The Summit 9 is all set to begin in about 24 hours and we'll be able to witness pure carnage with six teams battling out right before The International 2018 that is slated to begin on August 15, 2018. We were fortunate enough to catch up with Arif "MSS
" Anwar, support player for VGJ. Storm for a little chat.
In this interview, MSS talks about VGJ. Storm's journey to TI8, upcoming preparations for The Summit 9, his growth as a player in the past few years, expectations at TI8 and much more.
Hi Arif. This is going to be the fourth TI you'll attend. How does it feel? Take us through your emotions the moment you qualified for TI8.
It always feels great qualifying for the biggest tournament of the year. For some reason this year I wasn't that excited when we qualified but that's probably because VGJ had some nice success leading into the qualifiers so my expectations were pretty high.
Your Dota 2 career can be classified into two parts; from 2013 - 2014 after which you took a break to focus on studies and from 2015 - present. Tell us the difference between MSS of then and MSS of now? How have you grown as a player and as a person.
From 2013-2014 I was a pretty dumb kid obviously (haha). I just ran away from home to try to play Dota and I was very inexperienced. My mechanics were very good but I barely talked in-game back then so I was pretty lacking when it came to shot calling.
After my short break I was still pretty dumb but I slowly became more and more vocal and my highest spike in improvement happened during team NP where I learned the most in Dota. After that I started thinking about the game differently and now I'm much better of a player and teammate than I was in the past.
I interviewed Sneyking and he said VGJ Storm has about 5% chance of winning TI8. Setting aside statistics and achievements, what makes you think VGJ. Storm may take the trophy this year?
I think one of our team's strengths is the fact that we can usually figure out the stuff that the top teams in the tournament do to win games very quickly and try to adapt and imitate them. We also usually talk about problems we have with each other with no hard feelings so we're always making improvements and progress as a team.
You've played as a mid then transitioned to off-lane and now are playing as position four. According to me, this role suits you the best and aptly so you've received high praise for your play-making abilities, for example, those pesky little saves on Tuskar's snowball. Take us through all these transitions and how you decided to end up on your current role as well as what makes you so good at this role.
Well usually every young Dota player starts off as a core player and back in the days I liked playing mid. I actually thought I was pretty good mid when it came to mechanics and spell casting but it was pretty hard to enable a player like me back then. I then had to switch to off-lane when Fata and Pas joined Team Dog because Fata played mid so I just took one for the team.
It ended up pretty well cause I didn't even play off-lane half of those games anyway. I initially didn't like that role but I grew accustomed to it overtime and started enjoying it. It was only until recently where I stopped enjoying it as much because of how the meta and play-style of the off-lane was developing so I started thinking hard about what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to play with SVG and thought I could play 4 with him so I just pretty much winged it.
Summit 9 will be the last event before TI8 that you'll be attending. What can we expect of VGJ Storm at this tournament? Is it a serious tournament or will you guys take this as a practice opportunity against other teams?
I'm not sure what to tell you considering many if not all the teams participating in the Summit 9 probably had very little to no practice. We are probably the team that practiced the most leading up to this tournament to be honest so I feel like we should have the advantage here. As for taking this tournament serious or not, of course we're going to try to win and do what we can but knowing the nature of this tournament we won't take it as hard if we bomb out early.
Which team are you more excited or looking forward to face at summit 9?
I'm actually pretty interested in playing ex-Kinguin because they have nothing to lose so they might run some crazy stuff or just play some good Dota.
Let's talk about TI8. What is VGJ Storm's goal at TI8? How do you expect to fare at the biggest event of the year?
As a team our goal is probably top 6 but I personally just want to secure top 8 first and then take it step by step. I believe we can beat any and all of these teams if we just play our game. Of course winning this tournament is the end goal but like I said, I first want us to get top 8 and then go step by step.
We've always had a patch change before TI began. This time too it's very likely for a change in patch. Does this make you nervous? Does it make you feel like the hard work you've put in for a particular patch has gone down the drain? Tell us what you think from the perspective of a player and a team on the patch change before TI?
I'm actually not sure if they're going to put out another patch pre-TI but I hope they do since I think there needs to be some tweaks to certain heroes right now. These patches can be nerve-wracking at some times because just when you've figured out the patch everything can just change and all the heroes you play can get nerfed but in order to be a top caliber team you need to be able to adapt quickly anyway so I don't think it's an issue.
Teams and players to look out for at TI8?
To be honest I think all the teams and players are to look for at this TI but if I were to choose one it's probably Team Serenity. I think one of their players zhizhizhi is just straight up a boss and he can destroy on this patch. His play-style is very aggressive and he does some very unconventional stuff that Chinese players normally don't try to do so I respect him a bit.
Tell us in brief on what you think of the inaugural DPC season and the new season that Valve introduced?
I thought this DPC season had a lot of flaws to it and I personally didn't like it compared to the previous majors system. I just didn't like the fact that if you didn't qualify for any tournaments during the qualifiers month you literally couldn't do anything for more than a month and a half.
You had no tournaments to attend and finding practice is really hard to find at that point so if you were a tier 2 team is was very hard to thrive in this system. I think that's why the new system made it so you couldn't play the minor qualifier if you qualified to the major because they want more different teams to be at these tournaments and give chances to the lower tier teams
A question has been asked of me from a confidential source about, and I quote, "the ugly shirt from your Uniqlo collection". You've got any comment to make?
Ya I have no idea what ugly shirt this guy's talking about but it's probably just dumb looking and not ugly. That's why you even go to UNIQLO anyway; you go there to find the most dumb looking shirts you can.
Well it's a girl who asked that question (sic). Before we wrap up the interview, I want to ask how MSS, as a person, has matured/grown over the past two years considering all the setbacks you met with in your early career .. similarly to your teammate Sneyking?
I think I've just gotten a lot better as a Dota player and teammate over the past years and I try very hard to not bring any negative vibes to the team.
Alright, that's a wrap. Anything you'd like to say?
I've not much to say other than thanks for having me and shout out to all the fans that support me and my teams over the years, as well to VGJ and our new sponsor FYM hot sauce.
Image credits: Team VGJ Twitter
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