ArtStyle: 'DTS was a wild and exhilarating ride.'

Posted by Dexter "kurtcos" F at 17 January 2012 22:09

After his shocking departure from Na`Vi, users were polled on GosuGamers on whether they felt Na`Vi could bounce back from such a loss. Indeed, it was a relevant concern, seeing as someone of Artstyle's talent became the backbone for DTS and Na`Vi throughout their illustrious journey in the world of DotA and later, Dota 2.

In an extensive interview with the legendary captain, Artstyle reveals much about his personal life, his opinions on Dota 2, and last but not the least, his views about the Russian DotA community.

One of our GosuGamers users, Anton "Desolator" Kolyago, contributed extensively to the translation of this interview and its concise and accurate publication could not have been possible without his help. Enjoy!

Let's start with the question that is on everyone's mind right now - are you returning to the competitive Dota 2 scene?
-"Yup, I will be back. It has been on my mind for some time as well and if things go according to plan, I am sure that I'll come out with my strongest team to date.

Up Close and Personal...
DTS at Asus Spring 2011

Are you currently working or studying? What are your plans for the future?
-"I'm literally nowhere at the moment and I don't have a job. I'm not sure what lies ahead but at the moment, I plan to just play and do some streaming until the next Dota 2 tournament."

How about poker? Do you plan to make a career out of it, or just play it for fun?
-"Well, I have not considered poker so I certainly have not earned money from it - if anything, poker has taken my money away *laughs*. Although I did initially consider poker as my career - seeing that there was a 200,000 prize pool event - I later changed my mind because it wasn't worth it and I could still earn money without playing poker."

Do you have a girlfriend right now?
-"I'll just say this - right now, my life is pretty much straightened out. I think you need not know any more."

What do you do in your spare time?
-"At the moment, I'm spending my time playing Dota 2, and getting to know more about her (Dota 2) *smiles*. Before that, I was taking a break."

Are you an athlete of any sort? Do you play sports?
-"*laughs* Yeah, I was previously an avid fan of football, but then I started playing DotA. It's not something I follow now since all my idols have aged and are no longer playing."

With how quickly Dota 2 is developing right now, do you think it has the potential to be a major, full-fledged eSports title in the future?
-"It's hard to say, really. Of course, I wish it it would be the case, but things are hard to predict at the moment."

Are you involved in anything to help Dota 2 on that path?
-"I'm not trying to make eSports into real sports or anything - I can see that it has developed into a growing industry and it will continue to prosper. Gaming will eventually become a huge social network and until then, I will be trying to open the game up to more and more people."

Have you thought about going to start your career in China given the atmosphere there - decent salaries, broadcasting on TV, the huge crowds?
-"Yes, I have thought about it. I would actually like to work with iG but I have no ties with anyone there and cannot speak the language. I won't be able to communicate with the team or the captain, so I guess that's out of bounds for me."

You were awarded with a medal and a diploma by the Kharkiv City Council a few months ago (see]see). How do you feel about this honor?
-"Indeed, I did receive a medal and a diploma. I was quite proud of myself although a dash of luck was involved (I earned it before I won the million dollars at Gamescom). In fact, I'm not sure whether I actually deserved it.

What are your plans for the future? Do you plan on working or earning more money through events like The International until you've earned enough, and then retire?
-"Money is never enough *laughs* so I will have to make plans about my future. I'm a gamer! I'm not sure if I can hold a normal job, and sit around doing boring things for a fixed salary - it's just not for me."

Have you heard PGG's rap song?
-"Yup, I have. I hope they don't do one about me because I'm normally quite shy and quiet myself."

What music do you listen to?
-"Oh, I listen to basically everything. Recently, I developed a taste for Leps but then again, I'm fine with anything. The only thing I can't appreciate would be rap music."

Would you like to be immortalized in 'the history books'? What kind of a legacy would you like to leave behind?
-"Yes, I would like that, but I certainly do not want to be remembered for DotA. I hope I will leave behind a meaningful legacy that people will remember."

DotA - the big picture...
Artstlye (right) with NS

I have read over a dozen of your interviews, but you have never spoken about the origin of your nickname, Artstyle. How did it come about?
-"It has been my nickname for a very long time now. It began when I was watching Maykera streaming Warcraft 3, and it was showing Happy playing. During an interview with Happy's opponent, he described the former's actions as being 'ArtStyle'. Since then, I began to adopt that nickname."

There were rumors that you had been playing DotA on a regular basis. Is this true? What do you think is the difference between the two games?
-"Yeah, it's true that I have returned to DotA although I switched to Dota 2 about a week ago. I love both games so it's hard for me to compare them but I would say this - with fewer and few tournaments in DotA, I don't think I will be playing both of them anymore. I'll just stick to Dota 2 from now on."

You mentioned that you play Dota 2 for at least 15 hours a day. Is this because you are trying to get back on form?
-"I am trying to study the game and pick up stuff like learning how to estimate damage output and cooldowns, as well as familiarizing myself with the attack animations. Yesterday, I saw something in Death Prophet that was missing from the hero in DotA. Her spirits will fly up into the sky before coming down to attack. It was such an unpleasant surprise!"

Have you played 6.73 of DotA? What are your thoughts about it?
-"If I had to sum it up, I would say that Legion Commander is way too overpowered. I was playing Pudge with 4,500 hitpoints and 20 armor and he was still able to take me down in five seconds. It was also the first time I saw so many critical hits on a hero. Usually, hero effects go away, but Legion Commander's damage gain stays permanently."

6.73 changes have been ported over to Dota 2. How do you feel about that?
-"Honestly, I have not played the new version but even if I did, I would play the tournament version where the changes have not been applied. The new item, Tranquil Boots, is pretty imba and I call it the equivalent of a Vanguard for weak intelligence heroes. It's definitely a must-buy item for support heroes, considering how cheap it is."

Do you play with Legacy hero keys or do you set your own keys?
-"I currently play with Legacy keys but I'm starting to adapt to the new hotkey system."

Many people call you Ivan Balanar because of how well you played the hero Night Stalker at The International. Could you share with us some tips on how to play the hero?
-"For Night Stalker, I normally go for Urn of Shadows, Power Treads, Magic Stick, Vanguard and then Aghanims. If the game is going really well or late, then I will consider getting a Scythe of Vyse of a Skull Basher later on."

Do you think an Aghanims is a must-buy for Night Stalker in any given situation?
-"Of course! This is how I win games. You can see the entire battlefield while your enemy cannot. Furthermore, if you are getting ganked and chased, you will be able to plan your escape route."

During a previous interview with Synderen, he mentioned that Night Stalker was also his favorite hero and later hesitantly accepted our hypothetical offer of a 1v1 between the two of you. Would you have also accepted the challenge?
-"What happened that day was that I was chatting with a couple of teammates on Skype when it was brought to my attention. After skimming the interview, I related my surprised to my teammates because I felt the fact that Synderen, being a person who has actually not won anything except for some minor leagues, could actually accept such a challenge was incomprehensible."

What are your thoughts on the league system in Dota 2? Which leagues would you play in?
-"I'm not playing in any league currently so I don't have anything to say about them - I'm sticking with public games for now."

When will you start streaming? Are you still working closely with Darer?
-"I will start streaming very soon and yes, I am still in close collaboration with Darer. The owner of this project is actually one of the most trustworthy guys you will find on the Internet. In fact, I have a feeling you will be hearing alot from them soon."

You mentioned once that 2010 was the best year in your career as a professional DotA player and that you had already achieved everything you wanted then. Looking back, how would you describe your career in 2011?
-"I was playing for Na`Vi the whole time during 2011. I guess it was a good year in terms of achievements and how the team developed but it was also a good year for DotA and its evolution as an eSport in general."

About competitive DotA...
Na`Vi at Gamescom - Dendi, Light, XBOCT, Puppey, McDee, ArtStyle

When and how did you assume the role of a captain?
-"It all started when I was at DTS and our team was going through a rough patch - in fact, we were even on the verge of disbandment. I can't remember who was the captain then but someone suggested that I take the position.

At that time, V1lat was looking for Light to assume that role but as it turned out, I was taking charge and leading the team. I should point out that NS was a great help while I was at DTS as he advised me on how I moved around the map.

Dendi also helped out a lot with learning our opponents while we were at DTS. So yeah, I should say that everyone contributed equally to the team and it was not just about me."

As the captain, did you make all key decisions yourself or did you listen to what your teammates have to say?
-"I take into consideration what everyone on the team has to say, since I believe that there are no horrible decisions. It's hard to understand what your teammates are doing all the time, but once you step back and think about it, I guess they all make sense when you look at it from their point of view.

For example, if your teammate insists that you gank a six-slotted Medusa with just a support Crystal Maiden, you have to understand that Crystal Maiden would play a key role in that gank even if she just prevents Medusa from teleporting away. At the worst situation, you would end up trading a support hero for a carry hero.

This shows that there's a lot more to DotA and people than you think; somehow people are contented with sitting back and letting your main carry (i.e. the Spectre) farm a full build and then win."

How about drafting? Did you consider what your teammates had to say?
-"Always. I make sure everyone's voice is heard and that they do not feel left out of the conversation. We try our best to accommodate everyone's suggestions, though I must point out an exception in Dread - no one will ever understand his ideas, not even after ten years."

You mentioned once that there was no such thing as an 'outpick' and it was possible to win with literally any lineup. Does that still hold true for you today or have you ever foreseen the outcome of a game just from the picks?
-"Yeah, I still think so. You can't 'outpick' people; you win games by outplaying them. All you have to do is give certain heroes to a great player and you have yourself a strong combination. For example, if you give a Furion to someone who can play the hero well and pair him up with a couple of good heroes, your team can be guaranteed to control the game 100% the whole time."

Do you still have the habit of coming up with innovative strategies? If so, do you consider other's ideas or stick to what you have in mind?
-"Well, since I'm inactive now, I haven't been thinking about new strategies at all. It's a misnomer to call them 'strategies' actually - all you have to do is pair heroes with great potential and execute them well. I don't know what to say about my teammates ideas affecting the drafting stage; it's actually simpler than what people think it to be."

Are you an adaptive player? Do you have your whole game planned out for you before the game or do you change it as the game progresses?
-"Of course, things will change as we move along in picks. However, it is really all about the player the minute the game starts. If they can perform at their best, then there is not much I have to do - they already know what to do in that situation."

I know that you dislike the idea of a 'push strategy' but let's just treat it as such. There are many ways of countering such strategies, so the question is - how would you counter the 'counter-push' strategy if you had already chosen a push lineup?
-"Push and counter-push? Those terms sound funny to me. It's really hard to give you a proper answer, because a counter-push lineup, by definition, would counter a push lineup.

At the end of the day, it really depends on the players themselves and how they react - you can always trick your opponents into winning the game for you. For example, you can go for a 'suicide barracks' attempt which will force them to defend while you have just taken out a large chunk of their raxes and used Necromonicons to push all three lanes."

So there isn't any real way to counter a 'counter-push lineup' with a push lineup?
-"Basically, engage your enemies outside of their base and while you are fighting them, have someone go for one of their important building structures."

Seeing as how the Chinese metagame has become more aggressive and fast-paced with many games ending between 20 to 30 minutes, do you feel like you deserve some credit for this change?
-"Maybe, but you will have to credit DTS and Na`Vi as well for that. I guess a bigger factor for this change would be the Chinese players themselves - they always play at such a high level and very smartly at that. Two years ago, I had already noticed that they could end games at 20 minutes but back then, their playstyles were very strange to me."

Comparing DTS 2010 with Na`Vi 2011...
An early 2011 picture of Na`Vi

Tell us about the first Dota 2 team you originally joined.
-"Actually, it was cool playing with Axypa and Goblak in the first Na`Vi roster. We played really well, losing only to GGnet and we opened the scene to a lot of push strategies. While it was fun playing with them, we did not have the performance that I saw in DTS 2010.

In DTS, we could easily kill off five carries with five support heroes."

How about the time you spent in Na`Vi following the arrival of Light and Puppey? How did that compare to your time in DTS 2010?
-"Let's start from the beginning. In DTS, it so happened that even if we did not get the heroes we wanted (our supports were non-standard, Dendi did not play the solo-mid hero, etc) we still had a role to play and we played it well. After we had this settled, it was pretty easy picking at official games, because we had so much fun experimenting during training.

I am saying this a lot, but we really had a ton of fun. We dived in for ganks without creep support, we stopped farming and just went around forcing teamfights 50 times in a row (later many would come to interpret this as our 'push strategy' which we already saw too much of). In general, DTS 2010 was just a wild and exhilirating ride.

In Na`Vi, everything was simpler. Our approach was much more serious; we each had specific goals in mind and studied our opponents extensively. The only thing that affected us was our lack of training - yes, even before The International. Just imagine the four of us playing Warcraft 3 fun maps before the tournament, even though we had been issued Dota 2 beta keys longer before.

By the way, we were one of the first teams to get our keys, but we still made sure we had fun. I guess that's one of the reasons why we won at Gamescom - we were incredibly united. In fact, before all the 'fun' we had and the times we shared, we hardly knew each other at all.

About the players, Puppey and XBOCT replacing NS and Dread: obviously, they have different roles in the game, but I was closer to Dread and NS because of how much we clicked in personalities. After the latter pair's departure from Na`Vi, our team missed the two pranksters (or at least only one of them was successful). *smiles*

If you compare them as players, there's not much to weigh in on since they are all great players. Dread's role within the team dynamic and also the roster as the carry and aggressive player was later on replaced by XBOCT in Na`Vi. If you want to talk about the skill difference, then I guess I don't have much to say."

What about your departure? Was it a serious blow to Na`Vi or were they able to cope with it normally?
-"In terms of team morale, I guess they were devastated. As for their performance, they still managed to keep a high level of play going because that's what they have going on within Na`Vi - excellence. I guess my retirement from Dota 2 was at least better than me transferring to another team."

Have your already spent or invested your prize money from The International? You seemed to really want a nice car."

In an interview conducted after your Gamescom victory, you remarked that you lost the motivation to play Dota 2. How is that possible after winning one million dollars off a game and later on not feel like playing anymore?
-"Well, my sudden lack of motivation was unpredictable and, to me, incomprehensible. I don't know how others would have acted in my place, but before that, I would have been given it my all for $400 anyway. *smiles*

I realize now that the essence of DotA lies not in the cash money but in the heat of the moment (the moment being the game, and the heat being the experience of playing your heart out with four other guys). Don't worry - I am as motivated and full of energy now as I was at Gamescom and I am ready to take anyone and everyone down."

Did you still follow the progress of Na`Vi after you left? Did you see their performance at their last championship and what did you think about them then?
-"To be honest, I did not follow them much before but I did watch them at the offline finals of the World DotA Championships (WDC). Though I wasn't looking out for them, I did enjoy the games they played. It would indeed be interesting to play with DK; it certainly would have been a great fight. *smiles*"

What happens now and in the future...
Na`Vi with the million dollar check

What went wrong at the Intel Challenge Super Cup? Why did your team perform so badly?
-"Actually, I disagree. Considering that we first met Na`Vi and beat M5 and Monkey (even though it was the group stages), whereby the latter two later went on to place top 1 and top 2, I don't think we did too badly."

Tell us about your departure from the DTS roster. Aren't you ashamed that you disappeared once again after failing at a single tournament?
-"I believe I spoke about this earlier, so I don't have anything more to add."

What have you been doing after that? Did you watch the Dota 2 Star Championships - what did you think about the results?
-"Well, I've been floating around.. As for the tournament, I was looking out for PGG's team. I liked the way Goblak and Blowa played and so I was pleased to find out that they won."

What is your relationship with XPEH (DTS manager)? Will you play for DTS in the future?
-"Our relationship is not very good at the moment. As for DTS - I don't really know."

Tell our readers what you can about the team you will be playing for, and the competitions you plan to participate in.
-"I can't reveal anything at the moment, though I do hope that it will be legendary and I will do my best to make sure our plans come to fruition."

In a recent interview, you mentioned that your return to Na`Vi was impossible. Has anything changed in that respect, given that time heals all wounds? Have you made up with ZeroGravity?
-"If we are to be completely honest, we actually got along and did not argue - our problem was that we did not understand each other. But as for returning to Na`Vi - absolutely not!"

Will you be bootcamping soon? And if you do, will you be going to another country, or will the mountain move to Mohammad?
-"Yeah, I will have to go to another country for bootcamp, though I don't know which country that will be. *shows tongue*"

Will we see new push strategies by ArtStyle?
-"Like I said, they are not push strategies and they are not 'ArtStyle's', but our enemies' towers will definitely be hit hard!"

Are you stronger emotionally now than you were last year? After The International, you said that you had a couple of 'mini heart attacks' during the games.
-"Hmm, that's an interesting question. I think everything will be okay at the next Gamescom, but we can only see then..."

In the past, you used to make many decisions along with Dendi and Puppey, and your advice have gone a long way. Will someone take the charge this time or will you once again carry the burden of being a captain yourself?
-"Yes, I will pitch in and help out my high-skilled teammates. *smiles*"

One reason for your departure from Na`Vi was your reluctance to sign a contract. What about the new team? Most organizations have contracts as a prerequisite.
-"Contracts create strife... Yes, we will have contracts but the ones I will sign are much better than what I proposed originally."

Will we see you coach a team in the future?
-"No, right now I have a strong desire to play competitively."

In an earlier interview, you said: 'DTS is all for me!' Is this still the case with your new team?
-"I hope that my experience with my new team will be better than what I had at DTS. I hope we will not just be teammates, but also good friends. At the very least, I'll make sure that we get off on the right foot."

ArtStyle on the Dota 2 scene...
Ivan "ArtStyle" Antonov

You were almost sure with your prediction of the fate of team M5 with PGG in a previous interview, saying: 'I immediately thought of how hard it will be for them, but I don't know why. They are all strong players individually, but something in me just felt that it was going to be a failure.' Could you now predict the fate of the current DTS (ex-TR)?
-"I will not give an accurate prediction for this one. If at any point in that interview, I felt that the M5 players were going to work with PGG for nothing less than 100%, then I guess maybe they would have succeeded."

What is your opinion about the presence of six players in DTS?
-"Six players is definitely a problem, but I hope that Blowa and Goblak will be part of the main roster. I really liked how they played at the Dota 2 Star Championships."

What are your impressions of the top two Dota 2 teams in Ukraine at the moment - Na`Vi and eSahara?
-"Let's not talk about Na`Vi; you'll know what I think about them when we meet in the finals of a tournament. *smiles* As for eSahara, they are great guys and I actually know some of the players for eight years now. I wish them all the best <3."

What do you think is missing from the current lineup of M5 (ex-Garaj) with Klif and KyKy which is preventing them from winning tournaments?
-"Someone or something is not up to par, that's all. It's probably the same couple of gankers who finished the game 0-10 on Dazzle and Alchemist."

You previously singled out the team OSI as one of the potential top teams of the CIS. What do you know about those guys?
-"Same as what I know about the team iG from China - nothing."

Briefly describe the top Dota 2 teams at the moment, such as SK, Fnatic, mTw, Mousesports, etc. What European teams stand out to you and why?
-"SK, the second best Dota 2 team to come out of Denmark. The first has alwayas been MYM, but they lost track of their Danish heritage.

Fnatic, if I'm not mistaken, are the Serbs who, at Asus, lost seven games out of eight. I have no comments.

mTw - oh sure, I guess that they are the elite of competitive Dota 2 now that they won DreamHack. *reveals shocked expression sarcastically*

Mousesports are like a bunch of HoN players. I only know of one who happens to be a HoN player and that is Blowa.

I should also give a special shoutout to EG. They are very good players individually, and even though they have failed in DotA many times before, I still feel they have the potential to demolish any team out there."

Members of our forum are interested in what you think about organisations such as LLL, infused, SGC, and others who have recently signed up not-too-well-know rosters as their Dota 2 teams.
-"Oh, they're great guys, and they all have a great future ahead in Dota 2. I even know all of them personally! *remarks sarcastically*"

Not too long ago, Australian team Natural 9 defeated another strong team, Na`Vi, in under 20 minutes. Have you heard about them, or maybe even played with them?
-"I actually heard about them a couple of years ago in DotA, when they managed to beat the top of Europe on bad ping connecting from Australia. I can still remember the nickname 'xMusica'. After a while, they fell out of the scene, and I guess were just sitting at the background.

They're good players and their results show from the team play they exhibit."

What do you think about Asian (particularly Chinese) teams in Dota 2?
-"While China is still China, I feel the level of Dota 2 in Europe has grown a lot. I do not think that the history of Dota 2 will be another era of domination for the Chinese. It is possible that they win individual championships and fight on equal terms with everyone, but we definitely will not see total domination."

A word about the Russians...
ArtStyle with Na`Vi's earliest incarnation

Are you still in contact with any professional DotA players?
-"Of course - I would now like to give a shoutout to Eclipse. He is one of the few professional players who still talk to me. Everyone else just hates me because of what happened in the past."

Can you describe Puppey and PGG as captains?
-"They all have clear styles of play, but they still have their bad qualities."

What do you think about Na`Vi's fifth player, Smile? Was God or someone else a better replacement?
-"You know, I have many friends coming up to me and ask: 'Why Sergei? Why Smile?' And I reply to all of them that there cannot be a better replacement than Smile! This man is not only suited as a player for the role that Na`Vi lacks, but furthermore, he's a good friend that you can trust."

Recently, there's a rumor on the forums that BabyKnight was returning to Dota 2. Is this true, and if so, do you think he can return to his former level of play?
-"I have actually not heard anything about this at all, but if it is true, I believe this guy will be able to get back on form soon enough. Personally, I feel Dota 2 is his calling. He'll be able to find a professional team in no time and become the best player out there."

Talk about Plet. You said he was almost like a second ArtStyle. Where is he now and will we see you on the same team as him?
-"Hmm. No, unfortunately, my team will not include Plet. At a tournament in Kiev, he was unable to perform to expectations because he was not getting enough support.

In general, he is aggressive; he is constantly running around the map, killing people all the time and very skilled in micro. Unfortunately, he's alone now and I do hope he finds a team."

Just a few months ago, you made a serious claim that just_Error was the most promising player in Russia. What do you think about this and why is he not playing with DTS?
-"It's because DTS is not ready to be the best team in Russia. *smiles* Seriously speaking, he is a good solo player who can really think on his feet. Somehow, he's nowhere to be seen now."

As you went inactive, did you feel sorry for the DotA community?
-"It was truly a pity to leave DotA then, while I may be indifferent to some people, the community really started to mean something to me. Yes, I did not like it, but I had no other choice..."

Couldn't you bend over for the sake of the community and all yours fans?
-"I could, but not at that moment - I just had to leave!"

Do most of the bad mannered players in Dota 2 Europe come from Russia? Do you think they need a separate server from the Russian players?
-"Nope, DotA scumbags are everywhere and they come in huge numbers. As for a separate server, I suggest moving them to HoN."

Thank you for this extensive and interesting interview. The last word is yours.
-"I just want to say hello to my friends and fans. Continue cheering for me, and do not leave me.

Thank you for your support!"

Links - Original Article (Part 1) - Original Article (Part 2)