I had the chance to have a chill Skype conversation with Dendi mainly about his thoughts on the new patch (after all we are a platform for becoming better at Dota), but also on his thoughts about the new DPC season, the Kuku/Skem drama and his plans for the future.
Some interesting points (full transcript below):
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Are you enjoying the patch in general?
I’m enjoying the patch unless I play against PA + Magnus, or Magnus + Whatever.
Yeah. Magnus is probably your best hero, right? I mean in terms of win rate in pubs and competitive.
Mm, yeah he’s one of the best heroes for me, for sure.
Why do you think he’s that good right now?
Hm, why he’s that good…
Initially, I thought that it was just because of PA. But then people started banning and picking him much more than PA.
I think he was good even before, but people saw it after they abused it with PA, or whatsoever. It’s not only PA that he’s good with, right? And he can be used from many positions – position 4, or even maybe position 5. 3rd position, 2nd position, this hero is very flexible. He’s just strong, overall. I don’t see many changes to him whatsoever, only nerfs now, but he’s just strong.
He had buffs last patches, but people didn’t pick him. Maybe because he didn’t fit meta or something.
Maybe the AGI carries are better right now, and that’s why he’s better as well, just because he buffs them.
Yup, yup. Sounds reasonable. He’s just very strong. 1.3k games, 55% win rate.
Are you trying to play him more right now?
I played him but I believe I feel that he’s much more viable at position 3 and position 4 than at position 2. That’s why I don’t pick him often. I played some games, I won some I lost some, maybe I won more than I lost.
I think I need higher rank to play him. If I am rank 100 and get into the game with good players, then maybe I can pick Magnus mid. Because I need really good carry player so I can feel safe in the game – else it’s just not working.
Do you play PA?
Oh yeah, I do.
Yeah? I’m surprised you’re saying that, actually.
I remember a few years ago we were talking, and for some reason, Void was imba in the meta. You said that you played Void 10 games, you got bored of it and you stopped playing him altogether. I guess you’re not thinking like that anymore?
Oh yeah, I changed my mentality about matchmaking completely. If there is some abusive hero, I play it, and try it, and play it a lot and try to discover it as much as possible. So I play PA, I play Meepo, I play Broodmother, I play Visage, I play Huskar, I play all these heroes now.
Also, I just want to increase my hero pool. Yeah, basically it. I want to be a better player in this direction. That’s what changed my mind I guess.
That’s cool. Alright, I cannot do this interview without asking you about Pudge, I guess. Do you it’s alright, the change of the regen instead of the magic resistance?
Oh, wait. Are there any changes? Oh, wow! Actually, I didn’t read it, I missed it somehow. I didn’t know, you just told me.
Haha. Well, your welcome.
It’s probably a big nerf, right? Don’t you think so?
I guess in the late game, but probably if you get 1 value point in it early on it could help. I don’t know, I’m just speculating.
Actually, I believe it’s a huge nerf. You get so many kills, you get this STR bonus, and now you don’t get any magic resistance. It’s EHP, right? If you’re fat, than magic resistance is very high value.
Maybe people are expected to buy Bracers, I don’t know. I can see that too, you know? If you buy three Bracers, then it gives you the magic resistance, but you lack on item slots. So I’m not sure, I need to play it. I haven’t played it since the new patch.
I guess one more interesting thing out of your hero pool – you were playing AA and Rubick mid before it was cool, and right now it’s very cool. So, what do you think about it?
I didn’t try AA yet. I’m not sure I like his third spell more than I liked his first spell before. Because I loved his third spell before – how you can buff your whole team, and how much damage they could get with the talent and stuff like this.
So, I can’t say much about AA. I didn’t play him mid. I only played him once as a support and I didn’t like the third spell, actually.
Yeah. It’s probably better for a core AA right now.
Yeah, probably. He might have the same problem as… Oh, actually he also got nerfed – with Vortex he doesn’t speed himself up. I think it was a pretty big nerf. Because from a core position it really helped – you could chase people, you could run away from people, and now you’re very vulnerable.
And about Rubick – Rubick is super strong. Super sick, I love this hero. I think he’s my most picked this patch…
Yeah, I played 35 games of Rubick, so he’s my most played hero this patch. And it’s super strong, I love it. And the buffs Rubick got are exactly core buffs – to make him viable as core.
I think it’s very cool, but at the same time, I think at the major qualifiers he had 40% win rate, even though it was picked in almost every game. So, I don’t know, people are losing with him as well – in competitive Dota at least.
Well, you need to really balance your draft when you’re picking Rubick. And it doesn’t work against some heroes. Like every hero in Dota he has his ups and downs, heroes he’s strong against and heroes he’s bad against. For example PA + Magnus, I’m not sure Rubick’s good against PA.
Yeah, most probably not…
PA is raping Rubick, 100%. So, you need to pick him when he fits. Good thing about Rubick is that people don’t know if he’s support or core. Another good thing is his new passive, it’s sick – it amplifies disables. I remember playing against Rubick with Magnus – he stole my RP and he stunned everyone for 1 year.
I mean I can see that he has 40% win rate. First of all, he’s a very high skill-cap hero, you need to play him perfectly. You can’t die, you’ll give away streaks. And you need a really well-balanced draft. Rubick mid means you don’t have another physical damage core, so you need more tower damage, more team fight, and so on – things you usually pick for mid.
If you compare it to any mid hero, he doesn’t add to that. You can say Zeus doesn’t have tower damage, but Zeus is insanely strong magic damage dealer.
And he’s easier to play as well.
What are your favorite changes? Do you like the new map?
I like the new map. It’s much more understandable. There 4 zones you can control, so it’s pretty much understandable for everyone. All the ward spots… There are some sneaky ward spots but people didn’t find them yet I guess. Still exploring the new map.
Do you have an opinion on the TP (and BoTs) change? I thought it was very important when the patch hit, but people are not using it that much.
Exactly. I have no idea why people don’t use it. I started to use it now, in the last few days, and I’m so crazy about it, it’s insane. If the hero doesn’t really need Treads or Phase boots that much, if you can skip it, and buy early Travel boots (even though it’s expensive), and maybe the hero you buy Travels on can farm dangerous zones, or out-push danger zones, or something like that, then it’s a must go item. You can TP 5 times in 80 seconds. 3 times with Boots and 2 times with TP, 80 CD on TP and 40 CD on travel or something like that.
So, it’s insane! You can TP to base, regen mana and then Travel back. You can TP to one side, defend it and then Travel back to your team. You can do so many moves with those Travels! I don’t see it much in competitive, that people buy them. But I’m sure that people just still didn’t explore it or something, because it looks to me very strong, super strong.
Yeah, especially on heroes who are good at clearing waves and split-pushing, it seems very, very strong…
Yep, yep. I buy it on some Puck, QoP, on Lina I just started to do it. I really love it. I buy 3-4 nulls and then Travels. And then you’re strong, you’re mobile, you can TP to one side, to the other side, you can out-push, you can push-fast if you’re out of mana you can TP to base and TP back. It’s very cool, I really love it. I think it’s really abuseable that they have separate cooldown.
Are you sad about the deny changes?
Am I sad? Not really. If you deny you get a little bit of gold, but it’s the same deny – you deny some XP from the enemy anyway.
It’s probably a bit harder to snowball out of the lane, I guess. Because you wouldn’t out-level your opponent so much.
Yeah but now you can buy 3 Nulls, 3 Wraith Bands, 3 Bracers on many heroes, so it also adds up and you can snowball with that. If you get bonus gold you buy them faster and then you are stronger, faster.
Do you actually like this meta? Because it seems that IceFrog is trying to nerf the Bracers/Bands really hard, so probably he’s trying to stop people from buying a lot of them.
I don’t think he wants people to stop bying a lot of them. I think he’s trying to make them a bit more balanced, because before it was imbalanced. You gain so much from 3-4 Bracers that you don’t want to buy anything else. But now – it still should be viable, but on some heroes, it’s good, on some heroes it’s not good. For example – Zeus, you don’t want to buy 3 Null Talismans. It just doesn’t sound right, you don’t even want to buy one. On Pugna, for example, you buy one maybe at the beginning of the game, but then you don’t want to buy 2-3 Nulls. You want your Arcane Boots, Aether Lens, Veil of Discord, or whatever, any other item. You want to skip them.
But on some heroes, you want to buy Bracers – e.g. Huskar. He benefits from them so much, he wants to buy 4 or even 5 of them. So there should be some balance, but it was broken in case that you buy 5 Bracers on Huskar and suddenly he’s 2-point-something HP on the 10th, 12th or 15th minute of the game. And then how do you kill him? It’s impossible, you need 5 heroes to kill him and even then there’s still a chance to survive.
That’s why they’re getting some nerfs. Wraith Bands – the AS is too much for AGI cores. I mean, all of them were too strong, that’s why they were getting nerfs to balance them out.
Because you can’t build anything out of them. That’s why if you buy 3, this means you’re going to sell some of them later because you’ll need item slots.
You have one more item slot, though.
Oh yeah, that’s true. That’s why you buy at least 2 almost on any hero.
Interesting stuff. Do you like the setup of the camps near the mid lane? I think a lot of people are abusing the medium camp closer to the Radiant mid lane. I saw Chessie, I think, who got 100 creeps on the 10th minute with Medusa – by farming the camp, stacking the Ancients and so on.
I’m not sure about that. It’s abuseable, so you abuse that. But I’m not sure that I like it. And I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t think it’s fixable. Maybe you can make the closer stacks unstackable or something, for example, but other than that I don’t see what you can do.
Do you like stacks in general?
Ah, I’m fine with that. I guess it’s already too deep in people’s minds as a part of the game.
Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. It’s a bug that turned into a feature and now nobody wants to get rid of it. Although I’m not sure it’s fun, to be honest. IDK.
I also see that Radiant side is stronger in the mid lane because it’s easier to stack there. You need just two steps and to eat a tango and stack. And Dire is harder – it’s a bit farther and you need to go uphill. So Radiant side is a bit more imbalanced because of that like you said, I agree with that.
Do you have any other thoughts about the patch?
I’m not sure why some heroes that you see are just too strong are getting just slight nerfs every time. Why can’t you cut them harder? So they don’t get those 55-60% win rates in the game.
He probably doesn’t want to kill them.
Yeah, but nerfs were so small, sooo-small. The first nerfs especially, they were just too small.
But every nerf is changing the meta so hard. In first when the patch came out Lycan was insanely strong, Luna. After the nerfs – you don’t see Luna that much, you don’t see Lycan that much already. But Lycan’s still strong I think.
Do you like this philosophy of making huge changes for the big patches?
I’m not sure if I like it. I’m actually tired of learning new things every time, but at the same time I want changes – I want the game to change a bit because it’s getting too stale.
Yeah, it’s getting a bit boring. In a way, he’s balancing the game to a very good point and then he’s breaking it again. At the same time, I think most of the people, especially the casual players, are growing bored and it needs to get changed so that people can discover new things and find imba heroes, abuse them and so on.
Right now I’m very unhappy with PA.
I’m actually a little bit different probably because in pubs people often target me. It just happens, naturally. I think it’s OK, but it’s hard for me to play when I play against Void, Magnus, Doom or Bane – heroes who can disable you in BKB. Void and Magnus can disable you no matter what items you buy. You can buy Aeon Disk, but still – on some heroes, you don’t want to buy Aeon Disk.
I don’t like to play against those heroes, and then there are Bash heroes like Void and PA with Basher, and then crit heroes – like PA. I don’t like to play against those because they see me on the map, they jump me, 1k crit, 1k crit, Bash, whatsoever, and you’re dead. It’s not enjoyable, of course.
That’s why I don’t want those heroes to be too strong, I want them to be balanced. And right now Magnus + PA are a bit too strong, even though they are getting nerfed.
It seems like that, yeah.
You know, I want Dota to be a game where you can out-play a person. Out-mind (smart), out-play... And some combinations are just too hard to out-mind and out-play.
I guess a lot of people want Dota to be like a sandbox where you can discover new things in. In order for this to be true, there need to be some fundamental changes so that people can rediscover the game, find new broken things and so on. I don’t know, that’s just how I feel his changes philosophy is going. I’m not sure I’m right though.
We’ll see, can’t make everyone happy.
Yeah, that’s the thing. That’s exactly the thing – you can’t make everyone happy.
Maybe someone loves this PA Magnus thing.
I actually like playing PA with Magnus, it’s super fun, haha.
Yeah, I like playing PA as well, haha. But it’s not fun when you’re playing against it.
Exactly, super not fun. I actually like some hero changes. There are some things that are not fun and those things are being changed. For example Earth Spirit – when he was imba I was so mad every time I saw him. He could stun 5 heroes with third spell and so on. And even now he gets a change where he slows people with his first spell and stuns only with Roll, and I like it. I think it’s the right way to change the hero. It doesn’t really kill him, but it doesn’t make him so annoying to play against like it was before.
And I think there were more changes like this coming, probably (don’t remember which heroes). That’s why I’m thinking what you can do is – you can change this Magnus Empower in some way to not kill him but still make him viable. Maybe to make it an aura, for example, I don’t know, something like that. SO that you need to be around Magnus to get the splash damage.
Sounds like a good suggestion actually.
Because right now Magnus is like support, like Ogre, who buffs with Bloodlust and runs away. But he buffs with Empower and runs away. And them PA can just use Blur and farm Ancients without taking damage, and it’s just broken.
And unlike Ogre, Magnus can just blink in and turn the team fight with RP.
Yeah, he can disable heroes with any items.
Oh, I like status resistance on S&Y and Satanic, I like those things, I think it’s cool to have at least any chance to find items to turn things. I also like Aeon Disk, I like this item. Because before that it was even more horrible for me to play pubs. I just take a hero, and when I see Void or Magnus against me and I already know that all game I’m going to get angry – I’m going to get RPd and Chronoed. I can’t dodge it, sometimes. Sometimes you can out-smart and out-play them, you can run around and wait until they use it on someone else, but when people know: “oh, there is Dendi, let’s kill him”. Things are already different – they don’t try to kill anyone, they just wait for you and wait for you and when they see you – instantly Chrono, RP, fast, fast, go-go-go. And it’s not fun.
And especially when you have weaker teammates, for example. You want them to win, right. If the enemy doesn’t cast RP and Chrono on them, then probably you can kill them (the enemy) with your teammates, but no, this doesn’t happen. You need to come and deal damage yourself to kill enemies, to change the game, team-fight, whatsoever.
And when you’re coming, you’re doomed because you’re going to get Chronoed or RPd.
What happens if you play heroes who are not good to initiate into, like DK or Timbersaw or some frontline tanks like that. So that if people waste their spells on you your team will have a much better chance, and you’ll have a much better chance of surviving.
I actually think it’s a good idea, sometimes. But, you know, those heroes sometimes can’t have a big impact in the game, it just depends. I think I have a very high win rate with DK actually, let me check.
In the new patch, I didn’t play DK, I played Timber twice, won one lost one.
Yeah, I have 64% win rate in pubs with DK, that’s pretty high, but I didn’t play that many games – only 100-something games.
Probably if you want to spam heroes you need to spam heroes like that, because if you’re spamming Skywrath and there’s a Void against you who’s playing especially to fuck up your game, then it’s going to be a very hard no matter what.
But you want to have fun, right? You want to play heroes you love, so…
Yeah, that’s the thing. But I don’t know, it’s your job, Danya, haha. It’s not always fun I guess.
And sometimes you just want to practice some heroes, you just want to learn some heroes…
I just want PA and Magnus to be a little bit less strong.
And you’ll be happy?
And I’ll be happy.
You don’t want too much out of life.
A humble guy as always. Alright, what do you think of the new DPC system – the Major/Minor separation?
I think it’s cool for the community. I mean for the competitive community. Because so much more people are playing…
I think it’s very healthy for the Tier 2 Tier 3 scene.
Exactly, T2 & T3 teams are stepping up! There is more competition, there are more tournaments. You can go to a LAN, finally, when you’re not super strong. It’s cool. It drives a more competitive environment.
Do you like it more than the system last year?
Yes, I think, even though I’m not playing first half of the year in any team, I still like it more. Last year it was so stacked, that there was just no time for us at all. It was completely full, 24/7 Dota-Dota-Dota, and you could get burned-out, super tired, sick…
It was too hard. Especially for teams who weren’t that successful. You know? When you get at least some success, that’s at least something you get – some positive emotions, etc.
But when you don’t get success, you don’t get to LANs, you need to play all qualifiers, that’s insanely rough, I think.
I guess so, makes sense. Na’Vi actually had a lot of success in the last tournament, the Megafon Winterclash. Did you manage to watch some of the games?
Did you have any impressions? They didn’t qualify for the Minor, and then they came out of nowhere and beat VP and LGD, so it was a bit of a surprise.
Oh, yeah. I was also a little bit surprised. Even though I believe they can show good results, but you know before they didn’t qualify for the minor and then suddenly they are doing really well. So it was pretty cool, I think, it’s really good.
You’re actually still part of Na’Vi, theoretically, right?
Theoretically, yes, but I’m pretty free I guess.
So, something along the lines of Admiral Bulldog on Alliance, or some other kind of deal?
I don’t have any kind of deal, I think.
I see, alright. Aren’t you on a contract then, if you say you’re part of Na’Vi?
I guess I am.
Dota is funny like that. I mean, organizations and teams aren’t exactly the same thing and have different values and goals…
So, alright, we’re in this topic anyway, so what are your plans, what are you doing actually?
I’m playing Dota every day, a lot of Dota.
I see you’re online most of the time when I go in Steam.
Yeah, so I just do a lot of practice, I want to get into a good team. I was trying to search for some, but it’s not easy I guess. Especially now for me because my value is not high – it’s probably low because of media and because of two unsuccessful years. Also because probably people see me as 28 years old, blah-blah, they are afraid that I’m not motivated and I don’t want to keep playing or something like that, or just that I want to be around and that’s it. But it’s not that way, for sure. I’m motivated harder than ever, I play more than ever, I actually practice much more than anyone else probably.
That’s probably true. I understand why you’re saying that your value is probably low right now, but, I don’t know, I don’t think this is a very permanent thing. This can change over a day. If people don’t think you’re motivated, at least in my eyes, all you need to do is to spam Meepo into rank top 10 on the leaderboards and everyone will say “Oh, Dendi is good again!”. People don’t have very long memories.
I agree, but it looks pretty silly, you know?
It looks silly, but it’s how people think about things. I’m sure you don’t think your value is low yourself. You think you’re pretty good…
Oh yeah, man, I’m sure I can destroy anyone!
Exactly! It will be pretty easy to show this to a couple of good players and that’s all you need.
I’m not sure if I need to do it. I will find the right people eventually. That’s what I believe in. That’s my mindset. Sooner or later I will find the right people and I don’t need to prove anything to those right people, because there is going to be trust. If I try to show off, then maybe I will find not the right people.
That’s a good way to think about it. That’s a healthy attitude I guess.
I’m doing the right things. I’m practicing heroes, I’m increasing my hero pool, I’m doing what I can do alone. OF course, it’s now that I want to do. I don’t like playing matchmaking, I don’t like pubs. I like to play competitively, I like to play scrims, and practice as a team and grow as a team, that’s what I want. But right now I’m here and that’s what I get, so I’m just waiting for a moment. If I don’t find anything I’ll start working toward doing something.
What would that something be?
I don’t know, we’ll see. I mean, it’s still going to be Dota, competitive things.
You mean in the sense of forming your own team or something like that?
Yeah, yeah, something like that.
Makes sense. As far as I know you, you’re not usually very eager to be a captain, is that right?
It’s right. I would love to be a player on a team. But at the same time, I think I gained some experience in my last 2-3 months in Na’Vi when I was a captain. And I think I can handle those things – I believe that if needed, I could handle those things. But I would like to be a player, that’s true.
I guess there are not a lot of captains out of the 2nd position, so that’s a conflict.
Yeah. I don’t care. I mean, why should I be like someone else. Why should this be some standard. I don’t care. I do what I think is right. That’s my mindset right here. If I see it’s not working, I’ll change. If I see it’s working, I’ll do it.
That’s a good mindset, but there probably are reasons that people are doing it like that.
Of course, because your head is like a computer. Your computer can do some amount of tasks, and when you’re playing you’re doing a lot of tasks at the same time. And when you’re playing mid, there are so many tasks you need to do to out-play, to out-micro, to do things the right way. And it’s hard to control and lead the game from this position.
Not enough RAM.
But, being a captain doesn’t really mean that you need to lead the team from the 2nd position. You can lead the team after some minute, after laning phase. There are so many things. You can pick special heroes who don’t really require that much of micro-management. Not Meepo, but DK, for example. He’s a very simple hero. You have a lot of control in your hands, also. When you’re DK you can say I have form, we can push here, we can push there. Or I have form in 30 seconds guys, come here with smoke or whatever. And you can practice those things.
There are so many ways to play the games and do things.
True. So, the plan is you’re trying to actually become a better player and you think that things will come out of it naturally?
Um, I’m just playing Dota. I want to play competitively. That’s my plan, haha.
Simple plan. It’s what has been working for you so far.
The last topic I want to cover very briefly, but I guess a lot of people would be interested to see what you think about it. The drama about Kuku and Skem and the Chinese scandals that arose after their behavior. What’s your opinion?
I don’t have much to say about that. Those guys are young and they say something stupid. It’s not cool and I’m sure they regret what they said.
Sure, but it seems like things were like that in Dota for years, and nothing big really came out of it until now. So it’s a bit strange in that way, at least in my opinion.
Yeah, it looks a little bit weird to me also, but you know it is how it is. It’s probably the right thing, you know. Maybe punishment was too hard. Everyone did mistakes – when I was younger I’m sure I was saying a lot of stupid things, also. But I’m not trying to defend them. They did mistakes and these things came out.
Everyone is now vocal about many things, haha.
Yeah, I guess that’s the zeitgeist right now.
Not much I can say about that topic.
It was just interesting to see what you think because you’re famous as a very humble, and respectful, and nice guy, so I guess this is something on the opposite end of the spectrum. So I was interested to see what your opinion about it is. But, it makes sense, so.
Well, alright man. I’ve been holding you for 40 minutes already, so I don’t want to hold you for much longer.
I want to thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview. I’m sure that a lot of people were interested to see you talk. So, yeah. Thanks very much. And have a lot of success in your plans for the future – I’m sure you’ll be successful.
Thank you, I’ll try my best.
Good things happen to good people, so… Don’t worry about it.
Seems like I’m not good enough!
Ah, haha, well, you’ve had a lot of good things happen to you already…
I’m joking, I’m joking…
Alright man, thanks again.