While the 2023 Dota Pro Circuit season was wrapping up, Entity was in the midst of a crossroads. Not only did they not acquire enough points in the circuit to qualify directly to The International 12, they were struggling in terms of cohesion and collective form. While it’s fair to say Entity started off the year on the right foot, with a 5-6th finish in the Lima Major, they couldn’t repeat the same success, with sixth place finishes in Tour 2 and Tour 3 and 15-16th place finishes in DreamLeague Seasons 19 and 20, thus necessitating a change to the roster.
That is why Entity eventually announced the addition of Kim "Gabbi" Santos to the roster after parting ways with Tobias "Tobi" Buchner prior to the TI12 Western Europe regional qualifiers. That also explains why Entity, despite having a new team for less than two months, qualified for TI12 after defeating Nigma Galaxy, Team Secret and Luna Galaxy. Now in DreamLeague Season 21, the team hopes to continue their momentum from the qualifiers while also preparing themselves for TI12.
Before the start of DreamLeague Season 21, BLIX interviewed Dzmitry "Fishman" Palischuk to talk about how Entity qualified for TI12, how they brought in Gabbi for Tobi, the state of the team before the player switch was made, the progression of the team from last season to the present day and more.
Qualifying for TI12
Pedro Romero, BLIX: Obviously, Entity had a rocky DPC season by regularly finishing within the mid table in Western Europe, but despite all of that, you guys were able to qualify for TI12. To go from the lows during the early part of the year to reaching TI, how have you seen the evolution of the team from your perspective as the captain?
Dzmitry "Fishman" Palishchuk: When the season started, we went to the Major and we played pretty well. It was a pretty successful Major. It was a bit unlucky because we could've done more, but Talon was better on this Major so they deserved to beat us. After that, we had some downgrades. We didn't go for bootcamp, if I remember, for the DPC season. We had problems. It was hard, very hard to make an agreement with some of our teammates about the draft.
We weren't on the same page and the results were not good. We all could feel how the team’s soul was slowly dying and that's why we decided to make some changes because sometimes you just need to change any player and the team will make a reincarnation and it's worked pretty well for us. We changed Tobi for Gabbi. We didn't show an exact good result on Riyadh Masters, sadly, but then we were playing a lot together and were speaking a lot together and for TI quals, we came in with a better mood and better shape and it worked pretty well for us.
Picking up Gabbi
BLIX: It was a pretty interesting decision for you to select Gabbi because he's someone that has not really played outside of Southeast Asia. This is his first time going outside of the region, as a matter of fact. What did you see in Gabbi that made you want to pick him as your new teammate?
Fishman: For me, it was motivation. We could have taken another player who was slightly less motivated, but I care about motivation because it's more important and in the end, Gabbi is so good and so skillful. As for how we took him, we had a list. I knew he won a Major as a carry. He was playing offlane already for half a year in pubs via streaming. I didn't watch his streams before but I knew he played offlane, he was ranked 30 [in the SEA ladder] and he was a Major winner so he had good experience and a lot of motivation.
When we were asking him questions on our first meeting, we understood he was very positive and very motivated to play with us and didn't have any doubts. He was ready to commit to our team instantly and it was also very good when you come to some player and he don't say, "oh I need to think in one week since I have too many offers." When we asked him to join, he said, "Yeah, I'm ready. Let's go." There is some psychology in this also. It's for them to show me that they really want to join my team. This is how we took Gabbi and this was a pretty decent gamble but I knew this was gonna be a good decision for us.
BLIX: Before the team picked up Gabbi, I wanted to know more about the struggles of the team. You mentioned the struggles sucking away the soul of the team, so exactly what made that possible? What prompted such a change in that team in that fashion?
Fishman: I think we were just tired from [sic] each other. It was hard to come forward to one page, people were less motivated, they played less Dota, they got more stressed and were more tired from scrims. I remember how we came to DreamLeague to boot camp and there was already some talks even before that about needing to make some changes and stuff like this. When teams are in this state, you can't put up good results and it's normal to make one reshuffle. I can say that in the two years in Entity this is our first decision to change someone. Usually, it's not the first time when someone in my team asks if we do a change.
Usually, I like to say that reshuffle is not good and reshuffle is a bad habit. It's not like if we change a player and we start playing much better. It can happen, of course, but you can just also fix problems, right? But this time, it was agreed that it was probably good to change Tobi because it was needed to refresh the team? I like Tobi. I think we had a good road. I like Tobi as a person. As for him as a player, I don't know. I think he can achieve better results with another team. I think it's better for him and for us. Look, we changed players and we go to TI and he went to Quest and he's going to TI.
Comparing the Entity of 2022 and 2023
BLIX: I now want to dive into the comparisons between the team from last year and this year. On a positive note, what sets apart this version of Entity compared to last year? That's because you have another year and additional international experience under your belt.
Fishman: Last year, we were not experienced players so it was the first experience for most of us on LAN. I remember my first LAN in America where I met you and then we went to TI. We also were not that much of an experienced team when we went to TI. I remember how everyone was saying how Entity was gonna be going do well. It was too much pressure, to be honest, for us. We were not experienced so we weren't ready for it, but now, nobody is saying we're gonna win TI and we're more experienced. So we'll see what's gonna happen on TI.
I believe we can show a better result. And there's also atmosphere. Right now we have Gabbi and Watson [Alimzhan Islambekov] and back then we had Pure [Ivan Moskalenko] and Tobi and it is absolutely two different teams. That's because Gabbi is a positive guy who is ready to play any hero we asked him but Tobi was very strong about what he wants to play, how he wants to play and how we want to build the draft.
With Pure and Watson, Pure is more like a guy with emotions. He speaks a lot when he's in a good mood. Pure could play super high tier-one Dota or he could play like a noob and go full silence. It depends. Does he care about the game or does he not care about the game. With Watson, he's a stable guy who, all the time, plays decently well. He also calls a lot and he leads into the game, but they are two different types of players. I can say that right now, it's much more easier to play Dota for me.
I can be sure that everyone will give their best right now. I said the same one year ago, but now I know my team will give their best even in scrims and this is awesome. Looking forward to play TI and DreamLeague. I hope we will show some good results on DreamLeague because DreamLeague is a very, very big tournament and we want to play in every DreamLeague possible because ESL tournaments are the best currently and I don't think nobody can compete with ESL. We will try our best.
BLIX: I also want to grab your thoughts on your personal evolution as a captain given that you mentioned your past teammates and how they go about their matches. Which aspect within your leadership has seen the biggest change since the start of your time with Entity up until now
Fishman: For me, the biggest change is becoming more relaxed and calm in some moments because, previously, I was too hyperactive and I was trying to motivate some players. But now I'm more relaxed. I'm more open, I think, and this is biggest change, but at the same time, I do my job and do what I need to do in my team.
BLIX: I do feel you are more relaxed because in our first meeting you were very focused and driven to achieve your goals but now you're much more mellow.
Fishman: I mean, I still want to achieve my goals and I don't think anything changed from our last interview. I only had a fever but now I don't have that here, but yeah, I don't think anything changed. I just feel like I have more fun from Dota now.
BLIX: With Entity participating in DreamLeague, what is going to be the one thing that the team will be focusing on improving for TI?
Fishman: I don't feel we need to improve anything. Right now, when we play on scrims, everything is going well. We'll just try our best and we will try to improve further things on boot camp before TI. For now, we are playing a bit less Dota because we did such a big job before TI quals. Every one of us are in very good shape and right now we are here not to improve but to show results in DreamLeague.