Winner Orjan 'TheViper' Larsen celebrates at Red Bull Wololo V at Castel Heidelberg, Germany, on September 19, 2021.
© Julian Schilase/Red Bull Content Pool

Get ahead of the Red Bull Wololo competition with champion TheViper

Age of Empires is unlike any other esports out there, so ahead of Red Bull Wololo: Legacy we're learning how to get ready to go competitive with Ørjan 'TheViper' Larsen.
Written by Ric Cowley
4 min readPublished on
As anyone who's watched Red Bull Wololo before will tell you, there's really nothing quite like competitive Age of Empires. It's one of the few real-time strategy games to have built an esports scene, and its pacing and strategies are wildly different from anything you may have seen before.
There's still a chance for fans to jump into AoE II and try to secure a place in this year's Red Bull Wololo: Legacy final at Castle Heidelberg, Germany, but there's some serious competition standing in your way. If you're going to succeed, you'll need to learn from the best.
So, who better to teach you the tips and tricks needed to be an AoE pro than Ørjan 'TheViper' Larsen, winner of Red Bull Wololo V and an invited player at Red Bull Wololo: Legacy. Sometimes referred to as one of the greatest AoE II players of all time, if anyone's going to up your game, it's TheViper.

The best of the best

AoE fans will likely remember TheViper's Wololo V victory, which came down to a nail-biting final between him and Kai 'Liereyy' Kallinger, a two-time Wololo winner. It's certainly a match that TheViper hasn't forgotten.
TheViper pictured during Red Bull Wololo V at Castel Heidelberg, Germany, on September 18, 2021.
TheViper's win at Wololo V remains the highlight of his AoE career
"The highlight of my career so far is definitely the Red Bull Wololo V: Enthroned victory," he says. "I hadn't won any of the Wololo series until this one and for it to be the biggest yet, and a LAN event in a real castle, it's hard to top that.
"It was an indescribable feeling and extra special considering that my dad was at the venue. It was his first time experiencing a LAN event in AoE II, after being a part of it for its whole existence, a big contributor to the community and also the reason I play the game."
In the end, what truly decides any RTS is making the right strategic decisions
Ørjan 'TheViper' Larsen
The best-of-seven game went all the way to the end, pushing both sides to their limits. "Even today, I feel a bit disappointed with how I played two of the games I lost," says TheViper. "If I just made one small tweak or changed how I approached one of them, it could have been a less exciting final. I do believe Liereyy will say the same thing, however.
"All games were quite close, especially the final game, which was neck-and-neck for a long time. But I went for a bit of a wild civilisation pick and strategy, and in the end I was able to build up a lead slowly and control it into a victory."

Becoming a legend

The approach to trying something new and wild is something that TheViper recommends to players looking to go competitive, as well as simply diving into the fray and not being afraid of what happens.
"Dare to step in and try to not make it about results. The first few adventures in tournaments might be two games, two losses and you're done," he says. "It's all about the experience and getting a taste of real competition, as it's a completely different environment to the usual ladder experience. It's a really good way to get an idea of what the level's like and what you should aim to work towards if you want to be competitive."
Participants during Red Bull Wololo V at Castel Heidelberg, Germany, on September 19th, 2021.
TheViper recommends working on your early game to get competitive
As for what newcomers to the scene often get wrong, TheViper has a straightforward answer – work on your early game. "I think the biggest mistake I see in general is not producing enough villagers and not starting trade early enough in team games," he tells us.
Of course, if you want to get competitive quickly, you need to learn the meta of a game. According to TheViper, the AoE II ranked meta at the moment seems to follow a pretty standard pattern.
"Right now, the meta seems to be some soft, early aggression, followed by a greedier fast castle, into aggression again. And then adapt from there." If you're looking to play Empire Wars, however, TheViper notes that the meta is "very map dependent", but that "mobile civilisations will definitely look to exploit their early advantage with some early aggression".
You could also learn from watching the pros play, though TheViper is naturally cautious about giving away his exact tactics. Instead, he recommends taking a calculated, strategic approach to every battle: "Fancy micro, great macro, these things are all great, but in the end, what truly decides any RTS is making the right strategic decisions."
No matter your current skill level, it's always important to be learning and with advice from a pro like TheViper you're sure to see your win rate go up the next time you drop into AoE II.
Think you have what it takes to battle TheViper at Wololo: Legacy? Open qualifiers for AoE II start on August 20 – sign up now and see how far you can go. And don't forget to tune into the Main Event, live from Castle Heidelberg on October 21-29.