Following EHOME's disappointing 9-12th place finish at The Shanghai Major, theScore esports spoke with EHOME's manager Tang "71" Wenyi about EHOME's performance at the Major, their recent roster changes and the future of the team.
What kind of preparation did EHOME have leading up to The Shanghai Major?
71: We prepared just like we did for other tournaments, not much difference. Except, Chinese people have Chinese New Year, so we had a little bit less time to train compared to western teams.
What went wrong during the group stage? How much did old eLeVeN’s health issue affect the team’s performance?
71: In our practices prior to the Shanghai Major we were already losing a lot. It was very late that we realized the tactics and strategic thought we utilized in our win at MDL would not allow us to see the same success at the Shanghai Major.
But it looks like this came a bit too late, we tried to turn things around in the group stage — in other words we needed to find a feel for things in the drafts during the group stage, reorganize our strategies, and allow ourselves to be more aggressive in early-mid game.
old eLeVeN's tooth pain possibly affected his own performances, but this wasn't the reason for the entire team losing. We are a team that should be able to cover for teammates' mistakes — so overall I think the effect of this was zero.
What was the team environment going into The Shanghai Major playoffs in the lower bracket?
71: As I'd said above, we lost a lot in our practice scrims. Prior to the Shanghai Major, EHOME had won three tournaments consecutively. This was a great boost to the players' confidence, yet at the same time their mentality may not have been heading in the right direction.
I believe many successful players can deeply understand what I mean by this. So you know, large amounts of mistakes, a lack of focus in-game, incoherent tactics — thus defeat becomes an inevitability.
Why did EHOME under perform in the Major?
71: Over-inflated confidence, incorrect drafts and mistakes throughout the group stage, pressure of the elimination brackets, lacking in organization and execution, [and] poor individual performances.
Why did the other Chinese teams perform poorly at the Major?
71: Lack of new blood in the scene, stimulation. Old players have a lack of newness in their attitudes. Too few players and teams that actually really want to win titles.
Low quality scrims/practices.
The timing of, and the existence of the Chinese New Year break.
There was a lot of drama regarding the English broadcast of the Major, but how does the organization feel about the tournament, as competitors and being from the Chinese community?
71: A very embarrassing tournament for Chinese people. Please don't ask me to recall any details — apart from the after party, everything else has been a disaster.
And that date that Chinese people will remember: March 3rd, Chinese Dota bids farewell to Top 8. From the first time I heard of Newbee to now, that day (March 3rd) was the only time I've ever supported that team.
What was the situation regarding Cty and kaka’s departure from the team? Were they traded, removed, or did their contracts expire? If they were traded, what was the cost of their contracts?
71: I think EHOME and VG are both looking for some change. Apologies as I cannot talk about contract details.
What was it like to coach Cty?
71: From him I learned a lot in terms of small details. I saw some of the the strictness that a young player can apply to himself, as well as some of the confidence from the same.
He did a lot for the success of EHOME, I don't wish to talk here at all about anything he didn't do well enough or his weaknesses. I believe that in the future he will ... be able to perform as a top player in matches both against his former team and against others.
Why choose iceiceice and Fenrir? What was the process behind getting iceiceice and Fenrir on EHOME? Did you buy out their contracts from Vici Gaming?
71: To me this was not a very hard decision to make, even though these two players were not within the suggested options given by our own players.
The first one I locked in was iceiceice, because when I was at DK I coached him before, I know how best to utilize him. He is either a 90/100 player or a 20/100 player.
Many rosters when first playing with iceiceice will see a strong chemistry at the beginning, and then afterwards they continuously drive him from being a 90/100 player into being a 20/100 player, and I don't think the fault of this lies with him alone.
iceiceice is a very good player, with exceptional momentary decision making and game reading abilities. He's also got very strong fight dictating abilities and is great at creating opportunities, etc. Many Chinese fans question my decision to sign this so-called "mega big-game choker," what I see in him is his skill and a heart that truly desires championships.
Ah, and here we need to talk about Fenrir. If you're lacking a 5 position, in China isn't this the simplest of decisions? Apart from his age and height being potential issues, what else can someone say?
He and I haven't had much interactions, but I like his communication style — direct, honest. I like his attitude, the only one in this new roster that said to me, "let's not go on break, I want to train."
From a few months prior to TI4 I've been frequently watching their replays, and if you've ever walked past VG's booth and heard the team's communications before, then you should also think that choosing Fenrir is the utmost of simple decisions.
Was it the team’s intention to change the roster before going into the Major? If so, did the players know?
71: The first time this type of discussion occurred was at the Fall Major, and afterwards there were more of these sounds coming into my ear, so this was a decision that had pressure behind it. They didn't know beforehand, it was March 5 when they were informed.
How concerned is the team knowing the rosters are locked until after The International 6?
71: Not including these latest transfers in the discussion, I still don't like Valve's system here. But in this case where you must follow their rules, I hold some hope and anticipation for our changes in this window. Many people have said that they think EHOME is going to be a bust after seeing our new roster, they will no longer be fans, but if I speak honestly I think that none of this will be an issue. You can find change in our future matches.
What was behind the decision to change LaNm and iceiceice’s roles?
71: About a year ago I'd already shared my thoughts on professional attitudes in this career. I said I'm willing to consider myself as a completely new coach, that I am happy to learn, to take criticism, to try new things, and change myself.
My hope is that my attitude can influence [LaNm], to allow him to feel that he is a player with a youthful mentality (even though he has already become a father). I hoped that he could be a great captain, to be able to express his infinite potential in this game.
I believed that he could play offlane, and in pubs later he did indeed find some of the feeling for that. Yet returning to the carry role was a wish of his (you should know, in the entire world he's the only player that has played every single role professionally).
The other four players and I all have confidence in him, so why not? Don't just let the idea of "legend" end as words someone says: a crazy coach, a crazy team, it all looks like it makes sense. Can you recall in your mind's eye the image of Michael Jordan making a buzzer beater to win the game and then holding his finger up to his lips and telling the home crowd to shut up? Achieve it, and then go enjoy it.
As for iceiceice's role? He's able to play any role from 1 through 4, right? Actually the only thing I can't confirm right now is whether he can still play 2. But I don't have this requirement of him. I think he can play a bit more stubbornly at EHOME, he's going to be filling in LaNm's old role at EHOME as the card that we can play to counter the opposing draft.
I've said it before, I can utilize iceiceice well.
What’s the situation with EHOME.King and EHOME.Legend? Why not “promote” one of their players to the primary EHOME roster?
71: These two youth teams haven't been as strong in performances as last year, and the two coaches for these teams have met some issues in terms of player development. But within the teams there are still two pretty good players.
As for why we haven't brought youth team players up to the first team, this might be because they aren't quite strong enough just yet. Please do not doubt my confidence in them or my feeling of responsibility towards the younger generation of players.
I don't care whether these players have public recognition, as long as I believe that they are good enough I will give them chances.
What are EHOME’s plans for the future?
71: This is a good question, we do indeed have a big plan, but right now talking about it is too early.
The new iteration of the club has only been up for a year, there is still a great difference between us and famous international teams. There are plenty of places where we can learn and improve, and that's not to mention the places where we can innovate and disrupt.
I will pay attention to and follow certain popular games, expand to other projects, achieve more success and results for our brand to reward our fans. In the short term we are working hard towards becoming a top tier international esports club.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Translation done by Josh "AutumnWindz" Lee.
Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.
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