Ant1ka: “Guys tend to be skeptical about practicing with girls”

Ant1ka: “Guys tend to be skeptical about practicing with girls”

After a second place finish at WESG 2018, Anna “Ant1ka” Ananikova talked about the difference between her current squad and the former one, shared impressions of working with the coach of Vega Squadron, and the dynamics between male and female Counter-Strike.

For Ant1ka’s Lazarus WESG Finals was a bitter-sweet event. The Russian team entered this year’s competition as reigning champions and their expectation were high.

Lazarus started in Group B with a 1-1 tie against Those Damn Canadians, followed by two straight wins against Team France and ArkAngel Pro Team from the Philippines.

In the semi-finals, the Russian team overcame Australia’s Carnage esports in a two-map thriller. It was on Nuke, where a fierce fight between two teams lead to a 28:24 scoreline.

In the grand final, they were ultimately defeated by Counter Logic Gaming Red — one of the best female Counter-Strike teams in the world right now. On both Train and Overpass the game ended with a 16:14 scoreline, making it a very bitter defeat for Ant1ka’s team.

Following her return from the Chinese event, Anna “Ant1ka” Ananikova talked about her thoughts after finishing second.

It’s not your first time in China. How do you like the country this time?

Very cool! Here people are so hardworking and responsive that it never ceases to amaze. I’ve always noticed it, but this time, it’s especially obvious. The same applies to the organization of the tournament. Our whole team admires the work that is done. Also, Chongqing, as I noticed, is a typical Chinese city. I love it!

Did your practice for the event went well?

Yeah. We played on a local gaming platform and also practiced with a Chinese team. The girls themselves gave us an offer, we are in good relations with them. Unfortunately, we did not perform as well as we wanted, but it’s even better – we immediately found our mistakes and fixed them.

Have you tried practicing with men’s teams?

No, we haven’t. Although, now it seems that it would be worthwhile to offer to practice. But guys tend to be skeptical about such proposals.

On a ten-point scale, how would you rate the shape of your team?

9/10. I would have given the maximum rating if we had more time to prepare with our coach.

Your coach is the coach of Vega Squadron, Fierce. As far as I know, you’ve been friends for a long time. How did you come to the idea of working together?

It’s a very interesting story! I did not even know that he was invited to coach us firstly. After losing four qualifiers for IEM in Katowice, we came to a conclusion with the team that we need a coach. And as a result, Dasha invited him to look at how we play, and he agreed.

Will you work with him only during WESG, or the cooperation can be long-term?

I don’t know, it’s up to him. I would like him to continue being our coach. He is very competent and clearly explains all the things. Moreover, he has a huge experience – two times he led Vega Squadron to Top 16 of the Major. I have great respect for him, and of course, I would like to continue working together after the tournament.

Was the result at WESG disappointing?

We came for the victory. That was our goal.

You were defending the title. What does that mean to you?

I wanted to be a two-time WESG champion. I’d be the only girl who could say that. That would be really cool. I believe in our team, the girls try very hard, play a lot, train a lot. We were all set on victory.

Last year, you played with a completely different line-up. Then it was the most famous and experienced female players in the CIS. Can you compare your current team to the previous one?

In fact, the girls in Lazarus are also very experienced. There is a thing in women’s esports: if you do not take first place, you are a noname. The girls used to take second or third places in international competitions, and they individually perform very well.

In Lazarus, we have a team of friendly and family relations. I have known them all for a long time, and the relationship is very strong. We also were all friends in the last year’s line-up, but I can’t say that it was like this.

Which team impressed you the most?

To be honest, TyLoo plays very well. I hoped to meet them in the playoffs, but we were basically ready for every opponent.

How did you spend the money you won last year?

I put it in the family business. I won’t tell you which one. But this is my joint project with my mother and sister. I hope this works.

For men’s teams WESG is special, but still one of many tournaments. Girls have much fewer championships. Tell me about your preparations, please.

For us, it is much more responsible tournament. We prepared and trained five days a week. Closer to the tournament, we increased the number of training days to 6-7. We tried to train at least five hours, but often it took more time. When I arrived here, all I do is train my aim and movements. 

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It’s the final countdown: Titans clash in the last week of LEC

It’s the final countdown: Titans clash in the last week of LEC

During the last week of the League of Legends European Championship 2019 Spring we are bound for an amazing battle where G2 Esports will face the amazing Fnatic.

The meetings of these two formations have always chilled the blood of fans of the European League of Legends and this time we are promised a wonderful spectacle once again.

G2 Esports became the first team in Europe to secure their playoff spot and now they have a free ticket straight to the semi-finals. Other teams with a playoff spot are Origen, Splyce, and Team Vitality, but it’s not the right time to relax either — everyone wants to skip the first round of playoffs.

With the final LEC Spring Split week now upon us, we take a look at teams worth following this week.

At the beginning of today’s competition Misfits Gaming will face off against Splyce. For both teams it is basically a match for everything. Steven “Hans sama” Liv and colleagues are now one spot behind the sixth place, so in the event of a possible defeat they will practically lose any chances of getting to the playoffs. The issue of entering the playoffs does not depend solely on them, because they also have to count on FC Schalke 04’s poor disposition.

Splyce, admittedly, has a place in the top six, but are still caught in a bitter battle for the second position in the table, which would guarantee participation in the second round of playoffs. So we can expect a very fierce spectacle, in which each player will give an absolute hundred percent.

Our pick: Splyce (place your bets here)

SK Gaming after two defeats in the eighth week found itself in an extremely difficult position. It is true that today’s match should be easy for the players of this formation, but in the next match with Team Vitality they will not be favorites.

After all, they still have mathematical chances for promotion to playoffs, which is why they will not allow themselves to waste this victory. All the signs in the sky and the earth indicate that it will be a free shot for Selfmade and colleagues. Sorry Rogue, but you haven’t shown anything this split that would make anyone think otherwise.

Our pick: SK Gaming (place your bets here)

This is the meeting that all fans of the European Legend League are waiting for. It is true that Fnatic is much lower in the table than its rivals, however, world runners-up have not lost a single match for several weeks. G2 Esports will play this game without their main support — Miky “Mikyx” Mehlego, who due to injury will not enter this matchup on the Berlin stage. His substitute, Hampus “promisq” Abrahamsson, is not considered one of the best supports in the Old Continent, and besides, he did not have much time to get used to the environment and the team.

In addition, Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski and the company are guaranteed victory in the regular season, which is why they have basically nothing to play for, except for a vague sense of pride. It gives Fnatic a good chance, who are still not secured in the top six.

Our pick: Fnatic (place your bets here)

This is another match this week with not much on the line. Team Vitality are behind G2 Esports, and Origen and Splyce caught up with them in the rankings — the teams Vitality are fighting with for a second place in the table.

However, that’s not the only problem for the team, because Fnatic lurks behind them, waiting to use the possible mistake of their rivals. In such a meeting there is no place for a mistake, especially that tomorrow the team will be facing SK Gaming in the battle for promotion to playoffs.

With Vitality having nothing to lose and Excel showing underwhelming results throughout the split, the result of tonight’s match should be predictable.

Our pick: Vitality (place your bets here)

FC Schalke 04, despite the victory against Misfits Gaming in the previous week, still haven’t guaranteed their promotion to the playoffs. Thanks to that win, Elias “Upset” Lipp and colleagues are still in a much better position than the rivals behind them, namely SK and Misfits. However, the representatives of the German sports club are not the favorites in this match, because the last few games Origen simply looked that much better.

Nukeduck’s team have no place for failure either, since their squad is still fighting against Vitality and Splyce for second place in the table, which guarantees a huge advantage over the other four formations taking part in the playoffs.

Our pick: Origen (place your bets here)

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RodjER: “I’m not the calmest player in-game. Sometimes emotions get the best of me”

RodjER: “I’m not the calmest player in-game. Sometimes emotions get the best of me”

It will be a hard month ahead of Virtus.pro, and support player Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan discussed the team’s morale approaching the tournaments, current meta, and response to his critique.

It was a bitter start of 2019 for Virtus.pro. They finished second at The Chongqing Major, just behind Team Secret. At MDL Macau 2019 they had to make do with a third-place finish after a defeat at the hands of Evil Geniuses.

Starting this week Virtus.pro will attempt for their first title of 2019, this time at DreamLeague Season 11. RodjER and his team will face off EHOME, Mineski, and Forward Gaming in Group C.

With teams like Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses, Team Secret, Vici Gaming and many other top teams in attendance, the fight for $1,000,000 dollars will be till the bitter end.

The recent drama concerning your game in MDL comes to mind. Roman Dvoryankin, ArsZeeqq, No[o]ne all took part in the discussion, but you have remained uninvolved. Do you have any comments on this matter?

I tried to remain uninvolved as I knew they (analytics) were not correct, after all. As the players, we still understand the game better than they do. The things they’ve said — that we were at the level of pub games and died all over the place — is simply nonsense. I did not wish to convince anyone about anything.

A very level-headed approach. Overall, you seem like one of the coolest and most collected players. How can you stay so calm both in the game and beyond?

Actually, I’m not the calmest player in-game. Sometimes emotions get the best of me. I try to cheer up my teammates in-game: sometimes I can hype them up after a kill or a special moment.

Speaking of special moments: when was the last time you lost a dare in an official match?

It was just once! (laughs). It’s just a meme.

What do you usually do during the draft phase? What do you play, what do you do, what do you watch?

It’s situational. Sometimes I warm up in WarCraft, but usually, I just sit and look at the comps. Depends on my mood. Our first three picks are usually on the coach and Ramzes, but then the whole team chimes in, too. Actually, I believe warming up before the game is pretty useful sometimes.

Warming up in WarCraft – on some custom maps?

Nah, just Skirmishes.

Your overall opinion on Macau tournament?

We planned to treat this tournament as a practice of sorts at first, to try something new. We wouldn’t really have been upset even if we had lost to everyone and took the last place. In fact, we’re quite happy with the outcome — we’ve got to top-3 even though we haven’t prepared to the tournament much.

You were pretty close to finishing in the last place, actually, but in the first round of playoffs it seemed like you got pissed off and you made a comeback off it.

We played as usual, nothing close to getting pissed off. We were a bit more indifferent to the games in groups – we played as we could. We started preparing for our opponents in the playoffs, but again, nothing too special – we just played our own game. Just so it turned out that we kept winning and advancing.

Let’s talk heroes. You had some problems facing Lone Druid in the MDL. How would you rate this hero now?

It’s a strong hero. His benefit is that his support can leave him to his own devices if Lone Druid gets a good start. As a result, the support is free to roam and apply pressure elsewhere on the map.

LD is very hard to pressure to the point of complete uselessness. All in all, he creates tons of space for his team and he’s hard to face in the early.

We’ve also lost almost every game against Ursa and Lifestealer. How to properly play against these heroes?

These two are also strong meta picks. Lifestealer requires you to base your whole pick around not allowing him to snowball – if he gets rolling, he’s unstoppable. Plus Lifestealer doesn’t need much to snowball – just Hand of Midas and Radiance. Besides all that, he’s also an early game hero. We noticed in Macau that teams freely first pick him and win. And since we haven’t prepared to that tournament that well, we didn’t expect him to be a first pick snowball early hero.

Only over the course of the series we realized how to play against it. You have to carefully choose your comp against him and force him into your tempo. When he finishes his Hand of Midas, you have to force objectives around the map not to let him free farm. You have to force him into fights.

Ursa, too, is a strong hero. Ursa and Lifestealer have pretty different roles, though. Ursa is a semi-core hero who can’t be countered that easily. There are some uncomfortable picks for him, like Venomancer, but Ursa will still be able to do his own thing and create space.

How do you like Bounty Hunter in this patch? Which position suits him the best?

BH is either positon 1 or 3. He’s probably not going to shine at position 4. Usually, teams pick him on offlane or as a carry and base their comp around the idea of allowing him to freely roam, create space, and be overall unkillable.

What do you think of the current patch? Is it faster or slower than the previous one?

It depends on the teams you face. You can play a lot of different styles: you can just settle for Hand of Midas and farming, for instance. If one team amasses an advantage and goes for Midas, the other team has to do something about it as you can no longer just sit back and farm. Tempo depends on you. You can build Vladmir, Drums and Medallion, take Roshan and go for a fast finish. Everything depends on the teams, the drafts – many factors. Dota offers tons of variability at the moment, the games can be both very short or very long.

Hand of Midas finally got nerfed. What do you think – will this artifact finally disappear from the meta?

Yes, I believe it will disappear. It will be bought less, at least. I hate it being bought on supports – it’s just nonsense! It will still be good on heroes like Lone Druid and Lifestealer, on others – not so much.

The meta of two, three, four Midas which lasted for about a month appeared outta nowhere! Midas wasn’t even buffed, but for some reason, all the teams suddenly decided to build it. Is this something completely spontaneous?

Someone set the meta. There was a tendency before: you gather advantage, buy certain artifacts and set out to finish the game. But someone decided that it’s too much of a risk: if you make a mistake, you lose. But if you were to buy Midas and farm first, you let your opponent make a mistake while farming since you know you’d certainly win if you just farm for around 10 minutes more.

What do you think — is the meta formed by the subjective or objective factors? For instance, teams that win more than others dictate the meta. Even while the heroes they pick and artifacts they build may not be the absolute best ones in the current patch by far. But still, they make it work, so everyone follows their footsteps. Or are there some objective factors that form the meta?

The lower-tier teams get ideas from the outside. They see how strong teams play and attempt to copy them. At the same time, higher-level teams try to think for themselves, create and test something new. For instance – we caught a glimpse of a Viper with Rod of Atos – completely unseen before. I first saw it in a public match in China, where some guy from somewhere around 2000th spot went to the jungle on the third minute, bought Atos and simply obliterated everyone. Someone picks it up and thinks he’s a genius.

What is the strength of this build?

Viper breaks TPs with Atos. It’s pretty easy to escape him otherwise. Early game Atos is very strong. Mobile heroes get slowed down and fall over. And overall, Viper simply gets more survivability and becomes harder to kill. But before MDL Macau nobody used such Viper even though it was quite popular in Chinese pubs. We just didn’t expect it at all.

You had your one year VP anniversary not so long ago. Got any gifts? How was it?

Nothing much. It’s just a nice feeling that I’m in the team for a whole year already. Just some jokes and banter, nothing else.

There have been lots of different tournaments lately. Do you watch anything besides Dota?

We have watched the CS Major together with the boys. I have discovered CS’s great entertainment value — worth to take a look sometimes. But I don’t really watch other stuff, just some random streams in my free time.

Your schedule’s pretty packed right now. Have you considered skipping some of the series?

It was our calculated decision. We wanted to play in the WESG since it’s got a good prize pool. And, obviously, you can’t really miss a Major. It was our conscious decision to play more, practice more, then have a good break and get back to it refreshed.

How’s the team’s morale? Is there any incentive to chase the number one spot of the DPC rating?

The first place alone doesn’t mean much. It’s a chain reaction of sorts: we want to win the tournament, win the prize, and prove to everyone that we’re the best team. There’s an incentive to win every tournament, and if we do win, we’ll get the top-1 DPC spot.

Who are the opponents we should look out for in the upcoming Major?

Not clear yet. So far I can outline Team Secret and Team Liquid, they’re in a good form. Not sure how PSG.LGD are holding out, they’ve changed their roster and it’s unclear how they’re feeling.

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Armel: “We didn’t qualify for the Major, so we wanted to prove ourselves here”

Armel: “We didn’t qualify for the Major, so we wanted to prove ourselves here”

After TNC claimed the trophy of WESG 2018, Armel Paul “Armel” Tabios talked about the problems that the team had before the tournament and preparation for it, as well as his plans on how he is going to spend his part of the prize money.

The 19-year-old told carry for the team, defeated China’s Keen Gaming in the grand final, grabbing the lion’s share of the $890,000 USD prize pool.

On their way to the final, TNC Predator overcame one of the favorites and last year winners White-Off — a Russian team built around four Virtus.pro members. Although few tier 1 teams chose to attend the event it proved to be great showcase of things to come for TNC.

After their victory, Armel talked about the importance of this title for the team and what a victory on the international stage means for the players.

What is your mood just right now after taking the WESG trophy?

It’s amazing. When we came to this tournament we had a good practice, even with two days of practice with our new offlaner. Overall, we played very well on scrims and had a good feeling before the event.

How hard was it to adapt to Raven as he was a third position player?

It wasn’t that hard. We all played together before, so we know the way he thinks and plays. He needed to adjust a little bit. For him, it’s pretty much the same, but now he is the player who creates the space and not the one who uses it.

Describe your attitude to WESG as a tournament.

This season of WESG is a good tournament. Obviously, it’s not a DPC event, but for us this tournament was important.

Was it all is just about the money?

For me personally, it’s not only about the money. I just want to win against tier-1 teams because we didn’t qualify for The Stockholm Major, so we wanted to prove ourselves here and redeem our confidence. We had a rough time, we were a bad team, and this tournament is the best practice for us. And now, we gained our confidence back and I believe that we will play better on the next Major’s qualifiers. We don’t have a problem with our gaming performance, it’s all about our mentality.

You were one of the favorites here in Chongqing. It’s quite unusual for you, doesn’t it?

We don’t pay much attention to it. Moreover, we didn’t see us as favorites because there were so many strong teams like EHOME and Virtus.pro, who were the defending champions.

By the way, Valve recently released a new update. What do you think about it?

To be honest with you, when it was just released, we thought that Kunkka is a dead hero. But after we used him a few times on practice, we found out that he’s almost as good as he was before despite his power on a lane stage is nerfed now.

During the playoffs, Keen Gaming showed that even Vengeful Spirit can be used as a carry. So maybe the current meta is a bit more flexible?

Well, I think that they just saw how Team Secret used it during ESL One Katowice 2019 and just copied the draft. In my mind, the meta is pretty much the same now.

Your strongest opponent of the whole tournament?

White-off. They are playing like a tier-1 team in many ways. Before the final, I supposed that Team Ukraine would beat Keen Gaming, but the Chinese team showed confidence in drafts and game decisions. And we have to remember that KG qualified to the Major, so we couldn’t underestimate them.

I was surprised by the fact of how many people from the SEA region are rooting for you. Did you feel the pressure of responsibility?

We didn’t feel any pressure. Like at all. Before the tournament, we had issues with our confidence. And all our problems have gone so far. Now, we are just happy.

How will you spend your prize money?

I haven’t made plans for it yet. But for such a huge amount of money, you can buy anything! To be honest, I will most likely buy a car.

Speaking about the SEA scene, it looks like that Fnatic is on a much higher level comparing to all the other teams from the region. Why is that so?

It’s all about IceIceIce, man! He’s too good. When he joins a team, that team always starts to dominate the region. It happened that year with Mineski, it’s happening this year with Fnatic. Obviously, they have some good players, but so we do. So for me, IceIceIce is too good.

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7ckngMad: “Of course Ana will return to OG”

7ckngMad: “Of course Ana will return to OG”

OG’s Sébastien “7ckngMad” Debs talked about the current meta, the Starladder ImbaTV Minor, their new teammate iLTW, and the return of Anatan “ana” Pham to the squad.

Starladder proved to be another underwhelming event for OG. The team fell in the group stage after two straight losses against the Russian Old But Gold lineup. Even though they managed to win against China’s Royal Never Give Up, their overall performance was less than stellar.

One of the possible explanations may be that team’s newest addition, the young Igor “iLTW” Filatov wasn’t allowed in Ukraine following the geopolitical situation between Ukraine and Russia. Thankfully, iLTW was allowed to play for the team from his home, under the supervision of Starladder admin.

Sébastien “7ckngMad” Debs talked about the event and his teammates in the interview.

Let’s start with the most important topic at the moment: iLTW was not allowed into Ukraine. What was your plan for that?

The tournament organizers said that iLTW will be able to play online under the supervision of a StarLadder judge so that he does not break any rules. That was the only option that we had.

Have you ever thought of playing with a coach?

No, we wanted to play with iLTW.

Players from the CIS rarely perform in European teams. Only Resolut1on can be called an exception. Why did you invite iLTW and what do you think about his potential in top teams?

With iLTW, I played a lot in matchmaking and noticed that he is very good. He perfectly shows himself in the micro. I would say that he has talent. Therefore, we remembered him almost immediately [when we needed a carry]. ILTW has huge potential — he works a lot and approaches the game very seriously and professionally.

In addition, he has the motivation to win. In many ways, he reminds us of ourselves when we were just starting our career in DotA. He has the motivation and talent — everything you need to become the best. I think he is waiting for great success in this discipline.

I just have to ask you about Ana. Many sources reported that he is returning to OG. Can you comment on these rumors?

Of course Ana will return to OG. He did not finish his career but only took a break. Such rumors constantly appear.

That is, he will return to OG?

Yes, of course.

Let’s talk about the Minor. Many analysts considered OG, if not the main contender to win, then certainly one of the favorites. What other teams, in your opinion, are included in this list?

I think Vici Gaming and Gambit Esports were definitely favorites of this tournament. In fact, there were many strong teams here. For example, the RNG is also a very dangerous opponent.

In general, “DotA” teaches that in any tournament each opponent must be approached seriously. Therefore, no matter who comes against you, you have to act as always and do your best. The team looks not only at the favorites.

What do you think about the current patch 7.21c?

In general, this is a good update. The developers balanced some of the characters, but I didn’t like some changes. I do not understand why they strengthened Meepo. I think he was so good. For some reason, they improved it again. I love it when developers make characters balanced, and not reinforce only one side of it. If the hero is good only in a single situation, it will be impossible to use it in other cases.

The rest of the patch is very good. I liked that the developers had finally begun to change the system of denying. Look at how “DotA” has changed, when they stopped giving a lot of experience for selected creeps. Perhaps Valve still has to balance the sides — now the percentage of victories for the Radiant is slightly higher. Of course, this is not such a big problem, but, in my opinion, the winrate should be as close as possible to 50 to 50%.

What do you think of Mars? Already managed to play on it?

I have not yet taken Mars in matchmaking. Just tested it in training mode. Very funny and simple character with interesting abilities. In general, he did not seem to me too strong, but I always say this about new heroes. I think in a month everything will change. But for me now, he doesn’t look like a character from DotA — the hero’s model doesn’t really fit into this game, but on the whole it’s an interesting idea.

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