LiQuiD112: Plat 1 Sup, Rank 1 Co-CEO

April 09 2019


After months of attempting to squeeze into his ridiculously packed schedule, we FINALLY managed to pin Steve down for a bit to talk shop about our League team, roster acquisition, synergy, and, among other things, Steve’s boba order (spoiler alert: he doesn’t have one because he doesn’t drink sweet drinks).

Interview


How do you feel about the season so far? Obviously good, but give me some details.

By doing this well at the start of the season I feel assured that we made the right changes during the off season. I think there was a strong sense of trepidation, and also a bit of anxiety, that after winning back to back championships in 2018 making any changes to the roster, especially making two, may be seen as risky. You always plan that these things work out and sometimes they don’t. So to see not just the results in terms of our 11-1 start but also the way that we are winning these games, in listening to the communication in the back room while the team is playing, is significantly better than it was in any previous iteration of the roster is pretty exciting! I think it’s indicative of a good starting spot where, if given these next 3 months or so before worlds, the thought of ‘what sort of team can we become?’ is pretty exciting. Especially when you consider the kind of team we are right now.


Have last year’s successes impacted your goals for this year’s team? Have your expectations changed for Team Liquid LoL as a whole?

Yes they have changed. We had our sights first set on winning a North American Championship. You know, a walk-before-you-run kind of strategy. In 2018 after winning two Championships we started to long for what’s next, which for us was a good Worlds performance. And we fell short. We identified why we fell short and we looked to improve on that. If we were content on another Worlds performance where we just kind of see how we do then we would have kept a similar roster, but we decided as a company that we would strive for a World Championship. And that’s something that I promised the players, that they promised me, and that we decided we would strive for. Ultimately I know that it's just words, its an agreement, but it really does have meaning in terms of being a commitment because with that commitment comes a great deal of sacrifice on the part of the players and the org in order to achieve that. Being the absolute best in your discipline requires a lot and we’re committed to that. So this year, anything short of a World Championship would be considered a failure. I don’t think I would have even considered that in any previous year, but this year I think it would be.


There were extensive international roster shakeups this past off season. Some have worked out and some have not. Who do you think was over hyped, who do you think struck gold? And how do you avoid over hyping a team that could fail? Both internal pressure wise and externally to fans.

Domestically I would say that there was a lot of hype built around the rivalry between Doublelift and Bang. Bang being a previous World Champion, coming to a team that performed well in its first year in the LCS was exciting. I think that the first match where Bang ended up playing Victor and literally getting smashed by CoreJJ and Doublelift, it was almost depressing to watch. Like you wanted to see this brilliant exchange between two great players and you just saw this… There was a part of it where, of course I’m rooting for Doublelift and I’m wanting to see him win, but at the same time I also wanted to see this brilliant display, right? This great match. When I didn’t see that it was obviously disappointing and since then Bang continued to play one of his most famous champions, Ezreal, and continued to play worse than Doublelift has shown on Ezreal is also a disappointment. So I have total respect for Bang, all his accomplishments, and all that he’s been able to do, but in terms of overhype I think that he is the one that comes to mind.

In terms of expectations and their effect, I think that when you perform well, and this goes for any game that we are involved in, when you perform well consistently over time its human nature for fans to expect you to continue doing that. It comes with the territory. It's not anything that you can really shy away from, its inherent with winning. All that you can do is to continue to deliver on that. There are some things that are said in interviews, either by the players themselves or by the org, to try and curb some of those expectations and sometimes it's to contribute to them. I think that some of the best players in each of their respective fields are able to not let the noise of social media and fandom affect their play. They see it as a complete disconnect to how they perform and they are able to shut it out. There was a female gymnast, whose name escapes me at the moment, that said while competing at the Olympics even though there is a ton of noise, the floor routine music is going on, people screaming, etc. to her it's completely silent. She doesn’t hear the noise and is able to just block it all out. That mentality is something that some of the best athletes I’ve seen are able to turn on. So all of the talk and overhype on social media is just noise. Just kind of like a content play. It's the outward facing personality, but when it comes time for competition, training, and practice all of that is just not even part of the equation.


Speaking of roster change ups, the TL fam had a few growing pains ourselves. I know that the process of obtaining players has been explained over and over again in other interviews, but I was more curious as to how choosing players from a personality/synergistic standpoint goes?

In terms of player synergy, I think there are a lot of different recipes to create winning teams. For most games, both League and others, you need someone to be the voice of the team. That voice will basically be the decision maker and therefore need to be armed with the right information from the rest of the map so that they are able to make good decisions. That is, at the core, what I think synergy is in a team competitive game. It's how effective that message gets from one player to another while also being able to reduce the unnecessary noise in that message. I think when some players have a predisposition to being emotional they tend to overstate things, overhype things, get overly emotional, provide irrelevant information, and generally distract from the message that is going from point A to point B. To me this is inherently the issue with synergy. In game communication needs to have fluidity like in the way a conversation with a very close friend at lunch would. You’re kind of finishing each other’s sentences, you can easily pick up where you left off, etc. So we look for that ability in prospective players. Likewise, improving synergy is working on reducing the noise in the message being sent to the voice of the team.


Most LoL esports fans know that you can’t really test synergy without playing together and that sometimes rosters just don’t work out because people just end up not working well together. How do you go about minimizing this risk and what do you do if you realize “ah shit this just isn’t gonna work” part way through a split?

So I think Team Liquid, as an organization, has always demonstrated an effort to resolve the issue(s) of either a player or the team that is leading to poor performance. So we will always attempt to resolve that. There are multiple ways to go about that, counselors, sport psychologists, a coach, analytics, etc, and so you use those resources to approach and solve a problem. If it were ever to get to a point where that isn’t working, then I feel like it’s the responsibility of the org to look for alternatives. If its a single player, for instance, then it’s the responsibility of the org to look for an alternative player both for the sake of the other 4 players and the future performance of the team. If we were to do that we would look first at our academy team. Our academy team is already here on site at the Alienware Training Facility, are already competing, and are familiar with our culture. If that doesn’t work, we may look to other teams and trades in the marketplace. It’s unfortunate, obviously, for the player that isn’t performing well but sometimes change is needed. Both for their sake and ours. I kind of think back to our performance in 2017, which was obviously pretty rough, and I think to myself, ‘would we be as successful as we’ve been to date if we didn’t dig in as hard as we did that year?’ Right? We felt the pain of all those losses and came out the other side just so motivated, even more motivated than the competition. We took the time to rebuild and redo, and took the lessons from that time and applied them to not make future mistakes. I honestly think the failures of 2017 were an instrumental component in our current successes


I have heard from pros on other teams (both in NA and EU) that roster longevity is becoming increasingly important to both pros and orgs. With one pro player in particular stating that he’d rather have a tough establishing year this year if it meant keeping their current roster roster through 2020. Is roster longevity something that you consider while signing players as well? If so, how important is it to your signing process?

When we build a roster we realize that synergy takes time, and therefore we lean in on longer contracts with players. This is evidenced in the contract lengths of our current players. When we signed Impact it was for 3 years, Doublelift was for 3 years, Jensen and Xmithie are on 2 year contracts, and CoreJJ signed a 3 year contract with Team Liquid as well. I think that the alignment of most athletes is similar to that mindset you just described and we agree with it too. So we always look to design the length of our contracts with when we feel like we’re going to have enough time to build that synergy. It feels great to me that even in the acquisition phase for CoreJJ he already believed so heavily in the organization and trusted us so much that he was willing to commit to 3 years. Which is substantial! That just goes to show that that alignment you were talking about is important.


Think back to the early days of League. Back when you were Cursing it up on the rift as a pro. If you could have an old version of a champion from those early days become relevant in today’s meta, who would you pick and why?

I would say I had a lot of fun playing Heimer mid. This was back in the day when you had unlimited turrets and his rocket ability at level 1 would half health anybody. It was the most broken thing. It was pretty broken and it was a lot of fun and even though I know he’s been reworked, I think it would be fun to bring him back with unlimited turrets. It would be pretty annoying, but pretty fun!


If you had to design a new champion, what role would they be and why?

If I could make a new champion I’d probably make an AD carry. I’ve been playing a lot of AD carry in solo queue lately and it’s a lot of fun. I’m not as good at it as I am support, but I think it would be kind of cool to make something just SUPER op. Something like double the range of double any AD carry or something (laughs) but half the damage maybe. Sounds completely broken!


Anything you’d like to say to the fans? Anything you’d like to say to the players?

TL the fuck up!




我们尝试了几个月,终于在Steve荒谬的时间表里挤出来一个空当,让他来聊聊英雄联盟战队,阵容收购与配合,以及他喝什么珍珠奶茶(其实没有,因为他不喝甜饮料)。

Interview


这个赛季你感觉怎么样,显然很好,但是跟我们说说细节吧。

是的。 在赛季开始我就确信我们在休赛期做出了正确的改变。 我认为有一种强烈的惶恐感,也有点焦虑,2018年连续赢得春季赛夏季赛冠军后变阵容,尤其换了两名选手,其实是相当冒险的。人们常常希望自己的计划能起作用但并不一定。 所以,不仅要看到我们11-1开局的结果,还要看到我们赢得比赛的过程,他们比赛在场后讨论的时候比以往任何阵容时期都要好,这令人让人非常激动! 我觉得这是一个非常好的开始,在世界赛开始大概三个月之前,想想“我们能成为什么样的团队?”这个问题非常令人兴奋,特别是你觉得我们现在就正是这样的队伍的时候。


去年的成功对今年的目标是否有影响?您对于Team Liquid LoL这个整体的期望是否有所改变?

是的我们的目标已经发生改变了。我们最开始的目标是赢得北美赛区的冠军。你知道,这是一种脚踏实地的策略。在2018年赢得两场冠军后,我们开始渴望下一场比赛——一个表现不错的世界赛。我们失败了,弄清楚了为什么失败并希望能够改进。如果我们只是满足于又一个差不多的世界赛的表现,那我们看看就好,保持一个差不多的阵容,但我们决定向世界赛发起挑战。这是我向选手承诺的,他们也向我承诺,一起努力。最终我知道这只是一句口头上的答应,但它确实十分承诺的意义,因为有了这个承诺,选手和队伍都会做出一部分的牺牲。欲戴皇冠,必承其重。因此,这一年,在世界赛前的任何 一次失误都是败笔,我曾经从没这么想过,但今年我是这么认为的。


在过去的赛季里有大量的国际选手,有些打出了成绩有些却没有。你认为谁是赚到了的那一个?你认为应该如何避免过度夸大一支可能会失败的战队呢,不管是队伍内部还是来自粉丝?

在国内我觉得Doublelift和Bang之间的竞争被夸大了。Bang作为曾经的世界冠军来到LCS并且在第一年表现不错,这是令人兴奋的。第一次比赛的时候Bang玩了维克多被CoreJJ和Doublelift无情碾压,这让人看起来很失望,因为我觉得这两名优秀的选手之间应该会有一局相当精彩的比赛,但是正如你所看到的——

——结果并不如人意。(interviewer)

我说的是真的!确实,我支持Doublelift,我想看到它获胜,但与此同时我也确实期待一场龙争虎斗。我的内心对Bang很拿手的ez是抱有很高的期待的,但没想到Doublelift打得更好。我完全尊重Bang,尊重他的一切成就,但我觉得他是被夸大了的。
说到期望和影响,适用于我们所有的游戏项目,我认为在你表现良好的时候,粉丝对你的期待是持续的,希望你能一直表现这么好,这是很自然而且不能回避的。你能做的,就是继续实现这一目标。有些对选手或战队的参访中提到,我们要专注于自己,不受外界的影响,我们有的时候想要回避这些粉丝的期待。我认为在各个领域的最优秀的选手是不能让社交媒体和粉丝的噪音影响他们的比赛的。有一个体操女运动员,我现在想不起来名字,她说在奥运会上会有大量的噪音,音乐,人们的尖叫等等,但是她本人完全保持沉默,屏蔽这些噪音,这种心态是我见过的一些顶级运动员的心态,所以社交媒体上的讨论和炒作就完全只是噪音,这是外向性格的人的特点,但是当我们在比赛训练的时候,这些就完全没有用了。


谈到阵容的变化,TL家族在成长的过程中也有一些痛苦,我知道别的采访中已经一遍又一遍地解释了获得某一个选手的过程,但是我更加好奇的是如何从个性与配合的角度选择选手呢?

在选手的配合上,我认为有很多不同的方法去打造一个无敌战舰,对于大多数游戏来说,不管是英雄联盟还是别的游戏,都需要有一个人成为团队支柱。这个人基本上就是指挥了,需要从地图上别的部分获得信息并作出正确的决策,这就是我认为一个团队竞技游戏中所谓的“配合”,选手之间有效地传递信息,并且减少该这条消息中的无用信息。我觉得有一些是选手有些情绪化,过度情绪化会提供很多无关信息,并且会分散信息的直接性。在游戏中,沟通需要顺畅,就想在吃午餐的时候和非常亲密的朋友交谈一样,能够自然地接话,所以我们寻找有这种潜力的选手。同样的,提高配合度就是努力减少团队沟通中的废话。


大部分LOL粉丝都知道,检验“配合度”的唯一标准就是比赛实战,有的时候选手们不能配合得很好,换人是没用的。你如何最大限度地降低这种风险,如果你发现“啊换了人也没用”的时候你会怎么做?

所以我认为,Team Liquid作为一个战队一直在努力解决问题,为什么会状态不佳?有很多中方法可以解决这个问题,教练,运动心理学家,辅导员分析等等,我们可以利用这些资源来解决问题。如果这个还不起作用的话,那么我觉得战队有责任去寻找提到方案的。如果是一个选手的问题,那为了其他四个选手和整个队伍未来的表现,我们就有责任去找一个新人。如果要这么做的话首先会看的是我们的青训队,我们的青训队就在Alienware训练基地,已经在打比赛,熟悉我们的文化。如果这个不起作用的话,我们会可能会关注市场上和其他战队的交易。这对那些表现不好需要改变的选手来说是非常不幸的,对于选手和我们而言都是这样。我回想了一下2017年的表现,真的是非常艰苦。而且我会想,如果我们当年没有那么努力地去挖掘选手会像现在这样成功吗?我们在损失中感到痛苦,但这也给我们带来动力,甚至比竞争对手更有动力。我们花时间去重建,吸取教训并应用他们以防未来犯错。说真的我觉得2017年失败使我们现在成功的重要原因之一。


我曾经在其他的战队(NA和EU都有)听说过,阵容的长期性对于选手和战队来说都越来越重要。有一位职业选手特别表示,如果能签一份长期的合同签到2020年的话他情愿在刚刚开始磨合的时候困难一点。你在签选手的时候会考虑到阵容的长期性吗?如果是的,这一点在你签选手的过程中有多重要?

我们在确立阵容的时候意识到,配合好是需要花时间的,所以我们现在更倾向和选手签长期合同。我们现在的选手就都是这样的,我们签Impact和Doublelift是3年,Jensen和Xmithie是2年,CoreJJ也签了3年。我认为大部分选手都和你刚刚所说的一样,我也是这样认为的。因此,当觉得有足够的时间去磨合的时候,我们会设计合同的长度。我感觉很棒,还在签CoreJJ的过程中他已经非常信任我们,愿意承诺3年。这是实实在在的,我觉得你所说的这种选手的心态还挺重要的。


说到英雄联盟早些时候,当你还在Team Curse打职业的时候,如果可以让你挑一个早期版本绝活现在重新拿出来玩的话你会选哪一个?

中单大头. 那个时候一级学个炮台,不管是谁上来激光都能打掉他半管血。 真是让人心态爆炸。又脏又好玩,虽然我知道它被重做了,如果可以的话我想要这个牛逼的炮台,又脏又好玩嘻嘻
作者注:现在的Steve的中单大头依然很脏……


如果你现在要你夺冠的话,你会玩什么位置,为什么?

如果能的话我应该会玩ADC,我最近单排玩了很多把ADC,很好玩。虽然我玩ADC没有玩辅助玩得好,但是做些意想不到的事情非常酷哈哈哈,一顿操作猛如虎,结果打出0-5,听起来就已经崩了哈哈哈哈。


有什么想跟粉丝或者选手说的吗?

液体牛逼!


Writer // Sarah Enders
Translator // Vikku Wu


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