FlyQuest has done it. The team secured the first win for North America in the 2020 League of Legends World Championship Group Stage. After a show of aggression and confidence facing the Unicorns of Love on the third day of Groups, Jungler Lucas "Santorin" Tao Kilmer Larsen joined Inven Global to discuss the state of LCS teams, today's game, and the Jungler meta at Worlds.
Congratulations on winning the first game for North America. I think a lot of people expected that Team Liquid would end up beating Machi yesterday or that TSM would maybe get a win versus Fnatic. Is that a bittersweet feeling? To be the first one in NA to win?
It's definitely bittersweet. I definitely didn't expect to take this long for NA to get a victory, especially not from Team Liquid, I thought they'd definitely beat Machi. I was surprised, honestly. Also, today, we played Unicorns and it was definitely not a clean game so we have a lot to work as NA as a whole during Worlds.
Maybe it wasn't a clean one but we all had a lot of fun watching it. [both laugh] What happened there? We had a lot of head-to-head fights, a Baron steal...
I felt that we had a good plan for our early game, but we made a couple of mistakes, gave away a few free kills. We knew where they were and we just died anyway. And there were a couple of fights where we miss-executed. It didn't feel that they were the ones playing well, it was more us making a lot of mistakes. It's kind of a bittersweet feeling: you want to be the one making all the good plays, and if you fall behind, you'd want it to be because the other team plays very well, but it didn't feel like that.
Your match against UOL was quoted by Kelsey Moser and Froskurinn as the highlight match of the day. It was half-trolling, half-serious because both of you have some crazy drafts and playstyles. How would you rate the Unicorns' unpredictability?
It's very hard to predict what they're gonna play. Their ADC plays all the mid lane champions, they draft different compositions... They are a hard team to draft against, so it's definitely something you have to keep in mind. Just from watching them play, they are a very explosive team. You can't take them too lightly, because they are a team that can throw you off and take the game.
Do you think that in any way they compare to DRX or TES in terms of being like a "scary" team to play against?
I wouldn't put them in the same category as DRX or TES. Those teams are just really strong, they have all the components of being a strong team. A team like UOL has some of these pieces, but they have a lot of weaknesses they have to work on.
When you guys started the group stage, you already got pitted against the best of the best. It was a brutal game against TES, but since they're rated so highly, do you think that the "worst is behind you"?
Honestly, our game against TES was kind of miserable. We played really badly. So we did have our worst and we can only go up from here. Next time we face TES, all when we play against DRX, it won't be a one-sided stomp like that.
You are ranking quite high on the Chinese super server, you are just below Knight, actually, who is supposed to be one of the best players in the world right now. What's your experience on the super server been like?
I made a tweet at some point saying how I love that it's so low ping. Obviously, that's huge. Other than that, I really like that the people are really aggressive and they mechanically gifted. The Chinese one-tricks playing on that server are actually really good on that champion, so you can learn a lot from them.
And in general, I just love the fighting, there's a lot of fighting. On NA, there's a lot of farming, scaling... Here, if you make a mistake, you'll get punished.
Does being ranked so high help your morale?
I don't know about morale, because as a pro player, you have to expect that you'd be up there. I'd say it's a benefit in the sense that you're competing against the best of the best on the server. It's definitely a lot better practice, for sure.
The memes for "another NA year at Worlds" have already started... I think it was even before Worlds itself started. Looking back at the Summer split that led to here, what would you say the NA region was lacking this time?
I think NA is similar to when you're watching play-ins: there's a lot of scaling, which is hurting us now. LPL is playing really fast, they have these intense counter-picks, which will destroy you in the early game. That's something we're missing in NA: these aggressive counters, where the game just explodes if you don't play really well.
How do you feel about the jungle meta here at Worlds? Nidalee is one of the most popular champions, but you didn't really play her during Summer. At the same time, though, Volibear is doing really well and you have looked on it during the split. How do you feel about the jungle right now?
I like the jungle right now. I've always been a huge fan of Nidalee. I don't know if you've checked my Chinese solo queue, but I've been spamming Nidalee.
There are a lot of carry jungle match-ups, which is really fun to play, whereas, at other Worlds, it used to be Kog'maw/Lulu bot and the Ardent Censor meta that felt very boring to play. I really enjoy this one: there's a lot of early-game aggression and you just keep team fighting.
Which champion that isn't meta right now do you wish it was?
I'd say Kha'Zix, I really love him. Those kind of assassin champions are really fun to play.
Before Worlds, both you and Solo talked about how FLY used to be underrated by everyone. Even though you guys have good talent and have proven to play well, did well during Summer, made it to the finals, made it to Worlds, people thought you guys were "just fine". Was finally crushing this weird prejudice that people had one of your goals for Worlds?
From personal experience, I don't care too much what fans are saying, whether they are talking shit or talking down on us. But I think it's a goal for the org. We're now known as a good org and good players, and that's not something a lot of us have had in the past. It's been a lot of, "Oh, this guy doesn't even deserve to be on this team", that kind of stuff.
I am happy that we're finally at Worlds and proving to be players deserving of it.
Do you think that's enough to prove to fans that FLY is more than "just OK"?
If I was a fan watching this game, I wouldn't feel great about NA. I would expect us to beat them — and we did, but it wasn't convincing. I wouldn't blame fans for not feeling too strongly because of that. But we have to prove in the next four games that we are actually a team that's not "just an NA team that will lose anyway".
Where do you think NA is going to rank closer to the end of the group stage?
Right now, if we are realistic, LPL and LCK are really strong, they are on another level right now. I'd definitely rank us below them. In EU, G2 is a really good team... I'm not sure where to put Fnatic, because sometimes they are really good, other times they're lacking a lot. NA is kind of with EU in that sense, but I would say their top team is probably better than ours.
Esports editor and journalist of 10+ years. Lives on black tea and corgi love.