A Sit Down With FLUFFNSTUFF
Leading coL Back to Dota
The only pic of him that people attach to interviews.
This week's announcement was big not only because it signified that Fire, considered fresh newcomers just months ago, had reached a new level of play, but because it also marked compLexity's return to Dota. I thought it would be fun to chat a bit with Fluff about how he approached the game and what has made him a success. Enjoy!
Hi Fluff! Thanks for taking the time for this interview. Can you introduce yourself?
Hi, I'm Brian "FLUFFNSTUFF" Lee of compLexity Gaming. I'm 19 years old and I live in California. I play support for my team as well as being captain.
How did you get started in Dota? What hooked you and kept you coming back?
I started DotA about 5 years ago when my friends introduced me to the original mod. I didn't own Warcraft 3, but I eventually bought the entire set just to play DotA. I was instantly attracted to the game because it was so unique. Once I started to play, my main motivation was to get better than my friends. I played in all of my free time and eventually surpassed my friends. At that point I maintained my hunger for improvement and never stopped practicing.
Can you explain the origins of your id, FluffNStuff?
Uniquely enough, I'm an Asian-american male with curly hair. My friends and classmates had decided to nickname me Fluff in elementary school. The ID "FLUFFNSTUFF" was my very first name ever created on battle.net USWest. I stuck with that name up till now.
Your hair is quite magical, would you ever consider cutting it? Are you afraid of losing your power if you did, Samson-style?
Right now my hair is pretty short. I cut it a couple of days ago because it was growing wildly out of control. I prefer my hair to be quite long, but occasionally I'll cut a substantial amount to feel fresh. I don't think it affects me that much.
You and HANNAH_MONTANA have been playing together since the beginning, how do you two know each other? Is he your closest ally in the Dota world?
He and I met through constantly pubbing on US West. We actually didn't like each other very much in the beginning. However after weeks of constantly running into each other, we decided to team up. He's my best friend on the team and I appreciate all the emotional backup he's given me throughout the years.
With your new sponsorship by compLexity, do you feel extra pressure to perform or is it a more relaxed feeling knowing that you have some aspects of your career being taken care of for you?
There is, of course, quite a bit of pressure involved. However, most of the pressure I feel is caused by myself. I hold myself up to a high standard, as my work ethic demands. I hold all accounts of failure and misdirection within the team as my own. As far as pressure goes, I'm used to it. I'm glad to know that my teammates will be taken care of in terms of hardware and peripheral restrictions. Many of our members use very generic $8.00 mice, for example. One even has to deal with playing on less than 20 FPS average. I think, with the backing of compLexity, our team will be motivated to maintain our standard of play.
What are some of the difficulties in being in the NA Dota scene? There are very few top American organizations, is it tough to find practice? Did your team have to learn to cope with lag, to play with Europeans?
Trying to play competitive DotA in the North American scene has been very trying. The lack of incentives, playerbase, and tournaments were a big problem in the past. The North American scene in DotA 1 hardly had any reason to excel. Now things have gotten a little better, but there needs to be more incentives. Right now there are very few teams that we can practice against during the times we play. We mostly have to find time on the weekends to practice against Europeans during their peak hours. We cope with the lag in order to get the practice we direly want. Often times we don't care to compromise our scrims by even suggesting we want US East. When we were a lesser-known team, we didn't even mention that we were from the US. Many teams would just find a new game or tell us that they wouldn't play us.
Fire had quite a crazy start, "coming out of nowhere" as many say, with an incredible record in tournaments. What do you attribute that to? Do you think the overall strength of the NA Dota scene played into it?
We attribute our success with consistent efforts to practice and improve. I feel as if our break into the international scene has been a long time coming. We've all been pretty dedicated players for several years who were well-versed in competitive play. I feel like more tournaments should hold more qualifiers to let lesser-known teams get more experience and exposure. After all, that's how we got our start. I think that the NA DotA is very underveloped right now, but some teams have been making an effort to practice on an international level. With more exposure and accessible tournaments, I think that we can definitely catch up.
Since forming Fire, what has been the most memorable moment? Any hard-fought victories or important breakthroughs in teamwork that stand out?
The most memorable moments were when we had lost in the Infused Cup, dropping us into the Loser's Bracket. I remember telling my team, post game, that we would definitely come back and win the tournament. I say a lot of things to my team to keep morale up, even if I don't completely believe in it myself. I remember trying to motivate my team to keep pushing on when the chips were down. The Finals games versus Absolute Legends were very tough. During our first two matches we had felt an enourmous amount of pressure and felt like quitting. Somehow we kept our emotions to ourselves and took major teamfights one after another (2nd game). After a quiet couple of minutes, we were suddenly filled with great hope. We made our plays count and everyone had started to speak enthusiastically once more. The tournament, in general, had been a great lesson for our team in adaption and perseverance. We would have lost many of the games if we hadn't kept our cool under a barrage of pressure. I feel as if we've gained a strong tolerance for making strong comebacks where other teams would simply quit.
You have a reputation for practicing very hard and taking your career very seriously. What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me, personally, is filled with constant questioning and thought. I wake up and try to collect my thoughts in bed. I've started to do some personal meditation for a couple of minutes while I have time to myself. I take care of a couple errands each day, which make playing in the afternoon very hard. If my team is available to play in the mornings, we'll play for a couple hours until I need to go. Most of our weekdays are really poor, however, as various players need to attend classes. We usually gather around 4-5 PM West. At that point we try to scrounge up some scrims with any skilled teams that we can find. If not, we'll talk about different strategies or improvements we can make. We'll go through replays of our upcoming opponents previous matches usually. Some of us like to play pubs or practice different things in our NADL inhouse league, but I personally avoid those. I'd rather use my energy and time to keep strategizing and thinking. Our weekdays aren't very interesting. We used to practice about 6-8 games on the weekends. We'd wake up early in the morning to play versus strong European teams and practice the majority of our theory. However, now we're quite booked and this upcoming saturday is looking like a 10 hour day of matches.
How often do you practice together as a team? Do you strategize as a unit or is there a lot of individual play?
We play together as a team as much as possible. If we have 5 on, everyone will be ready to play and talk unless we are not able to scrim. My teammates play together most of the time outside of scrims. Sometimes I'll let them know different heroes I want them to get familiar with before they go into games. We are always watching each other play through DotA TV or spectator slots. We also make ourselves available by idling in Ventrilo whenever we are online. We definitely communicate a lot with each other and we are hardly going lone wolf.
You play a style that is very researched and methodical, the kind that can only come through hard work and careful analysis. Are there any players in particular you look up to or study to learn more about the ins-and-outs of how they play? Anyone you admire?
I look up to the Na'vi team in DotA 2. I think that they have a great roster of talented players and I admire their various playstyles. I very much enjoy Puppey's movement and play, in specific. I've always looked up to him as a great presence in whatever team he's played in. He inspired me to improve my Chen and use it competitively. In the world of DotA 1 I looked up to Longdd of DK. Both Longdd and Puppey share similar roles and playstyles to the ones I play. I respect both of them very much.
For important matches do you scout out teams and prepare strategies specifically for
their tendencies, or are your preparations more about concentrating your own strengths?
We like to review our opponents before we play them by analyzing picks and strategies. We like to make sure that we aren't being caught off guard and we know what their tendencies are. Our adjustments vary from team to team. Sometimes we know that we can maintain our style of play, whereas with other teams we might need to use different heroes. Having first pick or second pick has a huge impact on the direction that the games go. I feel like a 3rd ban would be appropriate in the near future. We always try to go for what we're comfortable with first, but we can't always actualize that in our drafting.
Do you watch or follow any other esport games? Do you have hopes for the Dota 2 professional community this year?
I mostly follow the fighting game community in my spare time. I used to watch Starcraft 1 and 2, before DotA 2 was available. Now, most of my attention is on DotA 2. I really love watching the fighting game scene because of the enthusiastic viewers and the great organizations that provide content. As far as DotA 2's professional community, I hope that this year we can rise to the occasion. I believe DotA 2 is such a great game and it definitely deserves much more attention. DotA 2 has the potential to bring DotA to great heights. It took all of the previous engine failures out that kept DotA 1 back. I hope that the Chinese jump on board with DotA 2 sometime this year. Their playerbase is so massive and it would be a huge boost for DotA 2.
More than a few Dota players found themselves lost this Tuesday during the downtime, Mouz for instance was streaming themselves playing Starcraft 2 custom games. What did you do while the servers were offline?
We actually decided to play some DotA 1 custom maps. It was actually very fun and refreshing to revisit some of those nostalgic games. I read, somewhere, that Valve would support mod developers :D. I don't know if it's possible, but I hope DotA 2 could host some fun custom maps. Other than that we were extremely bored. Some of us spent time catching up on DotA 2 VODs that we missed.
Now that you're with coL, have you had much time to interact with their staff and players? Mike Ross is rumored to be quite good, have you played any Dota with him yet?
No, we've only talked with coL.Catz so far. He's been very warm and welcoming to our team. We played a couple of games with him. Even though I don't even play fighting games, Mike Ross and Combofiend are my idols. I can't say that it was a major factor, but some of my inclination to coL may have been because of them. Both are very entertaining personalities within the fighting game community. Although I'd like to play with Mike Ross, I can't help my urge to be infuriated by pubs. Maybe it's for the best that we remain teammates rather than pub buddies.
How can your fans see more of you? Will you be streaming, do you and your teammates have twitter?
At the compLexity website all of our team members will be posting personal blogs. We'll also be posting on the forums. We will definitely start streaming once we've got everything setup. Our twitters are currently being established as well. When everything is ready to go, there will be announcements via our blogs.
Any last words? Shoutouts to sponsors?
Shoutout to our families, friends and supporters. Shoutout to a compLexity and our sponsors: Creative, Soundblaster, PNY, QPAD, and Origin.