WePlay! Dota 2 Tug of War: Mad Moon — Interview with Oliver "Skiter" Lepko
WePlay! Dota 2 Tug of War: Mad Moon — Interview with Oliver "Skiter" Lepko ⚡⚡⚡ Esports news, analytics, reviews on WePlay! The latest news on WePlay!
WePlay! Dota 2 Tug of War: Mad Moon has recently ended and we have crowned our champion — Team Nigma. But they weren't the only interesting team at this tournament. We sat down with Aggressive Mode's Oliver "Skiter" Lepko and talked about his career path, hobbies and aspirations. He, like many others, dreams about winning The International, but keeps his feet firmly on the ground with his humble and grounded attitude.
— So, you lost. And it’s sad, and you need to recover a little bit. What will be the next step for you?
— Well we’re gonna go home and try to understand, if we’re going to play as a five or make some changes to the roster and hopefully prepare for the next qualifier. You know, life goes on, it’s fine. And who knows, maybe I’ll be playing in a different team? Who knows what’s gonna happen.
— It’s tough, right, that you never know what’s going to be the next one?
— Eh, I mean, that’s like a Dota pro-life. You get a better offer and of course you’re gonna leave for it. And as a European team, it’s very hard for us.
— Qualifiers are hard.
— You only have 3 Major slots and 1 Minor slot, which is very hard. We almost qualified this circle. We ended up fourth. And from what I understand, I don’t know if I can say it, but I want to say it anyway: since China might not go to LA because of the virus, we’ll probably get opportunities to play.
— Nobodyknows right now, yes. I looked up and Googled a little bit and there is very little info about you. Tell us a little bit about yourself, please. About your hobbies, your life, how did you start playing Dota?
— I was just playing games, first person shooters like Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Battlefield, and then during TI2 my friend approached me told me about this game Dota 2. He said there’s a lot of money init. Back then the prize pool of TI2 was 1.6 million. I was shocked. I was like,“You can make money by playing games? That’s amazing! I’m gonna try to do it!” So I started playing Dota since TI2, and I wanted to go pro since that moment.
— Is it money?
— For me the motivation was… I mean, I was playing games, I wanted to play games, but I didn’t know you can earn money. So when people told me that in this game there’s a lot of money, I was like, “I’m gonnaf***cking play this game and do the best”.
— You lived in Slovakia at this moment, right? What is the average salary in Slovakia?
— In Slovakia? It’s 800 Euros.
— 800. And as a pro-player you can…
— Yeah, I can sustain myself.
— It’s good, actually. But you’ve played in a lot of different teams from all over the world. You played in Infamous and lived in Peru, right?
— I lived in Peru for 3 months.
— How was the life out there? We know nothing about Peru.
— The scene is huge there. It’s kind of as huge as CIS. A lot of people like to go out there; It’s amazing for me to see. And people recognized me when I walked on the streets, so it was cool, too. I mean, Peru is a developing country. So the quality of life is not as good as in Europe. So that’s a downside. And there are a lot of problems with servers. At qualifiers we had lags, you have to play on Brazil server and you’re in Peru, so there’s some packet loss. It was tough, but we managed to qualify to the EPICENTER Major, so that was pretty cool. I got to see many pros. We also qualified here when I played with them.
— Yeah, I know!
— And I was supposed to play with NiP who also qualified here, but I ended up here with the third team. So played here anyway!
— It was fate.
— Yeah, I was supposed to play here!
— Do you like it here?
— Yeah, it’s very close to my hometown. Because I’m from Slovakia, and we are next to each-other, so for me it’s like being home.
— Where do you live in Slovakia right now?
— In a city called Banská Bystrica. It had 70.000 citizens, so it’s kind of small.
— What do people do there? Are they farmers?
— Not really, more like… I don’t actually know what people do. I’m kinda always in my room just playing games, so I don’t know.
— You don’t go outside?
— I mean, I do, once in a while, but not very much. I just spend time playing Dota, trying to improve, watch replays.
— That’s your life? You’re not getting bored of this?
— I mean, I got to earn money somehow, right?
— It’s like a work for you right now?
— No no, It’s kind of like a work, but I’m having fun.
— It’s important to enjoy your work, right.
— If you don’t have fun, if you’re not enjoying yourself, you’re done.
— Are youliving alone right now?
— No, I still live with my parents.
— And what do they think about Dota, your career and you moving to Peru? What did they say about that?
— They support me now, because they understand that I make good money from Dota and there is future in this game so I can sustain myself. When I went to Peru, they were actually very supportive: “You’ll manage, you’ll survive”.
— And you did survive. Did you live in a boot camp there?
— We lived in a team house.
— And how is it to live with your teammates for 24 hours every day?
— Well, it really depends. Because if the teammates are your friends, it’s fine. I went to Peru with Biver, who’s my closest friend, we shared the room and it was super easy for me to be there. When I needed to talk to someone – I just talked to him.
— Are you close enough to talk about personal stuff?
— That’sgood. What inspires you the most? What stops you from getting tilted after defeats, and they happen often in pro players’ life? How do you manage this?
— I think It’s experience. When I played my first tournament it was very hard for me to take defeat. It not like I wasn’t used to it, but when you go to a tournament you obviously want to win. But the more tournaments you play the more you understand that only one team can win.So it’s experience. The more you lose, the more you win, you get used to it and understand that how it is. And after that you go to play the next tournament.
— And who do you call first after a defeat? Or do you spend your time with yourself?
— Yeah, I spend my time alone.
— Thinking about what went wrong?
— Yes, how to fix the problems, how to improve.
— What’s the most exhausting part of pro-player’s life?
— I think it’s the sleep schedule. Because you play games for the whole day and suddenly it’s 3AM and you wake up at 4PM it feels like you’re not human but a vampire that’s awake at night and sleeps during the day. It’s weird. It gets confusing for your body.
— Tell us about the most disappointing defeat in your life. What did you feel? Anger, sadness?
— I think it’s the TI qualifier that I played last year from Peru. I expected us to win because we had strong players and we understood Dota well enough to win, but we didn’t. And it was connected to many network problems with the servers. And I felt powerless. I could do nothing about the internet, and Dota itself is a game of 5 people. It’s not like I felt betrayed, but somewhere in-between of sad and betrayed by my teammates who let me down. And it’s also on me, because if I don’t play well I let them down. I don’t really know how to describe the feeling.
— It’s hard. Have you ever spoken with your teammates and said “I let you down guys, I’m sorry”. How does this talk usually go?
— I think it depends on a person. I don’t usually say that I let people down, I just want to show them that I’ll fix my problems next time if they happened. But there are people who can immediately say that after the game. But I don’t do that. I’m usually silent, but when I’m in the next game and the same situation happens, I want to show that I learned from experience.
— But as a carry, don’t you have to talk?
— No, I talk about overall game stuff, I just don’t mention minor mistakes, I’ll just do it better next time. For me it’s useless to talk about this.
— Some players told us about the importance of social skills: it’s important to socialize and improve in this. What’s your take on this aspect?
— Dota is a team game, and you’re working with four other humans in your team. Humans have emotions, they need to understand how to control them and to know how other humans work. In a European team like ours there are people from all over the continent: Lil comes from Eastern Europe, SsaSpartan is from Greece. And it’s already such a big difference in culture, in a way that they react to things. We need to know each other so we can understand why we behave in certain ways.
— I just Googled Slovak players in Dota 2 and there are just three of them in Liquipedia. Only you and two more: Warlog and Tulex.
— Yeah, but they’re not active anymore.
— Why is this? Why don’t Slovak players like Dota?
— Slovak players like CS:GO a lot. We have players in FaZe: GuardiaN, STYKO.I don’t know why, but people here like to play CS:GO. Not Dota.
— And why did you choose Dota 2 instead?
— Because of the money. TI2, there was so much money, so I wanted to play this game.
— So is going to TI the biggest goal in your career?
— Yes, going to TI and winning it.
— Don’t 99% of Dota 2 players dream of winning TI?
— Of course, that’s the biggest thing. If you win TI you’re pretty much the best player and the best team in this game.
— What are your thoughts about OG’s second victory at TI? What did you feel?
— I was jealous. I wanted to be the first guy who wins the TI twice and they stole it from me! But actually they’re a really good team.
— But why are they such a good team?
— I think they’re amazing players inside the game and amazing people outside of it. So it’s a good combination.
— Speaking of OG. I thought that after Fly and s4 left the team for EG in spring they were finished. And then they just came and won TI. How did it happen?
— It depends on how people see the situation. They were a team of five friends and N0tail basically said that Fly betrayed him, but he only followed a better offer. And N0tail used this as a motivation. He got good people around him, he brought Ana and Topson and they just rolled.They just used this “betrayal”, as a motivation.
— Like in Rocky, right?
— They wanted to prove to Fly and s4 wrong and that they themselves were right. You know the meme, N0tail was right.
— Yeah, he was damn right. And what about education? Do you have any diploma?
— I finished high school, but I didn’t go to university. At that time, I was already playing in the pro-teams and was traveling a lot, and you can’t do both.
— Is it hard to travel around the world?
— The more you travel the more you get used to it. For me traveling after a long time brings me out of my comfort zone, it takes some time to get used to.
— What about your personal life? Do you have a girlfriend back in Slovakia?
— No, I don’t have a girlfriend, I’m single.
— Are you single because of your travel schedule, or is there another reason?
— I think I just don’t have time for a girlfriend right now. Maybe this will change in the future but right now I’m fully focused on Dota.
— Many players have told me that breaking up with their girlfriends was the best for their game and their skills, but don’t you need to have a close person to you? The closest people to you are your parents, right?
— Yes, of course, my parents are the closest to me, but I also have my friends who I have told you about. Biver, Nine — they are like a second family to me, I can talk about anything with them.
— Do you use chats?
— No, we’re like from the esports team.
— Something like playing together?
— We’re not really playing together. We sometimes meet in a pub and talk about stuff.
— That’s fun. We’ve heard some rumors about the regional leagues instead of minors, and three majors instead of five. What do you think about this?
— I think It’s amazing. Valve is making progress when it comes to tier-2 or tier-3 scene. When you’re a new Dota 2 player and you see how skilled people are you think that you have no chance. When you’re European and see how the system works, you can be very discouraged. You feel hopeless. And this new league format can bring in the new generation of players. I think it’s amazing. Now it only depends on execution, how they manage to do it.
— What about the game itself? Is it improving, or is it getting bad?
— I think It’s amazing. I think Dota 2 has never been as good as it is now.
— Isn’t it more casual now?
— I don’t think so. It’s still competitive. I think it’s getting harder and harder.
— And that’s why it’s so hard to become a pro for new players?
— Yes. I wish Valve would do something about it, like an advanced tutorial of sorts.
— Haven’t you thought about making a tutorial yourself? Or talking about it?
— I just feel like I don’t have the qualities to do it.
— Why? You’re a pro-player, you can do it.
— I’m a bit shy on-camera, and I’m also competing at this game, so I don’t want to give my secrets away.
— Don’t be shy on-camera! You’re a handsome guy, you need to be on-camera!
— I mean, it’s also about experience. The more you are on-camera, the better you are at it. I’m just chill, I try to avoid camera.
— And before we finish, tell something to your fans, friends, parents.
— Thank you guys for supporting me and my team, I hope you keep supporting me in the future!