Entity's progression throughout the 2021-22 Dota Pro Circuit has been a long-winded gradual bravado. From starting off the year with a reworked roster in Division II, whose previous members under the Creepwave name (Ammar "ATF" Al-Assaf and Bozhidar "bzm" Bogdanov) departed for major squads, the team has gone on to stake their own place within Western Europe. They secured promotion to Div. On their first try, I immediately followed that up with a 6th place finish in the Spring Tour. With their improvement slowly gaining attention by that point, Entity's form took a further boost as they then finished fourth in the Summer Tour to qualify for the Arlington Major, one of the DPC's biggest competitions of the year, as one of WEU's representatives.
And it was in the Lone Star state where the entire Dota fanbase finally heard Entity's arrival. Even while undertaking a stand-in for the occasion, with TSM offlaner Jonáš "SabeRLight-" Volek filling in for Ivan "Pure" Moskalenko due to visa issues, Entity played beyond everyone's expectations to finish at least Top 6, garnering a ravenous North American fan base along the way. Amidst this deserved euphoria, the crowd inevitably raised the question of how such an impressive team was formed at all.
Fortunately, thanks to Position 5 player Dzmitry "Fishman" Palishchuk through an interview with BLIX.GG provides a complete explanation behind the creation of the team that would soon become Entity. Furthermore, he discusses the team's progression in the DPC, the inclusion of Pure, how that differed from SabeRLight-'s temporary contribution for the Major, and his thoughts on the upcoming TI11 qualifiers.
Origin of Entity
Pedro Romero, BLIX.GG: Thanks for allowing me to do this interview, Fishman. Just to start, I just want to know your thoughts on your experience in Arlington, Texas, for this Major has been so far.
Dzmitry "Fishman" Palishchuk: It's my first big LAN, so I'm very happy to be here. All my team tried their hardest to come here, and we are extremely happy. I have liked everything so far, but I only have questions about UberEats because they charge an extra 30% on the price of our orders, and even then, they get f****d up. They sometimes don't give vegetables, meat, and even drinks. They forget them. There was a moment yesterday when we ordered some food, and then 30 minutes later, the app said two of our burgers were not available, and then 40 more minutes after, the order just got canceled. Regardless, so far, everything has been very nice. PGL has been very nice. The hotel was cool. The crowd is nice.
BLIX: You mentioned competing in front of a crowd. What was it like to play in front of an energy-filled group of people?
Fishman: I wasn't sure how I would feel in front of a crowd, but I was super sure of myself. There was almost zero difference between playing in front of a crowd or not. What I want to say is I wasn't stressed. I wasn't panicking; I was sure of myself.
BLIX: Did you feel an additional boost or momentum while playing in front of the crowd compared to how you usually play without one?
Fishman: Personally, no. I like to play in front of a crowd, but I stayed chilled and focused. I can't speak for all of my teammates. Some players get a bit overhyped and strive to do more than they already have to. It's normal, but I was cool and not stressed so far.
BLIX: Of all the WEU teams that qualified for the DPC's two Majors this year, Entity was the only one who did so after initially starting as a Div. II team. How did this roster come about before the start of the DPC?
Fishman: It's a big story. TI10 has just finished, and the team featured me, ATF, bzm, Crystallis, and Chuvash. We played so well and are good friends with each other.
I was so hyped to keep playing together, but unfortunately, after TI10, ATF got around ten offers from Secret, Evil Geniuses, OG, Alliance, and seemingly every other big organization, and they offered him a super big salary. We were in talks with Alliance before ATF, BZM, and Chuvash got poached. They were not interested in signing us as their main roster but more as something like an academy team. The offer was decent but not exceptional either. Communication was slow, and that's when it happened when everyone started contacting ATF and BZM. The talks with Alliance fell through.
Keep in mind that at this time, we won the Dota 2 Champions League--pretty easy--and then bzm started getting offers, too, whereas the rest of the team didn't get offers. We did get some offers but were not at the same level as EG or Secret. We were sad for a while, but we moved on and started looking for new players. For offlaner, we had Tobi. He was waiting for good offers from Alliance or some other big organization, but he didn't get anything. We asked him about joining our team, and he asked us to wait, but we knew if Tobi declined our offer, we would have dispersed. Thankfully, he ended up joining us.
Fishman: In the mid-lane, it was a similar situation; we thought of Malr1ne at the time and saw him as a good player. Simultaneously though, we thought Stormstormer was good, too, if not better than Malr1ne. Additionally, in order to play in WEU, we had to have a minimum of three players who reside in the region, so we couldn't risk getting over that limit by bringing another EEU player as that would hamper our capabilities in finding a sponsor, arranging a Bootcamp, and things like that. Stormstormer didn't fully commit to the team at first. Still, after a talk with our manager, he became optimistic, so once he accepted, we then started conversing about who would cover Position 4.
We asked Lil about being our Pos. 4, but I remember that Tobi didn't like him too much, and he said no too because he was waiting for how the RAMZES666 stack would turn out--f*** I'm not sure if I should be saying this, but let's give some fire to the interview. *laughs* We were looking for more options, which I felt good about the players we looked at, but then I asked Kataomi how he felt about filling that role. I knew he was a Pos. 5 player, but I asked him about the possibility since I knew he stood in for me for a time.
I knew Kataomi was the kind of person who could feed us. I told him, "Bro, during the roster shuffle, you're a Top 60-ranked player in Pos. 5. There are 16 teams in DPC (both Div. I and II), and for you to not get any offers is--holy s**t, there are so many Pos. 4's available. Just come play with us. You have an organization with us."
We took Kataomi, and so far, I am super happy about this choice because he's a great player. There are times in which I feel he could work harder during practice and matches, but as long as he continues to play well, should there really be any concern? Any player needs to find a balance in how they work to play better.
After garnering all the players, we were eventually signed by Entity. It was questionable at first. We initially didn't know about Entity when they offered to sign us. We only knew they were an Indian organization. In Dota, anyone can be signed, and eventually, those same people who signed you would then say they don't have enough money to pay their salaries and delay said payment for next month or something. Then once you fail in DPC, they would end up not giving you anything. It happens a lot in Europe, but with Entity, they're very good.
To start our journey in the DPC, we lost to Brame two days after arriving from our Bootcamp in Serbia, which was rough, to say the least. While it would have made sense for us to go into panic mode after starting off poorly, we recovered without issue. We had fun, played good teams, had some good games, bested said teams, and eventually secured promotion to Div. I.
In the Spring Tour, though we didn't give 100% of our effort in our official matches, I felt a clear difference in the team's devotion towards the game. For example, in Bootcamp, we used 10 hours per day to prepare for our latest opponent in the season. We then spent four hours working out schemes and reviewing VODs.
Ultimately, we reached the Top 6, and it was fine in the sense that we stayed in Div. I, but at the same time, we knew we could've done better. We finished Top 6 due to a lot of our games finishing by a close margin. That made me believe that we will again improve, this time by a considerable amount, once we attend another Bootcamp, but then the Crystallis situation happened. Secret kicked SumaiL, asked him to come, and he moved.
He was very sad when ATF and bzm accepted their offers to join OG, and he couldn't do the same. He was okay playing with this roster, but he was listening to a lot of casters who hyped him as someone who deserved better than where he was in, so I think he didn't believe in this roster as much as I or the rest of the group.
BLIX: So he thought there was a cap to this team as they can only succeed to a certain level and not surpass it?
Fishman: I'm not sure. Before the move to Secret, I felt as though he viewed that move as a step up. However, I knew that was not how it would turn out. Sadly, had Crystallis stayed with us instead of going to Secret, we could've been a Top 1 team. I firmly believed in this, but I don't know.
I think Crystallis received plenty of hype, and the casters discussed him as a good player and how he could've gone to a better team. Nevertheless, Crystallis is still a good player. He helped us sometimes during our matches.
BLIX: Which then lead to the team picking up Pure. How did that come about?
Fishman: Yes, I will speak about this right now. Pure made a big mistake. He drew the letter Z on the map and didn't understand the story behind it then. Nowadays, he understands what that symbol is about, but when he first did it, he didn't understand the problem of what he did.
That's because--look, he lives here in Russia. You go outside, and there is propaganda everywhere. There'd be a Z everywhere, and you'd have people telling you that it's okay and you should be fine. He thought it was just funny. He was simply young and inexperienced. Some people thought he was stupid and didn't play well enough back during his time in Virtus.Pro.
I was a firm believer in Pure, and I was pushing to sign him--not exactly from the start, but we were beginning to discuss some options around it. We had a first option, a second option, a third option, fourth option, and we asked other people about buying players. We could give good money to certain players if they wanted to join Entity. Eventually, we had just two options, and I was pushing for Pure because I thought he was a good fit.
Fishman: I think Pure is the best player on Entity. He has good ideas and does a great job. I'm pretty sure he's going to become like RAMZES666 from probably 2018. The only thing he needs to fix is to give more trust to his teammates. Only then, when he realizes he needs to grow up and climb the ranks, will he come to understand the importance of teamwork. You need to support each other and not create unnecessary stress. He's just a Russian kid, but I know he's a good person. He's a nice person. I believe that Entity, for next year and this upcoming TI qualifiers, will be in good hands.
BLIX: What with the trajectory of the team up to this point? Do you feel this team played with a chip on their shoulder as a way to prove to everyone that they should have paid more attention to them beforehand?
Fishman: Entity is neither Team Liquid nor OG, but they're almost a T1 org in this game. They have given us a good salary. Usually, teams would come in and sign my players for them.
Now, I'm at a point when I can come to another team and get their player. I see Entity as a Tier-1 organization. They give a T1-caliber salary and the like. I hope we sign a new contract with them and continue playing with this roster post-TI. I believe in this roster. I hope my team is smart enough to commit for one more season. Also, I believe we can go to TI and do very well.
Improvement in Summer Tour
BLIX: There was a massive improvement from this team between the Spring and Summer tours. From finishing in 6th place to qualifying for the Arlington Major, what enabled this team to improve so much for the Summer Tour?
Fishman: First of all, in my opinion, boot camping was big, and in my second opinion, I think Pure is a much better player than Crystallis. I believe Pure is the best player on the team. He just needs to learn a few things. If this guy started being more supportive of his teammates, he'll be unstoppable. That's why we became stronger. That's why we're going to ESL One Malaysia after winning the EU qualifying grand finals 3-0 because he was in the zone and played nice.
BLIX: Despite not qualifying to TI11 through due to having insufficient DPC points, the team has done well in this Major by reaching the Top 6, so what does this performance say about this team's chances when it comes to qualifying for TI11?
Fishman: I like SabeRLight-. He's a good player. He's a very nice person. He jokes a lot. He said, "Oh, don't take Timado, take me!" while we were deciding which player to have as our stand-in, and when Timado said he wanted to go with Fnatic, PGL was pushing us to decide right then, or we'd have to buy our own tickets.
With Jonas, you're bound to have fun and experience a good atmosphere where there's little to no pressure going around. That's how we took SabeRLight-but I believe with Pure, we would have had a better chance of winning this tournament, but I digress.
BLIX: You've had a pretty long career thus far in Dota. You played in Eastern Europe for a good while before moving to compete in Western Europe. What has been the biggest difference for you personally between when you started and right now?
Fishman: First of all, if you ask about me this year, I learned how to play more heroes and gained more experience, and if you ask about the difference between WEU and EEU, it's much easier to build a team here. WEU people are more chill, happier, and don't say bad words. It's nice. I feel like it's very easy to be in a WEU team.
So far, I haven't encountered problems with WEU teammates. They've all been nice. On the contrary, it's much harder to play in Russian teams. If you lose, someone is going to flame someone, and then you'll stop becoming a team. Furthermore, in the ranked leaderboard, you'd have more WEU players on the leaderboard than those from CIS. Why is that? That's because it's much easier to build a team.
That's why I mentioned Pure before. He can be a T1 player when he steps up. He just needs to be less aggressive and more trusting in his teammates. Just be nicer, which I think is the biggest difference between WEU and CIS teams. However, I'm not saying that you can't build full trust and be nice all the time. You have to find the right balance because, in order to build a good team in CIS, you need a captain who can properly lead and say things like, "We are a team. Let's trust each other."
BLIX: When it comes to looking at your entire career, what would be the biggest attribute for you to use when explaining to fans how to pursue playing Dota?
Fishman: Do gym. Don't drink, don't smoke cigarettes, play a lot of Dota, and be nice to teammates in pubs.