Team Liquid made a few changes to both their League of Legends Championship Series and Academy squads this off-season, sending former Academy Bot Laner Edward "Tactical" Ra to the LCS squad to replace the winningest LCS player of all time, Yiliang "Peter" "Doublelift" Peng. The org also made some staffing changes, signing Joshua "Jatt" Leesman as new Head Coach and Chris "Croissant" Sun as Assistant Coach, while shifting former LCS Head Coach Jang "Cain" Nu-ri to a Strategic Coaching position.
Tactical spoke with us at Inven global about how he found out he'd be starting for Team Liquid, and breaks down what he wants to do with the team. He specifically mentions the culture and environment the team had while he practiced with them last Spring was a good one, and one he wanted to recreate that this Summer. He also notes his excitement for Jatt and Croissant joining the team, as well as the elevated playing field he will have in LCS.
Watch our full interview on YouTube here, or read the transcript below.
Last time I talked to you, we talked about your plans for securing an LCS spot, and we knew you would eventually, but not just six weeks later. What was your immediate reaction to finding out you got the spot?
After the split finished, I didn't expect too much to happen, but I had a few talks with Steve, and realized it could actually happen. We just talked about some stuff and he was talking about this one scenario and how I would feel about it. And it felt pretty insane. At first I was like, "Wait a second..." The first time I heard about it, I just threw it off, like "nah it's probably not realistic." But then as time passed, it became more of a real thing, so it was pretty cool.
Does that mean there were other scenarios too?
No it was only the one. Only me. And that's what happened.
I know people have been talking about the team culture a lot and that's a large part of why they needed a change, what's your take on that? What are you hoping to provide for the team this Summer? What are you hoping the culture will be like?
So I had worked with the team previously in Spring for a few weeks. I want it to be like it was when I was playing. We had a pretty good environment I'd say. And I'm not exactly sure what a bad environment would be like because most of the teams I've been on have been pretty good so far. But I just want to keep doing what we were doing. Obviously we have new additions with Jatt, so I want to make sure he blends in well too.
But I want to be a good player addition to the team. Not that I'm just there to fill out a role, but to do what I can do best.
I think people were really impressed with your play, especially your first weekend. You got a 2-0 and never died. But then you played one more game, and you lost, and then they took you out. What happened there?
It wasn't like, "If you lose you're out." It was something else. I'd say I was getting a little burnt out I guess. I was playing a lot before I played LCS. So it was sort of progressively getting hard for me to focus. I think my performance slightly declined. It wasn't a massive drop, but to my standards I didn't feel as good. So I think that since the team had spent so much time with Doublelift previously, they just wanted to use him since he had the higher chance of winning in the current moment.
People were calling your name out last year as the one Academy player who should make LCS first. Did you feel that support? Do you think it helped propel you? Or do you think you'd be here either way?
I probably would've gotten here either way. I never considered myself the best, maybe top two or three ADC. It's hard to tell how good other people are until I talk to them, and I can't talk to everyone in the League...
I want to talk about Jatt as well, that was a crazy reveal! What happened there? How did that play out?
So I'm actually not sure at all, that was a surprise to me too, I was like, "WHAT?" I never would imagine that, just like everyone else. But so far, my interactions with him have been pretty good. We talk about a lot of ideas together, certain picks and meta champions too. Our knowledge seems to sync up too. We're on the same page so far. There hasn't been too much talk yet, cus we haven't started practice, but yeah.
Do you know the specific differences between Jatt and Cain as far as their role is concerned? We don't really know what "head coach" and "strategic coach" mean.
I think Cain will do similar things as before, but Jatt will be there to help the team reviews to be smoother and give more ideas. We also brought in Croissant, another assistant coach who will help in that regard. But I'm not sure exactly since I haven't talked to upper management about this myself, but I'm sure he's there to help make stuff more smooth.
Any big things you're hoping to figure out and fix up before the split starts in about a month?
Well, I want to get better before the split starts, so practice some scrims. I want to try and figure out what kind of player I am, like what I'm good at and bad at and specifically nail that down. Because honestly, I'm not sure myself right now. So I'd want some experimenting and stuff like that to figure out my identity as a player. But also how we can use the strengths and weaknesses of each player to be more flexible around the team.
And Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in is a pretty big mentor for you, are you going to have him list out things to improve on?
I think we'll just talk about stuff as it comes. It's hard to find out bad habits until you actually make it, or you never notice you have a bad habit until a specific scenario comes up in a game, because you can't recognize it [until you get punished]. And as that happens more often, I'll just take away from those experiences, and then I'll be less surprised and caught off guard in game.
Best of luck with that. Are you ready to be Rookie of the Split? Or do you think someone else can join this Summer.
Can I even be Rookie of the Split? I don't think we even have enough to have a real reward, but it would be pretty cool if I were to do well in my debut. And going to Worlds would be really cool ideally.
Well you know, last year Clutch Gaming was 9th place, replaced their AD with their Academy AD, and then they went to Worlds. So I was watching Team Liquid, and I see they're following the formula.
Yeah the Worlds Formula. That's how you solve NA. Just go 9th place, replace your ADC, and go to Worlds, that's how it works.
I'm curious if you're excited to play against anyone specifically in the LCS. You'll obviously play against Doublelift, whom you just replaced, but is there anyone else?
I'm looking forward to everyone, cus being in the LCS, I just want to know what it's like. I want to see if there's really a big difference between LCS and Academy in terms of individual skill and duo synergy skill. At first in Academy it was a bit rough, but eventually it got much easier for me. And I want to see if that's the same. And if so then I'll be getting better much faster, and that'd be good.
Anything you want to say to your fans?
I guess to my fans that I may have now, I hope that you expect great things from me because I'll definitely work hard. I really hate losing, so I appreciate all the support and I'll smurf it up in Summer Split.
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