OG will be heading into their first International as one of the favorites to win the event. For a team that formed in the aftermath of TI5, OG have gone on to win five LAN's in just under a year, including two amazing victories at The Frankfurt and Manila Majors.
OG's coach, Sébastien "7ckngMad" Debs, is hoping to cap off that impressive year by coaching OG to victory at TI6. Shortly before heading to Seattle, 7ckngMad spoke with theScore esports about joining OG, what it is like to be a coach and what he plans to do after the event.
How are you feeling ahead of The International?
I am feeling great. We have been working very hard and I am looking forward to see all those efforts pay off. I am hoping it will be enough to win TI, because that’s the goal obviously. The hype and the positive pressure are slowly building up — it’s a great feeling.
The International is the greatest challenge a Dota player can ask for — I’m happy to be part of it.
How did you become the coach for OG?
Back then I was still trying to play with Kaipi, but I’ve never been convinced with that team. I was just happy to play with bone7, as I always respected him as a player. I was out of solid options, so I knew it was only temporary. I had another month of classes to attend in my business school before graduation. Alliance approached me to coach them then. I was not really available as I did not have much time, but we still tried to work something out — unfortunately it just did not feel right, probably because of my lack of availabilities.
OG then approached me, just when I was done with school. I’ve known Fly and n0tail for several years now — competed against them many times, and I’ve played with Cr1t- in team before. So we all knew each other and had mutual respect. As I’ve also been a big fan of the way OG draft and approach DotA in general, I was convinced coaching them would be a very good idea, so I just accepted.
Have you given any thought to coaching before joining OG?
I have given a lot of thought to coaching before I joined. I’ve been a captain for the longest time in DotA, and I still am. I know what kind of support I would have liked to have. I also played in many different teams, won some, but most importantly I lost a lot when it came to the bigger challenges. It was rough, but I learned so much along the way. I knew I could put that experience to very good use — it was just about finding how.
As a coach, what do you do in a normal day?
Well the schedule can change depending on the bootcamp or the event we are preparing. We will usually have meetings where we tackle many different topics and aspects of the game. I am obviously very involved in these — I prepare them and help run them. I observe and dissect their scrims and we review them together.
That is the formal part. The less formal part — which is as important — is to talk with players about their mindset and just the game in general.
I also try to think about different things on my own, ideas or just gathering general knowledge about the game, which can come from looking at other teams when they play, playing public games or just thinking and theory crafting. That’s a normal coach day I would say. Everything is very different when it is during a tournament. I would spend most of the time studying other teams and figuring out ways to counter them or to outplay them.
What do you think of OG’s performance since The Manila Major?
It has been almost flawless. I am very happy with how the team has been performing — they are on point with their gameplay as well as the approach they have to drafting and strategizing. They make my coaching useful because they are open-minded and professional (and extremely talented, but that goes without saying). All the work that I do is put to good use by them, and this motivates me even more.
How would you describe each of OG’s players?
I guess I’ll just describe them one by one to answer this question — I’ll try to be succinct!
Fly is a real captain, he has all the qualities to be a successful captain, and he is. He is the backbone of the team and brings confidence, stability and more importantly lucidity when it matters. He is also obviously a very talented player.
Cr1t- is the difference maker, I’d say, if that makes any sense. He is one of the best in the world at what he does, but most importantly he always steps it up when it’s needed, whether it is in terms of plays, or just calls in game and outside of the game.
N0tail is the heart rate of the team, and the team has quite a healthy one! He understands a lot of things about Dota that people do not understand and about teams in general honestly. That makes him a very unique player in the scene, and probably the perfect teammate to have.
Miracle- is the "prodigy," although I dislike the term. He is one of the most gifted players in the world, no doubts about that, but what impresses me the most about him is his ability to achieve the highest level of focus.
Moon is a lot of different things. He pretty much completes what the team lacks in many different ways; he is a very stable player (when he decides to be so), but is also the player that can create openings when the game is too stale. He also helps a lot to control the rhythm in-game, the overall tempo. His playstyle is very unique, and he often goes for moves that make the team feel very good.
What is OG’s bootcamp like?
OG’s bootcamp is chill — it is a lot of fun, but serious and professional enough to be very effective. The environment here is optimal and the team chemistry is very good overall. We also just enjoy hanging out with each others, so it’s just good times.
Having played in previous Internationals, do you still get excited about TI? Is there anything that you are particularly looking forward to?
Yes, I still get very excited about TI. I am just looking forward to everything that will happen then, the competition, the games, the crowd, the results, everything will be exciting.
What do you have planned after TI6? Will you continue coaching OG?
I want to continue to coach OG, yes. For the longest time I have been very unhappy with my Dota situation and the level of DotA I was involved in. I felt that I was never on the same page, talking about things that people just did not understand — I felt very lonely. As soon as I started coaching OG it just clicked; finally I realized that all my efforts were not vain, that some players shared the same vision of the game, it felt awesome. I doubt I could get that feeling in other teams — in fact I can’t think of any team that would get even close to that. In addition to that, I also get to learn a lot from these guys. It’s a mutual sharing of knowledge, which is something I’ve always seeked in DotA and to be honest I haven’t had that feeling for a very long time. Coaching OG just fills my Dota soul — I got my passion back for the game as soon as I started coaching them.
Do you think that coaches will become the norm for Dota teams in the future?
Yes, I am convinced that they will. I can tell the difference and the impact coaching can have. It is quite significant. It does not mean that teams would not be able to perform very well without coaches, but it just makes everything way more stable.
What do you think of the current meta? Are there any changes that you would make to it?
I am quite happy with the current meta — most of the heroes are playable and a lot of different play styles can work. It makes drafting very complex, but way more interesting. There are some slight changes that I would like to see, but going through each and everyone of them would take too long. As I said, overall I am very happy with the patch.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.