The end of an era

Posted by Ulrich "KongoTime" Hanten at 01 September 2011 20:23
One of the most reputable and polarizing characters of DotA and eSport in genera,l Jacob 'Maelk' Toft-Andersen, is about to take a partial break from competing with the world's best in his favourite game. The circumstances of his team's departure, his experiences with the professional scene now and then and his figure, were topics of an interview he decided to conduct with this website. Despite the variety of aspects, the essential message to surpass the lengthy session - that Maelk and his fighters will return in 2012 - will not only let the previous MYM-supporters exhale.

Maelk, what prevails after the announcement? Sadness that a glorious era passed by or confidence as you are happy to get on a new path in life?
A bit of both actually. I'm excited about moving onwards and have high hopes for what's in store. With that being said, it also saddens me that a name and brand that I helped forge in so many ways, is no longer a part of my identity as a gamer. I reminisce about the good times we've had but anxiously await my future.

In e-sports, you never really know what the future has in store
When the organization was revamped a couple of years ago with the new owners taking over after Regroup Esports, how certain was it that you and the team was to be stay put in MYM, coming into a new organization and all?
At the time, we were very pleased with how the new management looked at things and we were happy about being back in business under one of the most stable names in DotA history. In e-sports, you never really know what the future has in store, we learned that when MYM faced bankruptcy the first time around, but we were still confident in having a long stay.

Given the time that this split happens and despite the reasons you revealed in your statement, the one conclusion most would draw is, that the disbandment had to have something to do with The International. When I throw a phrase like "Money usually bears controversy" out there - is that a point you would elaborate on, or is this assumption a mere fantasy?
The International itself held no influence on our decision as such. A lot of things caused us to want to call quits. Had we won a million, then maybe we could have continued to play without having to worry about jobs and a steady income. This wasn't the case, so more or less half the team needed to focus their energy on something else than DotA.

I'm striving to not only gather the team again in 2012, but also ensure that we won't have to worry about neither job nor education
We are all committed to the game, but the ones who couldn't devote all their time to the game didn't want to stand in the way of the others who could, so we decided to go each our separate ways for now. So in that aspect, money was definitely a factor, yet not in the way one would think it to be. Obviously we weren't on the same page as the MYM management on what the future had in store for us either, so we decided to not only split as a team but also leave the organization behind.

Who of the players will keep playing and who will take a break?
No one is going to take a break per se. Some are just spending more time on tournaments and LAN events than others, which was the main motivator for splitting up. For now though, I know for a fact that neither PusHer, MaNia or myself will play as much as we have done in the past. This only holds true throughout 2011 though.

It still feels like you are leaving DotA at the wrong time, with several major LANs upcoming. Given the competitive spirit you showed in all your statements in the past, do you feel regret, passing all these prestigious opportunities? And to follow up your last answer. What happens after 2011?
I'm not leaving, I'm just not participating as a player for the next few months. I plan on visiting at least one or two of the tournaments despite not playing myself, it all depends on my schedule. I feel a little remorseful not being able to back up all the motivation I have for the game, but everyone has to face reality sooner or later.

Nothing is settled yet, but I'm striving to not only gather the team again in 2012, but also insure that we won't have to worry about neither job nor education but instead be able to focus wholeheartedly on playing the game. A lot of people talk about professional gaming, but it's not really professional until you can do it for a living. That's my goal for the team.

And if that would return, do you plan or strive to return with the same roster as before?
If possible, yes, but only time will tell. As mentioned earlier, in e-sports it's hard to say what happens next and you can never really look further than the next tournament ahead. If changes are necessary, it'll only be for the better anyway. Time will tell!

The International itself held no influence on our decision to split as such
Can you give us a bit of information, regarding MYM's whereabouts in the HFGL? Will a few former team mates gather up and attend with a diverted roster?
All I know is that none of our players have been offered the spot in the tournament. MYM, the organization, holds the spot and I hear rumors about them creating a new team complete with legends and everything. Not that anyone could ever replace the legacy we left behind, but I do wish them the best of luck trying.

In the interviews Na`Vi gave after their triumph, one could primarily see their overspending after five days of intense competition. How exhausting was this $1,000,000 tournament for you personally, mentally and physically?
Its been some very long days indeed, especially because we had to play the first and last match of the day, meaning we had to wake up early, play our game, wait for all the other matches to be over with, then play the last match of the day as well. Valve and Mooseman helped to make it an extremely enjoyable tournament though, so as such I've tried a lot worse. But Na`Vi did just play a Best of five with a million dollars on the line. That can wear out even the best. Which it obviously did.

Tell me more about the experience at Gamescom. How did you experience everything around the event? How was it meeting all the Asian teams for example?
I've met teams like Scythe and EHOME before, but it's always a pleasure to meet other teams and players in person. Valve treated us all as professional athletes from the get-go and I think everyone was super pleased with everything but the venue itself. One of the evenings they took all the teams out for dinner which was very relaxing and cosy yet fun too. Personally I had a blast at the event.

I'm hoping to get a gig as a caster during some of the upcoming tournaments, just to try it out again, and I'm contemplating trying to get a job within e-sports, preferably DotA.
I assume you followed the latest happenings in the clan scene. What do you think of M5's arguably rough personnel policy
I honestly doubt the decision is made purely by the management of Moscow Five. NS, Dread and God must have agreed to it, I don't think any management that wants their team to succeed, would force changes down upon them. Chemistry is an important factor, so I imagine this is more of a decision by the core of the team wanting to have a superb roster for the future rather than the management demanding change.

Do you see the wish of top teams, aiming to be stronger, more present than ever in the past (Na`Vi, iG, M5)? As a person who played the game since the beginning, do you feel DotA is commercializing stronger than ever right now?
Yes, definitely. It's clear that with the influx of money and sponsors, the teams now need to be better than ever before and continue to raise the bar. There's little to no room for weak links, regardless of friendships, and everyone needs to fulfil his role perfectly in order for the team to really succeed. Whether it'll be successful amassing talent over synergy, chemistry and friendship is too soon to say, but I do think that the teams are on to something when they focus on talent before everything else. Chemistry only goes so far...

How do you see this new M5 roster working out then, given that the past of pgg and vigoss, who for a long time had not been part of a solidified roster?
They're both experienced players and pgg is arguably one of the worlds best LAN-players, so if they can make it work and nobody gets into a drunken rage, then I think they're a strong contender to being the best team in Europe. The skill is definitely present as is the experience.

We saw the trend of DotA commercializing further and further in the Chinese scene this year, turning it into an extremely messy business with new organizations entering with a bang, acquiring teams to hit the headlines. Do you feel Dota, respectively Dota2 - would benefit from determined transfer periods like football, disallowing transfers for a certain amount of time?
Yes, definitely. Anything to reach a more professional environment. E-sports as a whole could learn a lot from looking at already established team tports such as football, basket, American football and so forth. I sincerely hope for a transfer period to be established, but the problem is that there is no union to uphold these guidelines.

Indeed. I saw DeMoN tweeting that you may finish the current ICS season in full force. How high is the probability of that happening?
It depends on whether everyone has time or not. I'm not sure we want to put too much effort into making sure we can get it played, but if everyone is online and available to play, then I suppose we will.

I was a lot more arrogant when I was younger
You probably reside among the most interviewed DotA players and may even lead this unofficial board. Have you ever been eager to answer a certain question, that nobody asked. If yes, what is the question?
At different points in time I've probably had questions I've been wanting to answer or at least information I wanted to share, but the consequences of answering some of these questions might not be worth it. I'm usually not shy about speaking my mind, but in some cases it's simply better to keep it to yourself.

Your - at times polarizing - opinions and statements over the years have always been well-received and turned you into a star and one of the most respected persons in the scene. When this status was still new to you and you for the first time felt like somebody special and rising (I assume you did experience so at some point), how did you handle it and what lessons would you pass to other professionals about acting and expressing themselves in public?
I was a lot more arrogant when I was younger, believe it or not, and as such I actually went into DotA with a very cocky 'I-am-superior-attitude towards' the game and its community. I came from WC3 where I was semi-succesful on a national level and on the Battle.net ladder, so I never actually had a moment in time where I felt I had become a star.

Rest assured that this is not the last you've seen of me and my teammates, this is merely the end of MYM.DotA as you've known it
The benefit of being one of the first top players is also always having been on top and not having to fight your way there. However, with age comes experience and I matured a lot - or I'd like to think I did anyway - and learned what to say and what not to say as well as refraining from flaming. Or at least keep it to a minimum.

If DotA really does become the top e-sports game to follow, then my advice would be to smile in public and always devote time for your fans. Anonymity and the comfort of your own home might work online, but at the events you need to be approachable and friendly. Something I myself hope I am.

Given the experience, that you acquired over the years in gaming and the possibility of Dota 2 casters, managers, or event hosts getting to do their work for a living, would you see yourself working in professional gaming for another 10 years or even the rest of your life?
It's definitely a possibility. I've tried my luck with casting once, before the financial crisis, and it was fairly popular although I'm sure my female co-commentator had something to do with that too. Deep down, every player hopes he can live off of playing, and I'm not different, but realistically speaking I also realize that it's probably not going to happen.

I'm hoping to get a gig as a caster during some of the upcoming tournaments, just to try it out again, and I'm contemplating trying to get a job within e-sports, preferably DotA. I wouldn't do just any job though. If say... Riot or S2 Games came along offering me a position, I'd turn it down in a heartbeat. There's no such thing as MOBA. There's DotA(2), and then there's the rest.

In regards to that, Id like to come up with your arguably most popular tweet since you created your profile, let me quote for the readers:

@LOLupdates It is nothing like your cartoony Nickelodeon game. Enjoy your last year in e-sports... #worthlessgamegoingintooblivion

A statement that enforced your status within the DotA community more and more. However do you think it closed doors in the business for you eg: should you move to another sector, which has been on good terms with riot. How do you feel about your words now, one or two weeks later? Are you still proud that you stated them, or do you think they were maybe a bit unnecessary?
It was never a necessity for me to speak my mind, but I often do it when I feel someone's out of line or overconfident. In regards to that particular statement, I don't regret it one bit, I rarely do about anything I post. To me, LoL is a game that started out by claiming the fame that DotA had build over the years and they marketed the game on a different game's achievements. Had LoL been straight forward about their game from the get-go and insisted it was a different game, which it obviously is, then I wouldn't have despised it as much.

it just saddens me that better games get less attention due to the lack of funding.
I called it cartoony, because it is, and included Nickelodeon because they share target groups. I might be wrong about the "Last year in e-sports" part, because they can continue to throw money at the game and buy their way into leagues and tournaments as they have done with pretty much everything thus far. I don't blame them though, it just saddens me that better games get less attention due to the lack of funding.

However, hopefully a fact that Dota 2 will change; I'd like to close at that and thank you for taking the time to do this. The last part of the interview is saved for you to say anything you would like.
I would like to thank all the people who have shown their support throughout the past week. Rest assure that this is not the last you've seen of me and my teammates, this is merely the end of MYM.DotA as you've known it. Maelk fighting!



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