n0tail On The Lack Of Team Leverage Against Valve, Faith In His New Squad, And A Potential Comeback
For various reasons, it was time for the most winning player in esports history to take a breather and enjoy the simple things. Living his best life with his puppies in the beautiful OG headquarters in Portugal, Johan "N0tail" Sundstein is recuperating — at least for a moment — from the churn of his successful DotA2 career. Currently sitting atop the list of most esports prize pool dollars earned with just over $7.000.000 USD (~5.160.365,00£) after winning two Internationals back to back in 2018 and 2019, it is a well-earned break for the 28-year-old Dane.
“I get so absorbed and get so into it that it becomes my everything. I become the guy who is ready to sacrifice whatever I need to do to get better and be the best”, n0tail shared. While there appears to be no regret, there seems to be curiosity about other parts of life that he necessarily had to miss out on. “I’m not in a hurry to get somewhere, but there are definitely things I want to try.”
Not Just Learning, But Teaching
Far be it for n0tail to vanish from the scene completely. Still very much involved in DotA2 in a mentorship position, he’s helping another generation of hungry players in OG’s new squad to actualise their dream. And there is a lot there in esports to learn about oneself, as n0tail so eloquently puts it: “I am very happy that I feel the competence to set myself a goal and achieve it even though it's very hard, and many people will tell you it’s unachievable.”
Appearing to be a bit of a fan of his own team, he talks highly about the qualities of his new squad. “The talent in my eyes is super, super high. What we were really looking for is an incredibly motivated team that has more than fire. It has to be ablaze. This is what DotA asks of you,” n0tail swooned, already seeing some of his players succeed his and his former teammates' abilities if they were to keep going.
Considering n0tail’s clearly expressed goal to just take a time out and not retire outright, it stands to reason that the team he had been building would be one that he himself would eventually slot into. However, according to him that was far from his thought process when assembling the team, wanting it to be an independent entity, explaining that “if there was no room for me, that means the machine was built perfectly.”
Playing In A Scene With No Agency
Unfortunately, his team had to learn the lesson of what frustrations one might experience playing in a Valve-owned esport the hard way, with the announcement that the major they had been working hard towards having to be cancelled due to COVID-related complications. With the heavy grind’s reward seemingly evaporating with little communication or agency for the teams, the age-old problem of Valve’s handoff approach zapped the spirits of the DotA2 scene once more.
“People are so ready to put effort in, but it’s just really hard to get through to Valve” n0tail surmised after many years of having been in similar situations which now hardly surprise him anymore. According to him, there is also not much recourse against it even if the teams around the scene were to band together to gain leverage. “I don’t think there is enough incentive for Valve in DotA or Counter-Strike for that matter, I think it’s somewhere else.”
OG’s new squad under n0tail’s guidance is continuing to compete in the Dreamleague Season 16, currently sitting at an exciting four-way tie for third place.