Alliance Team Captain Jonathan “Loda” Berg Talks Dota 2

Alliance Captain Jonathan “Loda” Berg discusses the rise of Dota 2 within eSports.
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Jonathan “Loda” Berg was in Las Vegas for CES 2014 to compete in the HyperX Dota 2 League Tournament. The captain of team Alliance, the Dota 2 veteran helped his squad finish in fourth place in the eSports event. Kingston used the festivities to unveil its first gaming headset, the HyperX Cloud, which is due to launch in April 2014. It’s yet another move by the company to embrace eSports.

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Back to Berg, who is still known in China as “L-God.” A Dota 2 pro since 2006, he helped steer Alliance to an undefeated run in Shanghai in May 2013 at the G-1 Champions League Season 5, earning $40,000 and first place while defeating the Chinese players on their home turf. The Swedish pro talks about eSports in this exclusive interview from the Kingston booth in Las Vegas.

What’s your training like to prepare for a big Dota 2 event?

“It depends from event to event. Before the Dota 2 finals here we actually had vacation and then it was Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Right after New Year’s Eve we all met up in Stockholm to sit down and have a boot camp at an Internet café. We sat down and reserved the VIP room and did nothing but eat, breathe, play and think Dota 2 pretty much non-stop. That’s how we prepare.”

What do you think are the most important qualities you need to be a professional Dota 2 player?

“You need a lot of dedication like all pro gamers. You need to put in a lot of hard work to be able to reach the top. A lot of skilled players need to work on their social skills. Every time you play on a team you need to have good social skills so you can communicate with everyone on the team.  If everyone is able to connect, you trust each other, you can maybe be friends. If you’re able to build a very good team spirit, that’s extremely important. It takes dedication, socials skills and a little bit of luck, as well.”

How do you deal with the stress of the big tournaments?

“You can’t think too much about it, but at the same time it’s stressful coming up to an event. The closer you come to the games, you start to calm down. You start to get that you’re in the zone or whatever you want to call it. But other than that we just try to keep everyone relaxed. If we notice someone on the team is a bit nervous playing against a certain opponent, we’ll just talk about it and make sure we have the right kind of attitude going into the game.”

What are your thoughts on the growing Dota 2 community?

“It feels great obviously, but it’s not only the fact that it’s growing and there are bigger tournaments and all this. I’ve loved Dota 2, as well as Dota 1, so as a pro player when you play a game that gets more and more popular and more and more users, it makes you feel good. It’s a way of saying we chose the right thing to play.”

Do you ever play Dota 2 on public servers?

“Yeah, we do. The difference between public players and pro players is that usually the pro players play less seriously when we play pub because we want to relax. But when you play pubs you usually face people that are super, super serious. You just have to be ready to actually play serious when you play public as well, but we do play public.”

What type of support have you received from your family since going pro?

“My family has actually always been really supportive. The thing that they made me understand was to do whatever you want in life as long as you’re able to make a living out of it. Once we started making some money, my family has been a lot more positive. But they’ve always been very supportive honestly. They’re both academics, so they both put a lot of focus on education. I was studying in university, so I did talk to them when I was considering going into competitive gaming, but they said that if you’re sure about your decision then you should go for it.”

What will you do with the money you won?

“Well, we’re in Vegas. I don’t know. Just going to go for a vacation I guess. I’ve been trying to find a week to go to the Caribbean or something like that. Here I’m staying two extra days in Vegas after the event, so I’ll be able to enjoy myself a little extra.”

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John Gaudiosi
John Gaudiosi has been covering the video game business for over 20 years for outlets like The Washington Post, Reuters, Fortune, AOL and CNN. He's EIC of video game site