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NAR.Brax: "All the naysayers are just another thing I ignore."

We caught up with Braxton 'Brax' Paulson, Captain and Drafter of North American Rejects, only moments after they managed to secure their spot in this years The International, to discuss the recently ended Qualifier finals and the future for him and his team.

Hello Brax and congratulations on securing your spot at The International! How do you feel with the final game only moments behind you?

I feel good. I'm going to celebrate with a delicious meal at my restaurant of choice, Denny's.

You have a tense series which went back and forth with Team Liquid. After having dominated them so in recent games, were you surprised they managed to drag the series to a game five?

I believe the games we lost were still mostly on me, I picked Elder Titan to counter Morphling without a way to move around the map to punish their lack of strong early game supports. I'm confident in everyone as long as we have a well rounded draft.

Speaking of drafts, there were a lot of opinions going around about that game 5 draft. Did hearing all those naysayers ever make you question those picks?

Everyone doubted the Drow Ranger since it's sort of unusual. But the hero suits us well and plays to our strengths and it was also the first time i picked it. If Sneyking didn't play pubs all night with Drow he probably would have died like 10 times. All the naysayers are just another thing I ignore reading all the social media and I don't like to read forums between games for that reason. It doesn't effect me personally but it's always nice to prove people wrong.

Was there any special interaction that you think people weren't seeing in that draft?

The early push potential against a team with very little waveclear is something overlooked. Our lineup was superior in both the early game and lategame with our downfall being the window between Slardar's Blink Dagger and Drow/Templar Assassin's Black King Bar. As a result of that we pushed our advantage to the limit early game with securing the midgame with Roshan.

Could you tell us a bit about the origins of the team? How did everyone come together and what were your aims when you started out?

I was looking for players to play with for the long run and I figured a team of players that have played with and against each other for many years would have little conflict attitude wise. We started out pretty terribly but we've been improving everyday and hope to continue for a long time.

Brax and 1437 played together on LGD.Int

I think many assumed this was a project started just for the qualifiers. You never saw it as such?

No, when I made the team I made it very clear that this was a long term project and that even if we suffer through many losses we would do our best to adapt to the situation. From our first match 1 month ago, I don't think anybody saw us with a chance at playing in the qualifier or even going to TI4. At that point most of our players weren't even playing a game of Dota on a weekly basis but we've been practicing and using our experience to help get back into the game.

Has your success attracted any offers of sponsorship?

Yes we've been in talks with a few sponsors, we plan to accept one soon.

Can you tell us if those talks included mentions of a bootcamp for TI4?

Yes.

Kelby May, General Manager of CLG, just said on Twitter that CLG are going to make an offer. Any thoughts?

Nice!

Was there anything you learned from the run-up to The International with LGD.Int last year or from the event itself that you plan to incorporate into the teams preparations this year?

Yes, we need to practice hard and just approach each game with a better mindset.

How do you see your chances at TI4?

I'd say our chances at TI are as good as anybody's right now. In 2 months I'd like to see where we will be as a team.

Do you think your experiences in China will allow you to better prepare for the Eastern teams? Strategies may have changed, but the people remain the same after all.

I think it helps in a different aspect, the teams have changed a bit too much to be familiar with them but we've learned how they think about the game. A lot of the Chinese teams have adapted well and I think they will have a very strong performance at this years International.

Brax returned to China for a time with the second LGD.Int roster at the end of last year.

You disappeared a bit out of the public eye after coming back from LGD.Int. Could you tell us a bit about what you've been up to between then and now?

I've just been bouncing back and forth between playing League and Dota.

Did you consider pursuing League professionally at some point?

I was high rated at one point a few years ago and I tried to get back up there but I was unable to. I was more so interested in just trying to find players to play with before climbing the ladder but they kind of go hand in hand. As you climb you get noticed and then you can move from there, however playing the solo game and playing 5v5 is much different and I tried and did not succeed.

How do you feel about the constant comparisons between the two games? Does it make any sense to you as someone who clearly enjoys playing both games?

I don't care too much for how people feel towards each game. They're similarly structured games that are completely different.

What goes on in your life outside of playing games? Have you considered pursuing further studies, and do you think it's still viable while playing professionally?

I play full time. Of course I've considered resuming my studies, I'm just not sure when I would resume them and yes, it is viable while playing.

You seem like nothing phases you. How did you become so cool?

Whenever I feel something that effects me I shake it off by petting my kitties. My cats keep me relaxed and help me think clearly.

Which ones are cuter, your kitties or the GD Studio ones? ;)

Mine of course, but all kitties are nice!

Any shoutouts or last words?

Shoutout to potential sponsors and everyone who has supported my team and I, especially those who sent kitty pictures to me on twitter.

Frontpage image by Ioannis 'Fogged' Loucas. Images 1 and 3 by ACE/LGD. Image 2 by Team Liquid.