FrostyTV joins us along with two members of the 2018 FRC Champions, Nikoza and Mateo.
The Aether League regular season has concluded. The top 8 teams participating in the Season One Cup are:
Friday we will have the bottom four teams fight for the 5th and 6th seeds in our bracket.
On Saturday, Jan 27th, watch the games on our Twitch channel @AetherLeagueFFXIV from 6pm EST - 11pm EST.
If you are looking for more PvP resources, you should check out the Wolf Pups Den Discord server.
Here is a quote from Korihu Yanhu of Aether, whom helps run the server:
Please remember that our aim in this discord is to help our fellow players improve! As a result, you may sometimes get DMs or mentions pointing out any mistakes you might have made and what you could have done to get better. This is not done maliciously (but do let us know if someone is being unnecessarily toxic)! We aim to help you and your fellow players improve, think of it like a classroom!
This Aether League Portraits series wouldn't be complete without an interview from the man behind the League. Scyn Sovereign has been working on this project for months after having the initial idea - since then, the concept has gone through changes, as has the PvP in FFXIV at large, but on the eve of the official Aether League start date, we can take the time to look back and be proud of what was accomplished. For the 5th and final installment of the series, Volene had the chance to meet with Scyn to talk about the creation of the league, his expectations of it then and now, and his participation in it as a player.
Volene: Hi Scyn! First of all, thanks for accepting the interview, it’s really appreciated.
Scyn: Thank you for having me!
Q: Let’s begin with the same question I asked the other participants before you – could you start by introducing yourself and your PvP profile?
A: Sure! So I really started PvPing with the introduction of Frontlines. I started off on Monk and gradually made my way to Black Mage. Then a friend of mine told me I could 100-0 players with a super easy rotation on Summoner and that is where my career on Summoner began. I pretty much played Summoner for the majority of the time in Seal Rock. Once Feast came out, I participated in season 1 till about halfway in and got bored. I skipped out on season 2 because it just wasn't my thing. Then I really focused on Feast halfway through season 3 until present day. I’ve hit diamond season 3 through season 5. My drive in PvP is to play the best so I can improve as a player.
Q: So, it's no secret that if I'm having you today, it's mainly as the founder of the Aether League. How do you feel now that this project of yours is only hours away from becoming a reality?
A: Honestly it’s very exciting. It’s great to see an idea like this flourish and gain traction like it did within the community. My expectation prior to announcing this league was about 5-8 total teams for season one and I'm happy to say we hit 12 for the first season. With that said I am even more excited to see how this season plays out as we have a lot of strong teams participating. Honestly, if you were to tell me 6 months ago that this league would get so much attention and hype prior to having a single season completed I'd call you crazy. But now that it is less than a day away from reality it feels great.
Q: When did you first get this idea of starting a league for FFXIV PvP? What did you have in mind for it? Like you answered, I think it’s fair to say that the community's response to it so far has exceeded your expectations?
A: I first got the idea literally hours after the Aethercup ended. I was talking to Mateo and a few other people and said, "What if 10% of the total 400 viewers participated in a league format?". 40 players, 5-6 players per team, that is 7-8 teams right there. You add the 5 teams that participated in the Aethercup and you make 13 total teams. What if we had a league that wasn't time-constricting and promoted involvement regardless of skill level? At that point I was expecting laughter or push back but the response I got was simple, if a system like the Aether League was in place we would participate. And that that moment I thought, let’s do it! What I had in mind was this year long system where we would eventually build up to 12, 16, and 24 teams. I kinda thought of the League of Legends e-sports tournaments and the hype around them and tried to build a system similar to that, where we would have these "seasonal splits" that would build up to the grand championships. The best of the best duking it out for the top prize and the glory that goes with it. A few of my ideas had to be toned down, however most of them stay true till even today. And honestly, yes, everything about this league has exceeded my expectations. From the involvement of teams to the players willing to help out and build this league.
Q: That means you had the idea and started working on it before the big 4.0 changes to PvP, both the action overhaul and the Light Party mode being completely removed from the game. How did the expansion affect the development of the League?
A: It did and it didn't. We knew that the league itself would generate enough interest to run, however what we didn't know was the amount of interest. The action overhaul and Light Party removal definitely hurt us in the beginning as people really didn't see a reason to participate in a league when Light Party didn't exist. But once Yoshi-P announced the addition of Light Party cross-server customs in 4.1, we were back on track. In my eyes the action overhaul was more of a wash. We lost some players but at the same time we also gained new players which is evident, with a handful of current Aether League teams being partially filled with newer/new players to Feast.
Q: In the same way, patch 4.2 is supposed to bring more changes to PvP, including what could be a revival of the official (rather than fan-organized) ranked Light Party Feast, now complete with team registration. How do you feel this could affect the Aether League? Could it be a tool for you to use, or would do you think it would compete with the League for players interested in Light Party?
A: Honestly, my primary reason for creating a league was because there wasn't a system in place in the game. If Square Enix would build a system similar to what we have with the Aether League I would be happy. How it affects the league really depends on what they do. If they simply restart Light Party ranked but with team registration and don't add anything else then we will continue hosting seasons without any issues as they wouldn't have addressed some of the primary reasons Light Party failed in the first place. However, if they really put in features the community has asked for, well that will affect us and at that point we would have to decide as a team whether Light Party is in a good enough place where the league isn't needed anymore or if we should run simultaneously with it. Let me make this clear, I am all for a built-in system that mimics the aether league as that will only help the PvP community as a whole.
Q: What made you want to be the organizer in the first place? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that your profile prior to that was more that of a player with little staff experience - what made you want to step up and create the league over someone that had organized tournaments or scrim nights in the past?
A: So I've always wanted to impact the community in a positive way. That has been my drive from the beginning however I never found the proper outlet to do so. In the beginning I was really trying to get my feet wet so to speak as a player. Tried to gain as much experience as possible because at the end of the day no one is going to follow a no-name. I had to build a reputation. I had to become a name that most players knew, that most players could trust that I had some idea when it came to PvP. Whether people hate or love me as long as they knew me that is what I cared about. Once I got to that point and after the Aethercup had ended I thought the Aether League was the best way I could impact the community and help not only grow the community but improve the community as a whole.
Q: And you will be participating in the League as a player too, and the leader of your team, though you registered fairly late with the last few groups. Did you always have the intention to participate, or were you holding onto the idea until recently seeing if there would be room?
A: I initially wasn't intending on participating. I wanted to spectate and assist when needed to help facilitate the league and make sure it would be successful. But Mateo bullied me into building a team last second (yeah I called you out!). So I made one, but I'm glad I did. I am now excited to participate in the first season and hopefully we will do well. We got a solid team with great players.
Q: What do you expect from the contestant side of things? How do you think your team can measure up to the others?
A: I honestly think we will do well. We don't have the experience that most teams have as we signed up late as you said but we are definitely starting to mesh well together. I think we will know our identity in a few weeks, and from there, the sky’s the limit.
Q: Lastly, has there been discussion on what the League rewards will be? After the Aethercup, there was a commission made of the winning team - will there be such rewards this time around? Or will the teams compete for the pride and bragging rights that come with being the champion?
A: As much as I would love to simply set the rewards to bragging rights I know that won't fly. There has been talk about rewards however we haven't really agreed on one yet. However one thing we did agree on was having 3 smaller rewards for the season tournaments and one larger reward for the Grand Tournament at the end of season 3. Hopefully come mid-season we will announce what the rewards will be.
Q: Letting the hype build, I see! At any rate, that was all I had planned. If there is anything you wish to add, now is the time!
A: I would just like to really thank everyone who came out and participated in our official scrims as well as thank all the teams that registered. I look forward to seeing these matches as we go live come Sunday. I also would like to thank everyone who has influenced the league in one way or another because without them we wouldn't have the league we have today. And lastly I would like to thank you Volene for creating such a great series. Every piece has been a fantastic read. Hopefully we get similar pieces throughout the season as it progresses!
Q: And thanks to you for creating this project in the first place - without you, we definitely wouldn't have the League we have today! And thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions. Best of luck to you and your team come tomorrow!
A: Thank you!
Also known as Mateo, Xy Xx is one of the most versatile members of the community. Having participated in all modes as a player, he also played a support role in community events and will keep this going in the Aether League. Volene had the chance to benefit from his unique insight and ask him a few questions for the 4th installment of Aether League Portraits.
Volene: Hi Mateo! I wanted to start by saying thank you for accepting this interview, it’s really nice of you.
Xy Xx: Thanks for doing this! Super entertaining to read and see all the different insights.
Q: Thank you! So, could you start by introducing yourself?
A: Most people know me as Mateo - however, I name changed to Xy Xx in the middle of season 3. Coincidentally, season 3 was the first season that I participated in. I always loved PvP, and casually started in the Wolves Den (l entered as soon as I could with the wifey at level 30 and we had a blast, despite being rocked LOL). That passion really started to grow when the first Frontlines map, Secure, was released. I literally quit everything in the game to queue 24/7 as a Marauder, or Bard (my only two jobs at the time). Meanwhile, in the Wolves Den, my hype for PvP was at an all time high... seeing the shouts by Joe Never about #FNF (Friday night fights), along with the super intimidating teams/players popping in out and out of duty (Stefan really sticks out as one player that I looked up to a lot)... Ultimately, I was one of those players that, as much as I wanted to participate in these high level matches - I was crippled by fear of underperforming and never really found an -in-. Seal Rock rolled around, and I followed a similar pattern as I did with Secure... until one day I just got bored.
I quit for approximately a year and a half, only to return at the behest of one of my greatest friends in FFXIV, Air Weaver. He raved how FFXIV PvP was so amazing now with the new arena mode, how I'm missing out, if I can lend him money for a name change, etc etc. So I returned in time for the beginning of season 3. I remember my first day back to FFXIV clearly. I was invited to Straigus's PvP linkshell on Balmung (I believe it was called Casus Belli at the time), and on the same day, I was invited to participate in a custom match... scratch that, not invited, DRAGGED by Air Weaver. I played Warrior, as this was my main before I quit, and apparently it was a simple job to play in the Feast... according to Air. Fumbling like a mofo and being literally thrown into the fire against some of the best players, I somehow adapted and started to love the game once again. Grinding through solo queue on various jobs, but mostly Monk, I earned a spot in the top 100 ranking on the solo queue board for season 3. Season 4 I competed as well with a bit more confidence and a few tricks of my own. Once again I competed on various jobs, but mostly stuck to Monk . In both season 3 and 4 I also competed in Light Party Feast. This was my baby and where I learned the most. Season 4 also marks a really special memory for me, and that's the advent of the scrim nights that Kiri Gaia directed. Eventually I helped Kiri run the show behind the curtains and fell in love with the community. Which brings us to the Aether Cup, a silly idea between +ONE and myself that to this day is regarded as one of the most popular community-led PvP events. My role was that of co-organizer, recruiter and shout caster.
Q: Right, so as a player, you've participated extensively in ranked Feast solo queue, Light Party, Frontlines too, and you can play all four roles at a very high level, but what made you stand out in this interview is that beyond that, you've also been involved in the community as an organizer and even done shout casting during the Aethercup - I can't think of anyone else whose implication in the PvP community has been so broad. Of all you've done, what would you say was your favourite part?
A: Thanks for the compliment! It's difficult to answer, because my experiences in solo queue, Light Party and even Frontlines allowed me to build relationships and familiarize myself with the community, allowing me to speak and direct freely. There's perks to each endeavour, so I'll answer like this: Through solo que I've met a huge variety of players - yes, even GARO players (NICE JOB!). Light party I felt a different and elevated degree of competition that was honestly very enlightening. Frontlines was super cool as well… working with so many, usually strangers towards a common goal was fun fun fun! Organizing events and shoutcasting became almost the next logical step... it was a natural transition and I had a ton of fun! That said, I can't pick a favourite instance - they've all helped me grow as a player and have really seeped into a passion for the game :)
Q: With that in mind, in retrospect, how would you say the changes in Stormblood have affected PvP in FFXIV, both within gameplay and outside of it, like with the community? Say, one good thing and one bad thing?
A: I knew you'd ask that! My personality is one of an optimist. So even if things are really gloom, I'll be the one trying to find that elusive light. At first, I was cautiously optimistic with the changes. After playing a few matches in a solo queue format, I actually enjoyed the gameplay - it was really refreshing. As time went on however, I grew to long for the 3.X system, citing lack of depth and skill differential between players. Fast forward to today, I believe I've solidified my stance. The bad: Allowing level 30 characters to compete in ranked gameplay is a damn shame. I truly feel the wintrading problem has been exploited a lot easier due to this, along with multiple alts cluttering the board… top 100 is a challenge for this season. The good: the community has grown exponentially! Cross-server custom matches have allowed us to host awesome events such as the Aether League!
Q: Speaking of the Aether League, of course you also decided to participate, both as a player and a staff member. In fact, some consider you the League's co-founder beside Scyn - do you think that's fair?
A: This time, yes, I've decided to participate. Our idea with the Aethercup was very exclusive. The Aether League has spun that upside down to be very inclusive… anything can happen! Scyn is most definitely the brainchild of the project - it wouldn't be fair of me to identify as the co-founder! That honour goes to all the staff and league officials working together to make this dream a reality.
Q: Could you talk about this dual involvement of yours? Do you think it could become a problem, for example with real or perceived conflicts of interest? Why, or why not?
A: Certainly. As a participant, and team leader, I have linear goals. Do the best I can for my team, inside and outside of a match. As a staff member for the league, I'm charged with keeping the backend running smooth and troubleshooting any issues. I believe these to be mutually inclusive and as such, do not foresee any conflicts of interest; most of the league staff and officials are actually team leaders/participants as well... I'm really happy with the sportsmanship displayed thus far. Our community has a lot of growth potential, looking to the future I feel the lines between staff and participant could widen a good amount by the sheer volume of PvP enthusiasts; everyone will settle into their appropriate role in due time!
Q: Moving on, let's talk about your team a bit. You signed up as the leader of team Embrava, which is made of yourself, Atreus Auditore, Air Weaver, Frost Belle, Kiri Aiga and Jay Park. Is that correct?
Q: Now, you might know that the very reason this interview series came to be was because I was told by Air Weaver that if I wanted to know what SBAV stood for, I would have to ask you during an interview. Well, nearly a month later, here we are, and your team isn't named SBAV anymore. Still, I would be sad if my quest were to end like this. Could you grant us more insight about your old team name?
A: The origin of the name comes from Kiri Gaia, who, when asked what it stood for, FORWARDED the question on to Air Weaver… who then… well, SBAV stands for Send Bobs And Vagene. Our answer to when asked what it meant in a voice interview would have been saying sendbobsandvagene really really fast. Our old Discord name was of course SBAV, which got replaced by our current team logo. Atreus has immortalized the old SBAV in his new Discord avatar. ALSO... we ran 3 damn polls to come up with a new name, which is now (nerd talk incoming) Embrava, for the FFXI Scholar spell that granted Wolf Heart-like buffs, and the shortened name AV to reminisce Absolute Virtue, which is also an FFXI reference... you could only kill AV with Embrava at certain stages of the game.
Q: Anyway, if you don't mind talking strategy now - while it's widely assumed that some members of your team aren't exactly moving parts (thinking mostly of Atreus on Paladin and Frost Bell as healer), many of your players like Air Weaver and yourself can fill multiple roles within the team, and for example the melee could be played confidently by 4 different people. With that said, you have been seen practising Black Mage a lot during the League's scrim nights - is this the strategy you will be rolling with come the League start on November 12th?
A: You're absolutely right. My vision for the team was to have flexible players, that way we could utilize many different compositions and strategies. Black Mage has been a job I've been wanting to play for a long time, not even motivated by Accelerator, but the job's identity and actions spoke to me. In 3.X I coined the terms "throwing rocks" on healer, because I had a trigger finger and really liked... throwing rocks... there's just something about the offensive and defensive capability and more importantly the skill cap and busyness of the job that really attract me. However, my job is not set in stone, and neither are my teammates... we used the scrims, win or lose, to test different strategies and explore their strengths and weaknesses. That I feel is the beauty of the current light party system - the meta is up for grabs.
Q: And with that, what are your expectations for this upcoming first split? Do you think your team has what it takes to be crowned victors in December?
A: My honest opinion is that anything could happen... I'm excited and nervous at the same time. Regardless of the outcome, I feel confident in our team - we'll definitely come out guns blazing and have a lot of fun in the process. If I could use this opportunity to get something off my chest, I'd like to talk about team ECF; the coined “god team”. As a staff member, one of my roles was organizing scrim nights along with Nikoza and acting as recruiters for the league. The most common response I got from way too many individuals was “No use competing as long as ECF is a thing.” This irks me to no end, I do agree that the team is comprised of some legendary status players, however, that does NOT make them unbeatable. Playing against such a team is a privilege, it is a win/win situation. There's games you win and there's games you learn. I guess this is my way of saying... MAN UP. (P.S. Embrava for season 1 champions 2017 8D 8D 8D 8D)
Q: Well, that was all I had planned. Was there anything at all you wished to add?
A: Oh yes! First of all, thank you Volene! This has been great fun - you bring honour to the Duskwoods. Secondly, I encourage everyone to get out there and experience the Feast in a light party format. It is a completely different beast compared to solo queue. Lastly... to anyone that's reading this and is in some part intimidated to participate as I was, I urge you to bust out of that shell. Do it for the rewards, sure, but stick around for a while and get to know the community, try your hand at some community-led events and ask as many questions as you possibly can. We are all very approachable, memes aside - toxicity does NOT relate to the PvP community. You'll find the Nice Jobs generally come from wood-tier individuals.
Q: Well then, thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions, and best of luck with the League start in a few days!
A: queue up pussy
As far as the PvP community goes, few players are more renowned than Angelus Demonus. Known for such things as soloing PotD and enemy tanks alike, hosting the largest known PvP illegal immigration network on Aether, and proudly causing team wipes since 1872, the iconic Summoner gracefully accepted Volene's invitation to take part in our Aether League Portraits series. This third interview aims to show Angelus's outlook as a team leader and Light Party veteran.
Volene: First things first, thank you for accepting this interview, it’s much appreciated!
Angelus: Of course!
Q: Just to start us off, could you speak of your overall profile as a PvPer? This interview will focus on your role as a team leader, if it influences the angle you wish to take.
A: Sure. I started PvP since it was first introduced in Wolf's Den, but arena was not so much my flavor at the time, so I didn’t have as many matches as some of my fellow PvPers who also started when it was first introduced. But when Frontlines was released, that really peaked my interest, so much of the community probably knew me first through Frontlines before the Feast.
I started the Feast in season 1, but I didn't really push too much with it so I didn't reach any significant rank. Season 2 I started very late, basically at the end of the season, and ended up at rank 55. Seasons 3 and 4 were where I played it pretty seriously, getting ranks 17 and 29 in season 3 on two characters, and ranks 7 and 18 in season 4 on Aether, and rank 9 on Chaos. I've pretty much played SMN for a majority of my matches, both in Frontlines and the Feast. I just felt comfortable with it once Heavensward came out and stuck with it up until now. I have always gravitated to caster classes overall in various games, so it made a lot of sense to me.
Contrary to possible belief, I started being the "team leader" with the start of Aether League. When my team did the Aethercup, Raiden Gensai was our designated team leader, at least by title. He didn't want to continue into the Aether League unfortunately, so I simply took up the reigns.
Q: I see. And how far back does your team go? Was it only formed for the Aethercup, or were you on the 4v4 Light Party scene prior to that?
A: We formed in season 3... Raiden sort of just collected us just as a "thing" to try. Personally, I did not Light Party before then; didn't have a team or anything, and Cactuar wasn't exactly a big PvP community at the time. Additionally, I wasn't really searching for a Light Party group either, so when the idea was proposed for the team to form, I wasn't opposed to it, and I thought it might be something fun to try out.
Q: And I think it's safe to say you don't regret it - what do you like the most about Light Party now?
A: Definitely don't regret it! I like the coordination for the most part. Especially now with how Stormblood PvP really focuses on team play, it's refreshing to be able to play with people who are more or less on the same page and you can make plays in a match that you usually don't see in solo queue. Another reason, and I can only speak for my team, is it's just a lot of fun getting the group together to play some matches. The members are very chill, and it's pretty fun just playing the game, win or lose.
Q: What do you think is the most important in a successful Light Party team? Would you rather form a team with a few friends even though they might not be the best PvPers and work on the gameplay from there, or make a team from strong players and learn to work better together over time?
A: Let me answer that as two different questions. I think the most important thing that a team would need to be successful is synergy. Knowing your teammates’ strengths and weaknesses, what they might do in certain situations, their limitations, so forth, can really make the difference in my opinion. When teammates can predict what their teammates will do multiple steps before it actually happens, that can be superior to just having someone read out orders for each and every play.
To your second question, that one is a little harder to answer... This is just me speaking personally here, but I would much rather run with people I like personality-wise, or just playing with... so friends, yeah. This is a game after all, and I think it's still important to be able to play and have fun. You might have more success pulling in top-tier players and mashing them together into a group, but that might be a gamble. You might get conflicting personalities, and perhaps that power team will only stay together for a short amount of time to just achieve the nearest goal. But it's also possible that said team could thrive and learn to like each other...it's not something you can predict. But at least with friends that maybe you have known for some time, you might last a while as a team, therefore continuing to evolve and improve, and produce something that could be of a unique quality.
Q: I see. And now, I believe you brought in Lester Holmes to replace Raiden, who like you said wasn't interested in going on with the Aether League. Is that someone you already knew? What made you turn to him in particular?
A: That's correct, we brought in Lester Holmes to fill the empty slot we had. He was almost like a forever rival of mine in seasons 3 and 4, since he played Machinist while I played Summoner... so naturally we were never on the same team. But over time I was able to talk to him here and there, get to know him a bit, and I had a lot respect for him as a player overall. He had done very well in ranks, so he was definitely a strong player in his own right. I knew in season 5 he started to play a lot of Dark Knight, and my team had decided what roles they preferred to play for the season, so it ended up we were in search for a tank. He was the first name I had in mind when I started my search, and he happily agreed to play with us... and so far he seems to fit right in with how my team is. To kind of bring in the question you asked previously, we are still working out a lot of kinks synergy-wise, since we don't have too much playtime together prior to season 5, but we are steadily getting there I think!
Q: Right, that was going to be my next question. Talking strategy here, while it is widely assumed that you will stay on the Summoner and Triple Mango will remain your team's healer, I did see Atchh play a lot of melee while he previously your tank, while Lester mostly plays Dark Knight and Warrior. So, is that a confirmation that you are switching things around for the Aether League, with Atchh now on melee and Lester as tank?
A: Well, in the process of figuring out what we were going to do moving forward, I basically just wanted to find out from Mango and Atchh what role they were feeling this season... that's simply it. Atchh loved Dark Knight in Heavensward, but for Stormblood he put a lot of time into melee, and at the end of the day felt most comfort running as melee. I had tried my hand at a few different roles, but Summoner is still my cup of tea. Essentially I wanted them to decide on what they were comfortable with first, then once we decided where we stand, we would look for a suitable member to fill the empty slot.
Q: Did Lester Holmes work on his TBNs? Every time someone died, the TBN went on himself, and TBN has no delay like benediction or Hallowed Ground so there really is no excuse
A: Hehehehe. It's a work in progress everyone. Please look forward to it~.
Q: Sorry, I had to. In all seriousness, what do you expect from the Aether League? And from your (everyone's) first season competing in it as a reformed team?
A: From Aether League I expect just a lot of people coming together to have a good time and learn and be better at FF14 PvP. Thus far, to me, it looks like people are having a lot of fun, and we are all learning from each other each week. I'm actually surprised at the amount of teams and interest it currently has right now, and it's very refreshing and exciting to see. From my team? I hope we get to a point where we are considered a strong threat. I don't expect us to be the top team in existence; as I said we still have a lot of work to do. But I believe we can stand pretty high and be pretty successful. I feel my team has a lot of upside and potential....and worst case scenario I know we will simply have a good time each time we gather up. They are a great group of guys that play to have fun, and that's good enough for me.
Q: Right, I'm also excited with the amount of people who signed up already, and a fair many of them are in new teams. If there was one thing you could say to an aspiring team leader as a team leader yourself and a veteran of Light Party, what would it be?
A: I would try to remember two very important things as a possible new leader and new team: patience and positivity. One of the biggest things I learned trying Light Party out for the first time in seasons 3 and 4, is that you need a lot of patience... patience in understanding your team, patience in learning and executing strategies, patience in knowing you're going to fail a lot and lose a lot. But that's when you start seeking the positives from each match. Maybe you got stomped and 600'd fast, but try to see what you did well, or what didn't work, and fix it for the next time. And also understand some people might need more time to understand their roles and their abilities in a team format, and give them a chance to succeed. Getting frustrated at your team because they aren't doing things you are talking about will drive your team to the ground, and you'll get nowhere. It might take an entire night of matches to work on 1 little thing, but if it makes your team better than it was when you started the night, take that as a victory.
Q: Lastly, I wanted to ask you about job loyalty. As you mentioned, you're mostly known for your Summoner play. It was the job you stuck with in the 3.X meta, where it wasn't bad, but where Machinist just blew everything out of the water - in fact, in the Aethercup your team was the only one who didn't have a Machinist. It's been said before that job loyalty is pointless in this game where you can change at will. What are your thoughts on this? Would you still play Summoner if it was bad to the point of being unviable? Would you switch jobs? Or just not enjoy Light Party as much altogether?
A: I personally think each job has its own niche and usefulness, and with how Light Party is currently situated in Stormblood, that might become a bit more prominent. It is difficult to argue against what is meta, and running with the roles that are clearly more successful by the raw data or the results. But sometimes, at least for me, you've played a job for so long, it still feels better than playing a job that should out-perform on paper, but might not have that much experience with. Yes, we were probably one of the few teams that would have run a non-meta composition. Insert more teams into Aether Cup, it probably would have been a lot more PLD/WHM/MCH/MNK. Frankly, at least for my team at the time, we didn't even discuss running as what is "meta". I personally had zero experience on Machinist, Atchh had some experience on PLD but really played DRK the most, so we just stayed with what we were good with and tried to have success with it.
We were handicapped by our job choices, perhaps, but I'm a strong believer that something is more fun and enjoyable when you try out different possibilities and different routes to victory. It's probably the far harder path to take, but sometimes you just might pave a road for others to follow and have success where others just simply were unable to. You might surprise yourself and the people around you.
Q: I see. Well, that was all I had planned. Before we conclude, is there anything else you wished to add?
A: A lot of the kneejerk reaction to PvP and its community is that it tends to be toxic, and I've heard a lot of stories of people being discouraged to continue trying it or even attempting it. I think much of that is simply just passionate players wanting to succeed and accomplish their goals, not true toxicity and hatred towards specific individuals and such. What I can tell you, though, at least with the Stormblood Light Party scene and Aether League thus far, that particular community of players are all very cool people. It's being run and organized very smoothly and professionally, and everyone participating thus far has been very respectful to each other, and it's a huge departure from what is being perceived as the "PvP community" as a whole. I strongly encourage any group of 4 friends or players to form a group, find out how to join the league, and get your matches in. What you'll experience is not only a fun time, but an awesome learning experience, and perhaps this could be your perfect chance to step into that solo queues or into other PvP modes…
Q: Thank you very much for your kind words and your insight, I'm sure many players will find it really valuable. And thanks again for accepting to take part in the interview, best of luck to you and your team!
A: Not a problem, thank you!
As a reminder, Angelus will be participating in a streaming marathon at twitch.tv/Angelusdemonus in aid of the Children's Hospital of Philadephia (CHOPs), which will include two official scrim nights for the Aether League before the start date on November 12th. Be sure to tune in should you have questions for him yourself or be interested in the final two Aether League scrim nights - find more information at https://www.extra-life.org/participant/angelusdemonus.
The second installment of our Aether League Portraits series takes us elsewhere entirely. While, ultimately, community events and tournaments like the Aethercup and the Aether League are all about high-level play, there is a lot of work that takes place behind the scenes in order to make them happen. Organization, branding, increasing interest, viewership and participation are all vital parts of any successful event.
With that in mind, we sought out Ice Phoenix for our next interview. Having been involved in the PvP community for years, she has taken on a lot of the aforementioned support work and has been instrumental to many past community events, most recently the Aethercup - her implication as Aether League staff comes as no surprise. Volene had the chance to ask her a few questions.
Volene: First of all, thank you for accepting to take part in this interview, it's really appreciated!
Ice Phoenix: Sure thing!
Q: Could you start by introducing yourself and your overall PvP profile? Feel free to speak of your community involvement beyond your experience as a player.
A: I'm Ice Phoenix, I do graphic design work for some of the fan-made PvP events such as the Aether Cup and Aether League. I started PvPing at the very end of Secure being the popular mode and Seal Rock being introduced, back when the Grand Company rivalries were strong and the queue times were 45+ minutes long. The PvP community was a lot smaller back then, and you easily became familiar with the regular PvPers of your grand company. Discord had just started up so I decided to make my own Immortal Flames server and would invite other Flames that I saw in Seal Rock to join. This eventually lead to us trying to coordinate queues to attempt to get into the same match, since this was before cross-server party finder was a thing. I had heard about the Team Tryhard Discord from a friend and was one of the first Aether players to join, and thus eventually became a mod there.
Q: Specifically about ranked Feast now - do you sometimes feel like this is the only mode that is discussed and that the community considers relevant? What is your experience with it or Light Party?
A: I do feel like it's really the only mode that people consider relevant at this point in time. I think a lot of what that has to do with is that Frontlines is far too objective based - Shatter in particular, I mean, in theory you can win the mode without killing another player for the duration of the match. That just doesn't sit well with me for a PvP mode, whereas Feast is all about strategizing, communicating effectively, and killing as a team.
I queued solo for the first two seasons, although as a ranged DPS the queue times were pretty abysmal and honestly I couldn't commit to queueing daily due to things happening in real life - and in my free time I didn't want to sit around for an hour to maybe get a game or two in. Season 4 was my first experience with light party and it was far more pleasant than solo queueing, it's a shame they removed the mode, although cross-server customs kind of help with that.
Q: Did you consider joining a team for the Aether League once cross-server customs were brought back to the game? Why, or why not?
A: When I had initially heard about the concept of Aether League I was very excited for it. Although once 4.0 and the changes to PvP came, it's unfortunately just not something my heart was in. I'll gladly help the community with organizing things and offer input where needed, but the changes to PvP has caused something to be lacking for me. I guess I enjoyed the complexity of pre-4.0 ffxiv PvP. If a team is needing a ranged/summoner and assuming I'm free at the time, I'll hop in and play as a sub, though. I don't care to discourage others from getting into it, if you enjoy it, then that's great!
Q: With that answer, I'll ask you the same question I asked Nex. A lot of veteran PvPers echo the thought that PvP lost a lot of depth with the changes in 4.0, an opinion which you seem to share, but how do you think if affects a Light Party setting specifically? Do you think good coordination could mitigate this lack of depth, at least to an extent?
A: Part of me feels like I haven't observed enough post 4.0 light party to give a very accurate answer. I feel like if you were to take two veteran, light party teams that are relatively on the same level (IE, Nex & Co. vs. RareX or something) then it's possible for the matches to still have a bit of that 'depth', so to speak; however, if you take the aforementioned team versus a less experienced team, I almost feel like the skill gap is worse in a sense now than it was before 4.0, albeit in a bit of a different sense.
Q: Moving elsewhere now - Could you describe to us what your work in the community has consisted of prior to the start of the League? You said you did work as a graphic designer?
A: I've made a couple of Twitch assets (banners/buttons/offline screens) for some of the Feast streamers, including King Stefan and Nex, as well as for the previous Light Party tournament, the Aether Cup. For the latter I pretty much gave the tournament its brand identity, similar to the Aether League, although with a bit more creative liberty. I also designed the logo/logotype for PvPaissa.
Q: What would you say is the best part of your community involvement? In other words, what do you like the most about it?
A: Aha, this'll sound a bit sappy but I honestly love getting to know the community and seeing how they've changed and grown over time. I love the people who can genuinely take a bit of criticism and improve on it, and to see them improve is phenomenal (a good example would be yourself, but no need to include that in the interview!) [Editor's note - it will be included in the interview]. I mean, I've gotten to know people from all over the world, and it's very interesting to me not only how different their day to day living is, but how different datacenters have different strategies and metas for PvP. It really puts things into perspective that just because we do things a certain way in Aether, it doesn't mean it's the only way, or the right way to do something in the game. People just play differently on different datacenters and I find that fascinating.
Q: On the other hand, what would you say is the hardest part of what you do?
A: Hm... well I would say the hardest part about doing graphic design work for the PvP community is that I have an idea of what might look good, but most of the time that is not what the coordinator has in mind. It's very rare to design a piece for someone and have it be spot on how both of you had imagined. So that takes a bit of work. I don't really know if I'd say it's hard but it certainly is time consuming.
As for the community and moderating, probably the hardest thing for me is trying to be as open minded as possible. One thing I do notice the community has a bad habit of jumping/criticizing a single person and others are quick to join in, and it's not always warranted. So playing devil's advocate and trying to offer a different perspective to calm the flames a bit is necessary but certainly isn't something I consider myself good at. I mean, it's PvP and tensions run high and people get mad at each other, it's to be expected to an extent... just gotta know when to draw the line with it, ya know?
Q: Yes, I can see what you mean. Lastly, could you speak of your role in the upcoming Aether League? Getting it started, and keeping it running. Will you be mostly doing graphic work again? Or moderating?
A: Scyn first contacted me a few months before 4.0 hit and asked if I was interested in helping him design things for the Aether League (as well as participating in it at the time). I gladly obliged and we set out to make the logo, Discord icon, and Twitch assets. I've also designed a few award features that people may or may not be seeing in the foreseeable future, you'll have to wait and see. Although I've been told that I am just as much a moderator as anyone else within the group, I consider myself a bit removed since I am not an active participant. I will offer my advice and input on anything that's brought up as well as relay any concerns that I may hear, but that's about the extent of it. Oh, and I am somewhat a liaison for the Aether League in the Team Tryhard Discord because it seems that someone is a bit intimidated by Falz.
Q: I don't understand, Falz is really approachable, you just have to ping him! At any rate, that's all that I had planned. Is there anything you wish to add?
A: No, I can’t think of anything.
Q: Well then, thanks a lot for all you do and thanks again for accepting this interview!
A: Thank you!
With the start of the Aether League officially announced for November 12th, we at PvPaissa set up an interview series called Aether League Portraits with high-profile League participants and staff to learn more about them and what they do, as well as give them an opportunity to share their thoughts as the competition approaches.
To kick off this series, Volene had the chance to interview Nex Cross, a dominant player and one with a strong case as the best Monk in the game throughout Heavensward. After he took Aether's top rank in seasons 1 and 3 solo queue, Nex hasn't been seen much in Feast outside of his participation in the Aethercup tournament, but he will return to compete in the Aether League alongside team ECF.
Volene: Hello Nex! First of all, thank you for agreeing to this interview, it's really appreciated!
Nex: The pleasure is all mine!
Q: So now you'll be back to compete in the Aether League. Before then, I think the last time you were really active on the PvP scene was during season 3 when you took rank 1, correct? I don't think you participated much in seasons 4 or 5.
A: Yeah, I kinda took a break from climbing the ladder due to not having enough time, I would have loved to compete in seasons 2 and 4 but time constraints held me back a bit.
Q: And what about season 5? Was that also due to a lack of time, or were you just not all that interested?
A: Due to the recent changes to PvP in 4.0 I'm taking a back seat as far as ladder climbing goes. At the moment I find the changes they made to PvP completely lacking in depth and identity. Overall I think it was a pretty awful change and a failure from whoever manages PvP, it also seems to backtrack completely on things they've talked about before. In an interview in South Korea, Naoki Yoshida expressed extreme interest in getting into the e-sports scene with XIV PvP, talking of tournaments, prizes, etc... Yet the changes made to the game since then have been nothing but catering to a casual audience, and in complete disregard for veteran players who have enjoyed PvP since its release. To say I have faith in the dev team to make PvP as competitive and full of depth as it was before would be a lie, but I do hope that they try to make changes for the better, I would love to feel passionate about this game's PvP again.
Q: So you would agree with those who think the 4.0 changes to PvP took away much of its depth. But what about high-level matches in a Light Party setting specifically, like those the Aether League will bring? Do you think coordination could mitigate this lack of depth to an extent?
A: I think from a spectator’s point of view, there will be no lack of depth or understanding if you were to compare a match from 3.0 PvP to a match from 4.0 PvP. Viewers will witness things the same way they had before, like a hard swap or coordinated CC leading to a kill. From the player's point of view, I'd agree that coordination absolutely mitigates the lack of depth... but to an extent, and really only on the base levels competition.
For most competitive environments in games, like League of Legends, teamwork is important just like it is in our game's PvP, but tacked onto that is a myriad of other things like macro play, game knowledge, mechanical ability, etc. XIV has these things, but the dev team has dumbed them down to the point of a complete lack of interest, as if you're playing a mini-game version of what it should be. An example could be the burst combination of a 3.0 Monk to a 4.0 Monk. In Heavensward the best burst combo was Howling Fist > Somersault > Elixir Field > Tornado Kick > Axe Kick > Steel Peak > Forbidden Chakra > Shoulder Tackle > Mercy Stroke, and that's not even counting pre-buffing. In 4.0, a Monk's burst is simply Snap Punch > Chakra > Tornado Kick. Of course I'm not saying that I'd like them to make things more complicated for the sake of making them complicated, but more along the lines of feeling as if you've been rewarded for playing a class to its highest potential, which the current PvP is lacking on. That said, I will absolutely enjoy my time playing in Aether League with my team, and think it will be incredibly fun to watch.
Q: Now, less about PvP as a whole and more onto your participation in the incoming Aether League. You've signed up with team ECF alongside Uncle Acid, General Esudesu, Last Boss, Nikoza Envy and Straigus Reyist, is that correct?
A: Correct, I was added as the last member about a week ago.
Q: Who spoke to you about joining the team? In other words, who would you say recruited you?
A: Last weekend I practiced with Nikoza's team because one of their members couldn't play and they needed a sub. To be accurate no one really spoke to me about joining the team, I found out I was on it when I found myself added on their team roster through the Aether League google doc. They're all friends and people I've played with before so I guess they didn't feel the need to ask me.
Q: Speaking of Nikoza, he told me that if I wanted to know what ECF stood for, I would have to ask you in an interview. So, here we are... Could you tell us what the team is named after?
A: It stands for Eorzean Cancer Foundation. It's a personal Discord that I made a long time ago for close friends and PvPers.
Q: And what about your role in the team? It's no secret that you earned your reputation through your Monk play, but as of now it is widely considered one of the worst melees, especially for Light Party, because it's so one-dimensional and doesn't bring much to the table. Can you reveal what you will be playing, or should it remain off the record for now?
A: I'm definitely a melee player at heart, so I'll most likely be playing Samurai and Ninja.
Q: Lastly, I wanted to ask about your mindset going into the Aether League start. After the Aethercup in May, your team admitted in an interview that your priority was having a fun time between friends rather than going full tryhard to win - of course you still did your best, but the team was made of 3 melee players and one tank, with only you being on your main role, and you would have done otherwise had your goal been to win above all else. How are you approaching the competition this time? Still mostly for fun, or are you determined to prove your team is the best there is?
A: Deep down, I'm a very competitive person. I learn from my mistakes and try to improve as a player with every single match, but I still hate to lose, regardless of what I'm playing. Even if I'm lacking the passion that I had before, I will be trying my best to win and not let my teammates down. To answer your question, all I can really say is I'm not sure, I'm taking a back seat as far as my team's mindset goes. I want them to form their own opinion on whether they want to take this seriously or just have fun, and whatever they decide, I'll match it.
Q: That's fair. One last thing now: I mentioned your team from the Aethercup, and I couldn't help but notice that all of them are now part of team ECF with you, except Kiri, who signed up with team SBAV. Do you have thoughts to share on this? Do you wish he was on your team with Last Boss and Esudesu?
A: I wish he was on our team for sure but I think it's probably better this way, because him, me, and Esudesu all still main melee.
Q: And Straigus as well, if I'm not mistaken. Anyway, that answers all of the questions I had for you. Did you wish to add anything?
A: I'm excited to play in the Aether League and I'm hoping to face a lot of good teams playing at their best. If there is anyone checking out the Aether League to watch me play I hope to be at my best and not disappoint. Thanks for taking the time to do this Volene, I look forward to reading the rest of your interviews with other players.
Q: And I'm sure you'll put on quite the show for anyone tuning in to see you play. I wish the best of luck to you and your team for when the League starts, and thank you again for answering my questions!
A: Of course!
About a week ago, we got our first glimpse at the 4.1 Patch notes, and the PvP changes that were to come with them. Then on Tuesday, we got a hands on look at how those changes played out. Some were good, others not so much. We've also got an official post up on the official forums from GM Zhexos. So we're going to take a minute in this here post to go over the changes, go over what Zhexos has to say, and express a bit of our opinions based off of our own knowledge and experience.
First up, there were some pretty huge changes to several jobs. Some great buffs, and minor nerfs.
WAR received a really nice extra ability with the return of the old PvP action "Thrill of War". The readdition adds some party survivability, which was a very vocalized weak point of the job prior to this patch.
As with many of the other jobs we'll go over, WAR did get something taken away in return for receiving this buff. Inner Release has been removed from the WAR toolkit, which is a pretty bit nerf to their personal damage potential. However, the verdict stands that Inner Release is more than a fair trade for Thrill of War.
DRG is next, with a small gameplay change.Battle Litany has been removed and in it's place is Dragon Sight. While it may seem like a nerf, it's actually proven to be a very powerful ability. It has added extra burst potential to DRG and their co-dps, since this top-loaded 10% on the two hardest hitting party members is of greater potency value than 5% on all 4 members when it was spread to the healer and tank.
A big downside of this ability is it's 'cue'. It is very obvious when the ability is used, and so it is very easy to anticipate when the DRG is going to burst. Of course, there are ways around this, but it is worth mentioning.
DRG also saw some changes to damage distribution. Geirskogul and Nastrond now do a bit less damage, but this is counteracted by allowing it to occur quicker/more often with the changes to Dragon's Eye and Life of the Dragon.
Skewer was also nerfed by 10%, which is a decent hit to their debuffing power. Overall though, DRG is relatively in the same spot as before.
BRD has some more serious changes to it, as does MCH. We'll start with BRD. Troubadour, as we can see from the above excerpt from the patch notes, has been added to the BRD PvP action arsenal. It's a pretty nice ability with some tactical choice in choosing whether to use it for defense or offense. Very cool.
BRD also had a change to repelling shot. Now it not only projects the BRD backwards, but it also binds the target they repelling shot off of for 2s. This is a very nice change and adds yet another CC to the BRD toolkit. With both a silence and a bind, they are a very support-esque ranged role job choice, making them an interesting pick.
However, their utility also took a hit with the removal of Battle Field March, the ability which restored TP/MP for your team. This is a pretty big hit, that cannot be denied. However, the utility shifting away from MP restoration and moving into other areas might just be better for the game overall.
MCH was given a similar, but different treatment like the BRD. Report, their TP/MP restoration ability has been removed. However, they didn't get any additional CC. They do still have 2 forms of CC: Stun Gun and Blank.
Flamethrower is the new MCH ability, and after doing some testing with it, it has great potential. However, it's practical use is very low in our experience. Getting an enemy to stand still is very difficult, meaning you will almost never reach the 10 stacks of the dot (which does stack to 2500 potency per tick - a massive amount of damage). That said, it is a very good zoning tool and can be used for area control at several points, especially in Lichenweed.
RDM has seen the most changes out of any job this patch, their playstyle shifting somewhat significantly. There's alot to cover here, so this might be a bit long winded.
The addition of Vercure means that RDM has become a bit more versatile in it's ability to support. The heal isn't particularly potent, being weaker than even a Regen, but it's no exaggeration to say that the extra 1500 HP restored could save a teammate from being killed. In the few games we've played with RDM so far, there have been a handful of occasions where Vercure came in handy.
The Ver-builders were also buffed in their resource generation. More B/W mana = more frequent burst. However, Manafication was removed, which means your burst will have to be built up naturally, and will be less on demand. With the limited amount of games we've played so far, it's hard to say which is truly better, but for now we believe that Manafication with its more "on demand" burst utility fits the current meta better.
The changes to Verholy and Verflare, Verholy in particular, give RDM much needed resource regeneration. They had pretty harsh MP problems before, but this changes allows RDM to do more damage with Jolt/Impact combo, or get out a bit of healing with Vercure without having to worry about going OOM.
Monomachy got nerfed. What was once a permanent fixture of a debuff has now become a timed window, just like most other debuffs in the game. While this is a nerf, it's not too horrible,as it just has to be used more intelligently to either do more damage or to kite harder.
Building off of the Monomachy change, we have the changes to RDM mobility. With Corps-a-corps and Displacement resetting their CD when used on a Monomachy target, this means that a RDM can now kite like a god. They were insane at kiting before, but now even more so.
The verdict? RDM is in a way better spot now than before. Their damage is still lacking, but they are very good at kiting to prevent damage and assiting the team with heals. They are still not a very good pick when compared to something like BLM, but they are not the same "oh shit, we lost" job as they were predating the patch.
There's a lot of words here for AST, but it can be summarized pretty simply. AST had Draw replaced with Sleeve Draw, and Minor Arcana got added. Also, Deorbit has been removed.
This is a very good step forward for AST, but it's still not on the level of WHM, not even close. However, the extra OGCD and HoT in Lady and the offenssive utility of Lord are very potent, and brings AST up a notch. We got to play around with it a bit, and it does feel significantly stronger.
Simple buff to PLD damage here. It really made them a lot better. We've been playing a lot of Light Party games lately with PLD, and this change really shows a difference in their ability to put out pressure. Before, PLD had to sacrifice precious MP to spam Requiescats, meaning they would not have much MP to support with Clemency. Now, they can DPS while conserviing their MP, and from a range at that, so there is no hit to their support utility.
There were a few other minor job changes, but they are not really worth mentioning. However, there were a few additional systems added with this patch which are wildly positive.
The first of these new systems is the addition of cross-server custom matches. This has been asked about for a very long time, and it's finally been delivered. We now have a platform to practice with a wide variety of people in an environment not tied to our rating, with the much needed control of being able to select your teammates and spectate matches. Tournaments and other fun events are just over the horizon, so stay tuned!
The second is the addition of the 4v4 Solo Queue Training Mode. Another long asked for system by the playerbase. It provides a platform for players to go in and try new things, or even just get started learning, without the risk of losing their ranked points just because they wanted to branch out and try something different.
The final change here worth mentioning is the change to matchmaking. If you played in Season 1, you'll remember that you used to be matched within a single tier of your current tier. This means that Diamond players ONLY faced Platinum players, Platinum could face Diamond or Gold, but not Silver, and Gold could play against Platinum or Silver, but not Diamond or Bronze. So on and so forth. Well, we are back to that system, which in the opinion of many, is a very welcome change since you will theoretically be placed with players around the same level as you.
A few days ago, we heard from one of the Community Representatives, Zhexos, on the official forums. His post is in regards to an updated system that will be getting pushed out to report illicit activity in PvP.
You can check out the post here: http://forum.square-enix.com/ffxiv/threads/348527-Easier-Reporting-for-PvP-related-Incidents
Now, this may look good in writing, but we remain skeptical. The act of reporting illicit activity has never been the issue from the perspective of players, the issue has always been that it seemed like our reports were not producing any sort of results. However, if this new and easier to use reporting tool will have a positive effect and reduce the amount of blatant cheating we see in PvP, then it will be a tremendous step forward for the game and it's community. This will remain to be seen, and you can expect us to provide an update over the coming months to see whether or not this change has reduced the amount of cheaters.
That just about sums up all of the PvP changes and news we've got recently. Some pretty positive changes, and several steps taken forward for the PvP fans of FFXIV. Thank you all for reading, and we look forward to being able to provide you with another update when the next round of changes are released!
The EU community team will be holding a streaming event on Ragnarok this week. Tune in and you will have a chance to win a Fangs or Claws T-shirt!
Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at 17:00 (GMT) / 18:00 (BST)
The European PvP Stream is back! This Wednesday, dive once again into the Wolves’ Den with the EU Community Team, and play all of the updated PvP content since Stormblood! Revamped battle system, Frontlines, The Feast… the fights will be fierce, but of course friendly! Join us on Twitch for good fun and awesome giveaways! Beginners welcome!
Prepare yourselves, patch 4.1, The Legend Returns, will be coming in early October. The new PvP 24v24 content will be locked until 4.15, so grind out your last bit of Feast rating first! When 4.1 hits, you will be able to reunite with your friends, who may have server transferred at Stormblood launch, with the new cross-world tool. Practice, practice practice, then form or find a team for the Aether League!
In this PvP content players will be separated into two teams of 24--the Ravens and the Falcons. Players will be able to ride goblin mechs and do battle. Riding them will grant access to specific actions. There are very strong machina as well, so if you ride them, you’ll be able to use powerful actions, which can be used to turn the tide of battle. We would like players to enjoy this new content after completing the newest main scenario, so we’re planning to release this around Patch 4.15 (after the current Feast season).
PvP Custom Matches
Players will be able to start cross-world custom matches. With this feature, you’ll be able to hold practice matches and such.
Players will be register friends across Worlds. You’ll be able to register them to your friend list through the contact list.
Players will be able to send /tells between Worlds.
2018 NA FRC Champions
Aether League Season 2 Champions