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TI9 wasn’t the year when Virtus.pro could change the patterns. After they’ve dominated through the Dota Pro Circuit season, they came to The International 2019 and struggled from the first day of the group stages.

VP fans could barely recognize the team that defined the CIS aggressive play style. Nonetheless, after three rough days, VP bounced back and made a commendable effort to reach the upper bracket playoffs where they once again got defeated by PSG.LGD Gaming, just like at last year’s TI. Ahead of that crucial game for them at TI9 against one of the favorites at the title this year, we caught with Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov to see what went wrong for Virtus.pro  in the group stage, how did they prepare for TI9 and how confident they were going up against PSG.LGD on the main stage in Shanghai, China. 

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Hello Pasha and thank you for taking the time for this interview. Let’s go straight to the subject: you guys gave everyone a lot of emotions in the group stage. Can you tell us what happened with Virtus.pro on the first couple of days and how did you manage to recover through the last day of matches?

I think on the last couple of series everyone understood that we really needed those victories. We said to ourselves, “we are VP guys, we need to go to the upper bracket so, let’s do it!” I seriously don’t know what we changed, other than perhaps our mentality. We were a bit more focused in those games with EG and Fnatic and we played better as a team. 

You decided to try and defeat Ana’s Io carry, It looked like you knew how to do it, however, it didn’t happen. So far, Ana is in fact undefeated on this hero at TI9. Can you tell me what do you guys think about it? Why nobody can take a game from OG with Io carry? 

All I can tell you about our game versus OG with Io carry is that they played much faster than us.They were deciding when the fights happened all the time and all our reactions to their map movement were bad. Sometimes they forced fights quicker than we anticipated it would happen, they didn’t have any mistakes that we could have turned into our favor, they were constantly running at us and the game was very fast. 

VP has this habit of crushing everyone through the season and not deliver at TI. What did you guys do through the last couple of months to prevent that?

We changed our preparation for TI. We actually had two bootcamps, one in Kiev and then one here, in Shanghai. But to be honest, after this group stage I can’t really say that those bootcamps really worked for us. I think we should have approached this tournament like it’s another Major, not TI. I’d say we played safer in this tournament. When we had the option to either go push, force things up, or to farm, we chose to farm so we can feel safe in the late game. I think when you have late game heroes, when the game is going that way, this is the right choice, but at this TI everyone is playing very fast, When we realized that, we decided to play like the VP everyone knows.

So, you are trying to tell me that what you trained for, what you practice during the bootcamps had to be thrown away?

No, not really. What we practiced, it’s working in many situations, but before anything else, we should not forget that we are VP and that we can play fast, we can be the aggressors, we know how to pressure. 

This is the third year in a row when you are going to play your first series in the Main Event against PSG.LGD, and this time around they are on their home soil. Is this bringing another level of pressure on you?

We kind of felt it would be that way. We are prepared to play against them and I think we have good chances to beat them, because they are not these LGD monsters from last TI. At TI8 they were playing like the AI, you know, they were making perfect moves, they had perfect timings. Now, I feel like they are not the same team. They are still strong, of course, we respect this team and we will try our best. Regarding the crowd, I know we have a lot of fans here and we changed our uniform as a way to thank them. It’s a great honor to play in a tournament this big on the home turf of the Chinese Dota. 

I’d like to talk to you about the Arc Warden you played in the group stage. Did you decide to practice this hero after what happened in your series with Liquid at EPICENTER where Miracle was able to one shot a six slotted Ember Spirit?

To begin with, I think in that game where we played Arc Warden, we had the wrong play style. Arc Warden is not the same with Broodmother, it is not Medusa so you can go and farm the jungle if you have problems to stay in the lane. Arc Warden needs a good start. He doesn’t need a perfect laning stage, just a good start and the problem was that we didn’t think about this when we played it in the group stage. Well, now we know. We talked about what we will change if we are to repeat this pick or even if someone will draft it against us.

A final question for our interview: where do you want to see TI 10 happening?

In Moscow, Russia, of course! It will be very comfortable for me but, I’m also one of those people who associate TI with Seattle. I really enjoyed the TIs in Seattle and I hope they will bring it back there. Russia would be cool too. 

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More content from TI9:

Kaka: “Infamous is a team with huge potential”
Armel: “We only hope that the incident is in the past already for everyone”
CCnC: “OG are a super fun team to play with”
Monet
: “We are hungry for success […] after all, we have 0% playoffs win rate”
rOtk:“Playing at TI is a mind opening experience”
Mag: “We are no strangers to the lower bracket”
Maybe: “Playing against Virtus.pro is fun”
w33: “Positions don’t exist anymore, they’re just heroes now”
TI9 Media Day Vlog

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