LizZard shares his perspective on Dota and life in an interview at OG Hub during ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023.
Admir "lizZard" Salkanović is a renowned Bosnian Dota 2 commentator and former pro who has been around the scene for most of its history. From his time as a pro player all the way to becoming one of the mainstay talents, lizZard has kept two things constant: His discipline in life and his love for Dota.
During the course of ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023, lizZard had once again became the host of OG Monkey Business Show, a program which he had been a part of for quite some time. As usual, his charisma kept the crowd in Malaysia entertained throughout the show.
On Dec. 16, esports.gg managed to get in touch with lizZard for an interview. We were able to learn about his journey as a player and talent, as well as the things that drove him forward in life. Behind his overtly gung-ho personality is someone who exercises discipline with a grounded mindset, but is still able to embrace the natural free flow of life. One thing's for sure; LizZard is a forward-thinking individual and here's why:
Does lizZard ever want to come back to the pro scene?
Hello, lizZard and thank you so much for the interview. It's been seven years since you transitioned from a pro player to a talent. How's that going for you? Would you ever want to go back to being a player?
LizZard: "Hell yes, I would love to! I've been playing pubs recently. And to be real, since my friends first introduced me to DotA, I always felt like the games were more or less easy. Unless I'm playing pro games, it was not really that hard. And I can see the mistakes that everyone else was doing. However, in my recent games, I was unable to see mistakes from others, much more just for myself. This means that I'm in the right place. I'm just not as fast anymore although I still love the game and will always try."
By the way, I also played in windowed mode for half a year and lost 1,000 MMR. But I'm stubborn and kept on trying to convince myself that windowed mode works. The moment I shut it off, I went on a 20 win streak. So, maybe I'll gain 5,000 MMR now, but will I become a pro again? Very unlikely."
Embodying Bruce Lee's principle of "be water"
In other words, would you say you've found your true calling in Dota as a talent or panelist?
LizZard: "This may sound stereotypical from me especially since I go to the gym, but I always look back to Bruce Lee's statement, 'be water.' You can generally use that in any aspect of your life. I don't have a goal. I feel that where I am right now is really nice and I love doing what I'm doing, like hosting the OG Hub for example. Did you see the show today when Slacks [Jake "SirActionSlacks" Kanner] ate a banana leaf?
"Wherever life takes you, I just go with the flow. That's the approach I'm having."
What else can you do in life where you get paid to enjoy yourself? I shed a tear during that segment. I'm really happy with where I am. I'm happy with the career choices that I have taken. Is this the end game for me? I don't think so. Wherever life takes you, I just go with the flow. That's the approach I'm having."
LizZard: "I don't stick stubbornly to one idea"
In your mind, have you surpassed the success you've ever had as a player now as a talent?
LizZard: "A hundred percent. My dream was to make it to TI as a pro player. Unfortunately, I never made that. But as I said, I always go with the flow. If an opportunity arises, I don't look away. I don't stick stubbornly to one idea that's probably going to haunt me in my life. Looking back, I'm really happy with the choices I made. I don't know where I would be if I just continued pursuing the pro player career.
So, of course I have to say I surpassed my pro career by being an analyst and everything. I've done way more, going to so many majors and TIs. I guess there's a little bit of regret for not making it to TI as a player. But besides that, I'm very happy with everything that I went through."
On having family's support for a career in esports
Referring back to one of the interviews you've done in your past, you mentioned how your family was not fully on board with your career as a player. Has that changed since you've became a talent?
LizZard: "Oh yeah, I'm a Bosnian so of course my family was not on board. Actually, I was kind of good at Warcraft, and that's where my esports career started. I won a couple of local tournaments and really wanted to compete more in that game. My family wanted me to focus on my studies, but I would rather play Warcraft and nothing else. They would even plug out the electricity to stop me [laughs]. I started playing Dota during my university days and I still get the same reaction. Though I have to say my family supported me immensely because I didn't have a problem financially. So I was blessed to have a very caring family, brother and parents who psychologically supported me.
And yes, I think that has changed since I became a talent. I'm making money, I'm buying stuff and I'm providing. I do not rely on them. I mean even back when I was a pro player, I still received a nice salary for Bosnian standards. So they didn't really mind that much. They just minded the initial period in which you're literally a broke-ass student."
LizZard's harsh truth on finding a career as a player
Parents in many parts of the world, especially amongst older generations have little knowledge on esports and would view it with some stigma. In your opinion, how would you advise others that a career in esports is viable?
LizZard: "Whether in Dota or just esports in general, I would say the same thing. I wouldn't try being a pro player unless I made something and proved something to myself already. I was rank one on the leaderboards and I was still doubting myself. Should I stream or not? Should I try to go pro or not? In my opinion, I don't think that you should waste too much time if you don't see that you have the talent. And you can easily see that statistically. Are you ranked top 100? Or are you at least rising really fast through the ranks in one year like going from 2k to 6k. Are you young enough? Just don't sit there and lie to yourself that you're going to make it.
"You have to be crazy about the game, you have to love it and you also have to have something in it for yourself. Be real with yourself. I think that's the most important."
I mean this might be too real, but don't waste your time trying to go pro if you don't have what it takes and find out soon if you aren't improving fast. Instead, I want to twist this toward a positive spin. Enjoy the game! It's not all about the competition. Like myself, I really wanted to play it all the time, and I really wanted to be the best. You have to be crazy about the game, you have to love it and you also have to have something in it for yourself. Be real with yourself. I think that's the most important."
On becoming as a host at the OG Monkey Business Show
Indeed! Thank you for such a great advise, LizZard. Next, I want to talk about OG Monkey Business Show [MBS]. You've been a part of this program for at least 12 episodes. How did you end up becoming a staple guest of this show? Are you one of their main hosts now or something?
LizZard: "No, we just like working together. And as long as that's the case, we'll continue doing it. How I ended up in OG MBS is basically because I know someone who knows someone. The guy producing this invited me one day to be a guest of the podcast. At the time, I was casting till 5:00 a.m. and the podcast was at 8:00 a.m. And I still showed up still and it worked out. After that, I don't know what happened but they needed someone to host the program in Berlin, and thought of me from that podcast when I was looking dead tired.
But the funny story is, he's Croatian and I'm Bosnian. So we're in neighboring countries and we're close to Romania, where TI10 was held. COVID was still there at the time, but unfortunately a lot of people had already flew into Romania even though they couldn't get any tickets as the arena was closed to the public. He [Ivan Chadnar] reached out to me and asked if I can share that. He wasn't a part of OG back then. Ivan is a great guy by the way."
Anyway, he asked me if I could help him promote some sort of hub he was organizing where they could go and watch games together. Especially for those stranded in Romania with nothing to do. So I helped him out a little bit there. And then later on I think we held that connection. So karma, I guess, I don't know. But then again, I really like doing this and so far I think they are enjoying it too. So hopefully it continues."
LizZard's gym routine and exercise tips
In this episode, you mentioned that you are a gym bro. Can you share your routine and some secret work out tips?
LizZard: "My gym routine right now is all over the place. I've had some injuries so I do what I can pretty much to stay in shape. At the moment, I'm just focusing on calisthenics. I go to the gym, put on a weighted belt and do as many pull-ups as I can. I put 20 to 40 kilograms, do five pull-ups and repeat it until I'm dead. That's pretty much it. Before I did a lot of squats and dead lifts. I would say pull-ups, dead lifts and squats are the best three you can do for yourself. That's all you have to do. You're going to be big in a year or at least you're going to see changes.
Of course, you have to take care of yourself by doing some rotator cuff, stretch or mobility exercises. Just so you don't hurt yourself. And take it slow and discipline yourself. I think discipline is important in everything in life."
How do you motivate and discipline yourself?
LizZard: "Motivation is a non-factor. I don't know, maybe I'm just missing some brain cells that people have to keep motivated. But the way I see it, it doesn't matter if I'm tired or not. I need to get my ass up and just go. That's it. When I get there, I'll think about my motivation. You're going to have so many days in your life in which you cannot go because of various reasons. Motivation isn't one. You're going to be hurt, you're going to be traveling or you're going to be sick. Anything can happen and most likely will happen at some point in your life. So, take every day that you can and use it.
"Anything can happen and most likely will happen at some point in your life. So, take every day that you can and use it."
Goals for 2024 and words to his fans
The year is coming to an end. What are some of the goals you wish to accomplish in 2024?
LizZard: "I want to understand myself better and be happier. I'm still happy, but I just want to be better to the people around me. Learn to listen more and talk less, even though that's something I have to do here at work [laughs]. Just in general, become better at everything. Besides that, no real goals. Once again, like I said, I literally never in my life said this year I'm going to do this and that. I literally never made a goal for the new year because I go with the flow. But you know what? I'm going to work out on the first of January."
Very nice! Finally, what do you wish to say to your fans out there?
LizZard: "I have fans [laughs]? Thank you for supporting me. I get your messages. I try to answer as many as I can. If I don't, I'm sorry. I'm trying to stream again so you can join the stream. I hope you are enjoying the OG MBS as well. Keep on watching it and thank you for following. Every fan who I've met so far has been great. So keep on being yourself. Keep on being good. And I wish you a Merry Christmas, happy holidays and happy new year."
Thank you lizZard for your time in taking this interview and for your abundance of energy that is truly contagious.
Be sure to catch lizZard not only on OG MBS but also his personal streams and social at the following:
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