Vici Gaming’s coach, Bai “rOtK” Fan sat down for an interview with the Chinese outlet Renmin Esports and discussed the impact of the Outlanders gameplay update on the professional scene and casual players. He expressed his concerns with the new patch and explained what the coach’s duties are, besides what fans see on the big screen during the tournaments.
He also answered a few questions related to VG’s performance at MDL Chengdu, the first Major of the season, but also gave a few insights on his team’s performance at TI9 and what differences OG, the back to back TI champions, from other teams. The English translation of the whole interview was possible courtesy of Blair Zheng and Yuhui Zhu.
What’s your first impression of the Outlanders update, how are the players getting used to it?
Since there are items dropping in the jungle now, it feels quite interesting, like a different game. We are all enjoying it. Some items are from previous patches, so as long as we get used to the new mechanics, it’s easy for the players to adapt to it. But of course, we need to work on our understanding of the new items.
Do you think that this update has made the threshold of the game higher for new players or for the casual ones?
Yes, for sure, especially for new players. Over 60 neutral items were added on top of the original ones, so there are too many items for them to learn.
How will neutral items influence the game?
I think the “randomness” is what influences us most because the drop of some items can be so important that it may change the outcome of a team fight or even the tempo of a whole game. But some items can be super useless. I feel this level of randomness has made the game more imbalanced.
Dota 2 is a hardcore competitive game after all, so I think Valve will do something to balance this randomness later. However, for Vici Gaming, we haven’t been influenced much, because even after the update, we are still playing strats from the last patch. During the early stages of a new patch, most teams will still use their most familiar strategies and their own playstyle from before the update.
In which aspects are the updates influencing the professional teams?
In training mostly, we need a lot of practice to find the right direction, to find the tempo and the game plan that fits us on a new patch. Then, we need to make corresponding training plans and discuss together what play style suits us the best. And at last, I need to integrate all those ideas and polish them in scrims. Updates are like the change of rules in traditional sports, so we need to adjust and adapt ourselves to them through training. Matches are more like a reflection of our training result.
Is it possible for a weak team to take down a strong one because of the release of new patch?
I can only say that apart from players’ individual skills, a more important characteristic of stronger teams is their game-sense and coordination, which has nothing to do with a patch.
To maintain a good form requires lots of training. Lessons you learned and strategies you developed through training are more important than the matches themselves. Perhaps some teams can find a cheese strat to upset stronger teams when the patch just got released, but as time goes on, you will find that strong teams are still strong and that weak teams are still weak. A patch just can’t fill an actual gap in skills.
So, how do you see the fact that OG hasn’t been influenced by so many updates?
First of all, we must recognize that OG is indeed really strong. Secondly, I think the result of tournaments will actually affect how Valve balance the game in the next patch. They will, for example, nerf combos which they saw and were deemed too strong in tournaments. However, OG are smart because they don’t expose their own strats in pre-TI tournaments. They hide their ace card during those tournaments and only bring it out on TI, so they don’t get nerfed. Of course, the reason they are confident enough to do this is because they believe in their skills.
Then why don’t Chinese teams adopt such a pattern?
I think we are more straightforward. As long as we are playing, we only aim for the championship. We don’t think that much.
Every time Valve releases a patch, the community will meme about it being a completely new game, what do you think about it?
I think the players are just complaining about Valve’s slow speed in releasing new patches. However, each update did change game mechanics a lot, so we can see a lot of people calling Outlanders “DOTA 3.” It’s normal, these are just memes.
It’s a pity that you finished runner-up at the last Major, MDL Chengdu. Was it due to players’ burn-out from last season?
We don’t have any excuse. It was simply because we were in a bad form on the final day and TNC played better. We didn’t deliver our best performance on that day. We are sorry about it, too.
A lot of people think that the Chinese coaches are simply scapegoats to take the flame when team loses. What do you think?
A lot of fans think the only job of a coach is drafting for the players in the booth. This is not really true. I think the value of a good coach resides in the daily training, they need to figure out questions like how to lead a team, how to make training more effective, what needs to be done so that the players can learn more from scrims. These are more important tasks for a coach.
The fact that Valve allows coaches to participate in the drafting phase on stage is a recognition of our value. However, drafting is still decided by the team together, and in most cases, the draft is not the only reason for a loss. Some high-skilled audience may know what’s the root cause for a loss, while others may not. But as long as they don’t make things up blindly, I’ll accept their opinion.
How does public opinion impact you?
It’s been many years, and I’m already used to them. I know how to adjust my mindset. Luckily, I’ve still got a lot of fans, and they stand up for me from time to time. I’m really grateful for those fans.
What’s the goal of Vici Gaming this season?
We wish we can go far at TI. In the previous season, it was really tough for everyone. I think the main reason that we decided not to make any roster change was that our players didn’t think they were in their best form at TI8. We could have done much better. I hope this year we can make effective adjustments and present you with a better performance from Vici Gaming!