Jeffrey “Milk” Pan was voted NA’s top TFT player in January, we take a look at his career so far and what makes him so special.
The second edition of the NA TFT Power Rankings was released a fortnight ago. Players who have stuck around since early sets of TFT may recognize Robinsongz, Socks, and Kiyoon as some top performers in this set. Still, there are some new faces that have come up since around set 4 such as Guubums, Setsuko, and Ramkev. Standing above all of them is a player who has been in the scene since the very beginning: Milk.
Known by many as DeliciousMilkGG, Milk Guy, or simply just Milk, he has dominated the leaderboard, crushed tournaments, and jammed out with thousands of viewers to Blackpink on his Twitch streams since the inception of TFT.
Not only has he topped out most of the tournaments he’s played in over the course of his career, he has also held rank one and two at the same time in multiple different sets.
Milk’s Early Career and Playstyle
In Sets 1 & 2 Milk rose to the top quickly by utilizing high cost units and powerful synergies to build out capped end game boards.
In Set 1 he enjoyed playing units like Pantheon and Yasuo for sheer unit strength. Meanwhile, in Set 2 he chased high levels to access Singed and Taric, two legendary units with a couple of the strongest late-game synergies: Poison and Crystal.
Players in similar situations may have been able to claim a top four, but Milk more often than anyone knew the route to secure the first in many games.
In Set 2 especially, regarded as a set with very much skill expression, it seemed like Milk always knew what to do in late game scenarios to close out the game. Even if it seemed as if he was playing at a disadvantage.
Oftentimes he would tell people that a player could have over 200 gold and fully upgraded units late-game and they could still always create a better board to gain an advantage over their specific endgame matchups.
This makes sense considering he has always approached the game analytically; his preferred method of learning the game is not to watch or talk to others. Rather, he spends his time analyzing Lolchess and other data to improve.
Milk recognised as a TFT player first, streamer second
Eventually Milk was signed to a team known as “Golden Guardians” along with a few other streamers, but his contract was not for streaming. He was the first ever to be signed as a player.
This means that out of everyone who played, he was recognized for his potential as a player and not brought on as a streamer like some other TFT players would be later for different organizations (such as Kurumx or Souless).
In fact, the next player to be signed to a team for a player contract in the West was Salvyyy being signed by Team Vitality in Set 4.
Gatekeeping Soju and Lobby 2
During this time of discovery in TFT, relationships were being cultivated as well as playstyles. Top players would add each other in order to ensure they were all queuing at the same time to get better lobbies due to how the matchmaking system worked. Thus, many of them ended up becoming friends.
Notably for Milk, K3Soju was one of his first close friends and ladder rivals in TFT.
In fact, Milk’s main motivation for continuing to play once he had already hit rank 1 was actually to gatekeep Soju and make sure that even if Soju passed him, it wasn’t for long. This was further evidenced by all of Milk’s rank 1 screenshots on Twitter; he always made sure to include Soju right below him on the leaderboard in the screenshot.
When asked about the constant battle for rank 1 against Milk, Soju recalled that “He was probably the only player I respected in Set 1. There was such a skill gap between us and the rest of ladder.” As it turns out, friendships like this would birth a community within the TFT scene and contribute to the rise of the game and its personalities.
One of the first high profile circles of TFT known as “Lobby 2” started out as a group of high level players that had become friends in early sets. This group created a Discord server in which they would talk to each other, play TFT or other games, and watch each other play.
The main reason, however, for the creation of the server, was so everyone could congregate in one place for the main attraction: everyone wanted to watch Milk play. To watch someone stream on Twitch is one thing, being able to watch and discuss in real time decisions with a handful of the best players on the ladder is a huge step up against the competition.
Eventually, Lobby 2 became known to be a collective of not only friends, but many players from different regions, event planners, and even Rioters. Many members of Lobby 2 would make up the participants of popular early-set TFT tournaments such as Twitch Rivals, Cloud9 Nebula Qualifiers, and even a duo tournament based in Taiwan – all of which Milk won.
Milk’s Road to Worlds
Past this point of TFT, Milk continued to play in Sets 3 and 4, missing out on qualifying for the World Championships in Set 3 and eventually taking a break from the game in Sets 4 and 4.5.
The feeling of skill expression being lower coupled with general dissatisfaction for the competitive growth of the game left him feeling burnt out and in need of a hiatus.
When Milk returned to the game in Set 5 he took it slowly for most of the set, only to claim rank 1 once again in weeks 7 and 8 of Snapshots. Quick to notice that Set 5 synergized well with his greedy playstyle, Milk decided he wasn’t finished yet. He continued to rise above the competition during Set 5.5 and ended up qualifying for Worlds.
His strategy going in was to one-trick a popular reroll comp revolving around Kled. He spent days playing in-houses and talking to players experienced with the comp in preparation.
Milk’s hard work ended up netting him 3rd place at Worlds – a fantastic achievement in the eyes of his fans and friends alike, but for Milk, it was not enough. After a run he felt could have been better, he turned his eyes to Set 6.
Prize money for Top 4 at Reckoning World Championship
- Huanmie – $44,500
- QiTux – $28,000
- Milk – $19,000
- DVI Shircane – $17,000
Set 6 and Beyond
With the arrival of Set 6, many players had to start the grind immediately as TFT tournaments began right out of the gate. With even a PBE tournament to crown the “Innovator Supreme,” Riot and its partners outlined a clear roadmap for the competitive scene, giving players many ways to qualify via ladder or qualifier points earned in tournaments.
The motivation for high ELO players to succeed and grind had not been this high in many sets. Opting to grind ladder and keep tournaments as a safety net, Milk displayed the profundity of his skill once again and shot up to the top of the leaderboard.
Though he has had impressive showings on the Set 6 ladder, he was unable to play in the Mid-set Finale due to unfortunate tournament games – but fans of Milk will be reassured to know that he’s already guaranteed for regionals.
Because Setsuko was able to get 4th place in the Mid-set Finale, Milk automatically qualified due to the way qualifier points fell into place.. As a multiset rank 1 and 2 player, tournament winner, professional tactician, and Blackpink enthusiast, Milk is someone you want to keep your eye on.