So close, yet so far – iNSaNiA sat down with ahead of a devastating Berlin Major loss for Team Liquid to reminisce and celebrate a locked TI12.

While the Gaimin Gladiators celebrate victory at the Berlin Major, on the other side of the coin are Team Liquid and Aydin "iNSaNiA" Sarkohi, who have now made losing in the Grand Finals something of a tradition.

Speaking with iNSaNiA on May 6, less than 24 hours before that loss, you couldn’t imagine anything but a confident, winning team at the Berlin Major. He talked to about meeting Michael "miCKe" Vu for the first time, playing to entertain, the patch, and dying to Tormentor.

INSaNiA reminiscing about the past after 1000 games with miCKe

iNSaNiA celebrates with his team at the Berlin Major (Image by Stephanie Lindgren/ESL)
iNSaNiA celebrates with his team at the Berlin Major (Image by Stephanie Lindgren/ESL)

Let's start off with a recent milestone: You and miCKe just reached 1000 pro games of Dota played together. What’s it like to play with someone that much? 

INSaNiA: “I mean, it's awesome. Because we were playing Heroes of Newerth before we moved to Dota. Yeah, so I think we have like another 1000 games there at least. So I've known this kid since he was 13. He was literally a kid the first time I met him.”

“There used to be this players dinner on the first night whenever you went to the big LANs at HoN. And we were at a bar, and he was like, 13. So I came up to shake his hand “Oh hey miCKe, I’m Aydin, we talked online.” And he just hid behind his teammates. Like, he was a little kid! It was such a weird environment for him to be in.

“To be able to play with someone from that age, to now, where he's like, a man, he's a full grown man. It's awesome.”

And you played with Zai [Ludwig Wåhlberg] back then, right?

INSaNiA: “I played with Zai and he was like 15. And then we didn’t play together for many, many years.”

Was it so long ago [you played with Zai], it’s like playing with a different person now?

INSaNiA: “Yeah, in many ways. I think we know each other. And maybe in some ways, I have some sort of understanding of how he thinks and how he likes to approach things, these kinds of things. But of course, over the course of 10 years, a lot of things change.”

Do you and miCKe even need to talk to each other anymore, or do you just inherently know what the other is going to do?

INSaNiA: “No, I mean, we definitely talk to each other. But I feel like when we talk, we understand each other very easily.  I almost immediately know what he wants from me. Or, you know, if you ask him something, and he says “I don't know,” based on the tone of the “I don't know,” I know what he means. If I messed up or I actually don't know what's going on.”

INSaNiA playing to entertain at the Berlin Major

INSaNiA interviews Slacks at the Berlin Major (Image via Stephanie Lindgren/ESL)
INSaNiA interviews Slacks at the Berlin Major (Image via Stephanie Lindgren/ESL)

One more milestone for you: You’re the first team statistically locked for TI12. Even if you just got up, went home, FF’d every game for the DPC, you’d still make TI. Does that take off a lot of pressure? Does it change the way you play? 

INSaNiA: “I haven't really thought about it too much. It's nice. It's very nice. I think it's the first time ever that I'm actually locked in to a TI. TI9 we went with the last possible way to get qualified. And then last year was obviously the Last Chance Qualifiers. And that was crazy. So I think maybe once I go home and the tournament is over and I can just actually think about it, it'll probably feel very nice to just know that no matter what we're going to TI.”

Do you think it allows you to take more risks? Maybe experiment?

INSaNiA: “I mean, we’re pretty competitive, we'd like to win. However, I do think there's a part of us that's also very mindful of being entertaining. I think if we have the ability to be entertaining, we would love to be. I know we had some Medusa game we played, where we felt we could just farm the game out. But we're like, “No let's just go, we think we can go, even if it’s not that great *smacks hand* Lets go!” So maybe there'll be some more of that with more freedom and showing that side of us as well.”

I was going to say, you guys are having a lot of fun out there. Smiles, laughing, etc. Sometimes players tell me that’s just what it’s like when you’re winning games, but even back to the Alliance days, you’ve been a quite relaxed and happy team. Does that mentality help you win?

INSaNiA: “I think so. I think you have to enjoy playing. I mean, for me, I really felt the shift after the Group Stage. And we got to the first game in the arena, I suddenly felt like the way I felt during TI. Which was that there was a fundamental part of me deep inside that just wanted to win. So my brain just felt like it's working better. And I can hear my thoughts more clearly. And things are just coming to me like some sort of inner motivation was brought to life. And I think just playing on stage, whether you win or lose, kind of wakes that inside of me.”

INSaNiA weighs in on patch 7.33

(Image via Valve)
(Image via Valve)

So I’ve spoken to a few supports about how vision and warding is in the new patch. There’s entirely new objectives to ward, there’s little Watcher things, there are the (Twin) Gates that some people tell me are bait to ward, but others are like, it has to be done. What do you think? Do you like the vision changes?

INSaNiA: “In the last patch, everything was extremely figured out. So they were like very clear patterns that almost everybody followed. And they were very small deviations. Whereas now when you look at every team, everyone seems to have their own conclusion on what's good or what's bad and whatnot. So I'm not really sure. I kind of just go with the flow, however it feels in the moment, whatever. I feel like it's the way to go about things or how we should approach the game. It feels much more…. You're making a lot more decisions as you go instead of following a script, I guess compared to before.”

Do you like the support heroes that have ended up in the Meta because of the patch changes? You’ve been playing a lot of Lich, CM, Silencer, Oracle, which is one of your most-played heroes.

INSaNiA: “Yeah, I think it's cool. I mean the support pool has changed a bit. I think Pos 5 got nerfed overall in my opinion, but for the betterment of Dota, I guess. I just think the fact that kills gives so much more gold you kind of have to play up there was a step in the right direction.”

Is there a hero specifically you wish you could play in this patch that maybe has fallen out of favor?

INSaNiA: “Um, maybe Treant. I don't think I've seen that much Treant and I haven't really had the chance to play it too much. But enjoyed that hero on the last patch even though it was absolutely busted. Still excited to play it.”

Do you think because there's obviously a lot more trees now Treant might work well?

INSaNiA: “Maybe, maybe. I just haven't had the time, so I think there might be potential but he got hit pretty hard with the 40% health regen removal so maybe it's no good, but I'm gonna give it a try. We'll see!”

Be honest: How many times have you died to Tormentor, and was it always your core’s fault?

INSaNiA: “I think I’ve only died to it once, and it was in the DreamLeague Grand Final I believe? And that one I think I started yelling “Micke! Micke! Micke! Micke!” But I think I was already dead, so it's definitely my core’s fault.”

INSaNiA and the rest of Team Liquid's next event after the Berlin Major will be the final tour of the DPC 2023. Stay tuned to for more Dota 2 news and interviews!

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