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Photos of Alphari, the latest addition to Team Liquid's LoL roster.
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Alphari: Mind Over Mechanics

Jan 122021

In 2017, former world champion and meta-defining jungler Choi "DanDy" In-kyu ran into a high-elo player he hadn’t encountered before. That wasn’t unusual, given Worlds would soon begin and plenty of players were boot-camping in Korea or at least practicing on the server. What was unusual was that this player was so good DanDy felt certain he had to be Korean - a local talent DanDy somehow hadn’t heard of.

 

Reaching out to analyst Nick “LS” De Cesare, DanDy learned that this was no Korean. This was a 17 year old from the United Kingdom. It was Barney “Alphari” Morris who, at the time, was the top laner for the Misfits team that would nearly upset SKT in quarterfinals. In the future, he’d be the most lane-dominant top in the entire west, headed to Team Liquid for the 2021 Spring Split.

"It’s gonna be fun to have these big ego matches."

Apart from winning, what gives you the greatest feeling in League?

It’s gotta be playing in a competitive game. Without question, I’d say. [...] Each game is really special, it feels like it at least. When there’s like a big moment in a game, like a solo-kill in lane or you outplay the moment, then it’s a huge, huge dopamine hit.

Knowing that this is what you’ve been working for, what you’re here to do, this is everything, it’s why I’m here: to play in LEC, LCS. Whenever I get the opportunity I’m gonna try and savor it because it’s a great feeling and it won’t be around forever.

Origen had a rough split this despite having a very talented roster on paper. As a player and teammate, what lessons did you take from the split with Origen?

This is something I’ve also learned throughout previous years but it was really driven home this year. It’s that shit can go wrong regardless of expectation or how good a roster may seem. Some things just can’t be predicted or controlled. This is the biggest thing that stuck out to me this year and will stick with me for a long time.

Otherwise, I also tried to appreciate what I still had. [...] You know everything was just kinda rubbish but I tried to still appreciate that I’m still playing League of Legends professionally. I mean it’s a great job! It doesn’t feel great when you’re losing. When you’re tenth it feels really shitty, but it’s about gaining perspective.

In the LCS you’ll be squaring off against two old teammates [from Misfits] in PowerOfEvil and Ignar. Are you looking forward to facing them?

Yeah for sure! I’m also playing against Destiny, Xerxe and Guilhoto too. And Kayys! Kayys is on TSM too so there’s a ton of people over in NA that I’ve worked with before. Playing against all of these old colleagues, teammates, there’s for sure gonna be some ego on the line. It’s gonna be fun to have these big ego matches. [...] I’m friends with all of them and I have a lot of respect for these players too.

Alphari is now the newest member of an already stacked Team Liquid lineup. The recently ascendant super team scouted him for that incredible lane dominance, seeking the final piece that could turn TL into a lane kingdom juggernaut capable of winning from any position on the map.

 

Even still, his time in Origen and on so many powerful rosters made it clear to him that there are no givens in League of Legends. More importantly, he’s found his own style and vision for the game, centered around “taking:” Taking advantage of mistakes, taking leads from those advantages, and ultimately taking away any chance the opponent has of victory.

 

"I’m just super well-prepared going into nearly every match."

Would you like to see TL become more of an early game centric, lane bully kind of team?

Definitely. I think this is the optimal way to play the game. It’s just to play good, right? You have to abuse enemies for their mistakes and you have to be willing to adapt in the early game. [...] I think it’s also the hardest way to play, obviously. I hope that we can play very aggressively on TL. I’m not sure exactly how it’s gonna go before I scrim with the team, right? [...] I think it should be quite likely actually, from seeing how Santorin has been playing the last year.

How much of laning advantage do you feel is created by reading what the opponent does?

I would say not too much, to be honest. It’s just natural to do, to think about what the opponent wants to do and make plans and think about timers. I would say that the majority of lane advantages come from just being better from the opponent in terms of trading and CSing. And then also knowing better what match-ups you want to play going into champ select, what the enemy’s gonna do in draft, and what you wanna do in draft to get yourself an advantage.

Also, I think how you play the first two levels is very important in a lot of match-ups - particularly ranged match-ups. [...] I would say it’s mostly these very small details and being really good at these things, as well as having a plan going into champ select. Knowing what champions you want to play, what match-ups you think are good, and having a read on the enemy. What champion you think he thinks he wants to play and what he thinks you want to play.

Can you tell me a bit about what practice and research looks like for you?

I mean I could but I don’t think I want to. It’s just because I think I do practice quite differently compared to a lot of top laners. So I don’t want them to copy me to be honest, because I think it would make them better! [Chuckles] I practice quite efficiently. I’m just super well-prepared going into nearly every match. This is not because I get help from analysts or stuff like this. I just think about the game a lot.

You requested to train in Team Liquid’s EU Alienware Training Facility. What motivated that?

I’d been at home already for like two months. I feel like having a separate environment where you practice is really beneficial in terms of your mindset and how you approach solo queue and just your day in general. While I enjoy being home a lot and seeing my family after two months I could see that I wasn’t taking solo queue as seriously as I would if I was going to an office.

How important is it as a top laner to communicate really specific minutiae, levels, and power spikes in top lane?

Oh it’s super important. Basically, nearly every match-up in the game is very predictable if you know how the match-up is played at the highest level. Obviously there are variations depending on how the game goes or how the players play the lane, but usually you can predict what’s supposed to happen and you can say what time is good for your jungler to come top. It’s really important to communicate this at the start of the game.

An example of this can be you’re playing a ranged champion versus Irelia and he has push the first two waves. Then he will reset and the wave will bounce back towards him. Irelia is a champion which is very strong at all-inning in the wave but she’s weak at 2v2. If he doesn’t find all-ins during lane phase then his champion kind of sucks.

You can already tell your jungle from champion select, “Hey it would be good if you’re top at around 4 minutes because my wave is gonna bounce and they will have to take the 2v2. Irelia needs to fight in the wave but we will have the stacked wave so we can win.”

It’s very normal to predict how the waves will be played out. You have to tell your jungler and you have to make plans around this for sure, because you’re jungler’s not gonna know about all these matchups. This is your job.

With Alphari coming to Team Liquid, we are seeing the arrival not just of one of the West’s best laners but of one of the West’s smartest players and sharpest talents. Over his 8 splits in Europe, he has set the bar for the region’s top lane over many different metas, with many different teammates, and in many different scenarios.

 

As a competitor, he is young, shrewd, level-headed, and already incredibly successful. Now, he’s joining perhaps the most talented lineup he’s ever been a part of - a lineup that can enable him to carry and DPS or to tank and create space on the map. In 2017, DanDy mistook Alphari for a young LCK talent and LS had to introduce him. In 2020, Alphari needs no introduction.

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