Misery: “It just feels like the high-level matchmaking to some extent dictates what’s good.” cover image

Misery: “It just feels like the high-level matchmaking to some extent dictates what’s good.”

Misery sat down with us to talk about his career, casting, coaching, and the current Dota 2 patch.

Rasmus "MiSeRy" Filipsen is one of the longest tenured players in Dota 2. But the Danish veteran has been out of the DPC for all of 2022 as he looks for new opportunities. We sat down Misery last week for an extended interview to talk about his career, his future plans, and the current meta in Dota 2.

In the interview, we dug up ancient history, talking about Digital Chaos and being on the receiving end of the notorious OG/EG roster swap. But Misery also talked about his aspirations in casting and coaching, and what he'd look for in a Dota 2 roster now.

At the start of the year, Misery signed with Ulti Agency, who previously told us they want to become the number #1 agency for Dota 2 players. This is the same agency that backed Martin “Saksa” Sazdov ahead of his signing with Tundra Esports. Whichever path he chooses, he's in good hands.

If you'd prefer to listen to audio of this interview, head over to our YouTube. We've uploaded a full audio version with clips to accompany the interview.

Image via Dreamhack
Image via Dreamhack

Misery, thanks for the interview. I thought I'd start with going over some of your background, some history. You've had an incredibly long career in esports, approaching 14 years I think if you count DotA 1

Misery: Yeah, that's that sounds right!

What do you kind of attribute your longevity to? How have you stayed in esports for so long, do you think?

Misery: Well, I mean, I started pretty young, right. And then esports was also pretty young back then. So I was kind of growing with it, right? Just experiencing the growth of esports from the very beginning; having to bring your own computer tournaments and sleeping in sleeping bags or whatnot, and then, you know, kind of blowing up. And then I was kind of lucky that it was that Dota turned out to be my game, right. Could have been a bunch of other games. 

It could have been something else like Warcraft III right? And that game kinda died, sadly. 

Misery: Yeah, I mean, there's so many games out there, right? And I was kind of lucky, that Dota was the one, you know, becoming so big and, and I could make a career out of it.

Looking back over your career and whatnot, one thing you do kind of notice is that you've been on a lot of American teams. Is that because you’ve kind of got a soft spot for NA, you like the scene? Or is that just going with the flow?

Misery: I think it's more like going with the flow. I don't know if I have a soft spot for any region, particularly. I also played in China for a while. So it's kind of just where the, you know, the path took me or whatever. And like decisions made in the in the moment kind of thing. I mean, once I was in NA, maybe I stayed there for a while, right? Because it was more natural or whatever. But it wasn't like an intended decision.

Is that a good piece of advice for kind of up and coming players then? "go with the flow"? Don't worry about “Oh, I've got to play in Europe. I've got to play in CIS” or something like that?

Misery: Well, it also felt like it was maybe easier before, because… Why is that? It felt like it was easier before. Nowadays, it's harder to play across regions. I would say. Maybe the format has changed it? Maybe it's the organizations or the, you know, the lack of tournaments, perhaps? But now I feel like some teams are still doing it. But it's definitely, significantly harder than it used to be. 

I think the format because you used to travel a lot. You didn't necessarily have to be based in the same region as your team, maybe?

Misery: I mean, also, when I played in NA, there was a bunch of organisations like Complexity, and we had like, DC. Right. And there was EG back then even. And there were some teams who were able to bootcamp and the region was overall, perhaps more competitive? I'm not sure. But yeah, there might be a bunch of reasons. But I mean, overall, it might still be the same.

Also all the TI’s in Seattle. So NA was the centre of Dota in a lot of ways back then as well. 

Misery: Yeah, that's true.

Digital Chaos and THAT EG Roster Swap

Image via Valve
Image via Valve

Linked to that, you were part of the Digital Chaos roster that had that incredible run at TI6. Any interesting memories from that roster from that experience overall?

Misery: I mean, there's so many. We had a really rough time going into TI. I think we lost most tournaments, lost a lot of games. I think people more or less had, you know, accepted that the team might not function or whatever. And then when we got into the tournament, we just started hitting a groove and kinda just played. Each of us played our best and, you know, some kind of momentum was gained. And yeah, we ended up doing it. I'm not sure it just felt like we were really strong. But everyone was very slow.

To be fair, I think we also did practice a lot. We had bad results, but we were working really hard up until TI happened. We played like every day. Many, many games. And yeah, didn't stop working. Just because, you know, it was a bit discouraging in a way that we kept losing.

That's an interesting point. Do you think a losing team ends up working harder than the team that’s having success? Because they're trying to catch up?

Misery: Yeah, I mean, that's true for sure. I think that's why it's so hard to be consistently winning, right? Is that everyone who’s losing is just trying to work hard to go where you are. It's much easier to just be like “ah, we're the we're the best” you know, “we don't need to work as hard.” I think there's a lot of examples in that in just, you know, all sports and esports as well.

Delving a little more into ancient history, and sorry to keep diving into the past. But recently, some of the most notable beef in Dota 2 is on the verge of being squashed. Fly and N0tail, who had that big dramatic split at ESL One Birmingham 2018, Fly came out with an interview recently effectively apologising for how he handled things. 

But one thing that people forget about that OG/EG swap is that you were on the receiving end of it, because it was Fly who was taking your spot on EG. Any memories of what that was like at the time? And your feelings on it now?

Misery: Well, I mean, I think it was, it was obviously a kind of a hard time for me. But to be honest, it was probably for the better. I don't think we worked really well together. And EG, that team was not functioning, you know? It was really hard for me to come in and be captain for that team. I felt like there was a lot of pressure and a lot of just… it didn't, it didn't really work out that well. 

Our results were kind of underwhelming as well. Even though we were really close to actually making it work. It was just like, just not enough. And then I think it was a good decision for both teams. But it was obviously you know, sad for me in a way. But looking back at it now, I think it was the right decision by them to call for something like this, because yeah, the team was not working out.

Did you find out about that in Birmingham? Like, the kind of dramatic cliche story is that everyone found out at the hotel the night before? Is that kind of how it worked out?

Misery: Yeah, kind of. I mean, I just feel like the team really was not functioning well for a while. We kept going and we actually had a really good boot camp before the Birmingham tournament. We were beating everyone. And I feel like the moment we lost because we dropped out. We actually lost that crazy game where EternalEnvy and think was maybe DJ brought Io and they relocated to our fountain, to our base and killed the throne, through sheer force, and through the backdoor. That was so crazy. We lost that game. 

And then I don't know, we lost another series as well to a really angry Russian team. Then suddenly we're just out, you know, because the fort that's how the former was the tournament. I feel like the moment we lost the tournament, I was like, Yeah... I felt like I was getting kicked already. Actually, I kind of knew it, you know, it deep down. Yeah, it didn't take many hours. Then I started writing people, “Hey, you know, talk to me. I just want to know what's happening.” And then it was pretty clear.

That's a really good insight!

Misery on Casting Dota 2

Image via Darren Elmy
Image via Darren Elmy

I understand that you’ve been looking into more casting. Obviously we’ve seen you take up the caster role over 2020, and some analyst work in 2021, but the most recent was the Intel World Open in Beijing. Can you tell us a bit about your experience with that?

Misery: I just had KillerPigeon reach out to me on Twitter saying that he needed a co-caster for this event, like this is covering this China event, this Beijing tournament. But nobody really announced it or heard much about it. And they flew us to Poland, and we cast it as event. I mean, it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it, to be honest, the games were really good. It was a bit sad that there was not so much coverage, like people didn't really know that it was happening until like the last day. 

But it was kind of fun to try. In the past, maybe I've been an analyst, or like as a caster for, you know, one series here and there or whatever. But it was interesting to try to work as a talent. And we were working like night hours because we were following Beijing time. So that was a bit that was a bit challenging. But overall, it was a lot of fun!

Yeah, I will say that it was it was surprising that that tournament didn't get so much coverage. But you worked with KillerPigeon, Darren Elmy on that. You had some pretty good synergy from what I've seen. Are there any of the talents you'd really like to work with? Anyone you aspire work with?

Misery: Well, I mean, I know that I have a pretty good relationship with most casters, because I mean, when there were tournaments all the time running, I was at most of them! And we always hung out and played Mafia and whatever else at these events. I like all the guys from the English talent!

No one who particularly just like “oh, it'd be great to work with them!” or anything like that?

Misery: I'm pretty flexible. I'm probably more analytical, right? I wouldn't be able to do any play by play that much? I think it will probably be more than one of the guys that can take care of that part.

That would be interesting. You might have a little bit of competition in former players coming into casting, N0taill jumped onto the desk at gamers galaxy. Have you seen much of his casting? Do you think you'd make a good pair with him?

Misery: Yeah, I'm sure we would. I mean, he also brings a lot of energy. I saw the casts from the Dubai tournament, that was a lot of fun I thought. Especially the final cast where it was, was Kuroky and SumaiL, that was really fun to watch. But I know like, there's a lot of talent. Like there's a lot of represented talent all around, all across the board. It's not easy to just swoop in and take over. Right, there's so there's a lot of good guys out there casting. 

And it's also hard work. That's something I realized when I was doing the Beijing tournament. People give a lot of shit to casters, right? But it's very hard work. You work very long hours, you cast a lot of games, and a lot of you keep seeing the same things in the games, it's hard to actually say different things, you keep repeating yourself. It was hard to actually keep it continuing, to keep it interesting. And to have the energy to entertain people is kind of challenging.

Misery on Dota 2 Coaching Aspirations

Image via ESL
Image via ESL

You also mentioned that coaching is something you’re looking towards doing, and obviously you do have some experience with that as well with paiN Gaming. Do you have a coaching style or how would you describe your method?

Misery: Ah, I don't know, I didn't coach them for very long. But because when you're playing, when you're in the game, all your energy is focused on playing. It's your minds kind of on that right? With the Brazilians, when I was coaching those guys, it was kind of while I was watching the games, while in the break and stuff, I felt like I had so much time to do a lot of other things. Because I didn't have to play pubs, I didn't have to do all the stuff you do as a player. I had a lot of times I was like I was cooking for them a bit. And I was like, doing other things as well.

I found it very interesting and very kind of fun, in a way, like different. But it's definitely something that I would like to try to do in the future at some point, is to try to be a coach because I think it I could do a really good job, I think.

It's not the most visible thing, though, to coaching. You don't have many big famous coaches. But are there any coaches in Dota 2 right now that are leading the way? or people you think that are a great example of good coaching?

Misery: It's, it's also like, you get even said yourself a little bit there. It's hard to really know what a coach does for Team unless he's coached yourself. Because like, they are very under the radar. They don't get much praise for what they do. I've been coached by 1437, and I've been coached by BuLba. I think 1437 helped us a lot when he came in as a coach. He was doing a really good job. He just came in like a couple of weeks before boot camp and helped us out and then we won the Shanghai Major.

I think he continued as coach, I believe. But you know, but that was like a really good example of what a coach can do. Because he gave us some fresh ideas. He gave us all confidence. He helped me with certain heroes that I was not really feeling so much and kind of gave me an idea what I should be thinking on those heroes. Yeah, he helped me a lot and he helped the team a lot.

And as for BuLba, I also think he he gets a lot of shit too. But he's also worked really hard in the years that I've known him and I think he did a really good job as well. I key if I was going to be coaching some team now I would definitely think of some of the things he's done to keep things structured like he coached us as well in DC at Boston Major. And, I don't know, I just like how he kind of prepared the team before the matches. Like I would with him talk with him about the other team and then we would kind of go over and kind of brief the team, on what we should be thinking. What kind of heroes we should worry about or whatever, just a game plan, structuring it a bit more.

I think that's something in Dota that is kind of lacking. A lot of teams still do lack that. I think probably the teams that are successful are the ones who are implementing some more structure in there. In their scrimming or scheduling or whatever. Just small structures so you understand what you're working on, or what's going on with other teams.

That's interesting, you say that, because I know that there was obviously that big Team Secret run in 2020. And then he wins coach the earth of all these in the eSports awards, and it shows that I suppose with a coach just being there, there, you can get a lot of results, just from structure and having a plan and Dota is always it's still very seems like it's just five guys get together and start playing the game. And that doesn't seem like it's gonna be gonna work.

Misery: I mean, obviously, some coaches that also really like really good coaches is, I mean, she mentioned him right, of course, but there's also like Xiao8, and RTK. And I think there's a there's a big difference between how teams use their coach like Nigma has rmN- right? Like rmN- has played Dota as long as I have and he’s Kuro’s really good friend. And now he's just kind of an integrated part of the team. Whereas the RTKs and the Xiao8s are more like almost the captain of the team, right? Drafting and everything. And so I think the role of the coach is very different depending on the team.

Talking about Patch 7.31

Image via Valve
Image via Valve

Moving on from casting coaching a little bit, then we finally got a patch in the game. At the end of last month, we've had about a month within now maybe about 20 days, probably less than that. How do you like the changes in general habits you see the end of techies? Do you like primal beast? What? What are your thoughts on the current patch guys?

Misery: The newest stuff like Techies, Primal Beast, I don't think too much of it. I think I haven't played either hero yet. I don't know. For me, it always takes a while to get into these new heroes. It's not... it doesn't really interest me too much.  I think the shard is a cool. 15-minute shard. I also think that these kind of small changes to heroes are good. I was also expecting a bigger patch, to be honest. 

But what I really miss in general is just this small, two, three-week small updates. Like I don't want to keep playing my pubs and lose to last pick TA or last pick Huskar and just lose the game because I just feel like I get cheesed too much. And people are getting too used to: “Okay, these heroes are the best heroes in the game. We're gonna just keep spamming those.” It’s the kinda cheesy way to win. I think that's too common and high matchmaking. I don't know how it is on lower tiers. 

But I think something that Valve used to say a couple of years ago, I think was that they would have these two-week, on Thursdays I think what they would give a like kind of an update patch. And I think they could do that again, because I do think there are some heroes that are powerful, right? And yeah, why not just give them a slight nerf here and then work with some of the heroes that don't get played out all give them a little buff, and then just you know, every two weeks, that's going to be a kind of a little change. 

I think that could be a really good way of keeping the game fresh and interesting. But yeah, I mean, I still like the game a lot.

And with that, the fact that you're kind of not messing around with the Techies or the Primal Beast a lot… I mean, they're not in competitive play yet are they? 

Misery: It's kind of like, I’ve played against them a lot, right? Obviously, Primal Beast comes out. And he just walks on people and they just die. You know, and it's like, it's pretty standard that the new hero has some kind of tool that looks completely broken. So that's, you kind of used to that. I think his concept is kind of fun. 

And the techies I think it's a little disappointing. I mean, I also didn't like Techies before. I liked playing it, but I didn’t like playing against it. But it was kind of unique. It had a very unique place in the game, whereas now it's kind of a very “meh” hero that is kind of all over the place.

What about hero balance? Just from my view and watching the DPC, there seems to be a lot of priority on mid heroes and not always for the best reasons. Like for example in WEU DPC, Invoker is 100% picked or banned, but hasn’t won a game, while people keep letting Pangolier through. Do you think people are still feeling out the patch? Or do you think sometimes it’s just a coin flip? 

I mean, I just watched Secret against Tundra. And I played a bunch of pubs this week, and I feel like the Tundra's drafts are very... They have hints of what I see in my pubs, you know? Some KotL mid. I mean, they also have the signature heroes and Io, Gyrocopter, Monkey King and stuff like that. But it just feels like the high-level matchmaking to some extent dictates what's good. I mean, there are so many people who are working really hard to win MMR. And I think there's a lot of stuff that can be used from pubs. A lot more than you think. And so I think the higher matchmaking pubs, to some extent, kind of dictate the meta and Europe… Sorry, what was the question?

Oh, do you think people are still feeling out the patch?

Misery: Yeah, I think that it still takes a little while. There are still some heroes that are like, for example, this Venge hero with the new shard, like where's he at? You know, is he a support? your core? Some people played it core. I think it was OG. And I mean, this hero looks really strong. But it's kind of up in the air. Same for KotL. He's also been gone for a while now. He's suddenly back. And where does he actually fit in the game? And I think there's a lot of heroes sort of like that. It can be hard, like we're playing one one match a week, right? And then you have to narrow down all these many, many variable heroes down to what's actually the best.

"Same for KotL. He's also been gone for a while now. He's suddenly back. And where does he actually fit in the game?"

Misery on changes in the meta

When the neutral creep changes that came in, almost every support started spamming Chen. That’s not made into drafts so much. But one hero you’re kind of known for, Bane, is getting a lot of play and seeing success. What supports do you think are strong right now? In high-level play?

Misery: I think Enchantress is really good. I don't have to the hero list open right now. But I think, to me Enchantress seems really strong. It's also there are so many viable hero also, like one series, you might see Secret first pick Ench. Then the next series, they don't touch it at all. I just looked it's not banned or picked in their game. That does weird to me a bit. Like, what happened there? But, but like Io’s also really strong for some teams, but other teams don't really touch it at all.

I mean, that it's kind of the same with Ench. So it always kind of kind of depends on the on the patch. And I mean on the team. And I also don't think it's really figured out yet. Like, before, it was always like Weaver, you know, over and over and over again. And Bane like you said. I feel like the normal position five like the Bane and the Disruptors are, they're still good. But they're not what's the best just yet. But for me, Ench seems to be very strong.

I mean, I saw some criticism of that kind of Enchantress pick. Not because it's a bad or anything, but because it's kind of encouraging quite passive meta. Get your Ench, Wait for a few creeps, and then you burn a tower down and you avoid fights. Do you think the meta is good right now? Or do you think you'd like to see it change a bit to be more active, more proactive?

Misery: I think I mean, the thing is, like, we had really good games that I think that the meta hasn't changed too much since the last patch. And I thought that I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, because we had so many amazing games in Dubai. That was before the patch. Right? Regardless, I think the what was so amazing about that event is that you have so many games in short amount of time, which means all the teams are kind of on the same level and on the same mindset of what works and what doesn't work and what the enemy is gonna do. 

And then, you know, there's this whole meta game going on. So the drafts are much more even. Whereas now in the DPC, you have one match a week and you don't know what the other teams doing at all. Because you also pay so much attention to... Let's say, you're playing Liquid next week, you're not going to scrim against Liquid during this time, right? You're going to play some other teams. And then both teams might scrim, different partners, and you have a very different idea of what's good. Then you end up with these very skewed drafts, perhaps, even though the teams are much more close when it comes to skill.

So I think that it's kind of, it's fair that you don't see very many hype games in this DPC. Because there's so many out-drafts happening. I think today was a really good example, like Secret lost two really fast games. And, you know, they looked really out-drafted in those games.

Wrapping things up, and DPC thoughts

Image via ESL
Image via ESL

I thought I’d get your thoughts on kind of a developing story in Dota 2 right now. Today Nigma had their game postponed because of their players testing positive for COVID, and people were quick to compare that to BOOM esports having to forfeit because of a powercut. The point being that one league is being very harsh to players, while another is being very lenient. Do you think there should be more consistency across the rules? Or do you think you've got to take it case by case for a reason?

Misery: Ideally, in an ideal world, there are some clear cut rules that, you know, does it but at the same time, like, I would prefer that the games get postponed, instead of forfeit. Because, you know, there haven't been that many games. And if somebody gets COVID, or power outage or whatever, I think it's fine to try to postpone it. Obviously, it sucks for the team, and it sucks in general for everybody. But I think it's better than the because there are there's also so much on the line, right? Like in the in the DPC, there's so few games like you don't really have a you know, a way to get those points back from the from the league. So, yeah, I think the better players probably to just postpone the games like they did in Europe.

Finally, I know, we talked about your kind of casting and coaching. But if the right offer for a team came along, would you jump back into it? Would you go for it? Are you kind of still looking for team and whatnot?

Misery: Yeah, I mean, I was thinking about playing this year. This season, as well. I had a couple of offers that I was considering. I was trying to make a team in the beginning of the season as well, in August. But the team, I don't know, just couldn't make it work. Like couldn't find the players. It just didn't happen. And then I had some offers throughout the year. But I feel like I want it to be something that I really believe in. And I don't want to just play for the sake of playing.

I've kind of done that for a couple of years now, to some extent. And it doesn't feel good. Especially not in the way the DPC works and the ecosystem of Dota. You're kind of playing for free, more or less unless you can make the TI and there's very few games being played right. Official games. 

So yeah, I feel like the incentive is not really there for me right now. Although I've enjoyed my social life and done other things outside of the game, but I still play a lot and I still love the game. So of course if the right opportunity is there, I'm gonna go back into it. No doubt.

Very last thing then. Is anything else you want to get out there on the interview or any messages for fans of yours or anything like that?

Misery: Not really, I mean, I'm, I'm following the war in Ukraine a lot… And it's it's very fucking sad. And I hope that that gets resolved soon. So the world can go back to whatever it was before. Which was also kind of ridiculous but you know. But hopefully that gets resolved because it's a depressing time.

Well, thank you so much for the interview Rasmus, Misery. Thank you, it's been brilliant.

If you want to keep up today with Misery, check out his socials on Twitter. And if you liked this interview, and want some extra content, head over to our YouTube and consider giving it a listen.