Post DAC Interview with PPD
Captaining Evil Geniuses to victory at The International in 2015 and then becoming the CEO of EG shortly after, Peter Dager is known within the Dota 2 community for his excellent drafting ability as well as his dry-humored personality. I spoke to him about what it was like to be part of the talent panel at DAC, his thoughts on the current Dota professional scene and his experience when he was on the EG Dota team.
For DAC, how much prep did you do before the start of the event?
I didn’t do a lot, the biggest thing I did was go through a lot of the teams and check out the new players that I wasn’t that familiar with, especially on the Chinese teams. Even then at the tournament I still felt a little bad because I didn’t know the exact players on every team due to there being so many new faces.
Whilst I was at the event we would always have the day’s schedule one day in advance telling us when we needed to be ready to carpool and the matches we were going to cover. It was nice to get that ahead of time so we could potentially do some research before we talked about the teams on the panel.
So you didn’t prep for the cosplay video before the event then?
Slacks was trolling around in the green room at DAC asking, “Anybody want to help me make some content?” I like slacks a lot, I think he’s really funny, really friendly and very well intentioned. A lot of people aren’t really down to clown around because they think it’s embarrassing or cringy but I’ve been embracing that kind of cringe humor lately. I’m not trying to limit what I’m capable of doing. So I said, “Sure let’s give it a go, but if we’re going to do this then we need to take it all the way so it’s over the top.” “That way people know that we’re joking in that way and not just that we’re making a bad video.”
In terms of the hours you had to do, you were on the panel for a fair amount of the day. How is that compared to being a player at a tournament?
It’s actually a lot more work. You have makeup on your face and you’re under the bright lights all day, especially during the group stages when the talent is spread so thin. You don’t really get as many breaks as you probably should. I’d be on the panel during the group stage for maybe 6 or 7 hours. It almost feels like I have a real job again which is exactly what I hate, that’s why I don’t have one. The main stage was a lot better, in terms of time scheduling there would only be one game going on at once and the talent wasn’t spread as thin.
“I think it’s really healthy for Dota to have that west vs east rivalry”
Were there any players who exceeded your expectations and performed way better than you were expecting at DAC?
BurNIng from IG has always been a phenomenal player but he’s missed out on a lot of the big tournaments because he hasn’t been on a team that’s qualified. I love that there’s now another China elite team potentially going into the next Valve event, it’s something that we were missing. Of course, there was Wings at TI6 but that was an anomaly almost, they just sprung up that tournament. They’re still a force but they’ve fallen off a little bit. I think it’s really healthy for Dota to have that west vs east rivalry.
“When I watch people playing awesome Dota I get inspired to play myself”
You’ve been playing some Dota on stream since coming back but did you play much prior to DAC?
No, I actually didn’t play much at all, I just didn’t have the motivation to. I was really enjoying playing other games like Gwent, The Witcher, Street Fighter and all sorts of different games. The cool thing about Dota events and a lot of people probably experience the same thing is that when I watch people playing awesome Dota I get inspired to play myself. Coming back from a tournament like DAC I just want to play Dota. It’s also a really opportune time to stream because all of the actual pro players aren’t streaming now because they’re all preparing for Kiev. I’m hitting around 5 to 7k viewers which is something I would never do beforehand. The viewer count doesn’t really matter to me that much but if I am going to stream, now would be the best time to do it.
You said you watched some Dota before you went to DAC to research, but did you watch any of the Kiev qualifiers?
I mainly only watched the North American qualifiers because it was in my time zone, but I always have Dota streams on in the background when I’m working. I answer a lot of emails and phone calls, as you can imagine it’s the most fun job, but I have 10 to 20 minute breaks in between the phone calls so it’s nice to have some Dota to watch.
Do you watch streamers or just professional games?
Usually only the tournament streams. In terms of personal streamers I only really watch EG players. I just don’t like anyone else as much as those guys and obviously, I’m personally invested in the brand. Them streaming and having fun and their viewers having fun is good for me and Evil Geniuses as a company. It’s almost like watching your children play. Not that I know exactly what that’s like but I can imagine it would be similar to that. One of my favorite things to do on Sundays is watching the fighting game guys play in the finals of all their tournaments, I love that.
You enjoyed doing content with Slacks but who was your favourite person to be on the panel with?
Redeye was awesome, he is very very good at his job. Just watching him prepare, he puts in so much more work than everyone else. It’s come from years of experience, he’s been doing it forever. What we think looks incredibly hard, to him, maybe isn’t that hard. He can obviously speak really well on camera as well which isn’t something everyone is completely comfortable with. He’s just really good at his job.
After IG’s victory at DAC, how do you think they are looking going into Kiev and then TI?
They’re definitely not unbeatable. They played slightly unpredictably but I think they just generally played the meta better than everyone else and in the grand finals they exposed OG’s weaknesses.
Do you think it’s difficult for teams that win tournaments just before TI as they may get researched slightly more?
It all depends on how one-dimensional your team is and I don’t think IG showed themselves as being that one-dimensional but maybe BurNIng played slightly too few heroes so that could potentially be exploited.
When you and Fear were on EG together, how much of the shot calling and strategic decisions did he make and how much did you make?
I always called Fear a co-captain, he was very good at keeping us emotionally in check, especially myself. I was the one who had the temper and the attitude problems and he would say “Are you really gonna get mad about this?” Which was always really awesome. When he was playing support it was a little messy but when he was on carry, I would run the early game, and he would run the late game, or he would say “Hey Peter, make a decision.” Even if it was the wrong decision at least everyone was on the same page and it might work because of that.
“Forget your stable rosters, forget your friendships it’s time to do away with those for three months and grind out for a life-changing amount of money”
So you’ve said you want to possibly play in the TI qualifiers, are Wanted going to be making a return?
I think Wanted is probably going to be retired never to be seen again but I wouldn’t mind playing with some of the players again if they’re up for it. I think that after Kiev there’s going to be a lot of shuffles. This whole “Rosters are so stable blah blah blah” is fine but we’re coming up to a 20 million dollar tournament, people are going to want to win. Forget your stable rosters, forget your friendships it’s time to do away with those for three months and grind out for a life-changing amount of money.
“the friendship is united because we are trying to win”
On the topic of roster changes and friendships between teammates, How was kicking Aui in terms of decision making, letting him know and dealing with it afterwards?
There wasn’t real friendship between me and Aui, I’ve never really been incredibly close friends with any of my teammates, maybe other people would speak differently but I’ve always viewed it as work. You spend so much time together being on the road for three months at a time, so when you aren’t together you just want to do your own thing in your own space.
People are definitely all friends, but the friendship is united because we are trying to win. Being friends and trusting each other is a huge part of Dota and getting along is incredibly important because you have to trust your teammates. If someone tells you something and you think “ehh I don’t know if I trust them” and in that second where your mistrust is there you could be too slow and you could miss a kill or you could lose a team fight and these things matter.
When it comes to Aui it was very simple. We felt we could be a better team switching him up for Artour and it was something that we wanted to do, we wanted to play with Artour. We did what we thought was giving us the best opportunity to win. Regardless of whether we were right or wrong it was our decision and it ended up turning out fine.
Lastly, patch 7.05 recently came out but which hero or heroes do you think still need to be nerfed and who do you think needs to be buffed?
I still think Alchemist needs to be changed a bit and I think radiance in general is a flawed item because I think it promotes a really unhealthy game style for Dota.
The issue of being able to go high ground needs to be addressed as well, maybe with fewer shrines in the base or higher respawn times or something. I just think it’s too hard to go high ground especially against heroes such as Alchemist who can just throw down acid spray and send illusions out and have to commit nothing. You just get gradually worn down and the defending team doesn’t get worn down because they can hit two or three shrines without having to go back to the fountain. It’s as if you have three pools of health and mana to fight your opponents when defending.
That’s why we see strategies like Alchemist or Naga work who go super late game because they just farm with these radiances and get six slotted. Alchemist especially, he gets six slotted and then gives every one of his teammates an Aghanim’s Scepter and then gives them Moon Shards. All of a sudden everyone has farm and he’s 7 or 8 slotted. It’s a really unhealthy game style I think especially entertainment wise.
Those were some of the worst games I had to watch at DAC. OG almost exclusively played that, which is fine, nothing against the team, you should play to win but there were so many games where they were down 20 kills, getting destroyed and outplayed at every corner and slowly and surely they pecked away with their illusions. People are trying to keep their waves pushed out instead of fighting heroes and trying to create team fights which is where the excitement is. It just ends up creating a really dull game.
For buffs, there are definitely some heroes that don’t get played so it would be nice for some of those guys to get buffed. I think a lot of the heroes can be good it’s just not the right meta for them. It’s a matter of nerfing and buffing other heroes to change the meta a bit. We have heroes like Viper and Razor who just never get touched at the moment. They’re so awful against illusion heroes and they have no wave clear which has become something that the top Dota teams feel is the best way to play the game. The only way to change that is to change the hero entirely which is probably not going to happen.