White Rabbit Gaming, South Africa’s best Dota 2 team, are off to China for the World Electronic Sports Games World Finals. The finals take place in the Haikou International Convention & Exhibition Center on the island province of Hainan, there is a rather ample $1.5 million total prize pool on the line for the Dota 2 tournament.
WESG and SA
South Africa is well represented at WESG this year. Bravado Gaming will be tackling the CS:GO tournament in their first LAN appearance since relocating to the United States. Look out for a CS:GO preview of WESG early next week. For Hearthstone, Jacques “SelfmOorD” Wentzel is the South African hope. While in Starcraft 2, Protoss player Edwin “Drager” Williams was the winner of the South African qualifier. Good luck to all the players attending.
The player speaks!
The Dota tournament starts on 13 March and will come to a conclusion on 18 March. I managed to catch up with WRG’s Ryan “Chidowi_” Lancaster the evening before their departure for China. Since I’m a Dota noob, I got some very gracious help on the questions. Thanks to Christopher “Sargon” House as well as Shaun “Profeci” Murrell for their expertise. In this interview, we briefly reflected on WRG’s rise to dominance in the local scene, and how they’ve prepared for the competition at WESG
axtremes: Hi Ryan. I appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions right before you leave. Can we start with your team’s rivalry with Bravado Gaming in 2016? How much did the losses to BVD impact your frame of mind?
Chidowi_: It’s never fun to lose, but the losses never bothered me too much. You kind of just reflect on it and try figure out where you went wrong and how to fix it.
axtremes: Once you finally beat them in the Masters 2016 Final at rAge, did it feel like the monkey was off your back?
Chidowi_: It’s been a while, but I remember that moment pretty clearly. It felt really nice knowing that our hard work paid off and that we were at the top finally. It was a pretty big relief, that’s for sure. 🙂
axtremes: Have you had another rival in the local Dota2 scene like Bravado Gaming since? Who do you see as WRG’s biggest potential threat in SA right now?
Chidowi_: It’s hard to say. The Bravado rivalry we had when we were chasing them was something special and unique. Now we are the ones being chased. 🙂 No one has stepped up to the plate yet. I think we put in the most effort in SA by a mile. That’s the thing that keeps us at the top. On that note, the BVD team coming into the WESG qualifiers were a scary bunch, that is for sure.
axtremes: Would you ever like to go back to playing carry since that was your previous role or do you want to stay as an offlaner?
Chidowi_: Maybe in the future again sometime, but for now I’m still enjoying offlane quite a lot. I think I do best in this role as well, especially for our team as it is right now.
axtremes: How well has the team’s preparation gone for WESG?
Chidowi_: Team preparation has been going well. There were some hiccups here and there which made it not optimal, but overall I’m happy with how we have been playing so far.
axtremes: Do you think that the current meta suits the team?
Chidowi_: I think we can suit any meta, I think we adapt quite well in general so that makes it easier to play (haha). There’s a lot of parts in this meta which I feel havent been fully explored yet, so it will be interesting to see how the tournament pans out.
axtremes: Do you have any pocket strats ready?
Chidowi_: We have never been too fond of having specific “pocket strats”. I think we are pretty confident in our ability to win games normally. Some pocket heroes though, that’s another story.
axtremes: Are you guys practicing any specific heroes?
Chidowi_: We have been practicing some heroes specific to this meta recently for WESG. Hopefully that pays off. Like with most tournaments, we try go in with a bigger arsenal of heroes and just try to adapt throughout the tournament where needed.
axtremes: Is the Bucharest Major providing any insights or changing how you’re approaching the WESG main event?
Chidowi_: It’s always really interesting in the Majors to see how the top teams perceive things and how they adapt and beat certain strategies. We might alter our styles a bit based on that, but in general we have a good idea of what we want to do for WESG.
axtremes: Confidence. I like it! Speaking of that, how confident are you coming off of 2016’s WESG Dubai tournament that you attended with the combined BVD/ WRG lineup? You’ve at least got that experience under your belts.
Chidowi_: I think Dubai was mostly just an eye-opener. Losing like that gives you a new perspective and motivation to get better. I think this year is quite different in the sense that we are much much more prepared. The teams we are facing are also much better.
axtremes: What is the team’s biggest weakness and how are you guys trying to solve it?
Chidowi_: I think we solved most of our ingame problems during preparation for this tournament, but things usually pop up all over the place. As soon as you start playing better teams they exploit flaws in your game that you didn’t even think of. That’s how this game goes, I guess.
axtremes: What is WRG’s biggest strength?
Chidowi_: I think going into WESG, our biggest strength would have to be the underdog factor. Most teams have never even heard of us. All three of the other teams in our groups have players who have competed at multiple valve events and are well-known.