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Today we caught up with Benjamin “Notah” Läärä and he was kind enough to give us an interview before all the action begins. Check it out!

Hello Benjamin! Let’s jump right in shall we? First tell us a bit about yourself for those who may not know you.

xdddfjSure! I’m from Finland and am in my early twenties. As far as gaming goes, I started playing DotA 1 around seven or eight years ago mostly playing in a Scandinavian in-house league with players primarily from Finland and Estonia, but a healthy international group of players as well. Eventually I started playing in semi-pro leagues with players like syndereN and other pro players. When DotA 2 came out I got into my first pro team “3 Question Marks” where I played with Mania and Maelk and some other old school players. Mania took me as his protege and that’s really where I got my start in competitive DotA. Back then playing the offlane role I also played as a stand-in for many top European teams like mousesports, Fnatic and mTw. I took a break to serve in the army for about six months and when I came back my goal was to develop a top tier Finnish team. It was then that I switched to the support role and tried my hand at being the captain and drafter. As the captain my team won first place at the Finnish LAN “Assembly” two years in a row. Since then I have played for various Finnish mix teams and then Swedish team “House Of Gamers” . I could go on and on about my past but those are the main points.

That’s quite the history! Next, tell us a little bit about how you came to be a part of Escape Gaming.

That’s actually a funny story! At ESL Frankfurt this past year I was working for a Finnish e-sports organization there basically as an adviser, doing interviews and such. I approached syndereN for an interview and was asking how he was doing and about Escape Gaming. The topic of coaching came up and I asked if Escape had a coach. He told me that the team had been searching for one, so I offered my services for The International’s European qualifiers. I can’t take credit for the team’s performance and for securing a spot in the wildcards, the team played amazing, but they said they appreciated my coaching and I gave them an offer to be their coach at The International which they accepted so here I am!

Will this be your first time coaching? What do you think are the traits that you think a good coach needs to have?

Yes and no. I consider this my first time coaching a truly high level team. I have a little bit of experience coaching teams like 4 Anchors and Stark, but this is my first time coaching at this level. In regards to your second question, I try to be an all around coach. I’m hard at work study other teams, working with the team on certain heroes, assisting with the in-game play calling and observing scrimmages. At boot camp, I plan on being there for the players to help boost the morale and have personal conversations and just create a good atmosphere for the team! At the qualifiers I was mostly doing analysis, but hope to take a much more proactive role moving closer to The International!

Well congratulations on qualifying for the wildcards! Is this going to be your first time attending The International?

Yes, and I am so excited! This will be my first time going to The International and the United States as well! I am very excited about meeting the team in person and just experiencing the atmosphere at the event!

What do you think about the team itself? How is the team’s synergy?

The team is in a really good spot right now. Everyone is really friendly and syndereN is a really strong captain. He coached Alliance and through that he has brought a lot of new ideas to the team. Overall the whole team is really high skilled even the newer players on the team have been playing really at a very high level. I don’t want to go into to much detail about the team acts in games, but the atmosphere is really good. Everyone is working together calling the shots and just having a good time joking around. YapzOr and Era are really clowny and the whole team will burst out at the laughing at their jokes in game so its just a really good environment.

Do you have any thoughts on the upcoming wildcards? Are there any teams you are most worried about?

Everybody asks this question, but I think we are focused just on our team. We are viewing everyone as equal because we have to beat everyone eventually. Right now, we are most concerned about our own game play and improving. Without giving away to much, I just know that we are going to be prepared for whatever situations we have to face.

Well that about wraps it up for the interview. Did you have any shout outs before we go?

First, a big shout out to eurheilu.com the Finnish e-sport site that helped send me to ESL Frankfurt and kind of allowed me to be at the right place at the right time that helped me secure this coaching job! Second to Escape Gaming for this amazing opportunity!

We appreciate it Benjamin! We are all very excited to have you aboard as coach and look forward to big things in The International and beyond!

Thank you! It’s been fun!