Since 2019, Park “Teddy” Jin-seong, Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu, and Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk have been considered the top three best Bot Laners of the LCK. However, in 2020, there’s a new Bot Laner that threatens these three horsemen. Enter kt Rolster’s Bot Laner, Kim “Aiming” Ha-ram.
Aiming debuted with the Afreeca Freecs in 2018, and showed incredible mechanics with aggressiveness that caught the attention of many fans. However, at the time, he seemingly showed his skill ceiling when he’d occasionally die due to overzealous positioning.
The 2020 season is Aiming’s third year as a pro gamer, and on his new team, kt Rolster, he finally bloomed. Not only does his strengths of dealing tons of damage become that much better, he fixed his weaknesses of always being caught out. With a new nickname, ‘The next gen damage dealing machine’, he became one of the most highly rated Bot Laners in the LCK, and continues to show his prime form.
However, Aiming is still hungry. In an interview with Inven, he told us that not only is he far from playing at his 100%, he still has mistakes to fix, so his prime’s not here just yet. The following is Aiming’s reflection on the past Spring split.
Hello, Aiming! First, can you please introduce yourself to the readers?
Hello. My name is Kim “Aiming” Ha-ram, and I’m the Bot Laner for kt Rolster.
What have you been up to after the Spring split ended?
I had a week-long vacation, and during that time, I caught up on sleep, had good food, and played different games. I played a lot of Teamfight Tactics, because it was fun playing on my phone, so I ended up hitting Diamond. I think the staff was trying to not make me go anywhere because of the coronavirus pandemic, so that’s why my vacation’s so short (laughter). Now, I’m back at the team house and practicing hard.
The coronavirus pandemic had, and is still affecting the esports scene greatly. You must’ve felt frustrated during the Spring split.
Pro gamers don’t usually go out, so in terms of daily life, not much hasn’t changed. I think the fact that we couldn’t go to LoL Park was the biggest letdown from all this. I really hope that this will die down soon so the fans can come watch us play.
Let’s start this conversation from the time you left Afreeca to join KT. Can you tell us what that process has been like?
After I decided to leave Afreeca, I was looking for another team to join, and I was either thinking of staying in Korea or going to join an LPL team. I had a lot of offers from various teams, but a lot of people around me said that KT was really good, so after talking to the Head Coach, Hirai, I decided to join straight away.
This is the first time hearing about you potentially playing in the LPL. Can you tell us the reasoning behind wanting to play in the LPL?
Not only is the LPL very good, it felt like my playstyle really fit the league really well. Although I can switch up my playstyle to fit the bill accordingly, I do like to fight a lot. I’m confident in my mechanics, so I really like those mechanically heavy games. Also, there’s a lot of Korean players in the LPL as well.
The initial reaction to KT’s newly formed roster was pretty positive. Not only was the rookie-veteran ratio balanced, the impact of the Aiming-TusiN Bot Lane seemed strong as well.
When I first joined, I didn’t know who else was on the team. Not only did I not know that my former teammates from Afreeca, Kuro and TusiN would be on the team, I didn’t know who the Top Laner and Jungler was as well. When the roster was completed, I thought to myself, ‘This roster isn’t half bad.’
As you said, this is the second time that you’re paired up with TusiN in the Bot Lane. Since you’ve already built synergy in the past, it must’ve felt comfortable.
Since we did play in the past, not only are we more comfortable with one another, we both know each other’s playstyle, and we’re close outside of the game as well.
Before the season started, how did scrims go for the team? There’s been word that scrims went quite well.
In the very beginning, we lost every single scrim. However, around two weeks before the season started, our synergy became much better, so things started working out for us, so we started the season on a better note.
However, KT started the season with a five match losing streak. Because the team atmosphere was really good, it must’ve been a hard pill to swallow. What kind of feedback did you receive?
With each loss adding up, we were losing confidence, so I think we didn’t know the methods of winning. I believe that because we didn’t know what we needed to do to win in an easy fashion, we kept losing. Although the atmosphere within the team got worse, there were certain things that we talked about. We told ourselves that the matches we lost were those that we pretty much had in the bag, but failed to close out and lost. If we took one set in the series we lost, we mutually agreed that we would’ve won the rest of the games..
The first victory against the Afreeca Freecs must’ve been a huge turning point for KT.
After that one win, the atmosphere greatly brightened up. The level of trust the team had, and the level of confidence went up drastically, so that’s why we were able to go on an 8 match win streak. At one point, we even joked around and said things like, ‘I wonder what it means to lose’ (Laughter). Once we started winning, we figured out the formula to win.
When KT was performing poorly, the criticism was especially heavy on your duo partner, TusiN.
At the time, our game plan was to win lane in Bot Lane no matter what to win the game. Not only was there a lot of pressure on us to perform, TusiN was also the one in charge of initiating for the team. When it comes to initiating, everything needs to picture perfect, but in that sense, the team’s communication was poor. That’s why it looked like TusiN was underperforming on an individual level.
At some point, TusiN changed his playstyle. It seems like he stopped trying to make plays through initiating and started to protect you a lot more.
Now, we don’t just stick to the strategy of ‘win Bot Lane, win game’. We can adapt to many different variations of win conditions, so we’re always thinking of what befits the current meta well. That’s why TusiN’s style naturally changed as well.
One keyword associated with KT is the ‘Telecom Derby’. As this year must’ve been the first time experiencing it, does the atmosphere within the team really change before the Telecom Derby?
When I watched the Telecom Derby in the past, it looked really fun. It was even more fun being a part of it, but I think that such a rivalry exists more within the staff and the coaches rather than the players. Personally… Rather than feeling happy about winning the Telecom Derby in Round 2, I feel happier that we were able to take down a strong team.
If we’re to talk about you a bit more, you’ve received a lot of spotlight this Spring split. The general consensus is that while the aggressiveness and the keen eye behind your gameplay is still there, the level of stability and consistency has drastically gone up. In your opinion, what part of yourself has improved the most?
The coaching staff told me that the level of improvement is evident. To be honest, it’s really hard to tell if you improved or not. However, people around me told me that I improved, so I just trusted their judgement. It also made me want to work harder.
I think that the way I look at the game has definitely improved, and I’m now confident to let the game go on until late game. The team also prefers playing around objectives around the map, so I think our overall playstyle has shifted towards that way as well. Since we’re focusing more on objectives, I try to play safer.
You’ve also scored your first Pentakill of your career.
On that same day, Gen.G’s Bot Laner, Ruler, scored a Pentakill in the first match of the night. I asked bonO when he’s going to feed me a Pentakill, and he said that even though Bot Laners don’t do a lot, he’ll feed one to me. Funnily enough, those words became reality, and after the match, he said, “See? I told you I’ll get you your Penta.”
What are your thoughts on people saying that you’re now in your prime?
So far, I don’t think I’m playing at my 100%, so I feel that I have a lot more to show. That’s why I can say with confidence that I’m not in my prime just yet. When I watch the replays of the matches that I lost, it always feels like I could’ve done something differently in certain scenarios. If I fix my mistakes and focus more on my positioning, I believe I can play better.
In the All-pro team category of the LCK Awards, you came in 2nd place in the Bot Laner section.
There’s definitely a bit of disappointment there. I think I might’ve come in first place if I played the last two matches better. Honestly, I wanted to receive the Young Player and the Player of the Game (POG) category a bit more. They’re not an award that anyone can receive, so I want to receive it if I get the chance in the future.
In terms of POG, Bdd, who came in first place and received the award, was only 200 points ahead of you. Is there someone in the team that took the POG points from you?
There’s only one game that I remember, and that’s when bonO took a vote away from me. But he did get me that Penta, so... (laughter)
KT ended the Spring Split in 5th place, so the team’s goal for the Summer split must be winning the whole thing, right?
Our initial objective was to make it into the playoffs. Now that we’ve achieved that goal, we want to do better than we did in Spring. It’s never a bad thing to set your goals high, so I’ll definitely set my goals on winning the whole thing. My end goal is to go to Worlds, and face off against foreign teams.
Now that you mention it, you don’t have any experience playing on an international stage.
There are a lot of foreign teams that are really good, but since I’ve never played against one, I can’t get a feel for how well they play. Whether I win or lose, I want to face as many different foreign teams as possible.
There are players with experience at Worlds on your team. Have you ever talked about Worlds with any one of them?
Only once with Kuro. He told me that while there isn’t anything too different, the roar from the crowd is thunderous. That’s all he said.
What is your personal goal?
Whether it’s in the playoffs or in the Regional Qualifiers, I want to beat every single team from the bottom up. I had a chance this Spring split, but it was disappointing that we lost. Going straight to the finals is always nice, but if that’s not the case, I’d rather start from the bottom.
Interesting. Normally, others would rather start as high as possible to avoid playing as much as possible.
That’s not too bad in itself, but I believe that the momentum of a win streak is very important as well. It’s a nice story I want to write. Isn’t it pretty cool?
Lastly, we’ll conclude this interview with a word to your fans.
We unfortunately finished 5th in the Spring split, so we’ll set our goals higher, work hard towards it to prove ourselves with results. I really hope that the coronavirus pandemic dies down during the Summer split so that I can meet the fans at LoL Park. As always, thank you so much for cheering us on.
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