GoDz: "CIS audience is just as big as the English one"

How do you do? I’ve heard you have a very busy month.
We just got back from traveling to EPICENTER, Manila Masters and then we come back we, have Dota Summit 7. Now we have TI qualifiers coming up. Very good and exciting couple of months.  

Can you say some words about The Kiev Major, The Manila Masters and EPICENTER?
I will start with The Kiev Major being big Valve event. This was the first CIS Major. It was great to see that CIS region got a chance to host a Valve Major. I think unfortunately the event didn’t feel as amazing and special from a production and features point of view as some people would hope for. It was a very successful event in terms of viewers, the teams and Dota were great. It just didn’t do anything to self apart from other non-TI events. But it was still a great event.
As far as other events go EPICENTER and The Manila Masters were too both fantastic events in very different regions. It’s always great to see events held in the Philippines, because the crowd there is so energy and so passionate, it was a very special event for me. Then we had EPICENTER which was like an event with all best teams. You had OG, EG competing in both of these two events who are considered, probably, the two best teams in the world, so it was a really fun time to be a commentator or a viewer, because you got to see a high-quality Dota week after week. And all these three events were a really great time for me to attend.

On EPICENTER you had a showmatch versus Russian talents. How was it feel to play on a big scene?
It was a lot of fun. It was, definitely, one of my favorite moments as a caster, getting to experience, what’s a player’s experience: walking out on stage and not just only playing on the computers but they had actual intros for us. They took up pictures and treated us as we were players. So we had to walk out, all the music and the crowd there maybe not cheering for us as we are English casters but it still was an experience how players feel. Of course, we end up winning and it was, I think, a fun match. That made just feel a very special for us. It was cool for EPICENTER to set it up and to give us that opportunity.

You said in one of your last interviews that “Manila is the most f*cking hype city to host a Dota 2 event!”. Did you change your opinion after another time visiting Kiev, Moscow and Manila?
I don’t think so (laughing). I mean for me I probably love the Philippines because it’s where I’ve started casting Dota and, also, because for me it is an English-speaking crowd so I think it’s  maybe different for the CIS audience. For them having events in Moscow, Kiev is always going to be more exciting, more hype and more f*cking awesome. But I think for English-speaking audience Manila is like the dream city to host events because the crowd just loves Dota. They don’t care it’s a Filipino, SEA, European or American team playing. They always cheer for every team which is playing, making sick plays, making cool moves, picking exciting heroes. They always gonna get excited and just get so involved in the event and the stuff like the crowd, camera shots between filling the games, content with Slack and Eri Neeman. People always just love anything that happens on stage there.

Right after the fifth card of The Summit 7 ended, Valve announced invites to TI 7 and Regional qualifiers. Your opinion about that? No wild card and 18 teams.
II think it’s good that teams will have to come up to the event. I think that was no big surprise with that six teams had been invited. I think all that six teams were proving the entire year that they are best in their regions and one of the best in the international level. I think the only interesting thing is, perhaps, the format where will not gonna be set a Wild Card. They have two groups of 9 teams, this means that bottom team in both groups will be eliminated after the group stage that is in some kind of a wild card tournament in itself. It doesn’t include only 4 teams including all the teams but there is the way to filter out two worst teams at the event so that they will not be actually playing in the main event at the group stage. I think it’s just a way for Valve to be more inclusive having the extra couple of spots. It suits them now because there are 6 regions with qualifiers so to do an 6 team wild card will be a bit too much for them. So it makes more sense for Valve in format perspective.

Do you have any thoughts about the separation of slots from qualifiers to The International?
I think it’s fine. You look at the region at least at SEA that has more slots at The International. They have three compared to CIS or South America having just one slot, but if you look on the invites SEA got zero teams invited and I think that’s the right number. There were no SEA teams who deserved an invite, who were approving of being good enough to get one during a year. But if you look at the results of the last International, three teams in the top were from Southeast Asia. You had TNC, MVP, Fnatic. I think Southeast Asia is a region, which is just as strong as Europe, America or China. But the problem is that they don’t have one team that stands out to get a direct invite. And if they had a direct invite, they would have fewer slots in the qualifiers. As the result, I think you will see a fantastic field of teams at TI. It will be very different. You will have three SEA teams, you will have VP as an invited CIS team as the next CIS team will win the qualifiers, four European teams because we will see OG and Liquid as an invited teams and they, also, have two qualifiers’ spots, America has EG plus their qualifiers’ spot. So I think there is going to be a very good balance of regions, teams from different places based on their strength and the regions having more slots like China, the region that has done very well, it has one-half of The International and, also, been in six of twelve teams in the grand finals of The International. So I think such numbers make sense.

You had Lacoste as an analyst and caster at The Summit. Can you say few words about him? Where did you find him? His first LAN was Dota Pit Season 5, which was in his native country.
To start, BTS is always interested in developing and taking new faces in front of the camera for online and live events, for whatever it may be. A lot of the big casters today got their first start and their first shot with Beyond The Summit. So Lacoste was someone who Dota Pit organizers kinda initially suggested like: “Hey, this guy is in Croatia, we have the finals coming up, you are gonna work with him because Beyond The Summit is recovering from the last LAN-finals”. I personally knew who Lacoste was from the early TIs. He played in TI 1 and TI 2. I knew obviously that this man was a former professional player, he was very good at the game, he was good in the understanding of it. At that point, I talked to him on Skype for maybe 10-15 minutes. And I said: “Let’s have a shot, let’s see how it does”. He was working with some very experienced broadcast talents like Sheever, Dakota, ODPixel, Tobi, the talents that were there. I knew that he had good people to guide him and to make him feel comfortable and to make him feel welcome there. So we took a chance with him there, he did fantastic then he started commentating a lot with KotlGuy. And those two developed a really strong chemistry and worked really well together. Those two just kinda maintained a partnership when it comes to casting a lot of events online and even more recently at LAN-events. He has been at StarLadder, he has come to The Summit. So he is someone who I really like on camera because he is very loose, he has fun. He is not afraid to say silly jokes and make them look kinda stupid or meme. He reminds me a bit of Slax in that thing. He doesn’t care, he just says whatever funny thing he has in mind. Sometimes he hits, sometimes he misses with the joke but either way he is not insecure about it. He has a lot of confidence. So he is a great person to have at an event.

In your opinion, which country must be the next to host The Major after The International?
I think it would be great for The Majors to tour the world. I think as much as there are some great cities to host Majors. I think The Manila Major is the one big that stands out. The recent Kiev Major was, also, a fantastic location. It’s a great use for The Majors to go to new regions, to help to bring events to regions that have a lot of players, who have a lot of love for Dota 2 but don’t get to see many events at least on that scale. I think South America is the biggest region to me that stands out as having one of the biggest Dota communities but no big international events there. So I think The South American Major would be fantastic today.

Name the top 3 cities in Godz opinion for the next Major.
I would say top 3 would be Lima, Brazil, one of the big cities there and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia will be a very good location. Southeast Asia just has a great and massive Dota community. I am not throwing Australia too, you know, make it forward. Do a Dota Major in Australia, why not? I would love that. I think there is a lot of Dota players, more than in a lot of other countries. I think a very successful event can be run in Australia as well.

What is your opinion about ACE to ban Team Random? What happened?
There is always a lot of politics in China with regards to the infrastructure there. ACE is kind of the governing body, who tries to maintain some level of, I guess, stability but they focus more on the organizations rather than individual players, which has been the criticism, I think, from the Western community. What annoys about the Chinese Dota scene and how they operate is that they are looking after and looking out for teams rather than players themselves. I guess my opinion on that is that it’s terrible how it went down. The Wings players were in a really shitty situation, where they were not paid their salaries, they felt like the organization was laying them down, they were not filling their applications. So then they left the organization. The facts there suggest that Wings didn’t really do anything wrong, there was everything that went down after the players left the organization. What followed after that was very messy when the situation was kinda resolved with ACE to ban the players and then other organizations involved. I would like to see more players’ rights look after in China. How I see an organization like ACE, if it wants to exist and look after teams’ interests, it needs to be an organization of players that looks after the interests of players that have to work alongside. You can’t just have an organization that looks after the organizations and doesn’t look after the players. There needs to be a players’ union or some way to enforce players’ rights, which does not exist right now in China.

For the first time in The Dota Summit history, RU casters were not in the house considering that there were 3 CIS teams. What happened? The whole CIS community was shocked with this info.
Yes, this was the first Dota Summit when we didn’t have the Russian broadcasting team on sight. This came about as the decision, that was not easy to make. It was something, which comes down to the logistics of the event. When we are not renting a big venue, we don’t have a lot of space to work with. We were running our event at a house and the event is always growing. We are trying to do a lot more with content, we are bringing in more staff. And the realistic situation with this Dota Summit was that we couldn’t really comfortably fit all these people into a house and, also, have an actual setup for the Russian broadcast team at the house, which was overcrowded. So we are looking to resolve it and figure out the way that we can either make it work for future Dota Summits, where we can allocate a different space for it, maybe downsize the production to have them on sight. Because we did lose something when we didn’t have that. Russian players get involved in the Russian broadcast like English players get involved in the English broadcast. Of course, the CIS audience is just as big as the English one, for that you can see stream viewership number when the CIS team is playing, there are more Russian viewers and when the non-CIS team is playing, the English broadcast - we are bigger. We had three CIS teams: NaVi, VP and Team Empire - the three most popular CIS teams. It was very unfortunate timing, that the decision came for the event that had the most CIS teams, The Dota Summit. So the timing of it was really sucked but for us, as English event organizers the priority was focusing on doing what we felt was the best for the event in terms of creating amazing content with the teams. All that content ended up on the Russian stream in the Russian communities, the stuff like the fake true-sight video we did with VP that ended up getting spread among the Russian community. A lot of that content and all that skits we did wouldn’t be possible if we brought in all the people that wanted to come to the event. We are not like most of the events, we don’t bring Chinese broadcasters, for example. The Chinese viewership is bigger than English or CIS. Viewers of two Chinese teams were watching our event and we never had Chinese broadcasters on sight. There is definitely a lot of similar like with the Chinese broadcasters, them not being in sight. For us, it’s important that CIS viewing experience is as good as it can be and we tried to work with StarLadder, who did an amazing job from their studio remotely. There was a feeling that they had fun with it, there was a really awesome staff, they created a set like they were in California even that they weren’t. It was a lot of fun working with them and unfortunately, they couldn’t just be in sight.

Can you describe a typical GoDz day at LAN and when you are at home?
For me typical day at LAN involves, I guess, sleeping in as late as possible without missing my call time, so none is involved in sleeping very much because we have to be over the event many hours before you even start broadcasting because we have to get makeup, we have to be there early we get to have rehearsals. And then a typical day at the LAN event is watching Dota, sitting around with my friends I work with like LD, Owen, Sheever, Tobi, Merlini. We are just hanging up a lot when we are not actually casting a game but when we are casting we are on the stage, on the panel. And normally we don’t finish until very late at night, so the work days are often long at LAN-events. They are tiring but there are a lot of fun. I do what I love and that’s my typical day at the LAN event. Between the events, I am working a lot on growing The BTS events, the content, planning new events, the next Summit, following the Dota scene like watching the Dota 2 tournaments, what’s going on there, keeping up-to-date the meta as much as possible. I like to play Dota whenever I can. It is very hard sometimes to squeeze it in. That’s what I usually do.

Are there going to be some more Summits announced this year?
Yeah, we will definitely have another Dota Summit in 2017. We will be doing two Dota Summits every year since we have started. And we are going to look to maintain that. We are not going away from Dota, we are not looking to stop doing that. It’s the reason why the BTS was started. I was into Dota scene and that’s something that I will continue doing.

Will there be one more CS:GO Summit?
The first CS:GO Summit was a huge success for us. The community has absolutely loved that. And that’s definitely what we are going to do again. We are exploring ways to bring a second CS:GO Summit to the CS:GO community.

What is the dream team of GoDz?
Oh, I don’t know, probably, I think my favorite player has always been iceiceice just because he is so much fun to watch in a chaotic and confident way. So the offlane is iceiceice, the mid is probably SumaiL because he is the best in the world and no one can beat him in the mid. Fly from OG would be my captain because he is one of the best captains. I really like watching GH from Team Liquid, he is a great support player, so maybe him. And for the carry, I think RAMZES is good. I am sure, the team speaks the same language. That’s not the problem.

And the last question. What does GoDz mean?
I think there is not much special in my nickname, just something that I thought that sounded cool. Adding “z” to nicknames looked cool, like something really powerful like God. You can’t beat that. So that sounded cool and made me feel strong. I stuck with that many years later. When you are old and grown up you have to live with mistakes of your youth.

If you had a chance to say or ask something to IceFrog, what would it be?
I would ask him to remove Techies. Dota is perfect, except Techies.