Nikobaby has been Alliance’s rock during a tumultuous time that’s seen the team go through plenty of struggles. He spoke to Esports.gg at ESL One Malaysia.
Swedish organization Alliance just concluded its run at the ESL One Malaysia. With a reformed roster, the team came as a Direct Invite and it sparked a wave of controversy from the Dota 2 Community. But they can hardly be blamed. Alliance has been stuck in a rough loop of making it to WEU Division I and getting demoted right after. The team struggled to win a single series and they have been forced to go through roster reshuffles again and again.
But you can always trust Alliance to march forward and relentlessly attempt to find their footing. Esports.gg had a chat with Alliance's carry player, Nikolay "Nikobaby" Nikolov at the ESL One Malaysia. We discussed his growth as a player, Alliance's performance at the event, how the team takes the brutal heat, and more!
KZ: Hi Niko, thank you for taking the time to sit down with me. How's the event so far?
Nikobaby: Everything is smooth. Everything is good. The weather is a bit strange, it is a bit foggy all the time. But everything is good. The location is interesting but you don't see anything around. Most of the days it is just clouds or fog. It's a nice location. I want to visit the temple, it's down a few blocks away.
KZ: Could you rate this event compared to other events? How does it fare to other events?
Niko: During COVID, everything was pretty bad. You couldn't leave the room. Now you have freedom to do whatever you want. Let's say I would rate it pretty high compared to tournaments during COVID. So I'm happy to be here.
KZ: Your team finally broke the 18 streak of losses with a win against Talon Esports. How was the atmosphere in the team at the time?
Niko: We don't really think about losses and wins right now. We are mostly thinking about improvement and just glad to get better overall. So I didn't really pay attention to the losses and wins. I was just focusing on my game and that is the most important thing.
KZ: Since this tournament is not in the DPC, do you guys treat this as a more relaxing bootcamp or the opposite because of the upcoming TI qualifiers?
Niko: We took this more like a practice for TI qualifiers because we are here with a stand-in and this team was formed two weeks ago. So we didn't come here expecting to beat everyone. We just came to treat everything like practice for TI qualifiers.
We will have two days off (after this event) and we will go straight into bootcamps.
KZ: Alliance has been in a rough state for a while. How does the team deal with losses and tough times?
Niko: I'm not sure about every single player but me personally I'm just focused on becoming the best player in my own role and nothing else matters. So I don't think about external factors.
I know how hard the task is going to be, how everything is going to be. I am just focused on enabling myself and enabling the others with confidence and just being more calm.
KZ: The last time you played qualifiers - TI qualifiers in 2019 with Mineski. How's the Nikobaby in 2019 different from the 2022 qualifiers?
Niko: I know how hard the task is going to be, how everything is going to be. I am just focused on enabling myself and enabling the others with confidence and just being more calm. Because back then I was more hot-headed, I was just all in the moment and I didn't think about anything else. Now we have guys who are in the same position that I was back then. So I need to help them be more calm when they play.
KZ: So who are these guys that you are going to guide?
Niko: We have Limitless and Dukalis, they are both pretty new players. Aramis as well. So we have three new guys on the team who want to prove themselves to the world. They have not won any TI quals, they have not been to TI. So this is their dream and I need to enable them and succeed with it.
KZ: How do you like the 7.32 patch so far?
Niko: There are some heroes that I really like. There's Pudge, it's always fun to play Pudge carry. There's Bristle, Doom. You can play many carries that are outside the traditional carry role. So I really like it right now.
KZ: So what is the traditional carry role?
Niko: In the traditional carry role, you had Morphling, Void, etc. Heroes that had to farm to hit their timings a bit later. Now you have Pudge and Bristleback, you see the Vanguard and you have the power spike around 12-15 minutes. Whereas before, you wait more and more and you wouldn't be really looking to fight. Now it's about the earlier power spike than before.
KZ: So you're excited to not farm anymore?
Niko: (laughs) With Pudge at least.
KZ: What is the most outrageous change in the patch?
Niko: (Thinks) The Centaur cart is pretty crazy. You can just Black Hole and you put him in the cart and then if he gets heroes around he can Black Hole everyone. It seems pretty insane.
KZ: What about the other channeling spells? It works the same right?
Niko: You can put Crystal Maiden with her ult, put her in the cart and then run away. Or let's say I get Black Hole-d, they just put me in the cart and run away.
KZ: Am I going to see that in any of Alliance's future games?
Niko: I think so.
I know when you are winning, everyone is with you and when you are losing, everyone is against you.
KZ: Alliance has been kind of on edge. Some of the Dota 2 fans have been turning Alliance into a meme. The chat has been pretty brutal. How do you guys handle it? Do you guys ignore the chat or do you just enjoy the memes?
Niko: I don't look at those things. I know when you are winning, everyone is with you and when you are losing, everyone is against you.
KZ: The next is TI11 qualifiers and you guys will be preparing for that one. Outside of normal in-game scrims, how do you guys prepare for these events?
Niko: Can't say for everyone. But for me, I try to workout and read to help my focus stay on a high level.
KZ: How has Loda been helping you guys as a team?
Niko: I think he is trying to enable people outside the game. Not so much inside the game right now. He's trying to see how you feel and what you need to perform outside the game more than just clicking a few buttons.
KZ: Thank you for the chat and good luck!