As the DOTA Pro Circuit continues into the middle of the year, Australian fans are getting hyped over the most recent success story to come out of the isolated region, Seventh Heaven.

The team has been busy practising and studying after winning the Australian Qualifier to enter the APAC Regional Qualifier for WESG beating the long-standing Australian premier team, Natural 9 as well as names recognisable throughout the scene in Ana and sLiCKz in the best-of-three decider showcasing their superior mid-game decision making and teamwork. With an Omni-Razor pairing that Rin’s Gatekeepers had so much trouble dealing with, it was a close series to watch, and certainly one that both teams would’ve been proud to play.

In the lead-up to WESG, we asked their drafter and in-game leader – Rodger a few questions in-between 7th Heaven’s practice.

Now you’ve had some good success internationally, with the WESG qualification, but domestically it’s been a bit of a different story. Why is that?

We had a lot of scheduling conflicts in February which prevented us from practicing at all and had us playing AEF games with subs. The lack of practice was the main problem, though, since I didn’t have a strong idea of where to go with the drafts. Aside from that, I’m playing on about 180 ping. There were a few games decided purely because I couldn’t react to movement or cast a spell in time, but the game shouldn’t really be in that place to begin with.

Is there something that’s significantly different in Aus vs internationally such as playstyle, drafting choices etc.?

Most Aus teams have really exploitable map movement, but I wasn’t drafting to exploit these weaknesses. We were trying to do too many timing push strategies which have trouble playing the map control game, because that’s what we felt we needed to practice.

The main problem with Aus teams is their lack of coordination. They might have some strong players but as the game drags they’ll keep farming like it’s a pub or showing when they shouldn’t and leave easy openings.

7th Heaven is seen as one of the first teams to use Tinker and Bounty Hunter as a combo, as well as your carry Io. What inspired these picks?

Tinker Bounty is a pretty well-known cancerous combo in high-level pubs. For competitive, though, the main issue with it is if the opponent commits resources to shutting the Tinker down. Our innovation with the strategy was running the Tinker safelane so that can’t happen. Carry Io is just one of many meme strats boonz throws at me daily. We try them out in scrims and most don’t work, but the ones that do make the losses worth it. The Io Dusa strat specifically was something xMusiCa had seen in some unranked aus pubs and insisted was unbeatable on the bus back to the hotel the day before. It wasn’t something we had actually practiced, but in that match we felt like we needed a bit of x-factor for game 1 and took the risk.

To get this far, you’ve managed to beat quite a few notable teams and players, what’s helped you stay focused on your next opponent?

Most of our opponents we had no or very little time to prepare for, and even when we did they have few enough games in record it’s hard to get a read.

Our approach is usually to go into the game with a specific proactive strategy in mind and have them react to us, rather than the other way around.

Some opponents we have scrim experience with or can get some info though, in which case we’ll come up with a plan for answers to specific things they seem to favour.

You play a lot of pubs and stream quite a few of them, do you feel this has had an impact in you getting this far in the competitive scene?

Starting last year I decided to commit almost all my time to dota. Being pro is all or nothing and half-assing it would be a waste of time.

Given this I probably play more dota than anyone else in Australia, and this has definitely been critical to my continued progress.

Pubs are important, even for a support, so that you’re on top of the emerging metagame and don’t get rusty. However, I think I should spend more time watching games than I have been.

7th Heaven will be playing on the 13th of March at Haikou City for WESG, where they will be competing for a prize pool of $1,500,000 USD over 5 days, facing their group opponents in ‘Play 4 Fun’, ‘Team Finland’ and ‘Happy Feet’. We wish them the best of luck going forward!