Interview with Steven "Korok" Ashworth from Team Liquid Dota
Written by Aman Parmar
An interview with Team Liquid Dota 2 squad's Steven "Korok" Ashworth
Steven "Korok" Ashworth is currently a member of the Liquid Dota 2 squad and has been a familiar face at major tournaments in HoN and Dota2. We had an online sit-down with him to get his thoughts about TL’s performance with the current roster, the G-league grand finals, the team’s chances at TI3, a look at his HoN as well as WC3 DotA past and more.
Hi Steven! Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi readers! I'm Steven, or Liquid`Korok, depending on where you know me from. I play Dota 2 competitively. My role in game is either mid or carry, depending on the situation.
Before we get into the thick of things, how about you pick an item from Dota 2 that relates to your personality?
Orchid, because I'm quiet and efficient.
Let’s go back to WC3 DotA for a minute. You were the captain of the Blight Gaming squad. Could you briefly explain your experience as a captain in those days and how the competitive scene was developing in North America?
Both the game, scene, and myself have changed a lot since then. The Blight.USA team was fairly successful in online tournaments. The NA scene only had a couple teams who could compete internationally. Without connections, it was extremely hard to play since most tournaments were invite only or region restricted. Some of my closest friends were on that team. I learned a lot about leadership and player dynamics during that time. I don't think I'll lead a team ever again though unless some odd opportunity presents itself.
You transitioned to HoN where many believe you actually established yourself as a dominant NA carry. You became part of SK and EG HoN squads too and both the teams saw much success. Please take us through the HoN phase of your career and your experience with SK and EG.
I started playing HoN just for fun with players that I played in DotA 1 inhouse leagues with. A team eventually approached me while playing in inhouse games with other top players. Bdiz was probably the first 'HoN player' I became good friends with and we eventually teamed up. With the exception of EG's DotA 1 squad, the NA HoN scene made the NA DotA 1 scene look like a joke. It was much more competitive and had many more players and opportunities. The SK team eventually got picked up by EG, and I believe we won a few tournaments. I lingered in the scene until Spring 2012 where I was picked up by It's GoSu's Dota 2 team.
You were leading the Quantic Dota2 team in the run for the big prize - The International 2012. In the semi-finals, you lost to NEXT.kz and then to mTw in the losers bracket. What according to you were your chances of making it through and what eventually held the team back?
If we were playing at our peak, I think we would've had the qualifiers easily. We were quite strong and had a winning formula which we could apply to almost every game. Unfortunately, as the team stopped winning, there were internal problems which couldn't be resolved. One of our players stopped playing completely in order to go play Diablo 3. There were a few issues with other players but that era is over.
What were your options when the Team Liquid offer came knocking on the door? Was there a specific team you were quite keen on joining? How has your experience been with Liquid so far?
I had tried to revive Quantic with pickups of Universe and 1437/Brax. Once 1437 and Brax left, I was looking to either form another team with Universe or go inactive as PAINTITGOLD let me know he was planning on taking a break. I hadn't considered playing with BuLba again or the guys from compLexity but after hearing Bumblebee's (TL manager) proposition I thought it could be a good opportunity. Liquid has far surpassed any expectations I had. They're an extremely active and involved team. I interact with the management as much as I do my own team.
Brian is currently at the helm with the responsibility of the entire squad’s performance under the name of a reputed banner like Team Liquid. Does he often turn to you for suggestions knowing that as a captain, you’ve been there and done that?
Actually, I don't think Brian knows about any of my Dota 1 captaining. Regardless, he's a very smart person and often has plans which don't need any of our ideas. If, however, he needs my input I try to give it from my perspective as the mid/carry, versus someone looking at the big picture. I think TC is the 'second-in-command' with Mike doing a lot of in depth draft analysis. The system we have probably carries on from their days together on compLexity and I prefer a more passive role when it comes to the drafting stage. My idea of the game is quite different than what is usually done by our team. It's currently a work in progress but I'm trying to move towards a more active role in-game when it comes to leading and calling movements.
How satisfied are you with the team’s performance ever since you guys came together under the TL banner?
I'm somewhat satisfied. Our shaky start can be blamed on a few factors such as lack of practice and familiarity with certain playstyles. We were recently on a huge hot streak which was broken by mouz. To be honest, we were running the same strategies every game. Once teams adapted, things became much more even and we lost confidence in our play. We're in a transitioning period right now, and hope to find our way and prove Liquid as the best.
Has the idea of the U.S. version of G-League ever been discussed among NA teams/organizations? Do you think a joint effort could make it happen?
The only major event in NA will be The International. I think the US's best hope for another major event would be if MLG picks up Dota 2 at their LAN events. I'm sure a joint effort could create a tournament, but I'm unaware of any such efforts.
Your Divine Rapier Gyrocopter comeback vs. mouz was quite amazing. Please take us through the situation as it developed.
You play against the clock when you play against phantom lancer. His late game is one of the best in the game and can easily take down an entire team by itself. We knew things were pretty bad when they had taken our bottom and middle raxes, but we didn't want to give up. After turtling in the base for quite some time, we decided to make a bold move out of our base with a rapier and it ended up working out for us since we had a favorable initiation. We wanted to win the game with that, so we went straight for their throne afterwards and ended up base racing a PL. Fortunately, we had half our team waiting for him in anticipation and took the game.
The community has been discussing the Phantom Lancer + KoTL “problem” and how they can be literally unstoppable in a lane. Would you agree? If yes, what according to you would be the best possible solution here?
In order to stop a KotL + PL lane, you have to pick specifically to counter it. Unfortunately, many of these heroes that can win that lane are fairly useless against PL in the late game. The best response to it is to take supports such as Shadow Demon who can use the PL's farm against himself. If there's anything I'd do to change it, I'd tone down PL's late game potential a bit so he isn't able to single handedly win games.
What kind of rivalry do you have with EG and Dignitas? Does it tend to get serious at times?
There's only a rivalry because we're all trying to be the best in North America. I know there are some times when players get carried away and bring personal trash talk to games, but most of the time matches are kept professional. I consider myself good friends with a couple guys on both EG and Dignitas.
TL has been on a roll since December 2012. However, most of your matches have been versus EU teams. Do you get to squeeze in a few games with SEA and Chinese teams despite the lag?
We keep our practice to EU and NA teams. While it's possible to play SEA and Chinese teams, the lag difference is too big to gain anything from the practice.
Is the Shotgun + Veil build you’ve been experimenting with for QoP a safely guarded secret? Can you talk to us about it?
It's more of a fun build I like to do. It can be viable in a game if you can land your spells on core heroes, but often times a CC item such as orchid or sheepstick will do much more. I do think veil is one of the most underrated items in the game right now.
Na’Vi have announced a bootcamp in China before TI3. Does TL management have any such plans for you? How much value do you think such a bootcamp could add to your preparation?
Assuming we get to compete at TI3, we will do a bootcamp before the event. I don't think it will be in China due to logistics. A bootcamp before a LAN makes sure that you will be used to a LAN setting and playing at your peak.
The LGD.int vs. iG G-League Grand Finals concluded recently. LGD.int fought brilliantly in Game #3 and #4. What do you think went wrong in the first 2 games?
I forgot specifics, but to me it seemed in games 1 and 2 LGD.int were completely thrown off guard. I believe one of the games they had Pajkatt offlane, and another game they had a sven trilane against naix. I try to talk to Brax and 1437 when I can, and from what I've heard from them beforehand those weren't strategies they know are strong.
As a dominant carry player, do you miss heroes like Shadow Fiend in the solo-mid role? Do you think this rotation of heroes will continue as more nerfs come along?
Heroes like Shadow Fiend are very susceptible to ganks and cannot overcome a poor start in a 1v1 situation without major mistakes on the opponent's part. I think if bottle crowing is removed, many more mid heroes will come back into play.
Who do you think will be THE TEAM to beat at TI3?
Unless something major happens, it has got to be iG.
Thank you for this interview! The final words are yours. Any shoutouts?
Shoutouts to Shiny Things, Twitch, Razer, and Barracuda Networks. Please follow me on Twitter @LiquidKorok. Thanks to the fans for their continued support.
More Interviews: Brian “FLUFFNSTUFF” Lee,Â JingJun “SneyKing” Wu and Andrew “TidesofTime” Biessener