DM: «We have some of the strongest players in the region»

- Before recording the interview, VP.Prodigy had been playing scrims in the middle of 7.26b release. What patch have you played on? If the new one, did you feel the difference?

- We’ve played one set of scrims on the old patch and one on the new patch. There’s way fewer items in the Shop as, obviously, they aren’t dropping on the 15th minute anymore. They also added a new deny sound. HP and Damage buffs for T2 Towers lead to gameplay where you play around T1, take the first set of Towers and just farm around the enemy's T2 and stifle the opponent's economy. You have to play smarter around Towers now. Also, safelane became stronger because of Tower’s HP regen.

- Not so long ago you were mostly known as “that guy from the esports academy”. How do you want to be known in a couple of years?

- As one of the highlighted players on the third position on the pro scene. I would like to be the best CIS player of my role.

- What makes a player in your position great?

- Map understanding. Players on the third need to understand how to create space for their cores. This is where, say, Zai shines. He can die on the opposite side of the map but create an enormous amount of space for his 1-2s doing that. I’m trying to learn how to create space for my team and make correct split-second decisions around the map.

- What other offlaners can you highlight?

- I’m following different players on certain heroes. For instance, I’m paying close attention to Mind Control and Ceb on Nature’s Prophet and Axe. These two are top-notch offlaners. I researched Zai’s playstyle a lot trying to understand the way he creates space.

- Resolut1on isn’t half bad on Axe nowadays, too!

- That’s because they now have a carry they needed. Igor spectacularly fits into the role of an aggressive 1st that doesn’t need too much farm. 

- You played on midlane before your arrival to HR. Why have you decided to switch roles?

- Starting from 2017, I’ve played a ton, had 8k MMR, and was consistently in a top-10 while playing carry. Back then I wanted to play on the 1st as I believed that I can beat everyone, I’m high-ranked - I’m good! But there were so many carries around that breaking through to anything was impossible. To get a spot anywhere, I had to learn how to stay mid and switch to that role. 

At first, I played my usual Morphling, Terrorblade, and Phantom Lancer in mid, slowly transitioning towards more classic midlaners. That’s when I started finding teams as a midlaner. However, at one point I realized that I either play a hard carry like TB or Lancer or become a glorified support. There wasn’t anything in between. The last team I played in before changing roles had me playing as a utility midlaner: Kunkka with Halberd/Vessel, Sand King with Lotus Orb, Venomancer… Quite a revolting hero pool I’ve had. Just like Liquid’s Matumba’s. 

When that season ended, I was invited to play offlane in another team as they saw me having good space-creating heroes in my hero pool already. I was interested, so I agreed.

- What is your comfort role? If you were the captain and were building a team only with your own comfort in mind, what would you be looking at while practicing your hero pool: farm, spacing, push, splitpush?

- I’m most comfortable creating space for my teammates, but this doesn’t mean I’m immune to finding farm around the map. If two other cores aren’t playing greedy heroes, I can farm.

- You keep adding other players’ names to your own IGN (Save-, Bryle). Is that some digital token of respect?

- They’re just my friends. Save- goes without saying, Bryle also is a good friend of mine.

- Let’s talk about your North American friends: who invited you to stand-in for Chaos? Did it take a long time for you to give them the answer?

- That was during The Summit. We lost to Chaos and realized that those were the last days of that roster. Chaos’ manager approached me right in front of my teammates and invited me to the team. I accepted that invite nearly right off the bat since V-Tune, a player I really look up to, was leaving the team at that time.

- What were you up to after Chaos?

- We practiced together with VP.Prodigy. I contacted Egor and Vitaly right away and we agreed to play together.

- On which phase of roster formation did you end up on VP.Prodigy?

- After the Major (DreamLeague Season 13) Egor, Save- and I contacted each other and discovered what’s the situation inside our teams. I was told that VP will be creating a new roster. Finding a support 5th was pretty easy. Albert is an old acquaintance of ours - Egor and I played with him in Team Underdogs 2 years ago. Finding a midlaner was much more of a challenge. We couldn’t find a midlaner skilled enough at the moment. For instance, epileptick1d has two accounts: one in top-10, one in top-30. We open up our potential midlaner list and see them down in 150th place. Egor vetoed these players outright. Many midlaners aren’t experienced or quick-witted enough. It’s hard to find people that would meet all your demands in Dota. But we were lucky enough to make this team work in the end.

- What’s the team attitude toward fn? Do you see him as just a teammate or more of a mentor?

- Everyone listens to Rostislav’s input since he’s the most experienced out of all of us, but we talk as equals. And him being a stand-in doesn’t change our communication one bit. We banter all the time, like: “fn, No[o]ne never dies 1 v 1 on mid against 19teen, guess we’ll have to take mellojul”. And he fires back: “Lasthero would be 20-0 on Axe by now. Learn to play.”

- Is this team any different from the others you’ve played in?

- There are way more personal friends than before. The main difference is that this roster is the youngest team I’ve ever played in. The young blood, Egor and Vitaly, are very passionate about the game and it motivates everyone to try their best.

- What’s the secret of VP.P’s convincing debut?

- We have some of the strongest players in the region when it comes to micro. That’s the first thing you notice. It’s just the nature of Dota - winning lanes means making the game much easier. That’s how we won a lot of our games.

- What must happen to convince you that you do need a coach?

- It’s a funny story. We don’t really need a coach per se, but I have a friend who used to work with Winstrike’s young lineup. He asked me if he can try working with us and the guys agreed for a test. He’s working with us more of a psychologist than a coach, but we have other candidates for that role we’ll be considering.

- What do you need in a coach?

- We don’t need any help in our micro and map understanding. We’re competent enough to know drafts. I’d say we need a person that would help us improve our team communication.

- Judging from the recent TeamSpeak recording of VP.P, epileptick1d and fn make the majority of in-game calls. How many calls do you usually make?

- 1st and 2nd positions make the calls during the fights as they’re responsible for focusing. The best I can say is that I’m going to CC someone. Egor is a very emotional player who talks a lot during teamfights. Trying to talk over him would make a mess. But if we take an overall duration of the match, supports and I make a lot of calls. The cores farm before the 15th minute and we try to adapt to them. They start calling as well as soon as they get their items. We make the macro calls, and cores make the micro calls.

- Besides VP, what team were you most uncomfortable facing?

- I wouldn’t say there were any. We were well-prepared to all our opponents. I’d say that we’d be interested in playing against HellRaisers as they’re looking strong right now. Personally, I’d like to face NaVi. Our scrims against them always go weird! Either of us usually loses the scrim games during the draft phase, so I want to play an official match with them to gauge their real strength.

- How to beat VP in their current form?

- You have to have a cool 22nd pick on mid that would counter No[o]ne and then aggressively work around your strong lanes. Losing lanes is unacceptable. The same goes for our team - you need to at least tie the lanes or outright win them. When we faced VP, we messed up with our midlane heroes and didn’t leave the last pick for fn. Our sidelanes held their own micro-wise.

- How do you like the current meta?

- The lack of options for the 3rd and 4th positions’ hero pools is very disappointing. Some heroes are completely unviable because they have alternatives that are 10 times as strong. Mid has a wide variety, on carry you can play active heroes like Riki and Bristleback, or farmers like Naga and PL. For the 3rd, you have Pangolier, Mars, Centaur, and Beastmaster, and the rest are underpowered. Same goes for 4th: you have SD, Phoenix, Grimstroke, Rubick. The others “4ths” are just not worth picking.

- If you guys needed to give an interview in English, who would be your representative?

- Why, Rostislav, of course! He knows it really well since he attended English courses. He’s quite a debate opponent! I, too, can speak English freely since I used to play in America.

- Did you learn the language before joining Chaos?

- Yes. I used to travel a lot. I’ve been to France, Italy - and you’re dead in the water without English here.

- Any other games you play besides Dota?

- Just World of Warcraft. Good for killing time during the quarantine.

- What are your global goals you’d like to reach before the season ends?

- Claiming the highest positions in tournaments. I, personally, am motivated by money. I want to win tournaments and make cash. Trophies and winning are all the same to me.