How did you join Team Secret? It happened right before TI 7, according to Liquipedia. Who did invite you?
I joined around at DOTA Summit, I guess. It was during July 2017. MP was a part of the team at that time and helped to contact me. Puppey called me on Skype one day and said that they were going to have Summit in the next two days. He wanted me to come with them and to see what would happen. That’s how everything happened. They liked me and I am sticking around.
What were you doing to prepare your team for TI7? Did you analyze games, discuss things with your team?
Naturally, there is a lot of analysis. Most of my job is about filtrating ideas. I’m sure that coaches function differently from team to team. Players have a lot of ideas and they try to filtrate them through me. And by the end of it, once we have a discussion, we come from something changeable to something abstract and good, hopefully. That was my job at TI.
What went wrong at TI? Everyone expected a good performance by Team Secret.
It’s a complex question. I think a half of teams break at TI due to pressure. And perhaps, we were a part of that as well. I think we could perform better. The guys were capable to do so. But we couldn’t for some reason.
You made some roster changes after that. What was the reason for that?
The changes were made because the captain said that they were needed. I was supportive of them. The captain has to be in power. So we started looking for other players. Fata approached us and we found Ace, so things went well.
Let’s talk about the innovation that a coach is allowed to be in the draft phase. Is it good for Team Secret?
Being a part of the draft is definitely really cool for me as a coach. Because I had not been always informed what they were capable of or not. Sometimes I didn’t know what I caused inside the booth. And if we had ended a game with something awkward, I would have asked them: “Oh, men, what happened?” I don’t really think that being in the booth by myself will stop that from really happening. But it feels really nice to be a part of it.
IceFrog has announced that there will be a new patch every two weeks. In your opinion, is this good for competitive Dota 2?
Every Dota player has his own political spectrum. You can be conservative or liberal when it comes to changes. For me, I am probably more conservative. I thought there would be small changes but every two weeks we have pretty big changes. If the pattern continues, there will be another big changeы every two weeks. The reset button will be hit every two weeks. And that scares me a bit because I want Dota to be the game that lasts another ten years. Because this is an amazing game. But with such changes, I don’t know if things can continue like that forever. I think it’s a bit too much.
What is your opinion about the Dota scene in Europe? You have the biggest number of direct invites. Is it normal for a team to play only at LANs or it’s sometimes to good to play at the qualifiers?
I think the qualifiers are nice because teams have to practice. This is what happened to us. When we didn’t get an invitation, we were very hungry. We were screaming and getting ready for the qualifiers. Because qualifiers are brutal. But when we are invited, I can’t say that we become soft but all this traveling makes an impact on our players. We don’t really practice as much as we want to, which is a problem. The DPC thing is very new. What I am worried about the most is that the DPC schedule is very busy. There may come a time when players will get a little burned out from all the traveling.
How do you think, is it worth to add the in-game pauses like in CS:GO to Dota 2?
I think it’s enough that I am able to talk with them after a game. I don’t think that it’s necessary that I have to stay behind them and hear every bit of their communication. That’s my opinion. But if they allow us to be a part of the booth in terms of communication, I am all for it. If they don’t allow it, I am not really against that either. Objectively speaking, I don’t really know how to quantify exactly how much a coach really contributes to a victory. So I just don’t know how good it will be for a team.
Let’s speak about your performance at the group stage of The Bucharest Major. You played 3:1. What can you say about your matches?
A lot of teams are really good. And I don’t know if it’s just because the natural way of things when some teams become good, some teams become bad. This is the way it is. Maybe that’s because a patch that comes out every two weeks. Things get shaken up and the reset button is pressed. And people have to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. Everyone tries to see what to do and what other teams are doing. I am definitely impressed how some of these teams are performing. But it’s weird how teams like VG that held the second place at ESL One Katowice maybe two weeks ago are performing so weak. Dota 2 is a crazy game. We are focused on ourselves and not very busy looking at others. We can do a lot better.
Did you expect to the result to be 3:0?
We expect a certain level of performance but we don’t expect victories. That’s the difference. We want to play a good Dota but we don’t expect results. That’s very important for the team culture. Perhaps, we were a bit relieved. But we certainly didn’t expect a better or worse performance. Worse results could definitely happen. But I think we are coming together decently now and I hope this will continue.
What do you think about the Swiss format?
I like the Swiss format. I didn’t mind that it was bo1 either because it felt like playing bo5 with three different teams across three different days. It didn’t feel like the playoff with bo1 matches when you lose and you are out of a tournament. You had multiple chances to make it into the playoffs. It’s pretty fair because there are random draws.