Interview with Tommy "Taiga" Le
Interview with Tommy "Taiga" Le ⚡⚡⚡ Esports news, analytics, reviews on WePlay! The latest news on WePlay!
A couple of days before WePlay! Pushka League main part starts, we've reached out to Tommy "Taiga" Le from Team Liquid to speak about the launch of his career, HoN days, positions four experience and leaving Alliance.
Team Liquid is currently struggling at ESL One, but despite having a decline in their game and feeling pretty bad about the results, Tommy believes that his team has the potential to grow — and he has good reasons to think so.
So, on a sunny day of April, 14th, Taiga and I had a chat. Through Discord, surely.
How’re you doing, Tommy?
Not so good. You know, losing Dota 2 matchmaking and the officials is not very great.
I know about the officials. But what's about matchmaking?
I was one game away from 9k MMR. And then I lost one and then I won one. And lose one, win one, lose one, win one. And then I got into like seven games losing streak yesterday. So I'm kinda, you know, not happy [chuckles].
First of all, I wanted to ask you how do you feel yourself in the current team now? And what do you do these days when you are locked home?
I'm living with my girlfriend, so I'm just spending time inside playing Dota as well. And we pretty much spend inside for like three weeks. We didn't really go out much, only sometimes like to go to the supermarket today, to shop for food and drinks. Other than that, we have not gone to anything like a bar or restaurant. Pretty much just sitting inside, playing Dota, watching movies and series. I play a lot of Dota these days because I set a goal for myself: I want to focus on 9k. So I don't like thinking about going outside at all.
What are the biggest differences for a pro player during the quarantine? I mean, do you feel distracted from your team?
The biggest difference during this quarantine is that I do feel a bit distracted away from my team. And usually, I'm used to travelling a lot, you know, as a pro player. We travel a lot to bootcamp on, to LANs. But now, the LANs are cancelled and flying companies are also preventing us from flying. So I do feel pretty different from before. But it's nice because, in a way, we also needed a break, to be at home, I guess, because we've been travelling a lot. But now it's too much of a break because, you know, it’s too long.
So do you live in Norway now?
No, not right now. I moved to Netherlands before the Coronavirus came.
Why did you decide to move?
Team Liquid's new Alienware Training Facility EU will be opening here. I moved because it's going to be easy to focus on my work and also live with my girlfriend so that flying won't be a problem and all that stuff because every time I had to fly to a bootcamp was a hassle. I don't want to fly anymore. Just gonna live here and live five minutes away. Walk there. And we're really close to Amsterdam, so you can have direct flight everywhere. So whenever I want to go back to Norway I can just take one fly and I'm there. No need for connecting flights.
You are the only famous Dota 2 player from Norway. Is esports popular in your country?
It is somewhat popular but not like much. I don't think that the government is interested in esports. But a lot of youngsters and all the people are interested. We have a very good Fortnite pro who won the championship and we have good CS:GO pros. But it's like, I think people watch mostly Fortnite and CS:GO, not much Dota 2, I will assume, but for sure compared to Sweden and other countries, Norway is not there at all. They are focused on something else, just not esports yet.
So, you’ve played HoN at the beginning. Can you tell us how your career started?
I was like 15 or 16 and I started playing HoN. I just played for fun and then eventually I realized that I can make money from playing games. "Oh yeah, I have to get in there". So I began to look for players and created a team. You know, Peksu from OG.Seed? He was my first teammate and I was his first teammate. I met him in the public matchmaking and then we decided to play in a team. I've been in HoN for two or three years. And then we disbanded and went to Dota later. So, I started my HoN career with Peksu and ended with him.
Why did you decide to move to Dota?
HoN died. They did not make more competition with HoN. And I didn't move to Dota right away. I think I waited one year. I went to school again and played Dota casually a little bit. But then I thought that school was so boring. I didn't know what I was doing with my life. I wanted to play the game. So if that's what I want, why don't I just quit and do it right now, focus on becoming pro?
Did you consider League of Legends or only Dota?
I did consider League of Legends too, but I think Dota was more like, it felt more right, more like the game I wanted to enjoy playing.
Did you have any idols?
JerAx, GH, Miracle, I think. They're my idols. Also, some of the Wings Gaming's players, like bLink.
Do you have any role models, watch people play and learn stuff from them?
I learn for myself mostly, but I do watch GH, but he doesn't really stream. YapZor stream sometimes, I used to watch JerAx too. Well, he's not playing anymore, so it's YapZor and GH now.
Why did you choose position four?
I wasn't really a position four player in the beginning. It happened because me and Boxi were playing offlane. And I decided to move to position four, to play as a team. Before that, I was a mid and offlane player.
Did your mid lane experience help you when you switched?
I knew what mid is like. When you have lane control or when you don't, when it's like easy to gank or not. Because when you play mid and get transitioned to position four, you know how it is, you know how the laning in mid goes. Let's say, you play QoP against Storm and then you have a feeling that you can gank mid at some point in the game, because you have played such a match up yourself. You will understand it and then you will see the timing for yourself instead of the mid player calling for ganks.
Your favourite heroes are Earth Spirit and Dark Willow. Why do you like them?
Dark Willow is very cute. [laughs] She’s a fairy and fun to play because you have a lot of spells and you can use them in different situations if you wish. Earth Spirit is cool also. When you're there, you can hit your rolls, and then if you can survive the team fight, it's the best hero.
Can you give any tips for players who don't know how to play position four at all? What should they do to progress, to play better?
If you want to win games, you play like ten heroes that win the lane. If you win the lane, you will pretty much win the game. Because people with low MMR usually struggle, they don't know what to do after the laning phase. Win the lane and it’s 90% to win the game. But if you want to practice and win, it's going to be a lot harder.
Lifehack: pull second waves. Let's say I play Willow, I just pull a second wave and then I keep pulling. I don't lane, I just get XP for myself. And then I go gank mid and safelane. My offlane is going to cry a little bit, but you can tell the offlaner to also pull. After you pull the second wave, he pulls the next one and you guys just don't lane — keep pulling. And then I connect it to the way behind your tower. Like that's how pulling works. If you can do that, then you will pretty much always, always have levels and XP. Both of you offlane and position four need to do it right, it's not that easy. You're going to need practice for it.
How do you cope with difficulties when you lose games?
All teams go through a challenge and downtime. And how you'd want to deal with the challenge is up to the team. But usually I just want to play more to get better, because if we lose — we are just not good enough. Why are we not good enough? Because we are not playing enough? Or we are not taking this seriously enough? I just keep playing Dota till I improve. But the team is another thing. We can tilt and be sad for a moment, but then the next day we were like, ‘Okay, we need to grind, let's go grind more Dota’. You hate losing? Play more to get better. And that's how you stop losing. The most important thing is to learn from the official games. Otherwise, you won’t be improving as a team.
Does iNSaNiA help you and teach you? He's the oldest of you guys.
Yeah, he helps us. Everybody individually. He talks to you alone, sometimes asking you what's wrong and why is that difficult and how can we make it better. How can we make the game better for us personally? What do we want to do in this game? But sometimes, people have good ideas but they don't say it aloud. I would say.
You know that your team’s average is 22.4 years old. Quite a young roster. Is that bad or good?
Good. We might not have very experienced players, but it means that we have the potential to grow a lot in knowledge and in play. If we wish to grow, you know what I mean?
Still, you've attended a couple of LANs, but which was the best, most memorable for you?
TI and Leipzig. We won against Virtus.pro with my Dark Willow and that was my best memory, like the best one I've had in Dota. That was insane. I didn't know how I did that, but yeah, that Virtus.pro game was definitely the best.
Are you happy with the new DPC system of three Majors and the leagues?
I felt that they nerfed the LANs a bit. The Majors’ prize pool went down which is not good. There will be more online tournaments and less LANs, but the LANs make Dota a lot more challenging and fun. LAN experience is unique, all the pressure and everything. I just like being in front of the crowd, to be honest.
Did I get it right that you were casting at BeyondTheSummit?
Yes, one game. It was great, but I had controversial feelings. It's fun casting, but the fun ends when you have to cast a lot of games, you know, boring and exhausting. I assume so.
Are you an emotional person?
Yeah, I am emotional for sure [chuckles].
Can you remember any cases when your emotions went out?
I think the TI misclick. Oh, I was very sad because we lost to RNG in an unfortunate way. We were also unfortunate in the group, and we needed one point to get to the upper bracket and, yeah, you know, misclick Gyro.
I didn't like the way we lost. It's nobody's fault really because we are all in it, but it sucks to lose like that. And then Leipzig, losing to Alliance, it didn't feel great either. So I spent four days inside the hotel not doing anything, just watching movies. I did not want to do anything pretty much, not to think about Dota at all, take time off it, think about stuff.
What did you feel when you left Alliance?
I was in a difficult position: I had to choose, I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do, but yeah, I was kind of exhausted from Alliance, burnout. And then I saw a new opportunity.
I almost left the team after TI, and then we talked about it and I stayed. We decided to look for something new to do together as a team. It boosted us up, and gave us more motivation. And then we left Alliance. Later, Liquid came to us and we were like, wow. They wanted us, we accepted the offer. But the sad part about leaving Alliance is that after spending two years with them, it feels strange. Alliance did it in less business but more family way. So they wanted us to think of it as a family, but it was not easy to do that. It was very difficult to work.
Do you miss it?
No, I don’t really miss it. I don't regret that decision at all. I think it was better for both ends to be honest. They are doing better. We are doing so-so. [laughs]
And hit back later to Pushka League Special Tag — new interview incoming!