Interview with Yevhen Zolotarov
Starladder caught up with Yevhen “HarisPilton” Zolotarov, Natus Vincere G2A’s CEO, to talk about his team’s performance in the qualifier for the Kiev Major, their plans for the future and a great deal more. Below you will find a translated script of the interview.
The interview in Russian
— Hello, Yevhen! How’s your day going?
— Hello! I’m feeling great, glad to see you all.
— What has changed in your life since the beginning of the year, when you became Na`Vi’s CEO?
— The information on my appointment was released in January, but I had started tackling CEO duties during the last quarter of 2016 and have had a good opportunity to acquaint myself with the new responsibilities since then. There’s nothing new to me: I headed the HR, sales and teams at Natus Vincere before, and now I manage all three at once. The volume of work has increased substantially. The only thing that I’ve never dipped into is the media component, but I’m currently trying to figure it out. I would really like us to provide our fans with interesting content, give them something unique. We can involve our players in it; they are interested in making videos and doing other things too, but their enthusiasm depends heavily on the quality of what we produce. So our plan is to increase quality.
— So, you have a media plan in place? Some interesting projects?
— Obviously, our media objectives include improving our social media engagement - YouTube, Facebook etc. But how do we meet those? With our content. We are discussing different ideas, but I am not going to mention any of them yet. You will see.
— Should we expect something interesting from you?
— I hope so, but I don’t want to be too loud. (smiles)
— OK, let’s move on to Na`Vi’s Dota 2 team. The Kiev Major qualifiers took place recently, but they were not successful for you. How did the team handle this loss? Of course, you wanted to get the slot.
— We chose our players because of, among other things, their personal qualities, so even after the first game of the second day, when we were at 1-4, there were no internal conflicts or problems, no accusations, nothing like that. The guys knew that everything was still possible and that they had to move forward. The same thing applies to the ultimate loss. Virtus.pro were objectively stronger, and we knew that. In order for us to win in that final, something extraordinary had to happen. And after two difficult bo3s they’d played before, the guys perhaps couldn’t prepare mentally and psychologically for this final. They had no time to think over their picks as there was virtually no break between the matches. But we reacted to it normally. The progress is clearly visible to both players and fans… well, partially. There still are some fans who ask us to disband, but that’s something they will always do. And I am very concerned about it.
— Does it upset the players?
— Yes. But what I do to calm myself down is read the comments on social media pages of other teams; I see the same thing there, and it gets easier. (smiles)
— You said that even though you started off 1-4, the guys were able to gather themselves together and win the remaining matches on their way to the grand final. Who deserves the credit for this? You mentioned Pajkatt’s leadership skills. Did he help the team, or the guys generally have a great atmosphere with no space for conflicts and doubts?
— The whole team deserves the credit, so I won’t single anybody out. At one point, after the score became frightening, they all just relaxed and started picking heroes that they didn’t play much before. Perhaps, it was this relaxed attitude that led to their confidence, strange as it is. (smiles)
— Many fans were hard on the newcomer of the team, rmN-, on social networking websites with all these memes. Does anyone support him?
— Memes are fine and fun, we all like to laugh at ourselves.
— So is he positive about it?
— He’s less positive about it than a non-involved person. People who write about it didn’t stand behind the backs [of the players] and didn’t see his impact on the game. He plays position 4. However, apart from it, he talks a lot, he makes calls, he coordinates. Many rotations on the map you see are his credit. Frankly speaking, he did have fails, both micro and macro. Nevertheless, we believe in Roma. He’s got potential. What’s great about him is out-of-the-box thinking. We need to learn how to use it properly. We need to make him more confident, support him, especially now, and continue working.
— What can you say about the three newcomers to the team, their personalities?
— Pajkatt does have those leadership qualities we spotted in him during the interview. He’s a true leader beyond the game. Concerning the ingame process, we have a co-captain – Roma, who makes many calls. Pajkatt is very powerful as a player. He’s still learning how to be a captain. He was very confident in some games, as he had had enough time to prepare. He was confident about the picks. He’s supported by everyone. Danya (Dendi) actively participates in every aspect of the game. Vitya (GeneraL) is less involved. He makes calls less often. Biver is, in my opinion, an ideal pro player. We have no problems with him both in personal and ingame aspects. He does have little experience. We understood it when we invited him. However, he’s got very powerful potential. He masters new heroes quickly. I think he’s got a great future.
— So you believe in the current roster and don’t think of a disband.
— We do believe. We saw that VP roster is much stronger, but it’s 3-4 months older than ours. We need to make this path. The failure is great experience. The team ascended from the very bottom of the qualifiers via the tiebreaker vs. Comanche. I feel sorry for Comanche. I like this team very much. They’re potential and perspective. It might be unfair that we played the decider despite losing the match against them previously. Nevertheless, our team won the tiebreaker, then defeated Team Spirit and Empire. We lost to VP. However, I think that this team is very strong now. Unless something extraordinary happens, the guys will get to the top of the major. I think they can be defeated only by OG and EG. It depends on the brackets.
— Speaking of the major, what should CIS teams do to get 2 slots?
— Maybe, if VP had played more successfully at DAC qualifiers (and they should’ve done it with such a strong roster and performance), they would’ve gotten direct invite to the major, and we would’ve passed the qualifiers. Concerning the two slots, I think it’s logical right now. The major is conducted in the CIS. There’s VP that hasn’t played for 2 months, but everyone knows it’s powerful. So the CIS team would attract more attendees to the event. There are so many [participating] Chinese teams. Maybe Valve focuses primarily on online viewers, via Twitch, since China gives the greatest views.
— Ok, let’s talk about the future plans of the team: tournaments, bootcamps?
— We’ll be having a bootcamp from 9th of April. I didn’t mention it before – we played the qualifiers from Arena. We have had problems with internet and decided not to risk. We’re very grateful to Starladder that they helped us. Everything was great, but it wasn’t our home. At home, we have a daily schedule that includes team talks, discussions, watching replays near the fireplace. It’s comfortable, useful. And the place is great, we have a gym nearby. Also the weather is so fine that we can ride bikes and play football in the area. Such things improve practice process, psychologically. As per moment, we solved all the problems. We have two Internet providers now (one as a back-up). Our CS:GO roster will have the bootcamp there. Then they’ll move to the hotel to play Starladder, and Dota players will move in. Concerning the tournaments, we’re looking forward to the qualifiers of EPICENTER. The tournament has been recently announced, and I think the qualifier dates will be announced soon too. I don’t expect to receive invite. I don’t know how many teams they’re planning to have at the event. Unless there’re 16 teams, we’re unlikely to get a direct invite. We’re looking forward to the qualifiers. We got an invite to the group stage of DreamLeague. We might play some minor tournaments, but we haven’t decided yet. We’re having a team talk this evening. We must think if we need it.
— Thank you very much for the interview. We wish good luck to your teams!
mJay 20 March 2017, 10:55 8760 0