WePlay! Bukovel Minor is set to commence today in an idyllic winter scenery in the Ukrainian Carpathians mountains. Bukovel is about a three hours drive away from the home city of Danil “Dendi” Ishutin, who couldn’t resist the temptation of working an event so close to the place that’s so special to him.
We were happy to meet Dendi in Bukovel and sit down for a chat, a day before the start of the tournament. We spoke about his new project, about how he spent the time right after leaving Na’Vi, and about how his life changed after leaving the organization for which he played for over 8 years. We also talked about the new patch and how or if it might have an impact on the teams fighting this week for the WePlay! Bukovel Minor trophy.
Hi Dendi, nice to see you again. It’s the first time I get to talk to you since you left Na’Vi, so my first question is how has your life changed since you became a free agent? Did your schedule suddenly became more relaxed or are you even busier now, trying to figure out what should be the next step in your career?
I would say that for about a year I had some freedom, or it felt like I have more freedom, more time for myself. I wasn’t playing with anyone until Tigers, so I had time to think over, but my life didn’t change much because I was still practicing most of the time, all the time I would say. In that regard, nothing changed.
I still have my personal goals and I’m doing everything in my power to achieve them. Overall, I felt some sort of freedom for a while. You know, when I was still playing with Na’Vi there was a lot of pressure from the outside, after that, I had time to simply relax.
It was surprising to see you going to Southeast Asia for your first serious adventure after Na’Vi. What made you join Tigers?
I was pretty ambitious for my first team after Na’Vi, so I was searching for something that had the potential to be strong. I didn’t want to go to any of the CIS teams, if I did that, it would have been like making some steps back, at least from my point of view. Also, I wasn’t sure why people want me on their teams, was it because of my name, or anything related to my image. A lot of times it felt like they wanted to use my name in a way, so because of all these things I was searching for other options. At that time I got this proposal from Theeban (1437) and I found his idea really good. To be honest, I was ready to move to NA or SEA, or any other region back then, maybe not to China because of the language barrier. So, when Theeban messaged me and told me the line-up, I was pretty excited because I have huge respect for Mushi and I know MoonMeander is quite strong. I didn’t know Xepher at that time, but he looked like a very promising player and the line-up overall, was looking good, at least on paper.
It was a very good experience for me. I wanted to improve my game knowledge, I wanted to learn more about what makes a good leader, so the Tigers experience brought me a lot of good stuff, no matter how that project went, I find it as a very good experience on a personal level. I also liked a lot the time spent there. We were in Kuala Lumpur, I had great food and Dota all the time, I was super happy there, although I was for the first time out of my comfort zone. It was a refreshing experience.
We know you are now working hard to build your own organization, you keep your fans updated pretty well I would say, so I won’t go into details about that. But, after your recent video about the team roster, we saw two of the players that were supposed to be on your team going to other organizations, so I have to ask: is the Dendi team still going to happen sometime soon?
The thing is that any team will always have some problems, be them communication, lack of synergy, chemistry, etc. It doesn’t matter if you are the best team of the moment or a team that’s just starting or a tier-two team, eventually, you will run into some problems, and usually, you would try to fix those problems. But when you have a stack of very young players it’s a bit more complicated.
Let’s say you formed a month ago, but two or three weeks after starting the team you already have hard times, and while the more experienced players on the team or the captain is trying to find ways to solve the issues, the younger players will immediately jump to any other opportunity that they are presented with. It happens a lot with the young players, they jump trains very fast, without looking back or thinking ahead. But that’s ok, I’m used to it, it happens a lot in CIS, all the teams mix their players all the time. The young people are not used to fight through the rough times, they are not up to overcome some struggles. The thing is, that when you battle through, when you overcome a problem, that’s when you become much stronger, you improve a lot.
About my organization, yes it will happen, I’m totally excited to get this done.
Let’s talk about the Bukovel Minor. This is the first Dota Pro Circuit tournament for WePlay! and I think it’s the first time you will be working with them, right?
Oh yes, I’ve watched all their online studio set-up events from last year, the Forge of Masters LAN for CS:GO, and I really liked how they wrap their events. They create a lot of cool content, they present it differently, so I was super happy to join their first Dota 2 Minor. It’s because of what I saw from them that made me really want to be a part of the Winter Tale story that will happen here in Bukovel. Also, we are just three hours away from my home city, Lviv.
I think everyone here, at this Minor has actually come through the Lviv airport and had a few hours drive from there to Bukovel. So, I guess everyone who is at this Minor can now say that they’ve been in Dendi’s home town.
Haha, yeah that’s true, everyone landed in Lviv, but nobody has actually had the time to see the city, which is so beautiful.
You never have enough time to visit everything that you want. That’s a real story about the esports world. You travel a lot, but you don’t get to be the tourist.
Yes, that’s very true.
A day before the Minor, Valve released the 7.23f patch which brought only nerfs. Interestingly, some of the most important heroes of the meta that was just developing were targeted by IceFrog. Do you think that nerfing Doom, Puck and Viper will have a great impact on the teams at the Bukovel Minor?
Definitely. These nerfs will have a huge impact on the teams at the Bukovel Minor, because here is how it works: Doom had one of the highest pick rates, the same goes for Puck. Doom is countering x, y, z heroes, so all these heroes will never be picked when Doom is up in the draft. Doom is also countered by x,y, z heroes so those heroes are what you practiced and around which you created your strategies. These are the heroes you usually pick after Doom. The same is with Puck, and by nerfing these two heroes, you change the draft completely. You will see that suddenly teams will play heroes that were almost in the meta, but never their first option, not what they practiced for the past few weeks, not what they looked at during their bootcamp. Five small nerfs in a patch can create a huge overhaul in the meta, and I think this is what’s going to happen here.
Some teams will try to adapt, some teams will maybe be able to find something new in this very short time since the patch, some will just keep picking what they practiced and will try to make the best out of it. But overall, I think what we will see on the first days, it will be more random, more chaotic. The teams that are more experienced will probably have the upper hand, but for the teams that are the hard-working type, they don’t have a lot of experience, but they are trying to win the Minor by spending long days in bootcamps and all they did for the past few weeks was practice, practice, practice, this patch is really unfortunate for them.
It’s time to wrap up our interview. Thanks a lot for talking to us and I hope to see you again soon, but in the team booths. Any shout-outs you might want to make?
First of all, thank you so much and a big thank you to all of you who are supporting and following me.