Interview With TSM's offlaner SabeRLight-


AFK Gaming

Interview With TSM SabeRLight-: The Riyadh Masters 2022 Feels Like Mini TI Honestly

Rakshak Kathuria
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Among the many young players emerging into Dota 2's competitive scene recently, TSM's offlaner Jonáš "SabeRLight-" Volek has gained a lot of attention for his stellar offlane awareness, upbeat personality, and entertaining Twitch streams. Over the past few years, SabeRLight- has risen up the Dota 2 ranks gradually to make a name for himself. Playing at The International 10 (TI10) was his first step into tier 1 competitive Dota 2 last year and he has since taken things even further playing for TSM after a second place finish at the ESL One Stockholm Major during the ongoing Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) 2021-22. As it currently stands, TSM has even mathematically qualified for The International 11 (TI11) after garnering enough DPC points.

As SabeRLight- and TSM compete in the ongoing Riyadh Masters with a $4,000,000 USD prize pool, AFK Gaming had the opportunity to talk with him about his time with TSM, his development as a competitive Dota 2 player, and his experience at the Riyadh Masters 2022 so far.

A conversation with SabeRLight- from TSM at the Riyadh Masters 2022

Hello, SabeRLight-. Your squad has been performing well in recent months, especially with a second-place performance at the ESL One Stockholm Major. Could you please elaborate on your emotions after performing so well at the Major?

SabeRLight-: The emotions were pretty high but at the same time since we lost to OG, right after the tournament, we were all kinda sad. We are all very proud of what we achieved but the weeks following the Major were a bit disappointing that we lost but I think it was a good achievement in like - it proves that we are improving as a team.

TSM/Undying is the most high-profile team that you’ve played with, in your career. How has the team evolved mentally over the last year? Any big changes compared to TSM at the Riyadh Masters and TSM at TI10?

SabeRLight-: “It’s really nice to be sponsored by TSM. It’s a confidence boost because we are sponsored by such a big org and I think they also help us with a lot of stuff which takes a lot of pressure from us, from Moon and our manager. Yeah, they help us with anything that we need. It’s really nice.

What has been the biggest lesson you have learned as a part of TSM?

SabeRLight-: I think Dota wise, the last lesson I remember learning is patience in games, something that I have been lacking in the past but so yeah, I try to apply that. Both in the lane and in game, you just wait for the perfect moment, and then you blackhole five people. And life wise, it’s a ride. I am learning as we go. It’s great to be a part of such a big organization. I think they teach me a lot about how the pro scene in NA works.

How has it been playing under MoonMeander who is known for being a very vocal leader?

SabeRLight-: t's a ride. I am not gonna lie. I mean, he’s a great captain, I think the best analogy I can make is that he is like a leader and we are his soldiers. Whenever we go into battle, we’re hyped up and ready. I think he taught me a lot about how to play offlane since he used to play offlane before. So, he is a really good mentor and a really good captain. Sometimes it gets a bit stressed because he just wants me to be the best version of myself so he keeps pushing me and yea, at times, it’s hard but I appreciate it. It's really nice to have him.

Going back in time, how did you first discover Dota 2 and when did you begin to think about playing the game competitively?

SabeRLight-: So when I was in school. I think I was in 3rd grade, 11-12 years, maybe a bit less actually, something like that. I was playing Dota 1 with my friends in a PC room we had in school. It was illegal, we couldn't play in those rooms but we did it anyway. So, it was very hype. We were like 4 people playing 2v2 in Dota 1.

Then I remembered Dota 2 came out and they were convincing me to download Dota 2 and I didn’t want to. But eventually, I gave in when I was on some vacation with my family. It was a lot of fun.

So, then I started playing for fun because I didn’t really like school. So, whenever I came home, I just played Dota. I think it was TI6 or TI7 when I was 5k MMR, I was like - I am actually pretty good at this game. I can maybe go pro. So, I think that was the breaking point where I wanted to go pro.

TSM SabeRLight- at TI10

Who are some of the other offlaners that you look up to?

SabeRLight-: So right now, I'm looking up to zai. I think he is a really good offlaner. I for sure, copy a lot of gameplay things from Ammar, from Collapse, and 33. And when I was younger, I think I was looking up to Universe, and I am sure some others but I already forgot those.

The current DPC system is not perfect. What are some of the changes that you want to see in the DPC format?

SabeRLight-: First of all, it would be nice if there are other impactful tournaments other than TI because right now it’s only about TI. For example, this tournament (Riyadh Masters 2022) has the prize pool of like - five Majors. So, it’s insane honestly. So that’s the first thing.

Then second thing is that the leagues are a bit too long. It’s a bit annoying to play for 2 months, especially in the NA region where there are 2-3 good teams, and for the rest of the season we have nothing to do. It’s really nice to be here at LAN where you like - breathe, eat, and sleep Dota for a week. But when we play DPC, I mean it’s like we have a match in a week. So, I guess I will just fool around for a week and not do anything. So yeah shorter leagues, bigger prize pools for the Majors and I think that’s it. I think these two are the two main things.

What is your opinion of the current meta? What changes would you like to see before TI11?

SabeRLight-: I think this meta is a bit stale because it hasn’t changed much since the Major. So it’s honestly like half a year you’re in the same meta so we’re bored of it. So for TI, I would really like it if there are some really cool additions, some new items, new neutral items, not really new heroes because we wouldn’t be able to play it, maybe some map changes, maybe something new like outposts and shrines. That would be really cool so yeah, something along those lines.

What do you have to say about the competitiveness of the NA region in Tour 3? How many NA teams do you expect to see at TI11?

SabeRLight-: I expect to see Quincy and EG at TI for sure. And for nouns, I think they can maybe make it through the last chance qualifiers. I don’t have the highest of hopes but you know, there is some hope.

TSM did not manage to qualify for the third Major of the season (the PGL Arlington Major). What do you think went wrong in Tour 3?

SabeRLight-: I think for me personally it was slightly hard to be motivated to play the Major because at the time when we were playing the DPC, we already had a few tournaments lined up. This tournament and there’s like two more. So, this (the PGL Arlington Major) was another LAN that you would go to. So, when you’re playing too many LANs, you kinda have to choose which ones are worth it for you and which ones aren’t.

You can’t play all of them because you need a break before TI so it kinda came to the point where we were like - we wither qualify to the major and go to the major or we don’t qualify and we go to the different LAN. So I mean I still tried my hardest but it’s a thing that’s in the back of your head. Since the Majors are so small, there isn’t really much difference since we have qualified for TI on DPC points.

What is one piece of advice you would provide to aspiring offlaners out there?

SabeRLight-: I think it’s important to just keep learning. I think a lot of people focus on MMR a lot but it should be like - you improve as a player and the MMR comes as an afterthought. What I do personally is that I try to push the lines so let’s say if I’m playing a game of Dota and I play at 110% and then I get punished so I know exactly where the line is. So, I think that’s the most efficient way to keep learning because if you’re playing so scared and you don’t wanna die then you can’t really test your limits so you don’t improve that much.

How has your time been at Riyadh Masters so far?

SabeRLight-: It’s been amazing. I am enjoying it here so much. The hotel is insane, the buffet there is something to die for. I’m really happy to be at such a big event, it's crazy how many good things are here. It feels like mini TI honestly because of all the names. So yeah I really enjoy the practice and really enjoy the hospitality.

The Saudi fans are also crazy, it’s so nice to meet so many nice people. I never knew that I had any Saudi fans whatsoever. I already met like - seven people who wanted to take a picture with me and who were really nice. So shoutout to all the Saudi fans, it’s great.

SabeRLight- with his TSM teammates at the Riyadh Masters 2022

Without giving too much away, which is an underrated team that the Dota 2 community should start paying attention to? Why?

SabeRLight-: I think right now, it’s Quincy Crew. I think that the team with the Fata addition is really strong. I think that us losing them to them in the DPC isn’t only our fault. It’s also just that they’re very solid and I think they still have a few things to iron out but I think they can be really strong.

Do you have anything to say to all your fans?

SabeRLight-: Thanks for all the support, I really appreciate it. It's great to see people coming up to me and just having a good time. I hope I’ll make you guys proud.

Rapid Fire with TSM SabeRLight-

Which hero would you like an arcana for, possibly during TI11’s battle pass?

SabeRLight-: Thinking of some offlaners, probably Mars or Nightstalker. That would be great.

How often do you rage quit?

SabeRLight-: Never, I am the calmest player ever. (on a scale of 1-10). Like a 2.

Which player is very easy to tilt?

SabeRLight-: RAMZES666. I tip RAMZES666 every time I am in a pub with him and then he all chats and it’s some soy boy shit.

Who do you think is the GOAT of Dota 2?

SabeRLight-: The GOAT of Dota? I think it’s gotta be one of the captains. Like - either N0tail or KuroKy.

What is your favorite voice line in the game?

SabeRLight-: Right now, it is “WooHooHoo I'm a Goblin!

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Rakshak is an undergrad, an inquisitive person who likes to acquire information and knowledge of varied sectors in esports. However, his current focus is specifically on Dota 2.

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