The group stage of the 2021 League of Legends Championship Series Lock In has concluded, and with a record of 3-1, Team Liquid has secured the 2nd seed in Group A. 100 Thieves, who also finished 3-1 but defeated TL head-to-head, secured the 1st seed in the group. Team Liquid's first match of the LCS Lock In knockout stage will be a best-of-three series against FlyQuest on Sunday, January 24th.
Team Liquid finished its group stage with an utter shellacking of TSM in what was slated to be a premiere matchup, and the primary difference of the game was in the bot lane. TL AD carry Edward "Tactical" Ra and support Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-In gave new TSM support Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Chieh a warm welcome to the LCS in the form of obliteration alongside TSM AD carry Lawrence "Lost" Hui. Team Liquid beat TSM in under 25 minutes to secure the 2nd seed in Group A.
CoreJJ sat down with Inven Global following the conclusion of Team Liquid's Lock In group stage to discuss besting SwordArt, his new teammates, and his place in the new era of the LCS.
CoreJJ, today's matchup between TL and TSM was much more one-sided than most expected. What were your expectations coming into the match?
The game kind of went exactly how I expected it would go before the game. This is what's going to happen for the next year. It wasn't a surprise or anything special.
Despite seeing less Nautilus so far overall in season 11, you played great on the Titan of the Depths today. Did you pick Nautilus for the 2v2 lane or the 5v5 game as a whole?
I usually pick for our team composition overall, and Nautilus was really good for our team overall in this match. I can't explain specifically why I chose Nautilus, but it was a champion I thought I could pick to carry the game. That's why we picked it with our last pick in the draft phase.
I don't expect you to reveal every reason for the pick, but you certainly carried as you thought you could. Did you feel like you had something to prove against SwordArt given his pedigree and 2020 World Championship finals appearance with Suning?
*Laughs* I mean, I've played in the LCS for the past two years, and I figured people would want to see me destroy SwordArt because destroying a World Championship finalist would show that LCS can be competitive. I'm happy that we could show LCS is not easy to dominate.
Team Liquid played its first three games with TL Academy jungler Jonathan "Armao" Armao starting due to visa issues delaying the arrival of Lucas "Santorin" Larsen, but he was able to make his TL debut today. How does it feel to play with Santorin, albeit with slightly less practice than what was probably desired by the team prior to the season?
*Laughs* Yeah, Santorin has more experience and knows how to play the game well, so he's pretty easy to play with even without a lot more time together prior to this weekend. All of us already know how to play the game in general, so it was pretty easy to adapt and integrate him into the roster today.
I also saw Armao's potential; he knows how to play through the jungle for the team. I feel like both junglers played well, but I'm confident that together, Santorin and I don't know how to lose.
If you keep playing like this, it doesn't seem like synergy will take too long to develop. Your other new teammate heading into 2021 is Barney "Alphari" Morris, which marks the first time Jeong "Impact" Eon-young has not started in the top lane for TL since the beginning of 2018. What's it been like adjusting to a new top laner for the first time since you signed with Team Liquid?
I'm actually kind of impressed by Alphari. I've never played with the type of top laner he is previously, so it's an interesting experience. I'm having a lot of fun with our new teammates right now.
A lot of iconic LCS stars like Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg and Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng retired from professional play in the 2020 off-season. As a veteran player playing at an elite level in North America, do you feel like you are leading the new era of LCS talent in terms of representing hope for the region's future?
Yeah, I kind of think about things in that way. Also, I'm going to hold my position until all of the new talents grow up. A lot of new talent will be popping up soon, so I'm going to hold on until someone takes over for me.
You certainly have plenty left in the tank in terms of your level of play. Thanks for the interview, CoreJJ. Is there anything you want to say to the TL fans before the quarterfinals of the LCS Lock In?
Every year I feel that Team Liquid as a team is improving, and I am improving as an individual, too. We are stronger than last year, so we are going to play really well at the 2021 World Championship. I hope everybody will look forward to watching us.
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