On the day off at The International 2019, we got to talk with the brilliant mind behind Vici Gaming. Perhaps one of the most feared coaches from China, Bai “rOtK” Fan talked to us about the unusual picks we witnessed so far and he explained the mega creeps comeback phenomenon of the group stage matches.
Hello rOtk and congrats on the upper bracket seed here at TI9. VG’s second half of the season was really good, but did you expect your boys to do so well in the group stage?
I would say that it became a tradition for VG to do so and so in the group stage at The International. Also, looking at our previous tournament runs, you notice that we improve as the event progresses. So, for TI9 I think we did really well so far and I’m confident that we can perform according to what we showed through the whole season, I think we will only improve as TI9 progresses.
I know you had this crazy idea of having all Chinese teams practicing together, to make a joint huge effort for TI9, because this year is more important than ever that the Aegis actually stays in Shanghai. Did you manage to put your plan into practice?
Ok, so basically, what I meant by that was to have a gentleman’s agreement with all other teams that everyone will do their best in scrims, that all the teams will actually bring their A game in scrims. You know, sometimes scrims are not taken that serious, or not all the time players will give their all in practice games. So, what I wanted was that all of us will be 100% focused in these practice games for TI9.
It wasn’t meant like a big bootcamp with all the teams gathered in one house. I just wanted to reach a consensus with the team managers and team leaders that we will play these scrims very seriously.
And after the intense and serious one month of training, you finally start the TI9 group stage matches and you see the Io carry and support Invoker. How did you feel about that, were you surprised by those picks?
We didn’t anticipate the carry Io, as for the support Invoker, we actually saw that coming. However, apart from these two, there are some teams that play Treant Protector`and that’s also something that we didn’t expect. To be honest, playing at TI is a mind opening experience. Every team is playing differently than what they did for an entire season and it’s a very refreshing to see everyone being so versatile and open to new strategies.
You are one of the most iconic offlaners, and when you were playing competitively, the offlane was really the hard lane. It seems that in the current meta, the offlaners life is once again a hard one. What are the changes that brought us back to this?
I think the offlane has been hard for a long time now. One of the changes was made when they moved the towers a little, and with that, the creeps pathing became a bit different, the waves meet a little bit closer to the safe lane tower. Also, people are treating each tournament more seriously. For example, at TI every team wants to make sure that their hard carry and their mid laner get enough resources to make the difference, to have an impact on the game and that basically means that the offlaners are not protected that much and that their role becomes much harder.
We had only four days of group stage matches and it almost feels like we had too many mega creeps comebacks. If it was just one or two you might say it was a mistake that lead to that, but again, they were too many. What is the secret behind this twist?
I think what happened in the group stage here was mainly because the teams were playing recklessly. I saw too many games where a team secured the mega creeps by actually using buybacks and by using that second life only to get the megas. They lost their second life for that and this is actually something that’s not worth. For example, if you got two lanes of super creeps already, but you had to buy back for that, I think the wise decision would be to go back, play the macro game, play the farming game, and then, when your buyback is off cool down, you go for the third lane.
It’s not worth to force the third lane of barracks by using all of you team’s lifes. It just gives the other side the opportunity to counter push you and finish the game while you watch waiting for respawn.
China has two teams in the lower bracket. Do you count on RNG and Keen to slay as many teams as possible in the lower bracket? Are they strong contenders for a top 8 or top 6 finish?
From the scrim results, all Chinese teams are pretty close in terms of skill level. It’s really about who can deliver in the match. Upper bracket teams and lower bracket teams are not that different skill-wise, but when it comes to mind set, it might be hard for the young players from KG and RNG to keep it together, especially when they are in the lower bracket.
At the end of our interview, tell us how likely do you think it is to see two Chinese teams fighting in the grand finals this year?
It will be tough, but I’d love to see that happening.