The second edition of The International just came to an end, and saw the victory of the Chinese giants, Invictus Gaming. In today’s interview, we had the privilege to sit down with the hard-carry of the team, Chen “Zhou” Yao, who goes back on his journey in Seattle, United States.
Hello Zhou. On behalf of It’s Gosu and the Dota 2 community, congratulations for winning the second edition of The International, and thus succeeds to Natus Vincere in the list of winners. You have had some time to realize what happened; how does it feel to be crowned champions of The International 2, and thus be considered the best team in the world?
I’m feeling very good to win such an important tournament, very happy indeed, for all of us.
Before going straight to the matter, I would like to talk about the events preceding The International 2. You received an invitation to play in the biggest Dota 2 tournament of the year on May, 14th. Considering that Valve’s Dota was not your main priority at that time, what did this invite mean to you?
Yes, we did play both Dota1 and Dota2 before The International 2, but we focused on Dota2 after we received the invitation because all of us wanted to make an all-out effort, we don’t like regrets.
You only had a few months to practice for this USD$1,600,000 tournament. Considering that there were not a lot of tournaments for Asia compared to America and Europe, how did Invictus Gaming prepare for this competition?
We participated in several online Dota2 tournaments as a warm up, also we arranged lots of training games with other good teams and also watched replays and live games.
Before heading to Seattle, your team was very busy competing in major DotA tournaments in China. Even though you won The International 2, did playing in ACE and G-League kind of affected your prepation?
Yes, the affect can’t be avoided, it indeed distracted our preparation for Dota2, but we are professional, it’s our duty to win the honor, in every game, in every competition.
It is well-known that North American, European, South East Asian and Chinese teams play a different style. How did you prepare to face non-Asian teams, and thus, a different playstyle?
We tried so many line-ups and have a good comprehension of their advantages and disadvantages. In every game, we just pick the suitable one in our mind.
You were placed in the group B, the hardest among the two groups. You completely dominated it as you took the first place with a 13-1 score. After the groupstage, how confident were you going into the playoffs? Were there teams in particular that you wanted to avoid?
We are satisfied for the groupstage record and we were full of confidence for the playoffs. In the playoffs, we did not want to meet LGD, because we and LGD know each other very well, during the last two weeks before we went to Seattle, we continuously trained with them.
You opened your first playoff match against North American giants, Evil Geniuses that you defeated two to one. You crushed them in the first game, but they responded very well in the second. For the third game, Faith opted for a Luna pick, a hero that you played. Can you summarize this series and also take the time to explain the reasons behind the Luna pick?
We are very confident about Luna, we have our own way to play this hero. Luna is a very oppressive gank hero in early game and a strong carry in later game, also very powerful in the wild battlefield. We never saw other teams pick Luna in competition and scrims, so we knew Luna would not be banned.
In the semi-finals, you locked horns with the winners of the first edition, Natus Vincere. You convincingly won the first game, but you came across a snag in the second game where Natus Vincere banned all the heroes your team excels with, and went for an unusual Juggernaut pick. Could you please take the time to analyze this game?
We discussed about that later, Jugg pick from NaVi needs a hero with good push ability on the inferior line, like Brood Mother or Enigma, to be a powerful line-up, otherwise we are not afraid of that at all. However, the recovery stick of Jugg is very disgusting, especially incorporated with a push line-up, they can nearly keep full health status all along; it is difficult to deplete them.
In the third game you opted, once again, for a Luna pick. In your opinion, what makes this hero that special and indispensable to you?
That’s just one of our several strategies, and we never lost while we picked Luna, in all the competitions and trainings, so we trust Luna very much. Although we lost the match, we won’t ascribe all factors to one hero.
You were unfortunately defeated in this third game and were thus sent to the loser bracket. What do you think you lacked to defeat Natus Vincere in this series?
The reason is Enigma and Enchantress, they push so fast in early game, we could not handle that…
In the loser bracket’s semi-final, you faced a team you are very familiar with, Team DK. You had a 75% record against them in Dota 2 before this confrontation. However, Team DK managed to win the first game, and was one win away to eliminate you from the tournament. What was the team’s state of mind before the second game?
Quite well, no arguing, no doubts. We just tried our best, all-out effort. Prepare for battle.
DK.BurNIng played an excellent anti-mage in the first game and went 12-0. We can convincingly say that he is one of the reasons of your loss. However, in the second game, you decided not to ban his signature hero. Was the team confident enough in the line-up to bring down Anti-Mage in this second game? What were the reasons for not banning this hero? In other words, what was your plan?
I don’t remember how we discussed about that now, but I do know all of us had enough confidence to win the match against his Anti-Mage.
In the third game, you opted for an Anti-Mage ban. In your opinion, do you think that not allowing BurNIng to play this hero was the reason of your victory in this series?
We think Anti-Mage is a very stable hero at LAN events (no lag at all), strong late game ability and powerful ability of leading creep-line. Mistakes in such an important match is little, so it would be a big trouble if opponent’s Anti-Mage is continuously farming.
You then continued your progression in the tournament, and faced LGD-Gaming. The first game is one of the best in the tournament, and nobody expected such an epic ending. Can you share with the community your thoughts about this game?
In the first match, I think we were fiercer than LGD, and among us, YYF did play an extraordinary game.
In all three games, you took the risk of leaving heroes like Invoker, Anti-Mage or Morphling; heroes that LGD dominated the groupstage with. Why did you let them play their core?
It is not a ‘risk’ to leave them, because we could of also pick and play them very well, it’s just a B/P game.
You convincingly won the third game, and marched on to the grand-finals to play, once again, against Natus Vincere. You defeated them in the groupstage, and then lost in the semi-final. You, unfortunately, did not have much time to analyze your opponents as you had to play right after your match against LGD. You were also continuing your marathon as you were about to play your seventh game. Knowing this, would you say that you had a disadvantage entering into this final compared to Natus Vincere?
After we won against LGD, we were brimming with confidence; it is not important who the champion of the winner bracket was. We’ve already lost once, and we fought hard to get the chance to be a champion, we had nothing to lose!
You managed to win the grand final, and thus, the tournament. What do you think was the deciding factor in this series? What do you think changed between the semi-final and the grand final?
I think the deciding factor was our morale, the more games we experience, the stronger we get, so does Navi, they won DK 2:1, won against us 2:1 in the semi-finals, won against LGD 2:1 in the finals of winner bracket, they are also very strong, but we were not afraid of them. We had confidence to win.
Your organization is now richer by $1,000,000. What are you going to do with your share of the prize money?
Store in the bank, give to mum, maybe do some investments if there is opportunity.
I am sure that you love Valve and The International since you won it, but what do you think of the event as a whole? What are your thoughts about the format, the longevity of the tournament, the production and so forth?
Of course, we love Valve and the TI2 very very much. Even if we didn’t get the champion, I have to say The International is perfect, the best one in all the games I’ve already experienced, I think most of the professional players would agree with me. I think the International held by Valve is not just to promote the development of Dota2, but also the entire Electronic Sports scene. The competition system is a very novel idea, never experienced it before, it allowed you to make a mistake one time, and I think it can guarantee that the best team won the highest honor. Dota2 is already very famous in china after TI2, sadly it is still not officially published, and many Chinese fans are seeking activation keys.
This tournament attracted thousands of unique viewers from different backgrounds and regions of the globe. Knowing this, what do you think about the future of Dota 2? Do you think that Valve’s title will be able to compete with RIOT’s League of Legends?
I think the future of Dota2 is quite good, and I believe Valve can beat RIOT, all of their employees treat Dota2 seriously, I can tell that from my experience during TI2, from their treatment, helped us a lot. They are very earnest and responsible. I think they can do a good job.
I would like to ask you a few questions about the game. You are one of the few players who play Luna, and you are probably the only one who makes Tranquil Boots on this hero. What is the reasoning behind this item build? Would Power Treads followed by Helm of Dominator with possible late Satanic be an alternative?
Luna has a movement speed of 330, and is raised to 410 with a very cheap tranquil boot. Tranquil boot Luna can creep wild, which is very hard for power treads. Without restoration ability, power treads have to back to fountain frequently, after suffering a little spell (damage).
A lot of people expected to see a lot of new strategies during The International 2, but at the end, we only saw a couple of unusual picks. What do you think Valve should do to make the less picked heroes more useful?
Change their attack trajectory and spell casting actions, I think this will make these less picked heroes more useful.
You suffered a loss against Natus Vincere’s Juggernaut. After seeing his potential, are you interested in picking him in future matches?
Jugg with restoration and a pushing pick-up is quite good, we may try that later.
A lot of teams are going to change their roster or worse, disband. What do you think will happen for Chinese teams and can it affect the scene?
Disband or roster change just proves they were not a stable team.
A lot of people think that playing in a gaming house is one of the reasons for Chinese teams being so strong. However, can you explain to us what the differences between playing at home, using voice communication software, and playing at a gaming house could be?
Playing at home, you won’t feel other teammates’ emotion, and the communication may become complicated.
Thank you very much for your time. Is there anything you would like to say to your fans that supported you throughout the tournament?
Very good game, I hope The International can hold continuously. Thanks very much to my fans, your support always encourages me, I love you.