Interview With ATF


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Interview With ATF: “If One Hero Is Enough for Me To Keep Winning, Then I’ll Just Play One Hero. For Me It Is Only Important To Win.”

Vignesh Raghuram
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In the high-stakes world of competitive gaming, few stories capture the essence of ambition and rivalry as vividly as that of Ammar "ATF" Al-Assaf, the prodigious talent behind Team Falcons. Fresh off a commanding performance in Dubai, ATF's journey from a bold newcomer to a seasoned competitor reads like a playbook for success and controversy alike.

During a revealing interview ahead of DreamLeague Season 22, ATF shared insights into his mindset, team dynamics, and the evolving landscape of Dota 2.

Interview with ATF

Firstly, congratulations on your team's recent success in Dubai. I'd like to bring up something that caught my attention. In a postgame interview, your teammate from Team Falcons, Stanislav "Malr1ne" Potorak, remarked that you were playing at only 10% of your full capabilities. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on his comment. Could you share your perspective?

ATF: I mean, I obviously think it was not 10%. I would actually agree that we did not appear to be at 100%. I believe some of us were, in fact, most of us probably were. But yes, I think we did not appear to be at 100%. Nor did we need to be at 100%. I believe this was an easy tournament without us ever really needing to go to 100%.

So what percent can we expect in Dream League?

ATF: Well, obviously we'll always look to give 100%. But you know, if you get to play worse and still win. Who cares about it? You want to win it. So obviously we'll give it anything.

Can you describe the team dynamics with the Falcons? And how does it compare to your previous team, like OG, Nigma and Quest?

ATF: This experience was extremely different because the OG team members were all about the same age as me, making it easier to connect. With Nigma, we shared the same culture, so it was also easy to gel with them. Indeed, I was about the same age as them, which made it even more comfortable. However, this team presents a different scenario because we have significant age gaps, such as a 10-year difference between some of the members. This creates a unique and somewhat unusual dynamic that I've not encountered before. It's a new experience for me, and I'd say this team is a mix of various elements.


How has the removal of the DPC impacted you personally and professionally?

ATF: I don't think it impacted me. I think it's good for me because I entered the scene. The DPC helped me to enter the scene by giving me the opportunity to play in Division 2 and such. So, it was beneficial for my entry, but its disappearance doesn't make things worse for me, if anything. It allows me to play in more LANs and similar events.

I think it's overall positive. However, I believe it could negatively impact new players who are looking to enter the scene, as they no longer have the chance to play in Division 2, prove themselves, and then advance to Division 1 to see what they can achieve there.

In your opinion, which region currently leads in competitive play? Western Europe has been considered the top region, but MENA seems to be catching up, what are your thoughts on this? 

ATF: I think Western Europe has obviously been dominant in the years when I played there. Now, this new region, MENA, is almost as strong as Western Europe because I do believe that PSG Quest would destroy these teams if they were to participate in a LAN event. I really think this team is very good. So, I would say MENA and Europe are both strong.

If not, MENA might be a little bit stronger, but we've got to prove more.

You have a reputation of being a really good trash talker among your peers. Could you explain why you like trash talking that much?

ATF: First of all, I was really young, and I'm also a new player entering the scene. It's fun to do this when you're younger, but you don't really think about what's good; you just do whatever you want to do, so I think that's why I was very toxic.

Why would I do this? If anything, it is to tilt people who are playing against me. Even though I'm toxic, I could take advantage. Why would I not? Some people could hate it, some will not, but why not take a chance? That's why I like trash-talking.

People would also get mad at me, so it's funny to see people be like “you are toxic,” which is funny.

What are your views on Valve's recent ban on Smurf accounts for pro players?

ATF: I like the ban on smurfs because it levels the playing field in ranked games. Some players had an unfair advantage, while others were at a disadvantage. It's not enjoyable for anyone except the person smurfing. If they lose, they don't really care since it's not their main account. And if they win, they don't achieve anything significant; they're just playing to improve.

Banning smurfs is good because now those who smurf will experience the same consequences as others when they lose. They'll feel the impact and will need to care more than they used to. This also addresses the issue of hiding matches since it's harder to hide one's identity, right?

What are your thoughts on all the Overwolf and Overplus programs? Do you think that they should also be banned?

ATF: I don't really understand it, but if Valve doesn’t allow it, then yes, you should get banned. Some people still use it, but if it's not allowed, then yeah, they should get banned. However, I don't really know how useful it is or what it does; I've never really cared about this thing. But if it's considered cheating, then yes, you should get banned.

I don't think it's that it gives you that big of an advantage, but it is whatever.

In the past, you faced criticism for having a limited hero pool. What are your thoughts about it?

ATF: I'm not sure about the validity, but I don't believe that playing a small number of heroes is an issue, as some suggest. Non-professional players might not understand why I choose to do this. However, I don't think I have a limited hero pool; I've demonstrated that I can play many heroes.

Obviously, I've had problems with summons but I've been getting better. I got to play one Beastmaster game last year, I got to play two Broodmother games. There is some improvement I can do. I do what I think is the best for me to win. I don't really care about how many heroes I have. If one hero is enough for me to keep winning, then I'll just play one hero. For me it is only important to win.

So, are there any heroes that you want to add to your hero pool?

ATF: I would love to have Beastmaster in my hero pool. I've always said that this hero, for me, is very difficult to learn. It's really... When you become good at this, it becomes so fun. But before, you're just playing really bad. You're losing when you should win. So if anything, I would like to add Beastmaster. 

Which team are you looking forward to playing the most in this tournament?

ATF: OG and Team Secret

Finally, do you have anything you want to say to your fans or your opponents?

ATF: To my fans, thank you for supporting me, the freighters, thank you for supporting everybody. Thank you very much, I appreciate everything. 

And for enemies, we are not done yet. We are coming again for more wins.

Note: Some responses have been edited for the sake of brevity

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Vignesh has been covering the esports industry for nearly 5 years starting with the early days of the DPC. His industry expertise includes experience in Dota 2, CS:GO and Mobile Esports coverage.

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