Interview with Ataraxia - Hunting for the Hammer

After his impressive performance in the Fall Split, Nate “Ataraxia” Mark has once again proven himself as captain and hunter of the now top-seeded Obey roster. Even though hunters aren’t the necessarily the ones who run the show in this meta, Ataraxia has dominated each match up thrown his way. His mastery of patience makes his team fighting and objective play a joy to watch. I was able to chat with the charismatic headhunter for a bit about his origins as an ADC and his feelings about the current state of his role.

What got you interested in playing ADC?

“Opportunity, really! My MOBA experience up until Smite was Heroes of Newerth and the League of Legends betas. I always leaned towards the carry roles because I’m a bit of an egomaniac and I love the glass cannon playstyle. When it came to Smite, I was a mid laner primarily and I’d always call that role because back in the old pre-jungle days because they got the most farm. I’d play a lot of the mobile characters like Agni back then, and I had a penchant for Anhur and Neith mid. I remember being absolutely adamant that Hunters should be played mid, not in duo lanes, because they got the most farm and they were the most potent late game!

So there I was, mostly playing Anhur and Neith mid every single game and eventually I got noticed and asked to play on a team in one of the weekly cups with ProxyQQ. He already had a mid laner lined up and since I mostly played Hunters anyway, he asked me to play as the ADC and I accepted. I don’t think we did very well that week. I played on a load of rosters in those weekly cups over the year or so they went on and never amounted to much. I slowly but surely became an ADC main due to the opportunity of becoming competitive rather than my love for the role.

Hunters always have and will be my favourite class in Smite, but I’ve never liked the duo lane. When the meta goes towards ADCs being left alone. I always find a ton of enjoyment in it and usually do pretty well too!”

When you first got into competitive, did you have any role models?

“I love this question because I get to talk about Day9. What’s more, I get to talk about the shared love Prime and I have for him which was totally coincidental. Before either of us got into Smite, hell, before Smite was even released, we were both pining over the wise and wonderful Sean Plott. I can’t speak for him, but I 100% would not have succeeded in Smite if it wasn’t for what I learned watching his Day9 dailies back when I played Starcraft II.

It sounds all a bit overblown and whatnot, but he genuinely changed the way I look at learning in general and I think that the mental attitude I have towards competitive gaming and improving is something I learned from him. That’s key to becoming a consistent pro.”

What do you like most about ADC?

“I love the glass cannon aspect of it. ADCs do a ton of damage, but they die in two mage spells. You need a really good grasp of positioning and how the tempo of a fight goes in order to make sure you’re in the right place to deal damage exactly when you need to while ensuring that you aren’t going to get collapsed on and die. Late game team fights, especially more so now with Thorns, is like a big dance where every step matters, forward and back. This meta has been so much fun to play as an ADC; I’ve loved it!”

Is there anything about yourself that makes you feel like you belong in the hunter position?

“I think I’m patient, which helps. I try to keep things slow and calm so I don’t rush in just to make sure I’m doing damage. One mistake as an ADC late game can cost your team so much, especially in this meta. I think my patience as a person translates well for me into late game fights.”

What’s your synergy with EmilZy like?

“I think we’ve got great synergy. I think Nils and I have worked better than any duo lane I’ve been a part of before. We have a really good rapport and as such, we can call each other out on mistakes and neither of us will get offended. We learn from it quickly, adjust it, and we’re better for it. That’s our big strength; we’re both really keen to learn and don’t let our egos influence our potential to improve.

I really appreciate what he does for me in lane too; he really pushes for aggressive plays that I normally wouldn’t look for in a 2v2 situation and I definitely trust him the most out of all of the supports I’ve played with, which has always been a fault of mine. I’m very thankful for that, and Nils has been a great addition to the team. I think he’s definitely made me a more competent laner, which has always been my weakest point of play.”

You used to be known for your passive play, but people have recognized that you’ve become much more aggressive over the past split or so. What brought on that transition?

“Y’know, I don’t really think I’ve changed, at least in team fights. In lane with Nils, I’m definitely more confident and aggressive, but in the 1v1 situations and team fights I don’t think I’ve changed at all. It’s something I’m hearing a lot, and that’s cool. It's said in a positive way whereas anyone (with the exception of my man F.) would call me passive in a negative way, so I’m thankful for that at least. We actually did a little recount of our deaths this split and I racked up the most on our squad. Hah... if I can spin that as better and more aggressive then I’m down!”

Your change of playstyle certainly influenced your performance for the better this split. Speaking of which, how do you think it went?

“It went really well. I think we panicked a bit when NRG poached maniaKK at the start of the split. I think we did really well with maniaKK and getting to know him as a person was awesome. I mean this in the nicest way, but at this point I’m glad that NRG did steal him. Xaliea has been such an amazing fit into our team and I’m really glad we’ve all gotten on so well. Despite both of us having been to a load of LANs, I hadn’t really spoken or spent much time with him. He’s a fantastic player and I think that he’s revitalised the team a bit, as I think we’ve revitalised him as a player. The split couldn’t have gone better, and I’m really excited for how good as a unit we’re looking going into Super Regionals.”

Is there anything you, personally, or your team as a whole need to work on before Super Regionals?

“I won’t discuss in-depth team things. I think it’s a private thing that should be left between the six of us. For me, personally, I think I need to reign in the team fight dashes a little bit. I’ve watched back a lot of our games and I do tend to go a bit too in these days, which is corroborated by the amount of deaths I have. I definitely think the dashes can be good, but I have to find a happy medium, I think. Unless I’m playing Hachiman. If I’m playing Hachiman I’m looking for that five man horse into five man dash stun every time baby!”

Speaking of, what is your opinion of Hachiman? Do you think he will get played at Super Regionals?

“I’m not sure, to be honest! The opinion in the pro scene is super divided. I know that on Obey, I’m the only one who seems to think he’s any good at all, but we all know the rest of Obey are a bunch of idiots. I think he has some serious strengths and, in the right matchups, could really shine, but I don’t really know what the other ADC players think of him.”

I'm hopeful that you'll pull him out and show everyone who's boss at Regionals! So let’s talk more about ADC as a role. What kinds of players make the best ADCs?

“I think cautioned players make the best ADCs. I feel a lot of people think it’s the ‘all-star’ role where all the lights are on you. I think that can lead to the disillusion that ADC players can or even should be play makers, and in a competitive environment I think it’s furthest from the truth. It’s definitely a reactionary role in my eyes; you’re waiting for the vulnerability to hammer down on that W key and deal as much damage as you can.

I think the players who have a keen eye for these vulnerabilities make the best ADC players. I remember back when he played, Realzx was always insane at this. I think he was the ADC I tried to learn the most from over the years, especially when it came to team fights.”

If you had to boil ADC down to three words, what would they be and why?

“Attack Damage Carry xd”

What’s the most common mistake you see other ADCs make in ranked and/or competitive?

“Right now, I think the biggest mistake I see is that ADCs with pressure don’t keep track of the enemy jungle. With how much ADCs get left alone, you have a lot of room to punish in a 1v1 situation and in that case, I think the number one priority is to secure the enemy red buff or defend your own if you’re being aggressed on. If you have a lead, that’s the best way to abuse it and I think in general, a lot of up-and-coming ADCs don't respect how important timers can be.”

What do you think are the best ways for ADCs to learn?

“Get on a team. Doesn’t matter what level the team is, but I think the best way to learn how to really ADC is to scrim with an organised team versus an organised team. The game is so different with proper communication and your role in it changes too. In ranked, you get solo kills every game, get huge, and just run at the enemy until you hard carry and win. In competitive, that snowball is rarely so skewed to one character and it’s more of a team thing. You can’t learn how to properly team fight in ranked; you need a competitive learning environment in order to get that experience.”

Do you have any shoutouts you want to make?

“Shoutouts to Obey for looking after us over the years and thanks to everyone who’s supporting eSports right now. It’s a really exciting time and seeing all of eSports grow and grow makes me feel all warm inside!”

Hungry for more from Ataraxia? Make sure to follow him on Twitter and Twitch! The hunter hasn’t streamed since Season 3, but with enough support, he might just come back to it!

Written by Lermy