After a rough Spring Split which saw them finish last in the round robin, Counter Logic Gaming seem back on track halfway through Summer. Currently tied for 4th place at 5-5, CLG are proving themselves not only against low-ranked teams, but are snatching wins away from playoff contenders such as Evil Geniuses.
A week 5 roster change also promoted Alexey "Deus" Zatorski to starting top laner, as Kim "Ruin" Hyeong-min took to the bench. After CLG's win over Evil Geniuses, Deus sat down with Inven Global to discuss his promotion up from Academy, his off-season solo queue experience, and how he looks forward to meeting his Academy top lane rival.
During our interview with you in Korea, you mentioned your signature champion is Gangplank and that you were very specifically excited to face against a bunch of the Riven players in NA. And you were GP versus Riven that game against Evil Geniuses, that was super cool. Obviously you got spam-ganked, but how did you enjoy the match-up?
Yeah, I don't really know the match-up, I know it's a counter-pick because Riven just shields the Q and sustains in lane, and when she snowballs it's hard for GP to match her. But GP is just a better champion overall.
You got chain-ganked three times in the first six minutes, but then you kept up with farm and pressure and had a bigger impact on the game, I feel. What do you think about your level of play in the LCS specifically?
I think in the first game [against Team Liquid on July 11 — Ed.] there wasn't a lot I could do. But in the second, I definitely played poorly. Especially in the early game, I could've 1v2'd or avoided the ganks. Later on, in the GP gain, my laning could've been a lot better as well.
You've mentioned you're a "solo laner" and, obviously, you're a former mid laner and even your Discord name is Deusmid. Is that something you're still hoping to do potentially, flex to mid lane? Or are you just all-in on the top lane?
Yeah, I'm still playing pretty much 50/50 split between mid and top in solo queue. So I'm keeping my mid lane knowledge and gameplay up to my standards. I am still a flex player. I am ready to go mid whenever.
I want to go back and touch on Spring a little bit. This Spring obviously was really difficult for both CLG rosters. I know you guys had some visa issues at the time and each had a really rough record. What was your mindset? You just got back to NA and all of this chaos is going on, and then the coronavirus hit...
The coronavirus and visa issues didn't really affect my mindset. I was just trying to improve and win some games in Academy.
In Academy, it's really important to showcase your individual play. After we started losing every game, I was like, "Yeah, I'm not going to play Ornn every single game," and I tried to show my individual performance on other champions. I was playing Cassiopea and Renekton top, and it was working better towards the end of the season. Once we lost so many games, we stopped caring about our record and whether we win or lose. It was just, "Let's get out there and play well."
What was your approach in the off-season?
I personally just focused on myself and just grinded solo queue. I think pretty much everyone did the same thing. And this season is looking better for Academy [CLG Academy are tied for 4th place with 5-5 at the time of writing — Ed.]. We all had individual things to work on.
Yeah, the record looks really good for both teams compared to Spring. You also told us your initial goal was to move to the LCS with Oh “Wind” Myeongjin. And you and Wind are the only two Academy members who have started LCS for CLG. Are you proud you two are getting some LCS time?
Yeah, I'm really happy with how that worked out. (How's it working with Wind?) I think it's working well. He's got his own stuff that he's working on.
You got top 20 in the Korean solo queue ladder. I know you grind solo queue a lot but you mentioned you were somewhat apprehensive about the solo queue here. How's it been?
Actually, not that bad. In the off-season, it gets bad, but during the season most pro players actually try solo queue and it's pretty decent. But the ping is annoying. The solo queue in the off-season was pretty terrible, but once the season started, everyone started trying to win again.
We've talked about your expectations of level of play in NA Academy compared to Challengers Korea. After having spent one and a half-ish seasons in NA Academy, what's your thought: which one is better between a high-end NA Academy and KR Challengers team?
I think the level of play is definitely far lower in NA Academy from what I've seen. [laughs]
Is it just mechanically, or all-inclusive?
It's everything, for sure. I think the mechanical aspect of it can be explained just by that NA players, we don't get to practice champions in solo queue properly. You really can't practice mechanical champs in solo queue to the extent they can be played. People just play solo queue every day with 10 ping are just going to have big advantage in practicing mechanics. (Is it just the ping issue?) Yeah, for the mechanical aspect. And the overall level of play is just lower too.
In Korea, you also very specifically told us that you wanted to play a tank match-up versus Kieran "Allorim" Logue, and CLG plays Immortals next week. If you're starting - and hypothetically if you could get everyone to agree on the pre-decided match-up - who'd you want to play into Allorim?
I think actually, in all my Academy games against Allorim, I've played Ornn twice against him and he's been Aatrox twice. And I was GP once and he was Yorick once. So, yeah, he just refuses to pick a tank into me, he's too scared. [laughs]
But if you could make him do it next week, what would you tell him to pick?
He just has to play Maokai. And I'd play Ornn. [laughs]
Anything else you want to say?
I still have a lot to show that I couldn't in these two games. If I get the chance to play further on, there are plenty more champions I want to show specifically. I was counter-picked into a terrible match-up both games and I want to show off what I can do with the counter-pick.
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