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!