After Immortals Progressive's first win of the 2022 LCS season, top laner Mo "Revenge" Kaddoura spoke to Inven Global about defeating defending LCS champion 100 Thieves to snap his team's losing streak, his involvement in the development of Champions Queue, and how his relationships with Jeong "Impact" Eon-young and Barney "Alphari" Morris have helped him develop as a player.
This wasn't the cleanest win against 100 Thieves, but it's got to feel good to finally get a dub on the board. How were you able to stay resilient enough to find an opportunity to capitalize on a late game mistake by 100, especially after such a tough start to the season?
To be honest, I was really, really focused on making sure I stabilized and did well in teamfights, especially after dying early in the laning phase. A lot of the time, a player dying in that position — giving up a kill to Renekton in the early game — is a death sentence. Renekton will snowball and start pushing every wave on you, but I kept my cool in the laning phase. I wanted to make sure I could transition well into teamfights, and I think I did.
I think we had some blunders as a team in teamfights, but individually, I was trying my best to do as much damage as possible and call out the targets I needed to call out. I think the game boil down to a teamfighting game — side laning was really stable and there wasn't anything egregious happening in the mid game, so it really came down to 5v5.
That was really scary at some points with Closer popping off on Viego, but I just kept telling the team our condition, how we were going to win the fights, and who I wanted to focus. As a Graves player, you have to play off of your teammates' crowd control and setup, so I was really reliant on my team to give me that setup this game. I think that Destiny and PowerOfEvil really stepped up this game. They provided really great setup that helped me play teamfights really easily.
I'm glad you mentioned that because I felt the IMT team comp had a lot of damage but not a ton of true engage. Was the original idea to just play the side lane as Graves, or did you know that the game would eventually be about 5v5 teamfighting regardless?
Well, they had Ryze, so playing side lanes is always going to be more in their favor because Ryze is a really strong sidelaning champion. There are a lot of times you have to respect his ultimate, kind of like Twisted Fate. Because of this, there were a lot of times in the side lanes where I was either giving up priority or not contesting as hard. Instead, I was just trying to kill the wave as fast as possible, even if it meant giving up CS, just to remove the angle of them having a chance to kill me. I had to do that in the laning phase in addition to the side lanes.
A lot of the time, you'll see Graves have insane CS numbers, but this game, I was mostly even with Renekton to just avoid dying to Ryze because eventually, Renekton will fall off compared to Graves in teamfights. Ssumday also built a side lane build on Renekton this game by building Black Cleaver second instead of something tankier.
A tankier build would have meant he would lose side lanes harder against me, but he would teamfight better. He chose to go for the side lane build this game and it still didn't win that hard against me, so he ended up looking really weak in the last teamfight. He just got two-shotted and the game was over.
However, this is kind of what we expected at that point. We knew Renekton would be useless in teamfights by that point, and we knew that if we got one reset on Jinx, the fight was over. Having a champion like Renekton in this game against a reset composition built around Jinx was really, really bad for them, and he kind of sacrificed that by going a side lane build and going even with me in CS. However, I don't think it mattered at the end of the day.
Did Destiny shave his head to try and shake things up? Competitors are often superstitious.
It was his idea, yeah. He wanted to shave his head, and we were memeing it by calling it a rageshave. *laughs* It was funny, he just showed up one day and we were like, "Whoa, whoa, what happened?" He just said, "Something had to change." It's really funny, but maybe it's given us the buff we need to win every game now. *laughs*
While the game itself was very back and forth, I felt that individually, your AD carry Jason "WildTurtle" Tran had his best game of the year so far. What's it been like playing with him?
We did play a few games together on FlyQuest Academy when he got benched for Mash. WildTurtle is the longest active player in the LCS and he's someone that I know has a lot of resilience. He's an X-factor player, and he stepped up big time today.
This is just WildTurtle in a nutshell, right? He's the longest-lasting LCS player for a reason. He's recognized as a veteran who knows how to scale into a really strong player throughout the season, and I think everyone in the league should be excited about that.
WildTurtle was praised for his Jinx play today on the analyst desk, but you were also praised for your play on Graves for knowing exactly where and where not to be.
In the past, you've said your 1v1 top lane play was LCS caliber, but your macro was not. Do you think that you've improved in this area after starting in the LCS all last year and again this year?
I'm much more confident now in how I'm supposed to play every champion that I can play at a competitive level. Last year, things came down to a lack of experience. I didn't know how some matchups should go, especially ones that had historically been around for a while. Now, I'm able to tell my team exactly how things can go.
I give a lot of thanks to Alphari and Impact for that because last year they were both my primary 1v1 partners. Impact is still that for me this year, and I have a really good relationship outside the game with both players, especially Impact. He knows so much about the game, and at this point, I just feel much more knowledgeable than I was previously. I feel like I can give my team confidence when I pick something or say how that pick should have things go in context of the game.
I feel confident in providing my team with a formula on how to win the game. I think that's really valuable in a player, especially a top laner, because sometimes, the lane can completely explode. People won't even really know what happened and they don't even know what to attribute it to — was it the jungler's fault? Was it the mid laner's fault? etc.
A good top laner will always predict what should happen in lane. You should predict every factor that can happen to screw your laning phase over and have very detailed knowledge of how your lane is supposed to go 1v1. I think that I've gotten to that level this year.
Changes to top lane have led to enchanters taking Smite in the top lane, but while we've seen the strategy win its first three LCS matches, those were far from convincing victories. Do you think this strategy is starting to be figured out?
I think the strategy is actually being played really poorly on stage so far. There have been a lot of egregious mistakes that really shouldn't happen and have nothing to do with the strategy itself. I think that makes the fact that it's getting wins even more concerning. The strategy itself completely ruins what I consider to be top lane and what top lane should provide to the game. It just highlights how ineffective top lane is as a role this season.
People are essentially saying that it doesn't matter what top laner you are, what you do in top lane — you can get five turret plates, you can get a full two turrets — you will not be as effective as your bot lane in the game. That's kind of sad. Last year was a really skillful 1v1 meta with champions like Jax, Irelia, Camille, Fiora, and all these really high-skill 1v1 lanes that dictated the game are now not as important relative to the rest of the map.
One thing to attribute that to is the changes to Teleport and the pure isolation of only being able to TP to turret pre-14 minutes. However, I think there's more to it than that. I think bot lane is way too strong and important of a role. I don't think it's been this powerful since the Ardent Censer meta and I think that's what is actually making these enchanter picks in top lane and mid lane so strong as well — they're buffing the AD carries.
It's a mix of both, as well as the bot lane champions being played like Aphelios and Jinx. Champions like these are so overpowered that you see them in every game. In my opinion, these are the strongest hyper-carries in the game, and it makes the game really hard to win from a solo lane.
On a lighter note, Champions Queue is live, which has been met with the completely opposite response from the community when compared to general thoughts on top lane. What are your first impressions of Champions Queue?
I've been playing Champions Queue and I'm on the executive board for the LCS Players Association. I've been giving a lot of opinions on a lot of the decisions involved in making Champions Queue, so I've been aware of what it would be for months before it launched. I've been really, really excited for it, but I was actually a little nervous about it at the start because it was going to be on Discord primarily, but it's actually been such a huge success.
I personally enjoy playing it so much. This is exactly what NA needs to level up big-time as a region. I'm really excited to play Champions Queue every single day, to be honest. I've really been enjoying it.
Do you think Champions Queue will lend itself more to established pros staying sharp or to younger high-ELO players looking for a comprehensive grasp of the competitive approach to League of Legends?
It's both of those things. It is going to help newer players in the scene learn how to communicate properly because a lot of the time you are getting matched with LCS players. It's also really cool for other LCS players to be able to play with each other.
For example, let's say I was playing with Inspired the other day and I heard his approach to comms in the early game. I can then tell my jungler these things and he can maybe pick something up from that. Even if he doesn't, we can actually exchange ideas with one another and learn from pro players outside of our teams in Champions Queue.
That's something I initially didn't even think about in terms of the comms aspect in Champions Queue, but it's been super cool to exchange opinions with pro players that I would never normally be in comms with in solo queue. It makes me think differently and try to apply things I hear from other pro players or what they're doing to our team, which has actually been quite useful.
I do think the biggest benefit of Champions Queue will be that younger players or just inexperienced players in general can learn a lot more and more quickly on how to communicate in a competitive environment. You will never get that from solo queue.
Do you feel that your career trajectory will inspire more organizations to trust in developing young North American talent?
A lot of it has to do with the community and how you're perceived. At the end of the day, I do think one's gameplay will speak for itself, but I think that at times, top lane won't be the most flashy role - like in this season.
That being said, there are players like Bwipo who have had great moments and are receiving a lot of great feedback from the community, and that's great. That's not always going to be common, but it helps.
To be honest, I've always found myself in an underdog mentality. I always think that even going into LCS, a lot of people were counting me out. This year, I didn't really have people calling me out or hyping me up. The community perception of me was very neutral heading into this season, so I view that as an opportunity to swing the community in my favor by showing them what a great player I am through my gameplay.
I'm not worried about not accomplishing that, because I'm very confident that I will do that. Considering the state of top lane in the current meta, that will take some time, but I'm certain that once the meta changes a bit and top lane becomes a more flashy role, I'm confident that that will be a time for me to shine. I also still believe that I can shine in the current meta, it just may take more time in terms of community perception, and I hope that shows that NA players shouldn't be counted out.
I want to prove that I'm the best of all the top laners in the LCS, regardless of whether they are domestic or imported.
Thanks for the interview, Revenge. Is there anything you want to say to the Immortals Progressive fans after getting your first win of 2022?
Sorry for the rough start, guys. I know that it wasn't easy seeing us counted out as a really bad team, but trust in us. It's only early spring, and I'm confident in all of our players to level up and hopefully win it all.