Liquid Fire: Q&A with Team Liquid's TC

Tyler “Liquid `TC” Cook tells the story behind his epic match at The International and more.
TC of Team Liquid at The International 2013
TC of Team Liquid at The International 2013 © / R1CH and tree-hugger

No eSports event is complete without an underdog story.

At The International 2013, that title went to Team Liquid – the North American Dota 2 squad who battled their way through the losers' bracket, to face off against a top Chinese squad. The result was one of the most exciting matches of the entire five-day tournament. While they only came in 7th/8th place, Team Liquid made their fans proud.

Red Bull eSports sat down with Tyler “Liquid `TC” Cook, the team’s carry and long time Dota player, to ask about his epic battle at TI3 and more.

What is your routine throughout the regular Dota season, are you full-time? Do you do anything else on the side?

Right now, I'm taking time off from school to play Dota full-time.

Obviously, TI3 is the biggest thing this year. How did you and your team prepare differently for this event than you would have for other big events, like the G-1 League for example?

For this event we were playing in Las Vegas for a whole month – we were boot-camping there, just to play on LAN together as a team for as long as possible, to get comfortable with each other and try to play as much as we could to improve.

The match everyone wants to hear about is the match against LGD. Can you just take me through that match? What was it that allowed you to get the better of a team that was so heavily favored at this event?

We had a good idea of what they would pick if we left heroes in the pool, like Alchemist, so I basically – the whole day, going into the match – was like okay, well, I'm going to pick Razor, gonna go safe-lane, farm up, and if we just go offensive and shut them down, we can win the early game and keep that momentum instead of trying to take them on in the late-game where they're so comfortable, and I think we ended up doing that pretty successfully.

Out of curiousity, what if they'd banned Razor?

Who knows? That's why I took it in the first two, just to make sure! *laughs*

So, then, in your next match, against iG, things didn't go as planned – you drafted a different sort of strategy than you played against LGD and you didn't end up coming out on top. What were you going for, and what didn't go as planned?

In our match against iG, they had first pick and ended up banning out Wisp and Razor, and it made things kind of difficult for us because they have a lot more control when they have first pick. Basically, there's Chen, Batrider, and Outworld Devourer that they would want to first pick and obviously I can only ban two out of the three – so rather than just leaving one I went for a trade with the Bat and the OD.

They were pretty greedy with their lineup: three heroes safe with the Shadow Fiend mid and having the Batrider not even lane against the OD, and I think our biggest mistake was not punishing them enough in the early game and letting them get away with all of that. We did pretty well in our trilane at the start, but then we kind of abandoned the lane. We focused too much on trying to gank the SF instead of just crushing their trilane, so it ended up not working out.

Even though you did end up losing that match, throughout the event – except for MAYBE Na'Vi – you and your team have had the most support of any team here. What has that meant for you as a team?

It means a lot because for me going to events and meeting all the fans is one of my favorite things to do, and the crowd has been really amazing for us playing in these games – just so much support. Even after we lost to iG the crowd was chanting “USA!” for us. It's been really amazing.

You attended the last International as well, along with some of your teammates. How has this year's been different for you, compared to the last experience?

Everything's a lot better organized this year. There's a lot more things to do outside of watching the games, like outside in the main hall there's voice actor signings, you can get player signatures, workshop items, and it's just a better atmosphere. Everything's been a lot better. Bigger prize pool!

You mention that bigger prize pool – any plans on how you're gonna spend the money you made here?

No plans yet.

A lot of players who've been a part of Team Liquid in StarCraft II have talked about how being a part of Team Liquid meant more to them than being on another team – that it just felt “different” from being on another eSports team. How would you characterize your experience being a part of Team Liquid?

I was a big fan of Team Liquid before I joined, before they started a Dota team – I would follow StarCraft II and a little bit of Brood War, so I knew about the site. Being a part of it has been really good, a lot better than any other thing I've ever been a part of. The management is very close with the players, working with them, and I think that's the better way of doing things. The way the organization runs is really good.

What's next for Team Liquid? Where are you guys looking to go from here?

After TI, we might take a short break – maybe a week or two, after practicing so hard. But after that, keep playing in tournaments and try to participate in as many LANs as we can: maybe DreamHack Winter which is coming up soon.

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