Andrii Bondarenko, aka alwayswannafly, won his first eSports tournament when he was just seven years old. He started gaming professionally in 2011, and since then has been a member of some 40 eSports teams.
Watch the video, or keep scrolling for the entire interview transcript below!
Hello everyone, welcome to our channel. Today we are interviewing ALWAYSWANNAFLY, who answers a whole range of interesting questions. Let's go!
Andrii, how did you get into video games?
AWF (alwayswannafly): Well, when I was five and still lived in Yalta, I got a Dendy console as a gift. It was broken. Well, not broken exactly, it was Chinese and worked without cartridges. That was how I started playing. And after that, there was my first computer club. I was six at the time. That was where it all started.
Quite early, then?
Do you remember when you decided you wanted to pursue a pro gaming career?
There was no moment.
You were pretty young when you got your first competitive playing experience, too.
Yes, but I never really wanted to become a pro. Everyone just played DOTA for fun. There were lots of LAN tournaments in Kyiv. They were held in these basement computer clubs. So, we played there—everyone wanted to win.
And when did you realize that you’d made the transition from the amateur level to the pro level?
When I started getting paid in my first team. iCCup, it was called. With Resolut1on and Mag. That was when.
Can you recall the hardest match in your career? Who was it against?
The hardest matches were always against EnVy (and his team). In 2015, we played a lot of tournaments against them. They were small, but we always played against them in the finals. Those matches against him were the hardest. EnVy was cryptonite.
That leads me to my next question, about your best teammate and best opponent. Was EnVy your toughest opponent?
No, not EnVy. There was a player called bOne7 at the time. He was the toughest offlaner back then. He was in a strong team with pieliedie, EnVy, bOne7, and I can't remember who else. They were tough. That was 2013 - 2014.
Is there a player you enjoyed playing on the same team with the most? Aside from Volodya PGG.
See, I guessed it!
Ah, okay, there was also a player called BeaSt, but nobody knows him.
What made him so special?
He used to sing while playing, or rap.
Well, that’s fun, at least.
Before it became mainstream, before that.
Before it became mainstream. Alright. We know many athletes have rituals that they have to follow before a match, and they're generally superstitious people. What rituals do you have?
Taking a shower.
Before a game?
That’s a useful ritual, even for everyday life.
And aside from that? Maybe you've accumulated some superstitions over all these years?
No, I can't say I have. You just need to be mentally ready for the game.
Just take some time to think?
Yes. Or talk to your teammates.
How do you train, how do you get ready for tournaments? What does your usual workday look like?
I play MM [matchmaking], I try not to use my mic—that's about it.
Okay. Do you spend much time working on the strategic side of the game? Maybe you watch demos before matches?
I used to watch replays, not a lot, but I'm trying to do that now. That's it, I just watch replays.
Alright. How do things like nutrition and physical fitness come into it, if at all? Do you pay attention to things like that?
Well, it's subjective. If you don't feel well after eating some bad food like McDonald's, it's better if you don't eat it. But, if you can eat 50 nuggets in an evening, you go ahead and eat those 50 nuggets.
Can you eat 50 nuggets in one evening?
I don't remember how many we ate yesterday, but yeah. I suppose I can.
Alright. What's your favorite thing about e-sports?
The sports side of it—
The competitions, right?
The competitions themselves, yes. And also traveling and seeing other countries. I think so.
And what's your least favorite part? What would you like to change about the profession?
A profession, huh?
Well, you are a pro gamer, aren't you?
There's no need to change anything. I'd change MM, and the rest is okay as it is.
And what would you change about MM?
So, there was this platform called iCCup, and you could create your own lobbies there so that only players of your PTS [rating points] level could join. And if you didn't want a player in your lobby, you could kick them out and play with the players you wanted. That's what's missing now.
So even at your MMR [matchmaking rating], you find a big range in the ratings–
Players rated 1000 to 2000, yes.
In your lobbies?
How's that even possible?
It just happens. Because, well, that's the way DOTA works.
It’s never happened to me, but maybe because I'm not even a 1000-rated player. Okay. Can you tell us about your e-sports plans for this year? Maybe you've set some goals?
Well, INT [The International]. There was supposed to be one last year, but there wasn't, so it's this year's INT.
You were supposed to retire after the last one, based on your promise.
Well, now that's after this year's INT. Probably.
What about your personal goals? Do you have any big personal goals you're striving toward in the near future?
Well, as I’ve said before, I want to establish a school.
It’s going to happen this year?
Well, not this year, exactly. When the COVID situation improves a little, then we'll start.
Right, okay. We’ll be looking forward to that. Which aspects of your gaming style would you like to improve?
Die less. And that's it.
But that's your prerogative! You're the five!
Well, I'm starting to die less already. It's okay.When the others die, well—
Better if it were you, right?
What do you think—does everyone on a team need to be friends and get along for the team to be successful? Does that affect the cohesion of the team and its results?
And if they aren't?
If they aren't, it could also work. It's all subjective.
Alright. And how do you think cohesion comes about in a team? Say, a new player joins you...
What needs to be done to integrate them into the team as quickly as possible?
Just play a lot and communicate with each other about DOTA, all the time. Dedicate all their time to DOTA.
What about just hanging out, or going on vacation together?
Yeah, that could also work. You can go on vacation, but...
Before the league, just go on vacation.
No, it’s better if everyone goes on vacation on their own.
Can you tell us one surprising fact about you that your fans don't know? Bohdan has Naruto-print socks, electronic had a single sneaker stolen from his hotel room. Have you had any crazy moments at tournaments?
Maybe someone stole something from you, or maybe someone started a fight with someone else? Or almost started a fight? Someone took a flight to the wrong city? Also, Bohdan said that the thing that causes the most craziness in his life is you.
There was one time when we were flying back home from the INT. Our flight was delayed by 3 hours. We landed—me, Resolut1on, and Aloha. So, we arrive in Amsterdam to transfer, we run to the check-in desk, and we see our plane take off right in front of our eyes. And so, we slept in the airport—either on the couches or right on the floor, I can’t remember—for 14 hours.
Why didn't you go for a walk through Amsterdam?
Because we didn’t have visas.
Ah, I see, it was back then. A pity, a pity.
Definitely a crazy moment. How has your career as a pro gamer changed you as a person? Maybe you developed some personality traits that weren't there before? What have all these years done to you, Andrii?
Oh, listen, I've become patient, you know.
Yes. There are times when you don't want to be patient and you let it all out. But there are times when you need to show patience. And that’s fine, whatever it is, you can ignore it.
So it's a kind of positive change? That's awesome.
Yes, but that’s for life in general, not for MM. It doesn't work that way in MM.
What path in life would you have pursued if you hadn’t become a pro gamer?
Uh-huh. So you would've been a cashier at McDonald's like Bohdan? Those are his words, not mine. He said so himself. A part-time job.
No, I would've been his boss. I would have told him that he should be preparing the Big Macs, not eating them every day!
I see. So you stack up even here. According to you, what is the most underrated game of the past 20 years and why?
And why? Why do you think it's underrated?
Because not a lot of people play it. Valve abandoned it, released some Half-Life 2 that no one needed, and gave up on the third one four years ago. And, at the end of the day, they could’ve just let the first Half-Life live on, but no.
It's a sad story, but thank you for your sincere answers, Andrii. Andrii, you've been playing DOTA for a very long time now...
Yes, since '73.
...professionally, for around a decade. If you had to choose the “best” and "worst" moments of your career during that time, what would they be?
The best is when we won on the stage at the INT. The worst one... is when we lost in 2015, on the stage at the INT. To the Korean team. MVP Phoenix or just VP.
In one of your interviews, you mentioned that you've been on a huge number of teams.
As it turns out, yes.
That’s logical, given how long you've been playing. What would you recommend to new players? It is worth switching teams often, or is it better to try and improve yourself and stay longer on the same team?
It's always a good idea to develop and improve yourself, no matter who you’re with. If you're on a team that is constantly improving and developing, and it works for you, it's better to stay there. But if you're improving while the rest of the team doesn't, then you need to switch teams.
How has the DOTA scene changed over the years?
It has become more toxic.
Why? How does that manifest itself? We're talking about the pro community as well.
Because people have no manners. They learn their manners from DOTA, from MM, from swearing, from streamers who swear very rudely.
Thank God we're not like that. In your opinion, what does your roster need to focus on, most of all?
Our roster should focus on playing as a team, most of all.
Are you seeing success in that?
We're working on it.
Awesome, awesome. Then, I wish you guys success in this tough endeavor!
Thank you, thank you very much.
Thank you for the interview, goodbye!
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