Breaking at the EUDC for the first time: An interview with Helsinki A

Datum: Aug 25th, 2017
Category: International, Menschen, Turniere

At the EUDC, many teams come together. Some of them are very ambitious and worked hard to have a chance to make the break. So did Milla Huuskonen and Joona Suhonen from Helsinki A. In this interview we asked them about their strategy and more.

Achte Minute: Hey guys! Congratulations to your break. Did you party a lot?

Joona Suhonen: No, we went to sleep immediately. Once the break was announced we left from the social to the hotel 3 minutes after.

Milla Huuskonen: I think, we felt really tired from all the anticipation. So even if it wasn’t that late, after the initial excitement we felt we needed rest.

Milla Huuskonen (left) and Joona Suhonen (right) at Tallinn EUDC 2017 - © Lennart Lokstein

Milla Huuskonen (left) and Joona Suhonen (right) at Tallinn EUDC 2017 – © Lennart Lokstein

AM: I see. So let’s have a look back to your early debate days. When was your first contact with debating? What made you start debating?

Milla: At the start of my university when I went to the festival where groups introduced themselves and when I found the debating society, which I had never heard of before, I was immediately interested. In Finland, the idea of debating was really refreshing because we don’t have a culture of outright disagreement with each other, so the idea was exciting as a hobby.

Joona: When I got to the university I just went to join the weekly meeting with some friends, enjoyed it (probably because we won for the first time, although not for a long time after that).

Milla: And now we’re finally winning again.


AM: How long have you been debating overall?

Joona: Three years, but the first one only at the society.

Milla: I’ve been internationally competing for 4 years, technically a little longer, but the Finnish circuit was really small when I started.

Joona: There was no international participation by Finnish teams until 3 years ago.

Milla: We had no judges, no experience, it had just started.


AM: Who taught you? How did you get better?

Milla: I had really little guidance for the first years. If there is one person that has taught me a lot, it was the first experienced debater to ever compete with me, Martin Devenney who offered to proam me after Vienna Euros. That was incredibly nice and ever since then he’s been supporting us, we discussed many topics with him. Also, the entire Finnish delegation prepared together, all five of us, we had two teams and one judge. But there have been many people helping us, so it’s hard to mention everyone.

Joona: Obviously the people in the circuit who had been debating before, which obviously includes Milla. Also, a few foreigners, especially Martin, obviously, and Olivia [Sundberg Diez, editor’s note]. And many other friends.


AM: What’s your approach to win an EUDC preliminary round?

Joona: It’s primarily about making sure you don’t make stupid mistakes. You can’t get through 9 rounds in a row by luck, so you need a systematic approach to win with your strength and not run something risky. Also, each round is independent from each other.

Milla: I think more than thinking about winning you need to make sure that you are able to beat each other team individually and that you beat at least one each round. Rather than try to win each room, you make sure to not be fourth, and after that try not to be third, and so on. Both pointswise and psychologically in the competition continuing getting points is the most important part. We actually managed never to get a fourth in 9 inrounds, and that helped us feel less pressured. So part of it is also about being calm and sensible and not taking risks.


AM: What did you do in preparation for Euros?

Milla: We kept doing sessions with the entire delegation, that being still the same five people.

Joona: We attended a fair number of prep tournaments, both as a team and with other speakers in order to get feedback from other partners. On from that we just practised additionally alone or together to improve speeches or prepping. The important part is to repeat, repeat, repeat. And don’t do to much at once.

Milla: We also did a bit of casefiling, to be sure we feel comfortable with topics that could potentially come up. That helped us feel comfortable. It’s important to make debating feel natural. We really have to thank our delegation for being great prep partners, it’s kind of everyone’s success, so Markus, Anna and Adnan.


AM: Did you get any kind of support from your society, university or government?

Joona: Monetary: No. Resources: Well, venues from the student union. But that’s all.

Milla: We don’t get any government support and we’re also the ones in our society to teach others, so the outside support was very helpful.


AM: What was your favourite motion ever? Why?

Milla: Round 9, here. I love military motions. I don’t know if it’s my favourite ever, but I really liked it.

Joona: This is a really tricky question. The LSE open semi-final motion, something like: THS the continued development of a strong AI. That is definitely a very fun and deep motion, analysis heavy, that’s what I’m good at.


AM: How long do you think you will keep debating?

Joona: For a few years?

Milla: I think we should do next year’s Euros and should see if we get even further.

Joona: Or break at Worlds.

Milla: And I think regardless I’ll stick around for a while.


AM: Is there anything more you would like to tell our readers?

Joona: Achte Minute is great. They cover even the minor Finnish tournaments.

Milla: Another thing is: Since we come from a small circuit, it took me a long time to get here. So even if you are from a small circuit: As long as you enjoy debating, don’t let yourself be discouraged and don’t be afraid to reach out to international experienced debaters, even if you might not know them very well. Most of them are just people like you who love to do debating.

AM: Thank you for the interview and good luck with the outrounds!


Conducting the interview for the Achte Minute was Lennart Lokstein. It was recorded during the Tallinn EUDC 2017.


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