“SumaiL won TI and he’s about my age, which means that I can win TI too!”
Nouns dominated the qualifier for BetBoom Dacha Dubai 2024, and now offlaner Nicolas "Gunnar" Lopez is enjoying the fruits of his labors. The 2-turned-3 hopes to show off the team's new lineup in the fight for the $1 million prize pool. Esports.gg sat down with Gunnar before the start of the group stage to talk about the team's off-season shuffle and how nouns' unique structure impacts the sponsorship process.
Read on for our exclusive interview with Gunnar from nouns at BetBoom Dacha Dubai 2024.
Esports.gg: Gunnar, how are FISSURE and BetBoom treating you here at BetBoom Dacha? Is it your first time in Dubai?
Gunnar: It's really nice, this tournament is really nice. The hotel is really good. So far, it's been a really nice tournament.
Were there any pro players who inspired you to pursue Dota 2 full-time?
Probably [Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan] and [Danil "Dendi" Ishutin.] When I was first playing Dota, it was around TI3, so I was like "I want to be mid because Dendi is really cool." And then, in 2015 when SumaiL won TI, he's like about my age, he's a little bit older. I was like "Ah, SumaiL won TI and he's about my age, which means that I can win TI too!" So he was my inspiration to be a pro player.
What do you think about the DPC dissolving and third-party events like this taking its place?
I think for the top teams, teams that are qualifying to the majority of LANs, it's a better system in a sense because there's more time for LAN tournaments and less time stuck in qualifiers. But I think for the teams that struggle to qualify, it hurts way more this year. Last year, you could play against good teams more consistently, you could get more prize money. For us last year, we only qualified for the third tour. If that was this year, it would just be a waste of time, whereas last year, we got to always practice, always get on stream, and get some DPC prize money.
Pubbing as Gunnar ain't easy
Do you ever use your fame in pubs? If someone tries to take your role from you, do you just tell them that you're Gunnar?
Uh, not really. Well... Sometimes people flame me and I'll say "It's funny that you can flame me because you know my name, but I don't know who you are. You're Rank 1,000." But for the most part, not really. People already know who everyone is, and they flame you regardless of who you are, so a name drop doesn't really matter.
Are there any heroes that you wish were stronger for this tournament?
Beastmaster, probably. I think he's okay and he can be picked, but he's not what he used to be. He was fun because you could either go zoo or go Aghs. I think both builds were really fun, but he hasn't felt that good recently.
If you could only play one hero for the rest of your life, who would you pick and why?
Hmm... Of any hero, it would probably be Ember. I wish it was Ember from two years ago before they added all the cast points on ult. That just makes me really sad every time I play Ember that there's cast points to both throw out and to go to it. So if I could get Ember from two years ago, it would be Ember. But if I couldn't go to the old Ember, maybe Invoker just because he's really fun. You can feel impactful at any point in the game. And late game is really fun to play with Invoker when you're six-slotted.
Shopify Rebellion is shaping up to be a major rival this qualifier season. What's it like playing against that team so many times?
I think the total games we played with them in just January was 18 in officials. That's a lot of games against just one team. But it was fun to play. The hardest part is that we didn't have much time for scrims based on how scheduling worked. We played more officials than scrims so far — just because we had a lot of travel and it's hard to play while we're separated. We had to do a lot of practice on the fly. I like to think that later as the year goes, we'll actually get more practice and get to work together that it's going to be easier for us to beat them [in] best-of-fives.
Crypto and esports is a classic combo
The roster recently rebuilt itself with a few new players, and nouns has unique ownership under a DAO. How did that change conversations between you and the sponsor?
In terms of the sponsor, no. What happened is, after TI, I approached some players and some players approached me, and we built the roster before we approached the org. Nouns reached out and they wanted to work with me if I had a team already. We got our five-man and we talked to nouns, we talked to some other orgs, and nouns was like "Yeah, let's do it."
Are you the primary point of contact for the DAO?
I wouldn't say primary, but I've worked with them the longest, ever since they got into Dota, which has been around two and a half years. We have a history, so I have tenure to an extent.
The DAO uses its own coin for voting, right?
They vote, so we weren't 100% sponsored until the vote passed. It passed, so we're good. But technically, there was a point in time where even though they said they'd sponsor us, we still had to wait for the vote to pass.
Do you know the exact results of the vote?
Not off the top of my head, but I think it was pretty comfortable. It wasn't that close.
What's nouns offlaner Gunnar doing in the 1v1 bracket?
You’re participating in the 1v1 tournament later in the event. Are there any players you particularly want to beat?
I don't think there are any specific players. I'm excited because I've never been in a 1v1 tournament. I'm a little worried, I'm not a mid player. So we'll see how my skills shape up as an offlaner. We'll see, (laughs) we'll see what I can do.
Is there anyone you're scared of?
No. I think I can beat anyone.
What about Stormstormer?
We'll see. Let the best laner win.
Have you two practiced at all?
We do some practice. That's actually the funny thing. If he needs to practice a matchup, he'll just message me. He'll 1v1 other people, but we have done some 1v1s before just to practice matchups.
In theory, Shadow Fiend on open field. Who wins?
Usually what we do is we play super specific match-ups just to practice concepts, so I don't think we've ever practiced that way. We should go 1v1 to see who is the better laner.
Gunnar as the beating heart of nouns
The role swap came as a surprise to many fans. How did you start the transition? Did you bring it up to your teammates or were you asked?
It was internal more than anything. Even last year before TI, I thought about switching to an offlaner, but there just weren't any mids for our roster at the time and it just made more sense to stay as mid. But it's been something that I've been thinking about. I'm having a lot of fun. To an extent, it's nice to feel like there's a lot to learn. For mid, it was starting to feel as if I needed to keep improving in such small amounts that it was hard to feel like I was improving. When I'm offlane, it feels like there is so much to learn. It's really easy for me to feel like I'm getting better every day and keep working hard.
And the fans? I get a lot asking me to play mid. Every time I stream, everyone just wants me to mid on stream. It's a common thing.
Are there any classic mids that you want to take offlane? Invoker, Ember, etc.?
We got inspired by Heroic, [Cedric "Davai Lama" Deckmyn] was playing offlane Ember, so we copied some of their offlane Ember. I think at the start of the team, we were playing some Earth Spirit offlane — I've played that once in an official. But for the most part, most of the heroes I play are just offlaner offlaners. I haven't done many crazy mid offlaners yet.
Tal "Fly" Aizik was a really big surprise to see join nouns. What's it like working with him?
I really like working with Fly. The big difference is that [Rodrigo "Lelis" Santos] was our captain last year while [Filipe "Astini" Astini], our coach, was our drafter. But this year, a lot of those responsibilities are on Fly. So he's our captain and our drafter. It's freed up both of them to be able to do their own individual jobs more, which has been nice. Just in the game, [Fly] is very calm and he's really fun to play with. He's a lot of fun to play with.
A special thanks to Gunnar from nouns for taking the time at BetBoom Dacha Dubai 2024 to speak with esports.gg.