SSG Ambition: “I was surprised at how FoFo held out against Crown”

Interview taken from InvenGlobal

SSG Ambition was surprised at how J Team held out against them.
On July 6th (HKT), LCK’s Samsung Galaxy defeated LMS’s J Team in the first match of the first day in the Rift Rivals Red Rift. Chanyong “Ambition” Kang was chosen as the MVP of the game and was interviewed on air after the match.
Ambition started the interview by sharing how the game surprised him. “We wanted to take it easy but the game didn’t go as planned. I’m glad we still won.”
While SSG managed to get hold of the game through macro plays, the early game wasn’t easy, and Ambition agreed to that sentiment. “The early game wasn’t easy because J Team was not far too behind in vision control and laning, and we got caught too many times by their decisive moves. It wasn’t easy.”
Sungjin “CuVee” Lee especially have been JT’s target throughout the game, and that made the game more difficult for SSG. “They were gunning for the top lane from the start. The game went bad as we got caught by unexpected ganks. However, I wasn’t too worried too much because our botlane duo was doing well. It became more difficult when we lost a few teamfights though.”
That wasn’t the end of surprise for SSG, as Ambition felt that JT’s midlaner, Chieh “FoFo” Li, was stronger than he imagined. “I was surprised at how FoFo held out against Minho “Crown” Lee. JT should not be underestimated.”
Ambition promised to do better in the next match against EDward GAming. “We will show a better performance against EDG than our first match, and make sure that we defeat them.”
Ambition ended the interview as he expressed regret over having no chance to eat local delicacies. “I wanted to try out dim sum – xiaolongbao – when I came here, but I’m disappointed that I haven’t had a chance to eat them yet.”

Moon: “Playing in NA can be really depressing”

Interview with Moon taken from Slingshot Esports

After a fourth place finish in the North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS) spring split, FlyQuest has struggled to win series in the first half of the summer. Following a Week 5 win against Team Dignitas, Slingshot’s Emily Rand caught up with FlyQuest jungler Galen “Moon” Holgate to talk about the team’s slow start.

Emily Rand: Congratulations on your second victory. How are you feeling?

Galen “Moon” Holgate: I’m feeling pretty good. Winning definitely feels slightly better than losing.

ER: Just slightly?

GH: Definitely slightly better than losing (laughs). I don’t feel depressed. After every other game I would crash on caffeine, we’d lose, I’d go home, lay in my bed. I guess I’d sleep for a couple of hours…but yeah, today I don’t think I’ll take a nap when I get home. Or maybe I’ll take a happy nap.

ER: You had a really hot start to last split but fell off toward the end of the season, whereas this split you’ve struggled early. What has it been like for you, this split compared to last split?

GH: We kind of just sucked, I guess. And we still kind of suck. When you start losing, everyone goes into panic mode. Last split we maybe got complacent when we were winning every game. For me personally, though, it’s been really shitty. It’s been really hard. I think I ride off of confidence, so when I’m losing every game it’s a lot harder for me to get in the zone. I guess I just forgot what it was like to win, honestly. Even when we won against Phoenix1, it didn’t feel like a win, really. It was the two bottom teams playing each other, like who cares? But today it felt like a win, and it feels really good to win again.

ER: To defeat Dignitas today, did you have any specific approach, or was it just general team improvement for FlyQuest?

GH: I don’t think approached Dignitas differently from other teams. Just this past week we had a — well, not successful scrims, but productive scrims compared to normal.

ER: What were scrims like before, then?

GH: Our scrims have been slowly getting better. This week, we did really well in scrims but it seemed like we were scrimming really bad teams. Not really bad teams, but it felt like things were going really badly for other teams. I guess we were just dying less? Normally our scrims are like, “OK guys, everything’s going good, oh shit I’m dead.” And that happens for five minutes and then we lose. We’re getting better at not killing ourselves in scrims, so that’s a good way for us to improve. I’m learning a lot from scrims.

ER: Parity was something that a lot of people talked about last split, where it seemed like every team could take a game off of another team. This split things seem a bit more stratified. How do you go about evaluating your improvement or where you are within North America as compared to other teams?

GH: You just kind of know when you’re improving. I think win or lose in the LCS you can feel when you’re improving at least, or once you actually learn how to do something. Right now a lot of our reviews are just going over basics. We’re really just trying to work on basics right now. Once we see improvement in that, we can work on more advanced stuff. But you didn’t really ask this, but playing in NA can be really depressing because when you look at the grand scheme of things, we’re (3-7) in NA, and NA sucks compared to LCK. So it’s like, sometimes when I’m depressed I think about how bad we actually are (laughs). We’re in one of the worst regions, and we suck in that region. So it’s kind of daunting.

ER: Ouch. Moving on, Hai (“Hai” Du Lam) had said previously that improving as a team required developing better habits. What is the difference then between your habits last split and your habits this split?

GH: Our habits last split are exactly the same as our habits this split. I feel like, when we first started playing and first started winning all the time, the meta was super good for us. I was like a Rengar one-trick pony and Rengar was super OP at the time. Jungle was really OP at the time. We were just winning games off of fighting, and I think that’s kind of always been how we played. As other teams got better, we started losing those fights. At the beginning of this split we played the exact same way and we’re trying to stop that, just fighting all the time. I honestly think that we’re a pretty good team. Maybe another week or two, once we flip the switch I think we can be a top team. We all know how to play the game and we’re all good individually, so we just have to get rid of the mindset, “Oh, we just have to fight these guys.”

ER: Previously, you had talked about cheese or pocket picks from last split. You said that once FlyQuest started losing with those picks, you decided to put them away. You’ve been a lot more standard this split, but did it ever cross your minds to pull out some of those weirder picks?

GH: No, not really. I think most of the game where we won with really weird picks, we would have won with meta picks as well. I might bring back Shaco because he got buffed. What do you think? (laughs) Turtle I can tell him to bring back the Mordekaiser.

CloudTemplar discusses League of Legends player slumps, age, and dating during stream

Interview taken from Slingshot Esports

Lee “CloudTemplar” Hyun-woo, a former professional League of Legends player for CJ Entusand current OGN caster, talked at length about the various causes of slumps when it comes to professionals in League of Legends and how dating could be a detrimental impact on a professional career during a stream.

“It’s a difficult problem,” he said. “I’m not saying dating is always bad. In fact, it’s very natural and can be something that’s positive for a player…The fact is that since esports culture is made of very young people, and many players debut straight from playing, so comparatively there are many cases where the players are inexperienced in dating and social life.”

CloudTemplar explained further that the cases when the fans are aware of a dating life — such as the recently married Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong of Samsung Galaxy — are because those are one of the good examples of dating. The ones that the fans aren’t aware of are typically the relationships that have a negative impact on careers. He clarified that there are indeed “many cases” of negative outcomes, leading to a large drop in players who were previously performing well.

Slumps in general aren’t rare to see in professional esports athletes, and one of the reasons is quite natural: age. CloudTemplar explained that it’s not as if age suddenly makes the mechanics of a player poor, as the actual physical activity is “simply clicking a mouse,” and that aging doesn’t impact that most of the time. The problem, he explains, is with focus.

“Whatever the sport, there is a thing called a ‘golden age,’” he said. “Even brain sports like competitive gaming, it’s not like because you get older your physical abilities in game get that much worse. Even in representative brain sports like Go, there are points that get harder as the player ages. Players need to concentrate harder and think more thoroughly, but I’m sure you feel this and you get older yourselves. Getting older means you have a lot of things you need to start thinking about.”

Other things that are outside of the players control are circumstances of meta changes and team compatibility. As League of Legends is a game that undergoes constant changes, certain play styles easily go outside the norm. A tank meta can turn into a dealer meta or the other way around, and depending on the player, it can cause some problems when it comes to adjustment.

More interesting is CloudTemplar’s insight on team dynamics. More so talking about communication and team dynamics, meaning that even a talented player can find himself in a slump when the team just can’t get along. CloudTemplar explains that it’s natural and human nature, and sometimes it’s all based on luck.

“There are a lot of weird cases in this category,” he said, with a chuckle in his voice. “There are times when players lose the game just because they have a vendetta against a teammate.”

P1’s MikeYeung: ‘I believe that I have the most potential to improve as one of the only rookie players coming into the summer split’

Interview taken from theScore esports

Phoenix1’s split got off to a surprising 0-6 start, but they have won three of their four matches over the last two weeks. While it’s tempting to attribute the rally to the team’s new branded fidget spinners, a more likely source could be the continued development of their new jungler, MikeYeung.

A solo queue veteran who reached Challenger at the age of 13, the LCS rookie has been a big contributor in P1’s wins, and is 5-0 on Nidalee. He also, intriguingly, could represent a kind of player that will increasingly make their way to the highest levels of LoL competition: one who grew up with the LCS system since their early teens and could aspire to one day make it there.

Phoenix1 will have a new set of challenges when they take the stage to play against Europe’s top teams at Rift Rivals. But before that happens, theScore esports asked MikeYeung about skipping his graduation ceremony, advice for aspiring pros, and where he stacks up against other junglers.

I heard that you skipped your graduation ceremony to practice more. Do you still stand by that decision?

Yes, it was worth the decision to skip my graduation ceremony because I thought it was much more worthwhile to get more practice days with the team before our games against CLG and DIG.

What advice do you have for prospective players who are looking to make it to the LCS?

The key formula that not a lot of upcoming pros have figured out is just a good work ethic and that comes from your mentality as a player (i.e. you should be the type of player that takes a solo q game seriously and looks for areas of improvement). What I did when I was a solo queue player was I would watch countless amounts of VODs to see where I could improve on my weak areas.

How did you end up joining Phoenix1?

After coming off of a seven month break from the game, I had just reached Challenger again with over a 70 percent win rate and one of the solo queue players I met online introduced me to P1.

How are you fitting into the team?

My goal as part of the P1 team is to be the hardest-working player and I believe that even if you’re the rookie coming into the team, everybody expects you to be spending the most hours in solo queue and spending the most hours preparing for your opponents, because all these veterans really respect hard workers.

What has been the hardest adaptation for you playing as part of an LCS team?

The key thing I had to learn was to trust in my teammates and I was lucky because I was able to do that very easily.

What are your expectations for this team in terms of final placement?

I like to think that short-term goals are more important and my next focus is Rift Rivals and our match with IMT on Sunday.

How do you view yourself as stacking up against other NA junglers?

I believe that I have the most potential to improve as one of the only rookie players coming into the summer split.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I want to say thank you to all my fans that have supported me and I will continue to try my best even if it means spending late nights working on my weaknesses.

UOL coach Sheepy: “I look the most forward to TSM because of our rematch. They want to have their revenge.”

Interview taken from Slingshot Esports

The Unicorns of Love remain perched at the top of Group B in the European League of Legends Championship Series. In their last series before Rift Rivals, they played a difficult best-of-three against Ninjas in Pyjamas, the last place Group A team. Following the match, head coach Fabian “Sheepy” Mallant chatted with Slingshot’s Kelsey Moser about draft decisions, working with this year’s UoL roster, and the upcoming Rift Rivals event against North America.

Kelsey Moser: A lot of the Rek’Sai early paths are kind of standard now, but it seems you still had some trouble dealing with Rek’Sai in the first two games and ultimately decided to ban it. What were some of the issues with it, and why did you decide to ban it in the end?

Fabian “Sheepy” Mallant: The most important ban for us was the Elise ban because we removed AP, and then they went double AD every match. Then they had Renekton, Rek’Sai, they had not much CC in the mid lane. I think they had like Corki and Cassiopeia and stuff like this. So we were actually not too concerned having the Rek’Sai because it’s very hard for the Rek’Sai to actually get in. Our mid lane and top lane needs to somehow get around, and we had red side as well. On red side, Rek’Sai can go behind on top lane, and then it’s hard.

We’ve been doing pretty well, but then at some point, the Rek’Sai started invading, and then he had this kind of early game pressure where, until level 6, there’s almost no jungler that can rival him in terms of mobility and sustain and trading. So we wanted to remove that. We have a wider champion pool in jungle as well. The only thing that went a bit into trouble is that they didn’t ban Zac, and so we had to ban Zac because there was nothing else open, usually they banned it. That kind of forced us to give another ban.

In general right now, Rek’Sai is really strong. The E mobility is really insane, and the passive is good for vision control. He falls a little bit down depending on what build you go, if you go Warriors, but this champion is really, really, really strong right now. The tunnel has like three seconds cool down so it’s really easy to go in a fight and out of the fight. The ultimate is extremely strong because you can tower dive with it, he deals a lot of burst, he tanks everything up even if he goes like Warriors, and then just ultimates and resets tower aggro to your other laners, so he’s really strong.

KM: NiP have been having a lot of trouble lately, especially their bottom lane, but it seemed this series they were really gravitating toward this Thresh-Jhin combo. Were you expecting them to go for that, and did you consider denying it? There is a bit of debate right now regarding whether you deny picks that a team is obviously just much more comfortable with.

FM: We didn’t really consider him to play Jhin because we just don’t think right now that the champion is one of the power picks. He could have played Varus and had kind of the same effect on lane, and the only thing right now with the Jhin is that he goes full crit, so he needs to be able to auto attack. Actually, he was able to do quite well in the games. I think the champion is strong in itself. It is probably one of the playable ADs. But we didn’t really fear him or anything.

Now you scale Q, so the W doesn’t deal so much damage, and before you could just not auto attack, start your ultimate, W into ultimate, and you just win team fights. We loved to play the teamfight with the Gangplank, Rumble jungle, and Jhin ADC. You basically just say we fight now. Ultimate from the Gangplank with the true damage into Jhin W. But we had to scratch that because now you need to auto attack with Jhin, and that makes him kind of like any other ADC.

We just removed anything we felt was strong in the early game. Jhin has good laning phase. You can lane against almost anything. We removed Caitlyn, which was the only strong early game pick, so I think, considering how we play, and where our mistakes and weaknesses are right now, I think we picked accordingly, and Jhin seems to be a good pick, but nothing really outstanding.

KM: In the second game, you went into this scaling, mid collapse, very comfortable Unicorns of Love style comp. Is that something you’re more likely to do after a loss?

FM: It’s kind of weird because the enemy didn’t play proper midgame. They didn’t know how to exert pressure, put correct vision down, and push lanes out. We’ve been constantly getting away with being weaker but still getting a push, which, against stronger teams might not work. Also the Kassadin scales better than the Galio in mid lane because you are trading off an AP damage dealer for the tankiness of the Galio, and usually top laners have almost no damage in that case. We played Rumble, which is good.

In every game, I think we out-drafted them really hard, but we’ve just been playing extremely sloppy. This is really the fault from us. I think everyone will look at themselves and try to fix that. That’s why I think a lot of criticism was also coming from people. But I think just drafting-wise, we’ve been doing extremely well, and I think that the scaling just came natural to us because they just didn’t punish, and we just felt like we could run Twitch-Kassadin and whatever scale top lane, and it would be fine. It was a bit cocky, but I think it was not blind cockiness. I think it was smart because we were allowed to do so. In the end, we won games after like 27 minutes, 28 minutes, and then the outscaling just went off. Kassadin level 16 is unstoppable. We had — Rapid Fire Cannon right now is extremely (pause) strong (let’s say it like this) with Warlord’s as well and Statikk and Infinity Edge. So basically Cassiopeia and Thresh and all those champions just had insane difficulty engaging, so we know that if it goes to mid and late game — it’s just so hard to play against. It’s really, really hard not to get poked out. Corki is also one of the champions where he just scales, and he’s so strong.

KM: You said that you think you’ve been playing so sloppy. I’m hearing this from a lot of top teams right now, not just UoL and not just in Europe. Is there a meta or other reason for this?

FM: I think we are just extremely self-criticizing. We know what it means to be weak and the corresponding losses with that. The people that have been longer in the scene as well are pushing this kind of mentality that it really sucks and it’s really regretful to lose and to be weak. That is the right sports mentality if you are going into a competitive environment. I think right now with 70 million, 80 million people playing and with Korea being so dominant and so extremely well-prepared, I think it’s a good thing that people are so self-criticizing.

Even Faker will go over a game and say this and that. In one year, we will look back to ourselves like we do right now and say how extremely poor or weak or bad I was back then and how much you learned as compared to one year ago. We are 10 times stronger. I think that this kind of mentality and this push for improvement is actually great to see as long as it’s not self-inflicting like “I’m so, so bad” and suddenly you become depressive or you become self-destroying. If it’s like a good amount and being realistic, I think this is a good thing for a sports person.

KM: You mentioned looking back, Unicorns of Love very frequently has to rebuild its roster. I imagine many times you have to start over when you add new players by teaching them the system, making them catch up, etc. What’s a big difference between starting this split with the same roster and restarting in the past with brand new rosters?

FM: That’s pretty hard. I think that our very first roster with Vardags and whatnot was mechanically not as strong. I think we have been stepping up with that a lot. For example, Xerxe seems to be naturally gifted. He’s 17 years old, so he doesn’t have the experience to carry him through at some times, so he just kind of effortlessly almost — compared to someone who is 24 like Csacsi who has been working hard, you know? He’s almost kind of a bit unfair. He’s not that extremely talented. I mean still Csacsi has so much knowledge from all the time, but it’s still very impressive for me to see.

I think that Samux has been doing well as well. He didn’t seem that strong in the beginning, and that makes me kind of think that even though maybe something innate was with Xerxe. Just us restarting right now — that our base is just extremely strong. We’ve cut all the bullshit and all the unnecessary stuff, and we’ve become closer to the way that leads straight to the goal of becoming the strongest team or becoming as strong as possible. That is credit to Vizicsacsi and Hyli and also Exileh, Romaine, and everyone who is involved. Credit to them as well.

If you have to restart a roster every time, kind of my mentality going towards that — because I think it’s like maybe scary for some coaches if they are in the same position where they can’t keep their roster because money or because they’re young and want to do different things. It’s a relief to have this kind of authority for yourself that you know what they can do and learn every day. So right now if everyone would leave from our team, that can happen, that’s a possibility — I feel so strong with my own knowledge that I know exactly what Csacsi was thinking and Hyli and Exileh, you know like 80-90 percent. As long as I have this knowledge and I know how to apply it because I’ve been coaching for a while, and apparently it seems to work, then I can just build a strong roster. Especially with Romain, who is like making a really nice environment. This comfort, this confidence, and what we learned already just made our team really strong in this split with the right people.

KM: Has there been a shift from learning fundamentals to something else this split?

FM: I think that our fundamentals get more solid. I think that people are bringing something new in. I think Xerxe and Samux have really nice ideas how to play the game. Always fresh air. Our knowledge is kind of all over the place because we have so many different ideas. Hyli is playing extremely aggressive, so sometimes I have to think about stuff like although our team comp is supposed to do this and this, and we’re weak in the early game, this seems to be an okay position to fight. So I’ve been pushed in a situation where a normal coach would just say “Just back off, this is like 4-v-3 fight although they don’t have ultimates,” but I’ve been pushed more towards this (aggressive) side. So that’s really interesting, that’s something that Hyli tried to push. I’ve grown on that, we have grown on that as a team. Samux and Xerxe did as well. We have grown from that as a team, putting that to our fundamentals and just sharing overall. I think right now we have such a great mix of what came new and what we had already. Now our fundamentals are really strong because they’re constantly contested. We can actually refine them and refine them.

Right now, we went 1-7, three games in a row, and we still managed to win mid and late game. I think against G2 we also fell behind because we tend to fall behind a lot. We’re just playing very, I think, solid.

KM: Have you gotten to a point where you might try new strategies or something else like this?

FM: We are trying to always do new things, but not for the sake of doing something new. Everything is geared toward winning the game, and that’s like everything that matters. You can do everything right and still lose, but that’s life. The more you try and the more you put effort in, the higher your chances are, and we’re very aware of that.

I think in this regard, we’re just playing good. We’re just doing well for ourselves. I really want to give credit to the people themselves because they’ve been very self-aware and grown up a lot. Xerxe is like 17, and he has a really great mentality.

KM: Unicorns of Love have an interesting scrim reputation. Do you have a different view from some other coaches on how scrims should be used or the purpose of scrims themselves?

FM: I think that we’re taking a lot out of the scrims. Possibly sometimes not as effective as it should be. Maybe we’re taking a bit too much time. We’re perfectionists at some point as well, I think that’s everyone in the game. But that’s why we have to do this split between being effective, getting 80 percent out of it instead of getting 90 percent out of it, but you take twice as much time.

Our scrim reputation is that we do all this crazy stuff. There’s a lot of kills, a lot of this, a lot of that, we have new picks every time, and you never know what’s gonna happen. I think that’s kind of died down more. I think we’re still very competitive when we’re playing the scrims, so it might end up being a lot of kills because we think we are stronger when we are not or they think they are stronger when they are not, and we’re contesting that. So we are really pushing ourselves to know our limits. But the whole craziness about different picks and all that is not that vivid right now.

But if there’s something that’s broken or new or OP — like we are the only ones who are playing Hecarim, we put out Warwick, we put out Ivern the first time. There’s a lot of other stuff we’re playing as well that we’re not sure is going on stage. That’s sadly died down as we are driving more to how to play the game correctly than changing everything. We’re just trying to perfect what we’re doing.

KM: I talked to Zven a little earlier today about Rift Rivals, and he thinks you will do well in the best-of-one stage because your style is very difficult to play against if you haven’t experienced it. Is this something you agree with, and have you tried to cultivate that at all?

FM: I really am not a big fan of styles. I think that Fnatic has a style as well. If I’m reflecting about it now, it feels like I’m seeing other teams, and it feels like they have styles, therefore I don’t see us having a style, but I think they will see us as having a style, you know? But really, our own concern is play the game as good as possible, and we don’t feel like we have a style.

Maybe it’s like a preference in pick and ban. Like we’ve picked a lot of scaling lately, we’ve picked a lot of champions that aren’t so meta in the mid lane like Vladimir, Ryze, and stuff like this. But we’ve never picked it for the sake of picking — just because we think it’s the strongest, you know? I feel the same as well for Fnatic who are always drafting Kennen ADC and stuff like this, I think that’s just their strength. That is kind of what they think is the strongest right now. It’s working for them. That’s the nice thing about League of Legends as well where mastery of the champion and viability of the champion are something that goes hand-in-hand. So if Rekkles is extremely good with Kennen, he can make it work because he knows exactly what to do. That’s awesome, and that’s a way to win the game.

For us maybe we play a lot of scaling and try to win that or play pushing bot into mid lane rotation (we do that a lot). I think it’s really cool to see that they have different styles. For us, I just feel that we don’t have that. I trust [Zven] as well. If he says we have this style, then it’s like this. I really think that we have a tight style. We rarely let something slip (I mean not in terms of dying, I think we are dying a lot). If we see an opportunity, then we’re going to really grind it out. I think that might be how to play. We are right now like 4 or 5k behind in the early game. But if our style — let’s call it our style — becomes a little more solid, then I think we can just roll over people as well.

KM: You have probably been watching NA to prepare for Rift Rivals. Is there an NA team you watch that you feel you relate to more or really understand their mentality when they’re going into draft or the way they set up their play?

FM: I don’t have this thought when I watch them. I think my biggest thought is that sometimes there’s some place where I’m more than surprised that this actually worked out. I remember enemy is TPing behind TSM or something, and they should lose really hard, but somehow it’s their perspective they were totally fine. Then there comes this insane play from Svenskeren where he’s surviving with like 10 percent HP with Lee Sin and kicks someone in.

That is not a solid, replicable play that you go into thinking oh this is going to happen or it’s a macro advantage or something. That happens to me like all the time (when I’m watching NA) like holy where does this go now? If it’s punished correctly, then you should win. But if they’re able to pull this kind of stuff off against us as well, then it’s going to be really interesting. I think I look the most forward to TSM because of our rematch. They want to have their revenge.

KM: UoL vs TSM is always fun.

FM: Yes, it’s always a fun time against TSM, and P1 is like last place, so I think it’s fair to say that they may be a team that needs to surprise. I’m also looking forward to Cloud9. I think their mid laner is playing well as well. I think the mid laners that they bring — well, they are European as well. But I think Bjergsen and Jensen are pretty good, and I remember we played against Bjergsen, and they played Zilean-Olaf against Viktor mid lane from us. They dived mid lane like three times. I’ve never seen this before. I don’t hope it happens against us, but I hope this kind of stuff can maybe happen a bit.

G2 Zven on UOL and Fnatic at Rift Rivals: “(They) are pure best-of-one teams.”

Interview taken from Slingshot Esports

After losing to Misfits and Unicorns of Love in the last two weeks, G2 Esports closed a surprisingly difficult set against bottom tier team Mysterious Monkeys in Week 5 of the European League of Legends Championship Series (EU LCS). Following the set, AD carry Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen talked to Slingshot’s Kelsey Moser about G2’s difficult early weeks, the new Ashe priority, and the surprise punch Unicorns of Love and Fnatic can bring to Rift Rivals best-of-ones.

Kelsey Moser: The first question I wanted to ask you was about the second game. It’s kind of standard now for Rek’Sai to start with a couple camps and an experience quint into a gank. Was that something that you prepared for going into the match? And how did you set up to deal with it?

Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen: I think almost every Rek’Sai player in EU thinks that the only way you play Rek’Sai is to cheese gank at 2:40 minute with like raptors (only small ones) then red buff, then go top side, get blue buff or gank top. Or you can do stuff like raptors, red, bottom crab, and then you can go bot side.

This gank is really telegraphed, so they have Braum and Xayah, and they gave vision Level 1. So I told mithy that I want to leash blue buff for Trick so that he can go top side himself, and then we can just — mithy can drag the wave bot lane, so that it makes a freeze, which will make them lose minions on the wave. And while that happens, I will put a ward in river. When I come back to lane at like 1:50 after I give the blue buff leash, and then we have a freeze so we can’t get ganked. And then at 2:40 — something like that — before my ward expires, I see Rek’Sai level 3 bot lane, and I tell my jungler that he is here, and then he wastes time, and we get much more jungle efficiency in the early game.

It’s very common for Rek’Sai to gank either top lane at minute 2:40 or bottom 2:40 with XP quints. After bot lane gave a hard leash, he was either going top side or bot side at level three usually, so we had seen this one coming.

KM: Now that this (Rek’Sai start) has become kind of common, do you think it’s just not going to work anymore?

JS: The thing is when something becomes common like this — it’s kind of like with Renekton, right? You always gank top level 3 or 4. But then, if someone doesn’t do it, he will get ahead because our jungler thinks he will do it, so once it becomes standard, it will become a situation where you will prepare for it, but you will lose something for preparing for it.

(For example), we gave a good lane for us bot lane, but we don’t push it because we can’t because of Rek’Sai. Then maybe next game he will go top side, and we will give a freeze to bot lane, and then we won’t win our lane so hard, but some champions like Rek’Sai have this option. Same for Elise. They have pressure without being anywhere because they have fast clear speeds and different gank paths, so you have to play around it, and you can’t really do anything about it until you see him somewhere, so once you see him on bot side, you can start playing the game again. You can use Ashe E to spot him out or wards, and after that time’s over, you can play normal again.

But early game, Rek’Sai, Elise have this kind of pressure with their pathing and their clear speeds and their tunnels over walls and stuff, so this is how they work.

KM: This is the first time you had played Ashe this split. Was there a reason for this shift in priority?

JS: In the early weeks of LCS, we didn’t want to play Ashe/Varus much in scrims because we couldn’t really win if we played the right way to play the game. We were struggling with — Ashe is a champ where, if her team is behind, you lose because you can’t carry by yourself. You must have some sort of tank front line or engage, so if your team is falling behind you cannot use arrow to engage anyone. They have QSS or they have Cleanse or Banshee’s or something, but if your team is doing well in a normal game, then Ashe will always be a strong champion.

Your engage is strong, your vision is strong, your lane phase is very good, but in the first few weeks I didn’t want to play this champ or Varus (that’s an EU thing, though, EU prefers Varus over Ashe anyways). I didn’t like the Ashe/Varus duty because we feel like we couldn’t really win games that easily with this kind of style, so we just prefer to play Twitch or Caitlyn.

But now our style got back to the more controlled and reliable style. We’re all getting good now. We don’t get picked off as much, and we’re starting to be better at playing the macro correct. Ashe/Varus becomes better again. (Note: At the conclusion of the interview, Zven added that “Ashe pick is better because of Tahm Kench.”)

KM: I noticed you didn’t do the really common Statikk Shiv and RFC build. Do you have any additional thoughts on that in particular?

I was playing against Camille, so I thought that I would go for a PD because it reduces damage. So I went for Tabi’s and PD just making sure it can’t kill me ever. A lot of people prefer the Shiv/I Edge. I Edge first into Firecannon/Shiv. I think on Ashe against tanks like Camille and Rek’Sai and Braum, Blade is very good. Also laning phase is better. Build path is better as well. It depends on your bases, but I prefer to have Blade against champions with a lot of HP like Rek’Sai, for example. PD was more of a against Camille thing. Against assassins like Zed or Leblanc or Camille, it makes sense to me.

But I think the Firecannon/Shiv combo has kind of gotten a bit toxic because of champions like Caitlyn and somewhat Ashe, Tristana. Champions that have like 800 range with this Firecannon/Shiv combo, so it works sometimes if you need to siege if you need to have some sort of like poke, but I think against assassins or dive threats, PD is better.

KM: The casters were drawing parallels between last year’s Origen and current G2. In case of emergency, break hyper carry box. Is that sort of what was happening?

JS: Not really that, but just — it felt like we couldn’t really play macro and strategy that well, so we decided just to play faceroll for a bit. Lucian mid comp, no CC, lane phase pressure only, things like Twitch (hyper carries to fall back on), and then just play faceroll champions, not so much macro and team kind of comps.

KM: mithy after the game also mentioned that you were having some trouble in the meta still. G2 aren’t still maybe 100 percent sure on how to play the current meta. Is that true now, or do you have more clarification on that?

JS: We have some big issues so far this split. The first one was that we didn’t have a full roster in the first weeks, so we had no practice on the patch. Problem 2, we didn’t have anyone playing the champions. We didn’t have Galio mid played. We didn’t have Xayah/Rakan played bot lane together in scrims. Week 2 we had one day of scrims, so we had no practice on Xayah/Rakan. Zac we basically had one or two games of practice at max, and we couldn’t really get as much practice early, so we didn’t play any new champions on the patch.

Then, the same thing with Rift Herald. It was new to us. At MSI, there was no Herald, and we had no scrims, so we weren’t sure how good Herald was. So against Misfits, you would often find me and mithy — he was top and I was bot, or I was top and he was bot because we were playing for Herald, and he was playing for the drake. And normally, we would never be lost like this in a scenario, but back then you would find us playing for different things in the game because we couldn’t figure out what was worth more: Infernal Drake or Herald because we didn’t have this talk before, right?

So there were scenarios where we would get caught. The last problem was that our drafts were very bad, as in like sometimes we would have full AD against tanks or we would have AP jungle, mid, and top, and the enemy had last pick mid and picked Kassadin, like against Unicorns. We pick lanes that are zero CC against Unicorns as well. We had Caitlyn, Tahm, I think we had Nidalee jungle, Taliyah — no CC, no play-making, just laners that win, and we had two winning lanes, but if we made one mistake, the game was over. And you cannot pick comps that don’t forgive us for mistakes at all. We had this problem we picked full AD or no CC or no comeback mechanics at all or no way to close the game other than just run it down mid or hitting towers.

Now we are drafting more CC, more engage, more reliable play-making. We’re also trying to not draft fighting lanes as in like top lane carry champs, bot lane ranged support matchups, and mid lane pushing against something. So there are only two lanes that we play around: like top and mid or bot and mid. So we don’t have to have jungler everywhere all the time. Always have one tank kind of or someone with CC at least.

KM: You said there would be cases where mithy would be top and you would be bot or vice versa. Solo side lane AD carries are also a lot more common now. Is that something you guys struggled with balancing on the map at all?

JS: Not really. We always know how to play it with mage mid. That was very popular before as well. Side lane AD carries are really fine as a comp, but some people play with the AD carry alone in the side lane. They play things like Kennen or Tristana or Twitch or whatever you want to play. We are fine with playing side lane AD carries as in a full on comp with an Orianna mid or a Syndra mid, that is fine for us. We don’t struggle with this.

We struggle with what we were good at before. We get caught much more often now. We get caught in laning phase too where we just need to wait one minute before we see the jungler or their setup.

KM: The opening match of Rift Rivals is going to be TSM vs G2. Do you expect TSM’s matches to be more difficult or less difficult?

JS: I watched TSM vs C9 yesterday, and it wasn’t that good of a series. Actually, TSM was making a lot of like — how do you say it — uncommon mistakes. They were getting caught everywhere, they were not using flashes when they should use them, they were being greedy.

I think we’re going to be fine in best-of-ones against NA, but I think that EU teams, as in Unicorns and Fnatic, are pure best-of-one teams. They are much better in best-of-ones than best-of-fives in my opinion. I can easily see Fnatic going — I won’t say anything stupid, but I could see them winning a lot of their games, and Unicorns same because they play this style that, if you haven’t played against them before, they will catch you off guard.

Fnatic, their AD carry is playing Kennen and Tristana mainly, and they are always going bot lane. They dive you at level 1. They play very aggressive, fast-paced. You have to be slow and controlled to beat these kinds of teams like Unicorns and Fnatic. You have to not get dragged into them. Unicorns always group mid, and they just fight you there. You have to get mid tower and get some pressure, but against these teams it’s very easy to get sucked into them and play their style, but just play slow and controlled against those teams, and not get frustrated that you cannot farm as much as you can against other teams. I think there’s a good chance that Fnatic and Unicorns do well in best-of-ones against NA teams, but I am not sure.

KM: 0-20, 20-40, or 40-60?

JS: What, sorry? Our games against NA?

KM: Just which phase of the game do you prefer?

JS: Prefer? I don’t know what I prefer. I think my laning phase is really good. When I play lanes that I’m supposed to win, I always win them. When I play lanes I’m supposed to lose, I lose them a bit less than most people, but I think 20 minutes to 40 minutes is where — if you are ahead, you must be good to win. Even if you are ahead in 20-40 minutes, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to play it out. I don’t know, some people have their ideas like early game is most important, mid game is most important, but one doesn’t matter without the other one.

If you are good at early game, it doesn’t really matter how good you are at mid game if the other team is good at mid game. I don’t know, it doesn’t matter to me. I think both are important.

Huhi: “Draft is the foundation of the execution. If the foundation is solid, it’s pretty easy to view how to play the game.”

Interview taken from Slingshot Esports

Wins against Cloud9 and Team Liquid and a surprising 0-2 week for Immortals helped Counter Logic Gaming reclaim the top spot in the North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS) with a record of 8-2, one game ahead of Immortals and Team SoloMid after Week 5. Emily Rand sat down with CLG mid laner Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun to discuss CLG’s aspirations and progress thus far.

Emily Rand: Congratulations on the victory. How are you feeling and what’s the team atmosphere like?

Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun: I’m generally happy that we won the game. The team is also happy because we won, but we obviously know that there’s a lot to fix. I’ll say it’s still pretty far from where we want to get to, so it will definitely be a rush, but I think we can make it.

ER: I’m unsure of how much you have followed Korea this split, but there is a team in the LCK right now that’s a bit similar to yours, the Afreeca Freecs, where they’ll have an utterly dominant Game 1, and then falter in Game 2 and possibly Game 3 as well. Outside of your series against Immortals, this split’s CLG has followed a similar pattern. Can you explain why this happens, or the team’s general mindset when it does?

CJH: Obviously with a dominant Game 1, it gives us the confidence that we’re a lot better. Post-Game 1 we talk about how we can make the games even more dominant, more clean, and win. I guess in Game 2 we’re shaken now. It’s a trauma that we have to face. Nowadays when we have a clean Game 1, we just say, “Okay guys, Game 2 will be shakier but let’s try to do our best to hold it.” It’s not something easy where we can just say, “Let’s change it” and it will change. Maybe in our mindset we get too cocky or out of focus. It’s definitely something that we have to change.

ER: How do you feel like CLG has improved or evolved from your first series this split to now?

CJH: Gameplay-wise, I do feel that we’ve improved since the beginning. We have more knowledge and we understand the team game a lot more. Mindset-wise, we’ve kind of faltered at times. In the beginning, we were pretty good as a team. Nowadays it’s a lot more shaky and that’s what we want to fix for sure.

ER: You and jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett looked really strong as a duo today. Take me through what it’s been like to play with him this split.

CJH: It’s really fun to play with him. He’s a lot more aggressive than Xmithie (Jake Puchero), the previous jungler I had. He also watches VODs a lot and thinks about the game a lot. It’s easy to work with him. All we have to do is have him communicate his needs in game to me and the opposite from my side. Our communication so far is pretty smooth and we have a lot of confidence in each other. We are a good mid/jungle duo I think.

ER: Today you brought out the Aurelion Sol, which is something that you play somewhat regularly. You play it really well, but also the team plays well around you. What is it about Aurelion Sol that makes you and CLG so successful?

CJH: Everyone has their own style, and Aurelion Sol kind of initiates more along my play style. I understand what I need to do to win the game on this type of champion, so I just communicate really vocally whenever I have Sol or whenever I have a roaming champion and my teammates just learned what they have to do to win the game with those kind of champions. Now, since we’ve played it for a while, for my teammates it’s second nature as well.

ER: Would you say that Vladimir is similar, especially since you’ve pulled him out to face Syndra?

CJH: Vladimir is just a counter pick that I can pick once in a while. It’s a champion that isn’t played as much right now, so sometimes people forget how to play against him as well. I just think it’s another pocket pick that other people don’t always play but I think is good in certain scenarios.

ER: Last week, there was a lot of talk about CLG’s draft. How do you feel like you addressed this or executed on your drafts today against Cloud9?

CJH: With draft, I’m not blaming Tony (“Zikz” Gray, the team’s coach) at all, but I think in any team there are always ways to improve the draft even if it’s a really good draft. As a team we just failed to draft the right champions in the scenarios that we were given, especially versus Immortals we couldn’t do that much because of the composition. We were able to talk more deeply about it afterwards. People voiced their concerns, and we’re just working on fixing it and making it smooth.

ER: There has been a lot of discussion on how important drafting is to a victory. For you, how much of a win is due to draft and how much is due to execution?

CJH: From my perspective it’s hard to separate those two. Draft is the foundation of the execution. If the foundation is solid, it’s pretty easy to view how to play the game. If the foundation is — well if you don’t have one, it’s hard to know what to do to win the game.

Faker doesn’t have a player he’s wary of in Rift Rivals


Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok isn’t too concerned about the competition he will face during this week’s Rift Rivals tournament because he has history against just about everybody.

Faker and SK Telecom T1 will compete starting Thursday in the inaugural Rift Rivals, a series of international tournaments. SKT, KT Rolster, Samsung Galaxy and MVP will compete against teams from the Chinese and Taiwanese regions. In a video interview with Fomos, Faker said he wasn’t largely concerned with the international mid laners he will face.

“I don’t have a player I’m particularly wary of since I’ve faced all of them before, so I think I’ll be able to comfortably compete,” he said.

The mid laner of Team World Elite, Su “xiye” Han-Wei, has been of particular interest stemming from  analysis that his play style might be similar to Faker’s. But Faker rejected that notion, likening xiye more “similar to the aggressive mid laners in Korea,” according to his past experience of facing xiye.

As EDward Gaming will also be present at Rift Rivals, Lee “Scout” Ye-chan has been playing as the mid laner after Heo “Pawn” Won-seok’s departure to Korea for the 2017 season. Faker has some history with Scout, as Scout was a mid laner for SKT for almost two years before moving to China last year. Faker didn’t have much to say but seemingly interested in how Scout was doing.

“I want to ask him ‘How is China?’” he said.

CLG Aphromoo & Stixxay: “NA teams do worse on international events because they overthink”

Interview from InvenGlobal

It would be a mistake to try to explain NA LCS to someone without mentioning Counter Logic Gaming. Along with TSM and C9, CLG has been the “Big Three” of the scene, finishing in the 1st place for the first half of the split with a very respectable 8-2 record. Compared to their last season’s 4th place finish with a 10-8 record, CLG has outdone themselves.

On the day before the last match of first half prior to Rift Rivals, we sat down with CLG’s dependable bottom duo, Aphromoo and Stixxay. Here’s what the veteran support on CLG and maturing ADC since joining the team last year said about their experiences with this split so far and goals for moving forward.

How do you feel about CLG’s performance for the first half of the split?

Stixxay: I feel pretty good about our performance so far. We’re definitely improving as weeks go by. At the start of the split, we were probably the best team but slowly dropped off as teams caught up to us. But now I feel we found the wits to keep improving. I still think we’re going to be the best by the end of the split. Right now we’re 7-2, and it feels pretty good to be improving.

**This interview was conducted on Saturday, July 1st.

Are the results better than what you’ve anticipated before the season?

Stixxay: I thought we would start out as undisputedly the best team because we’ve been having good results and practice. I had no doubt we would be the best coming out, but things didn’t really turn out that way. Many of our matches were going into full series, and we dropped to TSM and Immortals when I thought we would beat them. Like I said, we’re improving every week.

Were there any specific teams that gave you the most trouble?

Aphromoo: Not really. Bot lanes in general are a skill matchup nowadays. I feel like Stixxay and I are pretty confident that we can beat anybody as long as we don’t overextend. It’s easy to go at least even, but we feel like we can beat everybody.

Who are some currently struggling teams to watch out in the second half of the split?

Stixxay: Maybe FlyQuest. We’ve always had a difficult time against them just because of their playstyle. Generally, we have an easier time against more standard teams like C9 and TSM.

Aphromoo: FlyQuest in general is really annoying. Hai and I are both shotcallers, so he has to make sure his team gets the spot and I, mine. It’s really difficult in terms of controlling tempo against them because they’ll punish you no matter what. Only other teams to watch out for are ones that are close to playoff — namely, Dignitas. They can be really good, but I do think that they have the potential to upset any teams.

Huhi recently said in an interview that frequent importing of players may hinder the chance of new local talents from joining the scene. Do you agree with his sentiment?

Aphromoo: I think it’s really hard to figure out which talent is good based on solo queue. I don’t know why NA solo queues are so bad. Maybe it’s because KR server has a more involved process regarding account creations, so if yours is banned, that’s it. Or maybe that’s the factor in it. But in terms of finding rookies, most people stick with veterans for instant success, and I think that’s due to relegations being in play. Now that franchising is coming, I do think that most teams will look to grow players. For example, c9 has Ray, and P1 has MikeYeung. On CLG we did Stixxay and Huhi as well as Dardoch to a lesser extent. TSM also did Biofrost, but there probably will be more when franchise comes out.

Stixxay: I actually think there a lot of good talents in NA solo queue, but typically what hold them back is bad mentality — Most teams don’t want to work with that. No one wants to work with people who are super childish in ways they conduct themselves. It’s more of the players’ fault than the teams’.

How do you see the chances of NA teams — TSM, C9, and P1 — participating in the upcoming Rift Rivals?

Stixxay: I think P1 maybe can upset. That said, I don’t have as high hopes as I do for TSM and C9. I think those two are the ones with the best chance.

Have you ever thought to yourselves that, “It should’ve been CLG that’s going into Rift Rivals?”

Aphromoo: As far as international competitions during the split are concerned, I never want to go. It’s just out of the way and causes more burnout. I prefer the MSI between splits and Worlds after. If you want to do these types of international events during this play, you’d probably have to change the schedule to one season to do that. Otherwise, it’s too much work involved — travel so far, come back, and play LCS again. And I’m like, “Okay,” you know? [laughs]

Stixxay: I think the format definitely could’ve been better to have the top 3 teams in the current split. I don’t understand taking top 3 teams from last split. I mean rosters are going to change. An obvious example’s P1. They were a top team, and now they’re at the bottom, which is usually not that drastic, so I feel bad in that aspect. I agree with Aphromoo that I don’t want to travel in the middle of the split. I think we used to do that with IEM, and it was really hard on sleep and the general well-being. I’m fine with not going.

Do you have a message to NA teams participating in Rift Rivals?

Aphromoo: Good luck and make sure you play yourself. Try not to play to the enemy’s self. NA has a style of their own, but most NA teams will copy the other teams when they go to international competitions. Since you’re copying, the opponents are automatically going to be better. Just make sure to play yourself no matter what.

Stixxay: I agree. I think a lot of NA teams play much worse when they go to international competitions because maybe they overthink. From my experience, it’s not as hard as most NA teams put it. I feel like NA has had a decent chance of going far in Worlds for 2 years now, so good luck and don’t overthink it.

Tell us about your mindset going into the second half, goals for the split, and messages for fans.

Aphromoo: I’m having so much fun playing these matches. We’re on the right track to improving as a team, and we showed that today in the match against C9. We went to 3 games but closed out the third game cleanly, which has been our problem for a while now for most of our matches, we’re hard-focused on making 5-man plays over solo ones. We’d like to do well and get a bye in the playoffs. Either first or second is fine, but I prefer first. [laughs] I’d like to perform well in playoffs and go to worlds. I appreciate all your support and please keep cheering for us.

Stixxay: we all have a goal as a team, which is to get a bye in playoffs, so it’s easier for us to make the finals. Obviously, we want to go to worlds and represent NA as a strong team there. Lastly, a big thanks to all the fans as always.

SKT Faker on his favorite champs

Interview taken from InvenGlobal


SKT Faker’s ‘favorite’ champions are the ones that he can win the most with.

On July 2nd (KST), SK Telecom T1 defeated MVP 2-0 and continued their winning streak in the 2017 LCK Summer Split and against MVP. Sanghyuk “Faker” Lee was chosen as MVP in both games, and he was interviewed on air by SpoTV after the match to share his thoughts on the match.

In Game 1, Faker was saved by Wolf who hurried to save him from a four-man chase, and yet Wolf was not thanked for it. “It was a narrow escape because I couldn’t void Rek’Sai’s Void Rush, but I managed to escape thanks to Wolf’s lantern. [Did you thank him afterwards?] We don’t really exchange thanks during a game, so I didn’t say anything in particular.”

Faker picking his signature champion, LeBlanc, in Game 1 was also a choice to shut down their Syndra. “I chose LeBlanc to make their Syndra weak against ganks. She is a good pick depending on the team composition.”

However, his signature champion was not above any other champions – he just prefers to play with champions that will win. “I don’t really have any preference towards certain champions. I just like to play with champions that I can win the most with.”

That might be why he was reserved about the idea of showing any unexpected picks in future. “I don’t think it’s a good metagame to show off any other mid lane champions. However, it could always be a possibility through strategizing and research.”