By Taras Bortnik
Special to VPEsports
A day before EHOME started their journey in the last Minor of the Dota Pro Circuit season, Taras Bortnik had the chance to sit and talk with Zhang “y`” Yiping about the team’s confidence, the tournament importance on their road to TI9, about reuniting with Zhang “Faith_bian” Ruida and about Zhang “xiao8” Ning’s role and his impact on the team’s performance.
What is the team mood a day before StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor, have you adjusted to the weather here and the time zone?
It is really very hot in Kyiv now, but nothing else has changed for us. We no longer feel the time zone difference, so we have no jet lag at all. We feel ready.
Did the 7.22c patch, released only a couple of days ago, affect your team and the preparation you did for the Minor?
The main things, the Chen rework and the Io nerf, do not greatly affect our preparation. Our main strategies and drafts are still in place, maybe we will make some changes to the drafts, but they will be insignificant.
You played with xiao8 standing in for Faith_bian for a while. How confident are you now, that you reunited with your offlaner?
Very confident. In addition, xiao8, being able to focus on his coach duties allows him to look at our matches from a different perspective and quickly correct our mistakes. When he played with us, there was no such person and our overall performed was worse. With the return of xiao8 to the coach role, it has become much easier for us to make good preparations and grow as a team.
Tell us, please, how do you see xiao8 as a coach? What is he doing most of the time, what is he responsible for?
As I said earlier, he provides a complete analysis of errors: in-game and out of the game. Of course, xiao8 is heavily involved in drafts. I’ll say this: every time when he is responsible for the heroes we pick, it is difficult for the enemy to cope with the draft. But, when he doesn’t do it, we lose.
EHOME is regarded as favorite team here at the Minor. Your performance this season, however had a lot of ups and downs, does this tournament being held in Kyiv will make the difference for you?
I think so. I mean, we attended a lot of tournaments in Kyiv and I can say that to some extent, I am used to, I am familiar with the area here. At least I can walk from the hotel to the arena by myself. We feel comfortable here, as if at home.
Are you afraid that you might be playing a bit more relaxed here knowing that there are actually 2 slots for the EPICENTER Major?
In no case. The amount of DPC points we have right now does not allow us to relax.
Right now you are ranked 12th, which on one hand means that you have a good chance to qualify for TI9 via points, on the other hand it means that your slot is still not secured. Are you confident that you will go to TI via DPC points?
Well, it gives us an extra confidence boost that at the end of the season we will keep our place in the top 12. But now, looking back on the season, I feel sad, because I understand that we could have performed much better.
Who do you see as your strongest opponent at the SL ImbaTV Minor?
Our main opponent is ourselves. If we play badly, we can lose to any team. But on the other hand, if we are determined to win, then nothing will stop us.
Through your career you experienced phenomenal success, but also really difficult days. How did you manage to stay positive and push further after the TI winning line-up of Wings Gaming disbanded?
It helped me a lot that as a player I kept myself up in shape, so I didn’t have so many reasons to worry about my personal skills. During dire times and bad periods, I was comforted by the idea that people believed in me. In addition, my friends constantly supported me so, I never lost faith.
China has right now two teams at the top of the competitive scene. PSG.LGD and VG are already qualified for TI9, but there is also a long list of teams that constantly come to Minors and Majors. Can you share with us your thoughts on which of these teams can snatch a TI slot?
Royal Never Give Up and Keen Gaming. They are now occupying 3-4 positions in our region.
What about Sirius?
Sirius are a good team, with their own specifics. You could even say that Sirius is our main opponent in the tournament. We constantly train with them, and we don’t want to come across them during the Minor because we know each other well and the match will be difficult. But if that happens, then I want to win the team that will show the best Dota.