When you're a Major champion and playing alongside some of the biggest legends of the SEA scene, you kind of can't help but think about TI. Sometimes too much.
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Let's go back a few weeks to your win at DAC. That was your first big win, right? How did that feel?
It definitely felt great. For me personally, I would've loved hearing the crowd chanting and whatnot but what can you do? [the Chinese crowd wasn't overly happy with PSG.LGD losing the finals — Ed.]
You've been building up towards this for years now. With the additions of iceiceice and Mushi, are they the de facto leaders of the team?
71 tries to implement me as more of a commander of the game. I'm the one that controls the warding and the smokes. So he wants me to be the leader. In the late game, the team makes a decision based on the game but I dictate the early to mid game with the help of Jabz. In the late game, it's a team decision though.
Our team takes a longer time to recover from having a break.
You say it's a process. Does that mean that it's not fully implemented?
It depends. If the team is very confident with me, it works. At DAC, I played very confidently, so then they were good with following my commands. But when I don't have the confidence they step up and try to carry my load.
You had a big win in China but a rocky group stage at EPICENTER. Where do you think you stand right now in preparation for TI?
I don't really think about TI. I couldn't care less about that tournament. I don't want to put it on a pedestal. A lot of the managers and people I talk to say that if you think about TI too much it's going to be tougher and harder to win. Right now, I'm just trying to focus and be a better me. And for the team — we still haven't recovered from the break we took after DAC. Our team takes a longer time to recover from having a break.
Why do you think it is that it takes you longer to recover?
I think it's because we have such strong individual players on the team and I think it takes a longer time to "link up" after a break.
Was that ever a challenge?
Definitely. Everyone has an opinion in the game but sometimes it's better to have one opinion that everyone follows. There's going to be a lot of arguments and whatnot, but at the end of the day, you have to solve it and head in one direction.
I want to talk a little bit about SEA in general. The region has taken a pretty big leap this year. You have a lot of teams with "imported" players, fnatic for example. How do you feel about that?
At the end of the day, I think it's beneficial for the scene. A lot of players from other regions are interested in playing for the scene. So they bring in knowledge and that knowledge then spreads to the other teams on the scene. Like playing against Fnatic and going, "Oh, see, this is why they do this". It allows us to learn off each other. So I think it's good overall. Competition is always good.
I'm going to go back to TI a little bit. I know you don't want to talk about it too much, but how far do you think SEA is from winning TI?
I'll base this off previous TI's. Mushi has lead two teams to top 4 at TI, so who knows. I don't want to think about it. But Mushi has shown that an SEA team can be a contender. I'd say that TI3 SEA deserved second place. It was unfortunate. They didn't have a strong mentality to go forward after that unfortunate event. And then at TI4, the fnatic lineup, lead by Mushi again — they were top 4. So TI is definitely within reach.
[Pangoier] just seems like it was meant for [iceiceice].
You've run Pangolier with great success both at DAC and Epicenter. Other teams have struggled with the hero. Where do you think he fits in?
I'm not really sure. I'm not still fully familiar with the hero. I can just say we have iceiceice on the team. The hero just seems like it was meant for him. On day one, when it came out, iceiceice was spamming it in pubs and he was like, "This hero is the next thing!" I read a lot of flack saying, "Oh, we knew the patch notes before they came out" and stuff like that but no — iceiceice just loves playing this hero. He's just way ahead of the curve. To summarize, this hero is just chaotic, you know? I think he can fit well in any lineup because of what he can bring to the team.
Talking about chaotic heroes and iceiceice, I hear he's been playing a lot of Techies?
Yeah, but I don't think the team is ready for it. Maybe in the future
I was just going to ask if you see a place for the hero.
The conversation came up. This hero just makes the opponent tilt. I wouldn't choke if the teams pick it up after someone shows the true power of Techies. If that happens, I think it will be removed or nerfed. It just changes the way you move and think in-game.
We talked a little bit about 71 earlier. How important has he been for your success?
He's definitely a major part of it. If you've followed Mineski throughout the season, jabz started off drafting and we changed coaches seeing which coach could work with which drafter in the team. At the end of the day, when we got 71, none of the players wanted to draft, it was too much of a burden. When we came to StarLadder, we noticed that the majority of the Chinese teams, except Newbee, used their coach for drafting and decided to give it a go. He obviously puts a lot effort into analyzing, studying the draft, and asking us what works. He definitely puts a lot of ease onto our minds, so we're more focused on what we need to do in-game.
More EPICENTER XL interviews
— KuroKy: "I'm trying, but you can't go 100 percent all year."
— MidOne: "We’re moving on as a team instead of as individuals."
— n0tail: "Having to change a player in this season has come with a big headache."
— xNova: "Most of the Chinese teams need time to improve."
— Lil: "We have just as many chances to beat absolutely everyone as to lose to everyone."
— LeBron: "[Beating VP] felt like it was going to be a defining moment for us."
— Kpii: "I don't like [the addition of Techies]. It just changes the way Dota is played too much."
— Ghostik: "Replacing our carry was a necessity, there was no other option."
— Miposhka: "With time, [Naive] can become the new Miracle-"
— Iceberg: [We have] probably 60-70 chance [to make playoffs]"
— w33: "I can’t describe how awesome it is. I’ve never had so much fun in my life."
— Kingrd: "Don't stop, because if you stop you'll never achieve the dream to win the tournament."
— ODPixel: "I like turning up to an event not knowing what will happen."
— v1lat: "[NaVi] should change LeBron. [He] is not a great fit for this team."
— BreakyCPK: "Literally adding a new hero as a Major starts... there's just something wrong with that."