In a conversation with Inven Global, NRG Esports' support, Lee "IgNar" Dong-geun, unraveled the secrets behind the team's meteoric rise at the 2023 League of Legends World Championships. Despite initial skepticism, NRG has emerged as the sole beacon for Western LoL esports, delivering impressive wins against teams like MAD Lions and, notably, G2 Esports.
Speaking about the foundation of NRG's success, IgNar attributed a significant portion to the twin pillars of momentum and confidence. Reflecting on their pivotal win against G2, he stated, "I believe momentum and confidence were key. During game one, I noticed the enemy's confidence waning. At that moment, I felt we could win today." This victory wasn’t a narrow escape either, as IgNar admitted, "I didn't expect we'd win, especially not by such a large margin. It's a bit hard to believe."
IgNar's personal journey this year has been distinctively calm and focused, a departure from his past experiences. "This Worlds has been surprising because I've never felt nervous at any point this year," he observed. Elaborating on this, he added, "I always thought we'd be heading home soon because we might lose. I'm not sure if that's a good mindset, but I've also been trying really hard. This balance of effort and low expectations keeps me calm on stage, allowing me to see a lot during games."
In the esports community, G2 Esports was largely perceived as the West's primary hope at Worlds, a sentiment that IgNar echoed. "I thought that G2 would be the only team to do well at Worlds. To be honest, I believed we would be eliminated quickly. So my thinking was that G2 was the main hope."
G2's bot lane duo, Mikyx and Hans sama, were naturally a focal point in NRG's preparation. Recognizing their prowess, IgNar mentioned that facing them did stir up some nerves. However, on the day, he felt NRG had a slight advantage, both in gameplay and confidence. Though he held G2 in high esteem, IgNar also hinted that the European titans might not have been at their peak, suggesting a potential underperformance.
IgNar's gameplay evolution over the years also came into the spotlight. Comparing his time at Worlds in 2017 and 2020, he discussed his tendency to get tunnel vision in the past. This year, however, IgNar has been more reflective, always taking a moment to reconsider even if he feels sure about a decision.
Praising the NRG coaching staff, IgNar highlighted their astute game observations and feedback mechanisms. The coaches' depth of understanding, especially given NRG's past performances in NA, ensures they're well-prepared to guide the team through high-pressure situations.
A surprising factor that may have shaped NRG's Worlds journey is their scrim performance. With disheartening win rates at times, the team faced challenges that, paradoxically, may have grounded them and reshaped their mindset for the better.
As for NRG's teamfighting prowess, IgNar attributed it to the lineup's inherent aggressiveness and seamless synergy. Their natural ability to sync up in skirmishes and larger brawls has been a highlight of their play.
With NRG's journey far from over, the global audience is on the edge of their seats, eager to witness if the North American underdogs can continue their dream run and make history at Worlds 2023.
This interview has been condensed for clarity and brevity.
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