Q: How do you feel coming out of today with a 3-0?
Feels pretty good, but it is still a third/fourth place match, so there's a certain level of disappointment attached to whatever performance we give here, because we all knew that we were good enough to be in the final, as we showcased here how dominant we were over Clutch. I think if we actually didn't choke later in the season and got first seed, then it would have been a pretty—in hindsight it would have been a pretty easy run as a final. But unfortunately, chips fell where they did.
Q: How do you guys think you would have done against Team Liquid in the finals?
In the finals—I mean, I think right now based on—Team Liquid made us learn a lot obviously, so in hindsight we probably wouldn't have known what we know now without losing to Team Liquid. So I do think we probably would have lost the finals, I do think they're the stronger team, so probably still would have lost in final, but still getting second is probably better than third, and coming for finals is way more exciting and hype. But I do think Team Liquid definitely deserves to win for sure, and they were a much stronger team than we were in semifinal.
What did you guys learn from them in your loss?
I personally learned a lot from Xmithie, just how to—I guess when I was playing versus him in semi-final, it seemed like I was the better jungler, because I was kind of getting leads every game pretty easily against him. But how he plays around his laners was much more efficient in terms of how to actually snowball the game instead of just snowballing individually, so I learned a lot from that and I used it in the series against Clutch. So a lot of thanks to Xmithie for teaching me to jungle again and again, because over every season he somehow finds a way to be a step ahead of me. So hopefully summer that will change.
Q: You guys mentioned you were experimenting with "rest" and subbing in players. Was that the purpose, to give laners a break?
Yeah, it seemed like after we kind of slumped in the later part of spring, Adrian and Fenix especially were more stressed than everyone else, and I guess more down on themselves. So they asked for a one week break, and our academy members in those specific roles were also performing really well at the same time, so we thought there was no reason not to just give them an opportunity. We were very confident that we could secure first place even with our subs, and we had I think a 55-60 minute game against 100 Thieves, and then unfortunately we selected Nocturne in the tiebreaker, so it was a loss for sure. But I thought our subs did well, I didn't think it was a bad call. If I thought it was a bad idea, I would have never probably let it happen. Playing without Fenix always feels kind of bad, but if they said they wanted a week off, I didn't see any downside to it really.
You don't think they get rusty or not warmed up?
I mean most of the relief comes from just not being in the intense scrim environment, not from actually they don't want to play the game. So Fenix still played solo queue the entire week he was off. Adrian probably did the same. So they were never rusty, they just really needed a mental break, because it's just straight up a month and a half, two months, three months maybe, of just hardcore grinding and hardcore trying to play to perfection in every single scrim and every single solo queue game. So it's understandable that it was taxing on them for sure.
Q: You recently said you felt reassured that Echo Fox still has room to grow. What's the difference between being hopeful and frustrated about missed potential?
It kind of just depends on the mistake, or I guess the struggle we're having. This year, or this split, I was frustrated a lot, especially after midway through the split, because the mistakes we were making were very similar, over and over again, and it was just this thing in our path that we really couldn't overcome. So for like three to four weeks, I was pretty—I don't want to say hopeless—but I was not very much expecting to overcome these kind of problems. And we did struggle a ton, everybody was witnessing how poorly we played, especially even in semi-final, our form was not that good. Thankfully we fixed most of our issues now, and the Clutch series was very one-sided, so hopefully we can just keep it up coming in the summer, and next time we run into one of those walls again, we just overcome it a lot faster.
Q: Which of your teammates has grown the most over the split?
Of all the teammates, I think Johnny has grown the most. In the beginning, he and Adrian both had this kind of confidence that wasn't exactly justified, but more so they were on a very strong team, and they felt like every game was just going to be won by the fact that we had won every game before. So midway through the split, when our slump happened, everybody was blaming our bottom, and Johnny and Adrian were both under fire a lot by community criticism, and even internal criticism. So I think Johnny especially had a lot of individual growth, and he strived towards just everything he needed to improve on, and I think he did a really good job this year—or this split, rather.
Q: What about your bot lane's performance has changed between then and now?
I think they just overall understand their roles a lot more on the team, and they understand what they need to do at the exact time and they're not scared to pull the trigger when they have to.
Q: Is there a facet in which you think you've grown?
I think the main point of my growth was just how hard I can punish junglers on timings, especially playing around Fenix and Huni, because they're just so dominant in the laning phase.
We might have seen a little today.
Yeah, may have seen a little bit today how easy it is for us to kind of just take control of the entire game topside. Also it just seemed like LirA straight up didn't play Olaf, so I think that's just a huge detriment to his team. I think if they don't play Olaf, they should have banned it from Game 1, but they didn't, so I got two free wins, and then we got a free ban third, so they had to drop Camille, and then Huni got Camille, so it was pretty much a free win as well. So I think my growth primarily was just how I play with my team, because I've always, in my opinion, been a very dominant player in terms of individual skill compared to other junglers in North America. So it's all about how you use your individual lead and move it into a team lead.
Q: So what's the goal for the next split?
Next split, definitely we need to make top two, that is the primary goal for me. I want to have a general progression: so we went top four this split, I want to be top two, and I want to go to Worlds, and then next year, if we haven't won summer, I want to win at least—I mean we should win twice, To be honest. I think we're all most likely going to stay together, because we're all signed for two years, so I think if our roster stays the same, we have nothing but improvements to make, and I don't see how anybody will be able to stop us after we make these improvements that we need to.
Q: So Rift Rivals is gonna be your first international showing?
Yeah. I played at an IEM once in a blue moon, but I don't really count that because I pretty much played versus some really garbage Vietnamese team. and then I got destroyed by Samsung, and then I just went home after losing to KongDoo.
Q: Is there a team you really want to take down?
All of them. From watching EU LCS, I think our region is just a lot stronger, so I definitely think a lot of the EU junglers are pretty bad, like considerably worse than North America. I feel pretty confident obviously now, but it's going to be like a month or however long until Rift Rivals actually comes around, so we'll see what happens then. But if we had to play right now, I think we'd smash them for sure.
Q: Is the difference the individual skill, the team skill, or the meta?
It just seems like they don't—maybe we just have a different understanding of the game, and obviously I'm biased towards our understanding of the game. So it's impossible to tell from just watching two different regions play, because players are different, teams are different, and how they want to play the game is obviously going to be extremely different too. So it's just about who's going to show up on game day, or whose strategy is going to work better.
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Disclosure: Riot Games, the publisher of League of Legends, is an investor in Blitz Esports.