Virtus.pro placed 5th–6th at late January’s ESL One Genting 2018 minor, not earning any Dota Pro Circuit points. Cybersport.ru sat down with the team’s offlaner, Pavel "9pasha" Khvastunov, and asked him to analyze several of VP’s matches.
Virtus.pro vs SG esports
You made your picks very fast in that match. Were your choices dependent on what your opponents picked, or did you simply go for your staple heroes?
In that game, we were just counter-picking. We began our draft with Tusk, which we felt was the strongest fourth-position hero in this patch and this meta. We began with it, we saw what they were drafting, and they were being a little foolish about it, we started countering them. We saw a pair of hard-lane heroes where one had magic damage, and that was all the DPS the two had. We picked Omniknight right away, in the first stage. We thought Disruptor would do well, since it can catch them. We picked Terrorblade just because it was good against those heroes. Basically, we were looking to make the game comfortable for ourselves, and from there, we went on to think how we were going to place the heroes in lanes and what we were going to do.
SG’s hardlaner used a Dominator-based Dark Seer build. Why does DS need this item? When is a good situation to get it?
I think there are several options.
Some people go for Dominator when they don’t have heroes that can push lanes. Lycan doesn’t generally show up in lanes. Clockwerk probably won’t want to waste its rocket on pushing. So some people buy it to make pushing easier. They just send a creep in, shield it, and follow.
Others use it for extra aggression. If you don’t have enough shield targets, no melee (this draft had it), this way you can cast the shield on your Centaur. You can even try to gather up around it.
There’s yet another option, the most reasonable one. The item has been buffed lately. It now gives a lot of passive attack speed. Dominator is useful when you have a physical damage dealer on your team. It’s strange that Lycan didn’t buy this item, because that’s who it suits better in situations like these. But he didn’t want to, so Dark Seer did. But that’s a poor decision.
Virtus.pro vs VGJ, Game 1
By the 20th-minute mark, you were well ahead, leading by 8K in gold and 7K in XP. You had Aegis. You went to a T3 and died in a fight. Perhaps you didn’t expect the enemy to come up from behind?
We knew they were coming from behind. We should’ve killed all of them, but there was a bit of a misunderstanding between us. We knew that if the fight began with Doom, we were going to lose it. We needed to interrupt it. Ideally, it should’ve been done by me. But at some point, I got scared. I didn’t thoroughly see my position. I saw Doom about to cast Doom, and for a second, I thought I was the target. That was my mistake. I was standing too far away to be within range. All I needed to do was jump and cast Silence. There’d be no Doom, and we’d win the fight in an unsophisticated way. But I didn’t do it, and that was why it went so badly. You could say that fight was entirely on me. I lost it.
And why did Tiny have Aegis, rather than DK who they targeted with Doom and tried to focus down in every fight?
DK is a thousand times tougher, it’s much harder to kill. Tiny has slightly different items: Dagger, Sange & Yasha. It’s a mobile tree-grabbing guy with no BKB. Why give Aegis to a hero with BKB when you can give it to one without BKB?
Fast forward to the 25th minute. You were 12K ahead by then. You just killed Storm and immediately went for T3 in mid. A good fight begins, but Solo ults with his Wyvern, and the fight stops. Is it fair to say you lost that fight solely because of Wyvern?
It was a minor miscommunication. Roman was standing there attacking the high ground, they initiated, and Vladimir and I jumped in and cast our spells without saying a word. Alexei, too, did what he thought was best. He silently hurried to press his buttons and save Roman. You could say we messed it up by reacting so quickly. We’ve discussed that moment; at times like these, it’s better to talk more. The situation required us to react very fast, and we discharged everything at once. Of course it was wrong, but what does it matter now… It was what it was.
At the 27th minute, Tiny got killed on top. You saw there were three or four of them, since Lil spotted Doom on bot, away from the fight. Why did you engage? Were you, Wyvern, and DK really hoping to kill Lycan, Storm, and Earth Spirit?
I think we lost our bearings somewhat. When something confusing happens — like that moment on mid, for example — we sometimes feel a little lost… It is our team’s main problem. When something goes wrong and someone falls silent. It all happened silently, like in a pub. We lost communication. Then we recovered quickly, told ourselves, “All right guys, let’s win after all”, and started playing like we ought to. It was a moment of not exactly tilt but perhaps a bit of exasperation. But then we got ourselves together at once when we realized something had gone wrong.
In game two, you were aggressively tower-diving to kill Disruptor. Why?
I shouldn’t have played like that, because all this time, I was dual-laning with Razor. Razor left, and I simply didn’t believe Dragon Knight was nearby at that moment. My timing was totally unfortunate. It was the only situation in which I could be killed. I didn’t believe DK could be standing there, to the right. Razor went off to take out the entire map, as his level was high, and they’d left Disruptor alone on top so that he could gain level 6. I tried to chase him away from the lane. I just didn’t believe that when I cast my stun and run downwards, there’d be a DK waiting for me. In the end, it turned out that while Disruptor was standing in the lane, DK was hiding in the jungle, baiting. I didn’t believe they even knew how to do something like that. Turns out they did.
At the 30th-minute mark, you went on a rampage. You were 3v5. Why take the risk of that fight?
We knew we could win a fight easily. We saw Razor split off. I suggested to Roman, “Let’s blow him up. He doesn’t have BKB”. In the end, if I remember correctly, my Dagger was on cooldown, or something of that sort… Anyway, I couldn’t Dagger into him and stun him, but didn’t want to waste my Force Staff. Because if I did use Force Staff, so would he. We’d just have traded Force Staffs in the end. Except he was Razor and I was Sand King. I needed a means of escape and he didn’t, because there were five of them and two of us. So I decided to save it just in case, and I was right. Razor ran away, and in the meantime, our Ilya got killed and Roman was cornered… We were out of options, it was button-mashing time. We used everything we had and killed them all. They weren’t positioned well.
Virtus.pro vs Team Secret, Game 1
At that tournament, Lil was often given Tusk. You ended up with two broke position 5s on your team, and Lil’s performance on the hero wasn’t always ideal either.
Tusk wasn’t useful in the end. Ilya played it poorly, even though he’d done all right before. Nobody knows why. He had some very good moments when he was using his abilities well, but the other half of his moments were atrocious and ruined everything. Still, we believed Ilya could get his mechanics back in order, but something was preventing him from doing it. Perhaps he was nervous. Perhaps it was something else. One way or another, he wasn’t using his abilities well at those moments, and we were losing. Overall, though, we regard Tusk as a very strong hero. That game was supposed to go much better. Something just didn’t work out for us.
The 21st minute saw the first time a Roshan fight truly went your way.
We just saw this Roshan opportunity, pressed all our buttons, warded up, and fired up DP’s ult. It was quite normal, since we could afford to do that. Our heroes were good Roshan killers. Then Secret’s abilities were all over the place. Phoenix jumped in for no reason, and placed a suicidal egg they had no way of supporting. Then YapzOr jumped in, with no Disruptor and an already dead Phoenix. He went for it because they believed they could do it. But in the end, it didn’t work again; if I’m not mistaken, Vladimir lifted him up with Eul. They were simply unable to press their buttons.
At 21:15, you can see Shaker’s ult going nowhere.
Yes, that too. Those were bad casts to begin with, and some missed altogether. As a result, you could say we came back in the game off of that Roshan. We took the initiative, which was the most important thing.
At the 38th-minute mark, you went for a T3, then TP’d back to fight off Lone Druid. How important is it for the entire team to have TP? Was it critical that Solo didn’t come back to base?
Obviously, everyone’s got to have TP. It’s just that in that fight, we slightly lost track of what happened. If you look at the moment we were aware that he was TPing out, you’ll see that all enemy heroes were in mid, under their already destroyed T3. We just couldn’t believe it would take us so long to kill Lone Druid. As a result, every hero that had been standing under the T3 in mid turned up on top and killed us. That was wrong.
Perhaps I could’ve tried to help Vladimir. But there was a wall there, and I was sure I wouldn’t be able to get past it. Or, if I was, I would’ve spent a Replenish on myself, meaning I wouldn’t be able to help Vladimir anymore. Perhaps I should’ve run towards him as well, because he survived for very long, but who knows. It’s just that somehow, things happened too fast. We didn’t even realize it. We were sure we had them cornered in their base, defending it, and then we saw this LD we could catch, and simply didn’t kill him in time.
There was an elegant Omniknight save from Lil at the 49th minute. At moments like these, does your team have time to shout “NICE!”, or are you entirely concentrated on the fight?
Yeah, yeah! The first thing I shouted was, “Great job, Ilyukha! Attaboy!”. It was really cool, the way he was able to do that in time, great job there. After that, there was a fight… Well, frankly, we were lucky in that fight, more than anything. If they’d used their abilities better, Ilya and I would’ve been dead right away. Disruptor never used Static, which enabled Ilya to shelter me. Otherwise, we’d have both been dead at once.
Anyway, it was a fight that shouldn’t have happened. I made myself a target. In any case, it wasn’t that good of a fight, as the Bear and Invoker, the nastiest guys, survived. We postponed our defeat a little, and gave ourselves a chance to come up with something else. We were already cornered in our base, and this guy [on Lone Druid] bought a really cool item, Aghanim; more power to him, good job! So he basically demolished our base while standing in his own base. Well done!
At the end of the game, you let victory slip away. Where did you go wrong?
We didn’t expect an attack on our Ancient. What could have we done? We could’ve simply not let it come to that. It was a dumb game. We missed our first side of racks getting destroyed. We just didn’t notice. It happened during a fight on bottom. Besides, Vladimir got unlucky. He was trying to kill Lone Druid with no buyback, but the guy decided to survive with twenty HP; again, more power to him. Well done. So to sum up, there were a lot of stupid moments where we could’ve played better. They turned out to be stronger.
Virtus.pro vs Team Secret, Game 2
What was the thinking behind the mid-lane Night Stalker?
We’d seen a solo-mid NS from a certain very strong team. They used it against us, played very well and wiped us out. We spent a lot of time thinking about our mid-lane hero; we knew we needed an active character that would be doing stuff. A hero we could use to run around and fight while Sven was farming and becoming hyper-strong. I suggested NS. Vladimir said, “Yes, of course! Give it to me, I can play it.”
In the end, absolutely nothing worked out in that game. Nothing… None of it was what it was supposed to look like. We never made a single decent attack, a single decent rotation or bait. I think we were a bit sad after the first game, and as soon as the first mistakes were made, it was almost like everyone gave up right away, even though it was a very easy game if you pressed the right buttons and did everything right. But that’s the thing about our team…
Is it fair to say Team Secret forced your hand early on? Sven was constantly fighting and trading, while Lancer was free farming.
PL was free farming all right. But they were facing a dual lane, and Skywrath was throwing bolts at me all the time. Our triple made a lot of mistakes against their dual. You either kill as a triple or defend as a dual. Here, however, we got something in between, something clumsy. The guys overthought it; they could’ve defended better.
28 minutes in, you had a good chance to turn the game around, but those shards… Could you have won if it weren’t for the shards?
Many mistakes were made. The first one was Vladimir running in. We wanted to wait for a creep wave to make them reveal their positions. They’d step out and start using their abilities on those creeps, which would be ideal. After all, they were defending a tower and had to fight back creeps. And we were simply waiting. Vladimir rushed things a little, he dived in. After that, we had no choice. When they started hitting Vladimir with their abilities, we got a rough idea of their positions. Thankfully, Vladimir had a fairly bulky hero that didn’t die at once, and we had a rough notion of what to use where.
Yes, the shards were bad, but there was nothing to be done. We just didn’t press our buttons the way we had to, since we hadn’t been expecting that fight. We thought it would start a little later. We cast all we had, but it went poorly. We should’ve focused Kunkka to prevent it from casting the ship. If there’s no ship during a fight, everything’s great. As it was, Kunkka didn’t even make it to the fight. If we’d waited, he probably would’ve come. Our whole idea was about fast burst damage. We’d press all our buttons, and that was supposed to kill them quickly. But Kunkka ruined it somewhat.
Why did you let EG have Lycan, with which they have a nearly 100 percent winrate?
We’d been planning all along to give it to them and counter it, but it didn’t work. I ruined that game a lot, I could’ve done a thousand things more, but I know what mistakes I made. I’d never encountered anything of that sort before, and now that I know this isn’t how you deal with it, I’ll do things a bit differently.
In that game, I quite stupidly let [Lycan] take first blood, because I should’ve killed him and he shouldn’t have got the XP. But he suddenly decided to use his flask, so he died second instead of first. I didn’t expect that, so next time, I’m not going to hope for a miracle, I’ll just use my Faerie Fire, kill him first, and everything will be all right. That’s point number one.
Point number two, if you look at our overall play, Abaddon and Vladimir were doing great the whole time, because they spent more time standing than running. Lycan and I, on the other hand, were running around more often than standing in place. I made a mistake. If I saw Lycan run away from the lane, I shouldn’t have stood there finishing that tasty-looking creep wave; I should’ve run at once, since he’d have time to pick up a creep wave in another lane. If we look at Lycanthrope’s play in that game, we’ll see that besides hitting the jungle (more power to him, nicely done), he runs into a lane and kills a creep wave because of my mistake. I ran in and chased him away and he ran to another lane. I took my time a bit again, he showed up and took the creep wave, then I showed up. As a result, he reached Level 5 with those waves, and then just went into the jungle because he could. Good thing I made that mistake at a Minor; now I know this isn’t what you do.
Did SumaiL’s farming Abaddon ruin your plan?
No, it didn’t. We knew that Sumail has a bit of an AFK gamestyle now. They’ve got Sumail and Artour now, who are more into AFK farming than anything else while Fear is running around on Lycan or Death Prophet, presses his two buttons and tries different things. We knew this was the playstyle to expect, and tried to counter it. We weren’t able to, for several reasons: because I played badly, and because something weird was going on there overall.
Why did Solo put two points into his Q ability [on Winter Wyvern — Ed.] in the early game, even though its gain is small at low levels, and wouldn’t take healing despite every hero being constantly injured and having to pop off to heal themselves?
Healing wouldn’t have helped much, not with three magic-damage heroes out there. Most Dota players level up as they find comfortable. There isn’t always the right item build or ability order. The maxed-out Q could be explained by the need to harass the enemy heroes, and Q does it awesomely; however, its cooldown is huge. It makes sense to max it out and harass your opponents more frequently. Because if you don’t harass them, they’ll be standing there with full HP and be very likely to dominate the lane.
So if Alexei found it more comfortable, then he did everything right. The W doesn’t always work just like that. You can miss with it when heroes are positioned in some unfortunate way. The Q is surefire. Everybody’s maxing it now, as when its cooldown is small, you can charge in and initiate more often, deal more damage by using it more. Usually, when someone’s maxing it, they’re playing without healing. When you’re 3v3, it’s hard to explain. I think the guys knew what they were doing and how they were supposed to level.
At the 23rd minute mark, you lost No[o]ne, your only damage dealer in that game. Then your entire team joined a fight. Why?
Vladimir got very unlucky. It frustrated him a lot at that moment, because Pudge had been just a fraction of a second away from death. It should’ve died there. Simple bad luck. After that, we saw Vladimir die, then Alexei. And Roman wound up in a fight. It was obvious that if Roman was in a fight and he wasn’t going to make it out, we needed to initiate. Or things would go bad. If Roman was to randomly get killed, it couldn’t end well. In the end, Roman survived, but we all died. Yeah, we all sure did a great job there.
24th minute. Solo once again ults into an already-stunned hero. How are your roles distributed? Which of you stuns a TPing hero?
He was TPing out, Alexei had an impression no-one else had stun, so he gave the Winter Wyvern ult. It’s not a particularly important issue. Usually we say, “Yeah, I’ll stun”. But that time, no one said anything, and Alexei ulted just in case. It didn’t decide a lot in that situation. It was better to make sure he died, because what if he didn’t.
The fight at the 32nd minute was the key moment. You lassoed Lycan away, and he was targeted with stuns. At that moment, Solo ulted into Abaddon, who was impossible to kill, and Lycan survived. Had you told Solo not to use his ult in teamfights?
It was I who started that fight. It was also I who asked for that ult into Abaddon. I just couldn’t imagine how we’d be able to win that game. I decided to try a really dumb plan, and it didn’t work.
They were going in for the kill at that point, looking to end the game, and we didn’t have the option to wait for Roman’s BKB and level 20. I saw no way we could hold out that long. We’d lost the game a while ago already. I just tried to catch Lycan. I was going to drag him in quickly, and Abaddon could dispel all that. The only thing that could stop Abaddon was Wyvern’s ult. I shouted to Alexei, “Ult into Abaddon”. I thought I’d have time to drag him across that ult, and Roman would Rift at the last moment, or something of the sort. But that was very hard to do. It seems more like stupidity. To be honest, I didn’t know how we could win that game, so I decided to try something. It might just work. Instead, there was this stupidity; if we’d killed Lycan, we might have even won. But we didn’t, so there.
Why was Lil on Witch Doctor and Solo on Chen, when it’s usually the other way round?
It’s difficult to talk about this. There was the fact that Alexei was feeling very comfortable on Chen. So was Ilya, but that was what we decided to go for in the end. I don’t know why, but we made that decision. What can I say, there [was] discord within our team… The game didn’t work out. We were all sad. We couldn’t figure out what was happening.
Alexei and I were standing in bot, we took out those guys, and everything was fine. In mid, Vladimir took out Fear, and everything was fine. Then Fear went into the jungle, and everything was fantastic. Vladimir says Lycan is great against Death Prophet as it is, but he managed to do even better. Well, obviously, it was Fear on the other side and Vladimir on our side, but no complaints there. Roman wound up in a lot of trouble, and we couldn’t come back into the game without him. Why did it happen? Well, it just did. There was nothing to be done about it. I think we couldn’t have won at that point no matter what we did. However hard we might have tried, even if they’d had three heroes in their base initially, I think we wouldn’t have won in the end. Something had happened to our team.
At the 17-minute mark, PL was defending the base against Lycan. Four of you attacked the enemy’s T3. How justified was that risk? After all, you wouldn’t be able to escape from Puck or a teleporting Lycan. And Lycan would TP, with PL unable to stop it.
We wanted to get our heroes in one spot. All our play became about creating space for Roman, and we saw that as an opportunity. Why not break through T3? If they let us take it out, it would be great, and we’d continue to the Shrine. There was a discussion, there was an argument that we felt allowed us to go there. I don’t remember what it was, but it was primarily about four heroes going there to do it. I was 1,000 percent going to make it out of there, me being Sand King, while Vladimir would be teleported to base. If all heroes converged on the spot while Roman would be farming, if we took out the T3, since DP had its ult, if it all went right, it would be an ideal scenario for us. We’d only win this game if Roman itemed up. We decided to go for it.