Eternal Envy on the new Team Secret
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The Shanghai Major champion discusses the run in to Manila and his formidable new roster.
“I think the biggest problem was that we were not very good in the early game and that was pretty much it honestly.” Coming into the Shanghai Major critics were asking questions about Jacky “Eternal Envy” Mao’s team. After triumphing at MLG, Nanyang Championships and narrowly losing out in the Frankfurt Major final, it had been a while since they’d won a big tournament. Had they been figured out? Were they out of form?
Not a chance – Team Secret stormed their way through Shanghai, convincingly defeating Team Liquid three games to one in the final match and firmly establishing themselves as the top side in the world. Eternal Envy told Red Bull eSports in an interview this week that a large part of their success in Shanghai came down to their approach to the early game: “Having Theeban  as the coach helped – he came from Digital Chaos and their previous side was only good in the early game so he taught us how to approach it. I can’t go into detail but through adjusting that everything fitted together.”
Team Secret’s success at Shanghai also underlines the importance of scrims – the closed-door practice games sides play to prepare for their big matches: “In Frankfurt I don’t feel like we tried hard enough at the actual event. We weren’t scrimming except for on the first day when it didn’t go so well, and then we just kind of gave up from there. It wasn’t as hardcore as what we did at Shanghai where we actually scrimmed a lot. I guess part of it was maybe because the practise place was at the hotel in Shanghai whereas at Frankfurt it wasn’t, so if you left the venue there was no computer to use.” Team Secret have changed up their roster since Shanghai and they’ll be planning plenty of scrims and boot camps to get the squad ready for the next few tournaments.
The return of Artour "Arteezy" Babaev to the Team Secret roster and the addition of the TI5 winning offlaner Saahil "Universe" Arora has marked a new chapter for Eternal Envy’s team. Despite such an imposing looking line-up, only success on the biggest stage will satisfy Jacky Mao: “It’s hard to say what it means to have the strongest team because at the end of the day when you lose players you lose heroes, like we lose Meepo and we probably lose half a Windranger. You also gain other heroes so until you play in tournaments you don’t actually know for sure but for the most part I do believe this is the stronger team roster, or we wouldn’t have make this decision in the first place – there were a lot of issues with the previous team.”
Whilst some fans were surprised that Secret would change up their squad right after winning a Major, EE explained that there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. “People might think otherwise when you win the tournaments but there are problems whether you win or not. We don’t want to be delusional and trick ourselves into believing that those problems do not exist even though they clearly existed for multiple tournaments in a row, for a few months in a row, and just because we turned it around at Shanghai doesn’t mean those problems are suddenly gone. We won the tournament not because these issues were addressed but more because we were just good enough to play around them and that’s not something that will always occur.”
They were definitely communication problems but communication problems stem from game sense issues in the first place
When teams make unexpected roster changes, problems with the team’s communication is often cited as the major reason but such issues can be a result of conflicting styles of play: “They were definitely communication problems but communication problems stem from game sense issues in the first place. If the knowledge was understood then I feel like those players would be communicating the correct ideas anyway – so yes it is a communication issue but it comes from a lack of knowledge generally and we needed more knowledge in those areas and it was hard to make up for it.”
Arteezy and Eternal Envy are good friends and have played together back in 2013 on Kaipi, but playing with Universe will be a new experience: “I talk to Arteezy a lot so I know him very well as a player and I watch him as a carry – we look at each other the most I think. Whereas Universe is kind of new so we’re still getting adjusted to each other. I’m talking to him a lot about how to play, every day after pubs I’ll message him, but it’s great because he learns very fast and you feel like he just wants to improve. There’s nothing negative about trying to help someone on your team, but often constructive criticism can be taken as personally negative, and that’s something that we have actually removed with these two players – we’re just improving and it feels very comfortable.”
Whilst there have been some suggestions that having two players used to playing one position might cause issues for the new Team Secret, Jacky told us this really isn’t the case: “I disagree heavily with that statement. Essentially a team has to work. If someone doesn’t make space for you and he requires space himself then you’ll make space for that guy and he might start owning. I think Arteezy is one of those players who will create a path for the rest of your team and so am I. We play very risky – we push out the waves and go the extra wave and this gives the team vision, forces teleports and creates space and pressure whilst we’re farming. We’ve already played some scrims together and I felt like it was much easier because we understand each other. I don’t have this issue where me and my other core both teleport to the same lane and we’re like ‘what the hell, why are you here?’”
As the Manila Major approaches, the Dota community is preparing itself for 6.87 and Eternal Envy gave us his thoughts on the next patch: “I don’t mind if they bring one out after ESL One Manila, hopefully they don’t do it before or during. Which heroes? I generally don’t care, but hopefully they’re heroes I can already play. I’d like to see Icefrog buff Phantom Assassin or Terrorblade but I hope they don’t get changed too much because they don’t need much to be strong, especially Terrorblade. Phantom Assassin is pretty trash, I think that hero needs an entire rework actually – she’s far too luck dependant.”
“If it’s other heroes I’ll learn them. For example, I didn’t play much Slark and then at the Shanghai Major I watched Miracle play Slark and he didn’t win those games, they played against us and they lost, but I felt some strength in it and I spent the entire major playing Slark literally – I didn’t do anything else but play Slark and I lost 300MMR in the span of a week but I learnt the hero and then we ran it a lot in the finals and it was really fun. But even if the patch doesn’t change I think there’ll be very big changes randomly. For example, if you look at StarCraft I, that game didn’t get touched for a very long time and even so the meta changed nonstop and I don’t think that game was as complex as Dota.”
Whilst Secret will inevitably be one of the strongest teams this year, Eternal Envy is well aware that the competition is going to be fierce: “I think EG has definitely got a lot stronger with their roster change – it’s not so much this player is better than this player because that doesn’t really make sense (it’s not a one versus one game). A lot of things in Dota are kind of invisible to the eye – you don’t know really what they’re saying on Team Speak, how they think about the game, how they talk about the game, how they empower the captain and the team. Having Bulba and Aui 2000 [who both transferred from Digital Chaos] to help them out with the early game is massive. It’s what they were lacking, what everyone else was lacking except MVP and the Southeast Asian teams, and also Liquid. EG was always very good later on in the game but their early game was pretty trash – they’d have Fear jungle for like 10 million minutes with an iron talon on him and Arteezy solo against a Lone Druid on Morphling. We’ve scrimmed against them already and they’ve got a lot better.”
Eternal Envy and Team Secret will next be competing at ESL One Manila, before starting their preparations for the Manila Major at the end of May. They’ll be hoping to become the first side to win back-to-back Majors, before setting their sights on the biggest prize of all: The International 2016.