Edward "Tactical" Ra will begin the 2022 LCS season with a new challenge, but in familiar threads. Tactical, who got his professional start on TSM Academy in 2019 before playing in the LCS with Team Liquid as their starting AD carry for the past two seasons, has donned a TSM jersey once again, this time as their starting LCS AD carry.
Before the start of the 2022 LCS season, Tactical spoke to Inven Global about his sophomore season on Team Liquid last year, how his bond with jungler Mingyi "Spica" Lu played a part in him joining TSM, and also shared his thoughts on TSM Academy's chances competing in place of the main roster in the LCS Lock In.
How has the start of the year been for you thus far?
It's been good, I've just been chilling and waiting to start practice. I'm excited for that.
What have you been doing to keep your skills sharp while waiting for your teammates to arrive in the US?
I've been playing some solo queue occasionally, and Shenyi has reached out to me a couple of times to talk about League of Legends or whatever we want for a couple of hours. We even watched some of my previous Worlds VoDs and he provided input on them. I thought it was pretty cool for him to even want to do that. Those are the two main things I've been doing.
What's it been like reuniting with your former TSM Academy teammate Spica?
In the summer of 2019, we were on the same Academy team and played together a lot, but we actually knew each other before either of us were pros. I think I met him in solo queue randomly, but I don't remember exactly. I knew him for about two years before we went pro.
You haven't played with Huni before this season, at least competitively, but have you had any previous interactions with him?
I've played solo queue with him, he seems like a fun guy. We would ping each other a lot sometimes in previous games, and we all did get to practice for three days of scrims during our South Korean bootcamp, though we did have a substitute jungler. Still, I have played a few games with Huni and he seems like a really nice guy.
Let's talk a bit about last season. What are your takeaways from 2021 in a career context?
Last year was a bit shaky for me. The start was kind of rough, but I started to do better as the year went on. Right now, I'm just hoping to continue that upwards trend. I think I can do really well this year, especially with a team of younger players. Aside from Huni, the rest of us are relatively new.
Last year, I learned that one's mental is a big part of the game as a pro player. In my case, it was less about the actual knowledge and game skills and more about being in the best mindset I can be in when playing. That is what enables me to succeed, so I learned that that's what I should try to work on the most. If I can continue to improve in that area, I think that will be really good.
You mentioned starting off 2021 shaky despite an impressive Worlds 2020 performance. Was it simply a matter of shaking the rust off at the beginning of the season, or did something get lost in translation for you during that off-season?
I was just dealing with some personal things that were distracting me. I couldn't put 100% focus into the game, so that definitely hurt a lot, and it hurt my teammates too. I feel bad about that. At the beginning of the year, my mental was not in the best spot, so I experienced a small period of burnout. All of that combined caused me to have a bad start to 2021.
Despite multiple mid-summer roster and staff changes, Team Liquid got it together enough to make a LCS final and qualify for Worlds 2021. Did the revolving door that existed in the head coach position and top side of the map affect you on the bottom side of the map at all?
I think stuff like that depends on how well the coaching staff can integrate multiple players at different times. In our case, I felt like we were all pretty comfortable with the situation at hand; we had trust in each other.
Because of this, when we swapped Alphari out for Jenkins, we didn't have that big of a problem. Instead of overthinking the situation, we just tried to focus on easing into the transition and focus on winning the game instead of overthinking the game, getting too nervous or too tryhard.
What are your thoughts on the changes to League of Legends in season 12?
Compared to the previous year, this pre-season was not as drastic. Last year, the dragons were completely revamped, for example, but this year, it does feel like they've added a bit more to the game. That's not something I mind because so many things have had to be figured out by players since the item rework. This now gives people a bit more time to get used to those aspects of the game, which might make the game a higher level of quality in general.
In a competitive context, what is the overall health of the AD carry position right now?
I've never been one to complain too much — you just kind of have to adapt or you won't do your job properly in the game. AD carry can be a very strong role if the team plays around it well. I think it's very important to have good coordination and to understand how the AD carry wants to play the game to be able to take care of them well. It's really important to be sure that the AD carry's flow is good.
After playing some games with Shenyi, I think he's got a good idea of that. AD carry can also be a very flexible role depending on what you need for your team.
How exactly were you trying to navigate this off-season, and how did that result in you joining TSM for the 2022 LCS season?
No one knows what's going to happen in the off-season, so I was just kind of going with the flow and waiting to hear information. Basically, I was notified of some offers teams had sent my way, and I did get to have some say in these things. I thought TSM was my best chance.
Did your familiarity with TSM, albeit TSM Academy, play a part in this decision?
I wouldn't say the Academy experience is applicable. I think it's more about the people. For example, if Spica was not on TSM Academy with me in 2019, my coming here would feel like an independent thing. Since Spica's here, it almost feels like a comeback.
You aren't necessarily a veteran yet, but you certainly have more experience in the LCS than Keiaduo or Shenyi. Are you at all focused on taking a leadership role or being a resource for your less experienced teammates on TSM this year?
From my perspective, I want to make sure they feel comfortable so we can do well at incorporating them into our team. I also want to make sure that we're able to have an environment where we just have fun with each other. So far, from what I've seen, Keiaduo and Shenyi seem like pretty fun people, so I don't think that part will be hard.
I will have to step up a little bit in those areas because before, I was just a person following others on Team Liquid. I may have more of a chance here to step up in these areas, so I'm excited to see how that goes.
Is there a specific timeline on when Keiduo and Shenyi will arrive in Los Angeles?
I'm actually not sure of the exact timeline. I think as of now, the arrival is more of an estimate. Hopefully, everyone is here within a week from now so we can start practice. That would be ideal, but I'm not sure of the exact dates of their arrivals.
How do you think TSM Academy will do in place of your roster in the 2022 LCS Lock In?
Let's run it down from top to bottom: V1per has played on stage before; I think he can be their leader. Jungle/mid is Hyper and Takeover, and I don't think they have any stage experience, so it will be new for them. Instinct also has no stage experience and he is 17 years old, so that's going to be fun for them. Yursan was on TSM Academy last year, and I think he and V1per can do well and bring good vibes to the team.
I'm pretty excited to watch them because they seem to be really good mechanically, so I think they will do well and get some nice experience.
That will have to suffice until we see you and the rest of the LCS roster in action this spring. Thanks for the interview Tactical, is there anything you'd like to say to the TSM fans?
I'll make sure to have lots of fun with Spica. I don't know if you guys knew, but back in TSM Academy, we would just yell at each other in the comms and whatnot, so I hope we can bring that same energy and have a lot of fun this year.