Last week, there was a big announcement from Golden Guardians, as they signed Kim “River” Dong-woo from Dignitas. It was a bold change from the team as the 2022 LCS Summer Split is nearing its end, but GGS thought that they needed something new, and that decision showed through the games. The change returned in improved performance, but unfortunately, GGS added two losses last week. With only five games left, they desperately need more wins.
When I spoke with Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung, he still had hopes to reach the playoffs. Let’s have a look at what Olleh had to say.
Although you did lose both games, GGS’ performance was clearly different from previous games. How do you think the rest of the season will go?
For any team, the goal is to go to Worlds. Frankly, EG almost missed playoffs in the spring season. If they lost one more game, they might have missed out. But they still managed to reach the playoffs, and they won spring. If we can reach the playoffs, we also have a chance. All of LCS is thinking the same thing, so GGS is also pondering about how we could go to Worlds, about which roster can give us the best shot at Worlds.
We brought River because we thought that we’d have a better chance to reach Worlds with him. The team definitely needed some changes. Obviously, my goal is to reach Worlds as a player, but if I need to make sacrifices for the team, I’m always ready to do so.
With River, GGS’ performance changed a lot. What do you think?
When I watched the match between T1 and Gen.G, T1 took red and ganked Lv. 2, and Gen.G twisted the pathing to gank Lv. 3. What I felt was that the really good junglers play the jungle like Go — there are so many plots and schemes going on. The recent meta benefits ganking junglers, and when I first played with River, I thought that any team needs this kind of jungler to jump up near the top of the standings.
For sure, many of the parts where we lacked got better. When I was playing with him, River ganked Lv. 4 from the back. I was a bit dumbfounded and missed the kill when I could Flash-AA, so I apologized. What River does well is that he knows when and where he should be. I didn’t even need to call for him when we needed him.
If we just build more teamwork and synergy, the door opens for us to step higher. What’s regretful is that we don’t have enough time. All those teams played together the whole year, but we’re just at the starting point again now. Although we lost last week, we found what we could do, so we’ll do better next time.
As you said, the team needed changes and changed the jungler. That change directly affected the team’s performance. What else do you think needs to be changed?
We think that the mid lane is important. Do you know how the same LCK mid laners go to Worlds? Faker, Chovy, ShowMaker, Bdd… Well, it seems that Clozer will make it to Worlds this year. [Laughs] The top lane, bot duo… All roles are important, but players tend to gather around mid laners that are good. If the mid lane wins, games are winnable even if the bot loses, but that doesn’t work the other way around.
How’s the team atmosphere?
The jungle coach seems to be really happy after River joined. I think it’s his first time coaching a Korean player, and since River soaks feedback like a sponge, it’s helpful for the coach too. He said that he’s been enjoying coaching River and that he’s learning from him as well. They’ve been working on the pathing and researching how to improve.
You’ve been playing some unique champions as support. Is it because of the meta? Or is there something else?
The meta was like that a bit. Seraphine and Senna’s tier rose suddenly, and since any support can be used, Keria played champions like Yasuo and Lee Sin. In a way, I had a narrow champion pool since I only played the traditional supports, so I thought I should open up my mind a bit. Against TSM, I didn’t really want to play Tahm Kench, so I just farmed with Dr. Mundo, and we won.
That’s when I felt how I changed. I used to be a player that explores the game, finding new things, but looking back at the past few years, I just followed what others do. So I reflected on myself and did some research. Sejuani was one of the champions that came from the research. I tried playing her a few times and found it was pretty good to catch kills. We did lose last week, though. I always did the same stuff since I was a boomer, but I’m trying to reset my brain to when I was in high school so I can be a zoomer.
As you said, you used to be an explorer. Did that reflection affect you a lot?
Yes. Since I’ve played thousands of games on Thresh, Bard, Tahm Kench, etc, they’re champions I can play well whenever I play them. Since I knew that they bring good results, I just played them without thinking much. When I had a look at my LoL stats on the client, the mastery levels of non-support champions were really low. So even if I do well on the support champions, I thought that others could think that my champion pool was narrow. That’s why I put a lot of effort into researching champions.
When you research the champions, are there any leagues or players that you watch for reference?
I watched a lot of LCK games. To me, the LPL fought more than try new things — they just pick Nautilus and fight. I tried Nautilus in NA, but maybe because I’m not good enough, it didn’t quite work out. [Laughs] So I tried to do what the LCK does and played Yuumi and Lulu.
GGS’ remaining schedule is tough. Three out of five games are against the top teams. Do you think it’ll work out?
First, we just need to finish above 8th place. If we can manage to get one win, we’ll probably be safe. It’s really regretful that we lost two games last week. If we had won just one of those games, we would have almost locked in a playoff spot… It’ll be really sad if I fail to reach the playoffs. We’re ready to take any measures for it.
On a side note, you used to complain about Champions Queue. After the improvement in MMR, is it better?
Even now, there aren’t enough players playing Champions Queue. Just the players that always played play, which is much fewer than I expected. What I hoped to see was having enough players for more than eight teams, but it seems that there are only about 30 people — there are only about three games going on at the same time. If all LCS players play at the same time, I think that’ll be the best. Korean players voluntarily play solo queue, but it’s a bit different here. I hope they play more. Please play more Champions Queue.
I guess it’s time to wrap up. Do you have any last comments to share?
The season is nearing its end as we only have five games left. As everyone knows, I’ve returned from a long break. I’m more than satisfied with the spring season results. If we didn’t lose the games with a big lead, we even could have reached 4th. At the beginning of this year, I was really confident, but I don’t think we were able to improve enough while other teams did.
Still, I think I’ve been doing alright since my return. Making shotcalls were difficult because of the break at first, but now, I’m back to my old self. I thought we’d be able to make the top 3, but there were several internal issues, including COVID-19, which made it difficult to do as projected.
Although some may say that it’s false hope, I’m still aiming for Worlds, as there still is a chance. Who knows? We could still make a miracle run to Worlds. We could reach the playoffs in 8th place, and then break other teams in order to win the summer split. If that actually happens, they should film a documentary about our team — we need to get it on Netflix. [Laughs] I always believe in miracles.