No such thing as second place curse as iNSaNiA firmly believes Team Liquid are on track to become champions cover image

No such thing as second place curse as iNSaNiA firmly believes Team Liquid are on track to become champions

Team Liquid’s iNSaNiA gives us his perspective on what he was able to accomplish thus far as well as expectations for the future.

The road is never easy for those who have everything to be proud of, but still longing for something that remains amiss. Team Liquid is the one team most familiar with that road. Throughout 2023 and even till today, they have been stuck in second. Or perhaps the better and more accurate way of putting it is that they have consistently won second place for nearly all of their recent tournaments.

Needless-to-say what they had been able to achieve thus far was no small feat. And certainly, they still crave for the day they finally get to become grand champions. Ahead of DreamLeague Season 22, was able to get a hold of Aydin "iNSaNiA" Sarkohi to give us his perspective on what he and his team were able to accomplish thus far as well as expectations for the future.

Team Liquid on breaking the second place cycle

INSaNiA and Team Liquid at BetBoom Dacha Dubai 2024 (Image by BetBoom)
INSaNiA and Team Liquid at BetBoom Dacha Dubai 2024 (Image by BetBoom)

Thank you for your time iNSaNiA. Let's first get the elephant in the room out of the way. Why has it been so difficult for Team Liquid to break through the second place curse?

iNSaNiA: "I don't know if it's a curse. I think it's a problem that we have. It's something that we need to overcome. We don't really know ourselves why we have such a hard time in the grand finals, but it's something we're aware of and are looking to work on.

"As of right now, I don't really have an answer, but we're going to be putting in our maximum effort to try to figure it out because we feel like it's the final step missing from us truly being the best team in the world."

And what have you figured out so far in order to get that elusive first place?

iNSaNiA: "I feel like 98 percent of our process should be the same, because it's clearly working and we have some good ideas about how to reach the later stages of the tournament. When it comes to the grand final in specific, we need some work.

"Currently, I can tell you our idea is to try to play a lot more Dota and to have more ideas so that when we get to the grand final, people don't have us as figured out. But I think there's more to it. There's probably a psychological element as well that we need to explore and see how we can overcome, specifically in the final hump."

iNSaNiA: "I feel very relaxed when we're playing the finals."

Since you mentioned about psychological factors, do you feel like the team has some sort of looming anxiety every time they reach the grand finals?

iNSaNiA: "To be honest, I feel very relaxed when we're playing the finals. I don't personally feel any pressure, but when I look at the way we play the grand final, we don't play as well as we do the other games. It was the same in Kuala Lumpur leading into the grand final day. Some of us had poor sleep and stuff like that. There might be factors there even though we don't notice it. It's probably very subconscious so it needs to be explored. I just don't know what it is quite yet."

But honestly, would you rather be consistently achieving second place or become a champion once and then falter just about a majority of the other times?

iNSaNiA: "I mean I think I would still rather just get second place at every event. But at the moment, the desire to win is very high and I feel like we haven't won yet. It feels like we're so close, but we just haven't gotten there. So maybe right this moment, I would say on an impulse that I just want to win. And I don't care if we lose after. But I know in the grand scheme of things, I'm very happy with how we're playing. I think we're playing very well. And there is just some stuff missing to get us over the final hump."

Why Team Liquid have the most loyal and supportive fans

I'm sure all of Team Liquid fans want the same thing and we know they are the most supportive. But do you think being stuck in second place makes you guys somewhat of a martyr or an underdog in a way, garnering even more support?

iNSaNiA: "Our fans are the best and the people that support us are honestly great. I think everyone is craving for us to get any sort of win. Even other teams out there probably wish we could just win one. So I do feel that way. Probably the fact that we're just we're getting so close all the time is winning over some people and they just want to see us crack like final hurdle and finally get that W."

Usually, fans can be critical when their teams don't do well. But not Team Liquid fans. They are mostly by your side even in the bad days. Why do you think that is?

iNSaNiA: "I have noticed it and I know what you're talking about. All the fan interactions are great most of the time, and people are really supportive of us and our team. I realize how fortunate and blessed we are to have this kind of support behind us. And it became something that I would actively think about. For example, when we would lose, it wouldn't feel like just the seven of us lost. It would be like we let Team Liquid down as a community."

"We really are trying our best to get the win for you guys. We notice you guys and we really do appreciate you all."

Words for the Team Liquid fans by iNSaNiA

iNSaNiA: "Then you think about all the people at home who decide to spend their evenings to watch our games. They follow every single game for two weeks straight just to see if we can win in the end. I know and appreciate everyone that is putting time into us just so they can be there for us when we finally win. It's on my mind and I just want everybody out there to know that we really are trying our best to get the win for you guys. We notice you guys and we really do appreciate you all."

Does iNSaNiA ever mald?

The fans will definitely appreciate your heartfelt words. But I think the reason people love you guys so much it's because you guys are some of the most humble players in the world. INSaNiA, you are so humble that, according to a podcast you did with Cap, you won't even personally attack someone when you flame in Dota. Do you ever mald in Dota or are you generally mild-tempered?

iNSaNiA: "Oh no, I definitely mald. In fact, today I was streaming and had a game go very poorly. I was super mad and it ended up with me playing one more game and then just shutting my stream off because I was too frustrated. Everybody gets annoyed when playing Dota, but it's about how you allow your anger to affect yourself and others around you. I am guilty of letting loose and insulting people. It happens and I'm not proud of it.

"However, that's something I actively try to avoid. Because it doesn't help when you yell at someone and then that person's frustration will go on to the next. You just kind of create like a chain of bad vibes."

iNSaNiA: ""But imagine if you take a step to break the chain and stop your anger from spreading. In the same podcast, I mentioned my method of doing it is to just to type your anger out but then not hit enter. Just hit escape. It doesn't always happen, but I try to do it as often as I can. That way I get a release and nobody else has to know."

INSaNiA and Boxi's origin story

Those are some wise words. Now, you also mentioned in that podcast that you have a very competitive relationship with Boxi. How were you able to become long-time teammates with him?

iNSaNiA: "I think it's because of the history we shared. We are very competitive with each other to the point that it would also impact how we play. It all started when we went to a HON [Heroes of Newerth] event about a year after I quit the game. We just signed up for fun and it was me, Micke, Boxi and a few others. We ended up actually winning the whole thing.

"There, we realized that we played pretty well together and that there was potential to make this happen in Dota as well. As Boxi began to transition into Dota, it was when I started forming a team for Alliance. And Boxi was just one of the first people that popped in my head. So yeah, that's kind of how it happened."

What about the "therapy sessions" with Boxi that you spoke of?

iNSaNiA: "I think "therapy sessions" is phrasing it a bit incorrectly, but we would try to talk with each other. Not with any sort of psychologists or whatever, but we would try to communicate with each other to make sure that we're on the same page and neither of us is frustrated with something. Once in a while we'd have a checkup to make sure we talk to each other and make sure to drop the interpersonal competitiveness so that we can work together better."

Is this still a regular thing and does Team Liquid have it with other members of the team?

iNSaNiA: "I mean it probably exists in the form that we just talk to each other more now. But no it's not actually going on anymore. And I don't think anybody else in the team does this as far as I'm aware of."

Advice on how to strive for humility and PMA state of mind

Given how you transformed your rivalry with Boxi into a productive working relationship, can you share with us some advice on how you can reach a PMA [positive mental attitude] state of mind?

iNSaNiA: "I'd say taking a bigger perspective on things. I just feel like if you try to separate the impulsive feelings of frustration and try to understand people, you'll usually go a lot further. It won't be easy, but at the end of the day, it's another human being on the other side. Maybe he's not as good at Dota, or maybe he screws something up."

Having a little bit of perspective and trying to break that chain is the best thing you can do.

A simple word of advice on how to keep PMA

iNSaNiA: "But if I can make mistakes, I'm sure this guy can too. Having a little bit of perspective and trying to break that chain is the best thing you can do. Nobody will thank you for being nice or for not raging. But you will know for yourself. Ultimately, that will make you feel better too knowing that you respect yourself enough to not behave like an idiot."

On seeing Gaimin Gladiators as the number one rivals

Team Liquid and Gaimin Gladiators at <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023</a> (Image by ESL)
Team Liquid and Gaimin Gladiators at ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023 (Image by ESL)

Now on to DreamLeage Season 22. How about it this time? Do you feel that first place coming in?

iNSaNiA: "I always feel the first place coming in. This is a new year and we have a new player [Neta "33" Shapira]. I don't feel like we're like at our final form. I feel like we still have a lot to learn and a lot of adaptation to make. So yeah, for sure, I feel like every single day we get one step closer to reaching that point."

At the very least, are you confident that you will beat Gaming Gladiators once again? Are they still your rivals or have you transcended them and have a new target in mind?

"Playing against them [Gaimin Gladiators] and beating them especially is always going to give us a little bit of extra satisfaction."

iNSaNiA on Gaimin Gladiators as the number one rival
Team Liquid eliminated Gaimin Gladiators at <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">BetBoom Dacha</a> (Image by Liquipedia)
Team Liquid eliminated Gaimin Gladiators at BetBoom Dacha (Image by Liquipedia)

iNSaNiA: "I think of Gladiators as like our number one rival. I don't think it's exclusively related to if we beat them once or twice, but more so how last year went and how our relationship is with them. It's very friendly and I really enjoy the way they play Dota and have a lot of respect for how they play. So playing against them and beating them especially is always going to give us a little bit of extra satisfaction."

Thank you for your time iNSaNiA and best of luck for your tournament at DreamLeague Season 22. Hopefully, you'll get the first place win this time!

INSaNiA and Team Liquid will soon be playing at DreamLeague Season 22, facing 1win as the first opponent on Feb. 25. Check out our other player interviews and more only on