Copyrighted (c) 2004 by KidArctica.
Please do not quote, copy, or distribute without written consent.
"Once, we played in a well-known cinema in Berlin, and people could watch the games from the big canvas. They were so excited. In every match, when Tak3r would send Peons to the enemy's base to build up offensive towers, a big "lol" went through the whole cinema. You could hear people cry from the cinema to the gaming room. That was really funny."
The story comes from mTw-LasH, team mate and 2v2 partner of mTw-Tak3r - the undisputed European master of towers. 19-year old Christopher Heil from Germany has truly made the Orc Watchtower a major part of his playing style. When asked which Orc unit is his favourite, he does not hesitate: "Tower." And when asked about his favourite Orc unit if he cannot pick the towers, the answer is also simple: "Grunts, to support the towers!"
WARRIORS OF DEATH
A sheer coincidence made Tak3r choose the Orc race when he started playing Warcraft. Living in the small village Hauswurz near Fulda in central Germany, young Christopher and two of his neighbours started playing PC games - all on one computer. "It was about two years before I got my first PC. We played some old games, I can't remember the names of them," Tak3r says.
Then StarCraft was released, and that was when gaming got more serious for Christopher, who was 14 years old at the time. The three friends picked up this new game, and they made their own clan - Warriors of Death. His friends took the names WoD]Harbinger[ and WoD]Warlord[. Christopher chose the name WoD]Undertaker[. "I watched wrestling," he smiles. "Undertaker was at WWF that time. He wasn't my hero, I just needed a name, so I just took that."
Warriors of Death became a good clan. Tak3r got offers from nearly all the top German Brood War clans, but declined them all. "I'm very clan loyal, I hate clan hopping. I don't like it if people just go to where they get the best support or something. I played with the same guys during my whole gaming career, and I don't want to change that just to get into a better team or something. But if other people think they will get happy by clan hopping, then ok," Tak3r says.
When Warcraft was released, Warriors of Death immediately picked up the new game. On the day the game was released, Tak3r, Harbinger, Warlord and WoD]Dodger[ sat down to play a 2v2 game. The three other guys picked races first, and they took Night Elf, Undead and Human. "We all took one race, so I had to take Orc," Tak3r says. Loyal as he is, he stuck with them. "I liked the little green bastards. They have the best towers!" he claims.
In December 2002, Tak3r he had rebuilt WoD three times. Still, the only active members were himself, LasH, Hilo and Uli. Finally, the four of them decided to join another clan. At the time, the four of them were a strong team. Hilo was the best player, and had a top 10 account with a 93 percent winning record on the East solo ladder. Tak3r was in the top 50 with a win record above 90 percent.
"We got offers from all the top WC3 clans except from mTw. Finally, we asked mTw if they were looking for new members," Tak3r reveals. He denies though that they joined mTw just because they did not give them an offer, but also because they seemed like the most professional team in Germany.
"The mTw CounterStrike team had been very successful before and around the time we joined. And we saw that mTw wasn't a clan that took on new members every two weeks," Tak3r explains. When he joined Mortal TeamWork, he changed his nick from Undertaker to Tak3r. "Undertaker sucks as a nick, and I wasn't creative enough to get another," he smiles. And the reason why he chose to use the number 3 instead of one of the e-s? "It's so damn l33t."
His computer equipment isn't all that l33t. Tak3r uses a Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop Elite ("It is good at home, but it sucks for lans since it is wireless") and of course, an mTw mouse pad ("Best pad ever"). He has an AMD Barton 2500@3200, 512 MB DDR RAM from GeIL and an Abit NF7 motherboard. "The board and RAM combination sucks for WC3. I try to sell this stuff to get a new Athlon 64 system," he explains, and complains about a lot of disconnects in ladder games.
THE POWER OF TOWERS
Having played both StarCraft and Diablo, Tak3r quickly took a liking to Warcraft. "I liked the parts that I liked in BroodWar, the basic things of strategy games - micro, macro and so on. And Blizzard managed to get a bit of the Diablo flavour into it by adding heroes, even if that is the reason why Warcraft isn't as balanced as BroodWar is," he says.
And then we get back to those towers. Tak3r discovered the power of the tower back when people started creep abusing the towers on the classic Lost Temple. "I started having fun building towers by my opponents after this tower creeping, and I think I started something called "lame tower rush" at this point," he grins.
Of course he got his share of flames for this strategy. "They weren't happy about losing to towers in their base. I can't remember what they said, but it's always like that when you lose, you get angry and flame," Tak3r says.
Still, he never felt that towers were unfair. "Well, Orc has been weak, so it was fair!" he claims. "Just look at the current RoC version. Orc got no chance against air. After the period of caster abuse from the Orcs, it was nearly impossible to beat a good Human, for example," he says.
Tak3r has always played Orc, but for a few weeks, he also tested out Night Elf when playing team with his ally LasH. "I just massed Huntresses and used Wisps, nothing more. We won against the best German 2on2 team at that time - Jan/Dark - in our first Night Elf/Undead games. But I switched back to Orc after those weeks. Night Elf was easy to play and overpowered with 100 mana detonating Wisps," he smiles. And he was never tempted to continue playing Night Elf: "Noooooo, Orc forever!"
While he finds Reign of Chaos imbalanced, Tak3r thinks that the current TFT patch, 1.14b, is quite balanced. "I can't complain about Orc disadvantage or anything," he smiles. Those who have seen his games, also knows that he knows a variety of strategies - most of which include towers in one way or the other. In addition, he likes those Grunts.
"Grunts are good, because they only cost gold. You can build Grunts and tech at the same time, while other races have to use lumber for their standard units," he explains. Tak3r does not have a standard build or strategy, he varies depending on who and what he plays against. "Hard to explain them all," he complains.
After some encouragement, he gives out some standard unit choices anyway. Far Seer/Shadow Hunter and Grunts, Berserkers and Casters against Undead, Far Seer/Tauren Chieftain and Shamans and Demolishers against Human, Far Seer/Shadow Hunter and Grunts, Kodo Beasts and Demolishers against Orc and Far Seer/Tauren Chieftain and Grunts, Demolishers and Berserkers against Night Elf.
"That is just the basic stuff. I have many other strategies," he points out. One of them is to go Beastmaster as the first hero. That is when Tak3r pretends to be Night Elf and masses Headhunters and fast expands against Undead players. And he also has an all Demolisher strategy, where he pumps them out of three or four Barracks to compliment two heroes.
"I like to use different strategies, so I use my mTw-Taker account to try out new things. But I lose mostly if I try something new, especially in Orc versus Orc. If you don't tower rush your opponent with Grunts, Demolishers and Kodo Beasts, you get tower rushed and the replay will be posted online," he smiles, and reveals that he considers Grubby to be the best Orc player in the world. "He always had perfect micro, ever since the first time I met him when he was a Night Elf only player with insane stats on his old eSo account."
OH, THOSE TOWERS
Tak3r's favourite Orc hero is the Far Seer because of the Feral Spirits, Chain Lightning and of course the speed. "Other heroes are useless as the first hero for standard tactics. Though Tauren Chieftain is fun if you fast expand on Lost Temple. Blademaster is only good against Night Elf to kill Wisps, and later he owns at high level with a Lightning Orb," Tak3r explains.
As for maps, he likes so to speak all the "non ice maps". So why doesn't he like the ice maps? "I hate the graphics set. I want green ground under my towers," he reveals. So there we are, back with those towers of his. Tak3r finds it fun to send two Peons to his opponent's base straight away in a game and then cut down the trees and build towers inside of the forest where he cannot see them.
And that is what Tak3r reckons is his strength in the game. "I am good at building towers. I think it is special that I am still able to tower people even though I am well known as a tower user. Sometimes my opponent asks me "Will you tower me?" and I tell him "Yes, I will" and in the end I tower him, good game."
"I once observed him playing in the NGL finals against MightyX, former SK, now Mouz, on Plunder Isle," the WC3L admin Aktenverwalter says. "He built towers by the natural expansion when MightyX came with his Death Knight and Fiends. Both were fighting to hell while the towers finished, and after some minutes of micro action, Tak3r, the master of tower, switched back to his tower creeping position where all the creeps were dead and he hadn't gained any experience, only the item. His comment: "Oh well - it wasn't planned that way."
In the quarterfinals of the playoff of the fourth season of the WC3L Champions League, Tak3r got in an all-important game against SK.SuRviVoR. The score was 2-2, and both teams needed that last win to advance to the semi-finals. Tak3r won a first, close game after using the Batrider/Demolisher drop created by his team mate LasH, and then he towered SuRviVoR to death in about five minutes in the second game.
"Well, the thing was that I felt almost 100 percent safe to not needing to play the decisive game against Tak3r as I was observing the last game of Smurphet and LasH. When I saw that he managed to lose somehow, I was really shocked, and I was not able to play 100 percent focused which I would have needed against a player like Tak3r. He played well though," SuRviVoR says.
Ocrana D-Link's Take has also been towered quite a few times by Tak3r. "I just know that he has perfect timing for tower rushes, and it works in most of his games. When I play against him, it's like "omfg Tak3r again so let's start to scout and don't tech too hard or have enough to survive the early and middle game." We have played really often in clan wars, Go4WC3 or German qualifiers, and he is always doing the same thing, or seven times out of ten at least," Take says.
"Tower rush is really good against Human, but most Orcs are really stupid and don't know. Especially versus Human who techs to air, that is like 90% free win for Orc. But Orcs who don't do it, and Human can tech to mass air, that's GG, and the Human will win most times. I just have to say to myself "try to tech - if you can survive, you will win. If you can't, you won't," Take adds.
In ladder games, Tak3r has experienced players saying "OMG Tak3r, don't tower me please!" when they see who they are up against. He has even gained such a reputation that some players have started using anti-tower strategies when they face him. "This guy has built towers versus me in all ladder games we played since the beginning of RoC, mostly offensive towers but sometimes more than five on a expansion in a tight game, so he could force me to come up and fight. Lately I have been going anti tower-strategies from the start and it's actually working a lot better then my normal style versus mTw-Tak3r, he uses a really odd style but it sure is effective!" says 64AMD.NitemarE.
Some people have even claimed that Tak3r is nothing without his towers. But Tak3r does not really care about that. "It is ok if they think so, I think I have proved my non-tower skills. If it is so easy to win by towers, they can do and we will see how far they get in important tournaments and leagues."
Well-known for his towers yes, and Tak3r is also known for his love for observing games and listening to shoutcasts. One time, he was even caught audio hacking - he listened to a cast that happened to cast his own game and earned a spot in the infamous team "Cheaters United". "I heard the shoutcast of one 2on2 game with LasH in a WC3L clan war. But it was not my goal to cheat. The fact is that the 2on2 that was played simultaneously got shoutcasted, and I listened to that game because I wanted to know how it went. After our first 2on2 game, the shoutcaster changed games, and after the game started, I realised that the shoutcaster was in my game and not the other one," he explains.
"So I heard the positions of the opponents, and that is all I got as an advantage from the cast - it had four or five minutes of delay. I immediately turned it off, and we eventually lost that 2v2 game. Some people claimed that I won my games against SK.MaDFroG in that clan war by listening to the shoutcast, but that is not true because those games were not shoutcasted by Khaldor. It was the first and last time in that 2on2, and I will never do it again," Tak3r claims.
He dislikes the fact that some people use programs like maphack to get an unfair advantage in a game. "You are nearly unbeatable if you use maphack and if you have the required skill for the top levels of the ladder. But Blizzard is doing a good job by catching those maphackers and resetting their accounts," Tak3r thinks.
KISSED BY A WARCRAFT GIRL
Christopher is currently finishing his last year at high school, and while some of the Korean pros play Warcraft up to 14 hours a day, Tak3r settles at two to four hours a day, sometimes even less. "Sometimes I play more if I have to play important tournaments like the NGL finals," he adds.
Tak3r has won quite some money in Warcraft tournaments, and in the NGL finals that were held in January, he took home 5000 Euros. They were all spent on a new car. "I had a car accident like two weeks before Christmas. It was winter and very slippery, and I crashed," he explains. The insurance gave him 5000 Euros, and with 10 000 Euros to spend, he bought himself a new Skoda Fabia.
However, neither being a good Warcraft player nor having a new car has netted him any girls yet. "Well, the thing is that I live in a small village with 1000 inhabitants, and there are not that many clubs here. I spend most of the time during the weekends playing Warcraft, and most girls aren't interested in persons like me anyway. Computer players aren't accepted in the society like famous football players," he says.
That said, he has been kissed at least, and even by a Warcraft girl. "I kissed Tak3r. It was when he and LasH won the German finals. It was just a kiss on the cheek, it was not really scandalous. But you could write he lost consciousness!" the WC3L admin Yvonne laughs. She also reveals that Tak3r is quite the singer. His interpretation of All The Small Things" by Blink182 even won him third place in an a cappella contest hosted by a German Warcraft site. "I can't sing, but that's required for an a cappella contest, because it has to be funny," Tak3r laughs.
When playing in the World Cyber Games finals in Korea in 2003, Tak3r also got a taste of the superstar pro-gamer life. He had to write autographs, and people wanted to have their picture taken with him. And when he went to Burger King with [pG]Twinsen, three school classes followed them. "They were crying, not because they were sad, but because they met guys with WCG 2003 jackets," he smiles.
Tak3r seems very normal for a 19-year old German guy though. He used to play football, he plays table tennis, he likes reading The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars books and he lives at home with his four year older sister, his parents and the cat Lissy.
In the start, his parents weren't exactly happy about their son spending so much time in front of the computer. "As long as I didn't earn any money doing it, it was not the dream hobby for them, they thought I should study instead of playing. But now they completely accept it. My mother really likes it now, she always wants to read all the comments on the WC3 websites and I have to tell her everything about WC3," Tak3r says.
Having the support of your parents is nice, especially when you travel abroad to play. Tak3r has been to a few major events, and he likes travelling around the world to do his hobby. "It is always nice to meet the people you are in contact with every day on BNet and on IRC," he thinks.
When he was at Clikarena, he travelled there with mTw-ThePig, who is currently inactive. After the tournament, they all went to a club and got drunk, and when they got back to the hotel, ThePig showed off his Kung Fu skills. "He is really good at Kung Fu, and the next day, he was unable to remember that he had done it. He told us that it was very dangerous to do Kung Fu stuff when drunk, but nevertheless, he owned the air with his kicks and so on," Tak3r laughs.
His very best Warcraft moments include towers though. Big surprise. "The best moments are when my opponents don't scout my towers," Tak3r says. German people call him mTw-Tow3r or Towertaker, and in addition, the German shoutcaster Khaldor made a song about him called "Wir wollen dich towern sehen" - "We want to see you tower". Tak3r even has his own IRC channel where his fans hang out, and whenever he gets on BNet, he gets spammed by people whispering him.
"I've got this iogw thing on so that I only receive messages from the people on my friends list. Otherwise, my screen would be all green," he explains. "People don't understand why I am not responding to their "1on1?" and "at?" messages, and therefore I'm an arrogant pro-gamer to them. But I can't do anything about it, cause it is simply too much." His advice to newer players is quite simple. "They have to practice a lot to get pro, that is all I have to say."
Now, Tak3r just hopes that Blizzard won't increase the cost of his beloved towers, and he dreams about moving towers that could be transported in Zeppelins. And until Starcraft 2 comes out, he will continue playing Warcraft. This year, he will try to qualify for various national and international tournaments. The big goal though, is to win the WCG.
"Winning WCG 2004, including all the top players from around the world, not like WCG 2003 which lacked many good participants because it was RoC and not TFT - that would be the greatest of all achievements for me," Tak3r admits.
mTw-Tak3r Replay Pack (17 Replays)
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