On the 19th of August, in the 1st Round of the NA LCS playoffs, ‘Team Dignitas’ claimed victory over ‘Cloud9’ with a score of 3-1.
Including the well-known toplaner, Ssumday, DIG in particular has a lot of Korean players on their lineup when compared to the other teams in the NA LCS. In the league, only 2 imports are allowed per team, but luckily, Keane who is of Korean blood, was deemed an NA resident back in 2014.
After the series, we happened upon an opportunity to speak with Shrimp and Ssumday, the two Korean imports of DIG. It was our very first time hearing from Shrimp, and I have to say, he was a very straightforward and honest person… But he did look a little stiff, most likely due to his lack of interview experience. As for Ssumday, his charming smile was more than familiar for us, but we also noticed he gained some weight... it seemed as if Ssumday adapted to the NA life.
The two players had contrasting personalities, but their faces emitted the same kind of happiness. With this victory over C9, DIG is now a step closer to the Finals.
The two players began by sharing their thoughts on their victory.
Shrimp: Today’s series was relatively hard fought, but that’s exactly why it was so much more fulfilling when we took it.
Ssumday: Their plays and drafts were not too far off from our expectations, so we've won from that. However, it was still difficult because C9 is a strong team. Impact played defensively while Jensen played aggressively.
Throughout the series, Impact’s champion picks revolved around split pushing. Wasn’t he playing aggressively against you?
Ssumday: It’s because today, our entire game tactic was to sacrifice the toplane for the well-being of the team. I had no choice in the matter. (Laughs)
You guys insisted on taking Maokai. What were the reasons?
Shrimp: Maokai can be flexed into the jungle if the situation calls for it, and so, we picked him to cause confusion on the opposing side.
Shrimp, you used to be very well-known for being a Rek’Sai main, but now you seem to be more comfortable with other picks.
Shrimp: I’m getting more comfortable with other champions, but I’m always willing to play Rek’Sai at any moment. However, since my team doesn’t like Rek’Sai, I’m not going to play her in matches. I’m ready to play any champion when necessary.
Shrimp, why do you like to play with Nunu so much?
Shrimp: It's not my favorite per se. My team likes it more.
Ssumday: Our coach, Saintvicious, is like a pioneer of defensive junglers. He likes Nunu too much. (Laughs) I don't really like Nunu that much, but he does have his uses. It's strong when competing for objectives and snowballing a game.
Shrimp: Nunu is easy to play because all you ever do is farm. He’s not strong for ganks, so play around laying down vision. As long as a Nunu doesn't fall too behind in the early it's all about how much my teammates can survive in the early to mid game on their own. (Laughs) Nunu is easy for me to play, and since our team wants me to play Nunu, I'm already ready to play Nunu.
Although it didn’t work out, Nocturne pick was certainly a surprise.
Shrimp: We “discovered” Nocturne yesterday when we tried to find a champion that we can use to counter Elise. It’s Michael’s favorite champion too.
Wait, who is Michael?
Michael Slan, our VP. (Laughs)
So, is it a favoritism? (Laughs)
Shrimp: Well, it's not just because of that - He really did well in scrims. Their composition really called for Nocturne, but everything fell apart after getting solo killed by Elise. I'm not sure if we'll try him again.
Today’s match wasn’t all that easy. What did you talk about while going through the match?
Ssumday: First of all, I think the fact that we couldn’t play perfectly put us in a difficult spot. Our shotcallings were divided too. However, we all thought we could win because the situation wasn’t hopeless.
The match was also a head-to-head between two Korean toplaners. Were you nervous more because of it?
Ssumday: Half of toplaners in NA LCS is Korean. I wasn't too conscious of it because it happens all the time during the regular season.
Shrimp, you didn’t get a chance to play consistently as a starter. Was it difficult for you to maintain your in-game shape?
Shrimp: I think I've had too much ups and downs. Still, thinking before making moves often got me far enough. I tend to ruin games by making careless and hasty plays, but fortunately it wasn’t the case today.
I assume that top-jungle duo is the key to early to mid game macro plays, how is teamwork between you two? Who calls the shots?
Shrimp: In the early game, my teammates tend to make plays based on my jungle route. We’ve had several scrims where I’d clear jungle around the toplane, which will signal our toplaner to trade aggressively and score a kill with my help. We really communicate well in this early game ganks.
Then what about midgame?
Shrimp: We tend to make our plays around our botlane duo. As for our toplaner, we goes to clear lane and do whatever he wants.
Ssumday: That’s because I “live in an island”. (Laughs) Island!
Shrimp: Ssumday Island…
You are definitely playing better than last split. Did changing the botlane duo have a good effect on your team?
Ssumday: First of all, changing even a single player in a team makes a big difference. That’s why I believe that’s the case. Actually, the secret behind Altec’s good performance is… (Laughs) It’s because I sacrifice everything for him. At least, that’s how I think it might be. (Laughs)
Shrimp: With LOD-Big duo, they had to make sacrifices during the draft phase. Back then, we focused on toplane during draft phase. Now, with the draft focusing around the botlane, having different botlane duo helped us in a positive way.
DPS toplaners like Kennen, Rumble and Gnar is popular in LCK. Why do you not play with these champions?
Shrimp: Well, Ssumday lives in an island... (Laughs)
Ssumday: Like I’ve said earlier, since I play like I live in an island… (Laughs)
Do you prefer to play like that?
Ssumday: As long as we win, it’s easier for me to play this way. However, I do suggest other picks when we lose… Except it’s difficult for me to strongly object our coaching staff’s choice. (Laughs) I try my best to follow our coaching staff’s recommendations, although I’d like to play with DPS champions. I can’t say for sure, but I think Kennen is a fine pick.
Shrimp: If I was the toplaner, I suppose it would feel bad if we lose like that.
Game 4, you’ve picked Sivir, Janna and Nunu, which are picks that are centered around the ADC. Is a sign of that how much you trust Altec?
Shrimp: I trust him a lot. I actually wanted to play Sejuani, but if the team wants me to play Nunu, I play Nunu, and that’s in line with what I’ve said during the draft phase: “I want to play Sejuani, but I’ll play Nunu for you because I believe in you.”
Ssumday: In Game 4, when their midlaner had 4 core items, our mid and toplaner barely managed to get 2 core items. It’s not easy babysitting the ADC. (Laughs)
There are three Korean players in the team. Have you experienced any cultural differences due to having more than one major ethnicity in a single team?
Ssumday: Because both Altec and Adrian is of Asian heritage, our taste in food is compatible. We go to both Korean and Chinese restaurants together. Although the communication with Chinese players isn’t as good as with Korean players, there is no problem because we take that into account.
Ssumday has been in NA for a year, and Shrimp has been abroad for 2 years including Japan. How was your life outside of Korea like?
Ssumday: It was eventful to say the least, but it wasn’t too bad. I’m still getting used to local dishes, but I guess I can’t help it (Laughs). I’m been feeling homesick as well, so I’m waiting for my vacation back home.
Shrimp: Food is okay. However, I'm not getting enough spicy Korean food as much as I'd like. American friends are pretty fun, and although it’s not easy to hang around with everyone because my English isn't that good yet, it’s still fun to be staying around here.
You could be facing either TSM or Immortals depending on how the other quarterfinals end. Who would you prefer to fight against?
Shrimp: Immortals. To be frank, I want to face TSM in the finals. I think you have to beat TSM in NA to be considered as a strong team. And personally, I see Xmithie as a great player, so I have to beat him before defeating TSM in the finals to be satisfied.
Ssumday: I don't care either way.
Shrimp: Because we'll win either way?
Ssumday: (Laughs) They are pretty equal in team strength, so it doesn't matter either way.
Immortals became a force to be reckoned with this split. How exactly did they get better?
Ssumday: I think signing Xmithie and the change of coaching staffs worked well in their favor. Also, ‘Cody Sun-Olleh’ botlane duo is doing very well.
Shrimp, only Ssumday was chosen to be the part of All-Pro NA LCS team. Were you jealous?
Shrimp: He deserves to be there, while I'm still lacking. I vowed that I'll do even better.
Let’s wrap it up with one last message to your fans.
Ssumday: I’ll try to do my best in the remaining matches, and since the finals will be at Boston, I’ll see you at Boston!
Shrimp: It’s my first time for everything - even being on the playoffs is first time for me. My goal is to get to the World Championship after going to Boston and winning the playoffs. I really want to do that.
Note: DIG executive who likes Nocturne was Michael Slan, instead of Michael O'Dell. We apologize for the confusion.