With the Dota 2 Internationals 11 just wrapped up, we previously had the opportunity to attend a media session with Team Secret, one of the top 4 teams over at The Internationals for an interview about their thoughts on TI11 as well as the Dota 2 Scene.
During the session, we were joined by the whole roster consisting of Crystallis, Nisha, Resolution, W_Zayac and the team captain Puppey, along with their coach Heen.
[Interview is edited for clarity]
Team Secret’s performance at TI11 has been a complete 180 degrees turn as compared to that of the star-studded roster formed during the DPC 2021/22 season.
What “Clicked” in this current iteration of the roster as compared to the previous?
Puppey: Our roster before the DPC system had already happened and it was doing good. Last year iteration of Team Secret with Matumbaman and Zai, we had already been playing good in a major during the previous year before COVID happened.
When we went into the DPC, we weren’t this new team that needed to figure things out. But when we started this iteration, it just felt like we were a good team. It took a lot of time for us to figure things out, but time was starting to run out and people were getting too anxious.
Overall, the previous iteration of Team Secret felt like “things didn’t work out” and that’s why the DPC wasn’t a good time for us.
What do you think of this TI format, being much longer than the previous TIs?
Resolution: I think it’s cool, but it’s also two sides of a same coin. Sure it’s nice for people here being able to watch more games overall but at the same time, I also heard people were having a hard time keeping up with all the games because there was like 50 games a day going on at the same time.
But for us players, from the Last Chance Qualifiers to the group stages, there were a lot of games for us. But I really enjoyed each of the games because it made us stronger with each series. We could figure things out and became better as a team.
I enjoy playing Dota and the more games there are, the better it is for me. This break that is happening right now from the main stage playoffs and the finals week is kinda weird because we can’t really practice too much.
A lot of the teams had already left and we don’t want to spring on those that already left the tournament and the teams that have already been eliminated don’t really want to play either.
Nisha has been switching between Mid and Carry roles for a long time, which role is harder and which one do you like more?
Nisha: I like Midlane more for sure even though the role is much harder. And while the roles are different in theory, it does have its similarities in my opinion.
Puppey has been the only player that has attended all eleven TI main events, how do you maintain your enthusiasm for Dota 2 after all these years?
Puppey: That’s the kind of answer that I can’t give because I haven’t been doing anything different than what I’ve done the past 10 or 20 years ago. Perhaps I just don’t really care.
How does Resolution fit into the team so quickly?
Puppey: Resolution fits in nicely for us because he has been playing the offlane role that our team lacked at the moment. It’s also because him and Zayac are big friends and they mesh together really well.
With Resolution and Zayac being in the lane together, it created a nice playstyle that didn’t need extra work so it gave us a big boost on how to actually win games.
What changes do you like to see to the DPC?
Puppey: I would like to see more tournaments and more majors. I don’t like the fact there are only very limited chances for teams to earn points and qualify to TI.
Heen: They should increase the points given at the majors compared to the qualifiers. There’s too much imbalance where you can’t win majors and get into TI because a majority of the points are offered at regionals.
Zayac: Also, if you want to make more majors, at least have a bigger prize pool for them because everyone is playing them just for DPC points. There’s no bonus incentive since players aren’t playing it for the money unlike in previous majors in Kiev and Manilla where there was a lot of pressure.
How do you feel about TI being in two different venues?
Resolution: I think it would have been better if it started right away on the big stage so that every team got to play there because I think it’s a really big experience for all the players have. It’s kind of sad that only four teams are able to play on the big stage and be proud.
Puppey: Thinking back to previous TIs where you walk into the arena and get to see booths after booths where it feels big and magical, I haven’t felt that TI magic whatsoever since it’s a small venue.
It’s a totally different vibe than before, like I haven’t seen Gabe Newell come out and say “Welcome to the Internationals”, the vibes just isn’t there.
Which teams surprised you the most this TI?
Resolution: I think to me it’s EG and BetBoom, both were like surprising and disappointing at the same time. I expected BetBoom to do much better and in the case with EG, I was surprised that they would do so well during the group stages.
But at the same time, they kind of fell off from their playstyle and didnt’ keep building their momentum in the playoffs.
Heen: For me, it would be Hokori. Even though they have the last place, I watched them during the boot camp and they were taking a lot of games off the more established SEA teams like Fnatic. It would seem like they were going to be a threat in TI and they shouldn’t be disappointed at their performance.
Puppey: For me, it’s Hokori and Thunder Awaken as well. I think Hokori could have been in the winner’s bracket and would have won one match had things been better for them. Thunder Awaken is the same, they do some stuff that’s just makes you feel that they are confident with running in with their heroes and dying, going crazy on us.
Crystallis: For me it would be OG. I would have liked to face them at least once at this TI but I didn’t.
Resolution: What about Team Spirit, the previous TI champions?
Puppey: I mean that was also a surprise, it was disappointing since they were the best team last TI, for the moment.
Zayac: They didn’t play that bad, just normal. They just didn’t reach the other bracket and lost a Bo1 (Best of One) series. It happens.
Since you’re one of the two teams from the last chance qualifiers, how important do you think this format is?
Puppey: I think it’s very important. Apparently they’re probably not going to do it again but I would like to convince them otherwise. Because the issue with really stacked regions means that you won’t get some of these teams into TI and I think it’s really valuable for any of these teams.
Zayac: It’s kinda strange that all regions are in the same spot, like there’s too many points from your placing from the qualifiers which is bad. Because we got all these teams from weak regions and not a lot of teams from the strong regions. That’s why Last Chance Qualifiers helps out.
Puppey: It’s a good way to thin down which teams were bad and which were good. It’s like a nice way to get the right teams into TI without needing any crazy system.
Puppey has played Dota since the start, would you say that you enjoyed the meta now? Was there any particular patch that you could recall yourself thinking this is a game changer.
Puppey: To be fair, I would consider that OG back in TI8 and TI9 were the best way of showing how Dota was supposed to be played. The dismantled the enemy through rotation and ganks and they just didn’t let you farm. I thought it was innovative when they did it.
Going back to the question, no I don’t like the slower paced patches. I don’t like to sit in my fountain and just camp there. I actually don’t like it right now where every so often you can’t break the enemies’ base. You have to stay and wait till the enemy makes a mistake.
I also don’t like outposts the most. I hate how you need to stand still on a spot for six seconds like an idiot and then die to the enemy carry. My teammates are usually doing something important like pushing out a lane or ganking and you’re just there standing in one spot.
With Heen having coached both Team Liquid and Team Secret, what’s the difference between these two teams?
Heen: Honestly, there were a lot of similarities between the two teams. Without going too much into the details, I think Liquid was more of a heart team where they play with their instincts while Team Secret is more of a logic team.
Even though by now I’ve been on Team Secret for much longer, I think I’ve been to more LANs with Liquid, so there were more activities done. It’s just hard to answer what the best points are for each team since I enjoy them both.
Heen had coached and played in the SEA region, what do you think SEA teams are lacking to push through and create a team that can win TI?
Heen: The difference for me at TNC was that the players really hated having responsibilities of prep, so I had to have a complete dictatorship of what and how we should do in a series.
Resolution: Why is that no one wants to take responsibilities?
Heen: They’re young and they don’t want to. For the players, they just want to play and don’t have a strong opinion as the western counterparts. That has been the main criticism of SEA teams, where they don’t have a captain leading the team.
Puppey: Yeah, it’s kinda true. They have a completely different mentality compared to us where like the more responsibility we have, the more chances we win. Having more people speak up, shot-calling and do their things. Of course there needs to be a balance but it also needs to be there.
Just like in general sports, would it be helpful having substitutes and being able to swap players during the games?
Puppey: I like that question. It’s like Reso (Resolution) misses his Black Hole and we can be like “Get this guy outta here”.
Resolution: That would be so sick and I would love to see that. I feel like that should be a thing because it gives motivation to the players to give their best. It’s like having someone behind your back so you need to keep performing.
Puppey: I think the issue lies on the fact that Dota 2 doesn’t generate as much money to afford that many teams. Obviously, it would be good since we could scrim against each other all the time and get better against each other, like how football teams work.
Team Secret had a second place winning at The International 11, falling short to Tundra Esports during their Best of 5 Grand Final series, making it the best placing at TI that Team Secret has had since the organisation was formed back in 2014.