As the coach, of course, what are your thoughts on the recent changes about coaches being allowed in the draft?
For me, it’s still a bit hard to get used to because I have to balance my own input with KuroKy’s overall control of the situation. It’s like, imagine a situation where Kuro is the executive commander and if I try to sway him one way or another too much, it gets very confusing for him and the team so we’re still trying to figure out what my role is. After today, we have more proof that we have to look more into assigning roles during the drafting phase because we weren’t really happy with how we drafted and we didn’t really play our best. For sure though, we don’t wanna make the addition of the coach a negative aspect. It very well can be if you’re not too used to it and it’s still a bit of a mystery to me on balancing it. For example, I know more about our opponents than KuroKy does. Not all aspects but I watch more replays and more of their drafts, like how they think whereas Kuro has a better feeling about the game because he’s actually the player and I’m the coach. Sometimes, he can suggest crazy heroes that I had not thought about recently so it really is just about the balance.
Speaking of the drafts, sometimes you felt like your drafts were a bit off this time around, we’re really curious about the Gyrocopter pick in Game 2. What was the thought process behind it or how did Gyrocopter end up in that lineup?
Well, we haven’t really picked it too much but it’s not like we just pulled it out of a bag without ever practising it. It’s pretty good vs Winter Wyvern as he’s a carry that dishes out a lot of magical damage but the problem with that game was actually that he didn’t get a very good lane. He doesn’t really function as a carry unless he gets a virtually free lane. I think Secret also did a pretty good job of tricking us into lanes that weren’t favourable for us. Furion didn’t really get the ideal lane, neither did Gyro because we went top, and no carry enjoys playing aggro, there’s less XP and less gold overall. We didn’t really pressure anything like we tried to get the T1 by diving with Furion and Chen but the Magnus pulled creeps and it was a good play by FATA and then after like 10 minutes, Gyro was just rubbish tier because they had a PA with Empower and after the game we just knew it was kind of a stupid idea. Sometimes it’s hard to rationalise and you think it could be good but, it’s just hindsight y’know and it’s like “oh my god, why did we pick Gyrocopter”. It makes you feel like you’re playing on a clock and we already had Chen and Furion so we feel like these two heroes are good for tempo but they’re not good for teamfights, they don’t really do anything. They both have global ults and one does a bit of damage while the other is a heal but they don’t really kill heroes for you so we felt like the whole game, we were on a clock. I guess I would say it was a bit of an experiment.
A lot of people have been wondering since TI, why we haven’t been seeing GH KOTL anymore, so perhaps you could tell us about that?
Oh, well, without going into too much detail, I think the teams that study us hard, they make a situation in the early game, even in the mid game, where we aren’t able to push lanes flexibly compared to them and KOTL actually makes it easier. When we pick KOTL, it’s like KOTL is actually gonna carry the game for us even though he’s a support with Aghanims. We think it makes the game very hard for us to adapt because we know the way GH wants to play KOTL and we say “Hey, you might have to adjust the playstyle” and it just kinda shifts into a less luxurious KOTL. You can’t farm as much and stuff and he personally thinks that KOTL is not that good if you’re not gonna let him have all the creeps and get like, Aghanims by 24 minutes and go high ground with that. It’s kinda iffy but yeah we can probably try and make it work but we had stronger heroes at TI like Earthshaker, Io, and Venomancer so we just kinda let it slide and hope that people will get scared of KOTL.
So talking about Io, you’ve picked it twice this event and both times it didn’t really, well, win. Maybe Io wasn’t the problem but do you think the team’s confidence in the hero might be kinda shaken right now?
Oh yeah, definitely. We rarely lost with Io this year, not that we got to play it many times but when we did, we usually had games that were even one-sided so that the opponents usually ban it right afterwards and I think that just kinda what happens when you aren’t allowed to play Io in official games anymore. You just kinda lose your touch with it and we haven’t really played it since like, maybe one or two games during the Group Stages at TI and we thought there must be at least one series where we can play it once during the Main Event but we actually played it zero times. Naturally, what happened I think, is that GH starts practising heroes to force the Io bans and ironically, because we don’t really get to play Io and even in scrims, a lot of teams ban Io against us and it’s less of a mechanic issue and more of us as a team just losing touch with what makes Io good.
So do you think you’re maybe at this point where it’s kind of a mind game where the enemy drafters decide, “we’re gonna let Io through”, make them get this idea that they can pick this hero while knowing that you guys probably haven’t been practicing it or haven’t gotten to play it?
Kind of, maybe. Right now, the heroes that Io has to compete with are pretty rough for Io. Like the position 4 classics are like Night Stalker, Earth Spirit, Earthshaker and these heroes have pretty strong teamfight impact and Io is like, best for playing the game fast but he doesn’t actually make your teamfight stronger directly. So if you think like the VP game, they decided to put the QoP mid and all she had to do was not feed and if they’re patient enough it just comes to a point where the Io is kinda overwhelmed by the QoP and the Lifestealer. They don’t really care about the Io and they can just burst him. I think teams have become more mindful about this and they’re starting to put like, a lot of heroes that suffer much less than conventional heroes. Even last game, Secret put a Necro mid thinking it was gonna be Io + Sven and Io + Sven wouldn’t gonna lose the lane by any means but they’re basically saying “let’s not get snowballed by the Io” and let Io and his partner have like 5 or 6 kills by 10 minutes so it feels like we’re playing a poorer game when we’re playing Io because teams are very paranoid about not letting the Io and his partner have a good game.
Building on that, do you think that after TI, teams are starting to prepare specifically for Liquid a lot more?
Yeah, I mean we definitely feel like things have changed and it almost feels like teams have studied us in a lab and taken aspects of our play and using it against us and also kinda improving it. I assume that most teams have studied us closely since we won TI and so we’ve lost a lot of strategic edge that we had because teams have basically taken our weapons and added their own ideas to it and it’s not like we played perfect Dota at TI, we just had some ideas that we strongly believed in. They take these ideas and implement them in their own team, their own playstyle. Yesterday, when we played against Keen Gaming, I think it’s safe to say that they watched our replays at TI a lot. The way they played and even their drafts were quite similar, it’s fast Dota with Furion for example. It’s pretty hard and maybe for the next few months, we’ll just have to deal with the fact that a lot of teams are prepared for us and that they’re harder to play against because they’re closer or, some might say even surpass us on a strategic level.
Okay, so yesterday, we interview No[o]ne and he said that VP think Enchantress is good against Liquid, in particular. Why do you think that may be?
Um, I think, they did play Enchantress three times against us. Well, they’ve always been one of the strongest early game teams against us. Especially if you let them win lanes, they’ll play the best Dota and I think Enchantress is sorta like Furion in that you can’t really deal with him early game like he beats almost anyone 1v1 and for them, or at least how I interpreted it, they have two Enchantress players, both offlane and position 4 so it’s hard to read. You don’t wanna, for example, commit like a really good carry and support against an offlane Enchantress for them to just put it in the jungle. So that’s where they have an edge, they can essentially semi-win 3 lanes even though winning 3 lanes shouldn’t really happen in Dota but using this idea of ambiguity they could potentially have very good lanes and by default their carry, their mid, and possibly their offlaner because the Enchantress can also empower the offlaner like he can just go there. Even for the trilane, it’s just kinda hard but I don’t really think that the hero is that good overall but for the way that VP play it and the conditions that they want to play, I think I can agree that Enchantress can secure them a lot of things. Laning tends to be quite important like in our last series against Secret, I think laning played a huge part in that.
The new patch is coming out really soon, so is there anything that you or maybe some of the players in the team are looking forward to? Like maybe certain buffs or nerfs or some big changes, perhaps?
I think we’re looking for a lot of buffs actually. The other day we were just looking at the hero list trying to get inspiration for new heroes and then we just realised that so many of them are like, so weak. It’s like you don’t even wanna put in the effort to try and make them work. You just look at it and it’s just so garbage compared to the heroes that people are a lot more willing to pick in the first phase. So maybe a lot of buffs and, I’d say talents are huge, like the meta heroes right now, they tend to have really good talents like if we tier them in ABCD, the heroes are like, you don’t really take a competitive meta hero and just look at him and go like, “this hero is really good despite his shitty talents”. These heroes are like, the talents either make them imba or they just make them feel really good. It’s like you save item slots because you have these talents. *train of thought got interrupted by MC*
Obviously the two new heroes will not be in CM immediately but do you think they might revolutionize the way Dota is played or how do you think they might impact the game, not that we have a lot of info about them?
I mean, yeah, I don’t really know what the heroes are about but maybe they’re introducing heroes to have a new mechanic like a new way of casting spells but I don’t know. But I don’t think it will have an impact on competitive play. Maybe it will have an impact on the potential future because Valve did say at TI7 that they would like to focus more on releasing new heroes. We haven’t really had like, a new hero that’s been ported from Dota 1 so they said they’d like to focus on making new heroes and these heroes will have a sorta impact. I think there are a lot of heroes that exist right now that could be remade, not like completely reworked but just be more fun to play. Heroes in Dota are frankly like, not very fun to play. The game is fun but the heroes themselves are not very fun to play so maybe it could impact competitive play in that way but I doubt that the two new heroes in isolation will affect competitive play other than being imba I guess.
So, speaking of new changes to the game, some of us have been thinking about the current meta where you have heroes like Necro, Io and when we previously had heroes like Alchemist and Necro completely dominating the meta, we’ve always said that for these heroes, the bread and butter counter was always to pick AA so they would normally ban AA. So what we’ve been thinking about is what if Valve introduces something new that interacts like AA ult, potentially a new item or skill or maybe a talent on certain heroes and we wanted to get your thoughts on that.
Well, I think if you want to break out this idea it would have to be an item because AA is completely unique as a hero in that it’s the only hero that affects healing and just takes it out of the game temporarily but I’m not really sure. I think there’s an item in League of Legends that reduces your healing by half or something. I don’t think game concept or design wise it will be fun to be like, “Hey, here’s an item that makes you unable to heal” because y’know some heroes, if they can’t heal, y’know. It is a game after all and it’ll also be a huge nerf to AA because AA doesn’t really have much to offer other than using his ult and saying, “this guy will die if you make his HP low” *laughs*. I don’t know if it’s a good idea honestly, I’ve never really needed to think about the game’s design or philosophy, in that kinda way? Healing, I don’t really think healing is imba per se, some of these so-called green heroes and Io, he’s definitely not OP. Necro is kinda alright like if you guys have noticed, his popularity has reduced a lot and people have figured out how to play against him.
Thanks a lot for the interview.
Interviewers: 2009, ShiaoPi