Interview with Analyst Liquid.Jabbz
October 7, 2020

Liquid.Jabbz Interview: “Blitz is the foundation of the team, while I provide the polish”

Mathis „Jabbz“ Friesel is a staple of the German Dota 2 scene. Now he is also the new Analyst for Team Liquid’s Dota 2 roster. Prior to ESL One Germany 2020 we managed to catch up with him and talked to him about his new job, the German Dota 2 scene, the status of the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) and the strengths of Team Liquid.

On September 28 Team Liquid officially announced Jabbz as newest addition to the Dota 2 roster. We talked to Liquid’s new Analyst before the start of ESL One Germany 2020 Online. Thank you very much for your time to do this interview with us. Your move to Team Liquid as Analyst was quite the surprise to some fans. Could you share a bit of the backstory on how you came to Liquid?

Jabbz: It is actually a pretty fun and long story. My first real contact with Blitz was back in 2018 in regard to the OpenAI project. Blitz asked for tips on Twitter to beat the bots, so I sent him a message and we started talking. For two years nothing much happened, but at the beginning of this year he randomly invited me to a match of CS:GO and we played together for a bit.

Afterwards we played a lot of CS:GO together and then Dota as well. Some time after Blitz then asked me if I was interested in helping out Team Liquid.

Initially I thought it was just a short-term thing, but it turned out to be a bigger offer. Especially since Blitz thought I would be a great fit for the team. I was not so sure at the beginning if I wanted to accept, but then it was not that difficult to decide although I moved to the Netherlands to join the Team at the Alienware Facility.

A year ago we chatted about how you wanted to go back to university to finish your degree. What happened to that?

Before I got the offer I was back at university and actually did not play Dota for quite a while. That was also the reason why I initially hesitated to accept. But Blitz reassured me, that it was not that important to immediately be the best Dota player again. Liquid would give me enough time to get back to being good at Dota. Subsequently I have put university on hold again as you don’t get an offer like the one I got every day.

Many fans might not exactly know what an analyst exactly does. Could you describe a typical day at Liquid for us?

Daily routines depend on whether or not we are currently active in a tournament. During tournaments we usually wake up around 10 or 11 as a team. I then study replays for three to four hours of the teams that we will be facing. I then compound the gathered information and share it with the team to prepare them for the upcoming match.

Jabbz At The Alienware Facility in Utrecht
Jabbz At The Alienware Facility in Utrecht

On days without officials we scrim after waking up and I observe our players and games, looking for things that can be improved. An example of a normal day would be as follows: Waking up, Replay analysis if we play in a tournament, then we scrim more and maybe one last scrim in the evening before relaxing a bit. Usually I am quite busy over the entire day, but if not I squeeze in the occasional pub game. But I usually don’t get to play more than four pubs per day.

Blitz is obviously still at Team Liquid as coach. So how do you divide the workload between the two of you?

Blitz has by far a lot more experience for interactions between people. He knows how to keep a team together and also drive them to perform at their best. So my work focuses a lot more on the technical aspects of the team. I watch over the more Dota-related issues in the team. Blitz still has an eye on those as well, but since I am here now that is mostly my job. Pre-match preparation is also largely my responsibility. You can say that Blitz is the foundation of the team, while I provide the polish to get the best out of the players.

Since you already talked about pre-match prepartion for your opponents I would love to hear your opinion on Team Secret. They have been on a tear and dominated the EU region with eight straight tournament wins. What would you say is the secret behind their success?

Without giving away too much of our preparation I can safely say that Secret’s main strength lies in their five players, who understand Dota 2 almost perfectly. Because of that Puppey can draft without having to consider whether or not his team can play the lineup. That makes it a lot harder to play against Secret as they can play all kinds of styles but still exactly know their limits.

Another big factor is that everything is currently online and regional. As the current patch has been out for a while now things are not that likely to change. Unless we get a larger patch or the return of offline events with teams from other regions, Secret will most likely remain as dominant as they are now. While I am obviously working on deciphering their secrets, they currently just understand the game too well.

As a German player, who has also represented Germany in several tournaments, you obviously care a lot for the German Dota 2 scene. When we talked a year ago, you pointed out the missing tier 2 infrastructure as one of the main reasons for the struggles of aspiring players. Did anything change over the course of a year?

In general things did not change too much due to the pandemic and the postponement of the prior announced online leagues. But for the German scenes things definitely changed. The introduction of the ESL Meisterschaft in Germany has implemented a good concept for the scene. But even there we got some problems. I also played in the first season and some of the rules were quite weird in my opinion. They resulted in our best players being disqualified from the tournament and obviously a lack of motivation from that. But I think the Meisterschaft is a strong push for the German scene especially with the now ongoing second season.

Although I am not playing in the tournament anymore, I do keep an eye on it and I see a lot more. More on Twitter, more interactions and just overall more presence from the German scene. Prior to the Meisterschaft it was almost invisible. So things have surely changed. The question that remains is whether the players will just collect the money from the Meisterschaft as pocket money or if they get a chance to breakthrough internationally into the “real” professional scene. I think there are a couple of teams that have decided to stick together because of the Meisterschaft and maybe they will keep improving to one day qualify for international tournaments or even win them.

Because of the pandemic the Dota 2 scene is more or less in limbo right now. Valve’s handling of the situation has also been criticized by many. How would you want to tackle the current issues of the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC)? 

Obviously everyone has his own idea on how to fix it. But I still maintain the opinion that it would make a huge difference to deduct a certain percentage from the TI prize pool to other tournaments or organisations to make the scene less top-heavy. But I think it is part of Valve’s concept to have this giant tournament, so things will probably not change too much. I am slightly disappointed, that Valve did not organize tournaments or other supportive measures during the pandemic, when everything moved online. I obviously don’t know the reason for that, but at least we have tournaments like Omega League or ESL One Germany that offer decent prize pools and provide good quality.

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The current situation in which so many people are stuck at home and watching streams could have been used to implement some kind of league as the initially planned regional DPC would have. But I guess Valve has its reason for not doing anything.

Another question regarding Team Liquid itself now. What would you say is the greatest strength of the current lineup?

The greatest strength of Liquid is probably that we have played together for so long at this point. The players know each other extremely well, they all their strengths and weaknesses of their teammates. There is also still a lot more potential and room for growth in the team, since they only switched over from Heroes of Newerth to Dota 2 in 2016. I can easily picture us becoming the best team in the world at some point as long as we work hard and fulfill our potential. That is the greatest strength we have. iNSaNiA & Co. have been the best team in the world in HoN, they have proven they have what it takes to make and they can definitely do it again in Dota 2.

The first step on the road to the top would obviously be breaking Secret’s dominance at ESL One Germany 2020. Contrary to past tournaments ESL One Germany has a Swiss Group Stage instead of the traditional round-robin. What do you think of the format?

It does not matter too much to me which format is being played. In the end you still have to beat everyone to win. For some the format might be more unfair, others might get lucky with it, but it really does not make any difference in the end.

I am much more intrigued by the fact that ESL One Germany will feature 16 teams. Among them some which are not playing as commonly at the moment. During recent tournaments it were mainly the same old eight teams playing. This time there are a couple tier 2 teams present which could cause some waves. In our first match we will face Mudgolems, a team that I believe can become very strong. They feature veterans like 33, Fata and Skiter and are probably the strongest tier 2 team out of those that have not played as often. It will be very interesting to play against them.

(Editor’s Note: Team Liquid won 2-0 against Mudgolems.)

Thank you very much for the interview and good luck for ESL One Germany 2020 online!


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