"Having trust in your teammates helps you overcome any situation"; Insania before Chengdu Major
Insania tells us more about his vision as a captain and shares his thoughts while at ESL One Hamburg 2019.
We had the chance to catch up with the sweetest Dota 2 captain, Aydin "INSaNiA" Sarkohi, at ESL One Hamburg. Insania started his pro player career on Heroes of Newerth. He later replaced Synderen in the former NiP Dota 2 roster, to then build his own Dota squad at Alliance in late November 2017.
The team recently moved from Alliance to Team Liquid, as the same group of five.
When we met, Team Liquid was already out of the event. Insania took the time to explain how he, as a captain, sees things long term, and how building a strong friendship with his teammates really helps them grow and always strive to do better.
ESL Hamburg last year was your first lan as these five men stack. How does it feel coming in now, a year later, playing under the Liquid name with the same group of friends?
"It’s amazing to be a part of Liquid. It’s a brand that I’ve liked myself, as well as the old roster. They’ve been so nice to us.. Like beyond anything I could ever imagine.
It feels great being back in Hamburg, unfortunately, we’ve realized that our team is not in the phase we want it to be in right now, so we came in here without like too many expectations, we kinda knew that we weren’t gonna do like as hot as we wish we would.
But it’s great to be here, ESL events are always great. We have this kind of joke going on where we always say I love ESL when we get here. Hamburg is a nice place too. Only positive things to say so far."
Being able to stick together on the same team must also be a great feeling right?
"My vision when building a team was always to create something long term, I don’t really care about one tournament or two tournaments. I wanna make something where… You know, we can progress forward and even though you lose sometimes and you get the worst results, it still helps you grow and realize what you need to do better.
I think that kind of a long term perspective you can only have in a group where you respect the people and you believe in their potential you know, and you believe in what they could be."
Playing for Alliance before you guys said it never applied any pressure, is it still the same now that you’re playing for Liquid, an org that carries a very strong identity?
"When we were on Alliance, I never really felt the Ti3 pressure, because it kinda happened quite some time ago and it didn’t affect us that much. But, I’ll be honest, I definitely do feel it. For myself, more than anything else.
I just want Liquid to do well like if I’m on Liquid or not I still want them to do well. In that way, I definitely do feel more pressure on myself but I think it also drives you to be better and try harder."
It is the same for your teammates?
"I think so yeah. I think everyone has an extra bit of drive now."
You guys qualified for the Chengdu major, how do you approach this event considering that.. some teams are not gonna be playing it, but still everybody wants to win, what’s your mindset?
"I mean, we always wanna do well. We wanna try our ideas and see if they work.
The difference with majors is that you know that everybody’s going all out. There’s no holding back, thinking maybe well this team’s holding back this one is not. There’s none of that. Like in majors and at Ti, you just go all out.
The top guys like OG sometimes, maybe they’re holding something back, but most of the time everyone goes all out. You just wanna prove who’s the best, it’s all that it is about.
It sucks that some teams are not there I’m gonna be honest. I wish the old Liquid were there, I wish Secret and OG were there too, but at the same time, it’s a huge opportunity. We wanna make the best out of it."
You guys were probably not performing quite as you’d want recently, how does it help for all of you to be 5 friends who know each other really well, to overcome this kind of situation where you’re not exactly where you’d like to be?
"I think for us going into Dreamhack we expected to do well, and after we lost we had like a big talk. And it’s very easy because we know each other so well. Like, we’ve been in this situation before. It’s not our first time being.. not as good as we’d want. We’ve been there before and we know we’ve been able to fix it before. Having this trust and belief like we know we’re gonna be able to work it out, we’ve done it before and we can do it again. It helps you kinda overcome any time that you’re in. You just put your trust in your teammates and you know that they’re gonna pull through and you just kind of do your part and that’s it. That’s enough."
Is it easier to accept criticism from a friend? Does it change anything?
"Yes and no, like... I think sometimes the friendship gets in the way, you don’t wanna hurt someone, but we’re professional enough about the friendship that when we play games or when we are discussing things, it’s a benefit like I said.
Just because you know that they’ve been able to do it before. I think it’s more in that aspect, where it’s been very helpful. I think everyone on my team is very opened to criticism, no matter what."
Your story as a stack is quite inspiring. Sticking together, qualifying for Ti together, and now together being the new face of Team Liquid. How do you think that teams like yours, like OG, these teams that are friendship based, would be able to impact the Dota scene?
"For me personally when I started to play, I used to play Heroes of Newerth before, I played it a lot and went through the whole, like.. switching teams after we lost, like all the roster shuffling, but at the time, Fnatic, the team in which N0tail was playing, they always stick together, and they always got results. You met them at an event, and they were having the best time ever, N0tail was having the best time of his life, and, it’s like.. you know, damn I wish I had that too.
Initially you think it comes from winning, but when you start winning tournaments you’re like well no it’s still not the same. Playing with a group of people that you don’t really enjoy playing Dota with. You go back home, and for two weeks it’s amazing, but then you start losing again, and it goes back to what it used to be.
So, for me, it was pretty obvious from the point that I came to Dota that I know what kind of team I’m willing to build, what is the team that I’m looking for. The players that I felt like building this formula were the players that I brought with me in Alliance and that are still with me today. It was an easy setup.
I see more people do it. I think it’s the right way to do it. I think it’s the way you’re gonna enjoy your time in esports."
Have you ever played in roster where you felt like, maybe the connexion between the players wasn’t so good for example?
"I’ve played on teams where.. like the skill level of the individual players were sky high, like unbelievably high, but you cannot produce results. And these post-game talks and every minute you spend not playing the game is kind of miserable. It demotivates you to play more and get better. It doesn’t matter how good you are if you’re not willing to come together and become a team so... Yeah, I have. I only had one team that was successful in that way. And it didn’t last very long."
Do you think this spirit is essential though? When you see such big teams like for example VP, who were an amazing team, all very good friends, still it felt like every Ti they were missing something. Do you think some teams don’t need it?
"I think, yeah, I think you could, but like.. When you play Dota, or whatever esport, I think you’re trying to increase your odds of winning. You can never guarantee that you’re gonna win a tournament. I do think it’s essential in the fact that it’s gonna increase your odds of winning no matter what. No matter if you’re the best team in the world no matter if you don’t like each other you’re probably not gonna try as hard. And that decreases your chances of winning so... In that way, I do think it’s essential.
But of course, there are these like miracle players who just like… some people you just play better with and it just works. For no reason. And you don’t need to like each other outside, you just have to think the same way and love Dota the same way."
What responsibilities do you have nowadays as a captain in this team? With all your experience, what is your vision of a good captain?
"For me the captain role, it’s mostly about making the other four players on my team do better, play better, feel better. I think it’s something that, right now, I’ve been really focused on, and maybe not enough focused on improving myself, and make myself a better player or whatever, and I think it’s a bit part of why we’ve been doing a bit worse.
Because I haven’t put in the same effort than into making them accomplish their own goals and making them want it more.
I think as a captain you kind of has to basically be the driving force. Making sure everyone wants it the way that you do. Which is hard, because you’re probably always gonna want it the most. But that’s kind of like the mindset that I like to have about it."
And what about in-game ? Who’s making the calls?
"I think it depends a bit from game to game. I think usually yeah, I’m gonna be one of the most active voices in our team but it won’t exclusively be me ever. We express ourselves a lot.
It depends on what kind of position they put themselves in, and, we are pretty clear about who we want to be driving the game at different positions.
It’s like, depending on where we are in the game, or what situation we’re in, we’re gonna want different people to speak up more or less.
The more united we become our visions just kind of lined up. We just see the game similarly, but not like one’s person’s idea. It’s more like we just meshed together, and now we’re all thinking along."
Not just as a captain or as a player but as a person, on this scene, what would you like to achieve personally through Dota?
"For me, it’s kind of always been the same. I want to be a part of a group where we all truly believe in what we’re doing, and we all believe that what we’re doing is meaningful.
And the cool thing about Ti, and I’m gonna go back to that because it represents that. Winning Ti shows you that everything you’ve been doing thoughout the year has lead to something. Like you managed to beat hundreds or thousands of people who are trying to accomplish the same thing, but you’re the one that managed to do it. It’s what I’m looking for into Dota. That’s like my dream. To be able to say like, you know what, we did this together. It was our group of five. It wasn’t someone like carried us it was us as a group, and I think that’s unique feeling. I don’t know what it feels like but that’s what I’m the most.. striving to get to."
Catch Insania leading Team Liquid at the first Major of the new 2019-2020 DPC season - MDL Chengdu Major starting on November 16th.