Aaron Clairvoyance Kim — that’s the name of the man standing behind the backs of VGJ.Storm’s players in past season. Clairvoyance kindly agreed to give us an interview in which he talked about the conflict at TI8, relations with Ilya Illidan Pivtsaev, emotions regarding his departure from the team and evaluated the recent decision in the composition. About this and much more — in the interview below.
Аарон — первый слева.
— First of all, can u sum up a season you’ve got. What did you, as coach, complete or maybe there are some issues that you are struggled to fix?
— In summary, our season as VGJ.Storm was quite good. We began the year with a T2 roster that struggled in the initial qualifiers, qualified to some events as old faces departed from the team, then brought in a completely new roster which won its very first LAN together in GESC, I am nothing but proud about our accomplishments despite the short finish at The International.
— Resolut1on told the world about his new roster with Universe and Aui. What do you think about this move? Was Sneyking a problem? How can u describe him from your perspective? What advice can you give Aui about working with this lineup?
— I wouldn’t think too much of it, the roster is set and there’s nothing wrong with ending speculations or messages by telling the world how it is. Sney is the highest-potential player I have ever worked with as a teammate and coach, a ball of fierce energy that is sometimes hard to contain. I don’t have any advice for Aui, he’s a seasoned veteran well qualified for this roster, and I trust he will demonstrate that fully.
— After all that drama, don’t you feel betrayed? Cause according to your reddit post, all what you did was for success of the team.
— I do, but I could have handled the situation much better in hindsight, I have only my own flaws to reflect on in the meantime, and take measures to never allow such things to happen again. Communication and presentation goes a long way for anyone, and I have much room to grow on those fronts.
— In playoffs of ti8, vgj lost to og and secret. In series vs og, you were banned from being on stage by Valve. Do you agree with that decision? If you were there, could result be different? What would you change in draft? Do you agree that reign of OG started from victory over VGJ.Storm?
— With Valve, it’s not necessarily whether you agree or not, they lay the law and you accept it. It might not always be the best solution or outcome for all parties involved, but it is their game, tournament and business. I’m grateful to Valve for allowing me to participate at this annual event in my coaching capacity, I would take up the opportunity again in a heartbeat. I believe their ruling was fair in their eyes, and that’s all that matters in this case. I would like to believe that my presence would have helped in maintaining the balance and the mental game from the grueling loss of game 1.
The International is an event where the team that bests the day and maintains a healthy state of mind will triumph, riding the momentum of victories and sensation, it is not necessarily the objectively best team that comes out on top. OG’s momentum most certainly started here, we were strong coming into playoffs as the top team of the groupstage, and we selected OG as our opponents also. This reality stings, but they rode the momentum and proved many things along the way. I’m happy for them, they earned it.
VGJ.Storm драфтят героев со своим менеджером.
— About match up against Secret. First map looked like totally outdrafted by Puppey. Again, if you were on stage in that moment, could result be different? What would you change?
— The main goal vs. team Secret was to not be outscaled or caught off by their heavy split-style. They have extremely good individual players and especially scary playmakers in midone and yapzor, it was a tough series to not get caught off guard by their ubiquitous presence. As my own person, more than what could have been or what I would have done different, I just wish I was there to coach and support as I have done. This way, there would be no room for regrets.
— Your post on reddit. Apparently you are on good terms with Ilya, right? Nevertheless, do not you think that his very presence has caused discord in your mechanism of work? In your message, you said that you wanted to prepare for the match yourself, which was negatively perceived by the players. Why did not you just explain everything so that there would not be a misunderstanding?
— Ilya is a beast. He’s not only extremely skilled, but from my short experience, he’s a great friend to have. I plan to continue talking to him throughout the seasons. His presence and intel was a huge factor in our top placement during groups, he also gave our star carry many good advice, which Resolut1on well understood the value of. As I mentioned before, I merely wanted to replicate the scenario we had before. In GESC, MDL, Supermajor, or all the qualifiers including TI qualifiers, all of which were the “most important time” at the time, it was the 5 players, and myself on that stage. Nobody else.
We managed thus far, and through the battles, we developed and grew, together. It has nothing to do with Ilya, why I decided to “step up” and request him to leave, I just thought it was a manning-up of sorts, and felt it was appropriate to do it the old way, our way, to bring the team together after a devastating loss. At the time, I felt my decision and explanation was adequate. Unfortunately, it was not. Such is the reality, and so life goes on.
— Before you hit the TI8, you were the TI4 coach at Cloud9. Can you compare impressions? How has the work of the coach changed over the years? Has the relationship of the teams changed to the work of the coach?
— Every team and player has different expectations on what coach functions should provide or be. My impression has definitely grown over time, as the first western coach in DotA, I was more of a friend requested for help back then, but this time the process was a lot more formal. I generally enjoy this move towards “professionalism”, it adds to presentation value and enables the role more, it essentially feels more empowering in some ways.
At the end of the day, in my opinion, a coach’s job is not only to make people play better DotA with each other, but have them come out as better people, to make their own world a nicer place for others to partake in. This of course affects the relationships within the team as well as with others, both positively and negatively.
— Personally, I have a feeling that the role of the coach in e-sports is still in the process. In your opinion, what are the final duties the coach must perform? Should he, in addition to drafts, perform the other duties of coaches from traditional sports, such as selecting players and stuff?
— I am personally of the belief that coaches should be positioned higher than players or captains, as part of the organization, which includes those external duties. The reality is, if LeBron James doesn’t like David Blatt his coach despite holding the highest record in the NBA, he can get him fired. However, it should never be like that. But in DotA, due to the nature of players’ temperamental rise in status or feelings, they pretty much become the team’s identity which can turn on organizations/coaches/management staff. For example, if a player did not like his coach and threatened to leave, which is the more expendable resource here? In my mind, it is a sad truth and reality, just about anywhere. DotA is fickle not because of the game’s design, but the environment comprised of its player base and personnel. I was hoping to become the Gregg Popovich of a DotA 2 team, but I believe that is impossible in the current competitive scene.
— Many are now looking with caution at the new season and its rules. What do you think about the innovations in DPC from Valve?
— Despite the oversaturation of last year, I am not a fan of the upcoming DPC system for the 2018-2019 year. I believe returning to the laissez-faire approach for many tournament organizers without support will not be enough to draw them back to DotA long-term, and I believe teams will find more idle time than ever, the gap between the top and everyone else widening further.
— The situation is similar with the reshuffles. Do you have any insights about transfers in teams? What is your place in this? Already found a team with whom you will work?
— I am not certain of my future plans, I am weighing my options between a few offers. Regarding transfers and teams, it will all come to light in time. As for myself, like most other players, I believe I have what it takes to win or contribute to it, and I will make sure of that one way or another. Hopefully as a coach, otherwise as a competitor.
— Your view of the current meta. Is there now such a thing as meta in DotA, considering that more than 100 heroes were picked/banned on TI8? Many now expect a patch, is it worth Valve and Icefrog to make drastic changes? What would you do on the site of the developers?
Meta, especially in such short notices and burst periods of activity, is ephemeral. Even if patches were released after longer intervals, people wouldn’t be playing the same thing a month or two down the road. Broodmother made its way to a first phase ban vs. a few teams, and banned by most at some point, but was completely untouched in the Grand Finals of The International. Your “meta” is simply the style and strategy you choose that best defines how your specific team wants to play. For VGJ.Storm, we liked to play a methodical game that didn’t overemphasize the laning stage, and scale as deep in to the late game as possible, with good play options beginning with teamfight capabilities. I don’t believe the game needs any drastic changes, it is in a good state. I do believe however, the radiant advantage as well as certain heroes need some tweaking.
— Thanks for your time!! Any shootouts to your fans, family or just anybody?
— For anyone’s perusal of this interview, taking the time out of their day to read my words, I am ever grateful. The 5 guys on the roster, the previous players on the VGJ.Storm roster, VGJ.Storm organisation itself with its management staff, and Jack Chen, a graduate of Columbia University, I am thankful for letting me be a part of your lives. I hope that my offerings of positive influence translates to something even better for you and your direct companions in this journey of life.