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Tactical: “We don’t want to be a one-style team”

Dan Smyth-Temple

Few expected Team Liquid to fall into the middle of the pack after such a dominant Lock In. Their slump came to a head with a demoralizing loss against TSM in the fourth week of the LCS, serving as a potent wake-up call for the roster that many expected to crush the competition with ease. We sat down with Edward “Tactical” Ra after the game vs FlyQuest to talk about Liquid’s recent slump, their playstyle, and the difficulties of getting five players on the same page.

Tactical Team Liquid

Tactical bounced back in style after the loss to TSM (Photo via Riot Games)

Hotspawn: Hey Tactical! That win against FlyQuest looked super clean after what I’m sure was a difficult loss to TSM yesterday. How are you feeling today, now that it’s all said and done?

Tactical: After that disaster of a game we had yesterday it feels pretty good to get a pretty clean win. We just got all objectives, played to pretty simple conditions— just stacking dragons, winning fights based off what we did early game. Overall, aside from a couple random deaths, I think the game was pretty good. I’m pretty happy about it. 

Hotspawn: You described yesterday’s loss against TSM as a disaster, but today you looked super meticulous in your win— did you feel like you had something to prove?

Tactical: After yesterday’s match we had a pretty long meeting afterward. We talked about a lot of stuff. Basically, we were talking about how we were so scattered and weren’t on the same pages. Everyone wasn’t really sure what was going on. Today we were more [on the] same page, and it lead to a better game together. 

Hotspawn: You feel like you guys have rallied, and have a clearer sense of what to work on now?

Tactical: Yeah, exactly. I’d say we’re going towards a better direction. Every week we’ve improved on what we’ve worked towards in the week— the goal we had. Every week we’ve gotten better. So far it seems like just a lot of random small things are adding up to our losses, and we’re fixing [them] one by one slowly.

Hotspawn: You mentioned that it’s a lot of small things, could you expand on that?

Tactical: In more general terms it’d be objective control [and] early game plan.

Hotspawn: Shifting back to the game you just won against Flyquest, that wasn’t exactly a barn-burner— zero kills until sixteen minutes. Do you feel like Team Liquid operates well in games like that?

Tactical: Honestly I think we can do really good at both kinds of games, where you’re playing very methodical [and] using advantages, and also the games we’re just fighting in a lot. Except the games where we do fight a lot, I do think we get a bit over hype-y and just keep fighting and turn our brains off. Definitely, if we’re against a better team and we want to win 100%, playing in methodical ways, the guaranteed way I guess— it’s just testing those limits, and using team advantage rather than player skill. Honestly, I think we’re fine playing both styles of the game, it just depends on what we pick and the concept of the draft. It’s hard to say if we’re better at one.

Hotspawn: A couple weeks ago I spoke to CoreJJ and he explained the importance of teams finding an identity, or style of play. He felt it was too early to say what Liquid’s will be—  do you have a stronger sense of that now, or is it still a work in progress?

Tactical: I’d say we have a slighter better sense of identity but we’re still working on it. Right now everyone has a lot of active ideas, in terms of how we view the game we have to sync up on that so there’s less confusion overall. I’d say for now it’s still a work in progress, cause we don’t want to be a one-style team that’s really [telegraphed] to play against. We’re just gonna keep doing what we think is best for now.

Tactical lcs

Tactical debuted in the LCS subbing for Doublelift on TL, eventually securing the sole starting AD Carry spot (Photo via Riot Games)

Hotspawn: Is it difficult to bring in all these very veteran players onto one team and getting everyone on the same page, in terms of playing a specific style? Is there ever a clash?

Tactical: There’s no clash really, it’s just that everyone sees their own opportunities, but at the same time there might be more than one option. Since not everyone sees the same game, there’s a lot of different calls. I don’t think having multiple veterans makes it difficult, I think it’s just how personalities end up viewing the game and how vocal each person can be.

Hotspawn: Has your individual role within the team shifted at all now that you’ve got some more experience under your belt?

Tactical: I don’t think my role really shifted in the team. I’m doing a lot of similar things. Maybe I’m playing a bit too upfront sometimes [laughs]. I just need to do what I have to do and not take as many risks.

Hotspawn: What are some of your personal goals for the split? Individually speaking, I mean. I know TL has their heart set on winning the LCS just like everyone else.

Tactical: I’m not sure exactly, but a goal I want [to achieve] is to make my teammates say I was a very good player. If at the end of the split they were to ask one of my teammates, I’d want that kind of answer if they were asked about me. 

Hotspawn: That’s a different answer than I usually get when I answer that question. Were there any difficulties for you coming into this split, coming into a team with all these big veteran names on it? Did you feel a lot of pressure?

Tactical: No, not really actually. Since I’ve worked with CoreJJ and Jensen the previous split too, it didn’t feel like an entirely new team. It was just fitting in a different top and jungle. Maybe because I had [the] teammates from last year it wasn’t that hard.

Hotspawn: Awesome, I think that’s all I have for you. To sign us off, do you have any words for the Tactical fans out there? Maybe what to expect in the coming weeks?

Tactical: To the Tactical fans? I’m not sure what to say, actually. It seems like there’s not the best image of me right now, sometimes I see. I’m trying right now. Obviously I don’t wanna lose, [that’s] the first thing. Patience, and we’ll do a lot better.