With four teams invited to the second edition of The International, China has finally entered into the world of Dota 2 almost one year after the release of the BETA. In today’s interview, It’s Gosu sits down with the captain of LGD Gaming, Zhang ‘xiao8’ Ning who will discuss about several topics including The International.
Hello xiao8. On behalf of It’s Gosu, thank you very much for taking the time to chat with us. Could you please start off by introducing yourself and giving us a brief rundown of your prolific gaming background?
Hello everyone, this is xiao8, and I am very happy to take this interview. Before transferring to DotA, I was a Zhensan player which is another very famous RPG map in WAR3 engine in China. Later on, lots of Zhensan players went to DotA scene including ZSMJ, DAI, KingJ, 820, 357, etc, and of course I am one of them.
You have played for several renowned teams such as Dream, CCM and Invictus Gaming before heading to LGD Gaming in August 2011. In which team do you think you learned the most as a player?
I learned a lot from all of those teams. If I have to tell which one is the most, I would say it’s Dream because that’s where I started my DotA career, gaining skills and experience everyday through matching and training.
Invictus Gaming is the last team you played for before joining LGD. You mentioned that you joined the latter in order to play with your friends including Gong ‘ZSMJ’ Jian. However, the charismatic carry player left the team shortly after your arrival. How did the team deal with his departure?
ZSMJ’s retirement definitely gives us a big impact. Initially, it was more negative, but we were trying our best to find a solution or I should say a good player. Finally, we found Sylar who is well skilled overall, making him start to adjust our team, and everything is turning into positive.
His departure allowed Liu ‘Sylar’ Jiajun to join the team after departing from World Elite. Could you please tell us what stood out the most about Sylar and why you decided to accept him over other candidates?
The biggest characteristic of Sylar is that he is young. There is still more room to improve, strong individual skill. In my opinion, the rest of 4 players in LGD are the main reason hooked him in, in terms of skills and personalities
Several renowned players such as Zou ‘820’ Yitian and Wu ‘2009’ Sheng decided to take a managerial role after retiring as player. Is there a chance to see ZSMJ as coach of LGD in the future or is he really done with competitive gaming?
Everything is possible; you never know what his next decision will be.
Your team is now very stable and has a lot of potential to achieve great things in the future. Could you please introduce each member of the team and tell us what role they play in game?
xiao8: solo mid or solo the suicide lane, sometimes I play support, but not often.
Yao: solo suicide or mid lane
DDC: 4,5 position player
DD: focus on 5 position support
Sylar: always carry role)
Your role in the team is very complex as you play the solo mid lane or long lane, with the game heavily depending on your performance. What do you think are the requirements to play this role effectively?
I think for the 1 or 2 position, the most important part is to keep a positive attitude and being stable, don’t try to risk some actions
Your team has been focusing on Dota 2 a lot recently. What are your thoughts about the game? What do you think are the major differences between DotA and its successor?
It’s a very awesome game! Dota2 has lots of powerful features which DotA doesn’t have, higher functional and more interesting. The difference is more about the hero picks, strategies and game rhythm.
Almost all heroes from DotA have been implemented to Dota 2. However, is there a hero in particular that you would like to see implemented to the game and that you would like to try out in competitive games?
Nope, I am good at adapting to a new environment, some changes would not affect me in a negative way.
The latest update saw not one or two but three heroes implemented; namely Chaos Knight, Phantom Assassin and Gyrocopter. How will the addition of those heroes change the metagame? Are there heroes that will be used more/less often?
I believe every Chinese team would use much more CK.
We often see the same heroes picked in game such as Morphling, Queen of Pain and a few others. Are you going to come up with new strategies if you get to face them?
No, and I don’t think those heroes are strong enough, and it really all depends on the overall line-up instead of one or two picks.
Recently Clinkz seems to have made his way back into the metagame. What do you think about this hero? Can he become a solid pick in the future or do you think this hero is too fragile to play him in high level games?
Every hero can be on the metagame, but less teams would try to find out which line-up Clinkz can fit in well.
Almost all the Chinese powerhouses have switched over Dota 2. Do you think that the Chinese community will make the switch too or are they too committed to DotA?
If Vavle put in enough effort and time to promote Dota2 in China, I think most of the players would completely focus on Dota 2.
The Chinese community was the biggest in DotA but unfortunately, I cannot say the same about Dota 2. What do you think Valve needs to do to make this game popular and successful in China?
Find a high influent agency for Dota2, and host more tournaments.
You spend a lot of time practicing in Dota 2 but you are also involved in a DotA tournament, ACE. Is it difficult to switch from Dota 2 to DotA and vice-versa or is the transition easy?
Not a big of deal because these two games don’t have big differences.
On May 25th, your team received an invitation to compete in the second edition of The International that will take place in Seattle, United-States. Did the team expect an invitation considering that you did not play the game much at that time? What was your reaction when you received your invitation?
We were very excited and happy, feeling like a fire burning in the heart.
The tournament is set to be played at the end of August; it leaves you two months to prepare for this event. How will you prepare for it?
We will keep training everyday.
Unfortunately, the Asian teams do not have a lot of good tournaments to play contrary to American and European teams who have several major tournament matches almost every week. Do you consider this as a disadvantage for your preparation?
Absolutely, we don’t have much online tournaments. We don’t know the real strength by playing a couple of practice games.
Unless I am mistaken, this is the first time that you will compete in a tournament outside of China. Can this have an impact on your performance since you will not play in an environment you are familiar with?
Actually, we all have the experience of attending foreign tournament except Sylar.
A lot of great teams have received an invitation to play at TI2 including Natus Vincere, EHOME, Zenith and many more. What do you think are your chances to finish in the top 3?
It’s really hard to tell, but we will definitely try our best.
The Ukrainian powerhouse, Natus Vincere is the title holder and one of the best, if not to say the best team in the world. Do you think that this status will change soon with Chinese teams dedicating more time to Dota 2?
We need more time, and I believe Chinese teams will not disappoint the fans.
If LGD Gaming manages to win The International 2, how do you plan to spend your money? Would you consider retiring from gaming?
Investing. I haven’t thought about retirement because I love this game.
Besides your team, who do you think have the best chances to win the title?
Every invited team has a chance, really hard to tell.
Most of American and European teams have undergone roster changes after the announcement of The International 2. Do you think that the lack of discipline and stability are one of the reasons for which Western teams could not compete with Chinese in DotA?
I think this is more like an objective factor, and it shouldn’t affect.
Coaches seem to be very effective in League of Legends and StarCraft II. LGD do not have a coach at the moment. Do you consider hiring one in the near future?
In my opinion, DotA has less influence with a coach. It relies on teammates’ discussion to come up with better strategies.
The team practices a lot by playing a lot of scrims. However, do you have some analysis sessions where you could take the time to analyze your opponent’s strategies, come up with new strategies and so forth?
Probably won’t spend on much time on that, just briefly take a look at the line-up.
American, European and Chinese teams all play differently. Do you think that the Chinese playstyle is the most effective?
Time will prove everything.
You are now representing a formidable organization called LGD-Gaming. You recently went to a Chinese university to promote DotA but also your team. How often do you participate to these events and does it help the growth of DotA in China?
It is all arranged by the club and sponsors.
If you were given the chance to make your own team, which players would you pick and why?
I would still go for our current team, a stable and united team is the most significant factor.
Besides Chinese teams, are there teams that you admire? Same question for players.
I like Na’Vi, EG, CLG, from a team perspective instead of individual player
If you do not mind, I would like to ask you more personal questions now. What does xiao8 mean and how did you come up with that nickname?
Very simple, xiao, xiao1-7 were not available when I tried to register, so it came with xiao8, haha)
Even though you are known as xiao8, the community often calls you Director 8. Can you explain us why?
This nickname comes from the Chinese DotA community; they make a fool of me. I think DotA is like a game which you are acting in the show you have written the script.
For a lot of parents, playing video games is good as a hobby. What do your parents think about your professional career as a Dota 2 player? Are they supportive?
They highly support me because they think I can choose whatever I like to do
What do you do when you are not busy owning noobs in matchmaking? Do you have other activities? Do you have a girlfriend? Does she share the same passion as you?
I like reading, working out. I do have a girlfriend, she barely plays DotA, but she is starting to learn)
Do you plan to play this game for many years or would you like to take a different path very soon? Do you see yourself leaving video games for a more traditional work?
Again, this is hard to tell at this moment, but I think some free jobs would fit me.
Thank you very much for your time. Any shoutouts?
I am very happy to take this interview. Many thanks to our great sponsor: LGD, Taobao, Razer. And, I appreciate all of my friends who are always support me.
If you are Chinese and want to read the Chinese version, click here.