Sheepsticked talks about her road to TI11 as a panelist and shares insights on the tournament, expressing confidence in the game and scene
Prior to the start of The International 2022 (TI11), esports.gg spoke with British Dota 2 commentator, analyst and streamer, Alexandra “Sheepsticked” Roberts. In the interview, she shared her career journey toward becoming one of the main panelists of TI11. She also leaked a few insights on the tournament and why she is confident that Dota will continue to live on despite its recent issues. This interview occurred on October 14 prior to TI11 group stage.
A glance through Sheepsticked’s talent career
Hello Sheep! It’s an honor to have you with me today. I’m sure many people are aware who you are but can you please give us an introduction?
Sheepsticked: “My name is Alex and I’m known as Sheepsticked online. I started as a small time baby drawing Dota art and putting it out on Reddit, and now I’m doing paneling work at The International. I started playing Dota in January 2014. It’s been a long ride and it’s fun.”
In a 2020 podcast, you mentioned that being a talent was not in your priority list and that you’d rather go pro. What do you think changed and pushed you forward on this career path?
Sheepsticked: “Originally when I said I wanted to go pro, it was more of a performative action speech where I wanted it but didn’t actually work hard enough towards it. I cannot say I gave everything I had but I tried again because COVID had hit and there was nothing to do. At that time I actually climbed to 7k MMR and was feeling pretty good.
But after hitting 7k, I burned out and spent the next six months not wanting to play at all. I was playing other games and didn’t want to queue.
After feeling that way, I realized that it’s just not going to happen. I clearly did not have what it takes to go pro in this game. So I stopped and went back to streaming. However, I felt that my stream lacked a clear direction that interests me while, at the same time, I had been getting really interested in working as talent. When I watch DPCs and TIs, I feel like I can help by putting something of my own and I wanted to bring that to my talent work.”
SEA DPC is the most fun to cover, CIS is disciplined, WEU is WEU
Out of all the regions you’ve worked in (SEA, CIS and WEU), which one do you find most enjoyable?
Sheepsticked: “They all have their pros and cons. I found SEA very enjoyable for their players, personalities and their culture. It was really fun to learn about their memes and get involved with their social media. The players are pretty good sports as you can joke around with them.
They’re very chill so all the post-series interviews were very fun. The games can get very clowny–looking at you SMG–but SEA is definitely the most fun to cover.
Europe East was a lot weirder since most of the players don’t really speak English so you wound up with the same players again and again for interviews. You learn less about them and don’t have as much of a connection. There’s a lot less community and it feels like the players change way more often on the teams.
I will say the quality of actual Dota during the DPC was a lot higher in Europe East. I was very impressed with their discipline. It’s just a shame some of the teams can’t translate it very well to international LANs. Europe West is Europe West. I don’t know what to say about them. It’s the most popular region. Screw them man I don’t want to talk about them. Good region yada yada.”
“I worked hard and I’m happy with results that I got” Sheepsticked on her road to TI11
Would you say that being a talent is the type of work you’d like to do ever since?
Sheepsticked: “10 years ago, I wanted to be a YouTuber like the GameGrumps. But realistically, I guess I had to do Graphic Design or something so that’s what I ended up pursuing at university. I was playing Dota all this time and I then realized I could stream it. So I dropped out of university and pursued that instead.
Through my streaming experience, I realized I had more potential to work within esports. And since I had built somewhat of a name for myself from my Dota artwork, I had a reasonably nice start to streaming as I wasn’t just a random coming in. I also have a very supportive family who encouraged me to try to do this for a year and see how it goes which then led to talent work further down the line. However, it wasn’t something that I planned for a long time.”
Yet you have been quite successful throughout your talent journey thus far. What do you think attributed to that success?
Sheepsticked: “It really helped that I was invited to TI10 when they needed streamers for the All-Star Match. Things kind of fell in place because some streamers declined, which meant that there was an open space. Bruno then invited me onto a draft panel which I was not prepared for!
But that got me into the actual TI10 stream which was really cool. Afterwards, I took that experience and went on Twitter to post my interest in doing DPC. That was when BTS (Beyond The Summit) reached out to me to work on SEA and CIS DPC.
I don’t know if TI10 was the reason they hired me, or just because I’ve been in the Dota scene for ages anyway. But I have credentials and it felt like everything really fell into place all at once. From there I have been just trying my best to work hard and learn.
I spent the whole year trying my best to learn about the players and asking as many people as I can about the region’s culture and its players. It’s been a year of working and I feel pretty comfortable and confident talking about most teams at this point. I worked hard and I’m happy with the results that I got.”
Sheepsticked shares her TI11 prep notes
Speaking of working hard, you recently streamed your TI prep notes. Is that something that talents normally do, or are you one of the few that is going above and beyond?
Sheepsticked: “Talents obviously prepare. When I was paneling at Arlington, I saw Lacoste with his notebook full of prep and points. I always worked very closely with NatTea all year long. She and I stayed up at Arlington every night and wrote notes for the next day. On any other event you can always see TeaGuvnor with lots of prep on stats and drafts, and Sheever works really hard and I think a lot of people know this because she’s quite open with her notes throughout the years.
As for me, because I’m newer to this, I feel like I need more prep to catch up to where everyone is. There are a lot of people who told me that I’m overprepping because I only have so much time to talk. But even if I don’t get to cover everything, I’d rather be overprepared. I want to have answers ready for everything. I also want to find as much information as I can because if I can bring truly unique points to a panel at all, it makes me feel like I’m providing value.”
Do you mind sharing some of the insights you have gotten so far from your prep notes?
Sheepsticked: “The stuff that excites me the most is when players give insights into how they think about the game. For example, in an interview with Team Liquid, JerAx talked about the change to glyph which made it easier for teams to take map control but harder to push high ground.
MoonMeander also mentioned at ESL One Malaysia about the EXP change in the game and how that affected rotations on mid. It takes longer for mid to reach level six so ganks are less effective at earlier levels. These sorts of insights make me rabid. I just love knowing more about the game.”
Sheepsticked discusses the highs and lows of TI11
Let’s shift focus to TI11. Will you be at Singapore at all?
Sheepsticked: “I will not (laughs). We’re allowed to talk about it now. I’m leaving for Norway on the 18th. We’re heading there to work on a panel that is remote. There’s a bunch of reasons behind it that I can’t fully remember how to lay out properly. I know SUNSfan and syndereN talked about it on their podcast recently. I understand why Valve is doing this.
It’s obviously really sad to not be able to go to Singapore especially after having worked the SEA DPC all year. Hopefully that can be possible in the future.”
On that note, Valve has made a number of disagreeable decisions this year for TI11. Do you think that’s going to impact how the players feel and how the fans will perceive the scene?
Sheepsticked: “Obviously you can see the negatives. There are a lot of veterans that are retiring after this TI. And with the culmination of everything, people could feel uneasy and unsure. At the end of the day, we have a lot of players which I think it’s very encouraging.
We have a lot of newer, younger pros as well like OG who are stepping up and putting themselves out there. People might meme on Ammar but he came and did a panel with us at Arlington. He also went on Gorgc’s stream during the regional qualifiers and a lot of people got to learn about his personality. These are what will keep the game and the pro scene alive.
And as long as there are people that want to play Dota, the game will continue to live on. Even if people don’t agree with Valve’s decisions around TI, as long as they are still here making a TI happen, I feel very confident that the game will continue. Because the game is really friggin good. The latest patch was really good. I see pros praising the latest patch a lot. I enjoy the latest patch. Dota at a core is still a very good game and will always be for a long time, which brings me a lot of confidence in its longevity.”
On teams that will do well and those that will struggle at TI11
Let’s talk about which teams do you think will do well in the tournament?
Sheepsticked: “I think outwardly a lot of people are very hyped about LGD and Spirit. Other than them, I’ve been really impressed with Entity. You watch how hard Team Secret had to fight to get through LCQ, and then you think about how hard Entity stomped them at regionals–to me that’s really exciting. I also expect Gaimin Gladiators and Aster to do well. I’m interested in South American teams as well. If Beastcoast are able to get out of groups, they should be able to blaze through the brackets. Thunder Awaken is also a really scary team when they are playing well because Pakazs is a top tier carry. Overall, I’m really happy with all the teams attending TI this year.”
What about teams that will struggle?
Sheepsticked: “A lot of teams have their own faults. BOOM, for example, historically struggled in widening their hero pool, which they are trying to improve. Soniqs have had a hard time in LANs in the past. Hopefully they’ll do well this time. Fnatic also have had big inconsistency issues all year. I’d love to see SEA do amazing though. If they can just not throw, LFG! Let’s go Fnatic! My boys got the potential! I just want to see them bloom man and actually take hold of the tournament.”
Okay, now for a fun one to close this out. If you were to make your own team for TI11, who would you pick for your roster?
Sheepsticked: “My carry would be Pakazs, mid would be Nisha, offlaner would be Collapse, pos4 would be DJ and I’d be the pos5 (laughs). I mean if it wasn’t me, Puppey? But he’s a little bit greedy. I want a non-greedy pos5. Maybe I’d just steal from Spirit again, Miposhka. He’s just GOATed.”
Thank you very much for your time! It was such a pleasure talking to you. Before you go, is there anything you would like to say to your fans and the Dota community?
Sheepsticked: “Thank you for all the support this year. It’s been my first year in Dota as a talent and I’ve received so much love. I’m a very passion-driven person so as long as I love and care about something, I will keep doing it. Having people respond well to my takes makes me happy and makes me want to keep going.
So anyone that has taken the time to write something nice, from the bottom of my heart, thank you! It makes me happier than they can ever know. I carry that very deeply in me every time I work, prep and go to tournaments. I’m just very happy with how my life is. So, thank you!”
Sheepsticked will be paneling for TI11 from Norway starting October 20 at the start of TI11 main stage. Follow her on social media and Twitch for more updates on her work.
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