Just days before the start of the 2020 League of Legends Championship Series Summer Split, Immortals announced a shocking roster change, replacing three of the former starting squad with their Academy counterparts. The Bot Lane duo, Apollo "Apollo" Price and Nick "Hakuho" Surgent, was replaced by Johnny "Altec" Ru and Jiajun "Austin" "Gate" Yu. But more surprisingly, longtime veteran and holder of the second most LCS titles, Jake "Xmithie" Puchero was replaced by rookie Jungler, Nicholas "Potluck" Pollock.
Throughout much of the Spring Split, Xmithie was often heralded as the savior of Immortals by both fans and the Riot broadcast. Potluck has big shoes to fill, and he hasn't been received by the general community as well as most LCS rookies tend to be. Potluck speaks to us about the community's perception of him and addresses his frustration with their misinformation and discontent.
We've gotten into a weird space as a scene and as fans where people claim there are not enough rookies in the LCS but then when teams add rookies to their roster, they're also criticized. We saw a bit of that with Johnson "Johnsun" Nguyen last split, and we are seeing it with you as well. How does it feel to have this reception? You of course have to fill in big shoes, but fans are also critical of you being in the LCS as well.
I don't really read reddit or Twitter or things like that. I think that a lot of the criticism can be fair. Of course it's going to be a bit whack to see someone's name you've never seen in the LCS before replacing someone like Xmithie who has won so many titles and has been so successful.
But actually, there have been a few things that I've read that have kind of annoy me. I see a lot that people are saying that Xmithie is getting benched because he's out partying or because he doesn't give a f*** about solo queue or whatever it might be. But it kinda seems like bulls*** because we played our internal scrims for two to three weeks and I'm playing better than him, so I got the starting spot.
It kinda feels like... Like me moving up to LCS which is what I've worked hard for for the past two or three years of playing pro is being belittled by a sense of, "He's not actually good, this other player is just doing something that he shouldn't or not taking it seriously." It's not like he isn't trying hard, but so am I.
I know you said you don't pay much attention to what people say, but what is your hope for your debut as far as engagement? Because most rookies are hyped up and people get excited about them. So are you hoping people's mindsets change? Or are you totally unworried about it?
Well I think that Edward "Tactical" Ra and Johnsun both were solo queue stars. They were both always really high on the ladder, Johnsun didn't look too impressive in the games he played in Academy, but I'd say Tactical looked really impressive in scrims and in his Academy matches, and he's also looking really, really good in high elo. Both of them are always top ten with multiple accounts.
So they have this aura of hype around them because they're playing the game at a really high level already, and they're showing people publicly that they're doing really well and they're mechanically very gifted. Whereas, I think Jungle is more of a thinking role, not as much of a mechanical role. And I'm not like super high on the ladder or anything, I'm not turning heads, with my mechanics or things like that, so it kind of makes sense that people are more excited about others than about me.
So I guess I don't care. I think the public perception of me doesn't really matter in the end. The public perception of me doesn't get me my paycheck or my starting spot in LCS or even my spot in Academy or whatever else. So I think I just care more about how I'm performing rather than the expectations are of me.
I want to touch on your career a bit for people who don't know who exactly you are or your history, to provide more context there. You've been playing a couple years in Academy, and also coached a bit as well. So first, when you took a break from playing to coach, what was the motivation behind that change, and then return to playing?
I had just played two splits in Academy where I had gone 2-16 and 4-14. And at the time, I think our team and the coaching staff that we had were all just very bad. We didn't really have a leader to show us how to play the game better, so none of us were really improving. So it kind of felt like I was a lost cause of a player. I lost almost all my confidence in myself. And when I was thinking about what I wanted to do, I couldn't see myself playing pro again after how badly that experience was.
So I ended up taking six months off. I kind of grew a lot as a person in that time and was able to reflect and kind of change how I thought about things. And then I got an interesting offer from Golden Guardians to go and coach and my intentions were to stay as a coach.
But during my time as a coach I started realizing again how much I missed playing while I was watching scrims, and I started to put a lot more effort in solo queue and a lot more effort into trying to find a team, and I was fortunate enough that my old coach Kublai "Kubz" Barlas had a lot of faith in me and gave me an opportunity with Immortals.
I spoke with Kubz when he was on OpTic and his approach to the game in Academy specifically, especially around the Jungle since he had Dardoch playing stuff like Pyke jungle. So he had some really interesting opinions on how he viewed the purpose of Academy - for growth and exploration. So how was that for you last Spring and how does it help now that you're in LCS?
Well I think that one big upside Kubz had as a coach is that he was - like you're saying - he was always very willing to let his jungler play whatever he wanted, so I was never really playing tanks. I was playing a lot of carries even when people weren't really playing carries. So it left the floor open to me in scrims to kind of decide what I think is best and play my own style, and that helped me develop a lot as a player. Also, we worked a lot one on one which I think was helpful, especially earlier on in the season.
That's good to hear. And I know in one of your LCS games you were diving mid super early, calling for extra help from Gate, your support. Is that what you're hoping to keep doing, or how would you define your style?
I'd say I'm an overly aggressive player and I wanna keep it that way. I don't want to be a player that's just full clearing my jungle and hoping that my team carries me and just covering lanes. I want to be active on the map and I want to be making aggressive plays. I want to be fun to watch, I think that's something that's nice too. Like when I watch League, I like watching players like Blaber who's just kinda going crazy at all times. I wanna be similar to that. I don't want to be him, I want to be my own player, but also be very aggressive.
Anything you want to say to any fans rooting for you?
We're trying our best to improve. Public perception seems to think we're going to be 10th, so we'll at least try and get 9th. We'll see how it goes.
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