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In the growing world of Age of Empires II esports, Kai ‘Liereyy’ Kallinger is a name that is a making a lot of waves. The Austrian, who has been at the top for a long time, has recently taken the scene by storm by winning most of the tournaments in the latter half of 2020. VPEsports caught up with him to talk about his recent win in King of the Desert 3, his surge to prominence and the direction of the AoE II esports scene, amongst other things.

Hey Liereyy! How’s it going? How are the conditions in Austria in these uncertain times?

We have a complete lockdown here in Austria again, so not that good. The numbers are quite high.

Congrats on winning King of the Desert 3! It was a pretty long drawn event. After the loss to Daut, did you feel your odds of winning had gone down in that crazy bracket?

The loss against DauT actually helped me realize what my big issue was because throughout the  group stage, I had a feeling that my game was kind of off. After playing DauT, I watched and analyzed the games a few days later, which helped me realize the mistakes I had been making. If I hadn’t lost to DauT the way I did, I don’t think I would have won KotD 3.

What about the series against Mr_Yo? How did you keep calm in an insane series like that?!

In the heat of the moment, you tend to forget the circumstances and just give it your best. But yeah, going into the last game was pretty nerve wracking.

These past few months have been quite amazing for you – winner of BoA 2, RBW2 and KotD 3. Casters always kept saying that you are one of the best players out there to not have won a major tournament. What changed in your game or approach that has now made you the player to beat?

I believe I got more versatile and was able to execute trickier strategies as compared to before, when my gameplay was quite similar and predictable. Of late, I’ve also started preparing a lot more for tournaments, which definitely helps.

Do you prefer solo tournaments or team events?

Generally, I prefer team events, especially considering the fact that 14 out of the last 15 tourneys were 1v1s. I don’t mind solo tournaments, but I think a balance is important.

Why don’t we see Austria in the 2v2 WC? Did you need a break after a hectic run of tournaments or was it just a matter of not getting a good teammate?

I simply didn’t think we had a chance of getting top 4 or even top 8 with our best lineup, and since I’ve been playing a lot of AoE II in these past few days, I decided to skip this event and invest my time in other things.

A new patch just dropped with a lot of changes celebrating the first anniversary of AoE II DE. What do you make of that patch? Any particular changes you like or dislike?

I really like the changes. Changes keep the game hyped and is healthy for everyone. I wish we had patches like this one more frequently, say every two months or after a big tournament. if they can fix the lag and freeze issues the game sometimes has, the patch would be even better.

Will the nerf to Palisade Wall make it a Scout friendly meta?

Probably not. Players will just wall earlier now. i don’t think it’s good for anyone –  neither for the game nor for the players who are trying to improve – but to each their own.

What are your thoughts on the AoE II esports scene? Where do you think it is headed and any specific things that need to be changed?

The AoE II esports scene has grown a lot in the past few years, especially since the release of Definitive Edition. I think we are learning from the mistakes of the past and its going in a good direction.

A lot of players say the AoE II ladder isn’t the best to gauge the quality of players. What are your thoughts on the ladder and ways it could be improved?

The ladder is very inaccurate when it comes to gauge the quality of players. Most of the top players don’t necessarily put in their best efforts while playing ranked games. But it is good for lower rated players to get to the top, since it is the only way to compete for them. Improving it is tricky and not the easiest thing to do. It’s already good for 99% of the players, just not the top 1%. A possible solution could be to have a prize for the top 3 players at the end of the month.

You’ve been known to love Dota 2 quite a bit! Did you think/are you thinking of going pro in Dota 2 ? Dota 2 and AoE are pretty different games, but does playing Dota 2 help your AoE game in any way?

I was playing a decent amount of Dota 2 two years ago, but me going pro in Dota 2 is pretty much just a meme. I never really said I would go pro in Dota 2; just wanted to improve and see where the journey took me. But now, since there are big tournaments constantly happening in AoE II and I’m busy with other things in life as well, I don’t think it’s worth investing too much time in Dota 2. The game does help me a bit with my thinking process, though. Not just the game, it is always helpful to hear from professional esports players from other competitive esports.

Unlike most of the top AoE II players, you don’t stream a lot. Why’s that? I’m sure a lot of people would love to see you play regularly!

I just enjoy playing whenever I want to. If I were streaming, I would be forced to play a few hours straight, which is not something I like in the long term, but its surely an option for the near future. Who knows, maybe I will start soon. I’ve streamed a couple of times and really enjoyed it, but after a few weeks or so, I was just burned out from the game.

Let’s talk about your AoE journey. When did you start playing AoE and at what point did you realize you can do this as a profession?

I started playing when I was around 8 or 9 years old on HD. Two or three years later, I switched to Voobly and kept playing for fun until i reached 2000-2100 elo. At that point, I decided to join tournaments back then and the rest is history.

One of the best moments of KotD 3 was your dad coming in to congratulate you after your win against Mr_Yo. Does your family regularly watch your games? Do they get intricacies of the game?

They watch every now and then and understand some of it, but not really too much.

What other games do you like playing besides AoE II and Dota 2?

I like a lot of games, in real life and online – Fortnite, Among Us, football (soccer) to mention a few. I also like playing card games and such with friends and family.

What does Liereyy like to do outside of gaming, in his free time?

Currently, I’m working on getting my driver’s license and studying for my last school year through distance learning. There isn’t too much to do as there are restrictions on doing things outside and it isn’t too safe.

Thank you for taking the time and good luck in the journey ahead! Any shoutouts?

Not really. Thank you!

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