2P Akke Interview: "Decision Making is What's Important When Playing Chen"
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Hi Akke! Thank you very much for taking the time to do an interview with 2p.com! Your team has finally been able to have a brief respite after a very busy start to 2014. Do you play less Dota while you are competing in less tournaments or do you try to stay pretty active all the time? What do you do during Dota 2 downtimes?
Akke: Hello and thanks for having me! When we don't have tournaments we usually practise with scrims unless there is something going on like Christmas or New year's eve, or in this case, when Loda is in Singapore for a couple of days. When we practise together I usually don't play any pubs at all since we scrim together almost every day but I do play a pub now and then. When I do play I usually just practise support heroes I haven't played much or feel I need to improve on even though I do play Chen or Ench once in a while if I really want to win. :D
Many people might not know that, in addition to being a professional Dota 2 player, you are a part owner of and programmer for http://mobilestorytelling.se/. At TI3, you told Hotbid that you don't think it's actually that hard to do both – that is, having a job and being a pro player. Is this only because of your position in your company allowing you flexibility or do you believe that in general it is viable for a Pro Dota 2 player to have another job at the same time?
Akke: I do think it's viable to have a job but not a full time one. If you play "full time" I'm sure people have enough time to do something else a couple of hours each day. But as you say, one of the reasons I'm able to do both is that I'm a co-owner of the company so I always make sure to not have too much work to not be able to scrim with the team or go on events and such. But it's a lot of work to make everything fit together.
This year is the 10th anniversary of both your friendship with Loda and your first Dota game. Will you do anything special to celebrate? Do you have a plan of how long you intend to play professionally for before you retire or do you just take every year as it comes?
Akke: Haha, well me and Loda did joke last year that we would have a dinner together at TI4, drinking wine and holding each others hands so maybe we will make that happen.. :D
It's really hard to say how long I will keep on playing, it all comes down to our team and the situation if something would happen. I love playing with Alliance right now so if we stick together and keep on playing It's gonna be hard for me to take the first step and just quit. As long as I'm able to balance it with my personal life it's not hard for me to continue playing since I love Dota2.
It seems appropriate to reflect a bit on the past here. Which player or team from the past do you miss the most? If you could force any one Dota player who has retired to make a comeback, which one would it be and why?
Akke: That would probably be Kwom. He was a very nice person and very skilled, I loved playing IHCS (an in-house league for the top players) with him and I'm sure he would be one of the best today if he continued to play!
Back when you were with CLG, in an interview at the LAN finals of Starseries Season 1, you said that you thought Na'Vi were pretty far ahead of any other team. This was almost 2 years ago now - how do you think Na'Vi has managed to maintain its spot as a giant in the scene for so long?
Akke: Navi have kept on playing with mostly the same players and Puppey is a really good captain. He can keep a team going with good strats and is of course a very good player himself. I think one of the reasons Navi was so ahead back then is that Navi was kinda the only team that played constantly before TI1 and then they kept the same distance they had on the other teams for a long time. Today there are many teams that are able to beat the top teams which is only natural since the game has been out for a longer time.
In the same interview, you said that if it were up to you you would play Chen every game - do you still feel that way about the hero? In a more recent interview at the recent Starseries LAN finals, you and Loda told Bruno that Chen is your best hero. Is Chen your favourite hero because it's your best hero or is it your best hero because it's your favourite hero?
Akke: Yea I love him, both Chen and Ench are very fun. It's not my favourite hero because I'm good with it, I liked it from the start when I played Dota 1. Since I played a lot of Warcraft III ladder before I was used to micro so it felt natural to play it. It was also fun since most players that started to play Dota 1 couldn't micro (and that was why they liked Dota so they didn't have to care about more than one unit) so it made it even more interesting to "explore" it.
When people talk about Chen they mostly talk about great micro or dramatic Test of Faith saves. As a Chen player, what do you see the main role of the hero as – does it depend on the draft it's in? If so, how?
Akke: It does indeed depend on the draft so I would say the decision making is what's important when playing Chen. Of course you have to have decent micro to be able to control the units but it's the decisions that can decide if you win or lose a game. If you make the wrong decisions if you should gank mid, top or even just farm you can end up being really useless and I think that is the problem that many people faces when they play it. If you have to focus too much on the micro because you're not used to it then you can't think so much on where to go and such. I always make scenarios, like if they lane like this I will go here. If they do that I will do this. By doing that I have the choices ready and can just pick one of them that I feel is the best.
Another big jungling hero is Enigma. At TI3, you told Hotbid that you spent a lot of time before the tournament practising Enigma in pubs, scrims and single player mode to optimize your jungling and be sure to get level 6 by 4mins. Unfortunately, you said, you hadn't wanted to play it in the end after screwing up a Black Hole in a scrim and being teased about it by s4. You suggested that following TI3 you might start playing the hero, though, because it's a really powerful pick sometimes. And yet, you haven't played it once in an official match since then. Are you still planning on doing so? Do you still get teased about it?
Akke: Haha. :D Well it's mostly me that don't like the hero when it comes down to playing it in a official game. I don't feel it suits my playstyle so much and it's not really a good hero to keep wards on and place since you will not be moving so much. I do still think it's a viable pick but I rather play other heroes. :D
Many people believe that your first game against LGD.cn at TI3 was going really badly until your famous Blinding Light knocking Sylar onto the high ground a the Rosh Pit. This move is widely regarded to have been the turning point of the game. I know it's a long time ago but, at the time, did you guys feel like you were behind [before it happened]? From your team's perspective, was this the turning point of the game? Lastly, the question that most people probably want answered: was it your intention to knock him to the higher ground or were you just trying to delay the Rosh kill?
Akke: Yeah it was intended. I love those small things you can do like try to send back a creep the same second a Naix infest it. Been able to do it in a scrim only though but it's so fun when it works :).
I was able to see them because of my nuke that was charging I think. I remember when I saw Alchemist standing so close there that I felt "Wow, I might be able to knock him up" and when it worked I was like "Go fight go fight, Alch is stuck!!". I also do think we felt we were behind, that game didn't go so well and the Alchemist was really strong but like many other games during TI3 we managed to win anyway :).
After being one of your signature heroes for a long time, Keeper of the Light has almost completely disappeared from the pro circuit since 6.79. However, you did play the hero once at the recent Starseries LAN finals, winning with it and then seeing the hero get banned as a result in the following game. Do you think the pick is still viable? Is it more situational than it was before? What does it take to justify a Kotl pick nowadays? Will the buff to Mana Leak in 6.80 make any difference to how much this hero is picked?
Akke: I don't think the Mana Leak will change anything - when you want to pick him you would have picked him anyway. But it's good that he gets a buff since he in general is too weak. But as you mentioned, we did pick him and I think he is still viable but just really situational.
Last year it seemed like Na'Vi and Alliance's victories in China ended up being good predictors of the favourites for TI3. Since TI3, DK came very close to winning MLG, VG won EMS and LGD won D2L. Are these signs that the Chinese are a bit ahead at the moment? What has changed in this respect between TI3 and now?
Akke: I guess you can say that they are a bit ahead right now but at the same time it's during a period when a new patch just has been released. I agree that all the teams you mentioned are really good but I don't think they are ahead. Like at EMS we lost to VG 2-1 and the third game was so even it could have gone both ways. But I agree that the Chinese have been good at adapting to the new patch and metagame.
Who is your favourite Chinese support player? Why?
Akke: I don't watch so much Chinese games that I have a favourite player.
Moving back to questions about you, recently your team has been the subject of much discussion since you've struggled to win titles since TI3. Some believe that your team was only the best for the metagame at the time and will struggle to be the best again.
When you and s4 were interviewed after winning Dreamhack Summer last year, s4 said he would prefer to be seen as an underdog because the team people see as the top team will receive more scrutiny from opponents than others. Have you experienced this to be a small benefit of failing to win any titles for a while? Do you feel like you guys are under a lot of pressure to win something due to high expectations of your fans after you guys have won The International?
Akke: Even if we haven't performed as well as we did before people still see us as a top contender for the first place so I haven't felt any difference. I don't really feel any pressure but instead I think people are overreacting a bit. Even though we didn't win some LAN events we performed very well and qualified for almost everything we played. We topped the Dream-League, D2L and Starladder group stages and finishing 3rd and 4th isn't that bad. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. We are still up there fighting. Also we won 2 titles lately, Fragbite and D2CL. But I do agree we can perform much better and we are fighting hard to do so.
After being knocked out early at the D2L LAN finals, your team promised that there would be some changes by the beginning of the Starseries LAN finals. The change which is obvious to the public is that Loda is now drafting. How much of an effect does this really have, given that all players can give input into a draft? Was the idea to reduce the pressure on s4 or did it just feel like time for a change? Have there been any other changes that aren't as easy for the public to notice?
Akke: It felt like there was needed a change to get the motivation back. Even though it doesn't effect much because as you say, we mostly draft together, having Loda as the captain and starting the ideas of what draft we should play makes us play some new lineups and be more unpredictable. We haven't done any more changes what I can think of except trying to improve as a team and as individual players.
Recently, 7ckingMad has spoken a lot about the effect that the addition of gold and exp graphs had on the psychology of dota players. His general suggestion is that people sometimes lose sight of what actually matters and obsess too much over how the graphs might look at any given moment. Do you agree this is the case? Does your team ever talk about how much gold or exp you might be ahead or behind by during a game? If so, do you think this is problematic or is it only a problem for less experienced teams?
Akke: Not really or I just don't understand the problem. Of course we talk and look how the gold and exp is going, it's a good way of getting an understanding of how strong or weak you are. If you see you have taken some towers and gotten a Mekansm and your opponent hasn't taken towers and it's a support that is getting the Mekansm you pretty much know that they don't have it and you can force a fight that is good for you. We use the knowledge to our advantage and understand if we can fight or not. Therefore, sometimes when we are really far behind we try to dodge fights and get back by trying to get good pick-offs or make them take a bad fight. It's not like we go into a game aiming to dodge all fights and split push, but sometimes the best option is to split push by how your opponents plays. If they show they are gonna go 5-man and we have the opportunity to trade 2 towers for one or even one for one while we farm other lanes it's obvious we will do what is best for us.
When the 6.79 patch came out, you made a post on your blog with your initial thoughts about it. One of the things you mentioned was that you were looking forward to having more gold as a support. Now that the patch has been out for around 3 months, can you confirm that this is happening? Are you finding it easier to get your core items than it used to be?
Akke: Hard to say, haven't thought about it but I guess it feels like it. Would love to see some stats about the average GPM or something to see how much it changed but at the same time the position of the lanes changed a lot as well (how you play with pulling and such).
You've mentioned before that you hate Sven more than any other hero and that it's actually a running joke in your team that they cannot pick support Sven for you. Could you explain briefly what this is about – do you just think it's a bad hero to support with? Will the buffs to Sven's base armour and Warcry in 6.80 affect your view of the hero?
Do you have any first impressions about 6.80 that you would like to share?
Akke: I love patches like this, makes me so pumped to play. :D I think the Jakiro buff was very nice and also the Axe one. Axe is also a hero that I practised a lot to try to get into competitive play as support - maybe that's my new Enigma but one that I actually play... :)
Thank you again for agreeing to do this interview! Do you have any shoutouts or last words you would like to say?
Akke: Would like to give a shoutout to our awesome sponsors HyperX, Monster, Razer and XMG!
You can follow Akke on Twitter: @FollowAkke.