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I was able to do a longer sit down with Kuku, leader of TNC. Today they play against Mineski for their TI8 lives. We talked about the rise of the SEA aggression, Demon when he played under TNC, his thoughts about vision, good dota, role changes, and more.

Kuku Interview

So within the last few years it feels like your region has grown stronger in terms of talent and teams. You’ve been part of that wave of new talent and we’ve seen a bunch of players go out of the country or stay within the region. So what do you think has caused the explosion of talent from this region in Dota 2?

I think the pubs there are so good so many MMR players will be discovered like that. The region will itself is strong because there are so many U.S. players there right now.

So right now there are players like UNiVeRsE and EternaLEnVy playing there right now. Has there been a change in terms of pubs or team play since they’ve come in?

I think in MMR, it’s almost the same because there are so many cancer players there. As a team, as Fnatic they manage to surpress the other teams. They are the team that always sticks together and don’t throw. They know how to play even if they don’t have a lead. If they have a Roshan, they are good at using the aegies and getting networth. They are not a team that will just throw the lead.

There’s a quote from EternaLEnVy and UNiVeRsE where somebody asked them what was the difference between NA and SEA pubs. They said that SEA lacks good support players. When we look at SEA there are a bunch of great core players, but less support players. Is it a cultural thing? For instance if you look at USA NBA, everyone wants to be the next Kobe, LeBron, or Curry.

I think they just don’t want to play support. Because it’s really hard if you just play position 5 because you just lose MMR. I don’t know there aren’t rising support players. Maybe there is no knowledge on other support players so they can’t learn like that.

You started off as a core player and then you switched over to support so how has that transition been for you? You’ve been successful despite the change. How do you think you’ve been doing?

Because I know how to boost the core player, my carry. I just don’t buy so many obs, so I have so many items, so it’s not so hard.

Let’s talk about your team now. TNC have been rising up. Some analysts say it’s a god team, but they have a hard time winning their region even if they might have better chances against the international teams. What do you think makes this so hard for you to play these regional matchups?

I think we are just equal teams. Sometimes they surprise us, sometimes we surprise them. Sometimes its the meta. I’m not certain what the difference is between us, Mineski, and Fnatic. Just form on the day I think.

Let’s talk about the meta. It’s an important part of Dota2. The patches have changed every two weeks or so. How do you guys deal with the patch?

When there’s a new patch, we’re watching the strong teams so we can learn something about them. We still try heroes that we were playing in the last patch.

There are two ideas of how people play Dota 2. Either you follow them the meta or you follow what you think you are the best at. So the way you describe it sounds like your teams goes back towards your own favorites, if it works you go with that. What do you think is better for your team or to become the best Dota2 team? More towardss the meta or more towards this individualism?

I think individual choice because we are nuts. We see other teams play ta hero, but for us it’s really weak. So we go with what we are doing and we are doing it every time.

Let’s talk about your team style. I see a lot of aggression, skill, attack. When you look at the SEA region as a whole it’s always been a little bit like that. Is it something about the culture or the players. Do you want to go out there and make plays. How do you think your team is being influenced by this SEA aggression?

For us it’s not SEA aggression. It’s a Filipino aggression. When we are diving we always want to kill them first before they kill us. So I think it’s pinoy aggression because SEA aggression is not so aggressive as pinoy aggression.

For us it’s not SEA aggression. It’s a Filipino aggression…SEA agression is not so aggressive as pinoy aggression,”

This is a good jumping point. When we talk about pinoy Dota, you guys have always have talent, but the first time a lot of people took notice of you guys was at TI6. You guys played with Demon you guys upset OG. and famously in that tournament. So. There’s a lot of questions here. In the case of Demon, he came in as your leader. What do you think of his leadership?

When he joined our team it became professional. When we were all Filipino, we kept diving and diving with no objectives at all. He taught us how to use our aggression. To get objectives, get Roshan, and control the map. So we became more disciplined.

You’re the leader now of TNC. Has there been any kind of infleucne from when you played under Demon? What kind of leader are you?

I’m just teaching them how to play good Dota…I don’t think…I don’t know.

That’s fine, let’s move on. Let me ask you a question, what do you think “good Dota” is? Like what do you think separates like you guys from a lower tier who don’t play good Dota?

If you are playing good Dota, there are no individual plays. It’s always connected as five. Even if you are playing alone, you’re still communicating in the team. There’s no bad communication. So you won’t throw the game by throwing alone. That’s good Dota, when you’re playing as a unit.

If you are playing good Dota, there are no individual plays. It’s always connected as five.”

When you look at TNC, there’s a lot of skill and aggression. So when you think of skill, there’s a strong personality that comes with it like. How as a leader, it’s not just about teaching players, its also about getting them to follow you. Has there been any difficulties in getting these players to follow you as a leader?

It’s easy because they listen to me. When I’m really serious they are quiet. They know they have done something wrong. So it’s not difficult to teach them.

So Kyle the player/analyst thinks that right now you need a secondary caller that is a core player. So in your case it would be Armel, Raven, or Sam H. The reason is because they understand their item timings best, so they understand the timing of how the game flows. Is there like a player on your team who functions as as a second caller to you?

If Raven or Armel have the highest net worth, they are communicating it. We will play here and there. Because they are the horse they really know how to play the mid and late game. The supports function is just to have them farm in the the early games in the first 10-15 minutes. So they have the ability to control the mid-late game because they have the items. We don’t.

So in recent years a lot of the SEA talent have went to pllay outside the region. How do you come to the decision of staying inside the region to play​ or leaving the play under one of these international teams?

I think it depends on the person. If you really want to go be a TI Champion, you will do your best. You will sacrifice so much, even leaving your country like that to play on the other teams. So I think it depends on the person.

When you look at the drafting or strategy, you guys sometimes go into a rut. It goes up and down. That’s been one of your weaker points relative to the best teams. How have you been​ fixing the strategy or team play for your team?

I think we balance it by picking not carry heroes. In the meta if you pick a hero that cannot lane it’s really hard for the team. Sometimes they just own you. Sometimes we are inconsistent, because we are just lacking some knowledge. Sometimes we are just dying so many times, then we are so slow to be as five again.

That’s an interesting point because when we talk about Pinoy Dota it’s super aggressive.. When you win you kill everybody. When you lose you start dying. So it gets emotional when you start dying. So if you’re in a middle of a game, how do you help your team back up?

As five players, we’re concerned of each player. Sometimes when someone is tilting, we are saying We are we are saying​ name, then “Stop! Focus on the game! Let’s do this!” I will command them when they die so we can play as five again.

Stop! Focus on the game! Let’s do this!” I will command them[my teammates] when they die so we can play as five again.”

The way you’ve been talking, you sound like a strong leader. Someone who has strong opinions. So how would you describe yourself as a leader? For example, there are different types of leaders. Some who are tyrants that tell the others hat to do, others who lead by example, or more charimstatic ones that concinve the others to follow.

I first start looking at the meta, look at what the strong teams are doing. Then I convince the team as players. I just don’t want them to be robots. I don’t want it to be like what I said is what we do. I will show them what we need and convince them that this is the way to play good dota.

You’ve talked about lacking knowledge. How do you think a coach can after that?

Yea, it’s 1437, our past leader. He’s helping us a lot. So we are in good shape.

How have you been getting ready with 1437 to get ready for this TI?

When he came back, he was really motivated. We could get aegis so he boosted our confidence and really believed we could win. I think it’s very helpful in that case and he’s teaching so many things like before.

Any examples of what he’s teaching?

It’s the confidence. and if you don’t have aegis, don’t waste it.

So small things that improve your game?

Yes.

Ok, so you guys are playing against Mineski in the bracket. How do you go into a best of one, how do you prep for it mentally and strategically?

For us it’s better because when we are facing them, they are so strong. But’ its bo1. So we can surprise them or they can surprise us. So it’s better for us. We are really confident against them.

The SEA region has a lot of talent. So in 2-3 years down the line do you think a SEA team the best in the world? Is that something you’re thinking about or are you just focused on your next goal, whatever that is?

It’s possible because I think the players are always motivated. There are teams always chasing us so it motivates us. Maybe in two years time, we can dominate the scene

So let’s talk about vision because vision is actually underrated part of leadership. As a 5 player, you have to become a master of vision. It’s one of the complicated things for someone who went from core to support. How do you setup your vision, how do you think about it? .

So I think it depends on the enemy. When you know that they are so aggressive, we put defensive wards so we can see our jungle.

You said you watch a bunch of games. Is there a specific team you look up to? Like to learn from?

Right now it’s Liquid and EG. I’m watching their play style. They’re really good at laning stage, vision and five man.

Here’s another question about five man Dota, how do you teach your players to do it? It’s a harder concept than say, teaching them to lane.

If you five man, sometimes the enemy will be scared of you. If you good heroes, you can five man and they cannot defend. So I think there’s a timing for five man.

What do you think about the other types of Dota, like 1-3-1, 2-1-2, 4-1, or splitting across the map in general?

Sometimes we are doing that when the enemy can have a good fight. So we are splitting. When the team starts to clash, it’s really hard just to stop them because they’re focusing on their heroes If I really know, I will say, “Stop, go back.”

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