The pandemic restrictions made it difficult to meet pro players in person for a while. But as COVID eased down, fans returned to the arenas, and teams once again traveled abroad to practice.
At the end of 100 Thieves’ bootcamp in Korea, Inven sat down with coach Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu. We had talked on Discord a few times during the pandemic, but it had been a very long time since we last saw each other. But this time, we met in person, sat over a cup of coffee to talk 100T’s Spring Season, MSI, and their bootcamp in the country.
It’s been such a long time since we met in person. How have you been?
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to win the Spring championship, so we missed MSI. The players and I had our breaks, and now we’re here in Korea, bootcamping at T1’s facility to prepare for the next season.
The bootcamps were restricted due to the pandemic situation for a while, but it’s been relieved a bit now. Were you planning on coming to bootcamp as soon as possible?
When we bootcamp, we don’t only scrim against NA teams, but we get to play LCK, LPL teams, and maybe some LEC teams that came to bootcamp as well. We can interact with them and learn their playstyles and identities as we scrim them. Through that process, we take what we can and find our own weaknesses in a new way, so I enjoy bootcamping here.
Let’s talk about the end of the last season. You reached the finals fine but lost to EG, who came all the way from the lower bracket. How did you feel?
All of the energy from the universe went to EG, probably. [Laughs] From the moment Danny made that Baron pentakill, the universe seemed to want to see EG win.
For us, the playoffs weren’t easy. Although we did beat C9 3-0, our match against TL was a nailbiter. We beat them in Game 5 through a backdoor — analyzing the match afterward, we should have lost that game. Since we went to Game 5, all the players were tired, and their mentalities were shaken up. It’s just that we picked on their mistakes well.
Pushing the game up to that point was prowess; that situation itself was luck. In that regard, we reached the finals through luck. On the other hand, EG had built up great momentum from the lower bracket. Their performance was good and their team synergy was getting better and better. For us, some things that used to go well didn’t quite work out, and we had champion pool issues too. I thought the finals wouldn’t be easy, and we were 0-3’d. [Laughs] I still think we did well by reaching the finals.
What do you think would have happened if you had lost to TL and had met EG in the semis? Their momentum would have been slightly less then.
That’s an entirely different multiverse. [Laughs] I don’t know, right? They may not have had that juggernaut momentum, and maybe we could have built our own. It’s a different story.
Since you stayed in the winners’ bracket, you were eliminated after losing just once. This happened across several regions around the world. What did you think about that?
Well, we could have had two finals, but I didn’t think it was unfair. More than that, I had a few complaints about the whole LCS schedule. After they added the Lock-In, the LCS schedule was spread over a long period of time. We begin in mid-January and probably finish last among all regions. Although we didn’t make it to MSI, the champions would have to prepare for MSI, go there, come back, and prepare for Summer. The schedule is way too tight. As for us, we covered the whole LCS schedule since we did reach the finals. By the time the finals were over, some teams were already back from a three-week break. The schedule definitely needs improvement.
How was watching MSI?
It was interesting for sure, starting from RNG’s rematches. RNG overcame all that and won the championship. T1, who had the highest expectations, lost in the finals. Meanwhile, the two teams’ performances in the finals was really great, especially that of the two mid laners. A lot of plays from Faker and Xiaohu were very inspirational for many pro players out there.
When I was analyzing their plays in the finals, Xiaohu was especially great. He played playmaking champions like Galio or Lissandra and led his team to win important fights. Especially when RNG won the 4v5 fight at Rift Herald, Xiaohu’s play was very detailed. After we made clips of the finals, it felt like a Xiaohu highlight reel. There was a lot to see and much to learn.
Many fans talked about T1’s draft after the finals were over. I know you always have a lot to say when it comes to teams’ drafts. What did you think?
The last game was a bit regretful. There was a process they built up as they played through the series — like Ahri vs. Lissandra, or Gwen. It’s not that T1 didn’t do anything different in Game 5. They banned Jax in the previous game from the red side, since Bin is a great Jax player, but they gave a twist in the last game, and let through both Jax and Gwen, giving RNG the choice.
As a result, Lissandra was available again. In the previous games, Faker and Xaiohu both won once with Lissandra. And the Gwen… It wasn’t that T1 lost because of Gwen, but after the draft was over, it wasn’t that positive for T1. There were several pain points for them.
I can’t speak for T1, but it was probably really hard to change the composition in that situation. If they take Ahri, the opponent has Lissandra, and they can’t help but ban Lucian from the red side. If they ban Lissandra, RNG would take Ahri. Personally, I would have banned two top lane champions e and not picked Ahri or changed the whole draft pattern by banning Ahri. The red side lost all games in this series, so maybe a plan to reverse everything — it’s not that they would have surely won if they had done that, but they could have had a better chance if they had banned completely different champions.
How were EG’s games at MSI?
They were… fun. [Laughs] They did lose all games against G2, but they did pretty well. EG have young players, and Impact worked well as the pillar of the team. Without Impact, all the players’ experience combined is probably under eight years — in the LoL esports scene, this is really fresh. During MSI, EG’s young players improved and grew. I personally cheered for them a lot, and although they lost 0-3, it wasn’t an easy sweep. EG showed what they can do, and fought back pretty well, so overall, it wasn’t bad.
Do you think the MSI experience will help jojopyun and Danny a lot?
Generally, I hope jojo and Danny grow lots through this experience. If prospects grow and hit their potential, the competitiveness of the whole league goes up. If it does, there’s a better chance for LCS teams to do well in international tournaments. If jojopyun and Danny develop much and show better plays, other teams can learn from them, and through them, LCS can improve as a region. I believe all teams could have a positive influence on each other in this way.
Speaking of improving the whole league, how’s Champions Queue?
We had two seasons of Champions Queue. During the LCS split, people played a lot, but at the end of Season 2 of Champions Queue, not that many people did. There was no MMR system and since it was during the playoffs, the teams that didn’t reach the playoffs were on a break. I heard that there are changes to the MMR now, and they are fixing several issues starting from the next season, so I’m looking forward to that.
How was the bootcamp this year? What are your takeaways?
There was a big patch recently, so my goal was to adapt to it and secure a good meta champion pool for it. Also, when we scrim against many teams in Korea, we can learn about the champions that specific teams or players often play. I tried to learn as much as possible by playing scrims and solo queue, and did my research. Adapting well to a new patch early in the season is a virtue any pro gaming organization should have, so we focused on that mainly.
Any last comments you’d like to say?
It’s been a while since I had an interview with Inven Global. I’d like to thank you for this chance. I’d also like to thank everyone for supporting me, from Korea and from around the world. I’ll do my best and continue to contribute to the esports scene in the future.