Jon 'Babyknight' Andersen talks returning to Dota: 'I'm just happy to be back, I really missed the game.'
Leaving a successful career in SC2 behind him, Babyknight talks about returning to the franchise that got him interested in competitive gaming.
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To start off, most people in the Dota community today describe you as Artour 'Arteezy' Babaev's predecessor in terms of how and when you got noticed in game's the competitive scene, and people are today quick to say that you were cocky and badmannered at the time.
I would agree that I was quite arrogant back in Dota 1, but I wouldn't agree that I was being bad mannered towards anyone that didn't deserve it (not for their play, but their attitude). You'd have to go back even before I became a competitive player in Dota 1 to find me cursing at people for no reason, which is when I was 15 years old or something. I don't believe anybody has a completely innocent history on the internet, but I believe that most people are able to change.
Your biggest breakthrough in your competitive Dota career came in 2010 when you competed with a resurrected MYM line-up and reached 3rd placce at ESWC Paris 2010 with DTS and EHOME reaching 2nd and 1st respectively. When I talked to Loda recently about this tournament, he said that the way EHOME played it made him realize that his time in game had come to pass after seeing EHOME perform as dominantly as they did. Did you look at their dominance in a similar fashion?
I remember the tournament, and I remember all teams made errors they could fix with a bit of proper practice. EHOME were good, the best team in that tournament, but they weren't that much better than anybody else. I did not change to SC2 for any reason like that. I changed mostly because I wanted to try out something different and I was already quite passionate about StarCraft since I'd watched a lot of BroodWar back then. I have no regrets. My time in SC2 was amazing. The people that I met, the tournaments that I was a part of, I will never forget it.
I'm pretty sure you've already answered this question in another interview, but if you had known about the fact that TI was right around the corner when you retired from the game, would you have kept on playing it in hopes of reaching a high placement in the tournament?
No. I had to make the switch. I wanted to see how good I could become in SC2. Knowing there would be a lot of potential money around the corner wouldn't have pursuaded me not to. The only thing I kinda regret, is not switching to SC2 at release. It took me a while to catch up, since I switched almost a full year after the release of Wings of Liberty.
If we also continue focus on you transition from Dota to SC2, was HoN or even LoL ever options for you to pursue professionally? Both games features several absolute top players from Denmark such as Fittske, Haxxeren and n0tail in HoN, and Froggen, Wickd and Svenskeren in LoL. So in theory, forming a talented Danish roster in either game wouldn't have been hard given your reputation as a skilled Dota player.
Yeah I tried HoN and LoL, both in their beta stages. HoN felt kind of felt like a Dota clone, I don't think many people switched from Dota 1 to HoN for any other reason than money. They probably thought the scene would have more money to offer, which was true back before Dota 2 came about. LoL I played less than 5 games of and I did not enjoy it. If I had played more maybe I would, but I didn't see the reason to.
Your SC2 career became a very interesting tale in terms of results, but if we follow the story chronologically we should probably focus on WCG 2011. To start it off, you defeated Denmark's, at the time, best SC2 player in René 'Ciara' Krag to qualify for the main even in Busan, China. This occured roughly two months after you had transitioned fully to SC2, which makes this seem like an incredibly impressive result. Were you the only pro in Denmark that dedicated himself fully to practicing the game? Since Ciara and Fireball seemed to always come up short in qualifiers and leagues.
Yeah basically there weren't really any good danish players back when I started playing. So it was pretty easy to become the best dane back then. Back at WCG 2011 I wasn't even all that good though tbh, as you mentioned I hadn't played for that long. I'd say my big "breakout" was WCS 2012, but I also did decently at some American tournaments aswell as smaller European ones before that.
I don't know if there's anything specific that goes into this, but I'd like to hear your opinion on why you think that Danes seem extremely interested in team-based games such as CS and Dota historically, but not 1v1 games. Because whilst SC2 was still considered THE esport in 2010-2011, there was literally only you around that could compete with international players consistently.
I think we're very social people. One of the things that I missed the most while being a SC2 pro gamer, was talking to people while playing. It can be a bit lonely to just sit there and practice 10 hours every day without interacting with another human being. Streaming helps (talking to chat inbetween games) but it's not really enough.
Something interesting in your time as a pro in SC2 is the fact that despite you not achieving a ton of results, you still managed to perform some of the most impressive upsets of the year when you defeated Rain at the BWC 2012 grand finals, and later Polt at Lone Star Clash 2. Specifically with the first result, it doesn't seem far-fetched to say that you honestly should have been considered one of the best non-Koreans around, so why is it that these results would only occur once in a while from your end?
If you look closely at my results and which tournaments I went to, I think it's unfair to say it only occured once in a while. I never won a big tournament, sure, but I was always able to knock Koreans out of tournaments and beat pretty much any foreigner. I don't think it's a stretch to say I was one of the best foreigners in 2012 and 2013.
Between these impressive results, the rise of zerg became notorious due to brood lord infestors as well as the impressive capabilities of Stephano. Even though you managed to defeat Koreans at select opportunities, you had a hard time against Stephano in a LAN setting. Looking back, do you think this was due to in-game balance, or was he on another level in terms of any foreigner at the time?
Stephano was one of the first Zergs to really shine through in WoL (after people had figured out the game). He is a very talented player, and even if Zerg hadn't been so strong at the end of Wings, I still think he would have been the best foreigner. When I was at my best in Wings, he was the only foreigner that was significantly better than me. Funnily enough though, I actually have a pretty decent record overall against Stephano both online and offline.
Continuing on to 2013 and the dawn of HotS, it seemed as if you could never truly regain the shape you had in mid-to-late 2012. One would think that the clean slate that everyone had in the beginning of HotS would have benefitted most players, so what was it that you felt held you back in terms of transitioning to the new title in a painless manner?
In 2013 I focused mostly on WCS. The most prestigious tournament. I was the Protoss to make it furthest in Season 1 but after that I fell of a bit, not practicing as much as I used to. This was when I started losing motivation. Most of my PvZ's on ladder would end up in 1hour games that were either decided by who had the most stamina, or which map it was played on. It was incredibly dull. I always hoped Blizzard would change the Swarm Host, but sadly it never happened. It did not help that PvP's was still decided by coinflips ~25% of the time.
Now that you have returned to Dota 2, can you tell me what you've felt is completely different from when you left the community? Aside from the massive scale of prize pools, is there something else you find to be completely different in Dota?
Dota is still Dota, which I'm pretty happy about. There is still a lot of flaming going on tho, not just ingame but generally people are a lot harsher on various Dota community sites than on SC2 sites. It's not as bad as when I used to play, but it's still pretty bad imo. Aside from that I'm just happy to be back, I really missed the game.
Speaking from a position of being involved with SC2, which has been panned by the competitive community time and time again due to Blizzard's passive approach to balancing, how do you feel about the Icefrog school of balance?
I love constant changes. It's a little hard at first for someone who hasn't played for a long time, but it's worth it. It keeps the game interesting, even though it's always the same map being played. I much prefer this model.
You have been found playing for MYM once again now after announcing your return. Could you elaborate on your plans with the organsation for now? Have you replaced Unicorn on a permanent basis?
I'm currently playing with 3 players that I know will be my future teammates, and I took my time looking around. We're currently figuring out who's going to be the last guy in the team, but as soon as we figure that out everything will be announced.
Any final shoutouts?
Thanks to all the fans that keep supporting me, it really means a lot! I hope to show you good games in DotA 2 just like I did in DotA 1 and SC2.
Photo Credit: Blizzard, FXO, Na'Vi
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