Following their top eight finish at TI7, where they were forced to a last minute stand-in, Team Empire had a rough season and now are looking forward to open qualifiers for TI8.
Just ten days ahead of EPICENTER XL, Team Empire changed their carry and had to take the first-ever CIS Major as a practice ground for Aybek “Naive-” Tokaev, a very young player who has a scary task ahead of him. On the last day of EPICENTER XL we caught with Andrey “Ghostik” Kadyk, Team Empire’s offlaner for the last two years, who talked to us about how the team found Naive, how is the gelling process with him going and how do they feel going into the TI8 open qualifiers.
Hey, Ghostik, tough group sage for Team Empire. Understandably, I guess, if we take into consideration that you had less than two weeks to prepare with Naive for this. But I’d like to highlight the fact that you guys actually took a game from FlyToMoon and PSG.LGD, definitely two of the biggest surprises of the event. What’s your take on the group stage matches you played here?
Well, to be honest, I feel a little bit on the downside because we had pretty good chances to actually win a game against Team Liquid too, and we’ve been so close to win those series against PSG.LGD and FlyToMoon but we lost because of our own mistakes, because of our decisions and the bad moments in the late game especially. I won’t lie, we are pretty upset because we know we had good chances to win those series.
We saw you playing Pangolier in the group stage and not many teams play it as a core, tell me what do you think about the hero? Do you actually enjoy playing it, or is it something that can shine in certain strategies, so you guys summon him only when he is really needed?
I like Pangolier a lot. I played this hero a lot before the patch where he was added in the CM. It’s really fun to play him and yes, as you said, not many players have it in their pool. Right now it’s only iceiceice who plays it as a core, so I’m trying to get as good as possible with this hero.
Talking about heroes who can be fun to play with, what do you think about Broodmother these days? She used to be one of your heroes, but she’s not good in the offlane anymore, right? Teams used to abuse her in pushing strats and whatnot but we haven’t seen her at all this event, wasn’t she buffed recently?
I’m not exactly sure if we should look at the recent changes as buffs or not. Yes, the spiders are much better, but it’s harder now to not feed them. Broodmother is still a super good hero for a last pick but she got changed a little bit too much and players don’t have that much time to practice her in between the events, so we are not exactly sure how she fits the drafts. That’s why we don’t see her picked now.
Ok, let’s talk about Naive, who did make himself noticed at this event despite the overall results. He is still very young, just 17 and as far as I know he doesn’t have too much LAN experience. How did you guys find him?
Yeah, he is a young talent coming from Kazakhstan. Our managerial team saw him playing at WESG in China and soon as they came back from there they told us to give him a trial. So we did that and we discovered a very good player in him. He is also a very nice person to play with, he also enjoyed playing with us those couple of days of trial, we all clicked you know, and we felt he is a very good choice for our team.
Regarding this event, you know, a first big LAN event is always very stressful for a new player. I think it’s been the case for Naïve as well at EPICENTER, but at the same time it was a very good experience for him. We got to play against very good teams and I’m confident we will do a lot better in the future with Naive in carry position.
I was about to ask you about TI8 open qualifiers. Obviously, this is your next big target, and it’s in the very near future. How do you feel going in the open qualifiers, there’s a lot of teams in there for the CIS region.
Open qualifiers have always been tough and it will be no exception this year. You can’t lose a single game in those, and that puts a lot of pressure on the teams. We saw this season crazy things happening and everyone will have to play their best in those best-of-one games.
I really hope Valve will give more spots for CIS from opens to closed qualifiers because we have extremely few teams eligible for closed invites, two or three. So, hopefully, Valve will give a couple of spots to open qualifiers winners but, overall I think we will be doing well in those. We still have more than a month I think, to prepare for TI8 open qualifiers.
Alright, the grand finals are about to begin on the stage so we will wrap up our interview here. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, any shout outs?
Shout out to all who tuned in to watch this event. It’s always fun to read the twitch chat and see all the jokes about my nose.