We’re back with another interview! I had the privilege of speaking with Team Dignitas after their 3-0 series sweep of Team Freedom to open Day 3 of HGC Western Clash (Phase 2). We discussed the team’s expectations for the remainder of the tournament, as well as what they expected moving forward into Blizzcon. We also talked about the hype around Dignitas, how they felt about Team Freedom’s performance, their own in-game shotcalling, and more!
We were pleased to work alongside Nicholas Barth of Twin Galaxies at times throughout the interview.
Nicholas Barth: Who do you think you’ll get in your next match?
Snitch: While Method would be the expected team, Leftovers have had a very very good event, so I think it’s tough to make an actual call on which way the series will go. It’s kind of, which team will prepare more, which team is more confident in their picks, see how it goes from there.
Taha: How surprised were you yesterday, because I remember speaking to you and you said you were expecting Leftovers, how surprised were you when Team Freedom got through them?
Snitch: Yeah, I mean it’s very surprising. I think Team Freedom have played very very strong at this event actually. We didn’t expect them to show the level they did, especially in practice. It didn’t feel like… it felt like they were learning a lot from us at the time and they were actually always very thankful that we would even scrim them because they felt like they weren’t performing at a level they should be. But in the tournament they’ve definitely stepped up and I think they’re definitely proving themselves to be a very very strong contender.
Nicholas: So kind of as a follow-up to that, how would you currently compare the NA scene to the European scene?
Snitch: I think the deeper we get into this tournament, it’s becoming more and more clear again that it’s not as much a case of EU versus NA. It’s just, there’s more outliers of each region. So for example, our team and then maybe some of the two/threes of Europe. But if you look at the top NA teams, like Freedom in this tournament and like HeroesHearth for some of it, they look head and shoulders above the rest of the league. So I think it’s very tough to look at EU versus NA as a whole after the way this tournament has gone and it’s more important, I think, just to look at the top teams of each region and compare them.
Taha: When you have a moment in a game, like in Game 1 where Team Freedom got four of you guys and it looked like they were gonna snowball off of that, how do you quickly regroup and then turn that into what was a victory so shortly after?
Zaelia: I mean, we decided to take the fight, which was a straight on 5-v-5. We believed we could win it, we didn’t, and you know, that happens quite often in scrims, tournaments, the same thing. It’s just like okay, look at what happened, they got a lot of exp, we knew they were gonna get 20, but we were not so far behind. So it’s just, they got the objective, just try to defend. We had the Chromie so we’re just like, “Get some stacks on the Dragon, defend, see what happens.” It’s not really like everything shuts down or anything. It’s just like, “What is the next step?” We’re very used to losing, kinda, from practice.
Taha: So do you guys have somebody that’s managing shotcalling in that situation?
Zaelia: Yeah that’s mostly Wubby. He’s the guy that says, “I’ll go top, just defend the DK, get 20.” That’s basically what he did.
Taha: This is more of a general question. If you weren’t a pro for Heroes of the Storm but you were a pro for another game, which one would you pick?
Snitch: I have no idea, honestly. Because Heroes is the game that resonates with me the most, I think. It would be tough for me to find another game I felt I could put so much time into. Just because Heroes has been such an important part of my life that it’s hard for me to be like, “I can just play another game!” you know? So I think it’s very hard for me to answer that question.
Nicholas: Who would you say right now do you think is the most underrated player in the professional Heroes of the Storm scene?
Snitch: That’s kind of a tough one. I think recently a lot of the underrated players… players like Lutano, for example, was quite underrated before. He was on a low team in the North American HGC. Over the last year, I think he’s made a very very solid career out of it. I think a lot of the players that were underrated, like Lutano, POILK even, even players like Mopsio, these players are all kinda coming into their own. So I think right now there’s not too many new bloods that I’m like, “Ooh, they look really interesting.” I think a lot of the players that were interesting before have kinda found their footing in the scene, and I actually really enjoy that because it’s nice to see new players coming into their own.
Taha: Speaking of Lutano, I talked to him yesterday and he said he thinks that you guys are the best team in the world. When you start developing a reputation like that, how do you kinda stay grounded, especially going into an event like Blizzcon?
Snitch: I think even though we feel that we are a very strong team in the world, until we’ve stamped our names on the trophy at Blizzcon, I don’t think we’ll ever fully believe that we are the best team. I think for us it’s always more motivation to keep grinding, keep innovating, and trying to find the next thing for the next tournament. I think we’re always trying to stay ahead of the meta and carve our own meta rather than letting anyone else decide. I think we always find motivation by just playing with each other and still striving for that Blizzcon title.
Nicholas: And my last question is, throughout your whole career, who would you say has been your favorite teammate to play with?
Snitch: I mean (laughs) the only person I guess I’ve played with until now is [JayPL] I think, but I think probably my favorite teammate has been [POILK]. Me and POI just get along really well, we have a lot of really good synergy. I really enjoy that. I was a really really big advocate for playing with him when we had the opportunity and I’m really glad it turned out well. I think he’s very mechanically strong, he’s very outgoing and we have a really good relationship in and out of the game.
Taha: So POI, you’re the newest player on the team, do you still ever get a situation where you come on stage and you feel nerves? And when you did get that early on, how did you deal with it?
POILK: No, I haven’t got it since those first two games in China. I didn’t really do anything about it. It was just more of getting comfortable being on stage, getting my settings right, getting into the feeling. Every first game of a tournament is shaky but now it’s not nerves, it’s just more of being not really comfortable. I didn’t really do anything particular about it. I just trusted myself getting used to the stage and just focused on the game.
Taha: Do you guys ever let external pressure ever impact how you feel? And if you don’t, how do you avoid letting something like that happen? I just asked Snitch about this but yesterday I spoke to Teem Freedom’s Lutano and he said he thinks you guys are the best team in the world. Going into an event like Blizzcon, how do you kind of tune that out and just stay grounded?
POILK: I think we’re pretty good at doing that. We respect every team we go against. We know that if we don’t play our best we can easily get knocked out. Especially at Blizzcon, it’s gonna be a single-elim, so if we don’t have our shit together, we’re just going to get knocked out. Everyone just wants to do really well and we want to get as high as we can, so we give our best in every match.
Taha: Wubby, your team seems to turn to you in shotcalling situations. How do you shotcall a situation like Game 1 when they took out four of you and then it looked like they were gonna try and maybe snowball that into something? How do you quickly regroup after that and then turn it into a win like you did so shortly after?
Wubby: So I think when we died we said, “We’re basically gonna be even in exp. Worst case, they’re just gonna ride a bit of momentum and get a keep.” I don’t think we were anywhere close to falling out of course before 20, and we had the Dehaka with catapults at the worst. I think we were half-comfortable with how the end-game would go with the dragons. I think the nerves got to them. I mean first, our keep didn’t die, which was really nice for us. But then we felt pretty comfortable just going into the 20-20.
Taha: And were you surprised that you were facing Freedom in this match in the first place?
Wubby: Yeah, for sure. I think when we played Freedom at the last Western Clash they were by far the best NA team. They were the only team that almost beat us in scrims. So we thought they would just win that Western Clash against us, because we weren’t too comfortable or confident. But then doing scrims here for a week in the bootcamp, playing Freedom, playing Tempo, it felt like they just couldn’t win, other than HeroesHearth. So we thought that Liquid or HeroesHearth were gonna come from the other side of the bracket. We saw what happened and we had our laughs. So no, not expected at all. A lot of upsets so far.
Taha: Who are you personally expecting to play in the grand finals?
Wubby: I think it’s gonna be Method. It seems like they’re playing a lot of weird stuff but it feels like they know how to close out those games. Maybe Freedom looked a bit stronger today than I thought they would be, but I still think Method should have that. Because Method is such a… when they go down to a lower bracket they just run all the way. They’re gonna play now and they’re probably gonna win and then they’re gonna go into a game right away after Team Freedom has been waiting a bit. So yeah, I think Method is gonna do the lower bracket run and we’re gonna meet them there.
Team Dignitas may be the “final boss” of the Nexus at this tournament but they aren’t letting the hype get to them. None of the team’s members are taking anything for granted and none have gotten over-confident. A team so skilled on the map being so composed off of it is a dangerous thing. Can anyone stop them? We can’t wait to see how the rest of the tournament plays out.
Feel free to also check out our individual interviews with Snitch and Wubby after their games on Day 2. To keep up with everything else going on at Phase 2 of the HGC’s Western Clash, you can track down all of our coverage on our Heroes of the Storm page.
You can also keep up with the live bracket on the Heroes esports official website.