epileptick1d: «Dota is all about individual skill»

This Monday VP.P are ready to dive headfirst into the action after a six week hiatus. Before the series start, we had the pleasure of chatting with the roster's carry about tournament prep, new patch, and motivation mentality.

- You’ve been playing scrims right before this interview. Who are you practicing with now?

- We’re practicing with any strong team we can get ahold of: Alliance, NaVi, NiP, Vikin.gg, OG, FTM.

- Are there any teams that refuse to play with you, or maybe some you refuse to play with?

- Not sure about the teams that refuse to play with us, I don’t think there are any. And the teams we refuse to play with… We don’t want to scrim mid-tier teams, but sometimes it’s a necessity.

- What are your efforts like in scrims?

- Everyone is trying hard, we make good drafts. Obviously, official games have more motivation to try your best. Scrims aren’t a priority for me, personally.

- So what’s your winrate in scrims? An urban legend says that the worse you do in scrims, the better you do in official matches.

- Our scrims winrate is pretty high. We understand the patch pretty well, so we’ve been testing some stuff lately. We haven’t played in some while, so we’re all thirsty for victories.

- What are some of the biggest changes in the latest patch you can highlight?

- Compared to 7.26, basic XP gains for hero kills changed dramatically. Right now, last hitting creeps and stacking neutrals is very profitable. New Outposts that you can’t capture right away made Tier-2 towers more valuable. Also, the CM-mode draft phase saw some changes. Let alone the fact that many heroes were buffed and returned to meta.

- How will the newest patch affect the preparation phase? Save- recently mentioned that on paper, the first draft phase will now require a little bit less prep than before.

That’s true. The two bans made the first phase preparation much less important. You can’t just pre-ban everything like before and dominate. The previous patch had 4 bans per team which resulted in a huge variability. You had to read the draft and consider tons of options. With this patch’s 2 bans, this variability isn’t there anymore. Now the second phase improv takes bigger priority: your ability to analyze the first phase and draft accordingly.

- Which heroes are better for the first phase now?

Depends on who has the first pick. The draft theory is very different depending on whether you have FP or double-pick. However, FP picks in Dota always exploited the fact that some heroes are stronger and higher rated than others. It goes without saying that the later you show your core, the easier time it will have winning the game.

- The devs keep giving heroes their old skills and mechanics back. Besides that, some heroes and items are receiving nerfs right after buffs (like Clinkz, Orchid, MKB). What do you think of this patching approach?

- It’s pretty funny to see Valve simply revert the changes once they realize they can’t balance the heroes they’ve changed so massively.

- It seems that Midas has made a comeback in this patch. But is it for long?

- Yes, absolutely. Midas has always been a strong item, except for the time it became so expensive even cores had a hard time justifying picking it up. As for now, it will remain a popular pick before it gets nerfed again.

- This artifact has historically been either way too expensive for anyone to use it, or way too gold-efficient so teams bought three of them a match. How balanced is it now?

- It’s a pretty strong but balanced artifact. Back when it was viable on everyone, it was much too cheap for the amount of XP it gave. As for right now, I’d say it’s not viable on every hero - it’s a strong but situational item.

- Judging by your latest matches, your most picked heroes are Slark, PL, and Morphling. Seems like things haven’t changed that much for you with the patch - at least when it comes to your hero pool.

- To be honest, I just play some random heroes in pubs. I just play what I like. When it comes to the pro scene, I can play almost any hero. I have some good experience of playing carry. I don’t need to play 100 games on Antimage or TB to do well on the competitive scene.

- Your hero pool is huge indeed, but what needs to happen for us to see you on mid?

- When it comes to midlane, practice is everything. Midlane is all about playing that role all day. I won’t become a good midlaner in just one or two months. I haven’t had any practice on that role in ages. I would need tons of time to make that switch, so it’s probably not happening any time soon. I think mid is the hardest role in the game - its gameplay is most unique of all. If I had to switch, I wouldn’t pick mid, that’s for sure.

- What difference do you see in playing on easylane and on mid? Sometimes you have drafts with a carry on mid (Medusa, Morph) and a tempo hero on easylane (like Void Spirit). Wouldn’t you be able to switch to mid and last hit creeps there just the same?

- The thing is - fn and I have tons of experience on our respective lanes. We can also play almost any hero, so hero swapping is just much easier for us. Relatively speaking, I wouldn’t be able to play even half as well as fn on mid on any hero - even on Antimage - and he wouldn’t be able to play on sidelane as well as I do. We just swap heroes so our lanes don’t suffer.

- In one of your last year’s interviews, you said that you set alarms for the patch days so you can get up as early as possible to have more time to research the patch. Does that still hold true?

- It only works if you have a clear understanding of when the patch is going to drop. This is not the case now, but I obviously start playing way more once the new patch comes out to research its heroes, game dynamics, economy, etc.

- How many scrims and pubs do you play per day?

- Around 4 scrims and up to 10 pubs.

- Do you plan on streaming?

- Streaming doesn’t entice me that much, it’s just added stress for me. When you stream, you lose your game effectiveness because talking to your viewers and playing Dota at the same time is difficult. You have to pick one of those things, so I usually turn off my mic when I stream so I won’t get distracted. As I see it, such streams aren’t that interesting for the viewers.

- In your other interview, you’ve said that one way to gain form is before the tournaments through pubs and scrims. How would you rate your pub experience? What about your form?

- Pub quality is pretty bad right now; tier-1 players have been missing from the ladder in the last month or two. Team Secret, Nigma, OG players don’t have much motivation to play after TI reschedule. Because of that, the pubs' effectiveness, value, and quality decreased. As for my form - it’s good. I live by this game and play it a lot, so I can consistently show up.

- VP.P debut was a massive success with a top-3 finish on all 5 tournaments the team participated in. The comments are mostly positive, but I bet there’s some criticism among them, as well. What’s your approach to both positivity and negativity? Do you read the comments and do you answer them?

- I’m pretty neutral about the comments. I approach them with humor. I never take them personally. Back when I was playing in first VP roster, I could get offended, but not anymore now. I don’t answer the comments, either - I’m not big on media.

- How have you coped with the lack of tournament practice?

- I wasn’t that nervous about it. Dota’s teamplay hinges on every individual player’s performance, so if the players keep their form up, pulling themselves together for results won’t be a problem. Yeah, it was a bit boring without any events, but it was bearable.

- Who do you think are your strongest opponents in Dota Pit?

- I’d highlight Nigma and OG. They are tier-1 teams where every player knows their role perfectly and has enormous baggage of knowledge and experience. Dota is all about individual skill.

- Nigma and OG are tier-1 for sure, but are FTM any weaker than them right now?

- We haven’t played with FTM in a while, but I think they’re a bit weaker compared to Nigma or OG.

- Has this tournament prep changed your attitude towards the team coach?

- I can’t say CIS has many tier-1 coaches. It’s clear to me that such talents like Bulba, Heen, Sunbhie can influence the game a lot, but they’re rare in CIS, and most of them are already on a roster anyway. When we were first building this roster, we knew Vitaly and I would be responsible for all such stuff.

- What are your plans for after Dota Pit?

- We have some vague understanding of what events are to come, but I can’t tell you anything yet.