NatTea solves the trolley problem at BetBoom Dacha Dubai cover image

NatTea solves the trolley problem at BetBoom Dacha Dubai

On killing him: Oh, but SUNSfan is such good value!

Natalie "NatTea" Mahoney is a household name in western Dota 2, and she's now graced the United Arab Emirates with her talents. The rarely boring, often unhinged host is often coaxing pro players out of their shells, but she also offered time to talk about her experiences in both tournament production and ranked pubs. Of course, we also had to ask what tree she would be (Spoilers: It's not an oak.)

Read on for our exclusive in-person interview with NatTea at BetBoom Dacha Dubai 2024.

NatTea at BetBoom Dacha Dubai 2024

How is FISSURE treating you? Is it your first time in Dubai?

It is my first time in Dubai! They've been treating us amazing. We got like a full brief beforehand of the theme for this event which was phenomenal. They've been helping us with outfits as well, they've been supplying that so it's like nice to travel to an event and not have to worry about it. Whether keeping us up is really good too, the hotel.

And working with [Andrew Jenkins,] I've never worked with him in close proximity like this before. And we're both maybe the same level of insanity, if you can believe it. He just portrays it a bit looser than I do. And so every time we come up with an idea that we want, they're always so accommodating to be like "Okay, yeah, let's see how we can do this." Or we don't have time for it, but let's see if in the future we can make it happen. So it's nice to feel there are no limitations on creative bits that you want to try around.

Were there any pro players or talent who inspired you to pursue Dota 2 full-time?

I think pursuing stuff in esports is more broad for me because I don't just strictly work in Dota. So I think a lot of women in esports definitely gave me inspiration to push. So obviously, [Jorien "Sheever" van der Heijden] is a massive one, but [Eefje "Sjokz" Depoortere,] does League of Legends as well. She's a big one for me. And [Freya Spiers,] who does CS, as well as [Frankie Ward] who ended up doing TI10, so they're big ones. But that's like for, you know, what we can push for as women in esports.

And then for the work that I do myself, as in how I host or how I interview, I feel like more of my inspiration for that stuff is just people not even in esports. It's like traditional sports or comedians or entertainers and I'm like "Okay now how do I make that relate in an esports way?"

A surprise lesson in Australian arboriculture

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

Oh, that's a good one! I want to have use, you know, like if someone would like chop me down as a tree and use my wood or my bark; I want to be useful, but I don't want to be so generic. I don't want to be like...

Oak is so cliche.

Yeah, exactly. You don't want to be like oak or mahogany or something. They're all really nice. And I feel like saying weeping willow is too depressive, but they have a beauty about them. But a tree... Definitely not a palm tree. They're really annoying, although... (gestures at the massive amount of palm trees around us.)

Maybe a Jacaranda.

A what?

A Jacaranda!

...what is a Jacaranda?

Maybe this is an Australian tree. Like most trees, it blooms in spring which is our November, and there these like beautiful... I was gonna say Jacaranda-colored! But like a lilac-lavender sort of purple, and the whole tree gets filled with these flowers and they almost look like bluebells in shape. But they're purple and a little bit more elongated. And the whole streets are just covered in these flowers. And the trees are just blooming with them. So I think a Jacaranda.

The Jacaranda-colored flowers of a Jacaranda in full bloom (Image via Anna Anichkova)
The Jacaranda-colored flowers of a Jacaranda in full bloom (Image via Anna Anichkova)

What do you think about the DPC dissolving and third-party events like this taking its place?

 It was tough for me. I was really lucky to work TI last year. And throughout the whole event, I always put in all my effort for events, but for this one especially, it's like I don't know what's going to be my future for Dota or for esports, if I am going to get another Dota event. So I put a lot in and I think mentally I'd sort of resigned myself to probably not getting much work this year because DPC wasn't running. It was hard to see the format of DPC last year where there was this big injection of talent, a lot of casters, because Div 1 and Div 2 weren't running simultaneously but the major was sort of overlapping. There was a lot of space for a lot of us talent.

And so it's hard to see it go from that to be like, now there's only probably going to be about like three [tournament organizers] running stuff. and it's in a calendar. Or it's in a format that it could be the same talent over and over again So I feel like when you don't feel that you're in tier one, it's really tough to not have a Div 2 where you're like, even if I just worked one tour of Div 2, that was like four months for me to be able to live comfortably. And now it's just like, "Oh, there could be a whole year of just nothing for me."

So it was tough, but it's making way for events like this with BetBoom and FISSURE and seeing how much effort they put in. The set design for this event is phenomenal. When you're on set and when you see it on camera, it's just mind-blowing how good it looks. So making way for events like this I love, but it's just the security as talent is a bit rough.

How does your fame affect pubs?

No! Not at all. I'm a bit of a unique case I think, because I have AUS servers to play on, I have SEA servers to play on, and I also split my time between Australia and Europe, so I also have Europe servers to play on. So I kind of like rotating servers a lot. And I feel like I just don't get recognized that much.

In SEA I've started to get recognized a little bit. And it's like, that's always funny when someone goes, "Oh, you're NatTea." I'm like "How do you know this?" Because my Steam name is not NatTea.

Notepad, right?

Yeah, exactly, it's Notepad. So there should be no correlation. Like, no one should be able to know. But no one's griefed my games or done anything weird because they've recognized me. So it's been good.

Just letting you know, it took like 15 seconds to find your Dotabuff.

(laughs) That's probably how they figured it out, yeah.

NatTea talks heroes at BetBoom Dacha Dubai 2024

Marry, LOVE, kill: Skywrath Mage, Treant Protector, Warlock?

(sigh of contemplation) Sky, Treant, and Warlock. That is a good variety. Oh, it's so tough because you have to factor in the lore. Maybe if you end things poorly with Warlock, he might summon his Golem on you. But if I kill him... Before he gets his level 20 talent where he spawns a Golem on death, then I should be fine. Yeah, I might just have to go straight for the kill. And then I would love Treant and marry Skywrath.

Really? I expected the other way. What's the reasoning behind that?

I always want Skywrath to work for me. I want it to work out. I would put in that effort. Every patch comes out, a new item drops, a new patch comes out, and I'm like, "This is it. This is Skywrath's time. It will work. We will make it work together. We will gain MMR." And then I give it four or five games, and I'm just like, you know what? Progress. I've learned this is not the patch. But I know Treant will always be there for me.

Are there any heroes that you think will ruin the tournament? Arc Warden, maybe Meepo?

I think Venge. I think she already has.


Yeah! Why are you surprised? I was talking to Jenkins about it as well. The damage and armor reduction from her swap is insane. I think it enables her team to do so much. The way we talk about how you can play Dota now is there are a lot of side quests for a lot of different things you can do rather than just push towers or push toward the Ancient. And so when you're doing Tormentor, you can take it a lot earlier with two supports and a core if you use your swap on the two cores, the [shield] is a lot better.

So getting to be able to take that earlier, you can push harder for your teams to take it. So I think it just changes the pacing of the games and you can play in different ways. I love any support with a big ultimate that can be a game-changer. That's why I play things like Warlock, Treant, Witch Doctor, and Venge because they, in my mind, can change the spacing and the positioning of any fight.

NatTea stars in content in front of the snack bar (Image via FISSURE)
NatTea stars in content in front of the snack bar (Image via FISSURE)

If you could only play one hero for the rest of your life, who would you pick and why?

Witch Doctor 100% (laughs) I mean you found my Dotabuff!

I did, I saw.

Yeah, that's fair. It's definitely Witch. I think it's the same thing again. It's so enjoyable to be able to have an ultimate that can change the swing of a game. I remember just before coming out here I was playing a game. And we were losing, I wouldn't say by a lot. Maybe if I watched the replay, we might have been down by like 8,000 or something like that. But it's a substantial amount that you feel like you don't know what your next move is. And we caught their offlaner down bot, and Rosh was up top. I was like "Alright guys, let's go through Twin Gate and let's go top." And my team, like it's a pub, right? So we're not all like on the same page. But they were kind of hemming and hawing, I'm like whatever, I'm just going to go for it. I'll check to see if like Rosh is at least up.

As I get on the other side of the Twin Gate, it goes "Roshan has been slain." Aegis had been taken by the PA, and I walk out and it's just like, I keep going. I'm like "Whatever, let's see if we can do this." And it's the carry and the mid laner. And I do Cask and it just bounces between the two of them, perfect bounce just between the two of them. Nothing else around. And then I had my Aghanims for my ult, and I literally just sh** damage. I just burst it through the Pos 2 and the Aegis of the Pos 1. Everyone saw it was going well, the rest of my team came through Twin Gate and yeah, we ended up winning that game

The joys of TI, the horrors of jellyfish

Your home country of Australia is full of dangerous wildlife. If you had to be mauled to death, poisoned, etc. by an animal of your home country, what would you pick and why?

Oh, funny story, actually. I was going to the airport and they put up this sign out the front and it's like "Beware, snake sighting in this area." So that was quite a little anecdote.

But I think, mauled or poisoned by any animal...

Eviscerated. Trampled. Take your pick.

I mean, it definitely wouldn't be the venom or the poison side. I mean, I have a big phobia of snakes, so it would not be a snake at all. Absolutely not. I think spider is a little too slow of a death for me. There's just so many bad ways to go. You get swooped by a magpie and like lose an eye or something like that. That would be pretty gross. Gosh...

We can skip it if you don't like this one.

No, you're making me think of things. Because I was gonna say like a stingray and then I'm like "That's kind of messed up because of Steve Irwin." And then I was like "Oh, maybe a jellyfish!" and I was like "No, because then you get paralyzed." It's more like a paralytic effect than anything else but maybe jellyfish. Yeah. If I had to. In the shallow part, so they could still recover my body.

Is there a certain pro player you particularly enjoy interviewing?

I'm going to assume I can't pick my friends. Or can I?

You can pick your friends.

Well, then it's [Quinn Callahan.] I feel like it's going to be Quinn. It's either Quinn or [Ammar "ATF" Al-Assaf.] This tournament Ammar is my favorite to interview. Ammar is so good. This man is hilarious.

[Nicolas "Gunnar" Lopez] is also really good, and [Egor "Nightfall" Grigorenko.] I know I didn't give you one, but I feel like those four for all different reasons.

ATF of Falcons Esports is currently set for playoffs (Image via FISSURE)
ATF of Falcons Esports is currently set for playoffs (Image via FISSURE)

TI12 was your second time hosting the biggest event in Dota 2. How did you react to Valve inviting you back?

It was tough in the best way possible. So I just got into Germany because I was going to spend the weekend with some friends two or three weeks before TI. And mentally, I'd sort of resigned myself. "I'm probably not gonna get invited for TI," that's all good. And I started thinking about making other plans. I literally just landed in Germany and I got this email pop up and it was, like, TI12 - NatTea Host or something like that. And I was just like, what? What? I was with my friend and I was like "Are you reading this? This title is like, this is what it is, right?"

And she's like "Yeah, yeah, you got invited." I'm like, oh my gosh, screenshotted it. I sent it to the group chat. I have a group chat with [William "Blitz" Lee,] [Andreas "Cr1t-" Nielsen,] Quinn, and [Alexandra "Sheepsticked" Roberts.] Sent it to them, sent it to my parents. Oh, it was just so surreal for so long. I feel like it didn't actually kick in for maybe four days afterward, but everyone calling me and messaging me being how happy they were, saying how much joy they felt for me as well. I think that added to the surreal moment.

Not only am I getting to do such a massive milestone of working all of TI12, but the people I get to share that with and the excitement that we both have over something that we get to either experience together or something that I get to do. It's been a long-time dream for me. It really elevated the surreal feeling of it.

NatTea solves the trolley problem

A trolley is headed toward a track with five offlane players tied to it. You can pull a lever to divert the trolley to another track with just Jenkins. Do you pull the lever?

Do I get to know who the five offlane players are?

You don't even know their MMR, you just know that they're queueing Pos 3 all day. Or maybe you have them in your pubs, but you wouldn't know at the time.

Oh, so this is just five random offlaners. Five random Pos 3s... Oh, that's so tough because it's like, do I rank my friendship and Jenkins life over that of five other people and their loved ones?

For the content, I would pull the lever towards Jenkins and try and see him stop this train. Because I think he would want to have a chance at stopping the train. Mm-hmm. Will the trolley stop? Do you think he could do it? Do you think he could do it? How much weight is on the trolley?

It's a trolley, it's a lot of weight.

And he's strapped down, right?

Yeah, cartoon-style. You can see his legs wiggling under the rope.

Absolutely not, no he couldn't. It would be fun to see him try.

NatTea theoretically murdered Jenkins multiple times in Dubai (Image via FISSURE)
NatTea theoretically murdered Jenkins multiple times in Dubai (Image via FISSURE)

What about five support players and Shannon "SUNSfan" Scotten?

Oh, but SUNSfan is such good value! God, he's such good value. And it's the same thing, five random hard support players, I've never met them.

You've never met them, but maybe they play Witch Doctor and Warlock and Skywrath and Treant.

Yeah, see, I think I have to keep it going towards the five hard support players because I also am a big fan of SUNSfan's wife Nikki. She's an absolute sweetheart, and I couldn't do that to her. So it's not about SUNSfan, it's more about his very loving wife. So I'm sorry, but those five other people, if you have wives, they should have come and said hi to me or something, you know? I don't know.

Anything to say to the fans?

Just that I love getting to do everything that I'm doing and I appreciate anyone who supports me!

A special thanks to NatTea for taking the time at BetBoom Dacha Dubai 2024 to speak with

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