With the last set of Minor and Major tournaments on the 2018 – 2019 Dota pro Circuit season taking place in the CIS region we couldn’t ask for a better person to give us a few insights on what happened with the professional scene there and how did the fans end up with basically only one CIS team qualified so far for TI9 via DPC points.
Taras Bortnik had a long chat with Alexander “XBOCT” Dashkevich in Kivy at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor. They started from early days of Na’Vi TI1 to the post TI4 big shuffle, what Puppey meant for all the Na’Vi members and what kind of impact his departure had.
You haven’t shown on the media radar for a while. What are you doing, what are your plans?
I spent 8 days in Iceland for the “Gudilap” (thank you very much for the invitation). I looked for a trip to this country for a long time now. I really liked it. I want to return there again during the winter when they have the white nights or the polar days. It is very cool. Iceland is gorgeous.
[Ed. Note: Gudilap is a fan meeting organized by the Russian community]
Why have you stopped the production of your show?
It needs to be done on a regular basis, but I do not have such an opportunity. More often than not, the guests are agreeing to come to the show, they say “yes, yes, this is so cool, studio, contests, scenarios,” and then on the last day they are calling to apologize because they can’t come anymore. So, I decided to stop the project. I didn’t lose money on it, but I didn’t make any money out of it either.
You were a coach of a large organization in the CIS scene, but at the same time you also said you did not want to be a coach. What do you think about this job, about coaching in Dota2?
Well, in the beginning, my personal experience with coaching Na’Vi was positive, at least until RodjER left. I liked being a coach. Despite the difficulties in the team, despite the different manifestations of disrespect between the players, I feel like I tried and that we actually had some success. Then RodjER left and everyone lost faith in each other.
When I was called to come to Na’Vi as their coach I initially refused their offer. Then I met with Zolotarev (Na’Vi’ CEO) and we had a more detailed discussion and I thought why not?
Besides, I knew almost all the guys. Unfortunately, I have not achieved anything for myself. We were participating at every Major, but we didn’t have the results we were looking for. Yes, there were shifts, but we didn’t reach top 3 or top 4 at any of those Majors. Once we climbed to the top-8, and then we came across Team Liquid or Fnatic and we lost. After that, for some reason, people stopped playing and therefore we had a disband. We all lost faith in ourselves, I had to motivate them, but perhaps I didn’t do that well.
You once said that you would return to coaching if there was a constructive and progressive line-up. Do you think that there are enough players now in CIS to build a team like that?
I’m not even interested in this. I said to myself: “Enough.” I went to train Na’Vi because this tag warms my heart. I am very pleased to work with the management of this organization. They always work towards fixing any possible issue, we never had super strong disagreements. When they weren’t happy about something they came and said it straight to you. I did the same. The roster was good, we had a promising carry. Dendi did his best to help in many aspects, but unfortunately, we couldn’t make the whole team move in one direction. We tried… in any case, it was a good experience.
I know it’s been a while since then, but I always had this question on my mind: why Dendi didn’t move to a support role when he took the captain role on the team?
I think Dendi plays for his own pleasure. He could do so many other things in this industry, become an analyst, be a commentator, open a business, he has enough resources to do any of these things, but he continues to play. That’s because this is what he wants to do and what he enjoys, what he loves. People do what they like to do. If he likes to play in mid and you force him to transition to a position 5 support, then this role will not bring him any pleasure. And then, if there are people who support him and believe in him, why forcing a change like that? There are so many aspects…
Did you talk about this with him when you were coaching Na’Vi?
Yes, of course. I actually asked him right at the start, when we formed the line-up. Back then I was an analyst at The International 2017, and I tried to negotiate with various players in order to assemble a squad. There was an option to take Resolut1on for mid lane, and switch Dendi to support. He agreed to this option, he said: “Yes, if the team is good then no problem.” But Roman refused, and the alternative with fn in the mid lane didn’t work out. And so, Dendi remained in the mid lane and everyone was good with that.
What do you think about Na’Vi’s results this season? Why did everything turn out so bad?
I can’t say for sure, but I think they are facing the exact same problems we had back when I was coaching for them.
He has a short fuse for sure. He starts by doing everything well, then when he faces difficulties the apathy sets in fast and perhaps intentionally or perhaps not, he starts to harm himself and the ones around him. It becomes evident when a person becomes indifferent to everything. This manifests in the game and beyond the game. Being a captain you are responsible for the team you put together and when the results are bad you have to deal with the blame. I don’t know, perhaps they were disappointed in someone, they replaced Chuvash with Zayac after all.
You recently wrote to Crystallize on Twitter, “do you see the pattern”? Tell us a bit more about how you worked with Crystallize, because from the outside it looks like he really listens to you and that you two made real progress.
If we talk about my results as a coach for him, then this is the only thing that I did properly. From others, I did not feel so much feedback. Perhaps only from GeneRaL, but only at the very end. Dendi tried to listen, but this is his human nature. RodjER also did a good job on both criticism and constructive discussions, but then he left. He is a good player and a very mature person.
At first it was it was very difficult to work because every time something was going wrong in the game he would become terribly insecure. I had to explain to him that with such mentality and with that approach he won’t achieve anything in esports.
You can’t be a puppy that everyone moves around. If you are a carry, then you must be an egoist. You have to tell everyone what you need for you to have a good game. At the same time, if the captain tells you that the whole team is grouping mid for an objective, you must show up with the group. We worked more to polish a character and build a carry mentality for Crystallize.
Do you think Crystallize is playing worse since you left?
I do not know. I do not know what is the atmosphere inside the team. I remember at one point, we decided to pick only hard carries for him, like Terrorblade, Morphling and a few more. We had four heroes on which he played well. He was doing admirably on those heroes, he was winning the whole game alone. He definitely has the potential to become a tier one carry one day.
Dota players can be hot-tempered. Have you ever got into a fight during your professional career?
No, I haven’t. That’s unacceptable. Any conflict can be solved with words. Once at a StarLadder event, I made a joke about Puppey killing the motto because of his accent and somewhere after the game he said: “I will smash your face”. Of course he didn’t mean it and of course, we didn’t make a conflict or a drama out of it. There was a time when we had two quiet people on the roster (Dendi and LightofHeaven) and three impulsive (Puppey, ARS-ART and me) but the only conflicts we had were happening in the game.
You once had a mix of English-speaking and Russian-speaking players. From that roster, KuroKy and Puppey are the captains of successful teams now. Did you ever want to relive that period?
There is nothing to be relieved from that time. Back then, Puppey was under complete influence of Kuroky. And in the end, they parted ways. Puppey has always been a genius. It was an honor to play with him. Without him, it was harder. We didn’t have a captain who would be strong both in micro and macro management of the game and of the team. Outside the game, he was a good friend to all of us. After spending four and a half years with him it was very hard. It was hard in the game and outside of it.
I sometimes think that if you and Dendi would have changed your roles, you would be both playing right now and be more successful than some of today’s CIS line-ups. Don’t you agree?
The CIS region is an absolute roulette. We have only one team if you ask me and I’d say that they were lucky. They had all that it is needed for a strong roster. Solo took the captain role first, and actually even now when Ramzes666 is the captain I still think that most of the work is done by Alexey. In any case, there should always be a person who will keep the team united. They managed to gather together the best players from CIS and to be honest, it will be extremely difficult to build another team like this one. As for me, to form a stack that will fall apart in a few weeks it’s not something that I want. Therefore, I decided that I don’t want to spend so much time on Dota and now I live my own life.
However, the CIS region has one more team that can grab a top 12 place in the current DPC season, Gambit Esports. Do you believe they can qualify for TI9 via EPICENTRE Major?
Yes, they are indeed a good team, but they lack something. I don’t think they will qualify for TI9 via DPC points simply because there are other teams with better chances at EPICENTER. That’s all.
Thanks a lot for talking to us and I hope we will see you more often at Dota 2 tournaments!
headline picture courtesy of StarLadder