Tal “Fly” Aizik has spoken out about the fan drama between him and Johan “N0tail” Sundstein.
The discussion focused on the most recent episode of the We say things podcast hosted by Shannon “SUNSfan” Scotten and Troels “syndereN” Nielsen. Four-time major champion Fly joined them to discuss his long career and the current state of the professional game. After discussions of his rise through Heroes of Newerth and the state of Dota 2, the conversation turned to Fly’s former relationship with N0tail.
“It’s been about four years since that happened, and I’ve been trying to move on… But the community just won’t move on. I participate in this game because I love it. I do interviews because I still want to engage with this community, but being repeatedly labeled a “traitor” for every game or interview for four years scares you a little. I think we need to raise the bar for ourselves and our community,” Fly said.
The incident in question was Fly’s decision to leave OG in 2018 to join the American organization Evil Geniuses. Before leaving, Fly and N0tail shared one of the longest player partnerships in Dota 2 history since transferring from Fnatic’s Heroes of Newerth team in early 2012. OG went on to defeat Evil Geniuses in the semi-finals of The International 2018 later that year. The solemn handshake in that match is still one of the most iconic moments in Dota 2 history.
Since then, fans have slammed Fly for breaking off the long-standing partnership. Many fans saw N0tail as the protagonist of this story, even calling Fly’s decision a betrayal.
In reality, this iteration of OG was shaky and struggled to get results and Fly was a perfect fit for Evil Geniuses. If Fly won The International 2018 and 2019 instead, fans would likely blame N0tail instead of the current narrative. Instead of dwelling on the decision, Fly urges fans to look beyond the event and judge the players based on their current decisions.
Ultimately, all parties benefited from Fly’s decision to switch to Evil Geniuses. OG reunited their roster twice The International after Fly’s departure, and Fly’s run with Evil Geniuses was very strong.
Fly describes nightmarish CN bootcamp and games before N0tail
Along with discussing fan perception of Fly and N0tail’s relationship, the all-star bracket also shared some war stories from his long Dota 2 career.
The most extreme story involved the Evil Geniuses’ training camp ahead of The International 2019. According to Fly, the house they stayed in was very nice aside from a heavy infestation of cockroaches in the kitchen.
The actual practice room also contained 10 routers for some unknown reason. The poor performances led to frustration, especially from coach EG Kanishka “BuLba” Sosale. Fly admitted BuLBa’s management ultimately improved the team, leading to a very respectable fifth-place finish worth $1.2 million.
Fly also talked about his gaming experience before Dota 2, N0tail and Heroes of Newerth. As a child, he played Nintendo games from the Mario franchise but notably did not play any Legend of Zelda titles. In college, Fly frequently played Western RPGs like Diablo 2 and Neverwinter Nights at a friend’s house. The top-down perspective could have pushed Fly towards the first MOBA genre in the 2000s.