It's in the bag

«As long as I feel that I can compete I will always continue playing». Big interview with Black^ about his plans and ambitions

We had a chance to talk with Black^ at EPICENTER on 27th June, just a few hours before Infamous disbanded. Dominik believes that he can return to tier-1 Dota, perhaps after this interview you will also believe in it.

He shared thoughts about current meta and best heroes for pubs, told about comeback to pro scene, boycott in South America, his Terrorblade’s arcana, future and his marathon results.

– Monkey King’s winrate at EPICENTER is 20% for 5 games. You played Monkey King against EG at group stage and lost too. Is MK too weak in this patch?

– I think Monkey King is a very special hero. If you win the lane you can snowball really hard and dominate game by yourself. But if you lose the game, it is very easy for you to become useless. In the games that we see him win, he is usually having a really good laning phase and any transitions of the ganks in the side lanes. And in the games he loses, he is just trying to recover repeatedly. Monkey is just really bad for playing from behind. And teams got quite good in abusing that fact. So they will make sure he has a bad laning phase, and then he will have a bad game, which means he won’t be able to do much later in the game.

I would say people definitely got used to him. Because back than he used to have quite a lot of free games. We just let him play 1 vs. 1 and then he would dominate the game. But nowadays if there is a bad matchup vs Monkey King, they will put just 2 heroes against him and dominate the laning phase. If you have a bad lane with this hero, you can’t just really play Dota.

– You were considered one of the best Anti-Mage players, on the same level as BurNIng. What are your thoughts on AM in current meta?

– Anti-Mage is a very special hero too. He is quite a slow hero. He need at least 2 items to actually be very very useful in fights. And current meta is very fast-paced. So he can only work if there are 4 other heroes that are very good at fighting together while Anti-Mage splitpushes for 20-25 minutes. Then he can come over and dominate the game. I would say in the current meta he can only be a last pick. And in the right game he can still dominate the game, of course, but it takes a lot of time for him, which a lot of people don’t believe in anymore.

– What are the best carries in the current patch?

– Right now the best carries... Fast carries, such as Juggernaut, Sven. Just heroes that can farm fast and join the fights early. And have a lot of early game damage because that way you can punish the enemy team the most.

– And What are the best heroes to grind MMR?

– Heroes that can take all the game alone, like Storm, Meepo, Ember Spirit, Broodmother. These heroes can just win the game by themselves. You don’t have to rely much on team communication or teamplay.

As position 4, the best heroes you can get are heroes that abuse the fact that it’s five random players. For example, Earth Spirit, you can just keep roaming very freely. Earthshaker. Heroes that can control lanes, and require teamplay to play against. Position 5 – I don’t know, cause I don’t play that role.
Offlaners? Legion Commander. Heroes that are very strong at teamfighting. Like Pangolier. What do I hate playing against as a carry? Pangolier has to be one of the worst. Aggro lanes like Sand King + Lina or something, everyone hates playing against that. You just want to pick heroes that are very strong at lane.

– Was it difficult to return back to competitive Dota?

– I was pretty much out for a year because I had to settle a lot of real life stuff and because of injury after that. It was quite hard just to get back into playing tournaments. I was playing pubs practically all the time, but it’s not the same at all. Just getting back to scene can be pretty bit hard. I’ve been trying to build a team in Southeast Asia for 4-5 months, but it just didn’t work out, because the right players weren’t available at the time. I’ll just see what happens. I’m trying to get my old reputation back as one of the better players. Hopefully, it works/will work in the future. We will just have to see what happens.

– You had to take a break. What did you do to get back in shape?

– I’ve never really stopped playing other when I injured my hand. I had to stop playing for like a month. But I watched pretty much every tournament, all the metagames, all the heroes. And as soon as I could play again I would just play like 10-15 pub games a day, depending on how much time I have. That’s the only practice I could really do. Which in the way is also bad because in the team environment you can’t have this matchmaking mentality. Like «I’m gonna do the whole thing myself». That’s not how it works. Obviously, Dota is the team game, you have to trust your teammates to do right things and you have to enable your teammates, which is the opposite of matchmaking. I’m struggling a bit with that right now, because I’ve just been playing pubs for like half-year to year. I gotta get out of this mindset.

– You said you have problems with scrims because SA teams don’t want to practice with you. So how did you prepare for EPICENTER in that case?

– The truth is that we didn’t play for almost a month because we just had no one to play against. American teams were all either at bootcamp in Europe or playing against European teams. And we couldn’t really play with South American teams. We went to Poland on June 16 for 4 days and it’s pretty much all the preparation we have for EPICENTER, which also showed here. We didn’t really have enough teamplay in our games.

– Midas Club CEO said that other teams don’t want to scrim with you because of your teammates’ toxic behaviour.

– I mean they definitely have some issues in regards of control their emotions sometimes. I don’t know what actually happened between them and other teams because I just joined very late. So whatever happened between them and other organisations and teams – I’m not really sure. If there was something, at the end it must have been really bad. Because there is no way you boycott a team that is you practice partner for nothing. If it’s true, I don’t know what happened.

North American teams – from what I know at least – were not practicing against other NA teams or SA teams because they were preparing against European teams on the European region. And playing to Europe from SA isn’t practically possible because of the ping. That’s not really an option.


– What will you do to prepare for TI9 quals? Is there a solution to this problem?

– The plan is to get as much practice as possible from here now. Because it’s gonna be the best possible practice you can get. And once we get back to Peru, we gonna try to find as many scrims as we can. Maybe SA teams if it works or NA teams because they have to come back to the region as well to prepare for the qualifiers. So, hopefully, we can get a lot of practice and manage to qualify to TI.

We stay here until the 1st of July and then we fly back to Peru. We will have more 4 or 5 days in Peru to prepare. If we qualify our plan is definitely to bootcamp either in China or Europe – we haven’t decided yet. Because obviously qualifying is the hard part first, and then we’ll make sure we are as ready as possible.

– If you guys don’t make it to TI, are you going to stay together?

– I can only talk for myself. I don’t like to switch players unless you really gave it you all and you tried really hard to succeed as a team. Because nowadays a lot of players, especially young players, have this dream «Tier-1 team will just pick me up because I think I am the best». It doesn’t work like that anymore. The only way to really get into the tier-1 team is to play in tier-2 team, stick together and just make it work. To make yourself become a tier-1 team through hard work and practice. That’s the vision I believe in. So even if we don’t qualify for TI, I don’t want to disband or make many big changes. But, of course, I don’t know what they think about that. 

(Black^ announced team disband just a few hours later after we spoke with him. Dominik said that it was very unexpectedly for him – 

– There are a few Germany players at pro scene – you, Kuro, KheZu and Nine, but Dota is quite popular in Germany. According to you, what is the reason for it?

– I’m quite confused by that as well. Back in Dota 1 Germany was one of the strongest Dota regions. And now there aren’t many players that kinda try to take a leap of faith. If you want to become a pro player, you have to sacrifice a lot, and that is very scary to do. I don’t know, the last pro player that we got was Nine. I am not entirely sure, why there are not many new players because Germany is quite big and Dota is quite popular there as well. Let’s just hope that happens in the future, we need some more German representatives!


Mousesports TI2 roster with Black^ and KuroKy 

– In Entity and Clutch Gamers you played as carry. Why did you choose to switch to pos 2 again? It kinda takes back to Faceless at 2016/17.

– I like to play both middle and carry. I feel better at playing midlane this current patch. It’s heavily focused on 1 vs. 1 matchup, which is where I excel in. So I have much easier time to control the pace in the midlane rather than carrying.

– I noticed that you have very rare Legacy Gem in your TB arcana. How did you get it?

– Oh, my TB arcana, very beautiful one! When I played in China... It’s actually a gift from the fan. Whenever I get a gift from the fan I would never sell or trade it away because it is very important to me. It basically means that they are supporting me so much that they can send me things. I didn’t even know it was very expensive or unique until someone told me: «Oh, you can get X amount of money for that». I think it’s the most badass arcana I’ve ever seen in Dota, so I just love it. Whenever I play Terrorblade it’s very fun to see if you’re really badass at the map.

– You said that you don’t want to stop playing. Do you want to play in the next season? When do you plan to stop? Did you think about switching to coach role?

– My opinion on when to quit was always... As long as you personally believe... Of course, there is a lot of haters and fans that are like «You are really good» or «You are really shit, you should be quitting». So my opinion is I’m not going to stop playing until I feel like I can’t compete with the top players anymore. As long as I feel that I can I will always continue playing. It also includes me playing next year. I think I can still compete at the top level, so I’ll try to make it work again next season. We will see what happens. Maybe Lady Luck will laugh at me.

– You run marathons, half-marathons. What are your best results?

– Half-marathon I finished in 1:30. And full marathon in 3:10. I used to run pretty much every day. Every day of the week I would run like 12 kilometers. Running was basically my second nature. And it was very easy to run, it was quite a while ago. After that I started going to the gym a bit more, building muscle, gaining weight. So running is not so easy anymore. The last half-marathon I ran was 2 months ago actually and I finished in 1:45. 15 minutes from my previous time, because I feel so much heavier. Back then I was skinny. Now I feel much more balanced, because I was way too skinny. But the marathon results, they have to suffer.

– Is it hard to do both dota and marathon preparation? It requires a lot of time.

– It is not hard to do in terms of time, but it is hard to do in terms of just doing it. Most of the gamers are very lazy. They don’t want just to get out to go for the gym. They just keep playing. But personally I believe it’s very important to have that balance of doing sports as well and excercises at general. It helps to focus more on the upcoming games. And just keep playing and playing and playing when the only thing on mind is Dota, that would be very stressful for you. Every time I go to the gym I just take the stress and release it all. And then I come back with a fresh mind again.

– Would you consider yourself a happy person ?

– Yes. I think I’m quite good at radiating a lot of positive energy. Generally I’m quite a happy guy: I laugh a lot, I joke a lot. So I think it should be quite good to be around me. If you want to be a happy guy, just come to talk to me.


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