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paiN Gaming made it to the EPICENTER XL playoffs by surviving in a group with four of the top five ranked teams right now. On the day off, before the main event, we’ve met Heitor “Duster” Pereira, the position 5 support and one of the key factors in paiN Gaming’s success through the entire group stage.

Duster joined paiN Gaming only at the end of 2017 and a couple of years back he was still watching the pros, dreaming that one day he will become one of them. Na’Vi is his favorite team since TI3 and his victory against them at EPICENTER XL carries a special meaning for him. We spoke with Duster about a lot of things: the SA scene, a Romanian joining a Brazilian team, language barriers and of course about Dazzle and his place in the current meta.

Hey Duster and congrats on the group stage result, pretty crazy, right? You guys are in the playoffs by surviving what most people said it was the group of death., Team Secret, Team Liquid, Newbee were all in your group, so how do you feel?

Yeah, it definitely was a tough group and we are quite happy and very excited to play on the EPICENTER stage. We hope we can pass the first two bo1 rounds in the lower bracket. After seeing how the group stage went, we hope we can make it to top 6 here in Moscow.

I’d like to talk to you a bit about the group stage matches and the strats. You played a lot of minus armor drafts. Dazzle, Venge, a lot of Templar Assasin games, so is the current meta all about this or is it something you guys actually practiced before the latest patch?

I wouldn’t say we had time to practice too much before this event. I think all in all, we had just one week of what you could call practice.

Dazzle is a hero we think is very good in the current meta. He is not providing only the minus armor but also the plus armor for his allies. A lot of teams played minus armor drafts in the group stage here. Na’Vi, for example, played a lot of the Venge-Slardar combo and the plus Armor from Dazzle’s ult proved to be a good counter.

Speaking about Na’Vi, your team is a little bit responsible for their elimination. Did you feel extra pressure before that series, because it was make or break for both you and them. I also know you are a big fan of Na’Vi and you actually made a tweet after the victory saying that they were your inspirational source to turn pro.

Before that series we had a team meeting, we’ve talked about what we should play and we decided to play our Dota, forget about the patch, forget about what might work or might not.We decided to play what’s comfortable to us and it worked. We didn’t have anything special planned, we just drafted what we thought it was the best for us.


You just said you decided to play comfortable heroes and I must say that when I saw the patch notes I instantly thought at w33’ Windranger. It is a signature hero for him, and with all the Mjolnir and the MKB buffs, plus the few buffs WR received lately, I was kind of  assuming we will see him playing it here. Why didn’t he? Do you keep it for the main event?

Maybe. It’s also about if he feels like playing some of his old heroes, Windranger, Skywrath, things like that. But yeah, I think this is actually a great patch for him, but at the same time, you have to realize that he didn’t actually play these heroes in competitive games for a while now. So, regardless of how good someone used to be on a certain hero, you still have to practice it again if you plan to bring it back as your signature hero.


You said earlier that you didn’t have much time to prepare for this event. W33 re-joined you just very recently, two- three weeks ago. Why did you take him now, and not a couple of months back? He played with you as a stand in at Galaxy Battles, and that was in January. After that he stood in for the Bucharest Major which was in March, then you went to full Brazilian roster once more. So walk me through all these shuffles and the decision of having W33 join you officially only now.


For Galaxy Battles, our mid player from back then had a passport issue which couldn’t be dealt with in time. So, we asked W33 to stand in. We felt good playing with him and we wanted him to stay with us but he was not ready to make the region change back then. I feel like we became even better friends with him in Bucharest, but he was committed to another team and he didn’t want to join us. So, we tried to rebuild a full Brazilian roster again. We also had to go to WESG and for that event we needed full National team. Unfortunately, it simply didn’t work for us. After DAC we had to make a change again and W33 was free. We’ve talked to him, he wanted to move to Brazil and we decided that playing with him for TI8 is the best thing that could possibly happen. So he came to Brazil and the next day we started to play Majors qualifiers. We won the ESL One Birmingham and lost the Super Major qualifiers, but it’s fine. We  feel we are onto a good path. He brings a lot of experience to the team.


What do you guys do to gel with him? Is it hard to communicate? He doesn’t speak Portuguese, not all your teammates feel comfortable talking English, so how is it going?


Funny fact, w33 doesn’t speak Portuguese but he understands a lot. And when I say a lot, I really mean it. If we discuss something in Portuguese and then we try to switch to English to explain to him what we talked, he already knows everything, he is understanding our language really well. You also can’t talk bad things around him, he understands that too [laughs].    

I’ll tell you a small secret, because I’m Romanian too, like W33. Romanian and Portuguese for some reason have a lot of words in common. We probably spell them differently but we pronounce them exactly the same way. I know that Romanian and Portuguese are Latin languages, but still, I can tell you for sure that it is easier for a Romanian to understand Portuguese than understanding let’s say, French.

Yeah, it’s really funny. He definitely understands a lot of words.

Alright, let’s talk about you. I want to go back to what you said, that Na’Vi inspired you to become a pro and I’d like to ask you how did you actually start to play Dota? You are one of the younger players on the professional scene, only 17 years old so, at TI3 you should have been around 13 years old, right?


I’ve started to play Warcraft III back in 2010 because of my older brothers. I have three older brothers and they were all playing the game and every time they were playing I was watching them and I wanted to play that game so much. When I finally got my own computer, in 2010, I played the DotA 1 map and a lot of other maps, then I got my beta key for Dota 2 in 2013.


The same year I watched TI3 and I became a big fan of Na’Vi and after watching them at that International I decided that this is what I want to do with my life as well. I was just 13 years old and it was like a child’s dream, my parents didn’t support me back then, understandable I guess (laughs) but I really wanted to make this happen for myself. I started to play a lot of ranked games so I can increase my MMR, I went to some small LAN tournaments in Brazil, those really small, community events, you know, where there is almost no prize money and stuff like that. So, I did all I could to make myself noticed and after some time, paiN Gaming invited me for a trial with the team. They were already quite big in SA and  I remember it was just one week since I started the trial period when they told me, “you are the one we were looking for, we would like to have you in our team”.


This happened after TI7, right?


Yeah, I’m playing with them since November 2017, and it’s pretty amazing.

Joining a professional team, going to events, earning money, did all these change the way your parents thought at the beginning about a professional Dota 2 player career?


Oh, yeah, definitely. They are supporting me now in all I do. My father even texts me sometimes when we are playing at LANs and I’m trying to make him understand the game as much as possible.

And the three older brothers, are they proud of you?

They are my biggest fans.They cheer for me a lot, take care of me, they joined all the big Facebook community groups in Brazil and they are always there commentating about our games, posting and sometimes even defending me when you know, the fans go a bit crazy, post some trash talk and things like that.

Well, you do have a rather passionate community in South America.  I saw the SA fans at the Final Match in Peru and honestly, I’m looking forward to the day when we will have at least a minor in Brazil or Peru. The SA fans I believe are just as passionate as the Filipino fans or the CIS ones.


They are, they are. And they appreciate good Dota, they have a lot of respect for the players outside the SA scene as well. W33, for example, is getting a ton of messages every day from SA fans.


I hope you guys can make your fans proud at EPICENTER XL. We will wrap up the interview here because you have a shuttle waiting in front of the hotel to take you to see a bit of Moscow.  Have fun, and enjoy your day off! Any shout -out you might want to make?

Shout to our fans, and shout out to my brothers and to my family!


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