Arguably, OG has not enjoyed a relatively stable 2023 in the Dota Pro Circuit. Even after upgrading itself by bringing in offlaner Dmitry “DM” Dorokhin from Virtus.pro, the team weathered various obstacles in seemingly every competition they have competed in.
Coming off a pair of mid-table finishes in the first two tours of the season, which featured Misha and Chu switching back and forth as Position 5 and head coach, OG competed in the Berlin Major with two stand-ins in the form of Ivan “Mind_ContRoL” vanov and Kartik “Kitrak” Rathi as a result of visa complications.
While OG defied the odds once again by finishing Top 6 in Berlin, the team encountered yet another roadblock in Tour 3 as Taiga stepped aside for a portion of match which played a part in their subsequent fifth place finish and failure to qualify for the Bali Major.
Be that as it may, with the DPC wrapped up and OG focusing on regional qualifiers for The International 12 as a result of not acquiring enough circuit points to secure a direct invite, they have a crucial opportunity to shape their form in DreamLeague Season 20, which is where they will play alongside the world’s best Dota 2 teams around.
Before the start of DreamLeague, BLIX talked to DM about how OG navigated through Tour 3, what it was like to play with Misha and Chu as teammates during the year, how he views his previous stint in VP and more.
This interview took place before OG announced Sebastien “Ceb” Debs would stand in as their Position 4, Chu’s transition to an assistant coaching role and Taiga’s subsequent move to Position 5 for DreamLeague Season 20.
Coming off of Tour 3
Pedro Romero, BLIX: With OG, the team is coming off a shaky Tour 3 regular where they finished 5th and had multiple players come in to sub for Taiga. With Tour 3 finished and the team focusing on DreamLeague, how do you view the current state of OG?
Dmitry "DM" Dorokhin: I feel very confident for DreamLeague. I think we have a good motivation and our view of the meta is looking good right now so I'm very confident looking into DreamLeague.
BLIX: It's been some time since the Berlin Major and teams have been accommodating to the new patch. What do you think have been the biggest positives and negatives out of this patch?
DM: The best positives has been the gates. The gates have been an incredibly good idea. It makes the game very interesting. For the most negatives nowadays, I think the comeback mechanic is maybe way too good because you can lose a single teamfight and in the mid-game it can give enemies 7 to 10 thousand gold at around minute 35 to 40 and that's a lot.
It didn't use to be like this. You used to lose three to four thousand gold but now you lose much more and the enemies can farm in this huge map. Maybe it's good and maybe it's not but you can't allow yourself to throw the lead nowadays because it's way too easy.
BLIX: Moving the attention back to the team, as I said before, you had to work with numerous substitutions in Tour 3. Was it difficult for you and the rest of the team to navigate the season with an unstable lineup?
DM: I think it was hard because we did practice with Tommy [Taiga] at the start of the season and then we got the news that he was feeling very badly and he wasn't able to play the first few games. That made our lives kind of hard since Tommy is a support player and I think, in the current Dota, Position 2, 4, and 5 are the most active and the main playmakers from or around minute 12.
Generally, Positions 1 and 3 are playing their game for efficiency nowadays because of the stack reworks and the map reworks. It was kind of bad to lose our main playmaker at the start of the season, but I can also mention that our stand-ins did very well. They're very talented players and their motivation was incredible. I can respect that.
BLIX: And it's also been some time since Taiga returned to the lineup. How do you view his physical form? Is he back to 100 percent both physically and mentally?
DM: I don't think it's fair for me to say for him, but he's very motivated to play the game right now. That's for sure. I see him really trying hard to get better, get in best shape possible and get the hero pool ready for tournaments. But I don't know how he feels at the time. I just see him doing everything and I respect this.
BLIX: About the substitutes, you played with Aramis and Merlin throughout Tour 3. What's been your biggest takeaway from playing with those two individuals?
DM: I think they're both very talented players and I surely see how they're going to become super good in the future. It was great that we chose them instead of any other players because they were good and it was the best options we could possibly find. I have full respect for them and I very grateful to them for being ready to help us. These players and their hero pools are very good.
Switching between Misha and Chu
BLIX: Another change that affected the team not just in Tour 3 but the rest of the season is the switching of Chu and Misha between the Position 5 and coaching roles. How has the team adjusted to playing with Chu compared to how it was when it played with Misha?
DM: It was very simple because Chu used to be our coach and Misha was our teammate and they changed. Chu was on every team talk and he was on replay session. He was speaking out his ideas of how to lane and stuff so it was very simple, but obviously, they are different in the game. Chu is a very funny guy. Sometimes, he's doing very funny stuff and Misha is more focused on empowering the calls of the other players, I would say.
Chu is more like an atmosphere maker in being very funny, but in comparison, Misha is putting more focus on the empowerment of the other guys and their other calls.
BLIX: What's an example of a funny thing that Chu did during a game or behind the scenes?
DM: It's hard to instantly remember but it's just the way he speaks sometimes is very funny. Let's say we were doing super well and the enemies are losing a lot of gold and he's like, "Guys, let's do a quiz. Where do you think this guy is gonna go? They're missing on three lanes.
I think the answer is A: middle lane" and then three seconds after that, they're attacking middle and we're all ready because we expected this and we just wiped them. He's just a very funny guy in the way he speaks.
BLIX: Looking at the entire season, OG hasn’t been able to put up the same kind of performance as previous years. For this year's iteration, the team largely stayed in the mid-table of Division 1 play while also qualifying for the Berlin Major and placing 5th in DreamLeague Season 19. Taking that into account, why do you think the team has been in shaky form throughout the DPC, if that is the appropriate word to use?
DM: To be honest, I don't know, and I really can't know. At some point, we just didn't put enough focus on the game nor enough effort in our work and that's why it's been like this. Sometimes, we're just not in the best personal shape during the games but that could also be the reason. If anything, then these are the factors I would name.
Looking back at time with Virtus.pro
BLIX: Moving from the team to yourself, you joined OG at the start of this season from Virtus.pro, which you'd been a part of for the previous two years. How do you look at your experience with VP and what were the biggest obstacles you had to navigate through?
DM: I think the biggest obstacle was probably the CIS mentality. It was really hard sometimes for people to get along together and work together. I would name this as the biggest issue, but overall, I really enjoyed that time because I grew up as a player. I understood more about what I wanted to play, the way I wanted to practice, and the way I want to be in a team. You're learning from the mistakes of the other players also, so I was just trying to not do the same mistakes.
BLIX: About this "CIS mentality" that you spoke about, is it mostly about issues communication-wise when you were with VP?
DM: I can give you a super simple example. You're playing a game and it was the Tome of Knowledge patch where the item was still in the game. One hero is Marci and the other hero is Skywrath Mage, who should be playing with Tiny mid and he needs ulti to burst the hero.
Marci didn't respect the Sky Mage and they're basically stealing the Tome of Knowledge because they don't think the Sky Mage is good enough and they were like "I'm going to play on my own." Then we have no kill potential with Tiny-Sky Mage in the game because Sky Mage is Level 5 because his Tome was stolen by Marci who didn't even need it. That was the most simple example of CIS mentality in the game.
I saw this kind of thing happening and it wasn't an enjoyable thing. When one guy doesn't respect the other guy, then there's no trust and nothing good.
BLIX: I understand you've been playing in Western Europe and haven't put in much focus on Eastern Europe, but even so, do you feel that sort of mentality this year or has there been no change at all?
DM: Pandas and Team Spirit, since they're going to the Majors and stuff, are very okay in this aspect. That's because I know the players well and I really think they're not having this kind of issues in the team, so I respect them a lot and I hope they won't step into the same mistakes as when I was in VP where some players did. But ith Ramzes being there, who knows what I'm talking about, he probably won't allow a lot of this s**t to happen ever again.
BLIX: One player that played within your time with VP was gpk [Danil Skutin], who stayed there until around the time you left for OG. What was it like playing with him throughout your time in VP and how have you seen his performance after he moved to BetBoom?
DM: I think gpk is one of the strongest CIS mid-lane players. He's probably sharing the crown with depressed kid [Gleb "kiyotaka" Zyryanov]. He's insanely good in gaming aspects. I think, through the years, he hasn't gotten worse. Every year, he's had top MMR and a top mid-lane performance. He's very good. I also think he's a very proper teammate. He's a very nice guy for CIS. He's very chill and isn't doing any of the bad s**t. He's just a nice guy to be in a team with so full respect to gpk. I would love to see him in TI with me there also.
Image Credit: ESL
BLIX: Taking the focus to TI, with OG not picking up enough points throughout the season, the team will have to go through regional qualifiers. What's the confidence like for you in being in a region like WEU? How are you going to approach it?
DM: Nothing special there. We're just going to get the best meta understanding possible, and we'll be trying to be in good personal shape and we'll do it by playing a lot of Dota. I guess it's nothing special here. Just good wipes, good Dota and good shape.
BLIX: And a good DM as well, right?
DM: I don't think bad as a person to my teammates, but this is included.
BLIX: Which team do you view as the biggest opponent for OG in the TI12 regional qualifiers?
DM: I hope Tundra goes to TI with points so we might not have Tundra to play with. It's not gonna be an easy one. But I think Quest Esports are quite good, but you never know. It all depends on patch, on the players' hero pool and that stuff. I think every team in Europe is incredibly good and each team can be an obstacle, so we'll just have to be confident in ourselves and the Dota we're going to play. Those are the main stuff.
Feature Image Credit: Valve