ShiaoPi sat down with Frank, one of the South African players at WESG, and asked him about the difficulties of trying to play Dota 2 from Africa and how he was trying to overcome those difficulties.
LiquidDota: First of all, thank you for taking the time to take this interview with us. Now, South Africa or Africa in general is not a very well-known region in Dota 2. Do you mind giving us a rundown of the South African scene? What are the things South Africa or Africa in general need to get on the level of other regions?
For us it’s pretty hard geographically. Cause if you are living in South Africa, the only server you can play on is Europe and even then you have to play on 200 ping. So it’s a bit unfortunate. What we have done is two of us last year, actually 3 of us, we moved to South East Asia to go and look for teams. Because we already got highish MMR on Europe. So… I mean basically what we’d need is sponsors that would send us overseas. Because I think it is not viable for us to have other people come to our country. And we first have to put out the mention that we do have players that want to and are able to play internationally.
There are a few of us, I think out of the 4 or 5 of us that went overseas one got Top 100 or whatever ranked. Of course it does not mean too much, rank is not everything. It’s also like team environment. So it is just getting experience and proper team environments.
LD: So would you like to see Valve adding more support to Africa, like dedicated servers?
Frank: Uhm...we have an extremely small player base. So I don't think actually having a ranked system on South Africa is good. I think they had one and already removed it. Because it was just being abused by bots. I don’t think it is viable. I mean to be honest I would just like to have tier 2 tournaments or smaller tournaments. If there was some way for South Africans to play in them. I’m not talking about Minors or Majors, just like local tournaments. Because in SEA there are quite a few local tournaments. If you had like 3 Indonesian players or whatever you could play in local Indonesian tournaments. So I think if there could be some way for South Africa to be incorporated into like one of those leagues or something. Even if it is just like, you get one slot whatever. But I don't know, I feel like it is quite hard because our player-base is very small.
LD: Now for a question more related to the ongoing WESG. How much does it mean for you to be representing your country in a tournament modeled on the Olympic games.
Frank: WESG for us South Africans, it is more like a chance to get recognized internationally. The chance is still small, because it is mainly just regional teams. It’s like VP+1 guy. So it is not always like teams at their full power or whatever. So it is not a very good standing. I think for me WESG is just like... it is nice to go to China, you can go and play in a proper tournament. And I think it can be good exposure for some players, considering some have gotten high ranks and are playing in some alright tier 2/3 teams. It’s like there is a chance that someone from another region notices you and then maybe they just ask you to try out or something similar to that. It is mainly just exposure I think.
LD: So is this actually your first time in China?
Frank: Yes, for me it is my first time. For 2 of my other teammates it is their first time in China as well.
LD: Was it a big adjustment environment-wise to go to a foreign place like China?
Frank: I don’t think it is too much. Because like we were staying in Malaysia. So I was staying in Malaysia, two of my teammates are in Thailand. So it is not too foreign, it’s not like super foreign. We are sort of used to living in another country for a bit.
LD: So looking forward a bit to South Africa’s development. Do you think you can improve the level of your team right now until you can compete even with the ping disadvantage?
Frank: I mean currently in our team, we are not really a team per se. It is more like just a stack for WESG. But I think even if...there are just some heroes you can’t play with on 200 ping. Like if you have Puck, Morphling or some heroes. Most people refuse to play on anything above 100 ping. So I don’t know, I don’t think South Africa will get to a stage where it is viable to become a pro player in any place. Your player base is just restricted by the fact that nobody wants to play ranked and improve because to do that you have to play on 200 ping. Like why would you want to play with 200 ping if you can just play unranked for fun. Like when you first get into a game you don’t think about playing competitively it’s more just for fun.
LD: Speaking more of the current meta. We have seen a lot of adjustments specifically to Hand of Midas. First of all what do you think is the main appeal of Midas on almost everyone. What makes Midas this strong on the current patch?
Frank: I think there is like 4-5 main reasons. Firstly they reduced melee creep bounty in lane and also removed an ancient camp. So there is just less gold overall on the map. They made experience changes to your levels 7,8,9 and 10 I think. So the experience bonus is worth more. And I think the meta slowed down a little so it is not just...I mean it is still sort of fast paced but I think there is more fighting but I don’t think you can just buy a Battlefury. I think you have to have a Midas. You have to get like an early farming item. And then you can still fight and you are always guaranteed to get a certain amount of gold a minute. So it is effectively just increasing your GPM without you having to go completely go into Battlefury and then you can’t buy some aura items or something similar so that you can’t actually fight.
LD: I see. Do you personally like the way the meta is right now? With the slightly slowed down speed and a higher focus on timings and then pushing at those timings where you have the advantage on items or levels depending on the heroes?
Frank: Uhm..I mean it depends. I think it is also very lane dependent. Because it feels kind of hard to come back into the game sometimes. Like sometimes people have a Midas but they still get the timings around the same time as you do and they have them with a Midas. So their mid to late game is more secure. I don’t know, I’d prefer if the game is even slower paced. Cause I think like now aura items are still very strong, you still see a lot of people buying Crimson Guard, Pipe, Greaves…
LD: The team fight power items basically.
Frank: Yeah. So I don’t know maybe just like if it could slow down a little more. But currently you are seeing some people start picking Spectre again, so I am not really sure. I think it just depends on drafts but I think it would not hurt to slow down even a little more.
LD: Something unrelated to the current meta, have you had a chance to try Mars yet?
Frank: No, I have just been playing…
LD: Just scrimming?
Frank: We didn’t actually even scrim. Yeah, it is a bit weird like our first game together was literally our first game. But I have had one guy in one of my pubs play Mars and he was very underwhelming. Probably because he was bad at the hero.
LD: Thank you very much and good luck further!