Bakery: 'We will just need to step up on the tournament days, and we can win it'
After starting his career on a number of amateur European teams in mid 2014, he got his first big break in January of this year with SK Gaming. Though that association came to a disappointing end, the core of that team—Baker, Joshua "Snitch" Bennett and Matic "Zarmony" Mikec—remain together to this day.
The trio joined up with former Gamers2 carry Adrian "adrd" Wojcik and Lawrence "Atheroangel" Harper to form fan favourites BOB? in July, and quickly became the hottest unsigned team in Heroes. Due to complications with the SK Gaming contracts, many organizations, including Tempo Storm, passed on the team, and it took four months for them to sign with a new sponsor. Eventually them found their way to Team Dignitas.
Considered one of the top support players in the world and a cult favorite among the fans, Baker is now one of Europe's most popular players.
Ahead of the opening games of the Heroes World Championship, we caught up with Baker to discuss his rise to the top and Dignitas' preparation for the tournament.
There will only ever be one first Heroes World Championship. How does it make you feel to be a part of it?
Ever since I started playing the aim has always been to play at the World Championship, and of course now it's happening. As big a milestone as this is for me, I want to go to the second World Championship as well so I won't be resting easy anytime soon.
Obviously being a part of SK didn't really work out for you in the end, how do you feel about that experience looking back? Is there anything you learned or anything you took away from it?
Joining SK Gaming was my first step into the top of the Heroes scene, and I've never left since. I learned a lot from the experience—about myself, my teammates and organizations. I feel a lot more comfortable in the esports scene because of my time there.
When adrd left Gamers2 a lot of people were surprised, and his future was of interest to a lot of people. How did you end up playing together on Bob?
Interestingly enough, both me and him sort of reached out to each other. We both said that we wanted to make something new, something that could take Liquid's crown as the best team in Europe.
Bob? were unsigned for a long time, but became one of the top teams in Europe and a fan favorite. How frustrating was it with everyone speculating about your futures, while you knew things were going on in the background that were holding up the Dignitas move and other potential deals?
Obviously we had a lot of talks with esports organizations, but any offer we took we would of course need to wait. I think the most frustrating thing actually was seeing the fans post about how it was ridiculous that we weren't signed yet, and I couldn't actually correct them and say "It's fine guys, we actually have tons of offers!"
Bob? became a very popular brand in Heroes. Are you sad it's gone for the moment? Do you have plans to help it live on somehow?
I really enjoyed playing under the Bob? motif, and I especially enjoyed watching the casters try to fit it into their commentary, and the Twitch chat reactions. If I ever need to play without an organization, I would definitely like to bring Bob? back, although that's about as far as my plans go.
As someone who has obviously benefited from it, how do you see the collapse of Liquid? What do you think has been the cause of their decline from top of the region to not even qualifying for Blizzcon?
I think a lot of details about Team Liquid's collapse have been exaggerated. Despite their top six placement, I am sure that they were the third best team at Prague. Having said that, they did get a lot weaker in relation to the rest of the scene, and I think a big reason for that was the rise of Team Dignitas and NaVi, who took a lot of what Team Liquid did and improved on it.
What teams do you see as the toughest opponents at Worlds?
Honestly, I think the best team there will be NaVi, and I am wary of how good the Korean team, Team DK, will be.
Obviously without giving away your strategies, what heroes do you think will be strong at Blizzcon that people might not expect? What in the meta will surprise people?
The warrior buffs and the nerfs to both waveclear tanks [Johanna and Leoric] will surprise a lot of people. I also think that EU's meta right now is really crazy, and other teams won't be able to deal with it properly.
And finally, what do you think it will take for you to win it all?
I think if our meta is as good as I think it is, then we will just need to step up on the tournament days, and we can win it.
Photo by Helena Kristiansson via ESL/Flickr