Mere days before Team Team brought in two new players and eventually became beastcoast, we spoke to Braxton "Brax" Paulson about his experience in India, his transition from being a caster to becoming a player again, Team Team’s player dynamics before the infamous kick and of course syndereN.
Gfreak: Hi Brax, first off, right out the bat, what are your thoughts on the Indian crowd? Do you want to tell them something?
Brax: The Indian crowd, is pretty fucking amazing. When I walked through the door, it was crazy, it was out of control, I haven’t seen anything like that in a long while. It was very welcoming.
Thank you all for supporting Team Team and me of course. I had a wonderful experience here in Mumbai. It was truly something else, it was eye-opening, it was very different from anything I’ve experienced so far and I enjoyed it. It was really nice, thank you.
Gfreak: We know you used to be a player for Na`Vi.NA, then you became a talent, now you’re a pro player again. Another guy who has a similar background is syndereN. You’re going to a Major, he is not. What do you want to say?
Brax: Yeah, eat shit syndereN.
Gfreak: On a serious note, how hard was that transition?
Brax: I would say the transition first to like… So the thing about Pro players is that they all want to play. Like when players become a coach, they sit there and be like “Man, I could have done this better than this feeder on my team. I should be playing instead of this guy.” They always still want to play, even though they might have other reasons for doing it.
Same thing for Talent. I am sitting there watching, casting all these games, being a panellist, whatever the deal is. I am sitting there going, “I really want to play”. Eventually, that’s where I went.
Gfreak: At an event, which one is more taxing. Being a caster or a player?
Brax: First of all they both have different skill sets right? One is playing the game, one has to talk. I make it sound easy when I say talk, but it is not easy. There are so many different things, so many different skillsets.
But it’s a lot more chill to be a caster or a talent. You show up, you don’t have to know who’s playing. You can figure that out, ten minutes before. You don’t have to prepare really. You can talk, make something sound nice and do your usual thing.
I think it is definitely harder to be a player, to be at the top of course. You wanna win as a player, but as a talent, you are not really compared to anything right? If you mess up as a talent… Actually, if you do mess up as a talent, that messes up your next gig right? So it is still hard.
I don’t know, I can’t really answer. I’ve done both. Both difficult.
Gfreak: What is TeamTeam’s atmosphere like?
Brax: Every team has its ups and downs, their relationship with their players and how they bounce off each other and all that kind of stuff. You know we are people, everyone is different, some people react to being spoken differently. Some people are softer. It all depends, but I think out dynamic is pretty good.
To be honest, we all are pretty friendly with each other. We’ll play our games, we’ll practice and we’ll sit there and hang out. We’re actually friends, outside of the team. So it is not like we show up, we lose, we’re miserable. No, we’re still hanging out, we’re friends and we’re still having a good time.
So it’s a really positive atmosphere.
Gfreak: Compared to previous teams, is this the team which you are most comfortable with?
Brax: It’s actually hard for me to remember previous teams because I am old. In Dota years, I am old. It is hard for me to remember, because usually when I look back on these things I remember the good and the bad and not the average or the norm. But, I’d say its pretty good. Probably, up there for sure.
Gfreak: Right now, you’re playing in the offlane position. If you’re forced to switch roles, which would you prefer?
Brax: I used to play mid, a long time ago when everyone was awful. So I used to look like a ‘not complete trash’ mid laner. I would like to, for pride’s sake, say that I am not complete garbage at this role any more. But if I picked that, I’ll still be garbage.
So I’d still play offlane.
Gfreak: Some fans have said that Valve has been biased towards NA over other regions. Why do you think NA deserves the three slots?
Brax: So this is actually like a really hot topic right? Every time a qualifier comes up, it’s like “NA has a third slot again? This is bullshit… Blah, Blah, Blah.” I am not here to say if it is bullshit or not, I am here to say “Valve’s rules right?” You gotta abide by the rules. Whatever they say goes basically.
But I don’t know, this is such a weird topic because at the same time I don’t want to say like the third NA slot is not deserved because clearly, I needed the third NA slot to go to the major. So totally deserved. Nothing wrong with it, that’s life.
Gfreak: What’s the difference between the good old days of Dota 2 and the current state of the pro scene?
Brax: This is actually good because we watch these old TIs and we think wow, Alliance best team in the world. Sure, no doubt about it, they were the absolute best.
But as the years go on, the game evolves. I mean look at pubs, you matchmaking games. Four years ago, what they’re doing would have been the best thing in the world. “This guy cut a creep wave, this guy dragged the creep wave.” Never before seen right? The game evolves, everyone gets better.
The same thing applies to the competitive scene. It’s always about the next step. The next generation of Dota, or how it evolves over the years. Every year, the ceiling gets higher and higher honestly. People get closer and closer to that mark and it just keeps evolving.
I’ve played when it was really easy to qualify through NA. Now there are four or five teams that can win at any moment. You then go through and NA still gets last in the Minor or Major or whatever. So clearly, there’s multiple layers and levels here and it just gets more and more difficult every single year.
Gfreak: Although, Team Team is a great name. If you had to rename the team’s name, what would it be?
Brax: Team Team was Mike’s idea, he copied it off Loda, I think, at some point. But, If I had to pick a name… I would try to make it something that is so ridiculous that the casters would absolutely hate saying it. Something so long or so difficult to say. They would start calling us the Radiant or the Dire because they don’t want to call us by our team name anymore.
Like one time, I had a team name called ‘Summer’s rift’, which is a play on League of Legends. Once they started saying that, everyone’s furious. It made them feel a certain way and I would like my name to feel a certain way. Good or Bad, doesn’t matter.
Gfreak: Given the option, would you like to fight one ixmike sized duck or 100 duck sized ixmikes?
Brax: This is actually something I wonder about as well. So one ixmike sized duck… I feel like this thing can’t control itself. It would have so many different feelings, so many different emotions, it would just get distracted by everything. It is like an overgrown child, right? So I’d probably pick that one. The pros and the cons are definitely in my favour there.
But a hundred duck sized ixmikes… First of all, this is bad for everyone. Once they all unite, once they all start going everywhere, I don’t know what you could do. It’d just be bad.
Gfreak: Have you tried any Indian food?
Brax: Yes, I’ve tried some Americanised Indian food back at home. However, I haven’t tried enough stuff here but I really like.
Gfreak: Which one is your favourite?
Brax: See that’s the problem, I don’t know how to tell you what it is. It’s like a lamb in some sauce, chicken in some sauce, some curry… It’s all super good. I love it, but that is still on my to-do list, to go exploring, to try all the local cuisines, I want to go to all the tiny places around the corner.
Gfreak: What are your expectations for the Disneyland major?
Brax: Clearly, the teams at the Major are amazing. These are the best of the best. We hope we can learn and we can improve to have a respectable showing at the major. Who knows what will happen in two weeks but clearly in our current form, we need to keep improving and to look forward to the next step. So that’s the goal for now.
Gfreak: Let’s cut out the Dota part. Are you excited to go to Disneyland?
Brax: Yeah, I hope I go on a ride. I am actually really scared of rollercoasters, especially the big one. But it’s Disneyland, right? It can’t be that bad. I live next to Disneyland in California, so I’ve been there a couple of times. I’ve also been to the one in Florida. So yeah, definitely excited. I wanna see all of them.
Gfreak: Finally, do you have any shoutouts?
Brax: Shoutout to my mom, my dad, my brother, my dog, my two cats. That’s about it.