TL UmTi: "Objectively speaking, I believe our strength is inferior to that of the LCK or LPL."


Eom “UmTi” Seong-hyeon burst onto the scene in the 2017 season. Initially hailed as a burgeoning jungle prodigy, UmTi traversed through various teams without capturing or getting close to any championships. Even so, despite the retirements of former rivals, UmTi stood firm as a seasoned stalwart in the LCK, maintaining his position amidst the ebbs and flows.


During times when his team's results were not favorable, UmTi faced criticism from anti-fans, not only for his skill but also due to his longevity in the scene. Despite the ups and downs, UmTi never gave up. Every year, as the meta shifted and new players emerged, UmTi maintained a learning attitude and persevered.


In 2024, after years of gaming, UmTi decided to embark on a significant challenge: international competition. He joined Team Liquid in the LCS and clinched the league championship in his debut season, winning his first championship in his career. He will mark his first international stage at MSI 2024.



How have you been since winning the LCS championship?


After returning to Korea, I watched the LCK finals with Yeon. I also met up with friends, played some ranked games, and spent time with my family. Yeon was surprised by the scale of the LCK finals after attending them. The LCS finals seemed less grand in comparison. He was also surprised that there were overwhelmingly more female fans among the spectators. I told him that year's event was on a much larger scale and suggested that we should go for the biggest stage in the summer.


It's known that you met your former BRION teammates while in Korea. Did they all congratulate you?


Generally, everyone congratulated me. However, Hena expressed jealousy about my pentakill. He mentioned that he regrets saying that he didn’t need a pentakill. [Laughs]


Why did you decide to join the LCS?


Personally, I would recommend young players who want to learn to leave their region and switch teams. There are cases where players improve in different environments. For me, while I was in BRION, I was considering various directions rather than just rushing into a quick re-signing. Joining Team Liquid this time felt right because we clicked well.


Did you feel more excitement for this new challenge with Team Liquid, or was there more pressure and fear about moving to an unfamiliar environment?


Initially, I had some fear about English. However, once I faced it, the fear diminished significantly. Many Korean players who don't speak English worry vaguely about it, but I believe anyone can adapt pretty well to playing the team game within a month.


The most challenging aspect of adaptation was the living environment. Even to go to a convenience store, you have to go by car, and there isn’t much you can do around the house. So, there’s not much to do but focus more on the game and practice. Another positive aspect was that the surroundings were spacious, and the view was nice, so my eyes felt less strained.


In Team Liquid, there are veterans like Impact and CoreJJ who have been active in North America for a long time. Did they help you adapt?


Initially, both Yeon and APA kept trying to buy me things, so we quickly became close. CoreJJ and Impact shared a lot of practical tips for living, and we spent time together going to the beach and shopping on our days off. I wasn’t close to either of those players before I joined Team Liquid, but now we're quite close.



Do you have any interesting stories to share about you and your teammates?


Before the regular season match against C9, Yeon asked me to cook ramen for him. He said that if I did, he would carry the game the next day. Unfortunately, we lost that match, but he started asking me to cook ramen for him several times after that, and now it feels like I've become Yeon's personal ramen chef.


How's the practice in NA?


The practice environment itself is excellent. The equipment is top-notch, and the schedule isn't much different from Korea. Additionally, Team Liquid has a separate analyst who takes care of even the smallest details, allowing me to focus on other aspects.


Ranked games are definitely not as competitive as in Korea. There aren't as many aspiring players here. It's mostly casual or one-trick players. Many prioritize their own enjoyment over the team's victory. Many of the one-trick players are quite impressive, though. Personally, there's a Pyke one-trick player who plays any role as Pyke, and he's quite memorable.


You finished fourth in the regular season with a 7-7 record, which doesn’t seem as satisfying. How was the situation at that time?


The preseason evaluation placed us at fifth in the first place, so I felt relieved. In the early and mid-season, something seemed off, but as we played more games, the mid-jungle synergy improved, and with Impact gaining more stability, the team improved.


Also, although their results weren’t good, it was difficult to play against Shopify. Regardless of their standings, they were organized and skilled. It goes the same with Immortals. They may have finished at the bottom, but they’re still a pretty good team. In my opinion, Bo1s have many variables, making it difficult for every team to face each other.


Despite losing to FlyQuest in the first round, you went on a winning streak, reaching the finals and eventually winning the championship. Was it a late awakening for the team?


When we lost to FlyQuest, instead of getting angry, we focused on improving through feedback. We believe that we won the championship because we learned more from being in the loser's bracket. If we had gone to the winner's bracket, we would have played fewer games, and it would have been more challenging. In our case, we played more games in the playoffs than we did in the regular season. I believe I learn 10% from scrims and 90% from competitions. Also, I realized that stamina is crucial in best-of series.



You never gave up and continued to challenge yourself, and finally, you lifted your first trophy, bursting into tears. What were you feeling?


Initially, I was overwhelmed. After destroying the Nexus and shouting, APA stood up and hugged me. So, I jumped in as well. It reminded me of when I debuted and when I went to BRION. It felt like something I had been holding back had finally burst out. When I debuted, I was confident, but I failed miserably. When I joined BRION, I went back to my roots and worked hard again.


It may sound cliché, but I have a strong 'believe in yourself' mindset. I had confidence that I could succeed. I didn't care about others' evaluations and believed that despite my long career, I still had potential. Personally, I haven't been reading any comments on the communities since KT.


Although my performance wasn't great last year, it was a year where I worked really hard in my pro career. Despite the disappointing results, I have no regrets.


The evaluation of the LCS has been on a downward trend for several years. What are your impressions of playing in the LCS this season?


I feel that there aren't many fully formed teams. These days, rather than nurturing talent, many teams opt to recruit star players to achieve good results. From the perspective of fans, there aren't many teams that they perceive as a cohesive unit. In the case of Team Liquid, the system is similar to that of Korea, where constant collision and shared experiences, from daily life to games, are deemed crucial.


What are your impressions about your teammates after the spring season?


APA often pursues a self-centered victory. So, initially, it was challenging to coordinate with him, but as we continued to communicate and play together, I felt that players like him could truly become gems.


Yeon is talented in the first place and enjoys discussions. He's passionate and sincere about the game. As for Impact, he once said that League of Legends is nothing but right or wrong. I felt that he has a unique perspective on the game. I used to think that differences in viewing the game were just different perspectives, but with Impact, it seems like there are right and wrong answers. It was similar to when I first met Mata. Players who have won many championships definitely have their own strong ideas.


This is your first MSI. You should be looking greatly forward to it. What are your thoughts?


Objectively speaking, I believe our strength is inferior to that of the LCK or LPL. The most crucial aspect of this MSI is to test whether what we've thought is correct by facing strong teams. For example, we lay our strength in the bottom and top lanes, so it's a good opportunity to check if this strategy is correct. Whatever matchup we have, we’ll have a decent laning phase in those lanes.


Any last comments?


There must have been many fans who felt sad and disappointed during my journey. I hope that through me, they can find courage. Thank you for always supporting me.


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