As a player with strong opinions and unique personality, Jacky "EternaLEnVy" Mao is ever a polarizing figure in Dota 2. At the Birmingham Major, we interviewed Fnatic's carry only to find out some weeks later that even then he could predict the TI8 slots at 100 percent.
* * *
You moved over to SEA this year and faced some hard competition. Did you expect that going over?
Going over, I expected TNC Predator to be extremely strong. I knew about this Mushi/iceiceice team forming. I knew something was happening at least. I actually thought it was going to be harder than it has been because I thought Immortals were going to be there and I thought they were going to do really well. But they chose to play in NA. So I actually expected it to be very, very tough.
You mentioned TNC: They haven’t lived up to expectations. Why do you think that is?
They have been strong! They’re just not one of the best teams. They’re definitely a team that’s in the top 5-12 worldwide. They can take series off anyone. They almost beat Virtus.pro! They played a best-of-3 against VP at DAC and almost won, so yeah, they’re really, really good.
Knowing this, how do you feel going into the qualifiers for TI?
I’m nervous that Valve will do something that doesn’t make any sense with the regions. Obviously, you’re always going to be nervous and even if I’m not nervous right now, I’ll feel nervous in the qualifier. I believe SEA only deserves two slots to be honest. Now, if there was an extra slot that had to go anywhere I’d say SEA because they’ve had the worst representation at tournaments even though their skill level is pretty good. I wouldn’t say it’s amazing but it’s pretty good for having a low amount of invites. [SEA did indeed get two slots for TI8 — Ed.]
What do you think about your “home” region NA then?
I actually think NA deserves three slots….. What’s gonna happen is this: there’s going to be 10 slots and every region is going to get 1 slot, that’s for sure. I think NA deserves three slots because they have OpTic Gaming, VGJ.Storm, and Evil Geniuses. VGJ.S have no points at the moment even though they’re owning. They’re actually destroying their own region. They’re doing things that are detrimental to their own success in a way because they don’t get any points and them winning is making other teams from their region lose points. I think that EG and OpTic, if they instead won those qualifiers, could have made top 8 [in the DPC standings]. You never know. Regardless, VGJ.S hurt their chances. I think that Valve should look at that and say, “This team, EG, for example, should get the NA slot”.
OpТic are another team that are very strong right now. I think CC&C has improved dramatically and he’s playing like people expected when he first joined the team, now that zai started supporting him. So that’s two slots already. And I think there should be at least one more slot if no NA team gets top 8. Usually, NA has three teams at TI anyway. And then China should get one or two slots depending on if VGJ.T or Newbee stay in the top 8. If both of them stay in the top 8, they should only get one slot.
Something that people might not like is that EU only deserves one slot. Even though OG have been to a lot of tournaments — they’ve probably been to twice the amount of tournaments we have — they’ve been a 9-15th place team. None of the other teams have performed, except for one time where Team Kinguin performed at a Minor. I think that region deserves one slot. I actually think that CIS deserves two slots more than EU does. If there were more slots I think CIS actually deserves more. They’ve shown a lot more promise.
So the final region then, SA?
Regardless if Brazil does well, as they’re doing right now, I think the region only deserves one slot. In the end, it’s just one tournament, top 4 in a Major. It would be very unfair if they got one extra slot due to one tournament, even if it was extremely well done by them.
You mentioned that VGJ.S are detrimental to their region. If you got to decide, would teams that have made roster changes be excluded from the DPC?
Oh nooo, you definitely can’t do that. I think the cool, and bad, thing about Dota is that Dota is crazy. There’s so much prize money and people want to win so bad. This is the one game where it’s not just about being the best in your region. There are teams in LoL where they’re probably a top 30 team in the world but they’re the best in NA so they’re one of the most famous teams in the world; they’re making so much money and feeling so good about their contracts. But Dota is really all about winning. Even if you’re top 8 in the world, it doesn’t mean shit to a lot of people. And people will usually do what they think is best for them. So people will make roster changes if they don’t believe in their current roster.
[Dota] is the one game where it’s not just about being the best in your region.
Was there ever a period of doubt for you, where you thought about changing up the team outside of the shuffle periods?
Yeah, of course. There were a lot of times. Just because there’s a roster shuffle period doesn’t mean there weren’t doubts before. It’s not like the doubt suddenly came when we knew the schedule. There has definitely been a lot of times where that happened and I think that happens to most teams. Personally, I am someone who probably would act on it if it happens too many times. It’s not just about my belief either. If the teammates don’t believe in themselves I’d act on it, so it’s not just based on my belief. It’s when the players don’t believe in one another. I would try to solve it but if it gets worse and worse, then a change can happen.
Ok, so one last question: The game you had versus EG, the Io/Morph strat. Did you have that planned from the start?
There was one clip on Reddit with a Morph that TP’d to Dendi’s fountain and killed him. And he wasn’t even level 20. I played this one EU pub with a Wisp, because there’s not a lot of Wisp players in SEA, and he bought a Desolator. He killed me in 5 seconds! At that point, I was like “Alright, this is something else”. So we realized that if you use Morph/Wisp you can just backdoor. They picked Gyro, Medusa, and Undying, very slow heroes, so we knew that we need to focus on splitting. So it was planned from the very start.
* * *
Fnatic could not qualify for TI8 directly through the DPC season, but with Mineski out of the qualifier picture, the black-and-orange jerseys have a good shot at taking one of the two SEA slots — unless an underdog stops them in their tracks, of course.
More Birmingham Major interviews
— SumaiL: "I think this has been the worst year of my career."
— BuLba: "A lot of the complaining and whining [about DPC] is people not being grateful."
— Fly: "I think I've always had it in me but I wasn’t much of a leader at the beginning"
— s4: "I’d say static roles are very important now even though lanes matter so much."
— GH: "After level 6, he can do whatever he wants."
— Fng: "I tried so many things in pubs to beat this Io dual lane and nothing is working."
— KINGRD: "If you are only winning, you are not learning anything."
— kpii: "When a team is together for a long time it’s natural that problems start to appear."