The Vast Expanses of the UNiVeRsE

Posted 1st of Dec 2015 by Chris Paredes

With his name now etched on the Aegis of Champions, we sat down with Saahil "Universe" Arora, offlane player for the EG Dota 2 squad, for some inside info on EG and his thoughts about the state of DotA.

  • Chris Paredes

    Hi Saahil. First off congratulations on your victory at The International, and also for a strong showing at Frankfurt. We're only a few months removed from TI5, but we're already seeing a major new meta trend develop in mid. These days we see at least one support spend their first few minutes protecting the mid. How has this affected how you play in the offlane?

  • UNiVeRsE

    It's pretty nice from the offlaner's perspective; it frees up space for you because teams don't have a trilane in their safe lane as much as a result.

  • Chris Paredes

    You're a veteran player that has lived through many iterations of DotA. What's your take on how the game should be balanced? Do you think there's some perfect theoretical meta to aim for or does the meta just need to actively shift every patch to mix things up?

  • UNiVeRsE

    Ideally, there would be a perfect patch that would make every single strategy viable. But that's pretty much impossible to do. Since it's hard to get things right balance wise, I think that shifting the meta with patches is necessary to keep things fresh.



  • Chris Paredes

    What about the community? If there was one thing about the community that you could change, what would it be?

 

  • UNiVeRsE

    I think the community is mostly fine as is; but if there was one thing I could have people work a little, it would be trying to be more positive about the game and less critical about the patches. No matter what patch it is, there are going to be heroes that are stronger than the rest. There's no use complaining about it endlessly.



  • Chris Paredes

    Let's talk a little bit about EG as a team. In the upper bracket semifinals against CDEC, you had a 5 man wipe when you all decided to try for their throne. After the game, Peter said that the call to go for throne was Artour's. in situations like that, how do calls get decided? Do you all trust each other and follow the first call that's made, do all voice what you want to do and go with the majority, or is something else?

  • UNiVeRsE

    During a game anyone can make a call, and when someone makes a call you have to trust it. Usually in the late stages of a game, like when that specific call was made, the carry is the player who dictates the game and knows best. So when Artour made that call we all trusted him and went along with it.

  • Chris Paredes

    Sometimes when games are "over" casters say that the losing teams is likely only staying in the game to discuss what went wrong before the next game. Does that happen on EG after losses and bad calls?



  • UNiVeRsE

    I'm not sure how it goes for other teams, but I don't think we have ever stayed in a lost game to discuss what went wrong. For us, there is plenty of time to discuss what went wrong in between games because of annoying things like smoke breaks.  Also, for us in particular, I don't think any of us like staying in the game any longer than we have to.

  • Chris Paredes

    So during those breaks between games, what does the team talk about?  Do you discuss the previous games, or do you save that for replay reviews and focus the plan for the next game? Or is it a little bit of both, knowing that the enemy might employ the same strategy again?

 



  • UNiVeRsE

    During breaks between games we definitely discuss what went wrong in the previous game because it may apply to the next game as well. You never want to make the same mistake twice. Once we are done discussing the previous game, we turn towards discussing the next game.



  • Chris Paredes

    On the topic of reviewing and preparing for future matches, EG is somewhat notorious for lower bracket comebacks. Many feel that EG comes back stronger against an opponent after they've been beaten once. Do you think this is unique to your team being able to better adapt after losses, or is it universal amongst top tier teams and players to do better after getting a feel for each other?



  • UNiVeRsE

    There are both pros and cons to going into the lower bracket in my mind. But the teams that do best in the lower bracket are the ones who are very good at brushing off losses. I feel that one of our biggest strengths as a team is our ability to forget about what happened before and enter a new series with a fresh outlook on the game.



  • Chris Paredes

    Do you feel there should be an advantage to the upper bracket team, besides the built in advantage of having to play one less series overall? It seems more and more tournaments are moving away from giving an advantage to the upper bracket team.


  • UNiVeRsE

    In general I think there should be an advantage for the upper bracket team. Even though you play less matches in the upper bracket, one could argue that being able to play more matches in the lower bracket is an advantage, since you are able to play more games as a team, and gain momentum through wins.

  • Chris Paredes

    So with the majors came an accompanying roster lock system. The stated intent of the system is to try to introduce stability. Do you think these roster locks actually do anything to force teams with internal issues to work out problems? Or does it just force doomed teams to stay together until the next free agency period?



  • UNiVeRsE

    For the viewers I think the roster locks will provide a more stable scene and it will be easier to follow teams. But for players who get stuck in a team they do not want to be in, it will be an excruciating experience.

  • Chris Paredes

    How much time does a team need to figure out whether they can work together? Is the time given before the roster lock kicks into effect reasonable?



  • UNiVeRsE

    I think one tournament is all a team needs to figure out whether they can work together.



  • Chris Paredes

    So what do you think differentiates the teams where the players successfully band together and actually elevate each other? I know in EG's case with the two different rosters between TI3 and TI4 you specifically noted that the SADBOYS roster had better leadership. But I imagine that having a great captain alone doesn't fix other problems.



  • UNiVeRsE

    Normally the thing that differentiates teams is the presence of good leadership. Having a capable captain makes things a lot easier, even if it doesn't guarantee a top placing.

  • Chris Paredes

    There have been lots of professional players who have gotten flamed by the community's armchair critics for never getting results and never being on elite teams, only to shine once  they finally land on a team that works around them. Is there a way to differentiate when you have a team that is full of good players but simply dysfunctional vs. when certain players are truly performing poorly?



  • UNiVeRsE

    It's really hard to tell whether an individual player is being held down by their team without actually playing with him and knowing how the player acts in game.

  • Chris Paredes

    Are there any players you think have the talent to shine in a tier 1 team, but haven't had the opportunity to be part on roster where they could perform their best?



  • UNiVeRsE

    Cr1t was one of those players before he teamed up with OG.  Broodstar was another player who could have been in a tier 1 team, but never really had the teammates he needed to make that possible.

  • Chris Paredes

    Another aspect of the roster lock is having dedicated subs. Besides getting players that actively want to take a step back from playing, how do teams get good subs? I imagine that most high quality competitive players would prefer looking for a playing spot on a roster vs. just being a reserve.



  • Chris Paredes

    A lot of teams are enlisting their coach as one of their subs, the result of a lot more dedicated coaching on the scene. Playing on a team that has made use of coaching, how does having a full time coach help? Besides being able to understand the game at a high level, what qualities are important for a coach to be effective and useful?



  • UNiVeRsE

    Having a coach helps you see things from an outside point of view.  The coach also needs to be hard working, and willing to do some legwork when you ask him to.



  • Chris Paredes

    Some players have talked about the pride of representing their country. How much impact do you think a shared geographic origin has on the ability of a team to work well together? Can it help players put aside personal egos knowing they are playing for something bigger?



  • UNiVeRsE

    I don't think it changes the way players play at all, the only thing it could really help the team with is communication.

  • Chris Paredes

    On the topic of country, do you have any thoughts on what accounts for the disparity in strength between certain geographic regions? Is it just a matter of time, like how in Korea the game is still very new, or are there other factors (be it cultural, economic, or infrastructure) that affect the development of talent?



  • UNiVeRsE

    I think outside factors have a lot to do with the success of regions. For example, I heard in China many pro players take streaming more seriously than their matches because of the money offered in streaming contracts.  This may have something to do with the recent poor performance of Chinese teams in the latest major.



  • Chris Paredes

    Speaking about China, many, including Artour, have said that the Chinese have the strongest pub ladder. Do you think is this an advantage for their region in grooming future players, or is the tier at which professional level players play so exclusive and separated that the general pub scene is irrelevant?



  • UNiVeRsE

    If the region has more high MMR players, the difficulty and quality of the game increases, so it is better practice. A region's pub scene is also relevant because of heroes that teams feel are strongest. Most of the time you will find that the heroes pub players in a specific region find imbalanced are the same heroes the pro teams from that region will find more powerful.



  • Chris Paredes

    So pubs remain relevant for pros, if only for the practice. Can you explain how you approach team practice differently from individual practice in pubs?



  • UNiVeRsE

    During individual practice, you typically play greedier and try and take control of the game without relying on your teammates. Comparatively, in team practice sessions you are relying on your teammates and you have to trust that they will do their job in whatever role they are playing.



  • Chris Paredes

    From my understanding, a lot of highly ranked players take that "go it alone" approach to pubs because the chances are that the game is balanced by putting two very highly ranked players against each other and then giving them four (relatively) mediocre 4-5kers as teammates. Do you prefer this system compared the old MMR system that had a much smaller tolerance for MMR spread but resulted in extremely long wait times?



  • UNiVeRsE

    The wait time can still be long right now, and I'm fine with waiting a little longer for higher quality games. The games with one high mmr player paired with 4 worse players tend to be the least productive games because you can't trust your team at all.

  • Chris Paredes

    Do you ever study replays from your public games, or do you focus only on studying official matches and/or scrims?



  • UNiVeRsE

    I only rewatch my public games if I saw something that didn't make sense to me, for example some mechanic that I didn't know about. I mostly only focus on official matches and scrims.



  • Chris Paredes

    Is there any difference between how you personally study your replays when alone vs. how EG studies replays collectively as a team?





  • UNiVeRsE

    When I'm watching the replay I mainly focus on myself, vs when we watch a replay together we focus more on big picture stuff, not as much on individual play. We will try to look at the game from an objective point of view.



  • Chris Paredes

    You have tweeted about having to deal with -45 MMR losses. Do you think that potential mmr gains/losses should be adjusted in games with high spreads, in recognition of the fact that four 4k players are not the same as adding two 3k players and two 5k players?



  • UNiVeRsE

    I just don't think there should ever be -45 point games; it makes the matchmaking experience much worse.

  • Chris Paredes

    You also recently tweeted about the difference between original scoreboards in DotA and the scoreboards in Dota 2. What is your opinion on balancing the usefulness of added statistics vs. the potential harm that comes from those statistics? Whenever Valve integrates stats, they have introduced safeguards or limitations to try protect players from potential negative feedback from other players. What do you think about this approach compared to a more free information system, like say in HoN?

 

  • UNiVeRsE

    I preferred the old DotA 1 scoreboards. In general, I think if players want to give negative feedback to another player they will do it, regardless of how much information they have to use.



  • UNiVeRsE

    Shoutout to my teamates, EG, our fans, and our sponsors Monster, SteelSeries, 100TB, SanDisk, CyberPowerPC, and BenQ.

About the Author: Chris Paredes

Chris Paredes has been a devout fan of DotA since the WarCraft III 5.0 era, he started working with EG in 2011 following the acquisition of the EG Dota 2 team. In addition to coverage of the EG DotA squad, Chris often writes about developments in the meta-game and controversial issues in the broader DotA community. He holds a J.D. from Emory Law along with B.A. in Philosophy and English Literature from Amherst College.

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