After a brief search, Immortals -- one of the newer organizations in esports that has also gathered some stellar capital in the past year -- made its entrance into Dota 2. Noah Winston's brand looked for proven players and found them in the most unlikely place, South Korea. On September 13, the reformed roster of MVP Phoenix donned the green-and-black jerseys and redied itself to make waves in the new season.
With Immortals Dota already having won a couple of online qualifiers and being lock for two minors -- Dota PIT League and PGL Bucharest -- we caught up with captain Doo-young "DuBu" Kim and mid-laner Pyo "MP" No-a to talk about how did they get into Dota 2 in the first place to become a successful team from a region not known for its Dota 2 prowess at all.
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In a Korean scene that was absolutely dominated by Starcraft and League, how did you end up playing Dota?
MP: It was mostly foreigners that came from other countries to study in Korea that played Dota. It’s almost non existent among Koreans, most of them are playing SC or League. I also studied in the Philippines, so I picked up on Dota there as well.
Dubu: Dota is basically a puddle there. I started playing the same way.
Did you encounter the same level of support from friends and parents when entering pro Dota that you would have gotten if you played Starcraft?
MP: Korea is definitely a better region for supporting esports, but our parents still aren’t the biggest fans. They want you to study and do well in school, and they don’t even know the difference between games.
Dubu: They’ll become supportive once you become successful and start winning.
Has Valve shutting down the Korean server killed the scene entirely, are you guys kind of the hope of every aspiring player in the region?
MP: We definitely are kind of the last guard for Korean players, there are no other players in the region anymore, only a few hundred. There are a few tier 3 players around, there’s a little bit of a scene, but I don’t think they’re ready for professional play.
Korea is definitely a better region for supporting esports, but our parents still aren’t the biggest fans.
After TI6, your contracts with MVP were up. MP, were you and Forev curious about joining a non Korean team, playing with a highly respected captain like Puppey?
MP: Forev and I were looking for many teams to join at the time. Team Secret gave us the best offer, so we decided to take it. We were having some internal problems in MVP at the time, so we decided it was best to part ways.
What was the motivation behind you guys reforming the TI6 squad after TI7?
MP: Everyone, I think, needed each other for our playstyles to work. We had a few talks and said we aren’t going to make the same mistakes we made before, and we decided to reform.
Dubu: We learned a lot about ourselves in each other during the year we were separated, and we think we can take what we learned to make ourselves a better team.
MP, you mention needing each other to support your playstyles. Are you referring to QO Dota? As we saw, when he went to Wanted and Fnatic, QO was just trying to play QO Dota and nobody can play that Dota but you guys.
MP: Yeah, its really hard to copy QO Dota. We had a lot of practice and experience in Korea, we played five scrims a day, and it was all a result of heavy practice. You have to understand the player to follow his dota, and I don’t think the players from the other teams understand him as much as we do.
Dubu: And it’s not like QO is wrong, he’s just different from a lot of other players, nobody else plays like him.
And you did pioneer your own style. Bristle and Io, picking PA at TI6 -- a hero nobody else picked. It was something unmatched, constant aggression that even old CIS teams couldn’t match. Was that all QO’s idea, or was it you guys thinking you could enable him?
Dubu: QO finds his own hero, he might find it from a pub and say “I can make this hero work, it’s really strong” and then we’ll try it out in scrim and succeed, and we’ll go play it in officials. He always brings new ideas to the table.
Everyone needed each other for our playstyles to work.
When you guys were in Korea, did you play on SEA servers, Chinese servers, or both
MP: We played tournaments in SEA, and we played pubs in China. It was very weird, because there were ping differences between the two servers, so you would get used to pub ping to China then your ping changes entirely when you play officials. We could only play Chinese pubs late in the morning, because that’s when the internet was stable because there weren’t that many people playing.
We had really bad sleeping schedules, we would stay up really late and wake up really late, and we would play our scrims at night because the internet was unstable other times.
MVP Phoenix was regarded by some as a LAN team, a team that would always perform well on LAN as opposed to qualifiers. Do you think teams consistently underrated you, or was it you guys being unleashed from ping issues?
MP: I definitely think ping was part of the issue, we were really comfortable with lower ping. I think everyone just plays better on LAN because of the stage, and the crowd.
Dubu: Definitely a ping thing. The laning stage, teamfights, all of these things we did were just so much easier on LAN.
Dubu, BuLba frequently referred to you during your time on Digital Chaos together as someone who has a lot of ideas. Were there any ideas you brought to him from your time on MVP, or any ideas you took from him that you’re using in your team now?
Dubu: I learned a lot last year with Bulba. I was kinda stuck after TI6, and didn’t really know what was going on in the meta. I learned a lot from Bulba on why other teams did what they did. I’ve definitely tried some of what I’ve learned from him on Immortals. Some of it suited us pretty well, and we’re still experimenting and figuring stuff out.
MP, the same question for you. Did you have an idea about Dota that Puppey really was surprised by, or have you learned anything from him that you use right now?
MP: Back then what worked for MVP was using minimal amount of resources for the safelane carry, so I picked heroes that didn’t require so much help in lane, and we abused that in some patches. That’s something I brought to Secret.
So after each of you went to a different corner of the world, you probably each learned different things that you’re bringing back as discussed. Do you think you’re a better team now than MVP Phoenix was?
MP: It’s hard to say, we don’t have any results yet as it’s the start of the season. I think time will tell, and we’re not sure ourselves yet. We’ve only played online matches and we don’t know our strength.