Let’s start with what you can say about your prac against Team Liquid, which you play before our interview?
We have not investigated the match yet. I realized that I can feel confidently during a match against teams that play on such level. Initially, we played very good but then missed out. But my confidence grew up after the match against Liquid.
How did you acquaint with Dota 2? Why exactly Dota 2? What did you do besides playing it? What hobbies did you have in school times?
I had played football before games. Also, I engaged in boxing but this was so long time ago. Then I dropped this thing, started studying at school. In the eight form, I found such game as Heroes of Newerth but had played Warcraft through Garena before that, played Dota and other maps there. Then HoN emerged in Garena and I began playing it. I had been playing HoN for 2,5-3 years. I also played on the professional level there. But then the game was slowly coming to the end of its existence and I tried myself in Dota. This didn’t happen immediately. Initially, I dropped games, then missed them and decided to return. After this, I preferred playing Dota.
When did you return to playing Dota?
This was about two years ago. To be more precise, this happened 1 year and 8 months ago. It was the end of my eleventh form.
What achievements did you have in Heroes of Newerth?
There was a very little amount of tournaments, there was only one big HoN LAN and we kinda had to take part in it but failed the qualifiers. This made me stop playing this game. Our roster had been the top 1 team in CIS for the last half a year.
According to Liquipedia, it took only 8 months for you to fight your way to Tier-1 level. How did you do that in such a short time?
At first, my friend from my city helped me. LAN was hosted in our city, I played two times better than others there. Of course, I was noticed. There one man babbled that there was a chance to acquaint me with the other man, who would take me in a Tier-3 mix. I didn’t understand what was going on at that moment. After they had invited me to a Tier-3 team, I played a bit and decided to leave. Then Fervian invited me to Hive. There was almost the same situation. I didn’t quite understand what these people were and where I was. I made a decision to leave after a month or month and a half because I didn’t see the meaning to play in that team. There was no development and basically, it was not able to be there. I decided to continue solo, to play pubs, to gain experience and not to give my strength to the team that had no future. I had a chance to play in Comanche. I played 2-3 official matches in the team and decided to leave it. Then I just continued playing pubs and Bignum invited me to Thug Life, his team with Illidan, after which we moved to Gambit when they signed our mix. That’s how everything started.
What can you say about Gambit eSports? What do you think about the organization, the roster that was at that moment?
Initially, I liked the roster. I learned with them everything I know now. The roster had given me a lot before the moment I left. I gained a lot for me, for my personal gaming experience. They helped me to grow up, helped me with the game, endured me at the start. At first, I played disgustingly but they saw that I was able to learn and was learning. Then 3-4 months passed and I stopped believing in that roster, there was no motivation to continue playing with them. I could not just say them: «Guys, I don’t want to play with you» and leave them due to some human feelings. What is more, they didn’t have a player that they could invite. I asked Bignum: «Do you have a player, who you can pick to team up?», but he told me frankly: «No. So stay with us». This was the only reason why I didn’t leave the team, however, had wanted for quite some time, I endured two or three months. Then we had finally come to the point when I was kicked, after which I was not upset and was even glad. With regard to the organization, I exactly know that it left the Dota 2 roster because they needed any Dota 2 roster, even if it didn’t have results. The only things that they gave us were a salary and a bootcamp. It was only important for them that we were playing under the tag Gambit and that’s all. I was not developing there.
Can it be said that they didn’t care what results you had?
Yes, as much as I understand. They had wanted us to win, managers asked and helped in terms of this but then they stopped waiting for any results from the team and were keeping us for some reason not kicking.
How did you join Effect? Who did invite you?
The manager of the team Effect called me in 3-4 days after a bootcamp in Kiev, when I came back to my city. He didn’t want me to join the team right away but as much as I understand, initially, he had had a goal to invite me to it. He offered to be my agent. We had a conversation with him, I liked everything and he brought me to a bootcamp in one week, while there was no one in there, as it was difficult for me to play Dota 2 from my home due to Internet issues. He brought me to the bootcamp and I lived there about 10 days just to play pubs. By the way, when I was there, I was kicked from Gambit. Probably, the manager of Effect understood that I would be kicked and he wanted me to join the team. After that, I was on a bootcamp and I received a few offers. Initially, I thought to move to Vega Squadron but as much as I understood, they wanted to pick Palantimos more than me. As far as other options were not comfortable for me, I decided to stay there because I liked the players and conditions.
Can you say a few words about each teammate, both as persons and as players?
We assembled a great roster, everyone complements and helps each other. Afoninje, one of the in-game leaders, sometimes becomes angry, when losses. He hates to lose and die and also becomes very angry when something goes wrong in the team. But he knows how to focus, support the team and he keeps everyone positive. Maden has recently moved into his new role. He tries and even if sometimes not everything goes right, he will be able to cheer the team and try to invent something. He learns his role and is slowly going to his goal. Afterlife, he probably offers his own ideas more than anyone else. He has his own gaming style. He plays not like anyone. He likes to rage sometimes too. KingR is an experienced player, has played at LANs for many times. If the game initially goes according to his plan, it will be impossible to stop him. And the coach knows how to bring right thoughts to us, he never says that someone has played bad. He always tries to say in a positive way how it is better to act. He helps everyone and knows how to increase a morale even if we have lost the game.
KingR was asked in his recent interview: “Do you have a teammate, who you are missing most of all?” - and he answered that it was RAMZES666. Do you have someone like this among your former teammates?
After your victory at the qualifiers to ESL, everyone thought that it was an accident and it would never happen again. What was happening inside the team during the qualifiers and after the winning streak?
We are comfortable with each other and we play simply, no one rages. When we stepped down to the lower bracket at the qualifiers to DAC, I could not even realize that it was a Major and that we were playing there. When I saw the lower bracket, I was absolutely sure that we would overcome them. Initially, it was Team Kazakhstan, then Gambit, Vega Squadron. I became even more confident in this when Vega won Team Empire because Empire was the only uncomfortable opponent for me and my team. When I saw that they had been eliminated from the tournament, I understood that we would advance further and win. But I was calm about the loss to Team Spirit because I was obvious that we had lost because had hurried with a pick and started playing in the wrong way. There was a problem in picks, we analyzed that at once. And yes, when we saw that the same team had won Natus Vincere and was in the final, the confidence that we would advance there and beat them was maximum. Also, when we advanced to the final, I found out that we were qualifying to the Major. And we crushed our opponent, feeling ambitious. That’s the whole story as I see it. Basically, the same story was with the qualifiers to ESL One Katowice 2018, the first qualifiers we won. We got to the semifinal and only then I discovered that it was a Major. I was shocked at that moment, I had dreamed to get to a LAN a long time before and when you realized that you had a great chance to go to the LAN final of the Major, you drove yourself crazy that you were going to the Major. The fact that we had advanced to the final to play against Vega Squadron, that had the renewed roster too, was a big motivation for me. We beat them with such a big motivation and I can’t say that this was super difficult as our confidence was great. That’s how all happened. You could think that we had won our first qualifiers accidentally, I could think so too but I realized that there were not so many stable teams in CIS and you could win everyone. Besides Virtus.pro that are very good. And as they are not there, everything is poor in CIS and a confidence in victories is big. As for me, it was very easy.
You have recently said that Vega is a relatively easy opponent for you and you had easily beaten them in the qualifiers to ESL One Katowice 2018. But you lost to them in the semifinal in Bucharest right after that.
I can say that it was the same situation that had been against Team Spirit in the last qualifiers. Personally, I was very relaxed. I can’t remember that matches now, this has happened due to our stupidity. We lost by our fault and not because they beat us. That’s my opinion.
So do you think that if you had overcome Vega Squadron, you would have had chances to qualify to the Major?
Yes, quite possibly.
What are your plans for the nearest future?
We don’t develop plans. Personally, my plans are to play and become better. I know my mistakes, I understand that I can play badly at any moment. There is no stability. I know that I have a lack of experience to become perfect as the same RAMZES666, who I respect as a player and consider him the best. I want to develop my experience to compare myself to him at least. We don’t set any goals or plans with the team, we just play and enjoy.
Are you going to prepare something unusual for ESL One Katowice?
To tell the truth, I am sure that we will be able to surprise. The only thing that worries me is Team Liquid in the first match. I have seen our bracket, even if we lose, there will be a couple of teams in the lower bracket, which we will be more likely to beat. OG, compLexity and OpTic Gaming - I consider them not the strongest teams. We will be able to fight our way through the losers but we are going to the tournament with another goal. I guess we will be able to surprise. What is more, there is a bit more time left. We will think how to play and try to win with all our force.
Do you think that your team holds the top-2 in CIS after Virtus.pro?
Actually, the top-1 is particularly clear, it is Virtus.pro. There are no equals to them right now. The top-2, the top-3 - I have never considered such things, so I don’t know. There is no stability. We can win one time and lose another one. Teams are not divided into the top-2 or the top-3 when they are on such level.
What do you do in your spare time? Do you maybe have a walk with the team or did you watch Champions League yesterday?
We watched Champions League yesterday but not all of us did so. Those who wanted went. We have a walk often as the whole company, we can go to a restaurant to eat and talk. We can go to a cinema or to some events on weekends. CEO of our organizations gives a lot of attention to us, often calls us somewhere. He doesn’t let us get bored.
Who watched what match yesterday?
I cheered for PSG but I didn’t watch the match because I had not gone with guys not by choice, I had had a headache. I asked Rinat (KingR), he cheered for PSG too. I don’t know about the others.
Speaking about WESG, who did invite you to the team?
I was invited by their manager Korb3n. He wrote me and asked if I wanted to play with them. I agreed and played the qualifiers with them but we failed to go further than visiting Spain.
We are coming to the end of our interview. What can you say in the end?
Thank our boss Ruslan and CEO Yuri so much for all attention they give us and for how much they cheer for us and are glad. Thanks for the chance to play for this team. Thank all of you who watch my streams and support me. Suddenly, your number increased so much, this makes me happy and motivates. Thank you all!