Dignitas team captain Bakery is extremely confident headed into Korea

Dylan Walker

(Image: Blizzard Entertainment)

Last November, on the floor of a hotel room in Burbank, California, 18-year-old James “Bakery” Baker sat cross-legged across from me. Opening week of Blizzcon had ended and the room was full of Heroes of the Storm players anxious to celebrate their wins and mourn their losses.

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Bakery and I were the only two not drinking. Instead, Bakery explained to me how he became one of the world’s best Uther players, the order and priority in which he would cast his spells to get maximum effectiveness out of his cooldowns. It was apparent that Bakery eats, sleeps, and breathes this game.

“We practice for about 8 hours per day,” Bakery said, as we caught up this past weekend over Skype. “We play three scrim sessions that are two hours each. We have a one hour break between the first two, where we analyze replays and talk about what we could do better. We have a one hour break for food between the second and the third. After the third we have another hour where we talk about the game and watch replays. Saturday is usually our day off, but sometimes there’s tournaments we have to play on those days, so it’s not always consistent. It’s definitely a full time job.”

This rigorous practice schedule is a big reason why Dignitas won the EU Regional at IEM Katowice. After placing second at both last year’s EU Regional and Blizzcon, Bakery finally hoisted a trophy over his head.

(Image: Blizzard Entertainment)

“It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” he explained. “Seeing the crowd cheering and knowing that we had proved ourselves the best in Europe — it just felt amazing. That was the first of hopefully many LAN victories.”

In a region that has recently been shattered by a string of neverending roster changes, Dignitas knew that they would need to tune up their new roster to stay ahead of their opponents headed into regionals. So the team spent time bootcamping before the event.

“It was definitely the best preparation I’ve ever had for a tournament,” he said. ”That was mainly because this time we didn’t spend so much time treating it like a holiday. We spent pretty much every waking moment that we had either playing, watching games, or talking about the game as a team.”

The matchups for Dignitas at the Spring Championship are daunting, but Bakery remains confident. Depending on the bracket or group draw, one possibility is a rematch of the Blizzcon grand finals match between Dignitas and Cloud9. And Bakery likes their chances.

“I feel like with all the improvements that we’ve made we have a really good chance to take them out,” Bakery said. “Our shotcalling is better, our drafting is better, our communication is way better, and our synergy is way, way, way better. Considering C9, they’ve only had the one roster change but they haven’t really changed much. They’re still the same old C9.”

(Image: Blizzard Entertainment)

It’s not just the Americans that Dignitas will have to worry about this time around. Both the Korean team MVP Black and world-class Chinese unit Estar are already confirmed to be in attendance. Dignitas has never had the opportunity to play an Eastern team outside of two skirmishes with Chinese team YL in the group stages at Blizzcon last year, in which Dignitas came out on top.

In turn, Bakery is confident about China, but doesn’t buy into the hype around Korea.

“I feel like a lot of people right now overvalue Korea. They have the best infrastructure and they have the best players, but their meta and their team mechanics are not as advanced as everyone might like to think, especially compared to games like Starcraft or League of Legends,” he said. “I feel like there is a very real chance that a team from the West could take the second global championship and I feel like that could be us. We just started preparation after a little break. I feel like if we really put the effort in, we’ll have a good shot to take it all.”

With the clock ticking down to the Spring Championship, Bakery and the rest of Dignitas will find out soon enough if their practice paid off.

Dylan Walker is on Twitter at @Dyluuxx

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