Dotaland at TI3

Hey everyone, I’ve been sitting on this for over a month now, but I (AutumnWindz) will be at TI3 group stages as well as the main event for some translation goodness (hopefully it’ll be good, anyway). Main things to expect are pre and post-game interviews with Chinese players and teams, as well as an as-yet undetermined amount of potential fun and candid stuff with players and fans alike during the event. The latter may or may not be in collaboration with a certain few other Valve-invited Dota 2 personalities. Exciting, no?

Follow @Dotaland on Twitter and Dotaland on Youtube — if I have any of my own stuff that I find worthy, that’s where it’ll be updated. I plan on at least keeping the Twitter feed active with photos, quotes, and other snippets. For everything else, I’ll be working with Valve and other Valve-invited translators and interviewers to bring all sorts of cool new stuff, and all of that will be up on Valve’s streams and content avenues.

Stay tuned and get ready for TI3! Thank you to all those who support Dotaland, whether in terms of reading content here, or sharing links on reddit and other forums. And speacial thank yous to Valve, IceFrog, and HippoVic for the faith placed in me in inviting me for this role, as well as Mali, Helen, and 17173 for their support and friendship along the way. I hope to do my best.

If you see me and want to say hi, I’ll be the Asian dude with long hair and glasses.

RattleSnake LaNm interview: ECL, pre-TI3

Replays.NET: Hello LaNm, thanks for accepting our interview. Say hi to everyone!
RattleSnake.LaNm: Hello everyone, I am LaNm.

RN: Starting off, let’s talk about why your team only arrived at ECL on the third day?
We have two players who have never been to America, so the day before they had to go for the visa interview. ECL organizers were understanding of this and arranged for all our matches to be pushed back to the third day.

RN: On the third day your team had to play five consecutive matches, did this affect your performance at all?
Not too greatly, though we still didn’t manage to get the results that we wanted, so the hope was to improve later on in the elimination stages.

RN: So RattleSnake has not entered their best form, so to speak?
Yeah, we’re still adjusting.

RN: In the first two days, you made some cameos as a commentator during matches, and many viewers noted that your commentary was excellent. What do you think?
I feel that most professional players will have a great understanding of the bigger picture. Plus, I’m usually talk a lot within the team, so I have practice in this regard.

RN: Would you consider becoming a caster/commentator in the future?
If the chance is there, then yes, but for now I’m still concentrating on achieving better results in my playing career.

RN: Of course, your Tiny at TI2 left us all a great impression with the comeback win, can you tell us about some of what was going on behind the scenes at the time?
At the time, only in the few minutes where the comeback was on the verge did I feel the adrenaline rushing. For the rest of that game, I was calm and collected, completely in a competitor’s mindset, I didn’t think of anything else, and didn’t think about what people might say or think after a potential comeback win. Also, because our team at the time had practiced this strategy many times, the whole team had the belief that if we held out long enough, we would be able to win it.

RN: There’s an image online from a foreign website reviewing your team, giving you guys an 8 out of 10 in creativity, but only 1 or 2 in all other aspects, do you think this is an honest appraisal?
I think that maybe this website is trying to bait pageviews… because even though our team does indeed have relatively strong innnovative abilities, it’s not actually that great, plus, I feel that if a team did have good creativity, then their other aspects couldn’t possibly only be 1 or 2 points out of ten.

RN: The roles within your team aren’t very set, and you yourself sometimes switch between solo mid and the 4 spot, why?
RSnake.LaNm: Mainly it’s due to the fact that our play style isn’t particularly set upon any one style, then it’s that our players’ strengths have their differences. For example, Kabu, his offensive ability might be a 9 out of 10, but his defense might only be a 1 or 2. To put it simply, he doesn’t know how to babysit someone. So heroes like Clockwerk are suited for him, yet a counter-initiating Naga Siren wouldn’t suit him. Thus, sometimes I make cameo appearances on Visage, Enchantress, and Chen, as a bit of a substitute player in those situations.

RN: Talk a bit about your hopes and predictions for TI3?
TI3 is definitely going to see every team doing their utmost to win, us included. We just want to play to our standards and not leave any regrets.

RN: Lastly, some words for fans?
RSnake.LaNm: Thank you for all your support for us, and if I get the chance in the future, I will make more vods for you all.


Pre-TI3 analysis: A tale of narrowing margins and increasing difficulties for China

Looking towards TI3 (less than 50 days away now!), Chinese esports man Felix has a writeup of some fears he has for Chinese teams at TI3 in Seattle this year…

TI3: A tale of narrowing margins and increasing difficulties for China — by Felix

I think lots of readers will be hesitant and doubtful upon first reading the title here. But have no fear, I think it’s better that the ire be directed towards people like me who write this kind of stuff, rather than be directed at the teams and players in case they fail to win at TI3. I absolutely believe that they will all give it their 357% effort, but it must be acknowledged that what faces them at TI3 is much more dangerous and challenging than TI2.

1. I want to note that in the matchup between RattleSnake and Quantic for the Wild Card spot, RSnake has to be seen as the underdogs here. You can go to Gosugamers and check their match records, and compare the two teams recent results. You should see a definite trend. What this means is that, from the outset, the number of Chinese teams present may well be 4 versus 12 non-Chinese teams, as opposed to last year’s 5 versus 11.

2. Ageing. If we take a detailed look at the 4 guaranteed Chinese teams present, apart from TongFu’s Banana, all the other 19 players participated in TI2. In contrast, before G-1 Season 5, how many people knew of Admiral Bulldog, or EGM? Who was NaVi’s Funn1k? What about Fnatic’s players’ names, their roles, their preferred heroes? I’d guess that not many Chinese players would be very familiar. After TI2, with the exception of VG who brought out a few new faces, there have been no other newcomers. The likes of CDEC can’t be expected to bring immediate results right now, and thus our Chinese teams must accept the circumstances as they are currently… yet we should still question what brought this about.

3. Understandings. After their respective losses at TI2, foreign teams and players have spent the year analyzing and learning Chinese teams. In particular, Orange, who have participated in three different large-scale Chinese events since then, who have been living and training in China, as well as the Alliance that came to China and stomped, not to mention NaVi, who will be coming to China to train soon. Across these teams, there has been a dramatic increase in understanding of the Chinese for them, while in comparison, Chinese players and teams have incomplete understandings of European and American players and teams. Chinese styles are no longer mysterious to them, while our opponents remain unfamiliar to us.

4. Gap in competitions. This is a point that I think most everyone can recognize. I roughly counted all the events available between the the end of G-League in January to the closing of G-1 League in May of 2013, and not a single Chinese team played more than 10 matches in that timespan. If you go look at Steam’s event ticket calendar, you find that in that same timespan, there were at least four significant events taking place in Europe and America. To be able to use competitions as training is a luxury for any team, and in this respect, foriegn teams havee had over five times as much experience in the past months as Chinese teams. What this brings about is a falling behind in playing style and strategies, and this is something that has already been seen at G-1.

5. The offline advantage is gone. Alliance, coming from faraway Sweden to China, showed us that the gap in offline skill from older days was no longer to be seen. Over the past half year, iterations of ESL, DreamHack, StarLadder, and other competitions have all come and gone, and with them the idea that foreign teams are “fierce online, weak offline” is fading away.

6. Mental burden. After NaVi took TI1, Chinese teams approached TI2 with a nothing to lose, everything to gain attitude, in which they all strove to be the ones to win TI2 for China. This ultimately helped iG overcome all kinds of challenges in terms of stamina and determination, and allowed them to complete the impossible mission in the end. At TI3, however, it will be completely opposite, as not only is it not a given that iG will be able to approach the competition with the ease with which last year’s defending champs NaVi did, but they will also have the entire nation’s hopes and expectations upon them. As such, all participating Chinese players and teams will simultaneously feel that they want to win, yet they’re afraid of losing. Chinese Dota stands as the world’s best, so winning is to be expected, while losing is letting the nation down.

These things, while they may seem small or inconsequential to some, will be taken to heart by others that understand the nuances of competition. Me bringing these things up here is absolutely not to be a naysayer for our Chinese teams, instead, it is to bring a word of caution. Even though the Chinese Dota 2 servers are nearing open beta, even though Dota 2 has just been featured on CCTV, the trip to Seattle for all our teams is definitely not just a vacation, it will be a game of increasing challenges and difficulties compared to prior years.

After TI3, Chinese Dota is primed to flip to an all-new chapter; close to half of the currently active players may retire one after the other. They are not only your gods and legends of Dota when underneath the spotlight, they are also competitors in esports, and they’ve worked and sacrificed for years just for the few chances they get. So no matter what results they achieve, they should be worthy of your understanding and respect.

I’ll just say this much in this piece, next up I’ll write more specific analysis of the teams. Less than 50 days now, add oil.


SGamer interview with LongDD: I will grow old, but I will not leave

Oops, had this one backlogged. This is from May 15, a few days ago.


SGamer: Thank you to LongDD for doing this interview with Earlier in the afternoon, you had told me that you were at the airport; where are you now?
LongDD: I’ve now arrived at the LGD team house.

SGamer: When you first left LGD a few days back, was there any anger?
LongDD: There wasn’t much anger, but there was a reluctatnce — I didn’t want to leave the pro scene, I didn’t want to give up on Seattle.

SGamer: Was it that once you left the team, LGD would have to play in the TI3 qualifiers? Additionally, something many people are curious about — when LGD first announced you as an official member, was there any contract signed?
LongDD: Indeed, because of my leaving the team, they would have to play in the qualifiers. My return this time is to accompany them along the way, to contribute that which I am able to. Everything was very rushed before so there was never any contract.

SGamer: LGD had mentioned in their earlier announcement that they had made efforts to keep you around by offering you other positions with the team, but you had declined. Why did you decline at first, and then return?
LongDD: Because I’d been playing professionally five years now, and had grown tired of floating around. After being out and about so many years, I wanted to go home. My role this time as a coach will still be a short one, just for a few days.

SGamer: Who contacted you to invite you back as coach? Does this all mean that you will still be leaving LGD after TI3?
LongDD: Xiao8 contacted me, and I agreed. There wasn’t much of a reason behind it, and if I had to say, it would be the fact that we’re all friends. After helping them make preparations for the TI3 qualifiers I’ll be leaving, so about 6 or 7 days…

SGamer: Why not choose to stick around with LGD, at least until after TI3?
LongDD: I will not stay, because I feel weary in the heart.

SGamer: Every in LGD is a veteran of the scene, so what will you mainly be responsible for?
LongDD: I’ve just arrived back so I’m still not sure exactly what. I think it’ll be things like summarizing results and strategies, making suggestions for improvements on things I see in 3v3 scrims, bans and picks, etc.

SGamer: How do you rate LGD’s current form? In terms of individual players do you think LGD can go toe-to-toe with iG?
LongDD: I’ve always felt that LGD has exceptional players in their team. Their loss in the DSL to VG, I feel, is only down to a lack of preparation.

SGamer: What do you think is the most important element of a typical competitive game now? Bans/pick stage?
LongDD: Nowadays in professional matches, the bans/picks determines something like 60-70% of the outcome. The rest of it is down to lane setups and how each lane fares, as well as performance and team execution. The reason I say this is because player skill is very similar between top teams now.

SGamer: Compared to the old mode of three bans in the first ban phase, what does the change to two bans bring?
LongDD: It means that strategies are more varied. Bans/picks become more difficult to get right, and thus require more out of each team in order to achieve success. It requires teams to know how to play more different styles. So competitive games nowadays possess a higher degree of tactical thought.

SGamer: What do you feel LGD’s greatest weakness right now?
LongDD: Mainly it is that they lack a wider array of styles. They must understand this, and practice some more combinations, and work on their mentality.

SGamer: Mentality? Are you saying their mentality right now isn’t in a good place?
LongDD: I personally feel that they need to try more different things; they can’t only always run the same exact things. The new styles coming from many different teams are things that cannot simply be ignored.

SGamer: After leaving LGD, you began making vods and streams. Has this been enjoyable for you, or have you still been thinking about……
LongDD: Playing pro? The professional lifestyle is a brutally competitive one. Without the chance of a good team, I don’t want to strive for it any longer. Streaming is quite fun, I had been spending 16, 17 hours a day doing it — putting my life into it, haha.

SGamer: Will you continue streaming after helping LGD with the TI3 qualifiers?
LongDD: Yes.

SGamer: Under your tutelage, how do you think LGD will do at G-1?
LongDD: I think they should be champions.

SGamer: What is training like for LGD right now? Are they mainly scrimming with the Int squad or with other teams?
LongDD: Yeah, the typical day is scrimming with various teams. During my time here I will help arrange some laning and bans/picks practices.

SGamer: Which teams do you scrim more with?LongDD: All about the same, we contact all of them.

SGamer: Do you feel that LGD is able to challenge iG’s position at the top?
LongDD: I feel that there is a possibility, and the possibility is a big one.

SGamer: Lastly, why don’t you bring this interview to an end?
LongDD: Thank you to those friends who have supported me all along. I will eventually grow old, but I will not leave.