Johan Sundstein has been a stalwart of the Heroes of Newerth community, being an ace Ganker or initiator (role that requires doing the most amount of damage) in the scene. Despite his young age he has quickly become a fan favorite in game and outside the game, playing a pivotal role for his team. Johan, like every gamer out there, has his own story behind his success. Starting out 'ganking' peers of his age and well beyond, Johan has had a passion for gaming since the age of 5.
"I moved up from Gameboy to computer games like Diablo and Counter Strike 1.6 by the time I was 10 years old," says Sundstein who soon moved his area of dominance to the PC. "I started playing WarCraft 3 and other titles until I stumbled across the Heroes of Newerth beta in 2010 when I was 16 years of age."
Owning it up since then has become a staple for this young lad from Denmark who has earned more than $70,000 in prize money till date. "I think my age kind of helped me become famous, I guess people wanted to see someone young playing against older opponents," says Sundstein who has won three gold titles at DreamHack with his team – a staggering feat for any team but a feat made possible due to countless hours of practice. Johan spends anywhere between 4-6 hours a day honing his skills to perfection. The team however is no stranger to discipline. Since their inception into the Fnatic organization in 2010 they have set high standards for themselves.
"It was a lot of mixed feelings and expectations I guess. First of all I had just been sponsored by Fnatic which felt very surreal. We went into the tournament [DreamHack] expecting to win but it still felt too good to be true," says Sundstein.
Working for an event to be successful as a player can take a toll on anyone. He believes that to be successful as a gamer one needs to have the right motivation. "I think my motivation for understanding the game helps me a lot, but generally it takes a lot of patience and will to become one of the best."
Despite winning DreamHack multiple times the team never really experienced success outside of Europe,.At the recently competed NASL Season 2 finals the team finished a disappointing fourth place despite heading in as favorites.
Tournaments obviously differ from continent to continent but Sundstein is all praises for the organizers of both events.
"DreamHack was my first event sponsored as a Fnatic player. I can't really put my finger on anything that they did wrong because the event went so smoothly. It is an amazing event that provides an amazing experience to everyone," says Sundstein, "NASL was equally good. I didn't feel the difference between the two events to be honest but for me DreamHack will always hold a special place as it was the first event we won as a team in 2010. It was almost like a dream come true for me and the best part was the celebrations we had later that night which made it one of the most memorable nights of my life."
Johan outside the game loves to spend time watching movies and socializing with his friends. He has a lovely Labrador named Pumba whom he also has to tend to.
"For the coming month I will just focus on doing my tasks in the house and then get to practicing with the team. I have a dog I walk four times a day and I'll be looking after the team as we are busy boot camping for future tournaments so I'll be the chef!" exclaims Sundstein with excitement.
Sundstein however has had the tough act of balancing the life of a student by day and the life of a pro gamer by night, "It's not really too hard. It might require the occasional nap but generally it is not a problem. When playing international games it also means playing against people from different time zones to fit the games into everyone's schedule. That might take its toll but it is definitely worth it," says Sundstein who by now has decided to take a hiatus from his school year as he wants to focus more on gaming in 2012.
While motivation is one of the key ingredients in becoming successful, Sundstein also believes any competitive player worth his or her salt can understand the difference between quality hardware and average hardware.
"I think that competitive players have the ability to adapt to the gear they're handed, but obviously using inferior technology can definitely cripple you. I am really used to my current SteelSeries gear and I can't picture myself using anything else. If I had to go back to an older mouse or keyboard it would definitely make an impact on my gaming skill."
"I had heard about EIZO before they sponsored Fnatic and I was obviously glad that they chose to do so because I find their monitors to be really perfect, they have no flaws. The colors are beautiful and the clarity is flawless on games or films or anything," says Sundstein. "I don't really pay attention to a lot of gaming gear used at events but I do know that it is a personal choice. Last time I saw a guy play on the smallest laptop and he did not do too bad."
Johan has kept his passion for the game burning even though he has played the game for almost 3 years now, "I still feel as thrilled and honored every time we get to play at a good event, for a MOBA player like myself playing and competing with the team has been my #1 thing to do."
The future looks bright for this 18 year old as he looks forward to continue gaming on a competitive level and with Dota 2 looking like a strong contender for the best MOBA out there only time will tell if he will switch over to the Valve backed game. He does however feel positive about the switch in titles. "Yes, we're going to switch our main game to Dota 2 and it feels like a great option for us to improve as a team and it's a chance for us to prove our worth as gamers competing against so many strong teams."
Johan feels he has a lot yet to prove in eSports, "There's no limits to how much team work you can achieve, and building up the team bond has always proven to be some of the most fun times I have had.".