Gustav "s4" Magnusson plays for Team Secret as an in-game drafter and solo mid. He is a previous winner of The International, doing so with Alliance in 2013. In this interview, he talks about the importance of the drafter and the personalities of Secret.
Secret as a team are a team full of introverts. Is that something that you find, with how you guys work well together, because you guys are kind of similar in personality?
I guess I haven’t thought about it that way. But yeah, I could see that, but it could also make us good at Dota because we play a lot.
Has there been a kind of pressure on you yourself to perform? Run me through how you’ve kind of been approaching your responsibilities to the team.
I mean, when I started drafting for the team, I didn’t really put a ton of pressure on myself. If I should perform or not, how people look at me as a drafter — I didn’t care about that. I just wanted to get good at drafting so I wanted to practice it. I don’t really put any pressure on our team for performing or not performing on our team in this tournament.
That’s interesting to hear because I think a lot of people are expecting you guys to win this.
I don’t really care about what people think about us and stuff. I think that’s a good mentality, going in as favorites.
Listening to that is interesting because it makes me feel like Dota is a very personal experience for you. Is that accurate?
It’s something you do for you.
Yeah, of course. If I want to get better at something then I’m going to practice it, pretty much.
How’s the bootcamping experience been?
It’s been very chill, no stress or anything. It’s just been trying to get better at the game. I would say bootcamp has been successful. Short, but very effective.
I saw like a lot of pictures obviously, you guys were at the Red Bull offices for a little bit. Contrast that with you know, five guys in a room at like a house or an apartment or something.
The good thing about going to that place, is that we played the Red Bull tournament there a few months back. When you go to a new place, when you go to bootcamp, you might need a week to adjust to a place. Let’s say you move to a new apartment, you need to adjust — but we already knew the place so we can sit down and start playing right away.
When you’re looking at pro players, there’s the game and all the things that have to do with the game, but then there’s all this other crap that you have to deal with. Does it help to just like have someone else deal with it?
It helps, a lot to have a manager who does all the shit work for you. It’s very nice.
How do you kind of weigh the responsibility of being able to like literally guide your team to victory [as a drafter]?
I mean there’s no stress because pretty much it’s not all on me. It’s not all on the drafter, at least in our team, because I try to communicate with my team. I want ideas from my team, pretty much. I’m not going to sit there and do everything alone. I’m going to ask for ideas, and I’m going ask if this is good for you in this lane and stuff. So pretty much I shouldn’t be stressed on myself.
Is preparing for a draft a team activity or is it something that you take separate?
It’s a team activity. We have meetings before matches, and usually if we don’t have meetings, I will figure it out myself or with the coach.
Do you find that like, that collective experience is very valuable, because you’ve got literally championship-calibre players in every position.
It’s pretty important that our coach was a main support player, because I think they look a lot on the map when they play the game and they see how teams move and stuff even when there’s fog of war. I’m pretty sure if we had a coach that was like a core player, like a mid or a carry, that’d be worse than a support coach.
Something that comes up a lot when we talk about eSports coaches is the respect thing. If he wasn’t a player … would it make it harder for him to have an equal say?
If I have to be honest, it would be very hard, if he wasn’t an ex-player or whatever you want to call it — if he was just a coach from nowhere, it would be very hard to listen even if he’s right, you might not listen enough because you don’t have the respect for him. Even if it sounds bad.
A lot of people are saying that you guys have the harder group.
If we had to decide if we had the harder group, then I would say "no, the other group is better", for sure. But if we take another team in our group they might say "no our group is harder". Actually, I feel like the groups are very even but the other group is stronger.
Is there anyone from the other group that you’re kind of keeping tabs on?
Yeah, we’re going to look at EG obviously and maybe some other teams, some Chinese teams.
You’ve been beating EG a lot. Is EG a kind of litmus test, that if they do well in their group it’s like ‘OK we’ve got a tournament on our hands’ but say EG just completely bomb out of this thing — does that take a lot of pressure off of you guys?
I guess it would take a lot of pressure off, but then we have to realize that there’s going to be another team after and we have to shift our eyes to them. And maybe we don’t know much about them as much as we know about EG, so it might be a bad thing.
Is there a potential for that to happen? We talk about how there might be some dark horse team but I feel like that happens very rarely. Do you think there’s the potential for that one team to come out of nowhere?
Yeah, I do think that’s very possible, but I don’t know which team it’s going to be. But I would say it’s very possible that EG won’t take the first seed in the group, they might take the second or third — same with us. But yeah, I don’t think who would be the dark horse in this tournament.
One of the things a lot of people have been saying a lot about your strengths is the Techies stuff. Being able to bring out off-kilter strategies like that, it makes people want to ban those things because they’d rather not face something that they don’t know anything about. Is that like a strength of Secret?
When we first started to pick Techies, it felt like we wanted to prove something. Or when you play pubs, let’s say, against Techies, they might write "haha" but it’s … just a normal hero so maybe we wanted to prove something when we picked it by saying it’s a real hero, it’s a top tier pick.
Or is it one of those things where you wanted to prove that ‘hey, we can beat you with literally anything’?
That might be harsh, but yeah.
Matt Demers is a Supervising Editor at theScore eSports, and is doing interviews from The International in Seattle. You can follow him on Twitter.