Interview with Torte De Lini: "All the work I've done is purely based on my passion for Dota 2"
Amidst all the players that roam around in the Seattle Key Arena, there are the heroes without capes that have done a lot for the game that is so endearing to us. One of them, is Michael 'Torte De Lini' Cohen, who is responsible for helping all of us when we are left scratching out heads in the middle of the game on which skill is to be levelled or what item is to be bought. Besides that, he is also helping newcomers get better acclimatized with Dota 2 by working on the newbie stream for The International 2017. I met up with him at the KeyArena and had a chat regarding some of his work:
Hello TorteDeLini! It’s two days into the main event of TI 7. How has your experience been? What do you feel about the tournament?
It’s awesome! It’s an unbelievable feeling to be here. The Chinese teams are stepping it up. I’m rooting for Virtus Pro, who are playing right now. I hope they come through against LGD (which they did). I also have high hopes from Team Liquid who are in the lower bracket. I’m just honored and happy to be invited and to be here!
Biggest e-sports tournament of the year. It would indeed be an honor for anyone to be invited. Before we get into anything, tell me how you ended up with the name ‘TorteDeLini’. When I first read it, it reminded me of Leonardo Da Vinci!
It’s actually derived from two things. My mother always used to serve me tortellini. That was the first thing on my mind when I was looking for a name. I used to play a text based game called ‘Kingdom of Loathing’ which is a funny text based game and they had classes like Pastamancer instead of Necromancer. So, I sort of went along those lines and forged TorteDeLini!
I always love a good name story! How did you begin you relation with Dota and how did you get to the point when you started the Dota 2 Hero Build Project? Who approached you for it?
No one really approached me for it. When it came out in February 2013, I had already been using a website called dota2alttab, but they didn’t really update the website. So, eventually, I just took it upon myself to do the guides. Initially, I did 20 or so and I got a lot of positive feedback so I just kept going. I’ve played Dota since 2005 or 2006. I used to use those terribly written Playdota guides back then. Some of them had a quick sheet, which was like a short summary of the guide. I used to random a hero, alt tab to the guide of the hero, which used to take a lot of time on the old slow processors, and play the hero while reading the guide! I never wrote anything down so I had to keep alt tabbing throughout the game. So, I took it upon myself to make it easier for all the players who didn’t know what the f*** they were doing with a hero! I didn’t know any better myself back then.
Well for a person who is just as terrible as all those guys you mentioned, I can say that the guides are really useful. Thank you! Did Valve approach you about incorporating the guides in the game?
No, they aren’t incorporated by Valve. It’s based on a rating system. Users rate the guide and the guides with the highest ratings show up in the game.
There are so many heroes and so many different ways to play every hero. Do you take help from professional players or do you have a team to help you?
I don’t have a dedicated team. At the beginning, it was a bunch of people from the Liquid Dota forums who were very dedicated with helping me out. People like Dyango, Balsaria, SamaoJazz, Teh48ck34, Belzie, Buckyman helped me out at the beginning. There are some people who help me out from time to time.
Do you monetize from this endeavor?
No, I don’t. It’s been free for four years.
So it’s purely your passion?
Yeah, it’s purely based on passion. Every year I get a little more tired and exhausted and think of quitting which is when I get a beautiful message from someone saying thank you so much for your guide. The feeling that someone plays the game for an hour after coming back home after a tiring day and I get to help them enjoy one of my favorite games, that makes up for everything. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of in my life.
Is the biggest thank you from the community elevating you to a position of prominence so that you finally get invited to the biggest Dota 2 event of the year?
Yes, I think it’s the trust and reliance on my work that the community has that really helped build me up. I’ve been working in e-sports for seven years and it’s just now that I’ve started getting recognition and public appreciation. As I said, I never gained anything from doing these guides but my continuous dedication of doing them, and keep them updated got Valve to recognize this kind of work, they also started to recognize the issue with this system and they are improving it for everyone. I've been a community member for seven years and I'll still try to be a community member but right now I am facing a little bit of a challenge.
You give the community, they are sure to give you back! Could you tell me what exactly you are doing here, because you aren’t working on screen as far as I have seen.
I’m on the newbie stream! I’m monitoring the newbie stream and writing all the necessary content for it while working alongside Purge Gamers. Skrff and Weppas, the observers for the English stream, have also been doing some work on the side with us.
It’s a great initiative, no doubt about it. Is it getting good viewership?
We’ve hit a maximum of 10k-11k viewers. Every time they mention it on the main stream, we get a slight increase in the viewership.
It’s nice to see the newcomers are in good hand. Alright. Managing director at cybersport.com. Tell me something more about that.
So, I work for ESForce who are amazing and successful people, with years and years of experience, very dedicated to their job and to the world of esports. They brought me o board to work on the international side of things and one of our projects is Cybersport.com, the international media brand who is aiming for high-quality content. We have a writer here at TI 7, Corey "Cart" Hospes who already done 20 interviews so far, he does about two per day so we are looking for another 20 here so, yeah, we’re really serious. Let me know the feedback on that!
Well, you are competitors for GosuGamers but I will give you a feedback! So in the future, would you like to be a Dota 2 analyst or coach?
I can’t be a coach, I suck. Analyst? I would love to be a guest analyst, I want to do panels, maybe, but I don’t think I’ll fit in, to be honest; those guys are really amazing and have a lot of knowledge of the game. I’m more of a behind the screens kind of guy, but I'll do everything once in my life. So I think I'd try it. But I'm no coach right now, these guys are next level.
I’d love to be a coach as well but I’d probably make the team worse. I’ll let you get back to work here at the International, TorteDeLini. Before you go, any shoutouts?
Shoutout to Valve for inviting me, to the Dota 2 community for supporting me and to all the guys who contributed to the hero builds back in the day.
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