“I believe that we are fully capable of the top 8 at [TI]”, - Alliance.Fng.
Source: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1056037613 - (15.06.21) (by Olsior)
Artsiom "fng" Barshak, Alliance support, spoke to Mykhailo "Olsior" Zvieriev (Maincast caster and host) about the team’s WePlay AniMajor issues, sharing ideas on what makes China so strong this season and breaks down the CIS region’s consistent weakness.
— Let’s get straight to the important thing, saying it as it is - what happened at the Major? Why did you fail so hard?
— To be frank, going hard on analysis, it’s because we won 1 game out of 5. In the remaining 4 our ancient fell, making it very hard to continue playing. To the point though I obviously won’t be going into the team’s inside details, but our problem is generally the same as it has been - mostly in the preparation. The reason for our poor preparation is a bit different in comparison to the last Major, but putting it simply - we just played poorly. Answering exactly why is the team’s own personal business, as is working on not allowing this to happen again. We still have two more chances so to speak - ESL One Summer 2021 and The International 10. I guess we’ll see there.
— Speaking subjectively, in the best case scenario, playing on your best day with your best drafts - how far could Alliance get at TI?
— Well, we played well like twice so far, during online qualifiers. But we would definitely be able to roll into top 8, from there things will be tough. You can tell that meta shifts a bit during the tournament, looking at how this Major went. From there everything depends on how you will perform in terms of preparation, not allowing any tilt and so on. But I believe that we are fully capable of making it to the top 8. The rest will depend on other factors.
— Why do you think China played worse than Europe during the last two seasons before TIs, but now it all switched?
— I was thinking about that and had a conversation some time ago about how Chinese teams always played very well when they had a lot of closed practice within their own region. This is exactly what is going on with how the world is right now. Back during the ancient times of TI1,2,3,4 there were very few big international tournaments, while China always had big events within their own region.
When you were flying there to play against them, you really felt like they were some kind of Dota monsters. Later we started getting all those consistent Majors and it was becoming easier and easier to play against China. Plus there were only so many slots per region, so not every top team could attend every time. Here Europe and America started to very quickly adapt to China and later Europe was the one dictating the meta. Right now China has closed up once again and now when they come to the Majors they play in a very distinct fashion from what is going on in Europe. America also does a bit of its own thing, but China is beating everyone up for now.
— What is so distinct about China’s play, what are their strengths?
— Taking PSG.LGD during AniMajor as an example, it’s about Dota basics. They can afford to make a few mistakes during the laning stage, because they understand the fundamentals on what to do to get the game into the late stage. I’ve watched a lot of LGD’s replays, and there were a few times where a slightly weaker team would’ve likely lost, but LGD by pure skill pulled into late game where they started to come back. There are a ton of details in tier 1 Dota that either lead you to your win condition or force the enemy to make mistakes.
Game 4 of grand finals EG vs LGD: Abed’s Templar Assassin snowballed in mid thanks to a slightly better creep block, but NothingToSay’ Death Prophet took down a tower top. On a basic level it was just a way to make use of the Exorcism ultimate, but then EG answered with the same mid, because they can’t defend top against DP, creating a situation about who makes more mistakes from here. That’s where TA happened to die three times in a row in five minutes, in a position where she could’ve snowballed into winning the game solo. Moments like those is how LGD managed to outplay many strong teams.
— Did you sense any feeling of futility when you faced LGD yourselves?
— If I remember correctly, game 2 was a complete disaster. We made mistakes twice around minute 10 and it got really hard to play. But in game 1 from our point of view, it felt like we had more control of the game than them, but then we watched the replay and saw only a mere 2k gold advantage. It felt like we were controlling the map, pressuring towers and so on but the graphs were even. This is telling of a team’s level. It felt like we were leading, the enemy have no towers, we started hitting the second Roshan, it had low health and their Snapfire lasthits the Rosh, Morph Waveforms in taking everything and we are sitting there like: “Whelp, I guess that’s enough of Dota for us here”.
— Could you tell us a bit of your experience working with coach Peter "ppd" Dager? Did it trip you over losing him before the Major?
— Well… we’re told to not talk too much on the topic due to the infamous conflict. I can say that certain process happened, because when we took Ppd it was working one way until rules changed, but I think working with him is beneficial for us we are still looking for the perfect compromise [Ppd officially left Alliance the day after this interview].
— You must’ve played scrims with CIS teams so who do you think are CIS TI qualifiers favorites in your opinion?
— We were losing all our scrims, so I don’t even know if my appraisal would be accurate. But in my own personal observation, if Team Spirit won’t fall apart they are one of very few teams who can bring the fight to the new Na`Vi. Frankly, I wasn’t paying all that much attention to CIS qualifiers, I have almost no idea.
— You’ve left CIS region a while ago now, did you think about what is the problem of the region as you can now see from the outside? Why do CIS team constantly underperform on big events?
— I think in a previous interview with you I said something about how I don’t like how things work in CIS and how my mentality better fits Europe. But with all that, this DPC season almost had three South American teams directly qualify to TI with one more guaranteed from regional quals. Just think about that. Being blunt, one or three years ago having anyone from SA winning a map at a Major was considered a success. Now they almost got four teams into TI. This kinda thing makes you realize how many juvenile players CIS has. I mean no offence, people play their own way.
We had a time in history where we had one tier 1 team and one more who constantly surprised at big events. We had a certain CIS style that only CIS understood how to play. Right now, looking at the same VP, they play their own style, not CIS style. I’m getting to the point about how South America is at their top game because they play how they want to play, they don’t mimic anybody else. Beastcoast Héctor Antonio "K1" Rodríguez, Thunder Predator Alonso "Mnz" León and NoPing William "hFn" Medeiros all run 4+1 style, nobody else does.
The third factor, though I’m not sure I correctly recognized it, is that all Chinese\European teams have at least one tier 1 player with experience, either coach or captain. CIS didn’t have that for the last four years. Why I mean 4 years: even VP’s golden roster with Ramzes, N[o]one, 9Pasha, Lil, Solo didn’t show amazing results right away, and later they were joined by ArtStyle who won something in his career. I didn’t play with them so I can’t say how ArtStyle fixed everything or something, but that’s essentially the kind of player I’m talking about.
Tier 1 player knowledge is an extremely unique kind. Playing with Gustav "s4" Magnusson who won TI in the same team (despite seeing a lot of critique directed to him from CIS) I can see how much impact he can and does provide in a game. Then Ppd came and brought a lot of cool stuff, the kind of things you might be instinctively aware of, but never thinking about how to structure it efficiently. Tier 1 knowledge is essential and where would it come from in CIS outside of trial and error? I don’t know how long CIS will need to lose in Majors to get a new strong team, but it won’t appear out of thin air that’s for sure. Having some way to transfer that knowledge would’ve sped up development of the tier 1 players I’ve talked about, but all this time we really only had ArtStyle. There is Airat "Silent" Gaziev, coach of Team Spirit, who used to be one of the best in CIS, which means he can lead some team to the top of the region at least.
— European TI qualifiers. Easy for Nigma or not?
— I would pick Nigma vs Team Liquid finals for sure. But EU quals never had any free runs outside of the Team Secret in the first DPC. Everybody could lose to everybody, they had a lot of 2-1 matches. I do lean towards Nigma, but Liquid could easily do it. Can’t write off Tundra Esports either. Who knows how OG will do. Viking are looking kinda weird to me, switching their offlaner to Maurice "KheZu" Gutmann, I think they lost their charm. It takes time to come up with a new style after a roster shift.