drafting, but when he left and also a bit before he left, we were having some conflicts and Mo13ei tried drafting and I thought it was good. There was some clashing because TheBloodySky had a different style, but yeah, we decided on Mo13ei to draft and we have a lot of faith in him because he has a lot of good ideas. And I think it's a big part of our wins that he's doing a good preparation on enemies and for our team as well."
Jmn's Origins, Esports Career, And University
Jonas first started playing Dota in 2006 in school. As most of the people his age, it was WarCraft 3 custom maps: FootmanFrenzie, ShoppingMall, tower defense maps, etc.
"I asked my friends: 'Hey, what's this Dota, is it a good fun?' And they were like, ah, it's not so cool, and they didn't really wanna play it. But I saw so many lobbies, and eventually I just joined to play. I still remember I started playing when Beastmaster came out. Beastmaster and Spectre.
"And I played Dota in 2006 alongside WC3. Eventually, I stopped playing in 2008 because I tried World of Warcraft and enjoyed a lot. So at that point, I didn't really play Dota anymore. I played some League of Legends, HoN, World of Warcraft but got back to Dota when Dota 2 was released. My good friend Roman 'rmn' Paley, Team Nigma's coach, gave me a key pretty early. And since then, I've been playing Dota 2.
"But competitively, I wasn't really tryharding at all, nor was I trying to get into teams. Even in 2017, I was ranked top in Europe, but I wasn't really looking for a team. I was still going to university back then and finished it in 2017 with my master's in electrical engineering. And then I decided to play some more Dota because I worked already, but I didn't really enjoy it. So I said, okay, I'm gonna do some tutoring and tutored university students after finishing my degree.
"And then Corona came; you couldn't really go outside anymore and meet people. And that's why I stopped doing tutoring and started playing Dota and streaming full time. And since then, I'm pretty happy because, of course, we're not super good tier one team yet, but we've had good progress. I've had some good wins on the national league at WCG, too. So since finishing university, I'm very happy with this. Of course, right now, it's not the best money, but that can also still come. I'm very happy right now with our progress. And I'm looking forward to do this a lot more, of course. If all goes bad, if we're just bad, if I'm not a good player anymore, I will maybe try streaming. But if that also doesn't work out, I will probably go back to being an engineer because you've got to earn money somehow, right?
Do you consider both streaming and being an engineer?
"It needs a lot of energy because when I was working as an engineer for half a year, it was very, very demanding. Every day you've got to work eight hours. It's very, very draining. And when I got home, I didn't really have energy anymore after working. So if I'm working full-time as an engineer, I will probably not stream because you have to chill some, right? Spend some time with your family. I think if you work full time, you can't really stream. Maybe if you're working only 30 hours, but for me, I'd probably stop streaming if I have to work.
There are people or just young players who are on the verge of deciding to drop their careers that they've been working on and start esports. Is it a good idea?
"It always depends. It's important in life to understand what you want to do. And I, at some point, just noticed that this working in a company for 40 hours, doing something I'm not really enjoying, is not really what I want to do. So I decided to try Dota and do that. But I think it's always important to have some plan if it's not working out. Because esports is really hard. You have to also be lucky and it's not guaranteed. For example, if you go to school, if you go to university, it's kind of guaranteed that you'll get a good job. Right? Not always, but it's 90% that you will have a good job and earn good money. So in Dota it's, I don't know, maybe only 20 or 30%. You should always have a backup plan. For example, if you have high MMR in Dota, you should still try to finish school at least, so if you want to study later, you can still do it. But for example, if you already finished your school and you have to decide to go to university now maybe play Dota for a year… I think if you really want to do it, if your your friends, your family is supporting it, I think you can do it and try it."
German Players And National Team
There are local regional Dota 2 tournaments in almost every country, yet they're not really crowded or covered well enough to be noticed. On the other hand, such types of games like WESG or WCG are conducted rarely and do not attract famous players since they require a lot of time to prepare and to play.
Jonas, on his side, has spent lots of time playing, casting, and watching his regional, German tournaments. And he's the person to highlight problems they have and what should be done to fix them.
Can you tell me a little about the German national team? And why doesn't that type of esports work?
"Top players are not really interested most of the time. For example, Kuroky or Fata never wanted to play for Team Germany. So right now, it's very hard for these national tournaments because they're not really taken seriously. There's The International, the most important, the biggest tournament. And that's why most other tournaments are not really that important. For DPC, of course, it works fine because you have to do well on DPC to get to TI, but these national tournaments… They're just not important at all right now because TI is everything. And the other tier tournaments don't really matter.
"Of course, it's also that you have to invest a lot of time in national team because of practice. If you don't practice, you're going to lose. And it's very hard to practice and play for two teams at the same time. You're playing for your normal team, and then you are playing a different style with your national team. It's very hard; it's very time-consuming. I'm not sure how to deal with this problem. But I think right now it's very hard for these national tournaments to have big success because…
I remember when we were playing in China for WCG 2019, all the people there were tryharding, but it was also a bit of a vacation style tournament, not 100% serious.
Current DPC has a lot of great German players: Nine, Fata, almost the whole IVY roster, Stormstormer, 5up, tOfu, Kuroky, TheBloodySky, and others. There has never been a better era of Germans in Dota.
"It's actually interesting. I don't really know why but maybe this national championship. the ESL Meisterschaft kind of boosted the players, because it was a serious tournament. It had a good prize pool, so you could actually play, make some money and live. There's also a German in-house league called the ACL, which is actually Austrian Community League: it includes Germany, Austria and Switzerland. And this league is not 100% competitive because it also allows low skill players, but it was still a tryhard. All of these high rated players, like tOfu, TheBloodySky, Mo13ei, they all played in this league. And I think it improved their skill a lot and brought this tryhard atmosphere as well. So I think these two tournaments on a national level kind of helped the German players develop."
Surviving in Div II
There's not a lot of third-party tournaments happening with the DPC seasonal leagues on. For smaller orgs, as well as for their players, it becomes a struggle to find stable incomes or at least win some cash from prize money.
"Right now, for Division II teams, it depends. If you are in a cheap country, you can live from the money maybe, but if you are not living in a cheap country, you have to get money somewhere else because we got $7,000 last season for sixth place. Seventh and eighth places didn't even get anything. So you cannot really live from this money. You have to do some other job, a part-time side job, or well, have someone in your life who will give you money, parents, family, friends. Right now, you cannot really live from Division II money only. We are kind of lucky because IVY is paying us decent salary. Of course, it's not like if you work a normal, super stable job with a university degree, but still, it helps. And the prize money. For me, it's streaming that also is giving me some money. That's how I can live. But if you only want to play Dota, you cannot really live from Division II. That's kind of sad right now.
"Look at how many games are being played. For one season, you play seven games. It's a bit weird. I think in Dota, you always want to show every game on the internet, and that's why they have so little games: they want to show every game, cast every game, have every game on the Twitch stream. And I think because of that, they can't really have more games.
"It wouldn't really be possible to stream more games and that's kind of an issue. In some traditional sport, like football for example, every team has 34 games per season, which is more, but not every game will be streamed. That's kind of an issue with esports. League of Legends has a similar structure where there's only one official league and not really many third party tournaments. And I'm not really a big fan of it. Honestly, I liked the time a bit more when there were a lot of majors, a lot of minors, some third party tournaments. I think it was cooler for the players as well, but I'm not super unhappy right now."
"It's cool having only one game per week, because it makes every game a bit more important. But this is a lot different compared to LAN Dota, where you have to play a lot of games in a very small time. But I like both styles. Maybe it's not so bad because we will still have LANs with this very short format where we have to play a lot of games, but there's also this online leagues where you have to prepare for every opponent and have some good strategies."
Is DPC Div III Worth It?
Discussions about improving the DPC system happen pretty often, but there is no adequate answer people can vote for unanimously. Jmn also has an idea.
"Maybe there should be a third division. You don't have to offer money or anything, but I think it could be cool to have a third division where games are casted, but it's not about money. Even lower-tiered teams could play and have some fun. Dota is all about the competitive plays and games. Pubs are very toxic, and most of the time, they're not really enjoyable, but many players they're just playing pubs. I think about 90% or maybe 95% have never played anything else than pubs. And I think if the DPC had lower leagues, many people would maybe be interested in playing Captains Mode.
"Back in the days, there was a JoinDOTA league. And it was really big; it had a lot of divisions, around five. And there were even teams in the fifth division playing, and they were having fun. Some 3-4K MMR players were playing captains mode, and they really had fun. Played every week. And I think it would've had a lot more success if Valve was doing it officially.
Do you think that esports and Dota specifically can really have a future like traditional sports being so widespread?
"I think Dota will be a game for a long time, at least 10 years. Maybe it'll go smaller eventually, but I think Dota will be around for at least 10 more years, probably even more."
What are we gonna do when it ends? [both laugh]
"Best case, it never happens. We've seen it with CS:GO; overall, it has been there for more than 22 years, and it's still going strong. At this point, some of these esports, like CS: GO, League of Legends, and Dota will just become like a normal sport.
Back in 1850 or something, when football was a new sport, they probably also said, oh, is this football going to be a thing in 10 years? How long is this football going to be played? And yeah, it's still being played 200 years later.
"And I think some esports could also be played like this. Of course, not every esports is going to live forever, but I think there will be some to live for very, very long times and establish themselves. Right now, League of Legends is the most professional because Riot Games are doing a lot for the game, doing it very professionally. Everyone has normal contracts and normal salaries; they got security, which is kind of missing right now in Dota. In Dota, if you lose, you are out, you will not get any money. It's also cool because if you win, you get big money at TI, but it's not really safe.
"You have to add some stability to the teams. So they know how to plan ahead because if you don't have a stable situation, no one will try to invest. That's also a thing with the Dota compared to League that many players, many sponsors, many teams don't really want to invest into Dota because it was so unstable before DPC. And with DPC, it's getting a bit better, but it's still not really as stable as, for example, League of Legends. And I think for a sport, you have to add some safety because if there's no safety, I don't think it'll be long term.
"Dota is of course the best game, but the way the professional scene is being handled, there's still a lot of room for growth, for Doda to become a game for the ages."
Jonas is one of the older Dota players, hitting 31 on July 7th. Fortunately, if he won't succeed in the coming years, he's got a Plan B in electrical engineering, but he doesn't want life to turn that way.
"I already told myself: if I'm not having big success in the Dota scene, if I'm not having big success as a streamer, I will go back to my normal job because I also want to have a family. If my girlfriend and I want to have a child, for example, we have to hurry up in the next five years, for example. By the way, shoutout to my girlfriend. She's very supportive, always watching my games even though she doesn't have a clue about Dota 2. So, I will hate [going back to being an engineer] probably, but I mean, in the end of the day, you have to be responsible: if it's not really working out for you, you have to change path.
"But right now I really want to do esports, I'm also doing some casting on the side, kind of branching out: playing, streaming, casting, consulting here and there. And I think if you're not on the super tier one team, you have to prepare for the worst."