This is the translation of the most interesting parts of the interview.
Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan has gone through everything this season. He left CIS Rejects to move from the second to the first division of DPC, was left behind by his team, took a break, then burst into qualifications in the last moment, and now he is at The International with BetBoom team.
Just before his departure to the main tournament of the year Yana Medvedeva managed to get one of the most open talks in RodjER’s whole career.
Ladyfrika: What were you doing after the qualification when you could take your time?
RodjER: I was playing Dota 2 really hard after being kicked from CIS Rejects. I’ve been sitting at home and playing all the time for 5 months without a break. I felt emotionally exhausted. By the start of the qualification I lost almost all of my energy – I had to give all of myself to have the deserved rest.
I went home after that, was hanging outside, visiting a spa, and wasn't playing PC at all. Spent some time with my friend. I had a good rest and felt recharged.
– Do you feel yourself a qualification’s hero? You are considered to be its MVP.
– I don’t, to be honest. I decided to disregard other people’s opinions one and a half years ago. It doesn’t matter if it’s bad or good. I rate my gameplay honestly, put marks, and pay attention to my teammates and coach’s advice. I appreciate their opinion much more than casters’, viewers’, and random people's. And certainly, I care about my close people's opinions, because they are cheering for me and filling me with their optimism. This is the most important thing for me!
“I was playing Dota 2 really hard after being kicked from CIS Rejects. I’ve been sitting at home and playing all the time for 5 months without a break. I felt emotionally exhausted.” – Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan
I like that people call me MVP. Although it’s only partially correct. Everybody plays at maximum and I don’t want to outline myself.
– Why were you much stronger than VP in the final?
– Actually, I met Artyom [Artyom "Fng" Barshak] the next day and we discussed the match. It was a funny game!
To be honest, he had no idea why his team was making the wrong decisions. Sometimes they felt nervous, sometimes the pressure. We were more confident in our gameplay. We felt we were reading them all over the map. We were more harmonious and faster and knew what to do to win the game – they didn’t. We didn’t feel the unity in their actions.
The first map boosted us in a draft. We had just to play when they were forced to adjust to the situation.
– How do you rate your performance in the qualification from 1 to 10?
– It’s hard to say, every game was different. Some I played well, some worse. In general, I would say 7 or 8 out of 10.
– Have you ever been at 10\10 in your career?
– I’m producing such powerful energy in the game right now, similar to what I had in NaVi before moving to VP. At that time, I was reading the game really well, was playing boldly and aggressively, and understood how to make a lot of trouble for my enemies. How to be bad for an opponent and good for a team. I think it was my best.
Now I’ve got the same feeling: I can be effective on the whole map, help my teammates, and take part in drafts – I’ve become multifunctional again. I’ve found myself in this team.
– What did you feel leaving CIS Rejects: a heavy heart or relief?
– I was hurt actually. I spent plenty of time and energy to earn a slot in the first division. I wanted to play. We have passed the whole way from zero: open quals to the second and then first DPC division. And here they say that I didn’t get along with somebody, not giving a single argument. I was hurt by that.
There was a moment when I wanted to take a slot back with a force. There was me and Gleb pretending for a place in the first division. I didn’t like that they took the slot as I also deserved it. I wanted to gather my own team and see who would be the best.
But I failed – there were simply not enough free agents I wanted to call. Eventually, I gave it up and left it.
– You said you started playing matchmaking after that. Just 4 months of pure grinding?
– It was one of the worst periods of my life, actually. I was looking at the same MMR for 2 months without a single change.
By the time I was kicked from CIS Rejects – I had 8400 MMR – 670th rank approximately (the lowest in my career). I was testing a lot of heroes and didn’t pay attention to the rating – and at a moment realized that I was so down. The only option I had was to get into the top 100 players. I didn’t have any powerful friends in Dota 2, who could trust me not looking at numbers. By the way, even CIS Rejects called me when I was in the top-100 players list.
I played from 12 to 15 games a day. I tried really hard. My teammates were ruining the game. I got brainsick about that. I never thought I would have a condition like that. But I think that was because I tried so hard to get a better rating. I understood I needed at least 10k while it was only 9100 at that moment. Every day the same 9100.
Ah, I bought a guitar recently. I was studying how to play it in the mornings to have a rest from Dota 2. It was something I liked a lot. And after some MM game, I took the guitar and started smashing everything around me. Everything except my PC. I’ve destroyed my whole room. And I was cleaning all the mess until the end of the day.
I’ve kept this moment in my head forever. That was one of the sacrifices on the road to success. That was uneasy.
Eventually, I reached the rating I wanted and became fit. Probably that made me feel good. I managed to get rid of my negative emotions, and stress. I got completely recharged after that.
I’ve put about a 2k rating in 4-5 months and it cost me a lot. I even cried from desperation sometimes, I thought my account was cursed and the system was making me play with the same ruiners all the time. When the blacklist expansion update came out it became a celebration for me. I’ve got 40 slots instead of 25 for my “favorite” players. And as I did it, I started winning immediately.
– Did it help you to overcome the 9100 bar? Or was there something else?
– I was very nervous in games before breaking the plank, indulged a lot. I was trash-talking to some thousand-ranked players. And after the critical moment, I became much calmer.
What’s more, my mom was nervous about that, so she advised me to take a break and rest.
But after that case, I actually became much calmer. I understood I shouldn’t bring myself to such a state or I would get health problems. Nobody needs that. I had to live with those emotions and feel them to develop into a better condition.
– Didn’t you want to follow your mom’s advice?
– No, I couldn’t let it happen. I had ambitions, I wanted to win, to get to the International. I couldn’t even let myself go somewhere, and take a rest – I was thinking about the game all the time.
– Talking about the PuckChamp case: you are considered to be an eminent grise in teams: you kick players, you have the drama, the conflicts. How is it so?
– I simply don’t know! I got used to it [reputation] actually. By the way, we also struggled a little bit with BetBoom at the bootcamp but managed to avoid the crisis.
It seems like I came to a team with its own problems again. But this time we talked about the bootcamp and you can see the result.
– How come a kind family dude with a positive vibe is said to destroy teams, kick other players and create drama and conflicts?
– I can say how – some offended people created such an image for me. I also could have been sitting and crying after being kicked, accusing other people and circumstances. Nobody else can be guilty of your own problems.
I make fun of Iceberg [Bogdan “Iceberg” Vasilenko] saying on the broadcast that I played mediocre in NaVi and my opinion didn’t matter. Then he says I was kicking people. How can it be that my opinion doesn’t matter and somebody is kicked because of me? He’s contradicting himself. There’s no logic in this but many people fall for that.
Moreover, that’s actually silly – thinking that one person can kick another. Is it like I come and offer to kick you and you say: “Give it a try and let’s see”?
I’d like to comment on this also but I’m not a streamer. And I dislike communicating with the DotA community – it’s so toxic. But If we come to this point…
Iceberg says I am a mean player. Though, we had a moment, when his only successful hero in practice matches was a last pick Mirana. How can a person like him rate my performance? I was always nice to him. We gave him a chance in NaVi.
Whenever I get in such a case it even boosts me. I join a team and the action begins. I’m quite experienced in this – I was in many problematic teams and I know how to communicate with people, and what questions to ask. It’s not easy at all but it’s the key to a team's growth. If you manage to overcome this you will succeed. There was the same story in Empire in 2017, in VP, in HR with Nyx [Alexander “Nyx” Levin]. And in BetBoom of course, we managed to deal with the conflict and became much stronger during the tournament.
– What was the most complicated conflict for you?
– Let’s say in PuckChamp – I’ve never met such a Santa Barbara. It was really hard for me. At the same time I was laughing hysterically, no offense guys, it was really funny.
– People say: “RodjER joined the team and kicked everybody”
– Who said this? Schoolboys in the comments?
My mom used to read commentaries about me, she was upset with people saying bad about me, asking to kick me, and so on. She was nervous about that until I told her to stop paying attention to this bile – I said adequate people won’t do smth like this. People who wrote this didn’t care about me at all. My mom got it and I hope everyone will follow her example.
– Let’s come back to BetBoom. Mag said you have a good synergy with SoNNeikO, do you agree? What did he mean?
– Of course, I feel it. We understand each other with a half-word. We can even keep silent, click the map and understand what to do. I know him for 9 years already. We played together in different teams and I really like playing with him.
– Do you need a captain to guide you or do you prefer freestyle?
– I like it when there’s good communication inside the team. When the position 5 player thinks about the match in general, not only about his particular role. If he sees an appropriate moment for an action he can call for me. And so do I. It’s very important because speed is one of the main game aspects right now. If my head is busy with some other stuff, Akbar [Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev] can just call me to TP bot and we realize the fight.
– We’ve [cyber.sports.ru] discussed with Mag recently how SoNNeikO has changed. As you know SoNNeikO for 9 years, what can you say about him?
– He has changed into a better version of himself. The worst thing about him was that he wasn’t communicating either inside or outside the game. He was and still is a great player. But nowadays he has improved and now he easily communicates, listens to the critics, and makes the right conclusions. It’s a great boost for him as a player and, respectively, for the team. Because a silent leader is a problem.
– SoNNeikO is one more person who is believed to have a bad name. The only difference is he is not kicking others, he leaves himself.
– He has his own look at the situation. He positions himself as a leader and when he sees people not listening to him and stop trusting his ideas he certainly could leave. At least he says it like this.
– There is one more person you like to play with – LeBron. What’s the story of your friendship?
– It was in 2011 or 2012. I was just starting to be interested in competitive Dota 2. A friend of mine told me he met a Serbian guy, Nikola Popović. We called him on Skype and played together. He was swearing in Russian and it was very funny.
– Did you play together in a team?
– We did several tries at creating a team and played as stand-ins. He is very positive and communicative but we never played for a long time in one team.
– If you had to make a team would you invite him?
– I won’t, to be honest, and he knows that. We tried him on in PuckChamp. I’ve noticed he struggles to play in the CIS team because although he understands Russian pretty easily, he has to think of what words to use. He is a leader but the language barrier affects the gameplay. I think he has a better chance to succeed in an EU team than in CIS.
– What was harder for you: 5 months at bootcamp or 5 months of matchmaking?
– Of course matchmaking. You have people around you at bootcamp you can have a talk or express your emotions. In MM the only thing you have is the rating you need to reach.
– Let’s end up with the most actual point. What aims and attitudes do you have for the upcoming TI?
– We’re super motivated. We hope to get a high place. I’m not going to say we’re going to win because we respect other teams, but we apparently have confidence in each other. We showed we could be fast and furious. We like that, it reminds me of VP at its best. We don’t give chances to our enemies, we use every moment. If we manage to fight the TI tension and play our best we have the chance to shine bright.