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  • Topson on adjusting to Tundra Esports, his unconventional mid picks, the current state of Dota 2, and more [Exclusive]
Tundra Esports' Topson (Image via Sportskeeda || Assets via Tundra Esports/Valve)

Topson on adjusting to Tundra Esports, his unconventional mid picks, the current state of Dota 2, and more [Exclusive]

Preparing for a Dota 2 The International title defense is no easy task. Thus, it makes sense that Topson, a living legend for the MOBA, has been called upon to assist Tundra Esports in search of the hallowed Aegis of Champions. The rumor about his imminent introduction to the TI11 champion's roster was swirling for some time in the community. The news was officially confirmed in September 2023.

Topias 'Topson' Taavitsainen is one of the most decorated Dota 2 players of all time. The Finnish star is one of only five who have claimed the title of two-time TI-Winner, achieved consecutively in TI8 and TI9. Topson's flair and unconventional picks are quite well-known, with the community always eager to see what the man pulls off next.

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So once I managed to get an opportunity for an interview with Topson, I wondered for a moment what to ask this man who has won it all in Dota 2, and that too twice. What else but discuss about his love for the game and the surefire hunger to conquer the summit once more all over again?

In a conversation with Sportskeeda, Topson discussed that and more.


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Topson on aggressive play within Tundra Esports' structure

One of the first and foremost discussions that followed Tundra's announcement of Topson joining their TI squad ahead of DreamLeague Season 21 in the community was how the Finnish player's aggressive playmaking would fit within the more defensive approach of the team.

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Speaking about his experience adjusting to the team and preparing for ESL, Topson stated:

"I think there is always room for aggressive plays, even in defensive teams. There is definitely a lot of adjusting when it comes to communication and the overall energy level of the team compared to what it was in OG. We just took ESL as a chance to practice for TI. Of course, it is more intense than scrims, but overall, the goal was to improve and learn from the best teams."

While Tundra posted a strong second finish in the group stage, they were handed a clean 0-2 defeat by Team Spirit in the upper bracket of the playoffs and a 1-2 defeat by OG in the lower brackets. On being asked about their performance at the tournament, Topson contended they could have easily done better.

"We had a good group stage. We weren't quite on Team Spirit’s level, but I feel like we could have easily beaten OG - we just played poorly in those games."
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Tundra Esports at Dota 2 DreamLeague Season 21 (Image via Tundra Esports)

ESL DreamLeague Season 21 was also a testament to Topson's unconventional midlane choices, with the two-time TI-Winner springing Dazzle. Not only that, he also managed to solo kill a Tormentor with the hero along with couriers.

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I asked him about what drives such hero picks and whether he intentionally does it to throw a wrench in the opponent's plans.

"It gets boring to play only a few meta heroes, so sometimes I just wanna try out stuff and find some heroes that other people would not consider. I think it gives a big edge if you can find something unusual just before a tournament so other teams don’t have time to prepare against it."

Topson's initial sentiment will surely resonate with countless Dota 2 players who just want to experiment with new heroes but, of course, often in a ranked match. As his ex-teammate N0tail stated - "Everything can work." Sadly, not everyone is a two-time TI-winning Immortal.

With patch 7.34 and the induction of Universal Heroes, I would have been remiss if I did not ask about them and, of course, Invoker.

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"At first, I was very excited about it and theory crafting things, but now I just feel like it has not really changed much. All of the strong universal heroes got nerfed because they had way too much damage gain, so it is mostly just some offlaners and supports that benefit from it."

Coming to his most played hero, he continued:

"Now, Invoker is a universal hero also, but I feel like the reason he is very popular is not because he is universal but because of his orbs giving him cooldown reduction (CDR) and spell amplification."

Now, we all know that there will likely not be a pre-TI patch. For better or worse, we will see this meta continue throughout, with Phantom Assassin remaining banned in the majority of the games.

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But what if Valve did indeed grace us with one more patch to balance the playing field, if only by a small margin? Topson echoed a similar sentiment.

"I do not think there will be another patch before TI. But if there is, I would just like to see some nerfs on the most popular heroes to make the current meta more diverse and a bit more interesting."

Steering the conversation for a moment from the current hubbub, we shifted to one of the Topson fandom community favorites - the ‘SEA training arc’ streams. In between, I quickly asked what he thought about his experience as the top SEA Immortal and that in the EU.

"In Europe, I feel like players are trying to work together more compared to SEA, where it feels like everyone is playing for their own game more. And the quality of the games is usually better because there are more pro players in Europe."
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SEA server being 'cancer' is a prevalent notion in the Dota 2 community. It seems Topson did relate but expressed it in softer words.


Topson is gearing up to be the only three-time Dota 2 TI winner

Topson and OG have already etched their names in the annals of Dota 2 history as the first two-time winner with their dominating win in TI9, sealing a consecutive TI championship. Now, with Tundra Esports, Topson is vying for another one.

The two-time Dota 2 TI winner (Image via Topias Taavitsainen/Twitter)
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Preparing to mount a challenge for a third Aegis of Champions seemed a perfect time to retrospectively look back at such an illustrious career.

"My first bootcamp for TI8 qualifiers is probably the most memorable as it was my first bootcamp and first time being in a professional team. Playing at TI for the first time was very memorable as well. Having watched all the previous TIs from home and now being part of it was magical."

Topson's stay with Tundra Esports is temporary, as he stands in for Saksa, who has taken an extended break due to health issues. This can lead to some wondering whether he has anything already in mind for the post-TI phase in Dota 2.

"Post-TI is not something I’m currently thinking about. My full focus is on further integrating into the team and doing our best at TI as defending champions."
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In 2023, Dota 2 saw a number of significant changes in the past few months. This includes the larger map, the player report and behavior system, the scrapping of Battle Pass in place of Compendium, and the current DPC format being canceled.

For someone who lives and breathes Dota 2, I felt Topson was the perfect person to ask about the present health and direction of the game.

"Overall, Dota feels like it is in a good place at the moment. We will see what happens now that DPC is canceled, but hopefully, there will be a lot of other tournaments taking its place. There's obviously much less money in the pro scene as TI does not have a battle pass anymore either, so we will see how it affects teams going into the next season."
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Tundra Esports will defend their crown at Dota 2 The International 2023. The tournament will begin on October 12.

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Edited by
Angshuman Dutta
 
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