Winstrike are qualified for the last Minor of the season and are already in Kiev, Ukraine where they train for the StarLadder ImbaTV Season 2. They are the sole CIS team competing in the Minor and they will be fighting for one of two slots into the EPICENTER Major.
SL ImbaTV Minor represents the last chance for them to make a sprint through the end of Dota Pro Circuit Season and clinch a ticket for The International 2019. The Chinese outlet MAX+ caught with Winstike’s latest addition, Ilya “Lil” Ilyuk and had a long talk about his past adventures, but also about Winstrike and the goals moving forward. Courtesy of Yuhui Zhu, we are able to share the English translation of the interview. The Chinese version can be found here while the Russian version can be read on Winstrike’s official website, here.
Hello Lil, thanks for taking our interview. Firstly, congrats on qualifying for the last Minor of this season
After leaving Navi, you’ve been constantly forming stacks and looking for teams. Did that experience teach you anything or help you grow?
I think that experience was totally useless, I could have done better without that. It consumed me a lot of time and it was a backset for my professional career. The only thing it teaches me is that for esports, contract and organization mean everything. Forming a random stack or playing competitively without joining an organization is not an option.
You were looking for teams on Twitter, how did you join Winstrike?
I reached out to Jaroslav Komkov, the CEO of Winstrike, and he introduced me to Masha, the team manager. Then I just waited for the try-out.
How do you feel about joining Winstrike? How’s the team chemistry? Are you close with your teammates? Considering they are all CIS veterans like you.
I’m happy to join Winstrike, it’s too early to talk about team chemistry. But for now I can say I feel comfortable playing with them and they seem really reliable. By the way, I had trouble getting these feelings in the past 6 months.
Let’s talk about the past, you once tweeted that you ”used to be a d**k but it’s in the past”. So what’s your take on what happened before? Have you got over the departure from VP and Na’Vi?
People don’t understand my past behaviors and because of what happened before, they now hold prejudice against me and the words I say. No matter how long has it been and what I do now, the community sees me as a selfish and toxic player. As for VP and Na’Vi, I can’t say I’ve cleared up my mood and figured out what happened. But I can guarantee that I’ve never failed anyone. I don’t want to live in the aftermath of what happened.
Last November you tweeted to apologize to your former teammates in VP, why did you apologize and were you reconciled afterwards?
There was a time where I got everyone DM me, demanding me to apologize to VP and the community. I can’t say I don’t feel guilty at all for what happened. I didn’t ruin anyone’s life the way my life was ruined, but I can’t deny that sometimes it was indeed my mistake, plus an apology wouldn’t hurt, so I apologized. After that I haven’t met anyone from VP, therefore I haven’t got any chance to talk about that.
Dota 2 audience seems to care more about results. Like if you fall into an argument with another player, and then if he achieves better results, people go back and question your words and behaviors. Do you feel the same? How do you deal with those negative comments?
Dota 2 is a team game, your team winning doesn’t necessary mean you are the better player. You can be replaced by other players of your role, unless you are Miracle-. I’ve been trying to avoid reading negative comments on the internet, but actually I only care about a few people’s opinion anyway.
You are pretty active on social media, is that purely for fun or are there other purposes behind it?
It’s not like this, I’ve been active on social media after leaving Na’Vi. For now, I care more about the game itself. I do put stuff on Twitter or Instagram from time to time just for the fans who still follow me, but it also depends on my mood. If you don’t have good results, no one would care about what you put on social media, and it’d be also meaningless to spend time on it.
Let’s talk about the present, it’s been a long time since you played on a Valve event. How does it feel to qualify for the Minor and what’s Winstrike’s goal for the tournament?
Obviously our goal is to finish top 2 at the Minor and continue to deliver at the Major to earn ourselves a TI invite. After the release of new patch, I think we can do it. All teams are now back to the same start line.
After the last pair of Major/Minor, it will be the time for TI qualifiers. Are you confident to make it to TI? What other CIS teams do you consider as contenders?
For now, it’s hard to evaluate the current state of the team as well as my confidence level. Many teams are on vacation and we won’t be playing with them until TI qualifiers. If Gambit don’t do well at EPICENTER and need to play the qualifiers, they would be our toughest opponents. Other teams are less threatening.
Speaking of the CIS region, what do you think is the biggest characteristic of this region?
In CIS there are many talented and skilled players, but they don’t become pro players because of their age and their attitude. If you mean teams, then CIS is really competitive, but also unstable.
Thanks again for taking the interview. Best of luck at the Minor!