posted by EskayDota,
A legend in Dota 1. A legend in Dota 2. Now coaching the roster of the organisation that is synonymous with his name, we take a brief look at the profile of Loda. People associate Alliance with the early days of Dota, however, Jonathan 'Loda' Berg’s legacy long outlives Alliance’s. Starting as a Dota 1 prefessional 13 years ago alongside teammate Joakim 'Akke' Akterhall, Loda experienced success in the early days, being one of the figures that grew alongside the scene as the game evolved into what it is today. The Chinese Dota 1 community nicknamed Loda “L-God” as a sign of respect for the player who was amongst the best in the world at the time.

His first foray into Dota 2 was with eXperience Gaming, alongside familiar names such as Akke, Per Anders 'Pajkatt' Olsson L. and Niclas 'Niqua' Westergård. Soon after he would venture around a bit before landing at Zenith for TI2, with a lineup that would be adored if it were around today. Alongside Daryl Koh 'iceiceice' Pei Xiang and Benedict 'hyhy' L. H. Yong, their performance was impressive but not quite what they wanted it to be, as the players went their separate ways.

Enter No Tidehunter. Alliance, but without Jerry 'EGM' Lundkvist and with Jacky 'EternaLEnVy' Mao instead. After DreamHack, Envy was kicked to make way for a Swedish player, and thus, Alliance was born.

TI and the aftermath

One of the notable things about how Alliance won TI was their playstyle. Ratting wasn’t just made popular by them, but rather perfected by them. Loda’s CK + IO combination with Henrik 'AdmiralBulldog' Ahnberg’s Nature’s Prophet meant they could win almost every game imagineable. Whilst every group of 5 players will have their own playstyle, Alliance's was unique and immediately recognisable.

Their TI victory was something that sparked joy in all the viewers of Dota 2. They won in such an exciting way, split pushing Natus Vincere’s base in a 2-2 series, that nobody could contest that it was one of the greatest moments of esports that history had to offer. “El Classico” was born, and Alliance fans, well, after that day, were in for a world of hurt from there on in.

Sadly, after their victory, they fell victim to the TI curse and some of the players went their separate ways. Gustav 's4' Magnusson looked for new opportunities at Team Secret, and EGM made way to play on Team Tinker. Loda’s dream team had brought him legendary status, but nonetheless he persisted with the now inconsistent team.

A few years passed and Loda had failed to find international success in any substantial form. The TI3 winning roster got together once more to compete at TI6, but their performances were less than ideal. Loda was left without a team as s4 moved to OG, Akke to Horde and Bulldog ventured into streaming full-time. Loda went inactive briefly before making a return to Alliance as a coach. Loda’s story was anything but over.

Loda’s influence on today’s Alliance

Characterised for cheesey strats, split pushing and big outplays, Alliance of today do channel that energy. Although it may not be on the same stage, it’s quite clear to see Loda’s influence on the team.

Wherever he goes, he brings the playstyle that fans love to watch. In 2017 he had a stint with a team that went by Cool Beans that featured Loda’s early Dota buddy Niqua and two of Alliance’s current roster, Aydin 'INSaNIA' Sarkohi and Michael 'm`ICKe' Vu. The way his teams play is so iconic and unique to Loda that you could almost recognise the playstyle without seeing the player names.

And of course to this day, even without him on the active roster, that playstyle still holds true. Long, close games despite a team monetarily in the lead? Decision making that extends a game by an extra half an hour? Sounds like Alliance to us.

The future for a legend

It’s rare that players who started when Loda did still kick around in the Dota 2 scene to date. Most of them have retired, moved to coaching, or simply persued other opportunities. A few handful are still playing, so for Loda to be having the impact he is to this day still speaks about his character.

The players on Alliance are not veteran professionals with the exception of Max 'Qojqva' Broecker, but yet they can still compete on the fringes of the top tier of the game. There are very few teams who aren’t comprised of a couple of veterans and a couple of new players that succeed. It’s rare that a team of 5 completely new players make it big in Dota 2. Loda’s influence has definitely helped this iteration of Alliance do just that.

Last January, Loda stated he’ll retire after two more TIs, whilst one has already passed, we wonder if we will see Loda’s Dota 2 exit later this year. Fans would hope not, but whatever comes next for Loda, you can be certain he will excel at it.

Header photo credit: ESL