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While most of the teams are playing for The International 2018, we took advantage of the opportunity and talked to a player who was incredibly close to getting on TI8, but suddenly, he was left out. It’s about ex-player Natus Vincere Nicola LeBron Popovic, who spent most of the second half of the season in the Ukrainian organization.

Together with Dendi, LiL, GeneRaL and Crystallize, the Serb won the qualification for ESL One Birmingham, and also entered the top three on GESC: Indonesia. Nikola told our portal about how his life changed after Na’Vi, and how long he plans to continue playing in Dota 2.

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— Can you summ up your season? What did you get? What have you lost?

— I got alot of knowledge/experience playing on majors/minors and being in team with one and only Dendi that teached me alot of valuable things about team and dota.

— Your career in some way consists of 3 parts; before navi, navi, and after. Can you describe, how did your life changed after navi? What conclusion did you make after your being the part of ukrainian organisation?

— I started from 0 and with 24years i wanted to become pro, it was hard journey but i was 100% sure i will make my dreams come true, and not even i become pro i join team i first started watching and dreaming of playing for them. My life didn`t change too much after Na`Vi , i still want to be the best. I know it was not my fault for team failure and life goes on 🙂

— When you parted ways with navi, there was a quote in lil’s twitter: good man is not a job. You answered that «bad teammate too». So is Lil a bad teammate and why? Do you feel the pressure of him during your last weeks in org?

— It’s like some kids talk in school , it was not good to tweet like that but i felt i need to replay, Lil was good teamate ingame but outside of game he was not really trying to be friend and teammate. There was no pressure i just played game i love and trying to do my best.

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— shaking hands with one’s heart, do you really think that your perfomance wasn’t enough to play at this level?

— When i joined team i join as position4 and i need to switch fast to pos5, after 1 and half month and couple of tournaments i feel i am playing on high level as pos5, so i think i was playing  on major/minor level at last month.

— Imagine that you and others in navi solved your argues. Could you qualify for the TI8?

— I am 99% sure that we would qualify, we never had problems beating cis teams, it was super easy to play against them.

— Now you are playing back for EPG. Doesn’t it feel simplier to play in this team? Not only because of level, but with no fan pressure etc.

— I feel its simplier to play when all of your teammate believe in you , i never felt pressure from fans, only at first games when i join and play pos4 for 1 week.

— What do you feel about the potential of your current roster? Are you going to do no changes in this line-up?

— We will not make changes in line-up, our goal is TI9 and i believe we can achive it, we might not be the best individual players but we can become best team if we play like 1 unit. Nothing is impossible.

— Now you are 28. Most of esports dota players are retiring in this age. What do you think about it? How long are you going to play in dota?

— Age doesn’t matter as long i am giving my maximum, older i get i am even getting better at the game so it’s all on players how they feel and if they want to commit 100%. I will play game as long i am happy.

— In that case, don’t your family push you to make a changes in your life and find smth more stable?

— My family dont push me for changes, they support me to do what ever i like, i finished university for civil engineering but i am 100% sure i will not work this, if i retire as player i am going to be coach for sure.

— TI8. Your predictions, who’s gonna win? Which team is the one you follow with more attention? Which player can you select as extraordinary?

— I like PSG.LGD but anyone can win it, my favorite players and i think  there are extraodinary are Dj and kaka.

— Next season. New DPC system, can you share your thoughts about it?

— It’s good for top teams but not for tier2 teams.

— Liquid seems not so unbeatable, than last year. Why?

— Every year alot of teams and players becoming better and better, so on this TI i believe everyone can beatch everyone.

— On last tournaments you lost twice for Alliance with 3:0(Rivalry) and 3:2(Rampage). What did you miss in last series? So what do you think about potential come back of Alliance in tier-1 dota?

— We miss a bit better draft and more strength for 5games. Alliance have good structure and plan with young and some experienced players, its all on them, they definitely have skill for tier1.

— And for the last — shoutouts 🙂

— Shoutouts for my team EPG and my teammates, shoutout to my wife and my family who supports me maximum, and ofc shoutout to all my fans that bealive  in me <3

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