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.