The International coverage hub
More interviews from TI7:
Bulba: "I want to find [what went wrong for us in the group stage]"
Mason: "I didn't know if I wanted to play Dota for a living"
7ckngMad: "I've never believed in the metagame, the word to me is bullshit"
Fly: "I wouldn't call myself as ruling with an iron fist"
Capitalist: "PPD is the best possible analyst that Dota has"
GH: "A bad day is no reason to lose confidence"
Kuroky: "Sometimes you hit a wall and you have to work through it"
s4: "I've always wanted to play these mid heroes, like Puck"
Resolution: "Objective-based Dota is the most important thing I leaned in NA"
ArtStyle: "It was the Chronosphere that killed us [in the LFY match"]
Kimo: "I've been waiting to play on the TI7 main stage for the whole year"
Ilya "Lil" Ilyuk's profile video from the Kiev Major is one of the most memorable ones. The Virtus.pro G2A player is notorious for speaking his mind, for defying naysayers, for expressing strong opinions. As a result, we couldn't miss an opportunity to speak to him at TI7. We recommend you watch the profile in question and then read our chat with the ever-edgy Lil.
So, tell me about your attitude of "I became who I am because of those who didn't believe in me" that you showed in your Kiev Player Profile video.
I like to say what I think, not what people want to hear from me. That's why it looks different. I like talking about what I think in the current moment.
You're not concerned about what people say? Just about saying?
Yes, I don't care how it looks from the side. I am who I am.
Do you like projecting this image to the community, is this something the community needs more of, player who put themselves out there as strongly opinionated?
Yes, of course. When we were in Boston, that was the time I thought we could easily beat every team. With time, you change your mind. We realised we can't beat like Team Liquid now and when we were at Epicenter. We didn't think we'd get top one, because we weren't that confident in ourselves. Everything changes each time you enter a tournament.
Now you can say everything. "It will be easy, we will win." But when you come out there, everything changes.
Have you ever regretted saying anything?
No, not really, but sometimes I realise that I shouldn't have some things, even though they were what I thought at the current moment. Sometimes it's just for fun, I am not 100% serious all the time when I talk shit, but not everyone understands that.
It's funny, because people don't understand that when you speak it's what you're thinking at that particular time, and that your opinion can change.
Is there anyone you have idolized in Dota or outside?
There are a lot of examples of cool people that got success in their lives by struggling and fighting all the way, like Messi, Ronaldo, maybe McGregor. I am not like a big fan of them but I like to try and understand what make them who they are, what did they do to get success.
When it comes to Dota, there are no players that play that much better than me, so I can't copy what they do. I think I can do everything and maybe better than them. There are a lot of good players on my position like GH and JerAx but they are not that much better than me.
How do you measure that kind of progress going across teams? Have you ever loaded a replay from two years ago and say "man, I was so bad, look how farther I have come as a player"?
Yeah, two years ago Dota was not such a good game. It was much easier, people were played badly and no one understood how to play it. Now, almost all players that are here at TI know how to play the game, they are much stronger then we were all a year ago.
When you have strong players on a team like we do now, you teach each other things. We became stronger as a team and individuals. That's why I think I play better than a year ago or half a year ago.
My hands were shaking the first time I was on the TI stage.
You are actually the only player on your team who has been on the TI main stage, in 2015. Are they looking up to you who is experienced in that regards, someone who has experienced that kind of pressure?
Yeah, of course. It's another feeling when you step on a Major stage compared to TI. When I was on the TI stage for the first time, my hands were shaking. We played a Bo1 vs. NaVi and that was pretty hard initially, just to stay there, during the five minutes before you're called to the stage. You hear all the shouts from the arena.
You can say everything. "It will be easy, we will win." But when you go there, everything changes.
You actually knocked out Secret that year, which were by far the favorites. Did you have a target on their back, like really wanting to beat that team that won three LANs before TI?
I think there are only two teams like that. One of them is EG, because they always kick my team out from tournaments. A year ago or two, every time we came to a tournament, EG eliminated us.
The other one is OG after the Kiev Major. I feel pressure to beat them because they are not as strong as everyone thinks. It'll be a pleasure to prove everyone.
Who do you want to beat more, EG or OG?
I think OG. But they will lose first round in LB, so we won't face them. I think top 16 is their place.
Editor's note: OG ended up placing top 8
I think there's a lot to be said about mentality about playing to not lose versus playing to win. Infamous is playing to win. They have no expectations. OG have ones, they are playing not to lose.
Yes, that's a lot of pressure. You don't need it, but it exists. You won four Majors and you have to win TI. But you're playing a Bo1 in the losers bracket now.
Would you say you're playing to win or not to lose?
I think I'm playing to win. Every loss makes me sad -- in pubs, in TI, in group stage. Every loss. I am playing for the win and playing for the game. I am enjoying every moment, but I am playing to win.