The Brazilian dream ended very early in the tournament at EPICENTER, the last Major of the Dota Pro Circuit season. paiN Gaming was the first eliminated team after a bad group stage and a best-of-one dropped to NiP.
We caught with Rodrigo “Lelis” Santos in Moscow and tried to go through what happened with his team in the event and how do they approach the upcoming TI9 regional qualifiers.
Rough tournament for paiN here at EPICENTER. You have been seeded in group A with Team Secret, would you say that you might have done better in another group or in another tournament format?
I think that in a GSL format, it is hard for an underdog team to get through to the upper bracket. It hasn’t really happened this whole season if you look at all previous tournaments. So, I don’t think if they changed the group, we would have done any better. We also had a lot of problems coming into this tournament. Our bootcamp was bad, the team was in a bad state, but we did our best, we tried.
I’ve seen more people debating this GSL system where you have four teams and you end up against the same team twice and they beat you. Because we are heading into a new season, let’s talk a bit about it. Do you agree that the GSL system is really that bad and that it should be taken off or at least not used this much?
I agree and I don’t at the same time. People say that if you want to win, you have to beat everyone. So, this is one argument. At the same time, an underdog team doesn’t get as much LAN experience as they would get playing different teams. We played against four teams in a tournament with 16 teams. If you think about it, it’s not that much.
I rather have a group stage where I have a two-game series against like half of the teams in the tournament and then I get seeded against the other half instead of a small group. I’m not saying that the GSL format is bad, but I do think it’s bad that every single tournament is run in this format. I think it should be more variety.
It’s interesting if you think about it, because back in 2017, Kiev Major had Swiss group system and that’s where SG-eSports finished top 8. You mentioned that you had a bad bootcamp and came here a bit shaky and because this is the time when everyone makes their last roster adjustments, let me ask you if that will be the case with paiN as well.
I can’t say that will stay together 100%. I think the core of the team will stay together, but we might have a change.
What do you think about the TI qualifiers having one slot for each region?
I think it’s fine. On an international level, we are not a team that’s there yet, but in regionals, we are pretty strong, so I’m pretty confident going into the qualifiers. I’m not that worried about the qualifiers, to be honest, I’m more worried about the mental state of the team. That can put us off if we lose to some team.
With the TI qualifiers being so close in time after EPICENTER ends, do you think we will have a patch for the qualifiers?
Yes, I think they will patch. If I’m not mistaken, we had a patch before last year’s TI qualifiers as well and I think it’s fine to patch now honestly. It’s been the same meta for ESL One, the Minor in Ukraine and this Major so yeah, I think it’s time for a new patch. Everyone will come in not perfectly knowing what’s good and what’s not.
What I hope they will do in the next season is to change the qualifiers dates because having qualifiers one week after the Major seems pretty unreasonable. This season it feels like I never had a break. like a week or something. You get home from a tournament, then you are already scrimming for the qualifiers and then you play the qualifiers. If you qualify for the Major, then yes, you have like a month before you have to go to the tournament.
This season you also tried to play in North America, with Envy, and the team looked really promising in the beginning. You personally had super strong performances in the qualifiers as well as on LAN, however, you decided to go back to SA. Could you please walk me through that decision of yours?
Yeah sure. So, we qualified for a Minor with that team and I think we did pretty well there. Fourth place was fine, we lost to Gambit and that’s a really good team. After that, my options were to either go back home to Brazil and then fly over to play qualifiers and go back home after qualifiers.
What I’ve done for the previous qualifiers was to stay at Envy’s place for like 20 days. We didn’t have a sponsor or anything so it was pretty hard. Staying at someone’s house with no income, it’s not exactly what you feel comfortable doing. Sure, you play games all day, but it wasn’t good for my health, I wasn’t feeling very well, I stopped exercising, I wasn’t doing anything, I always felt tired and I didn’t want to go through all the flights back and forth for each qualifier. So I decided that I would rather play on a SA team where I can be near home. I personally left the team because of that. I have no beef against the players or anything like that. I really liked everyone, but it was just not working for me.
Let’s talk about your best-of-one here in the playoffs versus NiP. Was there something that you could have done differently in the draft to have a better chance against them?
I should have banned Naga in the second phase because I knew I wanted Doom. So that was my mistake. If you watch the game, it looks like we aren’t doing anything. We were just on our side of the map, but what was really happening was that we were fighting Dark Seer pushing the lanes, we were fighting Winter Wyvern pushing the lanes, and we were fighting Naga pushing the lanes. All these heroes were constantly pushing without the risk of dying or anything. And they had a Sand King. Because of all that push, we couldn’t contest Roshan, we couldn’t get there, so I would say I got out drafted.
Well, I wish you the best of luck in the TI9 qualifiers and I hope to talk to you again soon, perhaps in August, in Shanghai. Any shout-outs you might want to make at the end of our interview?
Shout-out to everybody that follows me, everyone that’s been supportive, there are some people who’ve been supporting me for the very beginning and I’m thankful to them. I really liked Moscow, people here are super nice. It’s my first time here and I thought it will be different, but it’s super nice. Shout-out to the fans here and I think that’s it.
More interviews from the EPICENTER Major
Sheever: “Alliance is the team that impressed me most this season”
9pasha: “I honestly don’t see how you can win versus Io-Gyro
Eyyou: “Somehow, every SEA team had a big problem to deal with at some point in the season”
Boxi: “Regardless of how we’re doing, we know that we really improved through the year”
Ceb: “That victory over Secret was an important statement that we had to make”
xNova: “Except for VG, I think that all other [Chinese] teams are quite stagnant”
Daxak: ”It kind of feels bad that we have to fight against them [Alliance]”