Esports Heaven was able to get hold of Titouan "Sockshka
" Merloz -- current coach of OG -- for a quick chat. In this interview, Sockshka talks on a wide array of topics such as his recruitment to OG, ESL One Birmingham 2019, Epicenter Major, DPC and more.
Hey Sockshka. How have you been doing?
Hey KarY! Pretty good I have to say since we just qualified for Epicenter Major.
Congratulations on qualifying for the Epicenter Major. OG performed admirably. Let us go a bit back. You've been away from the esports scene since 2015 when you last played. What were you up to during that time until now?
Thank you so much. It was as always a tough qualifier but we did it. During those 3 years I was finishing my studies. I was still looking at a lot of Dota but as a fan and sometimes commentating for Froggedtv -- the main Dota 2 French broadcast.
So is it safe to say that you've retired as a pro player?
Yes it is, I won't pull out a Sebastien.
Haha you stole the words from my mouth. But hey, he did win a TI! Anyway, tell us about how you got approached for the coaching position at OG?
Well I know Ceb for more than 10 years now, he is a friend and we kept close contact even after I retired. We were talking a lot about Dota. OG was looking to structure by adding more people to help the team after their win at TI, I guess Ceb thought I might be a good addition and proposed it to the team !
Let's talk about MDL Major and the recently held Epicenter qualifiers. How do you rate OG's performance especially after the bad start they had post TI? What needs to be improved?
The start of the season was really rough as you know. I feel like we couldn't build on the TI success mainly because of player changes. As soon as Ana came back, everything looked better instantly.
We qualified to Paris major 2 weeks later and ended up placing 6th there, which was quite a performance if you think about the struggle to even qualify for one before.
But still our run in the Major as well as the qualifiers showed the gap between us and the best teams like Secret, EG and Liquid. Rest assured, we are working hard to close it.
That brings me to my next question. Where do you think OG needs to improve so as to close the gap with other top tier teams?
Mainly discipline I would say. I might be biased obviously but I feel like we are one of the most entertaining teams to watch because we are a really aggressive team by nature. If we can tone it down a bit in crucial moment at times then it might be a good start.
Oh entertaining you surely are ... Lakad Matataaag .. haha! You've big shoes to fill post Ppsarel's departure. What do you think you bring to the team from the perspective of a coach?
Ahaha hard question, I guess you need to ask the players.
I will when I get a hold of them :) OG will be attending ESL One Birmingham and Epicenter Major. What are your expectations on the team's performance?
Winning both of them!
How does Ana gel perfectly with the team (despite the obvious reason that OG won TI with him) as compared to others like Pajkatt and ILTW?
Ana's aggression is unmatched, and it fits perfectly with the play style of the remaining players. Position 1 player with this kind of mentality is a hard thing to find. I guess there might also be a mental thing behind it as the other players feel way more confident playing with Ana knowing they won TI with him.
That's understandable. Leading up to TI9, do you think OG will make it into the direct invite list? There are odd chances of that happening by the way.
Yes I'm really confident we will make it. There is chances we don't even need to place high in Moscow to qualify for TI, but for our confidence we all want to do it without anyone's help. And we will!
Valve hasn't announced any changes to the next DPC season. It'll be the same as this one. According to you, is it feasible/sustainable for Dota 2 to have only 5 Majors and Minors or did you like the one before?
I love this one. We do need to make some changes considering it is really difficult for tier two teams to exist in this system, especially in Europe and China.
Imagine being an European Dota 2 team in Europe -- there are 3 majors slots and 1-2 minor slots. You have to face Secret Liquid and NiP ( 3 of the 8 teams already qualified to TI ), OG ( rank 10 in the DPC ranking ), Alliance ( top 15 in the DPC ranking ). To even qualify for a Minor you will have to beat 1 or 2 of those teams.
If we take the last Major as an example, you needed to beat NiP during the Minor Europe qualifier who finished top six in the tournament. So every start of the year you are telling those teams, "good luck attending one LAN event this season".
In my opinion, top 4 of the last major should be invited ( for example VP, Secret or VG having to play qualifiers 3 days after winning a tournament can't be a thing ), two slots for Europe and China, one for each other region, and give the last four slots during the Minor.
We would probably need to have 12 or 16 teams at minor then. I guess the problem would be the money needed to make the minor happen but I'm sure we could find ways to finance it and make it viable for organizers.
I didn't give much thought to it and I probably don't see an obvious thing that makes it impossible, but if you ask me, that's what I will do.
Nice to hear that. Let's wrap this up. Anything you'd like to say?
Thank you for the interview and don't forget to follow and support OG at both ESL Birmingham and Epicenter Major!
If you would like to know more about my work, you can follow me at KarY.
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Headline image courtesy: SLTV