Virtus.pro's Dota 2 coach Ivan "ArtStyle" Antonov answered Cybesport.com's questions on the topic of CIS-region's problems, Chinese qualifiers specifics and his readiness to perform in WESG as a player.
– What did Virtus.pro learn in the TI7? What did the team change, what did they learn after such a tournament?
– It's hard to answer – there weren't any tournaments after the TI7 yet. We just played qualifiers. For instance – the Bucharest qualifications: we gathered in two days, didn't have enough time to set up usual communications and were just warming up in terms of our gameplay. As a matter of fact, it's a good thing that we ended up not going to Bucharest. Otherwise, we'd have too many tournaments in one month and too little time to prepare for any of them. To add to this, Minors award very few points – although it was revealed only after the registration.
– What allowed you to put yourself together so quickly and smash the opposition in other qualifiers?
– Even if you aren't in "the zone" yet, any defeat will frustrate, wake up and motivate you. We all arrived at the Hamburg Major qualifiers angered and motivated, we didn't even think about defeat. We talked a lot, mentally preparing each other. If something goes wrong, any player can stand up and say: "Guys, what's going on? Let's pull ourselves together!". We played quite poorly in the Bucharest qualifications, and Team Empire performed well over its course. That's not a big deal – the important thing is that we quickly regained our form and confidently qualified for the season's first Major.
– Thoughts on CIS-region's condition?
– I think it's in a quite poor condition and is outranked by everyone except South America in the season's start. The reshuffle was beneficial only for Na'Vi, so they'll be the ones participating in the Bucharest Minor. Vega also performed a seemingly good reshuffle but didn't show their hand yet. At the moment, the strongest region is China. The competition for a single slot is as brutal as in the TI. America has EG, coL and other interesting mixes, and one of the upcoming tournaments' favorites just showed up in Europe – Team Secret. They badly needed a top-tier carry, so Ace and his hero pool really fit the team. The same can be said about Fata – he's originally one of my favorite mid-laners. He's incredibly versatile, has great map movement and as a result, can act unpredictably. He was revealed to be an offlaner – he'll be sowing chaos together with Ace and MidOne. All in all, they have a great, promising line-up.
– You reckon that CIS-region is in a bad state at the start of the season. Is this a downside for Virtus.pro?
– We practice with Liquids, Secrets, etc. anyway. Furthermore, we're about to participate in the first tournaments where we'll play against the top teams of every region. We'll check everything out personally. What about CIS – it seems that all the teams had too much of a blast on their vacations. I think if Team Empire pull themselves together and regain their form, they'd demonstrate positive results.
– V1lat thinks that Virtus.pro should be directly invited to tournaments since you don't allow other CIS teams to qualify anywhere. Is that true?
– V1lat is, undoubtedly, a great guy, but we need to step back for a moment. If we get a direct invite, that means we'd have to take it away from China – and if that would happen, they'd only send one team to LANs. And their qualifiers would be more akin to ten hungry people fighting over a bone. And these ten hungry people are LFY, and LGD, and NewBee. It has to be balanced out: two invites for upcoming tournaments have to go to Liquids and a single Chinese team. It would be fair because an event for an eight participants has to have at least two Chinese teams. Highly doubt that teams that currently participate in Majors could be able to qualify for at least a single Minor in China over a whole year. I pity China because of that.
– What do you think about a new tournament system with so many Majors?
– We were a bit fed up after two weeks of continuous qualifiers during our bootcamp. We played same teams every single day, without any breaks. That's boring, exhausting; it takes away the desire to play Dota 2. Because of it, sometimes we played unfocused because the enemy had nothing else to show. It's much better to visit only Majors and finish them top-4, ending the season in the TI8 with the new system.
– Does the new system change anything for coaches?
– Personally, I enjoy the significant amount of tournaments, travels, and practice. I like that I can go into players booths at least during the pick phase. It makes rushed, emotional picks go away, at least. On the TI7 guys themselves learned to do it all in a calm and calculated manner, but if something slips through, I would be able to stop it.
– RAMZES666 changed Solo on pick phase. Why?
– Partly because RAMZES spent his entire vacation playing with little downtime. He's familiar with the new heroes and picks. RAMZES knows how to properly draft them. He wanted to show his fresh ideas. Of course, we gave the pick to him - it's much easier this way.
– What do you expect from a new Valve's patch?
– We want a new patch as soon as possible, very looking forward to it. Dota needs to be refreshed; the game is in decline. It was keenly noticeable during our two-week bootcamp. Everything's the same, which makes it not interesting. Before we played against Team Empire once per month, and now we played them nine times. I think nobody bothered to watch our last game. Everyone's so over the current patch: Solo abandoned the pick because he's bored of seeing same heroes all over again. I think we'll quickly adapt to the new patch. Our players are quick to find everything out and test it. All we do is talk about Dota 2 and comps. We'll not take long to find hero compositions and drafts and understand what's strong, what's weak. If Valve does a great job, a new patch would refresh Dota 2 and give it a great head start.
– Who do you want to play the most in the Hamburg Major?
– Team Liquid. We want to play another best-of-3 and 100-minute map with them. We'd also like to meet Team Secret as well, as they have a great and motivated play style. I'd say they're on the same level with the Chinese, if not better.
– You're in Team Ukraine's roster for WESG. How would you rate your in-game form, how strong as a player are you?
– I actually didn't lose any game-sense, quite the opposite – I learned a lot together with the guys. Thanks to our never-ending discussions I understand Dota 2 really well. My hands are not rusty, and I'm gradually getting into "the zone." My role is Support. Thankfully, this position doesn't require too much of a button pushing, so I'll manage.
Author: Gleb Chernyavskiy