Special Tactics - Alanzq and DarkHydra join TL

September 24 2019

A battle has been raging on the EUW leaderboards for Team Fight Tactics between Alanzq and DarkHydra. Each of them have held the #1 position in recent weeks and they currently sit at #1 and #2 respectively. We are proud to announce that both of these exceptional players will be joining Team Liquid to compete in TFT.

Watching their streams and talking with these players has made it evident that both of them are some of the smartest, most passionate guys you’ll ever meet in esports. Their love of the game and esports in general can be seen from how they interact with their chat and talk about their decisions as they go over their matches in an effort to better inform their viewers. They both go the extra mile and try to help their viewers succeed in TFT as well. Their roots in esports is deep, dating back to StarCraft Brood War and Warcraft 3 and now we get to help them build their own path in TFT.

With the addition of Alanzq and DarkHydra we are continuing to build our already large TFT community and we welcome everyone to join our discords to discuss the game at discord.gg/teamfighttactics and discord.gg/teamliquid. We plan to host tournaments and other events in the future so definitely check out those discord servers!

As a small taste of what is to come we welcome everyone to take part in a TFT Game Day which is happening today to celebrate the arrival of Alanzq and DarkHydra. You can play with both Alan and DarkHydra, win prizes, and hopefully have a blast while doing both!

Lastly we spoke to both Alanzq and DarkHydra about what got them into esports, why they enjoy TFT, and why they decided to play for Team Liquid. We hope you get to know these two a little better with the following interviews and welcome them to Team Liquid.

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I guess to get started, what was it about TFT, or the Autochess genre in general, that drew you into it and made you want to play it competitively?

I used to be a MOBA gamer and competitive player; in HoN, DotA, HotS, those kind of games, but once my reflexes went down I got interested more in strategy games… “brain games”, like Hearthstone. And when Dota Autochess came up, I just got hooked into it, started playing and never stopped. I treat the game as a puzzle that can be solved, resulting in either Top 1 or Top 4 performances based on the RNG given.

That is something that’s kind of unique about this genre, right, is the RNG. How do you try to use that RNG to your favor in order to successfully always be Top 4, Top 2, or win so many of your games?

So, it’s not about manipulating RNG so much as using the given information by basically scouting, just knowing what everyone else is doing in the lobby and countering or at least playing to the best odds with the given RNG.

What made you decide to join Team Liquid?

I was always a fan of Liquid. There was plenty of drama with other teams, with some mess ups, but I’ve never seen drama involving Team Liquid, so that's a big plus. And Hyped is a friend of mine, we know each other from Artifact since I coached him and helped with decks and stuff like that.

How did you enjoy Artifact?

It was my favorite game ever, in terms of like… “brain games.”

Yeah it was a very interesting game! And very unique for a card game.

Yeah, it's too bad the marketing was off.

How easy is it to pick up TFT if you don’t know much about the game?

So what I have found… After DotA Chess I played Underlords, which I got into really fast because I knew the champions, skills, stuff like that. And I watched Hafu playing TFT on the PBE (Public Beta Environment) that I had no access to. I had no idea what the champions were because I had never played League of Legends; I couldn't recognize what was what, who was who. But just playing the game gave me experience, I followed people that I thought knew what they were doing, and there eventually came a time where I was the one who was actually bringing up things and not just copying others.

What do you look for in order to innovate in a game like this? How do you look at, let's say a patch, and identify through that patch who is going to be strong and what synergies you want to use?

Well I know certain interactions, and just by knowing those I know how certain comps will interact with each other, so I can tell basically just by patch notes what will happen. So far I haven't had a problem predicting for instance, the Void/Brawler/Sorc meta just by patch notes; we knew what was going to happen basically, like what are the perfect items. Just knowing those interactions and imagining them helps a lot.

As you climb the ladder, do you find positioning your units becomes more and more important and how did you learn how to position correctly?

So first of all, for the part of the question about how I’ve learned to position and how important it is in the game, I think that’s the most important thing in the entire game, to learn to position. I think it’ll bring you from a top 5 finish to winning a lot of games. How you learn it… I was successful just observing how each Champion interacts, like where it moves when a fight begins, how it will attack, how it interacts with certain Champions. Even how much damage a Champion can do when he’s getting manaburned by Kassadin and if his ability can still go off with certain items into certain comps. Just watching those interactions and playing the game and seeing what happens, watching a lot of VOD’s and analyzing what happens will lead to properly understanding how to position.

Were you able to take anything from DAC or Underlords and transfer over skill-wise between games?

Yeah it’s mostly from DAC because Underlords is pretty much a copy of that so everything I learned was from DAC. I had the experience of knowing you could mix certain comps and needed decent front line if you had sustained dps but if you have burst dps you don’t need such a strong front line. You need a good enabler instead, something like Gnar who will lead into chain CC or nukes.

What are some of your favourite units to run?

So usually what I tell my stream whenever they ask this question is Yasuo 3 and the strongest is Swain 3. The most consistent is Karthus 3 because he’s usually uncontested

One of the major differences between DAC and Underlords and TFT is the way the item system works…

Yes, definitely, the items. Basically it makes TFT much more flexible because you can itemize to counter comps, you can itemize to be more aggressive or force opponents to itemize into you which makes them less comfortable with the items they’re forced to make. For example is someone has a really good Void Assassin opening I know if I want to win the game, I need to make a specific comp with specific items in order to win which might open me up to being vulnerable to other players and their comps when they come online.

And then you can also intentionally lose early rounds to get better items.

Yes exactly, the carousel is a great idea. It’s a lot more fair, a lot less RNG, and the comeback mechanic is way better because you can get the items you want and you aren’t forced to pick up certain items. You have a lot of flexibility and choice in which items you want to make, you can either be more aggressive and make items early on or wait and make stronger items later on which will do better with your comp.

When you’re on top in the early game, how do you try to play around other people having better items than you?

It really depends on the comp you and your opponents are also running. Basically I need to have an idea for the late game. For example in the current meta, there's a lot of Shape Shifter’s with some Void Assassins and they all have like two items. But if I see nobody is going for Gunslingers then I can lead into early Red Buff, try to get Chain Vest and Belt to complete Red Buff, and have a really good time mid-game and then eco hard.

When did you first get into esports?

In DotA 1 I qualified for ESWC in France! I was 16 or 15 back then. After DotA 1 there was HoN and then Dota 2, HotS and Hearthstone in between, those types of things.

What has been one of your favourite moments playing those games?

I think it was when I was playing with a Polish team in HoN and we were underdogs in every match we played against the top teams. We managed to pull off an upset 2-1 against one of the best teams in the world, Online Kingdom, in some tournament I can’t remember.

Any advice you’d like to give anybody in TFT?

Just scout more!

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How did you get into TFT or the Autochess Genre in general?

At the start of the year I was pretty burned out of playing other games, I was looking for a new game, I played a lot of Path of Exile I think before Dota Autochess. So on Twitch this new game, Dota Autochess had a lot of viewers, so I wanted to try it out, and I did and I really loved it. From the first game it was really fun so I stuck with it. After awhile they announced Dota Underlords and Team Fight Tactics from Valve and Riot and so I tried them both out and I ended up going with TFT because I enjoyed it more.

One of the biggest differences between all three games is the item system from TFT, do you think that’s a big reason people prefer TFT over the other two games?

It’s definitely one of the reasons that it separates the game with the new mechanic in the carousel. I think TFT is also different because of the smaller board and I feel like it’s based more on smaller synergies instead of big synergies like Autochess and Underlords which are both based on the bigger synergies. I feel like in TFT you can play around with smaller synergies easier. The items certainly play a big role in TFT, they impact the game a lot with what build you go for and what carry you can go for. I really like the carousel though it’s a great mechanic, it’s really fun. It also makes lose streaking more viable because you can lose stream and get the first pick in the carousel and get the good items. Some comps base it on the loss streak so you can get the right items for your comp like the current Void Assassins.

If you’re doing really well the whole game, you’ll usually be dealing with somebody who has better items than you in the late game, how do you work around that in your games?

So I think in the late game, say you’re top 3, you usually know who you’re going to play against next because usually you don’t play the same guy twice. So you can make a lot of decisions based on positioning and try to outposition them with your units which I believe is a big part of winning or losing the game. Every unit needs a certain position in order for you to win the fight if you are weaker than the other guy. There is some RNG depending on your synergies but for the most part you can always do things to improve your chances to win.

How did you learn how to position properly?

Basically I played a lot of games and then tried a bunch of different positions for my units. I watched to see what worked and then watched other players to see how they positioned their units and saw how their fights turned out. I think positioning your units properly is one of the hardest things in the game. It depends on each game how you’ll want to position your units because you want to position yourself based on the other guys in the lobby. Mostly positions have high variance depending on who you’re up against.

I remember watching one of your games and you re-positioned your units expecting them to do something different and your Ashe got one shot on the front lines.

Yeah that was a nice game *laughs*. Usually a lot of players will move their units during the last couple of seconds so you can’t really watch their board and also have time to change your own units. So you have to assume how they’re going to position and then try to counter that but sometimes they just don’t move and then you get destroyed in the fight. There’s certainly some mind games in the late game with positioning.

How much do those mind games come into play?

I think it will get more and more into that direction when people start getting better. A lot of people are starting to get much better with positioning already so it certainly plays a big part already in most top 3 situations.

How has TFT affected you as a streamer in terms of interacting with chat?

I think when you look at TFT at first you think it’s a really nice streaming game, you can read your chat and answer questions but once you start playing TFT and stream it you realize it’s really hard to play and keep up with chat. Usually in TFT during the down time you want to look for positionings, scout other players, look what items they need in the next carousel and things like that. You have a lot to do. It can certainly be distracting if you read chat too much and impact your gameplay but I think in general it’s a nice streaming game once you get used to it. At first I had some problems focusing on the game and chat but the more time I spend streaming and playing the better I get at dealing with both.

Was TFT the first game that you’ve streamed and had a large following?

Basically I started streaming with DAC and had maybe 10 viewers maybe so my entire audience came from TFT once I hit a high rank in the ladder and got hosted by people!

Why did you decide to join TL?

When I was really young I started playing StarCraft Brood War and later on SC2, so I watched my first streams on TeamLiquid.net and looked at the site a lot and checked out the forums.

Were you active on the forums?

No, I didn’t really post. I was more of a lurker. I played a lot of StarCraft, watched streams there, and I liked the organization as a whole from all the esports games, I’ve followed League of Legends and always liked Team Liquid. Mainly from StarCraft though, I always liked the Liquid players and the organization.

Was that when you first found esports or did that come later?

Yeah, I found out about esports during StarCraft Brood War. I was really young back then, maybe around 6 years old I think. My brother and father played it. I think I watched my first esports tournament when I was maybe 10 or 11 with my brother when we watched WCG and they played Brood War and the Koreans mostly won. I remember watching those.

What are some of your favourite synergies in TFT?

I’m a really big fan of Kennen as a unit so because I really like him I tend to play him a lot. So I like to play elementalists, any comp with elementalists is a lot of fun. At the moment I’ve been playing a lot of that. I also played a lot of Assassins in the earlier patches. A lot of people know me as an Assassin spammer when I played like 4 Ninja’s with Assassins with Kennen and Assassins. They aren’t really too strong anymore so I don’t really play that anymore though.

What is it about the Void Assassin comp that makes it so strong at the moment?

Void Assassins is a comp that can get easily going because it relies on a 1 cost carry, the Kassadin. Assassins tend to be really strong in the mid-game regardless so you can lose streak, pick up your Assassins, eco up because you get lose streak gold, get all the priority picks in the carousel and get your items. In the mid-game you usually survive without getting 3 star units. Sometimes you get really unlucky and don’t find them but you survive anyway with your 2 stars because Assassins are decent mid-game. Once you get the 3 stars going you can crush people because they are so strong.

Your stream is very educational, do you try to focus on making it an educational stream?

Yeah, I try to focus on being an educational streamer so I can teach people who want to learn the game and improve their skills, so I answer questions from chat if they have any. I want my viewers to ask questions if they have any that can help them learn the game. I also want to be at the highest level so I can teach them as much as I can.

Anything you’d like to say to your fans, followers, or people who will be watching you now that you’re a part of Team Liquid?

Thank you for supporting me and watching my stream, it helps a lot and I really appreciate it!