A 1:1 Interview With Pro Gamer — iceberg!
Bohdan Vasylenko, aka iceberg, is a passionate gamer who has been playing DOTA 2 professionally since 2015. Originally from Ukraine, iceberg was a professional boxer before he turned to DOTA 2 full-time.
Watch the video, or keep scrolling for the entire interview transcript below!
Hello everyone! Today our special guest is Bohdan - "iceberg" - and he's going to answer a whole range of interesting questions about himself. Let's go!
Bohdan, when did your passion for video games begin?
When I was about 11 or 12 years old.
How did it come about?
It’s pretty unremarkable, really. I went to a computer club with friends. And that’s where my passion for eSports games, and other games, began.
You didn't start playing DOTA straight away though, did you? Something else came first?
Well, yes. The first game was Counter-Strike. We used to play it a lot. Then we somehow moved over to World of Warcraft. I don't actually remember how. The transition from CS to WoW was pretty smooth.
And then you went smoothly from WoW to DOTA?
Well, Dota actually is WoW. Well, it was at the time. I mean, the first DOTA. We started playing DOTA more and more often, and then it just took up all our free time.
Do you remember ever thinking that you’d like to play it professionally? That you would become a pro gamer?
I didn't think about that at all.
When did you start thinking about it?
I don't know. At some point, I just wanted to play in tournaments, but—
You wanted to compete?
Yeah, exactly. I didn't think about getting into eSports or making a living from it, or anything like that. It was more that, at a certain point, I wanted to take part in tournaments.
Do you remember the moment when you realized you weren’t an amateur anymore, but a professional gamer?
No. I don't.
The moment hasn't come yet?
Okay, seriously, though, tell us about your first tournament, or when you won something for the first time. Like, the other guys told us about how they won computer peripherals—
Yeah sure, peripherals. I won some random peripherals at some LAN tournament or other. In general, though, I didn't have any expectations. I didn’t try to become someone or get somewhere. I just played and enjoyed it.
And that's why everything worked out, right?
Yes. I think if you don't enjoy what you’re doing, you won't get good results.
Okay, let's move on to your career and your professional activities. Do you remember the most difficult game of your life?
The most difficult? To be honest, no, I don't. No, okay. It was at the Shanghai Major. I played Tiny. It was the final... no, it wasn't. We lost to Fnatic while trying to get through.
What team were you in? Team Spirit?
Yes. I played Tiny there. We were in the losers' bracket. It was a tough game. We waited 10 hours in the arena, then our equipment got lost. We were mentally exhausted. And I remember I played really, really badly. We were very nervous. But it's no big deal.
It was a long time ago.
Yeah, it was a long time ago.
And you were young. Too young.
And the Shanghai Major was quite a challenge for players.
Okay, can you name your best opponent, and your best teammate?
My best teammate? That’s a difficult question, I won't answer it.
Okay, your best opponent then. The most difficult to beat.
The most difficult to beat...
This is especially applicable to your position: you stand face to face with other players—that’s hard.
I think it would be Maybe.
Got it. And is there any team that you see as the toughest team? A team that’s always difficult to beat? For you personally, or for your team.
At the moment, there’s no team like that. But in general, it's PSG.LGD.
Yeah, team LGD.
But you haven't played against them for a while, right?
No, but if you ask which team seems the strongest to me, then I feel like it's LGD. They're the most difficult to play against. Their roster might change, but they always play well.
Okay. So, many eSports athletes, and traditional athletes—like you were before—follow some rituals and can be quite superstitious. What about you? Do you have any rituals or superstitions that get in your way or, indeed, help you out?
No, to be honest, I don't. I’ve never had things like that.
I like anxiety, it energizes me. I've never tried to avoid it, I’ve tried to turn it into a strong point.
Do you have any toys like the bears or kangaroos that some players put near their monitors?
No, I don't.
Well, maybe you should get something like that for good luck.
Okay, tell me about your training regime. What are your training sessions like? How much time do you spend practicing alone, for example?
Recently, I've been playing a lot. I wake up quite early. Of course, everything depends on the official match schedule.
But generally, if I train and there aren’t any matches, I get up at about 10 a.m. and I’m at my computer until around 10 or 11 p.m. So, I’ll spend 12 or 13 hours on the computer if I need to be in good form.
So you play public games, or play with your team—
I play public games or CW [clan wars], I watch replays, analyze games and builds.
That's what I wanted to ask: do you watch replays, do you—
Sure, of course. You can’t play all the time. It wouldn’t be helpful. That's why I try to find new things to analyze. So, yeah, in general, I can pass 12 or 13 hours at the computer.
What about physical exercise and nutrition? Do they help you in any way?
Well, when I train, I use a lot of energy. My food is quite healthy. I have meals at home. For breakfast, I usually eat porridge or scrambled eggs. I have a meal every three hours.
The portions are small, though, so that I don't get full. Because, if you’re full, you feel bad during games. But yeah, overall, nothing special.
What do you like most about being an eSports player, and about eSports in general? Is there something that makes you feel that it’s really worthwhile?
That it’s worthwhile? No, there isn't.
So you just play for the sake of playing?
I play for the sake of playing, yeah.
What about the money?
Well, money is, of course—
Not a bad thing, right?
Okay, what do you not like? What would you change in this hard gaming life of yours?
I wouldn't change anything. Well, you know, it’s kind of alchemy: you get what you give. Maybe I earn good money, but I don't have enough time for everything else.
Of course. So maybe that’s exactly what you’d like to change: to make it so that you have more time for yourself.
But you're not sure?
But I'm not sure.
You're so enigmatic today, Bohdan.
I’m an enigma, full stop!
Tell us about your plans. Your fans would really like to know about your plans for this year, either professional or personal ones. Did you set any goals for yourself?
Yes, of course.
Can you share them with us?
Winning at The International. Basically, I have no other goals than that.
What about your personal plans?
As for personal plans, I'd like to buy myself some sneakers.
What kind of sneakers?
They're quite expensive, aren't they?
That's a worthy goal. BoombI4 wants to fly to the Maldives, probably for the same price as those sneakers—
You see, everyone has their quirk.
Alright, agreed. What aspects of your game would you like to change?
Well, there are lots of aspects to change. I'd change the game completely.
Your game or DOTA in general?
Oh, you mean, in DOTA?
No, your game.
Well, I need to focus better when I’m playing. That's about it. If you're focused, everything will be fine.
What do you think: does everyone on a team need to be friends and get along for the team to be successful? Or is that not really important?
I think teams should stick to the "carrot and stick" principle. If anyone does anything bad, they should be immediately notified that they could be kicked out. That's pretty much it.
What’s one surprising fact about you that fans might not know about?
I don't know...
You can tell us about anime.
About anime? Yeah, I love anime. I even have anime-themed socks.
That's an unexpected fact, Bohdan.
Yeah, nobody knows.
Nobody knew. I didn't even know that was an anime before someone told me about it. What anime is it?
It's Pain from Naruto.
Alright. So, how have your gaming experiences changed you as a person? Would you be a different person, if not for eSports?
I don't know. I can’t answer that question. I mean, I took the path I took. But I think some parts of my behavior would be different: I wouldn’t shout so much, and when I argue with people I wouldn’t use nerd slang. Basically, yeah, something would be different.
If you hadn’t become a professional gamer, what career would you have pursued?
I would have worked part-time at McDonald's.
No, to be honest, I was always interested in history and genetics. Something like that.
Well, those subjects let you grow in different areas. Cool.
The last question—
I still think I would have worked at McDonald's.
But while still having a passion for history!
Alright. What game do you think is the most underrated of the past 20 years and why?
I think... I think you can bring this question up with a certain person (alwayswannafly), and he'll answer you.
We'll ask him as well. You just copied him, or what?
No, I just decided to support his opinion. Because I've only played, well, I haven't played a lot of games. I’ve never even thought about a game being underrated because I just play and have fun. If I liked a game, I never bothered to look if other people liked it. The main thing is that I like it, and I don't care about anything else. That's why I can’t really answer.
Great, thank you very much!
Bohdan, it was your birthday last week. Happy birthday!
Thank you so much.
What did you do on your birthday?
I don't remember.
You don't remember?
It was a normal day. I played lots of games of DOTA. We played CW [clan wars], and that's about it. Nothing special.
Nothing special at all? Did you at least eat some cake? Blow out candles?
There were no candles but cake, yes. I took it with my hand, broke a piece off. And that, basically, is how I celebrated my birthday.
Well, not bad, not bad.
A question about your future: everyone knows that you used to be a boxer—it's part of your public image and you've often mentioned it in interviews. But our channel subscribers are still wondering: what made you give up boxing and move permanently into eSports?
I just got more invested in DOTA than in boxing, that's it. It's very simple.
Does your previous experience in boxing help you deal with the challenges of playing eSports? Maybe it helps you get into the right headspace?
Yes, it helps. Physically.
Are you beating people up or something?
It helps me set higher goals than teammates, but while still keeping my goals and theirs related. I think that’s always cool.
People often put eSports in quotation marks and don’t see them as real, competitive sports. What do you think traditional sports and eSports have in common? And why do you think eSports shouldn't be underestimated?
I think they're similar in terms of mentality, very similar. Because you can be nervous in the same way about what's coming and how things are going to be. I think it's basically the same. I mean, when you play in a tournament, you enter the arena, and you get all the same emotions that you get when you step into the ring.
You’ve spoken in the past about how you have, at times, struggled to find the motivation to play DOTA. How much of a problem is that for you now?
Now I'm 99% motivated.
But not 100%?
And how did you reach 99%? Is there a method?
No, it's just that the remaining 1% takes a long time to load.
But still, 99% is already a lot, it's almost perfect.
How do you get there?
How do you get there? Well, all it takes is not flying to a Major once because of illness, and then rethinking your entire existence. And that's basically it.
Can you describe the perfect DOTA 2 player?
No. There aren't any. Perfection is different for everyone. It's a subjective notion.
And what are the key traits? Being great at communicating with teammates, great skill—
And if you're a genius who is really the best at DOTA, but you can't communicate with people at all?
Then you’ll achieve nothing because it's all about teamwork. You need at least one person on your team who understands you, so that person can talk to the others on the team for you. That’s basically how it works in DOTA.
There are a lot of genius players who understand the game really well, but they’re just unable to get their message across.
Thank you for being sincere in your answers with us, Bohdan. I’m sure for our subscribers, and your fans, it’s been very interesting finding out new things about you.
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