Let’s start with a hot topic. Galaxy Battles II, from which some teams have already refused. What do you think about that?
This is always very sad when the tournament is canceled and even more if this happens a few days before the beginning of the tournament. It is really sorrowful to see that local political problems and problems inside the country make an impact on the eSports. There has never been a situation in the eSports when a drug doping has been a problem for someone or given someone a boost or affected somehow. There is no association of cyber-sportsmen with any kind of drug addicts, who are fought in the Philippines. Teams that have qualified to the tournament are hurt but as much as I know, Valve has said that they will host the same Major with another organizer, slots and a prize pool will remain the same. There is no real reason for being sad.
The main disadvantage is that the Philippines have left without normal Dota 2 tournaments.
Yes, this is definitely a disadvantage for local Dota players, who will not be able to see the top players, playing on the world scene. They obviously will need to go to the nearest countries, for example, to Malaysia and so on. The flight is not so long.
Captain’s Draft is held right now - it is a Minor tournament but it has an unusual format. What do you think, do tournaments that are hosted not on Captain’s Mode worth to receive a Major or Minor status from Valve?
It’s not the first time I have been asked this question. I remember I was giving an interview at Adrenaline Cyber League in Moscow and I said that such tournaments could be hosted but there should not be too many of them. I would be even glad if there were two or three of them per season but they should be run on Captain’s Draft and not on All Random because there had to be a captain that drafted everything, something like that. I will explain why. Captain’s mode is when all heroes are available and I would call Captain’s Draft an improvisational tournament. You have a limited number of meta heroes and you can receive heroes that are not meta at all at the moment that are not picked, you will have to make out of them a victory for your team. I think that this is an improvisational tournament and teams have to know how to improvise in any situation and that’s why such tournaments must exist.
But in such case, the role of a coach takes a back seat. You can’t prepare well.
This is right too but if a coach creates a strategy for you anyway, he will have to be able to make it at a venue. You have started a game, he stands behind you, has to be a mastermind, see heroes and say: “See, pick these heroes and we will win”. This shouldn’t last days as it is in the preparation, everything should be done in two minutes of the draft.
So are you more for than against such tournaments?
Yes, but if only there are not too many of them. There are more than 20 Major and Minor tournaments on Captain’s Mode. And only one is hosted on Captain’s Draft. I would make 3-4 of them to make a ratio of 1 to 5. It would also worth to host a Major on Captain’s Draft to make teams really try hard, take it seriously.
Speaking of the number of Minor and Major championships. Their amount is very big. Teams have to play 70% of the rest of tournaments in 5 months. Would it be difficult for you to play at qualifiers that overlap, especially StarLadder, ESL, PGL that are hosted at the same time?
To tell the truth, there were breaks during the transfer window last year, there were almost no tournaments but now, they are going one by one, some of them even overlap. It’s very unpleasant, it is possible that Valve hoped that teams would choose tournaments to compete in but this is something new for the Dota 2 community and teams, everyone is trying to play everywhere. People have simply to understand if they want to do so or to refuse from any of them or to ask Valve to change the system, add something old, for example, to create 2 or 3 transfer windows to make breaks. Because if we look at Virtus.pro as an example, Solo has taken a break and soon, some teams will say that they will take a break for weeks and play nothing, for example, will miss a Minor. Naturally, teams that have no points that are not invited to close qualifiers want to use all chances. There are a lot of matches, they don’t have a system to decide to play or not. They just play everywhere and get tired very fast.
Let’s talk about Virtus.pro and move to the CIS Dota. Virtus.pro has refused from Minor events and play only at Major tournaments and in most cases, if they have been invited. Is this an advantage or a disadvantage for the CIS region? On the one hand, if Valve invites, we have two teams from the CIS region, but on the other hand, if they have to play at close qualifiers, they increase the level of play at qualifiers.
As a representative of the CIS scene, I will comment the statement that Virtus.pro plays only at Major championships and Virtus.pro doesn’t play at qualifiers, where they are invited. First and foremost, they have not been doing so all the time. At the moment, they have enough DPC points and they have started doing so. I would say that this is logical. They have earned what they had wanted and take breaks, more time to prepare. In Solo’s case, he took a full break from training sessions, maybe due to personal reasons, but the team has refused from a great number of tournaments, including Major events. In terms of the CIS scene, this is definitely an advantage for teams. There is less competition without Virtus.pro, it is much easier to qualify. Talking about an entertainment, it is difficult for me to talk about this as a viewer. This is a real advantage as I think but I have a two-way impression if we are talking about an entertainment. When such teams as Vega and Team Spirit or Vega and Team Empire are playing, you have one impression from the game, but when, for example, Virtus.pro and Comanche are playing at qualifiers, everything looks not so spectacular. As a dark horse, Comanche can win a single map but the next two maps will be lost in half an hour, even less than in half an hour. Certainly, such games are not interesting to watch but they are inevitable. In any case, there is a favorite and an outsider. Such thing happens in any sport. I don’t think that we can complain.
What team has benefited most from the situation? Is it Na’Vi, Team Empire or maybe any other CIS team?
I guess that all of them have benefited. I can’t choose someone.
As a professional player, what is your opinion, what system is the most suitable for playing qualifiers?
The discussion of this topic was very actual when The Boston Major was held. There was a Single Elimination bracket and the Greeks from Ad Finem were playing against OG in the final. At that time, people said that Single Elimination was a very clear system. Everyone thought that if you were the winner, you would have to win every one. In the end, Ad Finem got to the final. I love these guys, don’t want to say that they play bad but I will use facts. They have reached the top 2 at the Major tournament, I would even say that this is a title. But after that, in fact, they have not prevailed at a single tournament. I can’t say that Single Elimination was very prominent. Dota 2 is very random for me in some things, I can’t speak for all Moba disciplines but Dota 2 is really very random, a team can win due to the fact that a double damage rune has spawned on the lower rune spot and hasn’t spawned on the upper one. The game needs more matches but not in a Single Elimination format. It can be groups, Double Elimination, anything but Single Elimination.
Let’s talk about you. You played in lots of organizations over the past few years. RoX, Empire, Na’Vi, ProDota, FlipSid3 Tactics, Team Spirit - which of these organizations has proved itself the best? Where was it the most comfortable to play?
It is an enough complicated question, it refers not only to one year. I started playing for RoX in 2013, so it is the 5th year. The ideal team doesn’t exist, each one has its pros and cons, I can’t choose someone, who is the best one.
You have recently left Team Empire, can you explain why this has happened? You have beaten OpTic Gaming in the final of ROG Masters with a score 3:2, had passed to Wild Card of Galaxy Battles II before that and lost a few qualifiers.
We had an interesting situation. Initially, the guys from Empire were in search of a replacement for the fourth position, as they said in their blog, after that they invited me and as I was able to play in the fourth and the fifth position, the question was where to play. I didn’t know at the moment that they needed the fourth player and Yaroslav “Miposhka” said that it didn’t matter for him too. And things went so that he started playing in the fourth position. We were playing in such way, started holding the second places at qualifiers. Some time passed and I said that I didn’t like how we were playing and I decided to swap. I wanted to play in the fourth role, I felt confident, I wanted that. I guessed that Yaroslav would play in the fifth position better than I did at the moment. We had some qualifiers around the corner and the guys didn’t want to swap roles before the beginning. Then, I said: “Guys, if we keep playing in the same way, let’s not allow the situation to happen when I will be kicked due to our results and Yaroslav will appear to play better in the fifth role and I have not even tried to play in the fourth position”. It looked something like this. As a result, we qualified to ROG Masters, held the second place at qualifiers again, we achieved the second place at Galaxy but there was Wild Card and this was an unsatisfactory result for us. We wanted to win very much but held the second place again. There was the following situation, we were going to visit the nearest LAN tournament, to which we had qualified, I would play in the fourth position. Everything happened in the short term. It was not even taken into consideration if the tournament is soon or not. Because the guys were playing with Yoku as a stand-in at the moment and I played pubs alone. We went to the tournament, won it and then, the guys were deciding with whom they would play and finally stopped on Maxim in the fourth position.
So they simply told you that you didn’t match up, didn’t they?
That’s not exactly true, they chose with whom they wanted to play. My opinion on this is that the factor that the team needed a fresh blood played a bigger role. When you are holding the second places and some of them have been held due to the loss of the Internet or the game had simply crushed. This makes a great impact on the morale and the team needs something new. And in the case, it was a fresh blood in the face of Yoku. However, I think that we could have done without them if we had swapped our roles, things would have been different.
Didn’t you think to move to a new position? For example, to move from the fourth-fifth position to the first or second one. As it has been done by Yoku, s4, and SumaiL.
I have thought about that but most of all, I like running across the map and not only killing creeps. Yes, I sometimes play in the third position in public matches, this is interesting enough but if you want to get into a new role, you will have too many time. I have not had this amount of time and there is no lack of offlaners, so I have decided to play in the fourth and the fifth roles and to progress in these roles.
What are you going to do in the nearest future? Will you just have a rest until the end of The International and then, search for a new team or is it worth to wait for something from you before that?
The entire world has New Year holidays before Captain’s Draft. I will be in an active search of a team, I can’t say where it will be situated. Maybe it will be the CIS team or the European one but can state for sure that I want to play with the Europeans.
Have you ever had offers to move to Europe, America or Asia?
I have recently had an offer to move to Asia.
Speaking of Asia and players, you are not the first person that had a chance to move or moved to Asia. Chappie, Mag had done so before. What do you think, why are so many our people taken?
As much as I know, they have a lack of people that play on the professional level. That’s why they address players from other regions.
Our interview comes to the end. What can you say for the last?
I would like to say thank you to all fans who cheer for me and everyone who has read this interview.