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Interview with Undying’s Bryle: ”With the offers I had, I believe more in my team than others and I think everyone has the same thoughts on that.”

We sat down with Team Undying's Bryle for a chat about the decision of Undying to stick together, his TI experience and the start of the new DPC season so far.

This interview was conducted by our Community Writer Pedro Romero

After finishing in 13-16th place at The International 10, Team Undying is not wasting any time to rectify their disappointment by having an electrifying start to their 2021-22 DPC. With a 2-0 record, they sit comfortably on top of the regional league standings and are in prime position to secure a ticket to the next Major.

While Undying boast an impressive lineup featuring Moonmeander, Timado, and DuBu that decided to stick together for another season, their leading catalysts for making Undying’s success possible has been Jonathan “Bryle” Santos De Guia. A core mid-laner with plenty of years of professional experience, following various stints for relatively obscure teams, Bryle fulfilled his life-long dream of appearing at a TI by playing for Undying which he joined during its formation in early January. That was a result of his stellar play that has continued well into Division I group play.

With the newest DPC season well underway, esports.com caught up with Bryle to discuss his debut appearance at TI10, the decision behind Undying keeping the same lineup following the tournament, his career in general, the collective competitive growth of the NA Division I, and much more.

Competing in TI10

Thanks a lot for doing the interview, Bryle. First off, I’d like to ask how are you doing so far with the DPC being two weeks old?

Bryle: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. Well, the DPC has been pretty chill to be honest. We have a lot to do and there’s a couple of days between our matches but it has been pretty chill.

Rewinding by a few months, you guys participated in The International 10. For yourself, that marked your first appearance in the event, so I’d like to know your thoughts on your whole experience such as traveling with the team, qualifying, and just performing in the main stage.

Bryle: I played in many tournaments before like majors and stuff and I think playing at TI is completely different from playing in those majors by a big amount. There’s a lot of pressure involved, but at the same time, it wasn’t really like that because we played with no crowd due to COVID. But knowing that this is still TI was still pretty insane to me. I was kind grateful that I worked really hard to get to TI.

In the tournament, things didn’t really go as well as you had hoped. After the group stage, you were placed into the first round of the lower bracket where you lost to Fnatic, thus finishing in 13-16th place. What did you think of your team’s performance during the group stage and the main stage?

Bryle: I think our performance at the group stage was pretty good–before that, we boot camped for a month and I think it was pretty successful. I think we were one of the only teams that beat IG in groups, but at the same time, we had our bad games too. Playing at the main stage, we had that best-of-one against Fnatic and obviously the better team won on that day.

There’s not really much you can do about that to be honest because it’s a Bo1 and anything could happen. I think the better team could have lost or the worst team could have won. That’s why Bo1s are really scary, and I think if it was a Bo3, there was a better chance that we could win. Nevertheless, it was a good experience for everyone of us and for myself personally.

Shortly after the event, your teammates SabeRLight- said to Nomad in an interview about how the team played against Fnatic with an emphasis on being conservative as in playing for the sake of not making mistakes. Do you feel like that sort of thing happened during that match against Fnatic?

Bryle: I think there was a lot of pressure on all of us because it was a Bo1 and I think every mistake we did was really big even though they were really small by nature. I think we also didn’t really have the greatest draft against them. We didn’t really have a great draft and we also felt pressure which caused us to play a lot worse.

If you played with a different mindset on that day, do you feel things would have turned out differently for the team? Or was it an inevitable circumstance?

Bryle: I was kind of chill to be honest. I wasn’t really pressured about it. I just played but I think if we played the type of Dota we played from the bootcamp, there’s a better chance that we would win. So yeah, we didn’t really play at our greatest that day.

Another aspect that sprung up regarding your stay in TI was the fact that you played in an actual LAN for the first time in a very long time, I’d say the last time you played in a LAN happened around maybe two years ago, so do you think that the sudden change in environment contributed to Undying’s struggles in the tournament?

Bryle: I think it played a big part because they tell you if you’re supposed to play online. For example, these TI qualifiers were like a long online schedule of matches. We also didn’t have a sponsor back then, so we just had to play from home. But the ability to be in the same room as everyone else, sharing your ideas was a big deciding factor that the team was able to improve in those months that we practiced.

We improved so much by just being together and sharing our ideas together. Being able to learn online is doable but not really optimal. Especially if you’re going to play a TI, you want to play at your greatest. Also, I think talking to people, or your teammates in general, are different within that regard. Talking to them in person and talking to them over Discord are completely different. Having good personal relationships with your teammates are important and you develop that by being together in person.

Heading into 2021-22 DPC

Team Undying at TI10
Team Undying at TI10

From TI, we move on to the offseason. As is usually the case with the post-TI world. Every region in the world has seen its fair share of roster shuffles with even the best teams switching their lineups here and there. But in comparison to that trend, you guys stay put, so do you feel that the fact that you guys didn’t change your lineup is an advantage given that you get to play with many restructured teams who did so ahead of Division I play?

Bryle: The way I think about it is that I don’t really care or mind the players I face. I care more about my teammates, so I think it’s very important that people are very comfortable with the teammates they play with. I think all of us are comfortable playing with each other even after TI. All of us are really good friends too aside from Dota.

But realistically, we didn’t really place well at TI. We got 13-16th place in playoffs and there wasn’t really much where we could have been better realistically speaking. With the offers I had before this season, I believe more in my team than others and I think everyone has the same thoughts on that.

Moonmeander highlighted how the experience at TI prompted you guys to stick together ahead of the new season. Looking back to a year ago, you guys finished third in both splits of the 2021 DPC season. What do you think of the team’s ongoing form thus far in this regular season?

Bryle: I wouldn’t say it was long but we took a break right after TI to reset and get ready for the next season. Obviously, I think we’ll be a little bit rusty since we haven’t played competitively in a while. I wouldn’t say I’m confident but I’m pretty sure we will try our best to qualify for this upcoming Major. In the end, I think all of us know that the only way we could lose is if we do so by ourselves. That’s the deciding factor–if we allow ourselves to do that.

You say you’re not confident, but given the way you talked, I feel you’re pretty confident of the team’s chances. Is that right?

Bryle: I can’t say for sure. To be honest, I think we just have to see.

What are the chances that Undying will take that next proverbial step and actually finish within Top 2 of Division I instead of finishing outside Top 2 like last year?

Bryle: I think it would be awesome. Last season, we sat out all the Majors. Although we got to TI, it’s kind of depressing and boring to be just stuck at home the entire year and I would be really happy if we qualified for these Majors.

On a scale of 1-10 How likely do you see your team qualifying for all Majors , with 10 being most confident?

Bryle: I don’t know. *laughs* I don’t like giving out numbers. I don’t really have expectations. I just hope to play the best Dota I can and go from there. That’s because if you set your expectations high and you don’t succeed, you will feel really bad, so I try not to do it that way.

Looking elsewhere into Division I, we’ve seen many teams reshuffle their rosters to get better and strive for the same goals as your team is trying to accomplish. Evil Geniuses added in Nightfall and JerAx and Quincy Crew added three new people in ponlo, MiLAN, and KheZu, so what do you think of the adjustments made by the rest of the region?

Bryle: Like I said earlier, we don’t really know much about it. They could be worse or they could be a lot better, so I think the time will just tell on  how they’re going. And I think it’s pretty natural if they start playing bad in early days because they are pretty new to each other and will take time to adapt. Even if we did make some changes on Team Undying, I think I wouldn’t be surprised if we start slacking off or play pretty bad for the first coming months or weeks.

To follow up on that, have you seen the general improvement in the sort of play that the region has shown since last year? This is taking into account teams such as Black N Yellow, simplyTOOBASED, 4 Zoomers, Arkosh, D2 Hustlers/Wildcard Gaming.

Bryle: I think it was very surprising that EG lost to BNY but there’s a lot of bias on NA being bad and I think having teams outside of the top three on the regionals perform well is good. Let’s say BNY qualifies to the major and they play well there. I think that will show that the NA scene isn’t that bad. I would actually be really happy if that happens and I think that would make other people in the region glad. But there’s not a lot of players in NA to be honest. Outside of the top three in a region, there’s just like a shuffle between the other teams happening every month or so.

As you mentioned a while ago, you courted offers from many teams but you opted to stay with Undying. But looking at the entire team and its lack of sponsorships, it was known that the team held many offers from sponsors about playing under their respective brand for TI10. I’d like to know how it’s been under the subject of finding a sponsor during this offseason. You don’t need to specify or exactly mention the name of those sponsors, but were we close to seeing Undying play under a different name for this current season?

Bryle: Obviously, all of us wanted to get a sponsor after TI, right? We’re trying our best to find one and I hope we do find one, but entering TI, I think we were trying to find something that will not only stick with us only for the duration of the event but after that. A lot of sponsorships wasn’t really into the idea of sticking to the team following TI and I think it wasn’t really beneficial for us too. I think QCY kind of did the same thing as well. Instead of replacing the name, they would stick with it and play at TI. I know it’s just a team name but there’s a lot of meaning and hard work behind it. I think I was pretty grateful that we played under Team Undying on TI. It just told our story of how much we struggled.


On Bryle’s Career Thus Far

Bryle at TI10
Bryle at TI10

Looking at your career, you’ve roamed in various teams over the years, but you appear to have finally found a home with Undying since you are approaching a year since joining the team. What makes Undying standout from all of your previous other teams?

Bryle: I think it was really easy for me to fit in because everyone was really easy to talk to either in or out of Dota. I think relationships are very important and I am pretty close friends with Timado and that helps us to be able to talk about Dota or outside the game with no judgment. I’ve played with players that are really hard to talk to in Dota. They’re stubborn or some stuff but I think this team doesn’t really have players like that. Obviously, we have some flaws between each other but I don’t think it’s that concerning to me and I think everyone takes it the same way. That’s why we decided to stick to each other. They’re easy to work with and I think everyone believes the skill they collectively hold is good.

Among those many teammates that you’ve worked with is your captain Moonmeander whom you’ve known for many years and has been a teammate of yours in the past. How crucial of a role has he played to your career in general?

Bryle: I think from the very first day I played with Moon, I think he has grown a lot as a person and as a Dota player. If I compare Moon with where he was a few years ago and how he looks now, I think it would be completely different. Moon does a lot of things for our team. He has a lot of responsibilities for the team. He’s kind of like what I would say a father figure for the entire team. He also helps us with things in and outside the game, so I’m really grateful for having that kind of teammate in my team especially since he’s a captain too.

There’s a convention concerning people playing for various teams in which they learn something new with each team they join. Given that you played for many teams in your own right, what have you learned from your current stint with Undying?

Bryle: I learned to adapt to how to talk to people as a better human being. Especially during times where you lose games and the emotions are pretty high, I kind of learned how to be able to take it that way. It was very important to develop this healthy relationship with your teammates. We kind of make a joke about it.

I think playing Dota professionally is kind of like having four girlfriends. You have to take care of them and if you start a beef with them, it’s not going to work out right in the long run, right? So it’s very important to take that into consideration. It’s very important to develop a healthy relationship.

The goal obviously for the goal for the team is pretty clear. You mentioned qualifying for Majors and also getting a direct invite to TI. I assume you don’t want to play in the qualifying tournament again. Looking at it on a personal level however, what are you looking to improve from last season?

Bryle: A lot of things to be honest. I think playing at TI for the very first time kind of enlivened me in ways that make me pretty confident that I can make it to the next TI. The team has said to me that I need to work on a lot of things. I think it’s very important to have a perfect balance of playing Dota and taking care of yourself. I think those two get along pretty well and I think taking care of your mental health and physical/mental wellbeing are pretty important when it comes to Dota and just having a good work ethic.

I think playing at TI, I think everyone knows that every team there has the potential to place higher. But I think TI was pretty much a mental game to be honest and it gave me the experience of you’re able to lose to yourself. I think we did in some series. I think your mental well being is very important especially when it comes to playing tier-1 Dota. If you feel good, you’re gonna play well, pretty much.

It’s a matter of feeling but also it’s also a matter of improving and making sure that your performance culminates in the biggest tournament there is in esports. Thank you so much, Bryle. I think that wraps up all of my questions. Do you have any final words to add or do you want to give any shoutouts?

Bryle: Shout out to my team manager Christina for helping me set this up, so not much else to say, I guess.

More Dota:

Our Community Writer Pedro Romero:

Freelance writer with approximately three years of experience. Worked for numerous outlets including esports.com, while covering League of Legends, Valorant, and Dota 2. Currently at Bronze I in NA LoL solo-queue.

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