'We deserve to be at The International'
In April this year three players from Western Wolves joined in with syndereN in mTw, also picking up Kebap along the lines. After some time they proved themselves to the world, mostly by winning Dreamhack but then continued to pick up victories in GosuLeague aswell as The Premier League Masters.
We caught 7ckngMad during mTw's day off at their bootcamp in Germany, and just two days before the WCG SEE event is kicking off.
-“ You're welcome. Well, to be honest we're not really preparing for the WCG SEE. It's more about about getting ready for the international and the SEE is part of this preparation.”
Well, it's good practice to be at an offline event, feeling some competition pressure and all that. It's not even that far away from where you're bootcamping, right?
-“No, it's like only two hours away. Its super close, that's the main reason we decided to attend.”
How's the bootcamping going in general? Are you guys feeling confident?
-“The bootcamp is going well, we are feeling very confident. I can't wait to compete in Seattle. We tried everything we had in mind, and we still have time to improve even more. Now we can focus a bit on the opponents and not on our playstyle. Which is a luxury, haha.”
Not getting annoyed at each other yet?
-“No it's fine overall, obviously we had some good moments and some bad ones but it’s going well. We also took a long vacation break which really helped. Anyway when something as big this is at stake, problems just disappear quickly!”
Hah, that's good to hear! Are you excited about going to Seattle? Do you expect it to be the biggest LAN experience so far?
-“Yes I'm super excited to go there, it's going to awesome, hopefully we get some time to visit the city as well. But yea, the main goal is obviously the event itself. It will be the biggest LAN experience, regarding the level of all the other teams and the organization.”
What is your greatest LAN experience so far?
-“I've done all the major Dota 2 LANs this year, such as ESWC, D2SC, a couple of Dreamhacks etc. But obviously the greatest one was the Dreamhack summer we won with mTw; felt awesome, especially against Na`Vi in the finals, because Na`Vi is the team I respect the most.”
Maybe the same thing will happen at The International. Which teams do you find most scary, attending this event?
-“Hmm that’s a difficult question. Honestly every team plays at a decent level, there are no underdogs, or maybe aL but that's only because we never scrimmed vs them, or saw them playing online. Many teams are overrated. I'm not scared of any team, if we play at our best level I dont see any team causing us problems. The scariest teams, generally speaking, to answer your question, would be Na`Vi because I don't think they aim for something else than top 1, and maybe EHOME because I've been impressed by their team coordination. The LAN pressure will also be a huge factor, people underestimate it.”
Sidenote; EHOME just lost 2-0 to DK.
-“Yes I saw the games, what they show online is very different from what they did versus us in practice, that's not their real strength.”
Yea, sounds fair. Is there any team you dislike especially playing against?
-“It depends. I know many players dislike to play versus very aggressive teams, such as Na`Vi or MUFC, but I enjoy playing this type of games. I enjoy playing against every single team but, I'll just say that when we are forced by the opponents to play a very passive game, with almost no aggression, it's less fun. But again, we are ready for any type of game, even playstyles that might appear at the event. And I'm looking forward to see if our preparation was right, and I'm pretty sure it was.”
Which teams are you usually scrimming against?
-“We’ve scrimmed a bit against every team. The only teams we didn’t scrim against are Orange, Zenith, MUFC, aL and TongFu. We haven’t massively scrimmed against one of the teams though. I guess we played the most versus Na`Vi, coL and EG.”
What is your take on the decision not to add any more heroes before the International?
-“I totally agree with this decision. I've been impressed with every decision Valve took so far about the event. The schedule, the format, the hero pool; they are doing in the smartest way possible to make it an epic and more importantly a fair tournament. A stable hero pool allows teams to develop draft mechanics, and that means confidence for every single game. That's super important, especially in LAN events. And the hero pool itself is very nice, the addition of Visage and Kotl was really needed, I'm glad they made it into the pool before the event.”
Any other thoughts about the current pool? Are there heroes that you want gone or want added?
-“I want every hero in, or let’s say every hero that was in Dota 1 before Dota 2 came out. Because I stopped playing Dota 1 and new heroes were added, and I always hate when a new hero come out. I already feel like the competitive scene is using like 20% of the hero-pool potential, it's a shame to add new ones, haha. Maybe Valve could have added Medusa to The International hero pool, but well, it's really not a big deal. It's not really about the heroes themselves, it's about having different laning possibilities, or even playstyles. The pool is very balanced at the moment, unlike it was for the first edition of the International.”
Without giving any secret strategies away, do you feel like there's any hero right now that teams usually rate too high or too low?
-“Since you said the two most used words at the moment in the Dota 2 scene, 'secret strategies', I just want to say how funny I find this trend. Many teams are bluffing, and acting like they are preparing super-secret strategies. That's a joke, because, in nine cases out of ten, those teams can't even play correctly/well with the strategies they use normally. I don’t think there will be secret strategies, and if some teams use some, then it will be for one game out of ten, and it's very unlikely they execute it properly. Only the strongest teams there will use unusual playstyles if they need to. We have some prepared, but I'm almost sure we won't need them.
About the heroes that are used, well it's always the same thing with the scene. The dominating team has its own playstyle, and the others copy. When Na`Vi were dominating the scene without any problems, Chen was top1 pick/ban, nobody questioned it. After our win at DreamHack, Sylla and Tinker became top picks. People just copy, that's human, we’ve copied before we reached this level of play as well. But the 'metagame' changes fast. For instance, during the week we had off, it changed. When I came back I took some time to check the biggest matches and the drafts, and it changed totally. Took us two days, and few scrims to change it again. Only few teams stick to their playstyle. That's the only reason POTM BOTTOM had such a good run, they don’t draft randomly, and they know what they're doing. Overall I almost always disagree with the drafts I see on streams. The best drafters I’ve seen up to this point, except for the Na`Vi Squad, were miGGel for Quantic, and Pajkatt for CLG. There are the drafters I respect the most in the scene."
You're just saying that because you don't want any team to think you have secret strategies. Who's creating the tactics and strategies in mTw?
-“I'm mainly taking care of the draft for mTw. But overall it’s a team work obviously, because we also need to try those tactics to see how efficient they can be. And I know that sometimes I can be very annoying when I want to make sure that the idea I came up with is used. When the game starts and the drafting phase starts, then it's syndereN, me and kebap calling the picks and bans together and making sure that what we practiced is used efficiently. Funzii and Socks prefer to stay silent, not because they have no inputs, but because we tested it when 5 peoples draft together; you end up without a clear gameplan. So it’s very wise of them.”
How come syndereN isn't doing the draft anymore?
-“Honestly I dont even know, I don’t think there is any particular reason. You also need to consider that mTw consists of three wW players and Kebap and syndereN who were in different teams before. So we had our mechanics, our vision of the game and they had to adapt. They also came with their visions of course and we learned a lot from it, they both are very good players with experience, and it's always a pleasure to learn from such players. At the beginning it was Synd drafting on his own, I think, and it did work out but things evolve and it's better now. It's like a two man drafting, with me giving input on the draft before the game. In-game it's him taking the last decision still, but we discuss it and make sure me synd and Kebap are all okay with the hero we're about to choose or remove from the pool.”
So you'd say it's more ‘natural’ like this?
-“It has always been natural, that's the thing with this team, there are no lies or implied things, we tell each other what we think, and then we just adapt as a team, and it always end up working.”
Sounds perfect! What are you going to do afterwards if you take 1st place at The International?
-“Well, it's different for every player. Me, I'll have to quickly go back to France because I'm moving to another city for my business school, so no rest time since I'll have to pack my stuff and furnish my new apartment in one day and a half. I'll just wait patiently to the first holidays to finally enjoy the victory if we actually win it.”
Who would you say your life as pro-player is different now from back in Dota 1?
-“The prizes are higher so I guess that for players that live on the money they earn it’s definitely different. For me it's another story because even though I played competitively in Dota 1 I didn’t dedicate that much time to it, and never played in a team that managed to play that well. Dota 2 offers more possibilities, because there are more tournaments, bigger ones, and the community grows faster I think."
I think that's what everyone hoped for when Dota 2 was announced - Dota at a more serious level, especially with the International. And you guys were almost not a part of it, having to battle your way through lower brackets in the qualifiers. How does that feel now, looking back?
-“Looking back, it feels awesome. But it was risky. My thoughts about our team are very simple; we are a danger for ourselves. If for some reasons, such as playing online, or not caring about the game, or having players that aren't focused, we aren't able to play at our best level, then we can drop a game to almost any team in the competitive scene. On the other side, if we play at 100%, then there aren't any problems anymore. And before this qualifier and DreamHack we didn't play tournaments with very high prizes, such as qualifying for the TI or winning 12K euros. But my teammates proved me several times now that, not only can we perform as good as we usually do under pressure, we just perform ten times better. So yes, looking back I think doing the qualifier was good, but before we did it we couldn’t know we would win it in such fashion.
Now what remains is that we are one of the only two teams that qualified, and with the exception of NaVi, EHOME and Zenith (that are more or less the same regarding the rosters) the last year's top 3, we deserve to be there, maybe more than other teams.”
I think most people would agree that you deserve to be there. Alright, I think I'm all out of questions. Thanks alot for your time! Any shout-outs?
-“Thank you for the interview. Shout-out to our fans, shout-out to mTw, our sponsors, my team, to all the people I left earlier in Lebanon, and well, that's it. Thanks again.”
Interviewer: Linus "Tjernobylbarnet" Staaf
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