Ted Forsyth AKA Pyrion Flax is a British Dota 2 content streamer and YouTuber. Pyrion is
one of the most popular British streamers of Dota 2, offering a comedic approach to the game.
Widely known in the Dota 2 community as the man with the iron stare, Pyrion uses this mental
fortitude to his advantage when playing Dota in front of his ever expanding audience.
Now that TI7 has officially kicked off, Iain Fenton has been speaking to Pyrion for Esports Inquirer
in order to find out his thoughts on this year’s record breaking TI. Pyrion even lets us in on who
he thinks will win the main event and the $10+ million prize.
Interview conducted by Iain Fenton – Journalist for http://www.comparelotto.com/
Iain Fenton: Could you tell me a bit more about your role in this year’s event?
Pyrion Flax: My role is the usual bumbling around asking dumb questions. Should be fun as it always is.
IF: Firstly, you have appeared at four previous ‘Internationals’ prior to TI7. How have they evolved over time?
PF: The big switch has been from 3 to 4, where 3 was much smaller in scale, more intimate, and it still felt like Dota was a very new thing. It was also way less professional since valve were still new to a big tournament, and the players and teams were nowhere near as professional as they are now. 3 was a lot of fun, but since then it feels more like it should – a proper big tournament sporting event. It’s so hype in the arena now it’s insane.
IF: Did you ever imagine esports and Dota2 would have such spectacular growth when you attended your first ‘TI’ event?
PF: I loved TI3, so I definitely thought “people are going to love this” and of course we all thought that. There was no way this wasn’t going to be huge. Once the potential was realised for teams and players and companies to make real money around the events it was clear it was going to grow. Twitch has been a huge driver in esports, probably the biggest. Their support for events and streaming has made this all possible really, otherwise it would be like having TV shows but no way for people to watch them.
IF: Are there any changes that you wish to see to the ‘TI’ event that you think would benefit everyone? Obviously at this stage everyone is hyped up about how good TI7 is set to be, but are there any negative aspects surrounding the event?
PF: If I could change anything it would be reddit. It’s very quick to complain about pretty much everything imaginable, and a lot of companies read into reddit too much. It’s not representative of the general masses of esports fans, it’s just one of those squeakiest wheel situations. It definitely has a role to play, but I feel too many companies and organisations and individuals depend on reddit for their entire feedback and that’s a mistake. That’s not something that can be changed though, so when it comes to something that can be changed I would say support for workshop artists in Dota 2 needs to be vastly improved. It was great at TI3, not sure why it’s gone backwards.
IF: So far, no team has ever regained the title – do you think that could change this year?
PF: I think EG will win TI7, so this will be the first time a team has done it. I just can’t look past them and see a team that is as stable, prepared and talented. Yes, I’m a big EG fan boy.
IF: Is Dota 2 now the biggest esport? Can anything else rival it? LoL for example?
PF: Dota is the biggest when it comes to the big tournaments and the money, but I think league and other games will still be bigger in terms of player numbers. However, those games are wrong and heretical. There is only one true game and it is Dota. I don’t honestly understand people who don’t see that.
IF: Is there anyone in particular you are looking forward to asking your dumb questions to at the event? 😛
PF: I am looking forward to seeing all the usual faces that I know and love at TI, but I’m really interested to see what the newcomers to the event are like – newcomers in terms of their role of course, most of these guys are veterans of Dota, it’s just a different challenge for them. Also extremely excited to meet Day9 as I was a big fan of his back when I was into SC2 (pre Dota days of course)
IF: How hard is it for new comers to the game of Dota 2 to get to the level of the superstars from teams such as EG?
PF: Most of the pro players have not been playing for just a couple of years, they’ve been playing since they were like 12 or 13, and they’ve been doing almost nothing else for that time. Before Dota 2 they played HON or Dota 1, and they’ve been getting better and better all that time. I think if you’re 18-19 and only just getting into Dota, you’re going to struggle to ever make it to the heights of someone like ‘Arteezy’, for instance – although it could happen. Some players have incredible reactions and mechanical skills, and learn very quickly. Still, you’d better start playing a LOT because the established pros have around 20,000 hours more than you, and by the time you catch up you might be 25 or so. Fear was considered “old man Fear” and retired, and the dude is like 27. think about that!
IF: Because of the money there is to be made in esports for the best athletes, do you think that more people are going to be seeing becoming an esports athlete as a career choice for the money or do you think that someone can only become a successful esport athlete if they first and foremost have that passion and enjoyment for the game?
PF: There are pro footballers (meaning soccer) who could have chosen a variety of sports and landed on football because of the money. Theo Walcott who plays for Arsenal in the Premier League had a few sports he could have chosen but chose football for that reason – money. There’s no reason to think there won’t be people out there for whom gaming as a WHOLE is a passion and they choose Dota to focus because of the money or because they thought it looked better than the alternatives. but I don’t think they could ever get to the very top because the top players are consumed by the game more than the money. it’s like a puzzle they want to solve.
IF: What kind of longevity do you think DOTA 2 athletes have? How long can an athlete realistically stay at the top earning five-seven figure sums?
PF: I think if you look at the mid players in Dota 2, that tends to be a young players game. s4 used to be the best mid in the world and now he’s dropped to the offline. the same thing happens in other sports – older players drop back to less mechanically or physically demanding roles and move to a role where perhaps experience and shot-calling are more important. in terms of longevity, we’ll have to see if there are many players still at the top in their 30s and maybe older, which will be interesting to see. I kind of hope there’s a physical barrier presented by age because I could use it as an excuse for my own poor skills.
IF: Can you foresee esports battling traditional sports? You mentioned football for instance – television broadcasters have already begun picking up esports but can it ever be as popular as football. I guess one thing in football in betting and gambling – the market is worth billions. Will people start betting on esports in the same way as they do football?
PF: I believe there already is a big betting market in esports, although it’s not one I support. Like all sports, corruption is inevitable, especially where the players aren’t making the money they think is good enough, so I’d hate to see gambling becoming too big in esports. As for comparisons to physical sports – it’s impossible to say. The audience for a lot of traditional sports is getting older, just like TV audiences are getting older, because younger people are turning towards online stuff more than, say, going to baseball practice every night. Viewing habits among younger audiences are changing and stuff like twitch and streaming and youtube etc are far bigger among those audiences than say sitting down and watching coronation street of rugby league. Maybe esports fans are like outliers for what future generations will be watching, I kind of think of us as that way although I’m technically in the coronation street age bracket.
IF: Who do you think are the most exciting Dota 2 players to watch?
IF: Who’s the most forward thinking player who is always trying new tactics and looking to play Dota in an original way?
PF: I can’t speak for all of the players but I hung out with AUI2000 when he was playing a pub one time and I was amazed at how much he learnt from one game. He was theory crafting on the fly, then they would go run another pub game and try something out, see how it went etc. He was always open to ideas about item builds and combinations. I think most pros are like that even if they aren’t like that openly.
IF: Who’s the most competitive on the scene?
PF: They are all very competitive. seriously. try playing a casual game of anything with a pro Dota player, they play EVERYTHING to win.
IF: Who do you think practices and trains the hardest?
PF: They all train and practice a lot. you don’t get to TI any other way.
IF: From a fan/audience perspective, what most excites you about watching a big Dota 2 match? What do you hope to see? And what do you dislike to see?
PF: Close games that go down to the wire. A single great play turning a game. New strategies working or failing horribly are fun. Hate to see too many stomps, especially when it’s clear a team is disbanding before our eyes.
by Iain Fenton