Image via the official ESL Twitter account.
Per Anders 'Pajkatt' Olsson Lille has been playing competitive Dota since prior to the first International, which he attended with Online Kingdom. He played for LGD.int at TI2 and will return this year with Mousesports, formerly Team Dog, who earned their place in TI4 with a fantastic performance in the European qualifiers. Yesterday, they got knocked out of ESL One Frankfurt following a close-fought – and very exciting – series of matches against Invictius Gaming.
I spoke to Pajkatt an hour after the game to talk about that first blood , the reasons why they lost, the danger of Pugna and the plan between now and TI4.
It was fantastic watching you guys play, even if it didn't quite go the way you wanted. Nonetheless, that Axe double kill is going to be one of those things that people are going to be sharing for a long time. How did that feel?
It felt very nice. Axe against Lycan is something we've played a lot. Lycan can't really do anything against Axe, because of the spin. He's just got right clicks, and his wolves, and that's more right clicks – more chances to spin. Then they come mid with two heroes that can't really do anything. They had no spell damage, and Axe is really tanky. So when they go in close and they have wolves and creeps there, you just start spinning. It was... really nice.
I stood up and tried to get the crowd going and ripped my earphone out. I had to pause because when I plugged it in it started to make some weird noises. But it was really nice.
The dangers of showmanship, right?
Yeah, that's what it is.
There was no RNG in that encounter, right? Were you confident that they didn't have the burst damage to take you down?
I knew that if they went in like that then they were going to die. Three people on me... yeah, they're going to die.
Given the way the rest of the game went, are you still happy with the Axe pick?
Definitely. We lost that game because of a mid fight that we took without the panda [Brewmaster] ult and we lost like four people, five people. Later they got Rosh. The easiest thing for us to do would have been to go safelane in that game and they would have had a offlane Pugna against three heroes and he'd have got nothing and we would have stomped the Lycan mid. We could have also gone offensive – creep skipped with Axe and taken the tower fast.
But the Axe pick was not the problem. When enemy teams pick Lycan, Axe is almost a total counter. I question myself now about why we didn't pick it in the third game. You make mistakes in drafting... it's a shame that it's single elimination because you take things from these games, and maybe we could have come back tomorrow and played for the better.
We also could have learned something for this third game... they ended up with Lycan and Pugna twice in a row. We should have stopped that in the first ban phase. The Lycan wasn't really the problem, though – he's just some guy with wolves, scouting us – but the problem was always that Pugna with their supports. They could just take our towers without us being able to engage.
We were banking on high cooldown spells. When you do that against this Pugna hero... they die but then they're back, and you have no spells and they take your tower. Then they go to the next tower and they have more items and maybe you kill them again but then you're on cooldown, and so on. There's an issue there. You can't draft these high cooldown heroes against them.
It was a huge transformation from game one into game two – night and day. What was the nature of the discussion between those two games? What turned it around so dramatically?
I think there's a large difference between first and second pick, which helped us – we got the PotM [Mirana]. In the first game, I don't think they rate panda that high but we haven't played Chinese in forever. In these games, you don't know how the enemy rates different heroes. We rate panda high and they didn't. We could have taken Axe/PotM, denied them the PotM, but we didn't. Next game we got the PotM and it's one of our most played heroes.
We also decided that we were going to pick 'us' – we're going to pick what we're comfortable with. Axe is comfortable but this was a complete lineup that we've played versions of so many times that we know exactly what to do.
Do you feel like Bane has a place in a lineup without PotM? You didn't pick him when you could have done in the third game.
Bane without PotM is not the same. He's good for setting stuff up – Bane/PotM, Bane/Slark. He's a guy who sets up things, he's strong in lane, he's tanky. But you kinda need to make use of him early on. He needs to get a lot done because he only has single-target spells. He doesn't scale in some ways like a Rhasta [Shadow Shaman] or a Sand King. You need to use his laning phase, and the easiest way to use that is if you have a PotM, obviously.
Plus the combination – you can set it up from anywhere because PotM can come in, like, five seconds late and still land that arrow. You can pick Bane otherwise, but it's situational.
You guys really favoured the panda – why is that the case right now? What do you feel like it's giving you?
We're just comfortable with it. MSS plays a good panda. You can take these fights – he just keeps fighting, and enemies are scared to fight so they don't go for some towers. The problem with panda is when they realise that they can just fight and die and fight again. We know that now – that if you just keep fighting through panda ult then he has a problem. But we've had a lot of wins with that hero, and a lot of success.
It seemed like your solution for how to beat iG in every case was always going to be aggression. Is that something you might reconsider?
Yes. For me, we lost the series only because of the draft. I think their play is nothing fancy, nothing we haven't already played against. It's only another team. We lost two games because they got some push strats and we couldn't really deal with it. The Pugna pick fucked us both games. The thing we can take from it is we can either ban the Pugna in first phase or take it ourselves. That's something we should do for sure.
Reckon you've got a place for it?
Definitely – we need a plan to take it at least when they've got this Lycan, you know? He's not scary on his own. But combined with the right heroes, he's really scary. I would say that we lost the series because we didn't do 'us' all three games. We half-and-halfed it. I think we could have won game one, we had the draft, if we didn't fail those mid goals. But game three was lost three picks in. There was not much we could do.
To wrap up – what's next for you guys?
We're going to bootcamp in Berlin for a couple of days and then we're going to go home. We have one day when everybody goes home to their houses and families and then we're going to fly to Seattle and play TI.
How are you feeling about it?
I think it's going to be good. Personally I just want to play more and more LANs. Besides MSS, all of us have played a lot of LANs but we haven't played LANs as a team and I haven't drafted in that long. It's something you need to get used to, because drafting at home and drafting at a LAN is really different because there's something on the line and you only get these three games. You're more scared, you're more intimidated, which limits you. It limits your mind so you don't think of these clever things that normally, sitting at home in your boxers, both feet in the air, you'd think of.
You're held back by your trousers.
Yeah, gotta do an iceiceice and play in your boxers – but when you got to LAN you have to be more confident. It's hard because there's a big crowd and you only get a couple of games. There's a lot of people watching and these things go to your head, even if they shouldn't.
With that in mind, though, the crowd here fucking loved you.
I love them too. I love playing with the crowd. I think Dota's supposed to be played with a crowd – this is what makes me happy, playing Dota. Going to events like this... there were some hiccups but when you get to play on this stage with this crowd it's worth it a hundred times over. This is the way Dota is supposed to be played. It's strange, but it makes it so much more of a fun sport. It feels like it matters.
Thank you for your time. Any shoutouts?
I want to shout out to EpicGear, BenQ, Mousesports, and to my family and friends back home in Sweden.