IMT Flame & Olleh on prospect against TSM and improving team synergy despite language barrier

After barely missing the mark on advancing to the playoffs last split, the revamped 2017 Immortals now stands at the top of LCS above TSM, CLG and C9. With the regular play winding down to its last two weeks, we caught with two Korean players on Immortals — Flame and Olleh — to discuss their performance, challenges and goals.

▲ Ho-jong "Flame" Lee & Joo-sung "Olleh" Kim

How do you feel about claiming the top LCS spot for yourself?

Flame: It feels great to win, but it’s too early to let our guards down. I’m beginning to think more about how to proceed in the playoffs.

Why do you think Immortals is doing so well this split?

Flame: So much has changed, but all of the changes had a positive impact. Olleh, Cody Sun and Xmithie are all playing at their top, not to mention Pobelter and me. Having Xmithie as our jungle was a welcome change. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what contributed to our performance. I think many factors worked in our favor.

[To Flame] Doublelift chose Immortals as the biggest threat because you have been playing so well. What do you think about the matchup against TSM?

Flame: TSM is definitely the most formidable team. There are other top teams like C9, Dignitas and CLG, but we’re likely to face TSM if we make the finals. I also think they’re the best team in NA. I’m actually a big fan of TSM and have known players like Bjergsen and Doublelift for a long time. TSM has a strong teamplay, coupled with equally strong individual talent.

In the tiebreaker series against CLG, how were you able to turn it around though Game 2 didn’t look promising?

Flame: We comfortably took Game 1. It took longer to close because of our mistakes, but we knew the game was made. Game 2 wasn’t the case. I prefer to have a common goal with everyone sticking to it, but each player had different things they wanted to do. Our teamwork suffered as a result.

Olleh: We were overly conscious of Aphromoo’s Blitzcrank. From CLG’s point, they don’t lose much by throwing a random hook. We gave them advantages by limiting ourselves trying to avoid getting hooked.

[To Olleh] Speaking of Aphromoo, he named you one of the handful of NA supports who have playmaking genes. What do you think about that?

Olleh: Uh… me? Oh, I feel honored to be called that by Aphromoo. [laughs] I personally don’t think I’m that great of a player. I just do things that needed to be done at hand. I think I’m good with aggressive plays but still have much to learn in a defensive style of play. That’s the area I’m mostly focusing on to improve.

Xmithie said he’s concerned about the language barrier within the team. How are you dealing with the issue?

Flame: There’s a bit of language barrier at play. Today, for example. I mean it isn’t just today. There are times when Xmithie and I have poor coordination due to my English. I’m trying hard to address the issue. Having a shared interest with him could be one way.

In the interview with coach Ssong several weeks ago, he said he was in a desperate need for time to practice. Has it changed at all now?

Olleh: I think we have the fundamentals of our playstyle down. That said, our old problems still show up sometimes. This is not a time to be complacent just because we’re doing well at the moment. We have to push ourselves to minimize those problems.

How do you like playing with Cody Sun who played a pivotal role in today’s series?

Olleh: I can’t speak for other lanes, but I can absolutely talk about the bottom lane. In spring, Cody and I weren’t working as a duo and sometimes fought about who was right. After the last split, we sat down to have a heart-to-heart conversation. I told him since we both are in a new place with no close friends, let’s be there for each other and do well. Since then he and I often hung out together whenever we have an outing. [laughs] Starting from summer split, I promised myself to make our bot duo second to none. I believe our bond is stronger than any other teams’.

Flame: I need to do that with my jungler… I think it’s a process. I actually enjoy spending time with teammates outside the game. It’s just that expressing my intentions and thoughts in a different language is still challenging for me. My English has improved a lot compared to when I first started, and I also try to only speak in English. The thing is that my brain gets overloaded from keep speaking in my non-native tongue. Then I would have to take breaks, which is the reason I don’t have the same efficiency as other native English-speaking players. I’m aware of the issue, and it’s something I keep working on.

With only two weeks left in the regular season, how far do you think you can go in the playoffs?

Flame: I think it heavily depends on whether we could defeat TSM. We’ll be much closer to winning this split if we could do that. I’d love to meet fans at Worlds.

Olleh: We couldn’t make the previous playoffs by a slim margin. I’m relieved that we’re more or less confirmed to advance. Still, I will be wary of being complacent and practice hard without thinking about standings. There’s nothing more frustrating than doing well in regular season, only to have disappointing results in the playoffs.

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