This is the first article in an exclusive interview series with Tundra Esports’ coach Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling.
Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling has done it all. After more than a decade in professional Dota, he’s been player, coach, and broadcast talent. He’s won The International — the first to do so as both a player and as a coach.
Now, he’s up for his next challenge: Heading into TI12 as coach of the defending champions, Tundra Esports.
Aui_2000 talks about some of the dominant teams of the season in an exclusive interview with ONE Esports.
How do you beat Gaimin Gladiators? By focusing on yourself, Aui_2000 says
Tundra has been a pretty consistent team throughout the Dota Pro Circuit this year — third at the Bali Major, a clean 7-0 sweep in Division 1 Tour 3, and fourth at DreamLeague Season 19.
But the most dominant team this season by far was Gaimin Gladiators, having a spectacular season that saw the team claim three Major titles.
Even with such dominance on display, Tundra’s coach believed that the key to success isn’t trying to “prepare for specific teams” — but being the best version of yourself.
“You can look at elements that the teams do well. Gladiators, for a lot of the year, were by far the best team on the runes. So I think a lot of teams were like, oh, we need to be better on the runes,” Aui said. “But it’s not because it’s specific for Gladiators. No, it’s just you think that’s just the best way to play Dota.”
“I think you should be improving yourself the most and focusing on how you can become the best team. Then, in terms of counter-stratting a team, it’s mostly about draft and maybe some early game movements or at the laning stage.”
Aui talks Team Spirit’s “impressive” Riyadh Masters 2023 run
Another team that has seen spectacular improvement this year was Team Spirit, who surprised many when they took Riyadh Masters 2023 by storm — especially after some lackluster performances in the Majors.
Though four of the players remained the same, Spirit made a big change in the midlane: from Alexander “TORONTOTOKYO” Khertek to Denis “Larl” Sigitov. Aui felt that while both players were midlaners, they execute their roles very differently.
“Larl is more of a role player on the team, and TORONTOTOKYO was their map player. He would put the most map pressure, he was going Aeon Disk on Puck and stuff to get the map in a good state,” Aui said.
He also thought that it was “really impressive” how Spirit managed to incorporate Larl into such an established core of four.
“I feel like generally, especially if you win TI together as a team, it’s not easy for someone to come in and play with confidence,” he continued. “Team Spirit had to sort of reinvent themselves in order to reach the level they did, which is always impressive. I guess having players like Collapse and Yatoro makes it a lot easier. But no, they’re just really good.”
While this interview was recorded before Tundra Esports’ roster change was made official, Aui now finds himself in a similar situation. With Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen officially joining Tundra Esports, the defending TI champions will hope that this sudden change will end up the same way as their Eastern European peers — a win.
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