It’s Gosu’s Mali was privileged with the opportunity to sit down with one of the most emblematic and successful player ever to be known in the European scene. Known as the best captain and strategist, Ivan “ArtStyle” Antonov was recently in the center of attention as he has been boycotted by powerful organizations such as Moscow Five but also DTS-Gaming and Natus Vincere with whom he achieved the best results in his earlier career.
In this interview, the Prince of DotA goes back over the boycott and shares his feelings about being banned from those organizations. He also takes the time to talk about his DotA career, how he comes up with strategies, his thoughts about his new organization, his expectations for Dota 2, how playing without Dendi affects him and much, much more.
Hello Ivan, it is an honor to have you interview with us! While you need no introduction to DotA players and fans, there are a growing number of new faces from different backgrounds playing Valve’s games and they may not be aware of the talented player you are. Can you please introduce yourself to your future fans?
Ivan “ArtStyle” Antonov
You made a name for yourself in 2010 when you took second at ESWC and third at the World DotA Championship taking down some of the best teams in the world. However, a lot of people have no idea of your gaming background before joining DTS-Gaming. How did you get into competitive DotA?
At the beginning I played different computer games, my first game was CS. After some time Dota was released in computer clubs and I realized that I can’t compete with pro CS players who played for a long time and were on a different level. That’s when I started playing Dota and I started to win. It was easy to switch because I played Warcraft.
In April 2009, you were invited to join DTS-Gaming in order to fill the void left by Bogdan “Axypa” Boychuk. One year and a half later, you were considered as the best captain in the world with some achievements under your belt such as your victories in ASUS tournaments, MYM Prime Defending #12, a convincing second place at Electronic Sports World Cup, not to mention a third place at the World DotA Championship. You definitely had a huge impact in this team. How did you manage to make a second-class team into one of the best in the world?
It happened that all of the players were hungry to win because Russian dota wasn’t very successful. We decided to do it.
As previously mentioned, you were awarded the status of best captain in the world, surpassing the likes of Zou “820” Yitian and Wu “2009” Sheng. In your opinion, what made you a great captain?
It was on European websites. Between China and Europe there is always war between their Dota and obviously Europeans voted for captain of the only European team who beat Chinese. (On LAN)
After your departure from DTS-Gaming, you quickly found a new home in Natus Vincere and continuing to produce great results such as winning a couple of ASUS tournaments, took third in the Intel Challenge SuperCup #8 and also at the Electronic Sports World Cup as well as The International. How would you sum-up your stay in Natus Vincere?
I left right after The International, but we played really good. Even before we won the tournament. Even before puppey/LOH. Na’Vi played really well. We beat best European teams 50%50 with Goblin and Axypa.
After The International, you were released from Natus Vincere, and you decided to join DTS-Gaming again but you did not achieve great results. You are now representing Darer Entertainment. This is probably the first time you play in a team without your long-time friend, Danil “Dendi” Ishutin. What are your thoughts about this amazing player who helped you to become the player you are now?
DTS were left in 2010 where it was only 5 guys and their manager. Dendi is probably the best dota player based on humanity. Dendi let me take you from Na’Vi, your contract is illegal there, come to our team!))
One month ago, Moscow Five’s owner Dmitriy “ddd1ms” Smeliy decided to lead the boycott which put you in a very delicate position. While you already expressed your opinions several times about this issue, is there something else you would like to add to this story? Did something change since the last time or are you still in the black list of Moscow Five, DTS-Gaming and Natus Vincere?
Boycott definitely put them into inconvenient situation; black list of these people is worth nothing because they cooperate with team Darer. As an example God and Santa who are playing for first boycott team who beat second one two times. It proves the fact that I’m getting boycotted by three fail websites and their owners, but not the players. I don’t care about anything else.
Ddd1ms has also revealed his plans about his new team. He plans to host an open tournament and hopefully, he will find new talents in it. However, he mentioned that Darer will be banned from this tournament. What are your thoughts about his decision?
We are going to participate there on fake names such as: Russia is everything, Orthodox, King, M5 champions and You don’t have to feed us!
The new team representing Moscow Five will have “unlimited access to our training camp, PC’s, Internet, salary, trips, T-shirts and other necessary things. Being M5 is more than being a part of some random organization. We all are friends here – M5 is a big family!” ArtStyle, thoughts?
We will definitely win the tournament and get into family!
Despite this boycott, you managed to find a new organization in Darer Entertainment. This same organization had promised a 100,000€ DotA tournament that was never launched. Furthermore, they have no history in eSports. How did you end up joining this organization despite a lack of “results” from them? What made you think that this organization is trustworthy compared to other ones?
I trust Radomir Stanev whois Darer. He is man of his word, good businessman and a real player!
So you will be representing the Dota 2 division of Darer. What do you think about the game so far?
Right now our game is very unstable. We practice, but still can’t find our style of play. Be patient…
Not all heroes from DotA have been implemented into Dota 2 yet. The hero pool is limited. Knowing that you are an excellent strategist; would you say that having a limited hero pool is an advantage or disadvantage?
It’s a huge disadvantage because after bans there are not that many imba heroes that after a certain pick can win a game without any chance. You can’t ban everything; therefore you want to take something back. Obviously you can refuse to ban anything, but then the game will have too many of these heroes and the game would not turn great. Maybe because of lack of fiending in Dota 2.
Speaking of strategy, you always come up with great ideas and you pick heroes that other teams never pick in competitive games. How do you come up with those strategies?
Doesn’t matter, what matters is that you can see them in some teams!!
Heroes like Bloodseeker, Huskar, Viper, Clinkz and many more are rarely or never used in competitive games. Do you have any plans in your mind that would implement these heroes in your strategy? Are these heroes good enough to be played competitively?
After number of losses, we switched to different style of play; two of these heroes are there.
Are there heroes that you would like to see implemented into this game? If yes, which ones would it be and why?
I want to see all of them
In a previous interview with me, you said that there is no such thing as “outpick” and continued to state this word is used by people who can’t accept defeat. However, it seems that a team with Magina rarely loses and people tend to say that a team has been “outpicked” if the other team picked Magina. What’s your position on the subject?
When we talked to you it was Dota 1. I had confidence in my every move and the game had balance. You could have rickroll antimage and do whatever you want with him. But here he got 300 range and everything is harder. … And I still think there is no such thing as outpick. You just have to play ideal, which just doesn’t work at this moment.
We see the same heroes in most games such as Nature’s Prophet, Shadow Shaman and Venomancer that are pusher-heroes. Would you say that winning the game quickly is the best solution in Dota 2 while in DotA, games were based on carriers?
The main thing is to get the advantage and not to give it up. You can easily fight with 6 slot Venomancer vs 4 slot Am. But there are 2 many mistakes. Everyone has them. Game is different. Currently everyone is winning because of mistakes.
Lately, you have been playing different heroes like Rikimaru, Enchantress or Lich. Which role will you play in Darer?
I started as support because every pro player had 600 games played while I only had 10. Right now I am gradually getting there.
Chinese teams have not switched over to Dota 2 yet. What are your thoughts about this situation? Do you think it will give time for foreigners to master the game and thus have a chance against Chinese when they finally make the switch?
Game is different- let’s not predict anything.
Chinese teams were by far the best in DotA because they were well supported by sponsors unlike the Europeans. However, things have changed with Dota 2 as most top teams have a professional organization backing them up. Do you think that it will be enough for American and European teams to compete with the Chinese?
Everything is possible in Dota 2.
You play along with talented and experienced players. What are your thoughts about each player composition in your team? Do you think you can reach the top the same way you did with your previous teams?
Competition is high. Even if had advantage in Dota 1 because of amount of lan tournaments now everyone are participating in same tournaments, so chances are even and the goal is the same too. It will be hard.
You competed in It’s Gosu’s Monthly Madness’s Main Event. What do you think about this event so far?
I don’t participate there anymore. But it would be nice to see more of these tournaments.
You defeated compLexity Gaming in the first round of the main event. How did you prepare for this match, and did you expect to win a team considered as the second best in the world?
Currently there is no top team. Everyone can beat everyone even if the chances are 30/70 that’s still a lot. That’s why nobody is protected from losing.
More and more tournaments are hosted in Dota 2 with decent prize money. However, I am sure that your main goal is competing in the second edition of The International that will be played in Seattle. Do you have any specific preparation plans for this tournament such as a boot camp?
We will have many bootcamps and about International? Yes, that’s everyone’s goal.
In StarCraft II, there is a tournament called Major League Gaming that hosts a qualifying tournament for top players in different cities throughout the year before the main event with a huge prize-pool. Would you like to have such a tournament in Ukraine/Russia considering that the DotA scene there is huge?
I follow SC2; it’s not only MLG and many different tournaments that I would like to see in Dota 2.
You had the chance to compete with the best teams in the world including Chinese teams. If you had the chance to make your own team, who would you pick and why?
Who to take is a hard question. But I would not take Dread for sure.
What is your position in the DotA-HoN-LoL debate?
Dota-alright.LOL-alright.HON-let it be.
Let’s now talk more about yourself. How did you come up with the name ArtStyle?
It’s because goodgame stream.
What do you, ArtStyle, do when you are not busy owning noobs?
When I don’t own them at that moment they own me.
What do you plan to do with the big check of $250,000 from winning The International?
I’ll give percent to government.
The Dota scene is growing exponentially making it is easier to make money from this game. Do you plan to become a full time Dota player or do you plan to work in another area?
Yes I have some plans. I won’t play Dota whole life…
Some retired players decided to coach a team or become shoutcasters. Do you have any plans for when you retire?
I will make a team, will give them food, unlimited usage of training facilities, computers, internet, salary, paying trips and uniform. Just Rape (future team name)
Let’s go with some quick questions.
Favorite Food: Steak
Favorite Drink: Tea
Favorite song: I need a hero
Favorite band: Aerosmith
Favorite movie: Armageddon
Dota or Dota2: Dota 2
DTS or Na’vi: Darer
Favorite hero: Am
Least Favorite Hero: Balanar
Favorite item: Veil of Discord
This is the end of our interview. Thank you so much! It is always a pleasure to interview you. Is there anything you would like to say to your fans, teammates or family?
Thank you everyone who support us and believe in us while losing tangoes. We are trying and we will succeed. Thank you Darer.com and Radomir Stanev.