Interview With TORONTOTOKYO at The ESL One Stockholm Major 2022

Alexandra Aim
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Last year at The International 2021 (TI10) Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek made history by winning the tournament and lifting the Aegis of Champions with Team Spirit. The Russian midlaner is relatively new to the Dota 2 scene but has already become a household name amongst the Dota 2 fandom thanks to his strong, aggressive playstyle and humble personality.

Recently, Team Spirit moved to Serbia, and qualified for the ESL One Stockholm Major 2022 through the Eastern European Dota Pro Circuit 2021/2022 Tour 2: Division I Playoffs. Although the team was one of the favorites heading into the Major, its run came to an early end in the playoffs, finishing in 9th-12th place. Alexandra Aim sat down with TORONTOTOKYO post-elimination and talked about Sweden, TI10, young talents in the scene, and more.

First of all, hi! How do you like Sweden?

TORONTOTOKYO: Well, I haven’t been here for long, but yesterday I took a walk and I liked it, the city is beautiful! But the only thing I disliked was the cold.

Let’s talk about TI10 a little. Last year it was a little disappointing for everybody, Slacks was very upset. For you it was the first TI, could you describe your feelings.

TORONTOTOKYO: Well, I don’t know. It was the second big tournament in my life. The previous one (WePlay AniMajor) didn’t have an audience as well. So, for me, it was nothing special. Just a LAN. The only thing that disappointed me was the hotel, I thought it would be better.

Yes, the lack of toilet paper in practice rooms is not quite the level of a $40M tournament.

TORONTOTOKYO: (chuckles)

I don’t want to ask “where is True Sight”, but I do want to talk about TI10 grand finals against LGD. They were the unstoppable Chinese machine with experience and reputation, what were your emotions?

TORONTOTOKYO: Frankly speaking, I came to the finals with no expectations whatsoever, I’ve just played Dota and had no hard thoughts. The one thing I realized after the fourth map is that we needed to change something in our draft. We tried to draft two times differently and it failed us. And I thought after the second map why it was that easy? I mean, was it even possible to win 3-0?

So basically, you went on chill into the series. OG has a similar approach and I think it’s working fine, don’t you agree?

TORONTOTOKYO: I think yes. I just need to think only about the game and that’s it.

Now in esports more and more teams are hiring psychologists. For instance, Mia Stellberg - former Astralis psychologist with whom they won Majors, and then she was working with OG during their TI9 run. Does your team have a psychologist and how important is his role?

TORONTOTOKYO: Yes, we have a psychologist, and working with him has been very productive so far. As a team, we need a psychologist because he can offer the right words in the right situations, such as when we are tilting. So yes, a team should have this kind of specialist.

In the Stockholm Major, a lot of young teams are playing. In your opinion, is the era of veteran players coming to an end?

TORONTOTOKYO: I think it’s not about the old-school player's era coming to an end, it’s about young players that try hard and grind a lot. Like, let’s take Tundra, for instance, I know their individual players play a lot in pubs, as a team they play a lot of matchups, and I know that they are training a lot. In my opinion, they are the most hard-working team at the moment and it shows. The level of competition now is so high, that if you stop practicing you won’t be able to compete with anyone else.

Speaking about Tundra Esports, what is your opinion on Fata’s removal from the team?

TORONTOTOKYO: Having a good relationship with the players, and knowing what is going on, I would say I agree with the replacement. But if you don’t know what is going on internally, I mean for a viewer on the sidelines, then this whole situation does not appear fair. But the results speak for themselves.

A more non-DOTA related question: give me a top-3 favorite animes

TORONTOTOKYO: Hmm, I have to think, it’s always different. Well, so Demon Slayer, Violet Evergarden and, let it be One Piece.

So you’re into more modern anime?

TORONTOTOKYO: Yes, if you would ask if I watched something like Berserk or Great Teacher Onizuka then probably I would say no because I can’t watch anime with bad visuals. If those were remade, I would watch them.

Thank you so much for the interview and good luck in the upcoming season!

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Alexandra is a freelance photographer passionate about music, videogames, esports (especially Dota 2) and everything cyberpunk. She is using her skills as a photographer and a writer to pursue a career in creating content for the esports industry

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