We tried so hard but it wasn’t enough… Now go on and watch the replay… – Go. – I won’t. Listen, I’m preparing for an interview with Illias. I don’t know him well and he’s not really known in the scene either, so I’m gathering questions, what would you like to know about Illias? What is his favorite music genre, and what was his favorite class in school? I take it he’s still in school, right? – He is 17. – There you go then. I hope it’s art. I have no idea what classes kids like now. Is there a story you could tell about him? Anything happen between you? – I mean not you two. – What are you implying? We are making an interview with Illias tomorrow, and you know him better. Is there a question or a story I could ask him about? The only question I have in mind is whether he keeps in touch with his classmates and whether they are aware of him being a NAVI player. Like is he a cool and well-respected guy or not? He should be. We’re making an interview with Illias tomorrow, so I’m looking for some interesting stories or questions I could ask him about. Do you have any? Yeah, ask him how to become dead inside because he knows that stuff and I have no idea what it is all about. Girls. Ask him about a girlfriend. How did you spend time in Singapore? You know, we need questions that reveal his personality. His personality… Something about his favorite country, music, movies, etc. Yeah, thanks, you’ve just asked three questions. – Nice! – Good job. High five. We’re still in Leipzig and today I want you to meet our player, Illias Ganeev. – Hey. – Hello. First off, I want to congratulate you on joining NAVI and making it to the Major. At your age of 17, this is quite an achievement. Pound it. The question about ways of getting into esports is pretty common, and with you coming here like a storm, it’d make sense if you answered it. Tell us your story: how did you make it into esports, what did you do to be where you are now? There is no definitive guide, really. To make it as a noname, you gotta have a lot of MMR. This is the way to get matched up with good players and get noticed. If you can keep a consistently good level of play, you might eventually get invited to tryouts for pro teams. That was my case at least. Let’s go from the start: how long have you been playing Dota? I first tried it in 2013, but since I had a low-end PC, it wasn’t comfortable to play. Then a couple years later I got a good laptop and started playing properly – I think it was 2015. When did your ranking start to go up? Was it a constant steady climb, or did it skyrocket at one point? I believe it was a sudden spike when I really grew fond of Dota in around 2016 and realized the higher ranking the better. So I figured I might have as well tried harder rather than just doing it for fun, started playing smartly and following pro players. – Did you originally have a goal to make it into esports? – No. – Did you play for fun? – At first, yes. Like anybody else. Who did you follow anyway? I didn’t watch anyone in particular. I just followed Majors, and whoever performed well, like VP, Secret. If you started your way in 2016, VP were one of the strongest teams back then. OG, who else? Who was your favorite at the time? I can’t remember. OG were definitely one of them because I’ve always liked all their rosters a lot – the ones they won Majors and TIs with. I also watched a lot of Virtus Pro at their peak when they were doing well and winning Majors. How did you end up joining NAVI? I know Mag scouted you out and invited you. Tell us your part of the story. It happened before the second qualifier for the Major. I had a few other offers on the table. They wanted to talk first and find out my view on the future, but things didn’t work out. I was tilted, thinking I would miss out on another qualifier. But in a few days, I noticed a message from Andrey Chipenko. I opened it and it was Mag inviting me for the NAVI tryouts. It was supposed to be over in one day. We played a day of scrims, we won 5 out of 6, then Igor, our manager, asked me to stick around for another day. I was like, “Wow, sure.” So we played one more day, our record was something like 4-2 against T2-T3 teams. After that, I was told it was a pretty high chance of them picking me, and they did – that’s how I made it. What was going through your head at the time? To be honest, nothing. I figured I was likely going to be picked anyway, given they invited me to play for two more days of tryouts. Everything went pretty smooth, huh? You didn’t feel too excited about it? Not really. On your first day with NAVI, were you nervous or anxious? I didn’t know the guys too well, so I didn’t talk much. I did provide information, but not the way I do now. Andrew eased me in and shared tips on how to communicate to avoid being shy, so he helped significantly. You do seem a bit shy, how difficult was it for you to get along with the team? It took about a week: we bonded pretty well and it made things much easier. I wouldn’t say we became friends right away because it didn’t happen until we met in real life, in Singapore. – Mates. – Yeah. – I guess it fits better. – It does. What was your first impression of the players? Impression? Well, they are great. Who is the person you are most comfortable or hang out more with? – Among the team? – Yes. I can’t really pick anyone as I hang out with all of them. I think that’d be Andrey as we share a room a lot at bootcamps and tournaments. Did you make money playing Dota before joining NAVI? Maybe at some tournaments, but it wasn’t big money. – So NAVI is your first esport salary, right? – Yes. How did your parents react to you becoming a pro player? Since joining NAVI or overall? You can go over what it was like before, if you want to. You’ve been spending a lot of time playing video games since you were young. Some parents think it’s a good thing and some are rather negative towards it. When I started playing Dota and nearly quit school, they weren’t happy about it. They are people of a different generation, after all, so they don’t really understand it’s possible to play video games while in school. It was not until I started earning my first money and could finally help them financially that they changed their mind. After I joined NAVI, they finally realized what this is all about and how serious gaming is today. Let’s clarify one thing, did you finish school? I completed 9 grades. When was it? About a hear and a half ago. So you didn’t go to college and decided to devote all your time to playing Dota, right? No, I enrolled in IT, but two months later I stopped attending classes and in half a year was expelled. Did you stop attending because of Dota? It was not about Dota… Classes weren’t interesting: first year of college was like 10-11th grade in school. It was pretty much school-level stuff. – Did you have conflicts with your parents? – Of course. – But you stuck to your guns and won. – I guess I did. How did they accept the news about you joining NAVI? How did you tell them about it? I told them a general idea of Dota was about, pro teams, players, salaries. And the concept of organizations taking care of things. I told them NAVI is one of the best clubs in the CIS, and I was lucky to join them. What did they think? They didn’t really get it, but said it was great as long as I enjoy it and am able to make a living off it because I don’t have a degree. Them being worried about you makes total sense. One’s gotta be good at something in their life, so I’m on board with them on this one. While we’re at it, I got a few questions about school from our players and CrystalMay. CrystalMay asks, “What was your favorite class in school?” I think that’d be math. We had the best teacher in school, and she was really great. I’d totally go back to her class now. Were you an A student? I did well when we had tests or did exercises on the board while learning new material, but since I wasn’t much of a homework doer, my grades weren’t really the best. What did you have in your report card? Or they don’t hand out those anymore? – You mean diploma? – Yes. Mostly C’s. – It’s okay. – Some A’s in classes that required little homework. Okay, now from Zayac: “Do you keep in touch with your classmates? Do they know you’re a NAVI player?” With some of them who I was friends with in school, yes. As far as I know, they are aware and they were surprised when they found out. – So now they’re your die-hard fans, huh? – Yeah. – The next question is from pasha. – Pasha? Our Pasha? – Yes. How does one become dead inside? Dead inside? You need to put up a Tokyo Ghoul profile picture, listen to its opening, have a private profile on Steam and VK. Also, hide your friend list to have 0 friends and 30 followers, and make one VK post of an anime song. Could you explain to me, as an older generation person, what is this ‘dead inside’ all about and where does it stem from? As far as I know, ALOHADANCE was the one who set this trend in the community, but what is it in a nutshell? I feel like a teacher who asks a student about their favorite meme or something like that. It is more like a meme now; so if you claim you’re ‘dead inside’, everyone will laught at you, because it actually is a meme. It stems from the Tokyo Ghoul anime series. I see, it’s complicated. Vlad asks, “What’s your favorite country? What music and movies do you like?” Country… – Have you traveled a lot? – Not really. I think I’ve been to only 3-4 countries. Okay, my favorite one is probably Italy. My favorite movie is Pulp Fiction. Now my favorite song… Or was it a band? Song. No, sorry, your favorite band. Bring Me the Horizon. – And song? – That’d be Drown. – By them? – Yes, obviously. – Well, I just wanted to make sure. Okay, let’s talk a bit about the Major. This is the first Major ever and second LAN you’ve attended, right? – Or have you been to more LANs before? – Yes, but they weren’t big. What impressed you the most? This one isn’t really different from what it was like in Singapore: you arrive days before the kick off, participate in media activities and photo shoots, and then you’re pretty much down to playing scrims with meal breaks at the hotel. Standard stuff, nothing surprising. Playing at the Major, does it feel like competing for a huge prize pool and DPS points? Sure. You get to meet tier one players and it makes you realize this is one of the only five tournaments a season and not some local LAN. So yeah, it does feel like that. Were you impressed by meeting any of the players? No, I’m not really impressionable. We’re bumping into other teams all the time at breakfast or lunch. Is there a player you’re looking forward to meeting? – Meeting? – Yes, shake their hand, have a talk. – Yes, there’s one. – Who? – I won’t tell you. Okay, I’ll let you keep it a secret. – Flash quiz. – Bring it on. Do you watch anime? I do, but only top shows and only once in a few months. – So you’re not an anime fan, right? – I’m not. You mentioned Tarantino’s work… This is not really a flash quiz we’re doing now. Do you like all of his movies? Or only some of them? – I’ve only watched two films. – What’s the second one? His most recent, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I watched it on the plane on the way back from Singapore and I didn’t really like the movie. What kind of sports attracts you the most? Sports? I think that’d be tennis. Regular tennis or ping-pong? The former. Have you ever played it? I played a lot as a kid in PE. Do you follow it? Not really, I just liked playing it. – Do you follow any sports? – No. – What about football? – Not into it at all. I only know some big names when I come across the news on my feed, but that’s about it. Who’s the best Dota player ever according to Illias Ganeev? I think it has to be n0tail as he’s a two-time TI winner, after all. Okay. What’s the best Dota patch ever? The current one as it allows supports to be more than just creeps. Well put. What’s the best game of Dota ever played? Best game… I think the last game of the series between OG and LGD in the final of TI. It was really good. Okay, what’s the worst Dota hero? Techies. The best hero? Disruptor. Up top! From Alive_person, “Would you like to be a captain one day?” That’s a good question. For now, our team doesn’t need another captain as we have Zayac who shares this responsibility with Pasha, so I’m gaining experience and learning from them, and should any changes happen, I could become one. But at this point, I’m not ready for it. – So you’re saying you’d like to try your hand at it sometime down the line? – I guess so. Being a captain imposes a huge responsibility and having one makes your team’s life easier, and besides, there are very few captains in the CIS region. Good one. That’s a wrap.