Counter Logic Gaming have completely rebuilt their roster and almost the entirety of their staff ahead of the 2022 LCS season, opting to invest in younger North American talent including rookie AD carry Fatih "Luger" Güven. Before the start of the LCS Lock In, CLG top laner Thomas "Jenkins" Tran spoke to Inven Global about his time on Team Liquid, joining CLG, and his team-centric playstyle.
Can you walk us through the process of joining CLG this off-season?
I was given permission to talk with other teams before my contract naturally expired with TL. CLG and I had some talks, and it went well from there.
After a strong LCS debut in Alphari's place last summer, were you open to opportunities outside of starting in the LCS in 2022?
I wanted to play LCS, of course, but I was unsure of whether I would get a spot. I feel pretty lucky that I'm able to play in LCS, so I'm very happy with this situation.
You were on TL Academy for three years before debuting in the LCS. Do you think your ability to transition into the LCS had to do with how long you were able to develop on TLA?
Had TL's infrastructure not changed, I would say that it probably would have been harder to go from Academy to LCS. However, after the change in coaching staff, I felt that it was a lot more connected. TL has something pretty special in how connected their Academy team is to their LCS team. We shared similar philosophies, so I felt like I was able to improve faster because of that.
Speaking more towards that dynamic, what was the working relationship like between you and Alphari? Did playing with/alongside him help you improve as well?
Yeah, I feel like it did. I feel like there was no bad blood regarding me taking over for Alphari. We were able to have pretty good conversations about the game regardless of the situations that we were in.
Aside from the bot lane duo, CLG is a roster of brand new teammates. What are your first impressions?
We've been scrimming for about a week and I feel that we have all been a pretty good match for one another so far. I'm pretty excited for the season. I actually live with Luger and Palafox at the moment, but everyone always comes to the office every day, so we do see each other every day.
Regardless of specifics, you had an unusual debut in the LCS. Was that, in hindsight, more helpful or harmful in terms of you establishing yourself as an LCS level player?
I think it played a factor because I had a pretty good team who helped set me up for success, as well as the fact that I got the shot itself on that team. Getting a shot in the LCS is very difficult, especially if you've been in Academy for a while, from what I've seen. Overall, I think the whole situated benefitted me more than it did harm.
Your selfless, team-focused style of play was commended by casters and analysts alike last summer. Is this a style you identify with, or was it just what TL needed at the time?
I think it's more of a trademark. I've always been kind of selfless in terms of how I play, or at least, I try to be.
Is this due to a philosophy in what you feel is the correct way to play, or because you believe it plays to your subjective strengths?
I think it's just what I excel at personally.
Is that a natural inclination of yours, or is it a strength you feel you honed on TLA?
It's kind of both, but I do think that my coaches helped me get better in those ways faster than I would have on my own.
Now that you're a full-time starter, is there any top laner you want to test your mettle against most in the LCS this season?
One of them would of course be Impact because I used to play under him. Summit seems interesting; I didn't get a chance to play against him when I was in South Korea. I think Bwipo is pretty good too after I got to play against him in China and Europe.
Thanks for your time Jenkins. Is there anything you'd like to say to the CLG fans before the start of the Lock In?
CLG fighting. Come support us. I'm sure we'll do great things this season.