"When I have some vacation time, then I kind of feel the desire to play again, more and more. I’m like, “Y’know, I’ve been away from my computer for a week now, I kind of feel like playing Dota”, and that helps me personally."
Copyright: ESL | Helena Kristiansson
First of all, thanks for agreeing to do this interview.
EG’s had a really successful tournament so far, maybe a shaky day yesterday, so let’s talk about that. Was it, to put it figuratively, just waking up on the wrong side of the bed?
Haha. Yesterday, people definitely weren’t as focused in the morning and it’s always a bit weird when you’re playing knowing there’s not much on the line. We had already secured first seed and it’s not a good mentality to have but people just weren’t as focused as they were in the previous days and it didn’t mean we messed around, but we didn’t play as sharply as we normally would. So yeah, waking up on the wrong side of the bed. :D
Let’s talk a bit about your last tournament before this event, the Adrenaline Cyber League, what happened against Team Spirit?
I wasn’t actually playing in that LAN, it was BuLba standing in for me but the rest of the players were the same. I was just doing some other stuff so I can’t really comment too much. It was a new patch you know, so everybody was just having some fun.
You had a lot of success with OG, with Ceb’s coaching, what’s the difference between BuLba and Ceb’s coaching styles?
I think we had a lot of success with Ceb as a coach and I think he’s a great Dota mind and I definitely think BuLba is very different in terms of his style. He focuses on different things in the game and it’s just like every coach does something different for the team. I think BuLba is also a very good person to have around, he’s really good friends with the players and brings the morale up and makes people happy and that’s very good to have on a team. BuLba’s not just in the game but also outside of it.
Beyond that, what’s the team’s atmosphere been like with the supposed calmness that you and s4 both bring to the team? Are you maybe getting carried away as well sometimes?
I would say that we both have different personalities but we’re also a bit older than the other players and I think we just have a different outlook on things. I’m personally a very calm person, you could say it’s really hard to tilt me, and I think it’s some stability that helps players like Artour and SumaiL who can get a bit emotional even though they’re fine most of the time. I definitely got myself carried away sometimes, and we’re all having fun making jokes and stuff. When we have matches, however, people know that we need some stability and they know I’m gonna be there. It’s the same for s4 most of the time. He also likes to goof around, though.
Cr1t- was the captain of EG in the past and he’s been able to focus a lot more on his own gameplay with you coming in as a captain. Would you say he has more input in terms of drafting and overall strategy execution with his experience?
I would say Cr1t- kind of chooses how he wants to be implemented into the draft meaning that he has the knowledge, on top of his experience as both captain and drafter. Most of the time, if he trusts me, then he doesn’t feel like he has to impose his ideas so much. Of course, he will have input, especially on his own hero, and overall strategy-wise he definitely helps. Every player has a sane draft, in one way or another. I definitely feel like he leaves more room for me to take control even though he has his own ideas. In the end, you wanna have one idea and everyone follows that one idea. You don’t wanna have too many ideas running around.
Getting into the details of the game, let’s start with memes: Arteezy and cliffing. In the past, casters, at least, have attributed this cliff ward in the Radiant top jungle to you, calling it the Fly ward, especially when it won you the Kiev Major. Would you think that maybe your apparent inclination to cliff wards contributes to Arteezy getting increasingly cliffed in the last year?
I mean it’s definitely a bit of a meme running around and it doesn’t really affect us. Sometimes we will joke around about it, but it could happen to any player and there’s only specific heroes that can cliff you. You’re not always gonna play against that type of hero and I think that pretty much every team places those wards if they wanna take control over a certain area. I think it’s really common now and it’s definitely not just me, everybody does it. It’s just a bit of people pointing out that Arteezy is the one who has been cliffed because he’s a really popular player, casters like to say his name, and it kind of amplifies it. I have seen games where other players have been cliffed but it’s not as noticed so it is a bit of a meme but I don’t think it has any direct relation to that specific point.
You picked Riki yesterday, what was the idea behind that pick?
Well, that game we knew nothing was on the line for either team and we thought about trying something different. It wasn’t just a mindless idea and we thought that maybe Mag + Riki would be an interesting combo to try. There’s been some buffs for both heroes so we decided to try it and they picked stuff like Monkey King and we ended up putting it middle and it wasn’t originally part of the plan. It turned out sorta okay and we definitely had a way to win that game. The Riki didn’t shine as much as we wanted it to, but we still got to experiment with it.
You’ve picked Visage a few times this tournament, is there something about the hero that makes you think it’s good, at least as a support, now?
It was definitely a bit of an experiment. The first time I picked it here I hadn’t actually played it before at all. I used to really like Visage as a hero and we thought it might just be interesting and the first game we tried it we had a Drow, and Drow + Visage is an old-school strategy so it had more synergy. The second time we picked it, we didn’t have the Drow because it was banned in the second phase and the hero definitely felt less impactful. The birds don’t do as much damage anymore and we even tested it in a lobby if Rubick Fade Bolts my birds, he takes literally zero damage so that was quite amusing. The hero does have magic resistance though, and in some games he can be really tanky so he could potentially be a support that frontlines for you and takes away a lot of the damage. There’s good and bad but I’m still undecided on how good the hero is so I’m probably gonna play it some more in my pubs and decide when it’s actually good.
In terms of his talents, most players think you choose talents based on personal preference. Which of the later talents do you think is better, usually, if you even get to that point in the game?
Most of the players I’ve seen usually take cast range because you don’t normally get to hit and it also depends on whether you’re a core Visage or a support. If you’re a core with a Drow, you might actually hit a lot with the hero and you might even go Treads and take damage talents. As a support, I usually look more towards the XP gain [talent] because I’m probably not gonna be as high level, cast range just so I can get my slow and nukes off, and I would probably end up taking birds talents most of the game but you know, Dota’s a situational game and anything can change. You often just feel it in the game, what you wanna go for.
What about Treant Protector, what do you think of the hero at the moment?
I think Treant got some interesting buffs but I don’t think we’ve seen a lot of it in the tournament so far. We played it once and I believe another team played it once or twice. I think the buffs definitely make him more viable again. The previous version of Treant was very hard to play and that’s one of the reasons you love Dota, though, because every hero has its place. I think people are still experimenting but I will say this change definitely makes him much more viable than before. If you see a good Treant game, like Living Armour has a lot of value, and he’s still very strong at Level 1, so I think the hero definitely has his place.
I talked to xNova earlier about the changes to the wards this patch. For him, he said the limitation on sentries was a bit of a nerf to him, but what are your thoughts on it?
I think most support players look at other support players as well. They look at how they ward and how they play, at least I know that I do. I think the change is definitely good in a sense, because I don’t feel like the sentries have changed that much until it comes to the later stages in the game because at that stage of the game, everyone’s really grouped up and your support’s gonna buy like 10 sentries and just drop them everywhere so they know there’s no vision on you. That aspect is kind of changed now though because you can’t do that as much. I kind of like the change because it promotes a different way of playing and it also allows supports to get more items because wards are cheaper and they want supports to have a bigger impact overall. Now you get the tome as well, you get two tomes and everything is leading towards supports having more impact. At least that’s my feeling about it, so I think that it’s a good change.
A few weeks ago, GranDGranT talked about how supports keep getting buffs and they’re constantly scaling better and better into the late game. Do you think that’s a good or a bad change?
I think it’s a good change because of course I’m the one playing those heroes. I do think supports were pretty limited especially because there was only one tome. Experience was kind of hard to get in the previous patch. A lot of the games, you would see like the pos 4, he gets the tome and he gets his six, and the pos 5 some games you would see him be level four at 12 mins into the game. You add a side to it, you had to pick supports that didn’t rely on their ultimate's as much and I used to play a lot of Bane and Witch Doctor, they rely less on their ultimate's. I think it is definitely a good step for Dota and makes it a lot more interesting, and there’s a lot more heroes you can pick now. Suddenly we’re seeing a lot of Warlock, of course he got buffed, but now you also get a tome so he’s actually gonna have his Rock.
Moving out of the game again, what would you say EG’s goals at this tournament really are? Is it just feeling out the patch or much more?
Well, I definitely think that most teams came here, like you said, with no real expectations. I know I haven’t been able to play Dota until I came here, actually. Of course I want to win the tournament so I’m not gonna purposely try to experiment too much but if we have an idea that we think might be good and it’s new to this patch then of course we’ll go with it. The goal is still to win but ultimately it is to learn and improve towards EPICENTER because that is the bigger tournament. I do think it’s a lot of fun here, though, just because it’s like pretty much all the top teams are here. Virtus.Pro ended up not coming but all the top teams in the DPC besides them are here so this is the best practice and the most fun games we can get.
There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding NA in terms of its strength as a region and some people are even calling EG a European team, so what do you think about that, and that one slot was cut from NA and added to the Minor?
I definitely think it’s a bit of a tricky situation because you have to think about who would get the other slot. They did it so that two teams go through from the Minor but if you didn’t give it to NA, the second candidate, a lot of people would argue for, would be SEA. Some people claim Europe but I think having a region with four slots seems a bit too much to me even though there’s a lot of amazing teams from Europe. There are arguments for both sides and of course having an extra slot is nice but I mostly question the system as a whole. You have a lot of teams like Secret and ourselves and PSG.LGD who consistently place very high in Majors and then they have to go and play the qualifiers, and I think that is more of the fault here. I would like to see a change in the next year where it might be a little different where maybe a certain placing in a tournament will automatically qualify you. That is the bigger thing and NA in general, as a region has a lot of good players but the teams are not stable, unfortunately. A lot of the tournaments up until recently, you would have teams like Forward who would place between 8th-12th usually and then you have SEA teams like Fnatic who were doing better but the last Major they didn’t have a good run. You kind of look at the placements and you know, it’s up to Valve to decide in the end. They choose what they wanna do.
So speaking of the DPC system in general, there’s this massive gap between qualifiers and the next Major. We know you have been going on vacations a lot and whatnot, what advice would you give to other pro players in terms of taking better care of their health and well being?
I mean Dota’s a very taxing game, especially for pro players. You have to be able to get some stability in your life and find something else to keep your mind fresh and motivated because it’s easy to lose motivation and feel very bad after a loss. For me, I like to set myself goals like a long-term goal and a more short-term goal and that kind of helps me stay fresh. When I have some vacation time, then I kind of feel the desire to play again, more and more. I’m like, “Y’know, I’ve been away from my computer for a week now, I kind of feel like playing Dota”, and that helps me personally. Every person’s gonna be different but you have to be able to take some time off for yourself.
Alright, thank you very much for this interview again and good luck with the rest of the tournament.
Oh, my pleasure. Maybe we’ll get better than 3rd this time, who knows? We’ll find out tomorrow.