Aether League Portraits:  Interview with Scyn Sovereign

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!