TL CoreJJ: “The level of play around the world has kind of dropped this season.”

▲ Source: Team Liquid


Team Liquid had been in the middle of the standings through most of the season, but after winning three games in the last week, they ended up in 3rd place and are to face TSM in the Mid-Season Showdown. After the season concluded, Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in joined Inven Global for an interview in which he shared his candid thoughts about the changes in the LCS and the LoL scene around the world.



It’s been a while. How have you been?


It’s still dangerous outside so I don’t go out often and I just play games all the time.


How’s married life? Your wife came to the US, right?


She moved over and we’re doing well together. [Laughs] Up to this point, we had to do long distance, so I really wanted to see her while we were apart, but now that we’re always together, it really eases my mind. [Laughs]


The regular season came to an end. How was it?


It went by so fast. Since we also played the Lock-in tournament, the regular season went by in the blink of an eye. The Lock-in tournament also felt kind of like a season — it was long and short in a way.


The Lock-in was a new system. It’s kind of like the KeSPA Cup. How was it?


In the Lock-in, no teams really had time to build synergy. Each team just showed what they had, how good the individual performance was. By the time the regular season started, all the teams had more practice together and it became more of a team game.


The format of the LCS year changed a lot too. What do you think about it?


First of all, it’s no longer called the Spring Split. But more importantly, I heard that the Spring Season’s results continue in the Summer Season. So every match, each and every game... losing one game was really stressful. Most of the time, I didn’t really mind about the regular season results, because the playoffs were more important. Now, losing one game really bothers me.


How about playing three games a week?


Playing three games, on the other hand, was pretty good. If we win, it feels good. If we lose, I want to get revenge fast. Also, compared to having a 1-1 week, it’s better to have a 2-1 week. Even if we do lose once, 2-1 doesn’t feel too bad.


But even if we’re playing three games a week, the overall number of games is too few. It’s regretful that we can’t show more games. 


Your first opponent in the Mid-Season Showdown is TSM. You weren’t able to beat them in the regular season, but beat them in the Lock-in. How do you think it’ll go?


Of course, you’ll never know until we play them. Even though we lost both regular season games, it didn’t feel at all that TSM was too strong or that we couldn't beat them. The most important part is how much of our team’s potential we can show. While playing in this LCS season, I felt that our players are really good. They have very good performance so if we’re to show that properly, I don’t think there would be any teams that can compete with us in NA.


What do you think of the results in the LCS? Are they as expected?


Actually, if C9 stayed in 1st place from beginning to end, we wouldn’t feel regretful, but C9 stumbled in the middle of the season. As for us, we blew some games where we had a big advantage. If we had just secured one of those games, we would have been 1st. But since the postseason is more important, I think we would need to focus on that more.



In general, most of the teams that reached the Mid-Season Showdown are as expected. Except for Dignitas, who had a good run to reach the playoffs, most of the teams were as expected. Dignitas did better than I thought and FlyQuest didn’t meet expectations.


Were there any teams that were difficult to play against this season?


More than any other team, to me, CLG was very difficult to play against. When the season first started, many people evaluated CLG to be last. When you look at their games, they tripped on their own legs. Considering the players they have, they shouldn’t be that low in the standings. Because of that, I felt more pressure when we met them.



This is the first season you’ve played with Alphari and Santorin. How were they?


I’ve played in the same league as Santorin for quite a while now, so there were things that I expected from him. He really makes clean plays without mistakes. I always thought that he does what he is required to do all the time, and he really is.


As for Alphari, I just thought, “Wow, this guy’s a monster.” There was a reason he was evaluated as a great top laner in Europe. But even though he’s a monster, it felt that he still has much more potential left. I think he’s a player that hasn’t yet reached his full potential. His laning is extremely strong, so there are many choices he could make. All those choices could be the correct answer — I think he’s in the process of picking the best way to play the game among those choices. If he could connect winning the lane to winning the game more naturally, he’d become flawless. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a top laner with such strong laning.


I believe you would be keeping an eye on the other leagues too. What do you think about them?


I mostly watch the LCK. As for other leagues, I just watch what I can. But what I felt was that the level of play around the world has kind of dropped this season. It’s the first year of LCK franchising and a lot of the players that had shown steady performance retired. A lot of rookies with potential took their place, so I think the Spring Split was their time to adapt.


At the same time, I think the results in the spring will be much different in the summer. While the level of play still needs improvement, there were a lot of games that showed potential.


Do you think the teams around the world are looking at the long run?


I think that was kind of the trend around the world this year. I don’t think there’s been an LCS season where so many rookies have come to the league. I think the leagues around the world are in the process of a generational shift.


It’s odd because earlier this season, Tactical said that he thinks “the average level of the LCS is higher than last year”. What’s different?


[Laughs] Honestly, I think LCS is still really bad. I don’t know how I could put this, but there aren’t any teams that feel complete, no teams that feel really good. Generally, around the world, including the LCS, the level of play is… I think everyone’s still adapting.


Besides the LCK, which teams do you usually watch?


I look up LEC and LPL games whenever I have time. In EU, I mostly watch G2 and Rogue games. As for the LPL, there are quite a few teams that are pretty good. I think the LPL is quite balanced. I’m not saying their level is high — the level of play among the teams is pretty close to each other.


Do you have any last comments?


I’ve been playing all this time because there were so many fans that cheer for me, and that I could show quality performance in front of those fans. I hope everyone stays interested in the LCS. Recently, the LCS wasn’t able to get good results in international competitions. I think it’s time for the LCS to rebel, so I’ll make sure to do well.

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