Exclusive: Aui_2000 talks Dota 2’s latest major patch, and how to nerd out on items

This is the second article in an exclusive interview series with Tundra Esports’ coach Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling. You can read the first one here.

After more than a decade in professional Dota, Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling has been through thick and thin as player, coach, and broadcast talent.

As a two-time The International winner — once as a player and once as a coach — the 30-year-old has gathered valuable insights over the years. In this exclusive interview with ONE Esports, Aui_2000 talks about the major 7.34 patch, as well as the importance of itemization.

Aui_2000 on Dota 2 patch 7.34: “There’s a lot of stuff that’s very Dota-esque”

While 7.34 came with big changes — and several other small patches that followed — one thing that stood out was the adjustment to the drafting order, something that has not been touched in years. While Aui thought that it would be “easier to target people who are hero spammers,” it’s more likely for teams to pick up combos if the drafter isn’t careful.

“You don’t have very many bans in the second phase, especially for a second pick. So if you don’t ban stuff that you want to ban in the second phase, then it’s very easy for the enemy to get a combo.”

Another change was the introduction of the new slow resistance stat. While it doesn’t seem to have too big of an impact on Dota’s design space right now, Aui believed that new additions like that could lead to “some really interesting hero or spell designs,” as long as care is taken to balance the game.

“I think it’s good to add stuff like this into the game, as long as it doesn’t bring the complexity of the game too high. If you add too many of these different stats, then maybe it can be burdensome to remember them.”

Adding more things to balance around is “beneficial in terms of how the game will progress,” Aui believed. With Dota 2 patches continuing to add things that would have been unrecognizable years ago — like Lotus Poosl, Twin Gates, Outposts, and neutral items — the ongoing slew of novel things does not seem to be stopping.

“There’s a lot of stuff that’s very Dota-esque. I’m excited to try.”

Think you know how to buy items? Tundra’s players are “testing stuff all the time,” says Aui

The International 11 champions are well-known for their innovative item builds, especially in the early game. While Aui took credit for the Mangoes spam — “I like looking at the numbers and looking at the regen” — the main culprit? Neta “33” Shapira, apparently.

“A lot of the early game stuff comes from 33. For example, the Ironwood Branches, I think he saw MidOne do some build with a wand and a branch. He’s like, ‘Oh, that’s actually plus four. It’s not bad.’ And if you don’t have tangoes, it’s plus six, which is a lot of stats. It looks good.”

33 is well-known for crafting item builds that might seem against the meta at first, before taking the pro scene by storm. These include the naked Helm of Iron Will rush into Helm of Dominator, Bloodstone Razor, and Doom Arcane Boots into Octarine Core.

Tundra’s coach felt that it was open for the team to be “open to these ideas,” but there’s still a need to go through rigorous testing and making sure the items feel good, rather than just copy and pasting. For a team like Tundra — known for their optimization at every level, item decisions, and map control — itemization and executing their game plan are inextricably linked.

“Itemization is really important to both how you play the game in terms of timings and how you’re thinking about the game,” Aui said. “You’re going to itemize and move around the map in a way that complements each other.”

In the end, it’s a team effort, and nobody should rest on their laurels. For Aui, “everyone has to think about it themselves” when it comes to items, and everyone on the roster can contribute.

“Maybe 33 talks the most about items, but it’s happened a lot of times when everyone’s trying out some new build or testing some stuff all the time and even suggesting something for allies.”