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Ahq Is Climbing at Worlds With Mountain and Albis

Ahq e-Sports Club came into the World Championship after playing through its regional qualifier without suffering a single loss. Despite that, there was a lack of expectations for ahq e-Sports Club due to their somewhat disappointing regular season and the fact that — let’s be honest — Taiwanese teams often don’t get as much respect as they may deserve. But so far ahq has been earning that respect the hard way, achieving a solid 2-1 record in Group C, expectedly dropping a game against big brother EDward Gaming.

In a tournament where seemingly everything crazy is happening, from wildcard team ANX being legit contenders in Group A to North America and Korea having the same record after Week 1, ahq has been the most normal. While it is usually Ziv and Westdoor in the spotlight for ahq, support Kang "Albis" Chia-Wei and jungler Xue "Mountain" Zhao-Hong have been just as key when it comes to the spirit of ahq.


While ahq was somewhat devoid of public expectation, Mountain and Albis certainly felt differently coming into the tournament. During preparation, the team was clearly confident in their ability. Going 2-1 hasn’t been much of a surprise for the jungle-support duo.

"We were planning to go 3-0 in the beginning, but I think 2-1 is pretty awesome as well. So, we will be even more prepared for matches coming in the future," Mountain said.

Meanwhile Albis believed similarly: "We scrimmed EU teams a lot and scrims with our team compositions went well, so we thought we could perform well."

Prior to the group, though, Mountain said that they were initially afraid of having EDG in the group. The two teams are known for practicing often with each other, visiting each other’s gaming houses in the offseason and even scrimming using each other’s players. Both teams know each other extremely well, but maybe too well for ahq’s sake.

"Actually at the beginning, we were not feeling too well, because they [EDG] know us too well and they have an advantage when we play. However, recently we have been improving and the status of our whole team is good, so we think that we can fight with any team in Worlds."

As easy as the players make it sound, both have stepped up massively for ahq at the World Championship. Albis’s own experience against EDG’s Meiko and RNG’s Mata is a driving force for his own play. Albis continues to be the support that ahq needs, changing his play as the team needs and providing direction for a wild-horse team like ahq.

"When I play the engage role, starting out teamfights, I try to play like Mata and when I try to be protective of our carries, I look to play like Meiko. Mostly recently, most of the mid game initiations are made by me. When we’re talking about what decisions to make mid game, I’m usually the one who is doing the shotcalling," Albis says.

Meta understanding

There are always champions that take priority at the World Championship, but sometimes it takes teams a tough first week to really grasp what is powerful. Mountain and ahq seemingly haven’t had to take much time to understand just what needs to be played and how wins need to come about.

"Currently for junglers a lot of champs can be countered by other champs. In the current jungle pool, Nidalee and Lee Sin are difficult to counter. Comparing these two champs, I think Nidalee is better. The skills for Lee Sin are a little weaker than Nidalee’s."

Mountain believes that these champions are exactly what are needed to accelerate a game. "So, for this meta it is really easy to snowball off a good advantage in the early game. Actually though, on the other side, I think the reason people love League of Legends is that there is always a chance to turn it around."

Hard times

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for ahq though. Ahq struggled in the regular season for the first time in two splits, dropping down to third place in the standings for the first time in over a year. They couldn’t beat Flash Wolves, they couldn’t beat J Team, and most of the time it looked like the only team they could consistently beat, was themselves. Mountain felt he was at the center of that, but he wasn’t about to let it stay that way.

"So at the time, we were experiencing a time where I wasn’t performing well and the team wasn’t either. We kept losing all the time. At that time, I wasn’t performing well and there was too much pressure that was costing me and the team. I have to do the shotcalling so I had a lot of pressure."

Pressure mounts up for pro players, with constant adaptation and practice necessary to keep in the competitive field of eSports. When a team is losing, that pressure only worsens and can push a player to the edge. Burnout has ended more than a few eSports careers, and Mountain had to tackle it this season if ahq and his career were to stay afloat.

"At the time, my team decided to have a substitute for me as I sat back to adjust my mindset and practice more. Actually, I think that’s pretty important for other pro players — to take a break when necessary."

The spirit of ahq

Ahq is a quirky team and while the team has performed fairly well internationally in the past, their style has always been perceived as something strange or out of the ordinary. Albis has to regularly control eccentric AD carry Chou "AN" Chun-An and the team often has to play around the unconventional Liu "Westdoor" Shu-Wei as well.

There is always talk about "it" factors and what really makes a team. Albis believes that teams can use someone like AN, no matter his playstyle.

"AN is definitely a character. He is hard to control, and he has a lot of different ideas. But sometimes, you need things like this, a guy who has aggressiveness like him, to come out on top."

Sometimes Westdoor can be a little off the wall, but he seems to be the consistency for ahq in what he does. "Westdoor is known for knowing his champions and roles pretty well. So, he’s not crazy like AN, but sometimes he would have these thoughts or ideas out of nowhere like 'Hey guys, lets just do this baron' or stuff like that," Albis explains. He’s not particularly crazy as Albis says, but his uniqueness has been a driving force in ahq for a long time.

With these players and their ideology, both Albis and Mountain believe that they can make something happen. Albis adds on that their belief in each other is what really makes up the spirit of ahq.

"The most important thing in our team is trust. If we take opportunities and make judgements, we do it as a team." Mountain is a little hesitant after just one week of play, but he believes in ahq just as they believe in each other.

"It’s actually just the first week, so many teams have been pretty strong this tournament. For Worlds, I just wish for us to get out of the group stage and to get to quarters. But if we could get to semis or even finals, that would be really good."

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