[A]dmiralBulldog: "it [Meeting Dendi] was by Pure Chance"
The Dota 2 scene is packed with countless of young and talented players, but unfortunately, only a few of them have the chance to play professionally and make it a career. This is the case of Alliance’s Henrik "AdmiralBulldog" Ahnberg who was unknown by the community a little more than one year ago. However, today, he is one of the most successful players in the world, and one of the five players who can claim having won the biggest event ever hosted in the eSports history, The International.
None of this may have ever happened without the help of Natus Vincere’s Danylo "Dendi" Ishutin, a friend, but also a rival. In this lengthy interview, the 22 year-old Swede tells his meeting with the Natus Vincere superstar, the reasons he practiced with Lone Druid only, how he ended up in No Tidehunter, his recent success with Alliance and much, much more…
Hello Henrik! On behalf of 2P.com and the Dota 2 community, thank you very much for honoring us of your presence for this interview. You made a name for yourself by playing a lot of public games with Lone Druid. There was close to 100 heroes in the pool at the time, why did you pick this one in particular?
It’s hard to answer. Every game I play, I always favor characters with
summons (Necromancer in Diablo II, Hunter/Warlock in World of Warcraft, Witch
Doctor in Diablo III and so on).
I just love playing with heroes that can summon units so it was only natural that I would love playing the hero with the strongest summon in-game.
You got revealed to the grand public through Natus Vincere's Danylo "Dendi" Ishutin. Can you tell us more about your meeting with Dendi?
It was by pure chance. I met him in a pub, it was during the time I was only playing lone druid (400-500 games in a row) and I played him twice in a row and he added me after this. After that, we played some pub, and later on, he asked me to stand-in for Na`Vi.
It did not take long for you to join a team as you were invited to be part of No Tidehunter. How did you end up playing for them, and what did you think of playing competitively since you only had experience with public games only?
I enjoyed it a lot! It was a new era for me. I always thought that competitive gaming was boring, it’s too control, not much freedom. You can’t fool around like in a pub, but after playing the Na`Vi stand-in games, I started to love playing competitively.
The team had good results until the departure of a couple of players. Former SK-Gaming superstars, Jonathan "Loda" Berg and Joakim "Akke" Akterhall ended up being the replacements. How did you feel about playing alongside such experienced and successful players? What did they bring to the team?
It was a great honor playing with them. I've played Dota for about 8 years so I know all about them and always looked up to them. Getting to play with them was very fun and they mainly brought stability and experience to the team.
Later on, the founder of the team, Jacky "EternaLEnVy" Mao was kicked. Can you please share with the readers your thoughts about the whole situation? Was the language barrier really the issue considering that the team had known success before this happened?
Language barrier was definitely an issue, you can’t underestimate what
speaking in your native language does for you. But of course, there were some
other minor issues that we tried to resolve but were unable to like personality
The decision turned out to be the correct one, as you have earned a sponsorship with Alliance and won no less than 9 tournaments including the G-1 Champions League and The International 2013. After a little more than one year as a professional player, how do you summarize your time with No Tidehunter and Alliance, teams that helped you become the player you are today? What are your best/worst memories with both teams?
It’s been a great experience being part of something this big like
Alliance, sometimes I still can’t believe what the team has achieved in such a
I think the worst time was after our first win after Dreamhack, we were in a slump for an entire month not managing to beat a single tier 1 team at the time, everyone was very sad and down.
While Alliance was undoubtedly one of the best teams in the western hemisphere alongside Natus Vincere, a part of the community had doubts about you doing well against the Chinese. However, in May of this year, you crushed the competition as you defeated all of them during the G-1 Champions League. What were your thoughts about the Chinese before taking part in this event? Your thoughts after the event? Which team impressed you the most?
I always think people over hype things, about everything in life and
this also goes for Dota 2. Before G-1 people were saying how much better they
were than the western teams, but I never believed this.
I knew the Chinese were very strong, and I never underestimate my opponent, but I always thought that we were at the same level.
After the event, I still think Chinese Dota is better in some ways than western Dota, but they have always lacked the creativity that western teams have, and that has been the downfall for Chinese Dota many times. At the tournament DK felt the strongest.
At The International, you had a stellar performance as you defeated Natus Vincere in the finals losing only three games throughout the tournament. In a few sentences, how would you summarize the team’s performance at the event? What do you have to say about your brilliant performance against the Chinese, and of course, the grand finals against Natus Vincere?
It was a team effort, we played well because every single one in our team did what they needed to do and more.
In both competitions, Team DK is the only Chinese team who could cause you troubles even though LGD-Gaming were very close to take you one game. Do you think that Team DK is the team that understood your way of playing the most?
Well LGD.CN tried to do timing push against us when we had a split
pushing line up but they got their timings a little wrong and it cost them the
DK knew that we liked to split push so they took a hero that’s hard to punish when you pick a lineup like this - Anti mage.
We always had issues with anti mage so after losing against it we just first ban it :D.
After crushing the Chinese teams in two major events, do you think that the West vs East rivalry no longer exists? What are your thoughts about both scenes?
I still believe it exists, especially now with the new DK team who seems to be the Chinese savior :D. They seem to not have a problem with being creative - an issue that many Chinese teams have so it will be fun playing team.
Do you feel that Alliance and Natus Vincere competing in China helped you understand their way of thinking/playing? What did you learn the most from them while staying there?
Hmm I’m not sure. I already felt that I knew how they played and after going there, my mind did not really change. They are very disciplined and smart, but they are almost never prepared for a curveball.
A lot of people lamented the lack of tournaments in China. Do you think that the lack of matches is what caused these results or do you feel that Alliance and Natus Vincere have just become superior to the Chinese?
It definitely has an impact. Best practice always comes from tournament
matches. If we only practiced scrims, I would go insane. When we practice too
long, it starts to become more trolling type of play, people stop taking it as
serious as they should.
Tournaments are needed for motivation and the practice they give.
After The International, all the Chinese teams have revamped their roster. What do you think about the roster changes? Which team(s) have impressed/disappointed you the most so far?
DK and iG seems to be really strong right now. I always loved Sylar and
Zhou as carry and it’s a little sad to see them not at the same level as DK and
iG right now, but I think that will change.
I’m a bit sad to see no Chuan as well.. :(
The chairman of the Association of Chinese eSports (ACE), Pei "King" Le, mentioned through a blog post that the top 3 of The International would be invited to play in the World E-sports Professional Classic that is currently on-going. Did you get invited to take part in the competition? If yes, why did you decline the invitation?
I don’t know, it is our management that takes these invites, maybe we got it. I can’t say.
You will soon have the opportunity to face Team DK once again as they will compete at MLG Columbus in November. They have been undefeated so far in China. What are your thoughts about the so-called Dream Team? How did iceiceice, Mushi and LaNm help them become the team they are today? What was lacking in the previous team that they have now?
Mushi:s lane dominance helps them out a lot mid, Iceiceice adding creativity to a Chinese team is really important and I’m not too familiar with LaNm prior to this, but he has been playing very solid in the new DK.
With G-League offering spots to western teams, do you plan to compete at their event in Shanghai or do you prefer to stay and compete in Europe?
Well I think everyone enjoyed our trip to China last time so we will try
to go there again!
Image courtesy of KellyMILKIES
You have recently returned from Kiev where you played the seventh edition of the Star Ladder Star Series. Unfortunately, you were not able to defeat Natus Vincere in the grand finals. Can you please review the games and share with our readers the reasons of your defeat?
Basically the reason we lost is because of all the new heroes being added to the pool (Elder Titan, Troll) etc we are not as good to deal with them as Na`Vi. Banning Elder titan opens up bat rider for them instead, and we are not that used playing against it. Na`Vi are simply better at adapting and playing on the fly than us.
You defeated them in the winner's bracket finals, but lost in the rematch despite a 1-0 lead. What do you think were the biggest differences between the winner's bracket finals and the grand finals?
The crowd was much bigger, I always go sick prior to the finals (wont blame lost on that:D) but I lost my voice so not only was the crowd screaming all the time but the times I spoke I could barely make myself heard. It was very hard to play under these circumstances.
Let’s now talk a little more about your favorite heroes and the game itself. There are many good Furion players, but yours is praised more than others. What makes you the best at playing this hero?
I can’t say, I have played him a lot more than most players so maybe I understand him better. However, he has become very hard to play recently because again - the new heroes being added makes it so bat and certain other heroes get in the picking phase. I'm looking forward to the new patch to spice things up abit.
After Lone Druid received a significant nerf, we barely saw him in competitive games. Do you feel that the Armlet is the only thing that made this hero that strong? What do you think should be changed to this hero to have him back as a regular pick? [Bring back the old Armlet is not an acceptable answer]
I still believe he is strong. Radiance on this hero is unbelievably
strong but sometimes it’s hard to get to that point. He was buffed in the new
patch and with the new metagame that will form, he might be much stronger
I will definitely play him more. A buff to the spirit bear’s armor in the late game is needed.
Recently, a lot of people have complained about Io and Elder Titan being too strong. What do you think about these heroes? Are they as strong as people say?
At first I thought Elder Titan was too strong but now playing against him a bit he still feels very strong but with the nerf coming up I think he will be fine. Same for Wisp.
You have been sometimes criticized for playing only a few heroes. What are the reasons for not enlarging your hero pool? Do you feel that playing three heroes very well is better than playing six decently?
I think the team’s success speaks for itself. I have been playing similar
heroes throughout the entire year and its almost never been an issue. I prepare
mastering heroes than learning many of them.
Good thing about Lone druid and furion as well is that they are so versatile so there isn’t much you can do to hard counter them.
As an off-lane player, which heroes would you like to play more, but who are not particularly popular?
Broodmother, again a hero with summons :). Currently I feel she is horrible but with the new patch, she probably will be played again.
There are many talented off-laners around the world, is there one in particular that you like? If yes, who and why?
I like Iceiceice and Bone7 for their creativity; it’s always fun to see what they come up with.
Speaking of the off-lane role, why did you choose it over the carry or support role? What makes this role more special/interesting to you than the others?
I prefer a solo lane, and I tried to support when I started in No Tidehunter, but the offlane position just fits me better.
Besides your teammates and your team, which player(s) and team(s) do you like the most and why?
I have always loved Na'Vi, they are really fun to play against and their players are really nice. Dendi fan boy... :D I also love Sylar and his Lone druid :) Why don’t you play it anymore?!!?
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions. Is there anything you would like to say to your sponsors or your fans before we conclude this interview?
Shoutout to our fans that keep supporting us, and to our sponsors XMG, Monster and Razer.