Alliance’s s4 sat down with Esports.gg right before the start of TI12 WEU Qualifier to talk about their new roster, the current state of Dota 2, and more!
It has been ten years since Gustav "s4" Magnusson shook the Dota 2 sphere with a phenomenal victory at The International 2013. Together with Alliance, s4 laid a foundation in Dota 2 that not many teams are able to match. After his TI victory, he continued to decorate his belt and collected two Major wins - the 2016 Boston Major and the 2017 Kiev Major.
Fast forward to today, s4 still proudly wears the colors of Alliance. But things aren't the same as it was. He is now steering the ship as the captain, leading new players ahead. And his Dota 2 season hasn't been very colorful, with Alliance recently facing relegation from Division II of Western Europe.
Esports.gg reached out to s4 before TI12 Qualifiers began to talk about the team's journey in 2023, his thoughts regarding Dota 2 then and now, and more.
"The hardest road is going to be the most satisfying if a win is achievable"
Image via Valve
Esports.gg: Hi s4, I hope you and Alliance have been doing well. How has the environment been with the team as you guys head towards the TI12 Qualifier? What’s the mindset like?
s4: Hello, and thanks! Everything has been going pretty well this bootcamp in Sweden. It has been pretty slow with all the big teams being on hold from scrims before TI but we have gotten some good practice regardless. The mindset has been that we are coming in as underdogs into the TI Qualifiers and are going to play to the best of our abilities.
Esports.gg: How would you describe Alliance’s 2023 season so far?
s4: I was hoping for a better start this year with Alliance. But at the end of the day, where I'm standing now I wouldn't want it any other way. The hardest road going into this TI Qualifier is going to be the most satisfying if a win is achievable. Competition is the biggest drive for me as a player and TI qualifiers are very similar to playing a LAN final in terms of pressure and competition.
Esports.gg: How do you as Alliance's captain help your teammates go through expectations before a match? Do you apply your long years of competing to help in leadership?
s4: Before matches, I am not the guy who will do the pre-game speech or anything. That usually comes from someone that is better than me in speaking and hyping up people. I usually help when it comes to technical stuff and strategies like in-game experiences from past tournaments and helping the team to get on the same idea.
S4 talks about Alliance's current roster
Alliance Dota 2 roster:
- Charlie "charlie" Arat
- Ng "ChYuan" Kee Chyuan
- Gustav "s4" Magnusson
- Axel "Pablo" Källman
- Simon "Handsken" Haag
- Leon "Arthur" Lee
Esports.gg: How has it been like playing with a Southeast Asian midlaner, Chyuan, and coach, Arthur? Do you guys bring different ideas and elements from each region to the game?
s4: It's been pretty fun for me so far to be on the team with Ng "ChYuan" Kee Chyuan and Leon "Arthur" Lee. Chyuan has this aggressiveness that usually comes from SEA midlaners, but also has the discipline and leadership to control the game.
Arthur is very good at trying to improve the group and filling the players with confidence after games. He keeps a good eye for new ideas that can be implemented in our team. Arthur has this superpower whenever I cook noodles he will appear in less than a minute from the smell itself.
How Pablo got into the picture
Esports.gg: Alliance recently grabbed Pablo to fill in the vacant slot left by Ponlo. What prompted this roster change? Is this more of a spontaneous decision or something that has been cooking for a while?
s4: We had been very hardstuck at the same results season after season and sometimes you just need a change even just one player can make a huge difference in a team. It was a fairly short decision when it came down to it since we were so close to TI and had not felt the progress from our last bootcamp.
I would describe Pablo as one of those clutch pos 4 Rubick players that you hate playing vs as Magnus or Centaur.
Esports.gg: How would you describe Pablo as a player and why do you feel he’s a good fit for the team?
s4: Pablo has been great so far. We lane together in most games and things kind of flow naturally in our gameplay. Pablo is kind of the "yes" guy we need, he's a great player and team player but also isn't afraid of coming up with his own ideas and calls in-game. I would describe him as one of those clutch pos 4 Rubick players that you hate playing versus as a Magnus or Centaur.
Everyone in the team brings a huge driving force..I can't name one that is above the other.
Esports.gg: In Alliance, who is THE biggest driving force?
s4: I would say everyone in the team brings a huge driving force. Arthur, our coach, and our manager Pontus, have been with us from day one. Loda has been very supportive - getting us on the right path and fixing our hero pools. Handsken has been doing a lot of the brain work with strategy and drafts. I can't name one that is above the other.
Dota 2 then and now: "Now, items are more powerful than hitting your spells"
Screenshot courtesy of Tech in Asia
Esports.gg: As a veteran player, what do you think of the current state of the Dota 2 patch vs. back then? Is it heading in a direction that you like?
s4: I enjoy the game right now. I would say one thing that matters more in Dota now compared to back then is items are more powerful than hitting your spells. You kind of want to have both of course. But back then the economy and items were scarce so it was very important you outspell your enemy and drafting comes into play a lot.
Nowadays you can draft by thinking items in combination with the hero, rather than thinking Silencer is great vs Enigma Black Hole. I think this last Dota patch has been a huge win for me and gave me a lot of hope back into this game, it's definitely heading in the right direction in my eyes.
Esports.gg: What do you feel is different about the Dota 2 competition itself when you compare it from then (TI3 era) and now? Has it grown more intense, has it shifted into something bland?
s4: I would say the laning phase is the big change from TI3 and the level of mechanics has been increased. I would say players are improving all the time mechanically but strategically it's been proven to take more time to build new ideas on how to play the map.
The game has been getting more complex when you look at it but all the basics are still the same. You need to kill the enemy throne to win the game of Dota and often teams are reminded of this when TI comes.
Motivation and memories
Esports.gg: You have competed for a lengthy period. What keeps your motivation up? Has there been a moment where you feel like giving up? And if so, what helped you get back on your feet?
s4: The competition is what keeps me playing this game. Motivation has definitely not been the best after losing some TI's and it can be a pretty bad feeling after leaving or getting kicked from a team. What has helped me is taking a small break from the game itself and just giving it some time to come back fresh. I have had times where I would refuse to come back to play Dota, but then Loda is around the corner and invites me to Alliance and usually I say yes :D.
I don't think I've changed since I won TI. Maybe it gave me more confidence and also I have my own place to live which is nice. I like to live a simple life and winning a TI and a lot of money didn't change much for me.
Esports.gg: 10 years of Dota - 10 years since you won TI! How has that monumental moment changed your life? What have been the effects of lifting the Aegis and becoming a TI champion in such fascinating fashion?
s4: I don't think I've changed since I won TI. Maybe it gave me more confidence and also I have my own place to live which is nice. I like to live a simple life and winning a TI and a lot of money didn't change much for me.
s4's future plans and his thoughts on the 10th Anniversary Treasure
Esports.gg: To close this interview, let’s talk a little about the future. Are you more in the “go-with-the-flow” mode right now, or do you have plans ahead?
s4: I am definitely the "go-with-the-flow" type. I don't usually plan much ahead if not my meals of the day. I could see myself coaching in the future or casting. Hell even going into something completely new that isn't Dota could be fun. I like to try new stuff and challenge myself.
Esports.gg: Last but not least, anything to say to your passionate fans?
s4: Thanks for the interview and shoutout to all the Alliance fans or any Dota fans in general. Hopefully, we can show you some good Dota before this TI.
Esports: BONUS QUESTION - What do you think about the 10th Anniversary Treasure and which one is your favorite set?
s4: I have no idea what is in the 10th Anniversary treasure honestly. If you were to search for one pro player who cares the least about in-game cosmetics.. it would be me :D.
Catch s4 with the rest of Alliance competing in the TI12 Western Europe Qualifier today!