Leslão interview at TI11: “The six-week league was a forced, unnecessary thing”
During TI11 in Singapore, we had the chance to catch up with Rodrigo "LESLÃO" Santos after Soniqs was eliminated.
While he was already released from the Soniqs roster at the time we spoke to him in Singapore, Leslão did walk was through what he felt went wrong for the team in the group stage. We also talked about the Dota Pro Circuit schedule changes for the next year, the state of Dota 2 gameplay-wise, and why a big patch after TI11 might not even be needed.
Hi and thank you for taking the time to talk to us today, Lelis. I mean Leslão… and since I actually called you by your old nickname, let's start with that. Why did you change from Lelis to Leslao, is there a special meaning to it?
Hi! I changed it to Leslão just because in Portuguese the "o" at the end means a bigger version of yourself, so it's not really a special meaning to it, it's just a variation of the name.
You know, the Chinese players have this superstition that says "change of name, change of luck", so that's why you see Paparazzi going Eurus, Maybe going as Somnus, etc. so, I thought it was something similar for you too.
Haha, no it's not like a lucky charm for me. I was just bored with Lelis and I just thought to change for a little bit, without deviating too much from my initial name.
So, you've been in Singapore for a while now, how does it feel, do you enjoy the country, how do you find it here?
Oh, It's a really nice place. Everything is just so clean. We've been around the city and they have a bunch of cool spots, the public transport is really good, probably the best I've seen. We had a local, Jeremy, who has been helping us to see all these places and to move around the city, he just goes with us everywhere, so that helps a lot. So, yeah I really enjoy the time here, outside Dota, it's been really nice.
Looking back at the Dota 2 season leading to TI11, what would be your personal highlight?
I would say this year I didn't have the best results. I kind of had a disappointing first DPC season with Alliance, then I took a break in the second season. Then, the third season was kind of a reunion with Quincy and I would say that the highlight is the TI qualifier, honestly.
I honestly thought this is the year when you guys would go further in the playoffs bracket and even be able to dodge that early OG match-up that you had for the past 3 TIs. But then you had these super mixed results in the group stage and didn't make it to the playoffs. Can you briefly walk us through what happened in the groups, what felt off, or wrong, what prevented you to make it to the playoffs?
To be honest, we had a pretty good bootcamp, things were working out for us and we were actually feeling a lot better than last year. We actually thought that this year we had a chance, but when we came into the tournament, a lot of the stuff that we were practicing in scrims didn't really work out.
We kind of had our own thing going, a really easy example would be: we were using Lina a lot and during the tournament, we started to lose a lot with it and we lost faith in it, but a lot of our strategies just revolved around picking this hero early. A lot of the stuff we did in the bootcamp didn't really turn out to be the meta, honestly, and that hurt us a lot.
Even so, on a lot of games, this year it did feel better than last year. I feel like last year we were just a little bit outclassed in general, we weren't that good. This year, the result was worse, but the sentiment was that we were better as a team. It's kind of a Dota 2 paradox, you can laugh at it, but it's how this game works sometimes.
It simply didn't work as we envisioned it. We basically threw some games, if people just go back and look at the games, it's really easy to say we should have won. Every team says that they should have won a game, right? But we did feel like this year there were a lot of games that we should have won, but we didn’t play well enough to win and the reason behind it it's like the team not working out, crumbling in a way after some losses. In the end, it's the nature of competition.
How do you feel about this new TI schedule? Do you like that fact is stretched across almost a full month?
The break in the middle of the playoffs is very weird. I guess you can only really say if it's good or bad after the whole thing ends and you have some time to think about it, but I think the general consensus is that its kind of unnecessary.
I'm not sure why exactly they chose to have a break in the playoffs. I personally, would like to not have such a long break in the middle of the competition. I can only imagine how is it for the 4 teams that made it through the Finals Weekend. There are not many teams left to scrim with on those days off, so how are you actually practicing for the finals?
Let's talk a bit about next year's DPC. They already announced that the leagues will run for 3 weeks, down from 6. Do you see it as an improvement or would you have liked the regional league schedule to be even shorter?
I think its' definitely a good change. The six-week league was a forced, unnecessary thing. I get that they want the games to be spaced out so we can have them all on broadcast without overlapping them, but that was a very trying schedule for all the players.
In the six-week schedule, you just had to be in this tournament grind, scrimming, practicing, and even bootcamping for six weeks straight, and then you barely had any time to reset and get ready for the Major or for the next Tour. It was just non-stop play for the whole year.
It encouraged a lot the grinders. For example, Ammar. He grinds his heroes, and he gets really good on specific heroes he played for a whole year, and that benefited him by a lot to get to TI. He is what you can call a specialist player.
I guess that's a double-edged sword. If we look just at the ATF example that you just gave, yes he is a specialist on Timbersaw, Razor, Huskar, Mars, but he played those heroes so much through the whole year that by the time he is at TI, most people learned how to deal with his heroes and with OG in general. At the same time, I feel like the six-week league did not train or prepare the new players at all for TI and the insane schedule you have here.
Yeah, definitely, I agree. I'll give a short example of what happened to us at the Singapore Major last year. That was the first Major after the covid long online period. So, there was one day when played four best-of-two series straight, back to back with no break. I thought that was crazy, I never played something like that.
So, yeah this laid-back, one series a week in the leagues is very weird and that has absolutely nothing in common with what you will experience on LAN. To sum up, the DPC change to 3 weeks down from 6, it's a good step in the right direction. It will probably give more chances for third-party tournaments to happen throughout the year, it will probably give teams more time to get visas and plan their travel to Majors or LANs in general, so yeah, I find it a positive change.
Another change that the Dota 2 community is looking forward to, and hopes will happen is a big patch after TI. Are you keen to see a big patch deployed and what changes are you hoping to see being made to the game?
I like the current patch and where Dota 2 is right now in terms of gameplay. There are not a lot of abominations in the game right now, there is a lot of stuff that can be played and explored. Some heroes might look OP or even broken, like Marci or Shadow Fiend in pubs, but I wouldn't say that it's like one of the old patches where something was so broken that was just making the gameplay not fun anymore.
I think the current patch is one of the best patches we ever had, but I would of course like to see some map changes being made and even some economy changes. I do like it when things get shaken up and people have to start figuring it all out. It's kind of rewarding in a way when you are the one who figured out something first.
At the same time, I understand that changing just for the sake of it is not a good argument. If the game is running fine, why change something?
We are at the end of a pretty tiring year, as you said earlier, do you have any vacation plans after TI11?
Yeah, probably I'm going to take a vacation for a month in November and stay away from Dota 2 for a little bit and wind down. Last year we didn't have a break really, we were straight into the leagues after TI10. But, this year there is actually a proper break because the first DPC tour starts in January. So now, we actually have November and December to relax, but you don't want to take the full two months of time off. At least in December, you want to get ready, start talking to people and see what's up, what are the rosters, and what the future holds for you.
Alright, I wish you a very pleasant vacation, best of luck next season and I hope to get to talk to you again right from the first Major of 2023!
Thank you for having me.