Graphics by shiroiusagi
So far, we've spoken in-depth with Korok and TC. This week's featured player is our jack-of-all-trades, Pokémon-inspired, shadow blade building, Liquid`BuLba!
Hey hey hey! We'll begin with the traditional introduction! Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
Liquid`BuLba: Hey I am BuLba. I am from North Carolina and I am a student as well as a progamer playing for Team Liquid.
New Year starting off well?
BuLba: Not bad. Have a lot of goals both for school and Dota.
What's your favorite thing about Dota? Why do you keep playing it?
BuLba: My favorite thing about Dota is the variability of what you can do. There are so many possibilities and It never gets boring. Also the community, albeit bit shallow at times, keeps me in it. It's growing and it feels awesome being part of that growth.
Describe your playstyle in game.
BuLba: My playstyle varies depending on the hero I play. Some heroes I play passive early on till I can be more effective in the mid game, such as Tinker. Some heroes I just start roaming straight from the laning phase, like Disruptor and Storm Spirit. I'm cocky and that sometimes that works in my favor and sometimes against it.
You're known as a creative player and the originator of many builds, for example the shadow blade on everything build. What else have you created or played a role in creating? Where do you get your inspiration from?
BuLba: Tinker was my favorite Dota 1 hero with Invoker. I saw that March [of the Machines] was a lot more effective in Dota 2 and started going it in the laning phase to farm more and do more stuff later on. Tinker with laser/missile always felt all in since you had to get a lot of kills early on to be a monster mid-late game. Ancient stacking seemed really imbalanced so I started doing that in pubs with Demon (of EG) where he would pick a jungler and just stack them with a creep. We did something similar in a Starladder match vs Na'Vi. Tinker became quite popular after that. I also loved running Thrall (Disruptor) from Dota 1 and started running it mid as soon as it came out in competitive games. I still think this hero's legit as a solo
Will your build creativity and Fluff's line-up creativity morph together to create insane pocket strategies?
BuLba: Uhh i think so! We all are free to say our ideas except for Korok who plays Tetris 24/7 on his phone with random people online.
Now, you gained international fame playing for EG, what was that like?
BuLba: That was a cool experience. EG was my first time being on a legit pro gaming team. It was great going to Dreamhack summer and the 2 weeks at TI2 were amazing. Meeting all the players I've played with online for a long time was awesome and the Valve staff took care of us so well. I think everyone took something special from their stay there.
What horrible secrets about EG can you leak to us?
BuLba: Fear dislikes using BKB. Maelk loves his chen. Idk not many secrets.
On a scale from Chen to Bane, how evil is EG?
BuLba: Chen, because I'm sure Chen is putting a guise of being good and is more evil than Bane
And now you've come over to the side of the light. How does it feel?
BuLba: Feels awesome! Team Liquid has welcomed us with open arms and it feels great to belong to a community and communicate with them.
What did you know about Team Liquid beforehand?
BuLba: I knew much of the staff from Team Liquid. Flamewheel actually goes to my uni and we are good friends. I met bumblebee in Denmark in our bootcamp for Dreamhack, and then later at the tournament. I used to follow Broodwar somewhat and Sc2, so I frequently visited the forums and followed the team.
There is just a great atmosphere within the team and I cant wait to meet everyone at a LAN sometime soon. I hope hotbid interviews mike.
What has the last month been like on Liquid?
BuLba: The last month has been amazing and I know it will go nowhere but up. We were quite busy over the holidays so we haven't had time to play or practice until recently. We under-performed in terms of results so that is unfortunate but I know we will get better. We lack a consistent style at the moment and that is probably to our disadvantage.
You joined with Korok, Fluff, ixmike88, and TC. What are your thoughts on these guys and what they bring to the table?
BuLba: We are all great friends. I have known Mike and Korok for a long time. They both used to play Dota 1 and participate in all the inhouse leagues. I was on several teams with Korok before and know how talented of a player he is. Mike is a chill funny guy and every team needs someone like him to help to make you laugh when things are rough. I got closer to TC and Fluff since Dota 2 beta came out. I knew them beforehand from Dota 1, but we were not that close. Fluff is fluff, a smart guy and a really good leader. He has a lot of good ideas and is a really nice friendly person. He takes dota seriously and has a lot of motivation and goals. He needs to believe in himself more though! We all believe in him. TC is a consistent smart player. We play a lot of inhouse league games together and talk a lot about strategies. He is always someone I can talk to if I have a new idea. Everyone treats dota seriously and loves playing it.
The team has played a fair number of games and is knee deep in several tournaments now; what do you think you guys are doing well at, and where is there room for improvement?
BuLba: We are in tournaments that are just starting out. Our defense performance was quite bad. We lost to Mousesports in an awful game and Lion's Pride in a similar manner. We had to use a stand-in last minute and we totally deviated from our normal play. I think we just time to adjust to each others playstyle and find a similar constant goal in-game. We need less randomness and more fluidity. This is inevitable, we are still a new team! That's enough excuses though! We are capable of more, definitely.
You're really the key player that makes the team so flexible; just the last week we've seen you play heroes is a bunch of different roles, including a hard support in Disruptor. How do you see your role, and how do you see the team's flexibility overall?
BuLba: I play what I need to play. The mid role has changed since TI2. It is less intelligence heroes like Invoker, Rubick, and Tinker and more heroes like Templar Assassin, Beastmaster, and Brewmaster; more farm orientated ganking heroes. The Disruptor I played is a mid Disruptor actually. It is one of my favorite ways to play the hero. There are so many different builds you can go with it and I experiment with different things every game. I hate playing Dota the same way every game! In some games, a different playstyle is more efficient.
I still have a lot of improvements to make. I've never played heroes like Tidehunter, Magnus, or Dark Seer before in Dota (initiating heroes). It definitely is a different playstyle to what I used to play on EG. You have to be more vocal and it is a different pace.
The team is competing in four tournaments right now; The Defense 3, the Dota 2 League, Killing Spree NA, and the Dotahut Invitational. There are a bunch of other events that the team is not participating in. What do you think the balance is between participation and conserving strategies or prioritizing preparation?
BuLba: I think conserving strategies is a small part now. These online tournaments are practice for the real goal of LANs. They help you build up momentum and give you confidence. Every team is giving it their all in these leagues. I think you should try to participate as much as possible. Experience always helps. you might find something wrong in a match compared to a practice game.
Liquid lost 0-2 to Dignitas last week in Killing Spree NA. That seems to be the one team that's given us the most trouble so far; how come?
BuLba: Dignitas is a strong team at the moment. They have a few really strong strategies that fit their playstyle. Our play vs them was not up to their's in our games. They just outplayed us and out strategized us. That is it.
Liquid is one of the standard bearers of North American Dota. What are your thoughts on the North American Dota 2 scene, and the Killing Spree KotH?
BuLba: The NA dota scene is definitely the strongest it's been in a while. However, I do not see many other teams rising up within the scene to challenge the existing ones. There is a lack of structure and experience for most of the NA players. Dota is only now getting popular in the US/Canada regions. I love that we have 3 really strong teams though. I try to watch every game that the other NA teams play. There is a strong rivalry among us.
You're a regular panelist on the NEO Dota show 'Much Ado About Dota'. What do you get out of that show?
BuLba: The show is really fun. Its an entertaining hour among friends where we talk about stuff happening in dota. I like to voice my opinions regarding games and heroes and the show is a place where i can do it!
What do you think is the role of a pro player as a voice in the community?
BuLba: I feel pro players should communicate more with the community. Relating to the obvious answer, I love posting on forums like TL and visiting news sites like Reddit. (ME LOVE KARMA) I try to answer as many questions as possible if people ask me on stream chat or in random games i play.
What are your goals in the next year, personally, but also as a member of this team?
BuLba: Personally, my goals are to graduate college and get better as a player and expand what I know. Decision making is so important in dota and I want to work on that.
As a team I want to do well at all major online competitions and LANs, get to become better friends and have fun playing the game we love. Quite a cliché answer but it's what any teams goal has to be.
Okay, we'll transition to our staple lightning round questions here. Favorite hero?
BuLba: Obvious: Tinker
Least favorite? You're not allowed to say Treant.
What was your all-time favorite moment in your Dota 2 career?
BuLba: TI2 group stages when we beat CLG to go to the winners bracket.
What's your experience with starcraft?
BuLba: I reached masters with zerg. I watched a lot of Sc2 in the first year and then reduced it to only major tourneys when the Dota 2 beta came out.
Who's your favorite Liquid Sc2 player?
BuLba: TLO has been my favorite foreigner since beta.
What part of Dota 2 or the Dota 2 community would you bring to starcraft?
BuLba: The playing of the game! I feel Sc2 needs better custom games to play with friends. The Sc2 competitive community is filled with people who only watch and don't play the game which is different for dota.
And what part of starcraft or the community would you bring to Dota 2?
BuLba: Professionalism and NA LANs please! Dota needs American LANs!
What would you say to every Liquid Sc2 fan who isn't so sure about this Dota thing?
BuLba: Try it. It's a smart game and damn fun playing with your friends. Watching dota itself is amazing in its own right. The clutch plays, the strategy. There is so much to it
What's something about someone in the team that people don't know?
BuLba: Mike is a huge flamer to me in our inhouse games
Is your favorite Pokemon Bulbasaur?
BuLba: Definitely. He's so cute.
Adrian Peterson: MVP or MVP?
BuLba: MVP, but 1 man team.
Who's going to be playing in the Super Bowl?
BuLba: Patriots vs 49ers
BuLba: The Soulforge, a fantasy novel from Dragonalance. I loved Dragonlance in my early teen years
BuLba: It's a tie between The Prestige and Face-off
BuLba: Trivia questions. I love Jeopardy and was a quiz-bowler in high school. SSBM.
Alright, that's all I have! Thanks so much and good luck!