In the 2023 LCK Spring Split on Feb. 23, Hanwha Life Esports defeated BRION 2-1. Hanwha Life Esports took game 1 with dominance, but they weren’t able to keep their pace up in the second game. However, game 3 went fully in Hanwha Life Esports’ favor as they collected their seventh win of the season. After the match, head coach Choi “DanDy” In-kyu and Hwang “Kingen” Seong-hoon joined the press room for an interview.
How do you feel about today’s win?
DanDy: I'm very happy that we were able to continue our winning streak, and I think it would have been better if we had a clean 2-0 win today. Although I'm a little disappointed that we won 2-1, I still think it's meaningful that we won because we made some different picks.
Kingen: I also wanted to go 2-0 and tie for fifth place with KT, but I think it was a little disappointing that we had a 2-1 win. I still think it's meaningful that we were able to continue our winning streak, and we want to keep going next time as well.
Your drafts in games 1 and 3 seemed to aim for the late game. What was the purpose of those picks?
DanDy: I saw that BRION didn't ban Caitlyn in the first round against us, so I thought we’ll pick her if they don’t ban her today. I don't think it was a late-game-oriented comp, but rather a combination of taking the lead from the start and having good late-game value.
You struggled with Kassadin in game 1. How did you evaluate it?
DanDy: Game 1 was a draft we usually play for late-game value. It was a draft where we had to minimize the damage until we scaled.
Can you explain the Gnar-Jax matchup?
Kingen: Jax has a slight advantage until tier-2 boots are built. After Ninja Tabi, it’s quite even, but after Lv. 7-8, Gnar gets ahead.
We now have a glimpse of how the playoffs might look. It seems that it’ll be a tough fight amongst the middle-ranked teams. Is there a team that you feel you must beat?
DanDy: I don’t think the standings are important right now. There are a lot of matches left in round 2, and we want to beat as many teams as possible. We should play confidently no matter who we meet based on the experience we’ve gained in round 1. If I had to pick one team that I really want to beat, it’s T1. I’ll be really happy if we beat them.
Kingen: I don't think there’s a specific team that we want to beat because we're more concerned about what we're doing, and we think that if we work hard with the mindset that we are trying to beat ourselves, we'll eventually be able to reach a high position. However, if I had to name one team that I really want to beat, it would be T1.
There's been talk that HLE has a slow tempo playing the game. What do you think?
DanDy: When we play such compositions. we often play with the mindset that time is on our side, which makes the game easier. Even though we have similar picks, our opponents didn't ban them, so we put on the ‘if you can stop us, stop us’ mindset.
Kingen: Basically, we have much trust in each other. We trust them, so they are no-risk high-return picks. However, as there’s criticism towards our tempo of play, we will try to increase the diversity and play a fast-paced game too.
You said that the standings aren’t important right now, but you’ll be facing some lower-ranked teams before you meet Dplus KIA. What’s the one thing you would like to ask your players to do?
DanDy: I think we still don't feel like we're as solid as a powerhouse team. Honestly, even if we were to start the playoffs at the bottom of the standings, I hope we can become more solid as a team to look at the long run instead of just focusing on the one game we have in front of us.
(To Kingen) Is there anything you'd like to fix, or a strength you'd like to maximize?
Kingen: I agree with DanDy that we aren’t as solid as a team. On an individual level, I think I should reduce my ups and downs from match to match. That’s the most important because the more consistent you play, the more confident your performance gets.
The word "solid" can be interpreted in many ways. Could you explain it a bit?
DanDy: There are several parts. There is communication, understanding compositions, identifying the strengths of the compositions, and how to utilize the strengths. If you do all this well, you can be considered “solid”.
Any last comments?
DanDy: Our next match is against Kwangdong Freecs. Like us, their performance started to improve, so we’ll come well-prepared to beat them.