We spoke to Team Secret’s Puppey ahead of DreamLeague Season 20 to ask him his opinions on the event, and the team’s road to TI12.
Clement “Puppey” Ivanov is one of the most storied and respected players in Dota 2. The only player to have attended every single edition of The International as a player, and co-founder and captain of Team Secret, Puppey’s latest task is making it back to TI once again.
But there’s a few stops on the way, namely DreamLeague Season 20, and European Qualifiers. Team Secret crashed out of DreamLeague, marking a poor performance not just for his team, but for Europe as a whole. We spoke to Puppey before the event began, to ask him about European Dota, the EPT, and whether he thought about taking Team Secret to another region.
(This interview was conducted on Friday, June 9, ahead of the start of DreamLeague Season 20. Portions of this interview were previously published on this site.)
Puppey talks about DreamLeague Season 20
This is going to be Team Secret’s first international competition against teams from other regions this year. How do you feel you’re going to measure up?
Puppey: “Well, my opinion stays the same about that, that EU Dota right now is harder than any other region. So if other regions come in here to play against us, or we play against them, I don't think much will change. Because already having to try to beat Gamin Gladiators, Liquid and Tundra is pretty hard. So I don't believe it will be harder.”
Is there one team from another region you’re especially looking forward to facing? Some players you don’t usually get to play against that you’re looking forward to playing against.
Puppey: “I would wish to play against King SumaiL. You know, that's definitely the most hyped thing to do. For sure.”
Do you think that Team Aster is now a big force to be reckoned with, with the addition of SumaiL?
Puppey: “I hope it's a force to be reckoned with. A force for now. We haven't seen them fight against other EU teams and so on. So it's not really easy to understand if they're that good. And somewhat, I hope so for SumaiL as well that they’re a force. There's just not enough evidence yet.”
If Riyadh’s prize pool ends up surpassing TI, which, at the moment it’s not far off last year’s amount, does it become the more important tournament? Or is the Aegis just too much of a prize?
Puppey: “I think Aegis still matters more. But it's going to skew it a little bit because I feel like the importance of this tournament is also very high. Because it's a new tournament that is as big as TI that is not TI. So winning, it also kind of gives such a TI vibe, you know, because the prize is massive. So it's a nice feeling. Like one of those old Majors back in the day where they mattered a lot more. For now, it's hard to decide I would still say Aegis obviously matters much more. But you know, it could it could shift to being equal.”
The EPT, with this DreamLeague series and Riyadh, although ESL hasn’t overtly said it, feels like a challenge to Valve for control of Dota 2 esports. Do you think the competition is good for Dota? Will it spur Valve to do more?
Puppey: “I think competition is healthy in practically any industry possible. So if anybody looks at it as an overthrow or something like that, I think they are looking at it in a bad way. If more people are trying to get involved in your game, more people are trying to invest into it. And they are Valve, they own the IP. So it's only going to benefit them.”
Puppey on BOOM’s departure, the DPC and TI
I had a question here about how consistent your roster had been. And up until about five minutes ago, that was apparently true. Is there anything you can tell me about BOOM’s departure or anything like that?
Puppey: “Alright, so I find that question funny. You say how consistent it has been. Consistently losing or what?” *laughs*
I mean, you've had the same players.
Puppey: “Yeah, I mean, the thing is, we tried to work things out. And it didn't really, at the end of the day, it just didn't work out because he's not necessarily an offlane player. And we were just trying out things.
And I think we just fell short, we were very close to beating a lot of teams, we're close to beating Tundra, we're close to beating Gamin Gladiators, and so on. Two really good teams and other teams also. But we just fell short. And it just feels really sad because I felt like the team dynamic of people was really good. Like we're all really good friends, but we just didn't happen to win.”
Going back to the DPC for a moment: You’ve now got the most difficult path back to TI, through the Western European Regional Qualifiers. Is there a worry this is finally the year with no Puppey at TI?
Puppey: “Yeah, I mean, I do worry about it. But I don't worry about it in the sense of like, “there's no TI for me.” I kind of worry about the fact that while this is going to be the first time I feel like I won't be able to try to win TI. And yeah, I mean, it's bound to happen at some point. I’d perhaps, I don't know, I would have only not happened if I would have quit earlier. Then I had the excuse of not getting to TI.
But still, I'm not really sure what to think about. I just tried to win Dota as much as possible and if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out.”
We’ve had a few years of this DPC system and Western Europe is consistently one of the most tumultuous and difficult regions to find success in. And Div 2 is a bloodbath every season. Is there ever a point you think “Forget this, let's pull a Dendi, let's go NA. Or let's go Team Secret South America” or something? Or is being here part of the process?
Puppey: “There are reasons why I don't want to do the “going to another region” thing, specifically with a team that's weak, because I feel like it also makes you weak in the long run anyway. I strive to make a team to win TI. Therefore, I don't want to go to a region and hope to get to TI through points, just by kind of choosing to be in the system.
Because at the end of the day, I don't think that team is capable of winning TI in the first place. That's kind of the narrative I would think for at least B8, they go to a different region, but they don't really play for winning TI. They just played to be in the system.
Well, that's not my approach. I want to make a team that wins TI. If I made the wrong roster choices, or the roster choices didn't work out, or maybe I'm just playing bad, it's kind of like, you know, if it doesn’t work out, it's my fault. It's not necessarily because of EU Dota being too strong.”
Thank you Puppey, good luck in DreamLeague!
Puppey: "Alright, thanks! Bye!"