VP.Prodigy is a team that recently formed as Virtus.pro’s second roster compiled of youngsters from the scene. But the team has already shown that they are up to the task of taking on the best in the business, with their most impressive performance coming in the WePlay! Pushka League S1: Division 1, in which they defeated the likes of Alliance, NiP and Team Liquid and ended up as runners-up. VPEports had the chance to talk with their captain, Vitalie ‘Save-‘ Melnic, who is only 19 years old, about his experience being the captain, the CIS region and the new meta, amongst other things.
Hello Save! How’s it going, how are the conditions there? Is Save staying safe at home?
I’m actually a bit sick, but it isn’t too bad. I’m staying home and getting treatment.
How has the lockdown been?
It has been alright. I’ve been staying home and playing Dota 2 pretty much the whole time.
Let’s get right to the Dota 2. There have been a lot of tournaments happening online and the EU/CIS region is the most competitive one. Is the team boot camping together for the tournaments or is everyone at their home?
We weren’t bootcamping. All the players were playing from their homes.
How has your experience been captaining VP.Prodigy? Do you make most of the in game calls?
It’s a new role for me, being the captain. I find it very interesting. When we started playing, I realized how exciting it was to be the player whose opinion makes the most difference in the game. You can have a big and direct impact through the drafts and in game calls. When I was with Virtus.pro, I was just a guy pressing buttons. But here, I am the captain and I definitely like the role and the responsibility.
That is good to hear! What do CIS teams need to do step it up to the next level? Especially to overcome the European dominance that you can see even right now in the Omega League.
I think all the CIS players are bit limited in their understanding of Dota 2. Most players keep doing the same thing instead of analyzing more replays and looking at the game with a different perspective. That would be the main problem, the main hurdle that CIS teams need to get over to get to the next level.
Who would you say are the top 3 CIS teams right now?
I would say Virtus.pro, VP.Prodigy and Na’Vi are the top three CIS teams currently.
How is VP.Prodigy’s relation with Virtus.pro? Do the two teams scrim and discuss tactics together?
We scrim against each other, like a lot of teams do. But no, we don’t discuss tactics together. We are like two completely separate teams.
Sister teams when it comes to the organization, but foes on the battlefield! You are one of the very few players from Moldova (probably only one in a tier 1 Dota 2 team). How is the gaming scene in the country? Is Dota 2 the most popular game there?
I’m not sure if Dota 2 is the most popular game in Moldova. I believe it’s either Dota 2 or CS:GO. We do have some 7000 MMR players from Moldova, but that’s about it.
Let’s get to the current Dota 2 meta. Do you like the meta right now, is 7.27 better than 7.26?
I wouldn’t say that I prefer 7.27 to 7.26, but I’m always happy when a new patch is released. When 7.27b was released (the patch with the hero changes), there were a lot of broken heroes like Doom, Dark Seer and Venomancer, and that made me dislike the patch a bit. But with 7.27d, things seem more balanced and the meta is way better than it was before. I definitely like the current meta that is developing with patch 7.27d.
What has your favorite and least favorite change been from 7.27?
Favorite change would be the increase in base hero kill XP from 40 to 100 and also the nerf to Necronomicon. Players were buying Necro books on any and every hero in the previous patch, so it felt good to see it get nerfed.
Least favorite change was the buff to Venomancer.
Oh yes, he was way too powerful and annoying. But even with the balance patches, Veno still survives in the game and is a popular pick (or in most games, a popular ban).
Yeah, he is still a very strong hero. Veno just kills the enemy safe lane tower, goes mid, stars pushing the mid tower and there’s not a lot you can do against that.
The way I see this patch, it is more of a core or a carry meta. Do you like the position 4 role in the current meta?
I don’t really like the position 4 meta right now. There are a lot of dead position 4 heroes in the meta – heroes like Dark Willow, Shadow Shaman, Lion, Skywrath Mage, Tusk; these heroes can work in some games, but they are really bad when compared to the strongest position 4 heroes like Rubick, Phoenix, Windranger and Clockwerk. It would be good if the other ones were buffed to bring a bit of parity to the heroes played in this position.
Recently, the bans in Captains Mode just went from 4-1-1 to 2-3-2. How do you think that has impacted games?
The new ban system is better for teams with a small hero pool. With only two bans in the first phase, there is a liberty to pick your strong heroes in the first phase. One of the biggest impacts of this change is that the team with the second pick closes the first pick phase, and can get their carry early on in the draft. That is followed by three bans, which can be used to ban three good heroes against the carry. And the team picking second also has the last pick of the draft saved for mid, so I would say second pick got buffed with this change.
When did you start playing Dota 2 and when did you realize you could make it as a professional?
I started playing Dota 2 in 2013…
…inspired by TI3?
No, I started playing because my brother got an invitation to the Dota 2 beta from his friends. In the summer of 2016, I hit 5000 MMR when I was just 14 years old. That’s when the thought occurred to me that I could make it as a professional. I decided to keep playing and improving with every game and by 2017, I hit 7000 MMR.
Most viewers know you to have started with FlyToMoon, going to Virtus.pro and then VP.Prodigy. But do you have memories of the small stacks with whom you started your professional career?
If I remember correctly, it was October 2018 and I was in the top 10 of the EU leaderboards. That’s when I started to get invites from some stacks. I played in a stack for just one day. Then while playing with a CIS team, I got contacted by Alexander ‘Nofear’ Churochkin. He invited me to be a part of ‘Team Jekich’, which had ‘fn’, ‘Nofear’, ‘yoky’ and ‘Ark’. It was the second Winstrike Roster. That was the start of my professional career. We disbanded in two months, after which I ended up playing for FlyToMoon.
Any other games you like to play besides Dota 2, to relax or destress?
Not really, I don’t play any games other than Dota 2.
You didn’t decide to try Fall Guys? I see a lot of Dota 2 players playing it.
I play a bit sometimes, but not a lot really.
What does Save like doing outside of Dota 2, when he’s not playing?
Nothing too special – I like watching movies, TV series and anime; things to clear the mind.
Thank you for your time! Any shoutouts?
Shoutout to all the VP.Prodigy fans for supporting us. Hopefully we will get to play in a tournament soon enough and show you our best game.
Can’t wait to see you back in action. Good luck in the games ahead!