No matches is the only CIS team still in the competition at the very last Major of the season. EPICENTER tournaments hold a special place in the VP players hearts because they get to play in front of their home crowd just before going to The International 2019. They want to give their fans reasons to celebrate, but they are in the lower bracket rounds after a hard defeat to Team Liquid earlier in the event.

We’ve talked to Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov to see what meaning this tournament has for him and for his team, why they called a 22 minute GG in the semi-finals of the playoffs and how does he feel at the end of the Dota Pro Circuit season.


For the most part of this season, you were super dominant, you are the hometown team at EPICENTER, but this is also the very last Major of the season and as we already saw with Team Secret, for example, that this might be the time in the year when everyone feels a bit tired. How are you guys approaching this tournament?

It’s only once in a year when we get to play in Moscow, in a Russian stadium filled with our home crowd. All our friends will come here to watch us play, so we are super motivated. The previous EPICENTER tournament was really bad for us so it’s very important for us to make a run to be remembered here.

I’d like to ask you something bluntly and please be honest about it. Is it like most people say, that you tilted versus Liquid in the upper bracket so that’s why you made that game one the 22 mins GG call?

That was the game where they had Io-Gyro, right? I honestly don’t see how you can win versus that duo. When you have all your cores with just 1-2 items, and they have Io with Mekansm rotating with Gyro all over the map they are simply unkillable. You die in one second and there is nothing you can do. If you don’t have a tempo hero like Slark for example, to match that kind of aggression, to be able to gank as much as they do, then you are pretty much doomed. 

Why we didn’t try to drag that in a later stage? Well, again, Io-Gyro are running all over the map with max speed, they farm all the camps extremely fast, they develop so much faster than you and the later it gets into the game, the better they are and you can’t catch them from behind. It’s simply like that and dragging a game like that in late stages it will only consume your energy. When your enemy has the tools to farm so much better and so much faster, you can only look at that one opportunity where you can catch them off guard or try to fight them over an objective. If you don’t win that one important fight, there is nothing else you can do. It’s very important to not lose your motivation over a game like that. 

I would also say that in that game I played pretty bad. We had some miscommunication with Solo, I made some bad moves. We could have beaten them if they would have made some mistakes, I’m sure we could have done better in the offlane, but because of my mistakes they snowballed and we couldn’t get our items fast enough, key items that would have helped us deal with Io and Gyro. 

It’s been almost a year since you got married, how is the family life, how is Linda feeling about you being on the road so much?

We are happy, she understands me and she supports me. Of course, it’s pretty hard for both of us because I’m always on a tournament or in a bootcamp, but I’m trying to do something about that, maybe next year I will change something, who knows? 

How likely is that you will continue playing after TI9?

I still really don’t know what I’m gonna do in the next season. It really depends on our result at TI. We just need to wait and see what happens. 

How do you feel about TI9 being held in China?

For me personally, it was much more comfortable to play the TI in North America. I really enjoy Seattle, I really liked Vancouver as well and I don’t know what to expect from China. I only know that we have a lot of fans in China and that they are much happier knowing that we come to play there.

We reached the end of the season. We had only 10 tournaments in the DPC system this year, but do you feel like it made a big difference in the teams schedule compared to last year when we had so much more events, but we also had direct invites to Majors?

Honestly, it’s been pretty annoying to play qualifiers after each Major. We’ve got top three in a  lot of the Majors this season and it usually happened from the lower bracket, which means that we played more games than the rest of the teams. After you do a Major lower bracket run to top 3 you are a bit exhausted, you want to rest a bit, but we couldn’t do it this year because we always had the qualifiers coming right after the tournament. The very few days between a Major and the qualifiers you usually spend them on traveling back home. By the time you finish unpacking, it’s qualifiers time again. 

Also, for the teams that always qualified for the Majors, it’s been a bit easier compared to the teams that had to play the Minors as well. I mean, some teams played Major qualifiers, then straight to Minor qualifiers, then they went to the Minor, they reached the Major and they traveled straight to the Major, they got back home and they started all over again. It’s a super packed schedule. They had literally no break. 

For example Vici Gaming, their season was crazy. They won a Minor and then went to the Major, won that as well, then they had to play qualifiers again. I can’t imagine how hard must have been for them. 

What’s the plan for after EPICENTER. Will you take a few weeks vacation or do you guys want to go straight to the TI9 bootcamp?

We will take a small break. I will go with my wife somewhere on the sea side. Everyone needs a bit of a break and after that, we will have about 2-3 weeks of bootcamp before TI9. 

We usually have a patch that spins a bit the meta before TI. Is there anything that you would like to be addressed in a future gameplay update?

I still think that there is something wrong with Morphling. He is a super annoying hero. I can’t say that he has a huge win-rate right now, but he is still stupid, I still think he is broken. I don’t believe that he will ever be fixed, there are too many spells that are broken for this hero. 

Adaptive Strike is broken, his ultimate, his Aghanim’s buff, his third spell are broken too, I can’t even explain it all. He is a super stupid hero. 

It’s time for us to wrap up this interview, thanks a lot for your time Pasha and good luck and have fun in the CSKA Arena.

Thank you and see you all in the arena in Moscow and at TI9. We will do our best, I promise you!


More interviews from the EPICENTER Major

Eyyou: “Somehow, every SEA team had a big problem to deal with at some point in the season”

Boxi: “Regardless of how we’re doing, we know that we really improved through the year”

Ceb: “That victory over Secret was an important statement that we had to make”

xNova: “Except for VG, I think that all other [Chinese] teams are quite stagnant”

Daxak: ”It kind of feels bad that we have to fight against them [Alliance]”

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