Rafał “eL lisasH” Wójcik is the mastermind behind Team Kinguin. He’s been the captain of the only Polish Dota 2 team we had for a very long time. He put together the team more than four years ago and aimed high.
We had the pleasure to sit and talk to eL lisasH on the media day in Kiev at StarLadder ImbaTV Invitationals S5 Minor and we went through all the stages of his team. Of course, we couldn’t ignore that a new patch is about to drop today and we talked a little bit about that too and about the Dota Pro Circuit format.
Hello, eL lisasH, and first of all, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I’d like to start our conversation by unwinding your team’s story. You have been the captain of this team for such a long time, the core of Kinguin dates four years back already. So, tell me how did you guys meet, how did you start, why Dota, considering that the game is not so popular in Poland.
Yes, indeed there are not many Polish Dota 2 players, we don’t have a strong community. I’m pretty sure that our team always had the best five players you could find in our country. On, how we formed…wow this is such a long time ago. When we made our first team we wanted to achieve something in the Dota2 world. At least I always had this goal, to have us become an important team, it wasn’t purely for fun, we wanted more right from the start.
I think it’s more than four years since we initially formed. At the very beginning we had Exotic_Deer, Rafał “sasu” Kwiatkowski was our offlane back then. Sasu was with us through the ALTERNATE aTTaX times and two other players, but they didn’t have a lot of time for Dota so we decided to swap them with two very young and very talented other two guys, Nisha and Przemek “Supreme” Jankowski. Supreme played with us for about two years but at some point he decided he doesn’t want to play Dota anymore so we had to replace him.
Alright so, this is how the Team Kinguin we know today took shape. Was it hard for you as a captain to maintain the roster until you found a sponsor?
No, not all. I would say it was pretty easy because we played without a sponsor for only two months. ALTERNATE aTTaX picked us pretty fast and they gave us a salary. We earned 500 Euros back then and for some young guys like us it was super cool. Well, I was 18 years old already when that happened but Nisha was 14, Exotic_Deer was 16, so high school dudes earning 500 Euros per month just for playing Dota was pretty cool and kept us motivated though the first years. And to be honest since our first monthly payment, we actually never played without a salary.
The fact that we always had a salary helped us to develop our talent. What was not that good with ALTERNATE aTTaX was that we weren’t pushed towards something serious. We didn’t practice too much during that period. We were just playing a bunch of online tournaments and that was all. We had a lot of fun doing that but we didn’t take it as serious as we should have. I mean, I was taking it seriously all the time. As I said, I always wanted us to become a big name, I wanted us to be this great Polish team but the guys weren’t ready for that I guess, they weren’t mature enough.
WE GOT THIS! We emerge victorious in our match against Mad Lads, which means we qualify to the @dotasltv minor in Kiev!
Team Kinguin 2 – 0 Mad Lads pic.twitter.com/WOVBVbWLtr
— devils.one (@devils1gg) March 27, 2018
Yeah, well, I know that for the Croatian guys, for example, it is almost impossible to commit to a full Dota 2 career when they are extremely young. Or at least for most of them. I’ve talked to a few of them by now and they all said that the family pressure to finish the school, have a “normal” profession, always gets in their way. Are the Polish parents the same, did your parents or your players’ families pressure you guys to quit the gaming life?
My parents were always pressuring me to go to school. And I think regardless of the country or region, all the parents will do this at first, everyone wants their child to finish the studies. I guess that’s actually normal. I wasn’t that much into school, I never enjoyed spending the evenings studying. My mind was on Dota all the time and eventually they saw my passion and understood me. They accepted my choice. The Polish culture is a bit different I think, we are very open to what the teenagers want to do with their life. It’s not only my parents who are like this. We don’t have this mentality in Poland of forcing the kids to become what the family wants.
That’s nice to hear. You had the chance to play in front of your home crowd at ESL One Katowice. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, you got eliminated in the group stage, before playing on the stadium. Did you feel extra pressure, were you perhaps a bit more nervous than the usual in that tournament?
I don’t think so. We are not that nervous anymore at events. We got used to what a tournament is bringing to us. We now know how to deal with our emotions, how to keep our nerves in control and all this stuff. And because we didn’t reach the playoffs, so we didn’t see the crowd, that event wasn’t that much different than any other we played. We wanted to get on the main stage, but yeah… it didn’t happen. Maybe I would have had something else to tell you now if we had actually played in front of our home crowd.
What’s your impression on this first Dota Pro Circuit? Is the points system good, was the schedule too packed, how do you see it now, when there are just a few events left?
In terms of qualifying to TI via DPC points I think it’s still time for everyone to make something happen. We still have the Super Major. In terms of everything else, I think that the minors points are way less significant. The discrepancy between the Majors and Minors in terms of points it’s too big and I think it would be good to have it changed. Right now winning a Minor has almost no impact. But it’s the first season and I’m sure Valve will come with a better plan for the next season.
What’s Team Kinguin’s expectation for this StarLadder ImbaTV minor?
We will take it step by step. Our first series is against OpTic, a team we never played against before. We are looking forward to play with these guys for the first time and we of course, we want to win this matchup first. The next team we will meet is VGJ.Thunder and we have more experience with the Chinese teams, so we hope we can win the group and go to playoffs.
— devils.one (@devils1gg) April 11, 2018
You are also the drafter of the team, and I would like to hear your take on the bi-weekly patches and the fact that they come on Thursday night (in Europe) which sometimes means that the second day of an event is played on a new patch.
I like the bi-weekly patches idea. For a drafter, it’s easier to enter the events with a small patch that won’t change the game too much. What I really don’t like, and I hope it will be changed, is that like you said, sometimes they come during an event and sometimes they put in a new hero, and that’s a big deal. A new hero added to captain’s mode can blow off any team’s strategy and all the time invested in preparation for a tournament.
Are you prepared if Techies is added to CM this week?
I hope IceFrog knows that Techies doesn’t belong in Dota and he will never put this hero in the Captain’s Mode.
Alright, I see it’s your team’s’ turn for the official photo shoot so, again, thanks for taking the time to do this interview and best of luck in the tournament. Any shout outs?
Thanks for having me and shout out to all our fans, to Team Kinguin and to all of our sponsors.