Thursday, 7 May 2020

The Legends Profile: An Interview With Alliance's John "hakis" Håkansson, Kha "iPN-k0u" Nguyen, Simon "Vaifs" Bellini & Manager Pontus "Pontus" Bengtsson

When you take a look at the most recent European Apex Legends Global Series results, Alliance has consistently shown their ability as one of the best teams in the game. With a win in online tournament 2 and a further two placements within the top three in online tournaments 4 and 5, Alliance's consistency has shown that should be in the discussion as the best team in the world right now. They have managed to do all of this whilst having to make numerous changes to the roster and during a time that has seen some changes in both the competitive rule set and their opposition. Despite this, Alliance has risen to the top and with the organisation committing to the second year of competitive Apex Legends, they have the opportunity to cement their dominance over not only Europe but the rest of the world also. 

The Legends Profile (Formerly known as The Final Circle) is an interview series that allows you to get to know some of Europe's top teams. This is the fourth episode of The Legends Profile series and it is a chance to obtain the opinions of the players regarding their experiences so far. In this episode, we will be looking to provide you, the fans, an opportunity to get to know Alliance, With online tournament 5 complete, the Alliance boys comprised of Hakis, iPN-K0u, Vaifs and their manager Pontus have taken the time to answer a few questions.

First of all, thank you for taking the time to speak to me today and congratulations on re-signing with Alliance for another year. To start with, for those fans who do not know about you, introduce yourself and let us know your esports background.

hakis - Hello! My name is John "hakis" Håkansson and I am a Swedish player for the Alliance. I've previously been all over the place, playing numerous games at a high level but Apex is the first game I've gone all out for in competing.

iPN-k0u - Hi my name is iPN, but go by iPN-k0u to commemorate my best friend. I'm Norwegian with a Vietnamese background, I put ketchup on pasta, sit crosslegged when I play and am 24 years of age. I'm also a professional stink boy (Caustic) for Alliance in Apex Legends and was previously an Overwatch pro.

Vaifs - Simon Bellini, 25 years old, I'm a tracking god and I love hamburgers. I was a "singer" (screamer) back in the days in a band called From North By South. I started my esports career when Apex got released

With Alliance committing to Apex Legends for a second year they have shown that they believe in what's to come for the game's future. How do they help you as a professional in a game that is looking to improve further as an esport?

hakis - Alliance gives me everything I need to perform at a top-level both gear wise and mentally, I'm very happy being in the position that I am.

iPN-k0u - I haven't been with them for long. However, they've been treating me with great care and respect. Everything that previously was on my shoulders that made me unable to put 100% into Apex, they took care of, allowing me to put my all into practice and winning.

Vaifs - Alliance is one of the best organisations, in my opinion, they give us so much love and care. And that is enough when it comes to professional gaming. They also show much love for the game!

Vaifs, as the only original member on the roster, you have seen a lot of change on this team. Tell us about the ups and downs you've been through from the X-Games till now.

We've had a lot of changes in the roster, during X-Games, my first LAN tournament, we had Lowley, LAZXR and me. We did well in the first half of the tournament but during the next half, we did really bad and lost. I got really motivated from that loss and realised what I needed to practise on. So after the tournament, LAZXR got dropped and I felt bad because he's my cousin. But changes had to be made. 

We picked up Badoli for the tournament in Poland. We did ok, but not good enough to get to the finals. Same here, I got motivated again. After Poland, we were on a hunt for a third player with good shot-calling abilities and IGL experience. We found Hakis and it changed Alliance completely. We started to play as a really good team and placed well in scrims and tournaments. I was happy and our team felt awesome. After GLL, Lowley had to take a break and we were on a hunt for a third player again. We found Nitrahh for the Major qualifier, it didn't go as planned and we didn't make it. So Nitrahh got dropped and Lowley came back. It was so many roster changes so it was hard to get used to the team. And after some tournaments, Lowley stepped down from apex and we had to find a third again. These roster changes were hard but now we got iPN and I'm very happy with the current team we have.

Pontus, it is clear to see that you are looking to build the best team you can in this Alliance roster. What was it about Hakis, iPN-k0u and Vaifs that made you want to sign them and how easy has it been to build chemistry so far?

We already got a stable base with Hakis and Vaifs. Adding iPN-k0u was the icing on the cake. The team has quickly found harmony in each other and it really shows when we play together. We have just started our journey and I’m really excited to follow our growth throughout this season!

Looking more at the format, a lot of the top players in the scene have stated they feel that the format of the online qualifiers needed to change and the ALGS provided some changes. Are they suitable and what direction would you like to see the ALGS take for future online tournaments?

hakis - The biggest change for the ALGS system that I would like to see is something that makes every game matter. The current system promotes griefing/trolling up until the finals where you can pop off in the first game and then basically just go away from the keyboard the last 3 since first place and tenth place means the exact same thing. I would also like to see a change in how the rounds play out, playing 11 hour days + eventual delays is not optimal. This can easily be fixed by just spreading the rounds out per day making delays more manageable while also not completely exhausting all players.

iPN-k0u - I haven't really thought about it, the reason being coming from Overwatch, I've experienced a lot of changes for the better or worse, and having no other choice but to accept what's happened or the things for what it is, I just adapt and try to make the best out of it.

Vaifs - I think it's hard to find a good format because in every format there is gonna be something that doesn't suit someone. I think ALGS is doing a good job right now and they should just keep doing what they do.

After winning Online Tournament 2, finishing 2nd in Online Tournament 4 and 3rd in Online Tournament 5. You have shown yourselves as one of the more consistent teams in Europe. Where would you rate yourselves in both Europe and overall?

hakis - I personally believe we are a top 3 team in Europe currently we just have to fix/perfect a few things to reach the top again.

iPn-k0u - I personally know my teammates are top-calibre worldwide, I'm lacking in a lot of places that I plan to improve on.

Us getting 2nd after 2 weeks of practice with me on a legend and language I haven't played or spoken before is all my teammates, Vaifs cover, Hakis' leadership, and Pontus' care to put us on the right direction is what made us able to pull off that result.

Vaifs - I would say that we're the best team in Europe because we're consistent. Don't really know overall but we're aiming for the top. 

While Europe is known for being a more conservative region when it comes to playing style and timing rotations. However, in online tournament 5, we saw the region completely turn that theory on its head, providing us with the best tournament so far. What was the reason for the change in approach?

hakis - I think a lot of teams are starting to rely on their mechanical skill to punish some of the worse teams to gain points which are pretty smart in my opinion.

iPN-k0u - I have no idea. I just try my best to do what we've practised because of being the team people look out for, we just focus on our own game. We also have A LOT more stuff in store that we haven't revealed yet, so feel like we have a huge part when it comes to deciding the changes on how to approach the game.

Vaifs - Teams have practised how to play more aggressive, it is high risk and high reward and can be worth it! We had a rough start in the finals, so we had to change our playstyle in the end. We had to take more risks and get kill points if we wanted to secure a good spot.

You once again finished in the top 3 with your 3rd place finish in Online Tournament 5. Obviously, this was due to your incredible game 5 which saw you get 19 kills. Talk us through what happened from your perspective.

hakis - We basically just said it's all or nothing, do or die. We, of course, are playing for first place and we need an insane game to get it. Didn't quite get first but at least we got third :D

iPN-k0u - We see ourselves as a winning team. We go for the wins, not safe tournament placements. Everything but 1st is a loss for us. and in the situation we were in because of some bad first games, we realized we had to switch up our playstyle and go for big finishes. (Since we've practised multiple styles in Scrims)

Vaifs - We were close to the ending zone from the start and we knew where it was going to end. So we secured space around that area and scouted for teams to kill. Every fight went really smooth and I was just pumping when we killed team after team. When we killed the last team and got the victory it felt amazing. 

Valorant's arrival has seen several European players move over yet Europe as a region seems very deep with talent. How do feel the region is doing competitively with all the recent departures?

hakis - Basically nothing has changed except a few roster swaps, most people in EU are still playing Apex so I personally haven't felt much of a difference.

iPN-k0u - The people who lost the motivation and love for the game left, and I wish nothing but the best for them. However, that also creates opportunities for new hungry talent to take over, so I'm not worried at all about our region. EU has a huge pool of unpolished talent, and the most recent player in particular that came in is Clique's Yuki, an insane amount of potential on him.

Vaifs - I feel it's going the be the same, people will leave and new people will come. Because Apex is the best game out there. I think some people who left will come back because the quality of the tournaments recently is becoming better.

I consider you the best team in Europe right now, who do you feel are your biggest competition?

hakis - I feel like there are a lot of teams in EU that are really good, the top 5 keeps changing constantly in my opinion so it's hard to say.

iPN-k0u - EVERY. SINGLE. CIS TEAM. (and my ex-teammate Rpr in North)

Vaifs - I don't really know, I fear no one.

As for Apex Legends future, things have started to trend upwards with viewership, quality of life viewership improvements and Respawn soon to be introducing a reconnect. What are your thoughts as to the future of the esport?

hakis - I see a bright future for Apex. There are a lot of things coming that are soonTM. Hopefully, the devs etc keep listening to us and then we can have an amazing esports in the near future.

iPN-k0u - I'm the type to never have expectations for anything in life to avoid disappointment. So I take things for what they are, good or bad, one thing at a time.

Vaifs - Apex is going the become the best game out there.

Finally, do you have anything that you guys would like to say?

hakis - Thank you to everyone for supporting us, it means a lot personally to me to have this many people behind us keeping our mentality strong and ready to keep grinding.

iPN-k0u - Thank you Razer for the amazing gear and Monster Energy for the boost to make us able to pull off the amazing results we've done so far. I wish everyone and their loved ones to be safe and healthy during these rough times.

Vaifs - I would like to thank all the Alliance fans out there. Also a big shoutout to our sponsors. Thanks for supporting us!

While Online Tournament 6 is a few weeks away at the end of May, you can see if Alliance can hold on to their lead in the Apex X League's AXL Invitational's final day tomorrow from 5pm BST/6PM CEST. 
(You can find more Apex Legends Global Series related content on Twitter @haloofthoughts) 
(Picture courtesy of Alliance)

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