In the second part of BLIX.GG’s interview with TSM’s Position 1 player Enzo "Timado" Gianoli, he reflects on his career, the support he received from his family, why Dota 2 is so popular in his native Peru, the comparison between North America and South America in pro Dota today, and the significance of playing in the Lima Major.
Reflecting on Timado’s career
Pedro Romero, BLIX.GG: Looking at your career, you've been part of numerous teams from 2016 to 2020, going back and forth between NA and SA. I can only assume it must have been hard for you to undergo all these constant changes in your career. How have you stayed focused and continue to improve during those early years in your career?
Enzo "Timado" Gianoli: Yeah, it's been like a ping pong thing in going back and forth between regions. I think I work the best when I have a challenge, and I just have to accept it. I get an offer and they want to play with me and I'm like, "I'm either good enough or I'm not good enough so I'm gonna be good enough" and I just go over it and there is no time to think about anything else. I just have to do it. I think that's when I work the best.
Naturally, I've always taken the risky options of leaving the region and playing with players I don't know much of and having the risk of maybe getting kicked easily or stuff like that. And whenever I learn something, I always come with lots of excitement to South America.
Whenever I spent a period outside, my mind is like, "these people have a lot to teach me so I'm just gonna absorb everything." And then when it's my time to return again, I'm gonna have so much to teach them. Even now, it's still kind of the case. That's always been my mindset with this whole going back and forth with different regions.
BLIX: Was there any particular moment in time in which you felt you were not good enough?
Timado: Yeah, I felt my my share of imposter syndrome different times. When I first went to TI, I felt like I was not good enough. I was just there. I felt I didn't really deserve it; I wasn't good enough; and then I played some matches and I felt I was good enough; and then I lost and then I again felt wasn't good enough.
Then I had times where--I think VGJ was a really hard lesson for me because I got replaced by Resolut1on who was a much better player at the time than me on the mid-lane/carry role and I realized if you don't actively devote your heart to being the best ever, then you run the risk of being replaced by someone else and there is nothing you can complain to anyone. He was just better, and the team made the right move. I cannot blame them for doing that.
It was just understandable and very reasonable. I learned with time that you have to do things for yourself. If you want to eat the best, things are going to come to you, and if you're playing the best thing, good things are gonna happen to you.
Support from his family
BLIX: There's a video piece where you talked to Sheever (Jorien van der Heijden) about the state of the region in Dota and how you guys visited many LAN cafes, and you talked a bit about how your parents supported you in pursuing a career in this game. Talking about your father specifically, he was a former youth player for Alianza Lima (Peruvian club football team) and worked in teaching kids science through fun programs. Has your father's support helped you have a successful career in this game?
Timado: I would say he's always been my main support in life and in games. He's taught me most of the foundations that I have about approaching competitive stuff and sports. Give your best, don't give up, go beyond your limit, and go more. I just have it program in my brain and I think he did a good job in teaching me the best things he learned about life.
He's always looking after me even if we're not close together. I know he's always watching me and finding ways to make me a better player or a happier person in whatever aspect of my life. I appreciate him a lot. I think he's a good father. I think he always put his heart and soul into seeing me thrive and do well.
I don't think I could have achieved anything that I have achieved without the help of my parents. I think they've done a lot for me and I'm very grateful to them because of it so our relationship is good.
BLIX: What is one factor from looking at your father that you've used for your career both in and out of game?
Timado: My father has always taught himself things. He has a passion and the discipline to sit down, learn something new, study for hours, and then actually do it. He knows how to do random things like fixing his car. One day, he doesn't know anything about his car, and then in the next day, he knows how to fix the electrical part of the car.
That, to me, has always surprised me in how, when he's able to understand a necessity sees there's a problem, he's able to devote all effort, energy, and soul into it and do things that are amazing. I try to view Dota in the same way in my life, I try to be structured, have a clear goal, come up with a way that I'm going to achieve it, and then everyday work towards it. I think that's some of the best things I've gotten from my dad: structure and discipline.
BLIX: When it comes to looking at the history of South American data, there are people that are called legends seeing as they helped contribute to the region's current state. In that regard, people have seen you as an icon or a legend. Do you view yourself as that?
Timado: Not really. It's not something that I think about. I'm just playing Dota. I just do things the way I want to do them in the best way I can come up with and then it's up to everyone else, whether they appreciate it, whether they see something good, whether they copy something, or whether they disagree with it. I'm usually doing my thing. I'm in a different stage of my life.
I'm not holding back anymore. I'm very confident in the things that I want to do and how I want to do them. I'm very thankful for the things that I've lived in my life but it's definitely cool to hear these things. Whenever I'm in a pub game and some guy asks me, I'm his idol, it always shocks me.
I don't view myself as an idol. I view myself as a bot. I'm not very good at Dota, I need to get better in this and that. Then there's another guy who is like "Timado boss! I love your stream," and I'm like, "What do you like about my stream? To me, my stream is pretty mediocre." Even so, it's a nice feeling. It's not something that I'm after but when people appreciate what I do, it inspires me to keep doing the things that I'm doing in the way that I do them.
Why is Dota popular in Peru?
BLIX: Taking a look at exactly why Dota 2 is so popular in this region and its history, the vast majority of players come from Peru (yourself included). Why is this game as popular specifically in Peru?
Timado: That's a hard question because this is something that I struggle myself too. I don't know exactly what it is about Dota and why I play and enjoy it so much. I think everyone has something to share about Dota in the early childhood, middle school, or high school days where maybe a friend introduced them to Dota.
All I know is that Dota is one of those games that really brings people together. I have had so many good times playing Dota with my friends, my dad's friends, or my dad when we're duo-queueing. It's just a game that is super cool and doesn't cost anything. It really allows you to bond with other people. I made so many online friends that I don't talk with anymore but we still have a friendship at some point. We just play pubs together and we talk about life.
What exactly is about this game that made it so popular in Peru? I don't know but I know what this game can do, and I think it's really beautiful how complex this game is both inside and outside.
BLIX: We have another MOBA that's just as popular as Dota 2: League of Legends. It is just as popular in Latin America, going from Central America all the way down to Argentina, and it baffles me why it's so much more popular in Peru when it comes to Dota. Is it like, a phenomenon?
Timado: I'm not sure exactly. I have my theories because I play with my friends and they're like 4k MMR. They used to play League of Legends a lot but now they play Dota mainly because of me. At the start we used to play LoL when I was around 10 to 11, and they barely played it nowadays. They might play because some other guy doesn't play Dota so their only common game is LoL, but the moment they started playing Dota is how they saw it as so much better than LoL. This game is more complex and way better.
I think there is something about the trash talk culture in Dota. When I play these Peru server games, there is so much trash talk. People use all chat and there's so many pauses because one certain guy dies. You kill me then you pause on me so I'll pause on you when I kill you. To me, that's Peru humor. It can be offensive and it can go over the line sometimes, but at the end of the day, it's just fun. I play with my friends and their brothers, and they love to TP each other whenever they mess up a play.
I feel there is no other game that encourages that and I think there's something with Peru culture that goes very well with it. If I have to narrow it down to something, it's one of the few games that really allows you to trash talk to the other and turn it into something. I think there was an official game when some guy trash talked Alliance with "stop delaying the inevitable." I was like, "What the hell that is over the line" but no one does anything. That's part of the game. Maybe that's why Peruvians fighting is so fun. You can just do whatever you want.
BLIX: Although it's not really concrete, I believe there has to be a similarity between the popularity of Dota and the popularity of football within the country. Do you think there's a similarity between how people support Dota and how they support football?
Timado: There might be. I know all my friends who play Dota also play football. It's kind of like the same dynamics that happens in games happens in football where we know we are not very good and yet we talk like we are very good and we gotta make sure that the team knows that they're bad.
BLIX: There was an interview with KuroKy (Kuro Takhasomi)` about how he felt there was a change in motivation as he gets older and continues to compete within the Dota scene. As someone who has been playing for nearly a decade, have you also sensed a difference in motivation as you continue to get older?
Timado: I understood what he meant, and I was thinking about this whole life thing and what I want to do with my life, and how will I balance my life. Dota is just a part of our lives. For a lot of people, that's what we've been doing for a long time it's what allows us to feel really good and make us feel ourselves. Sometimes is hard to find something else that does the same effect.
It's really easy to get into daughter and just do Dota and maybe it can quickly turn into an addiction, but no matter what you do, Dota is going to be there. I'm always going to be watching Dota. I'm always going to be playing Dota. I don't think I'm ever going to fully quit this game and I don't think it would be a good idea either to do so.
As you get older, you get different interests out of life. Suddenly, sitting in your computer for 12 hours and just playing pubs doesn't seem so appealing. To me, I still have the competitive drive. I want to win, I want to represent my team, I want to represent the region I'm playing with, and that really drives me. But what really drives me is I just really liked this game and I'm going to play it.
I see it the oldest players too, the ones who have been in the scene for very long. They have been playing for so long. They've been the best, they've been the worst, and they've been in the middle. It doesn't matter to them. They're just going to keep playing and that's what matters the most in life: to be doing what you like and do it the way you want to do it.
Whether that brings me some success or not. we have to see, but I don't know any other way to do things in the way that I know how to do it. It's that type of mindset that is very wise and healthy to have, I think.
Comparing NA and SA Dota
BLIX: You touched upon your representation of North America for this Major. There was big focus onto this region regarding the exit of Evil Geniuses ahead of this DPC, leaving many people to believe that the region is dead in its current state even though that former lineup has joined Shopify Rebellion and B8 arrived with Dendi from EEU.
That then comes to the conclusion that with all that has happened, SA is finally ahead of NA. Do you feel that's true at this point?
Timado: I think SA is way better than NA in terms of average competitive environment for sure. I think it has to do with how, in NA, there's really no new talents, and the younger players currently there have to step it up. Dota is at such a scale right now in skill cap that if you don't really want it and you don't really try hard, then you're not going to make it.
I think one of the best inspiring stories is Sneyking, someone that has tried so hard in NA and who has been in so many different teams. If this guy had to go to Europe, he did it. He's in Europe, plays in pubs, does what he has to do, and he got the job done. And even if he hadn't won TI, he's still one of the great examples of someone in NA that just did what he had to do.
It sounds silly but small things like being an NA player in Europe, the amount of times I have to deal with some guy telling me go back to my server which is something that I have to get past, to me, means nothing because I want to be better and I'm going to play in your server because it is going to make me a better player. North America has always lacked a lot of players.
It's always been like this throughout the year. Most of the NA teams have imports from different regions and it's continuing to be like this, but there are some players that are currently playing and are getting better. You have to keep going. Look at Sneyking. He kept trying and he made it. It took him many years but sometimes that's what it takes. Everyone's got a different path.
BLIX: During the earliest stages of SA Dota, many people saw it as a benefit for a player to leave and go somewhere else. It explains why there was plenty of support for you when you left South America numerous times, but now we're seeing a reverse in which it's more beneficial to play there than it is in NA for the reasons we talked about just now.
What do you make of these orgs and players preferring to stick around as opposed to going elsewhere?
Timado: South America is really hard right now. It's really nice to see these orgs come over and solidifying the region by making it more serious. As for myself, I guess going to NA is like an easier route. We can look at it our way, but for me specifically, the reason why I do these things is because I just--the way I think, and I view things goes better with people that leave Peru.
It's just a mindset thing where I like structure and discipline. These are some of the things that SA has missed for the longest time, and it's gotten better, but I haven't played there for in a while so I wouldn't be able to tell you exactly how it is nowadays. But I think you just go to the region that fits you the best. I think orgs do the same kind of thing.
You look at it from a business perspective, NA has a very high cost and so does Europe, so it makes sense. At the end of the day, it's a benefit for SA, right? You get more competitive events, but I think you just have to group up with the people that fits you the best as a player.
Significance of returning home for the Major
BLIX: What are your expectations for the amount of attention you're going to receive once you set foot in the country?
Timado: I get some people ask me on my stream when I am going to come to Peru. To me, it's always exciting to see fans because it's the best chance to give back to them. If it weren't because of the fans, the game wouldn't be worth where it's at. Even the developers at Valve are big fans of Dota so it's the whole being a fan that keeps the game alive for so long.
Having the chance to meet some of the fans, who watch my stream, support me, cheer for me, and deeply want something nice for me to happen, that is nice. It's one of those nice things about life when you meet people that think positive about someone else, and it can resonate.
BLIX: As someone who has made his name both in and outside of the region, will appearing in the Lima Major be the highlight of your career?
Timado: Maybe if I win it, but I think it's gonna be something that I'm gonna look back in time and it's gonna be something I'll cherish for the rest of my life. I think no matter what happens in terms of tour results, it means a lot that there is a Major in Peru that I'm able to play in and that I'm gonna be able to meet a lot of the fans and share that Major hype.
BLIX: What are your expectations for TSM in this event? Do you think this team is capable of going all the way?
Timado: I think we're capable of anything. It just kind of comes down to this new patch and all of that. But yes, I think any of my teammates is capable of winning any championship, I think they're all amazing.
BLIX: I want us to go to the future and people are looking back as to what transpired in South America from its beginnings to the staging of the Lima Major. What would be the biggest takeaway you would want for people to have from looking at you, how you played, and your career in general?
Timado: Things take time. Holding on to the dream is something that we can all achieve. If you devote enough hard work rather than trying, you need to do what it takes. You need to do what you must do to reach the next step in your life for you to achieve your dreams. Anything is possible. I'm not really that special. I might be good at some things and maybe I can do some things easier than others, but I'm not really that special.
I just happen to know what I wanted to do early on and I held on to it and I devoted my heart and soul into it until it happened. It took me time. I don't even know if I've reached my peak, or I've already reached it. It's something only time can tell but I just keep doing the things I want to do and it just happens to be Dota.
I wish people will look at the things I've done and be like, "Damn, this guy really tried his heart out. I want to try my hardest too in whatever it is that I want to do." I think that's enough for me.