Chen "Hao" Zhihao is a former champion of The International and the carry player for Newbee, who have secured an Upper Bracket spot at The International 6.
Ahead of the Main Event and his match against Evil Geniuses on Tuesday, Hao spoke to theScore esports about staying in China ahead of TI6 and taking the tournament step-by-step.
First question I've got for you, how are you guys celebrating or relaxing after having reached The International and after the group stages are over?
There is no time for relaxing because after interviews today we'll have scrims and then tomorrow is the same. Because we are here for a tournament there is really no time for relaxing.
That's a very industrious answer I like that. Who are you scrimming? Who are your priority scrims to practice for the man event?
Probably teams like DC and Na`Vi. Teams we wont meet very soon.
A lot of other teams from your region came over to NA for tournaments leading into The International but you guys played Nanyang. Do you guys feel like you've had enough exposure to Western teams for this tournament or do you feel like you're playing at a disadvantage or anything like that?
Previously, during Manila and Epicenter, we've had enough experiences with Western teams. We chose Nanyang because we wanted to prepare for TI in China not wear ourselves out and not expose any of our strategies — that's why we decided to stay in China.
Do you guys still feel like you have a reserve of strategies that are yet unexposed or are you running to a point where a lot of what you are going to do is out there and you're hoping that teams are not going to research and respond to them?
We actually use a lot of our strategies in scrims so teams might have seen it, but they don't always work out for us. It's more about our forms. If we are in good shape than it really doesn't matter which strategy we use
So you guys have a fairly unique strategy now compared to most teams in this meta — in that you play for a much later game than most other teams right now. Do you feel like this is strong and if so how? Because a lot of the top teams other than you like to play a very fast game — they like to get active around 14 to 18 minutes and you guys usually don't hit your stride until about 25, or 35.
I think it just happens to be that for some of our lineups that's the best timing but some of our strategies, like our Drow lineup we finish pretty quick so it really depends on our strategy.
Also compared to a lot of teams that are up near your rank, you guys pile a lot of resources onto the core — you get a much higher kill priority and you get a much better farm priority. Is this something that you guys have discussed and have brought up because you think it's strong or is it something to fit to your playstyle as an individual player and a team?
I don't think so it just happens that we pick heroes that ended up like that for Mu and we actually try not to take up as much resources for myself I try to go teamfights and give that resource and space to our supports like ChuaN and KaKa and even Kpii.
The last question I have is where do you guys feel like you're ready to finish — what would be a disappointing finish for you? What would be acceptable and what would be your goal?
I don't think its about placings right now. It's more about us going forward as a team step-by-step for us in particular as long as we continue in the tournament getting any placement would be really good for us.
Ryan "Gorgon the Wonder Cow" Jurado writes about Dota 2 and freelances for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.