While someone won the championship in both EU and NA, there was Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun who was runner-up in both of those regions. Last season, IgNar was reunited with his former teammate, Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage in FlyQuest. They had an amazing run in the playoffs and ended up in 2nd place.
As much as the coronavirus pandemic was in a serious situation, so the finals had to be held online instead of Dallas. IgNar was a bit disappointed that he wasn’t able to be on that stage, but he was happy that they went up to 2nd place. Being unable to return to Korea on vacation, IgNar joined Inven Global on Discord to chat about the last season.
Hello! How have you been?
The coronavirus pandemic is really serious here in the States. I’ve been just stuck in the team house with my teammates, playing solo queue and other games. We’re not playing scrims yet, but we’ve been practicing as well.
There’s not much to do. Other than games, I enjoy looking for new songs to listen to or exercising, taking walks… (It seems that all players exercise when they go to NA.) Well, I used to exercise before, but since we can’t go to the gym at the moment, there’s a lot less motivation. I’m trying to exercise at home as much as I can.
The last season was really amazing. You finished as the runner-up. How was the season looking back?
Looking back, it was very satisfying in-game and with the team as well. It was my first split in the LCS. I didn’t know much about the league but I was voted 2nd in the All LCS Pro Team, and we were runner-up. It was a very pleasant season.
Most of the matches were held online due to the coronavirus. How did it affect the team?
What was the biggest was the vacation. I enjoy riding cars and driving, but the fact that I can’t do that was hard for me. As for the team, it seemed they were having a hard time because they can’t go home. The NA players like going outside, meeting friends, or having dinner with other players. But since they can’t, it’s hard for them.
As for the season, since we had to play at the team house… I would say it was less fun. There’s less tension… When we play in the arena, if we pull off great plays, we can hear the crowd shouting through our headsets, but it was sad that we couldn’t hear that.
I know that you like cars and driving. Do you drive in the US as well?
I got an international driver’s license since I thought I might have to drive, but there haven’t been any chances yet. I do want to drive here, by renting a car maybe, but I’m not sure since it’s more fun driving my own car back at home.
Anyways, the team was the runner-up this season. Did you expect that or was it above expectations?
It was definitely above expectations. We first aimed for the top four. When I first signed with the team, they said that this season’s goal was to reach the top four, but we finished above even 3rd place. If it wasn’t for the coronavirus, we would have gone on a big stage, offline. It would have been really good for the team brand and to the players too. It would have been better, but I’m still happy that we were the runner-up. It felt really good.
It’s so unfortunate that you weren’t able to go on that stage.
I know. I really enjoy standing on big stages. I tend to play better in those stages. If there are more people watching, it’s more fun and it’s stuck in my memory for longer. I feel sorry that I wasn’t able to do that. If we were on that stage, I would have been able to be there in both the LEC and the LCS. Still, I’m happy that we got good results.
When you first joined the team, how did you think of the team?
It felt that we’d do well. Everyone had great personalities and were very smart. WildTurtle was a veteran with a high understanding of the game. He wasn’t stubborn, and I felt that we would get along well. Other players too; except for V1per, everyone had a long career with vast experience. Playing the game was more comfortable. Maybe that’s why we were able to end up in 2nd place.
I only knew PowerOfEvil, since I played with him before. Other than him, I didn’t know anybody. I hadn’t played in the NA nor played against any of them. Santorin and WildTurtle were all very smart as well as POE. Our top laner, V1per, didn’t know the game that well since he’s close to a rookie, but his laning was very strong. During the season, Solo joined and since he also had a lot of experience, he knew the game well. I think one of the biggest reasons we ended up 2nd was because of our macro, as much as we had players with a lot of experience. Our macro was quite alright.
On the other hand, Cloud9 won the championship with the best ever record. You weren’t able to beat them a single game. Were they that good?
They were good, yes, but we were caught up in our own mistakes. C9 was good, but the meta suited them well. Their support played Nautilus very well and that was a meta pick.
You’re already a veteran now. During your career, you’ve been in the LCK, LCS, and the LEC as well and you’ve been in seven different teams over six years. Was that intended?
I really didn’t intend to move around all the time, but every year, I had higher goals. For example, I wanted to place higher in the standings or I wanted a certain amount of money. That was all I thought, but looking back, I just happened to be in so many teams (Laughs). About 2-3 years ago, I thought that I wanted to be in one team for a long time. I wanted to stay in a team that I really like, and that was Schalke 04. The organization was good, I liked them, they liked me, so I wanted to stay there, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to, so I moved.
Olleh had said that he had itchy feet. Do you as well?
I’m not sure. Honestly, I’m a bit scared about moving to a different team. I tend to be shy around people I don’t know. I always go to the same restaurants that I’m used to. When I join a new team, the first few weeks are very slow, since I need to adapt to the environment and people. After getting used to the new team, it’s alright. I really don’t like change but… (Sighs) I just drifted here (Laughs).
So you never thought you’d be in so many teams?
I always wanted to be in the same team for long, but when the season ends, it’s either I want to stay but the team doesn’t want me anymore, or the team wants me but I want bigger things. There were unlucky situations as well.
How’s life in LA treating you? You’ve been affiliated to Winterfox, but isn’t it your first time there?
Back then, there were issues. I wasn’t even in the US. This is my first time here. The food is good. Life is quite different from Korea, so it was a bit difficult getting used to. Europe, on the other hand, is similar to Korea. Life, schedules… When to wake up, when we scrim, etc. But here, we have to get up really early. In Europe, wherever I wanted to go, it was close. I could walk to the restaurant, to the gym, wherever. Here, I need to ride wherever I want to go.
Where’s the FlyQuest team house?
It’s in Santa Monica, about a 10-minute ride to the LCS Arena. There’s nothing around. It would be convenient if I had a car, but I also enjoy walking. No matter where I go, I need to ride a car.
As you said, it’s your first time in the States, but you wouldn’t have been able to tour anywhere because of the coronavirus.
I don’t really enjoy sightseeing and touring. I think living here, experiencing how people live is more valuable. Traveling somewhere is easy, but living life there is hard to do, so I think this is more valuable.
You were reunited with PowerOfEvil, who you played with in Misfits. Officially, it says that you signed before POE did. Did you know that he was coming?
I knew he would. We discussed it briefly during the preseason. (So you wanted to play together?) It wasn’t a subject that came up all of a sudden. We talked about this matter ever since I left bbq Olivers. When I was talking to FlyQuest, they told me there’s a good chance that they’ll sign POE if I sign.
Did you contact POE often?
It wasn’t that often, but we just kept in touch. We’ve always had a good relationship. It had been a long time since we saw each other last, but since we watched each other play through games, it didn’t feel that his faced changed or anything. Talking to him and living in the team house together made me see that he’s still the same.
Since you mentioned his face, have you met Stixxay?
(Laughs) When I first saw him, I laughed a lot. They both know it well.
Can you talk a bit more about your teammates? How are they?
V1per is a player that has a very strong laning phase. He’s nearly a rookie, but I’ve seldom seen him trail in laning. In life, he’s very mild. Sometimes he’s very naive. Solo is very reliable. V1per has an aggressive style, stomping on his opponent, Solo is like a solid wall, enduring whatever he has to take. In life, I haven’t really met him much. The coronavirus hit just after Solo joined. I thought he’s a gentle person.
Santorin is a player who plays the game very calculatively. He’s a smart player. He knows how to snowball when ahead. Santorin’s also very mild and fun to be around. POE is a player that can design the whole game. He’s extremely good at dealing damage. Probably the best in the team.
WildTurtle is nice, he good at playing as a duo. It’s not that we have strong laning, but we seldom lose in lane. We both have a lot of experience, so we know little tricks of the trade. We get along well. Zven is probably the best ADC in the LCS, and I think WildTurtle is as good as he is.
IgNar is known as a very aggressive support. Does WildTurtle balance your aggressiveness?
When I was in Europe, our team had very strong laning, both during Misfits and Schalke 04. We were always stomping on our opponents. Here, with WildTurtle, we stay even and catch opponents’ mistakes well and punish them for them. Since we’re both veterans, we catch the mistakes well.
FlyQuest doesn’t have any Koreans in the team. Did you miss speaking Korean?
Actually, there’s one Korean, our coach, DLim. Technically, he’s Canadian. His Korean isn’t perfect, but he speaks well enough. He was with me during my Schalke days so I know him well. As for Koreans in the team… Unless I’m really close to that person, I prefer being the only Korean in the team. I can speak Korean to myself or on the phone without thinking of other people understanding me. Also, most Korean players’ English isn’t that good when they first come to a foreign team, so in-game communication is inconvenient.
How’s your English now?
I’m not that good, but since I’ve been abroad for long, I understand most of what people say. Compared to those who’ve been abroad for long, I’m not as good, but I know the basics. I can work out what we need to do in-game or during life. There’s a side effect though; I learned too much slang (Laughs). I first learned English in Europe, so I learned all kinds of different countries’ slangs…
You said the food is good. How is it?
In the NA, there’s all kinds of good food and they deliver it to your door. Maybe because of the coronavirus. In Europe, I didn’t have that much different kinds of foods, but there were some that I really enjoyed. In that matter, the food in Europe was better. Subway in Germany is amazing. Compared to Subways in Korea or NA, it’s much tastier. There’s a sandwich called BBQ Rib, and it’s amazing.
The LCS tournament system changed this year like the LEC. You’ve experienced it last summer already, so you’d be used to it. How’s this system?
I think it’s good. First of all, we were the beneficiary of that system in the playoffs. It seems more fun to watch. It’s completely different from the LCK. The advantage is way to big for being 1st place in the regular season. Going straight to the finals… This season, Gen.G, T1, and DragonX all had a 14-4 record and Gen.G got to go straight to the finals. I think this is a bit too much (Laughs).
What’s the advantage of the double elimination tournament style?
All teams take benefit for their placements. It’s still similar. The lower teams as well, they just have to win to go up. It’s simple, and it’s more interesting.
Against Evil Geniuses, you lost in the first round of the playoffs but won in the last round to make it to the finals. It must have felt really good.
Even in the regular season, we weren’t able to beat them. We really wanted to beat them in the playoffs. Although we lost in the first round, we won the most important match against them. Everyone was extremely happy.
Did everyone jump around in joy?
Well, not literally (Laughs). If it was an offline match, we might have, but since it was at the team house, we didn’t jump around, but it did feel amazing.
Were there any bot duos that were difficult to play against?
Not anyone special that comes to mind. There weren’t any bot duos that made me feel pressured. If I have to pick, I would say Cloud9. It seems Zven is really good. He did really well last season. Maybe not the next season.
How was playing against TSM or TL?
TSM plays the games very slow. The result was 3-2 but it was rather easy to play against them. As for Team Liquid… They felt like they were rolling a dice. They’re sometimes very good but sometimes very bad. I think they had several internal issues, like roster problems.
If you were to pick an MVP for your team this season, who would it be? You can say yourself if you want to.
I’ll say POE's the MVP for the season. He did too well in the regular season. Although we all played together, it was POE who carried us in games we would have lost. He was very good. Since POE did so well, everyone was motivated more and I think that’s how we ended up in 2nd place.
Do you have anything more you want to say?
We did end up in 2nd place… We went to the finals but we lost 0-3. I’ll work harder so that we win the championship next season. I really want to win the championship.
You haven’t won any yet, right?
I haven’t. So I’m more desperate. I only have two runner-up titles.
Lastly, a word to the fans?
Even though it’s my first time in the US, a lot of people like me, my games. I saw a lot of people cheering for me, and I’m very thankful for that. I’d like to thank the fans who was always there for me. When I read people cheering for me, it means a lot, I get to work harder because of that.
Do you read comments in communities or on Twitter often?
I always read everything. I have a lot of spare time. I don’t get hurt by bad comments.
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Images via LoL Esports Flickr