DetonatioN FocusMe's international prospects are over. However, it wasn't without an impressive showcase that almost saw them once again qualify for the main event. After a rough start, the Japanese representatives won several games to qualify for the knockout stage. From there, they defeated LOUD, to then take a game off of Royal Never Give Up.
Not bad for the LJL — a region that has historically performed very poorly. DFM is once again showing how much Japan has improved on the world stage. Inven Global spoke with Kazuta "Kazu" Suzuki to discuss his thoughts on Worlds, how this team differs with past lineups, and how the LJL can improve.
Thanks so much for chatting, Kazu! The team certainly is performing better than what we say at MSI this year — what do you see as the main differences between then and now?
With MSI, because of all the online COVID standards Yaharong and Harp could not join the team offline in the gaming house. So everything was done online — all the practice and all of the communication. So there was definitely a lack of communication. And moving on to the summer season, we were physically in the same environment. We had more in-depth conversations about the game and League of Legends. So that was one of the most important points for our improvement at Worlds this time.
You can definitely see the improvement! A lot of people watching Worlds appeared to be writing you off after the first few games. Some figures in the scene have commented on how the Play-In format is very harsh — it being almost a necessity to have a strong start. What are your thoughts on the format? Is it stressful?
Regarding the format, this is a given. And this is the prelims to go into the main group stage, and it's fair for all the teams. So I'm not dissatisfied — I understand the best-of-one format. And regardless of the format, as DFM, we play to our best, and practice and prepare so that we can perform under those conditions.
I was curious about your perspective on the Japanese region as a whole. Obviously, DFM have proved to be a capable team in recent years — how do you feel about the entire LJL. Since DFM started showing up at international events, would you say the region has improved much as well?
Definitely yes, the LJL as a league has evolved, and the level has risen. DFM — we're not the only dominant team. We had two losses in the regular season and ended up second place. We're still very, very competitive. But I think it's safe to say that LJL as a league — the level has risen, and there are other contenders in the League as well
What do you believe are the primary reasons this development has occurred?
I think obviously there are several factors for the development of the League — I will raise three. One is the residency rule, which allows Steal for DFM to register as a Japanese player. This opens up room for other Korean players to join the team. So the joining of those Korean players definitely has a very positive impact on the level of the game. Second one is experience from these international competitions — this has gained motivation for the teams and the players. The solo queue levels have risen because of this. And then the last point I would raise is that eight teams within the LJL — the other seven teams besides DFM have Korean coaches. This has also been a very, very strong point in improving the strategic level of the teams.
What do you think are the biggest things Japan needs to work on to be a more competitive region internationally?
One thing that I would raise looking at MSI and Worlds is the game pace of the teams compared with VCS and LPL. They play very aggressively and very fast, beginning to midway of the game. And compared to that, LJL pace is a little bit slower. We would need to raise this pace in order to be more competitive in the global scene.
One of the big surprises so far in this tournament was LOUD — what were your impressions of this team?
Brazil and LOUD — I believe they finished third or fourth in the league, had a very successful playoff run, and then they came into Worlds. As I mentioned before — their aggressiveness and their pace in how they carried their game — it reflected in the match against LOUD. My impression was that LOUD and the Brazillian region as a whole is a very high-level growing league.
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