There are many great support players in the LCK, but there is only one that has defeated 'SK Telecom T1' in a Bo5 Finals. GorillA, the team leader of 'Longzhu Gaming', took that honor on August 26th, on the final stage of the LCK Summer Playoffs.
Having played for both Najin and Rox Tigers all the way back since 2013, GorillA is a veteran of the 'League of Legends' esports scene. His in-game mechanics are definitely nothing less of stellar, but the element that really makes this player outstanding is his leadership and the ways in which he affects his teammates.
GorillA was and is doing his best to make sure that his "rookie" teammates are growing to be strong and fearless players. It's true that GorillA's teaching definitely proved successful for LCK, but how will it play out for Worlds? On the 29th of August, our team happened upon an opportunity to speak with GorillA at a local coffee shop.
Please introduce yourself.
Hi, I'm GorillA, and I'm the support player for 'Longzhu Gaming'.
Recently, you guys defeated 'SK Telecom T1', which is a team that has never lost before in the Finals. How did you feel when you took them down?
Regardless of who we have faced, I'm just really happy that we won. Also, in the past, I've lost countless times to SKT... and I developed a form of "trauma" because of it. I'm really glad that I was able to defeat them and overcome that said trauma.
SKT entered the playoffs as a wildcard team... but in brutal fashion, they took down team after team while steadily climbing their way up to the Finals - towards you guys. Were you ever intimidated? How about your teammates?
SKT is a team that performs extraordinarily well on "big" stages. Even when they display shaky performance during the regular season, they always come back as strong as ever for playoffs.
It'd be a lie to say I wasn't worried. And also, I actually secretly hoped for 'kt Rolster' to win in the semis. (Laughs)
But my teammates didn't worry at all, and in turn, we won. I was also surprised at how great I played myself, and didn't expect to win the series so easily.
Was the series easy?
Not necessarily easy... It's just that... I've never played so well in all my life. I made many reckless plays during the series; but somehow, all of those plays worked out. I asked myself, "How am I playing so well?"
My teammates also played without getting nervous.
It's understandable for you and PraY to stay level headed... but I'm kind of surprised to hear that: Khan, BDD, and Cuzz, three players that have never reached the Finals before, played their series against SKT nervous-free.
PraY and I tried our best to look as confident as possible... the other three look up to us, so we had to make sure to remain calm and seem strong.
Individually, Cuzz was the only one that was affected by nervousness... Khan has stage experience, so he enjoys the thrill of playing on important stages. (Laughs) As for BDD, I don't think he was really affected by nervousness because he was able to play to his maximum potential during the Finals.
Were you the key player of the match?
Although I played at my peak performance that day, I don't think I was the one that carried. Overall, everyone in the team performed phenomenally, but I think Khan had the biggest impact.
What kind of strategy did LZ utilize to defeat SKT?
We don't really have set strategies for each individual team. During our game with SKT, we simply pushed our unique playstyle to the maximum - by employing carry toplaners over the more standardized tanks - and it worked. The only thing we did differently was... We just banned a lot of midlane champions. (Laughs)
Is BDD comparable to Faker?
I think it's too soon to compare at the moment. Faker has achieved many things in his career, while BDD is still a rookie - it'd be a discourtesy to Faker to do so.
You are very well-known to bring out surprise picks in the botlane. Can we expect new picks for this year's Worlds as well?
First of all, my Lux has yet to be shown to the World. (Laughs) Also, I'm preparing many other different picks. I find it necessary to do so because if you only play a certain amount of champions, other teams will start analyzing and preparing ways to counter your static playstyle.
You're nicknamed, the "Mother of Longzhu" here in Korea. Also, LZ is known to have a very bright team atmosphere.
When I first joined the team, everyone was... cool-headed and more or less strict. But when the rookies arrived, everyone - including me - started talking more "loudly".
Back then, I used to be the person to keep them from getting too loud. But now, I talk just as much as they do!
You've now qualified for Worlds! Is there a specific team or player that you are looking forward to facing?
I want to face China's EDG and NA's Immortals. They are currently being coached by NoFe and Ssong respectively, who both used to coach my old team, Rox Tigers. I would love to see what kind of changes the two brought to those teams.
I keep in contact with many players from around the world. For example, I talk to EU's Mithy from time to time to talk about support picks and strategies when a tournament is ongoing. I want to meet them all.
Would you rank yourself as the no.1 support player in the world?
(Laughs)... That's very hard to say. Although it's true that I have had a great career, I haven't won Worlds yet. So no, I can't say that I'm the no.1 support player.
To be successful as a support player, what's an important trait to have?
In my personal opinion, support players need to be a bit more greedy. Back then, I used to lack that "greed", and so, I only played champions that my team wanted me to. And in turn, I felt like I wasn't being myself. Eventually, I started telling myself, "Let me show my teammates what I'm truly capable of by playing "this" champion."
Do you watch and analyze games that were played overseas?
I do, but not as much as you'd think.
Rather than just straight up watching them, I talk with players and coaches from overseas for info. What LCK players find good here could be seen under a completely different light elsewhere.
Like you've mentioned, there are obvious meta differences between different regions. Do you think Korea has the upper hand in that regard?
In the LCK Summer Playoffs, support champions that utilize 'Ardent Censer' didn't see play. But over in China, they are considering those support picks as the best. Every region is different in a way, and not every region is perfect.
So before Worlds, when teams from other regions come to Korea for boot camp, I think a new and more complete meta will form.
To you, who is the closest player on the team?
Although I have close relations with everyone on the team, if I was to pick the closest, it would be PraY.
Back when we were in Rox Tigers, we barely talked, despite sitting right next to each other during games. I used to be a big fan of PraY back in the day, so as a fan, I had a hard time trying to speak up to him to tell him what's on my mind.
I only started getting closer to him when we both joined LZ, and I'm glad.
If granted the opportunity, which NA/EU/CN team would you want to play for?
I would want to play for the most famous team. Among them is TSM and.... yeah, just TSM. (Laughs)
The PraY-GorillA botlane receives a lot of praise because of the solid synergy shared between the two players. Do you guys maintain that synergy outside of the game as well?
In a way, he brings to the team what I lack, and vice versa. I scold my teammates very often, but whenever I do, and PraY finds it too harsh, he stops me.
Sometimes, when a player crosses the line, I talk to them harshly. PraY does the same thing, but he has the "ability" to do it in a more soothing way. When a player feels down after I scold them - PraY goes and talks to them.
PraY is known by fans to be the "most handsome ADC player" in Korea. But in my opinion, I think you are just as handsome. What do you think?
(Laughs) I'm actually quite jealous of PraY for his cheerfulness. In the teamhouse, Cuzz frequently makes low-quality jokes; and although I've gotten a lot brighter since I've joined LZ, there were some jokes that I just couldn't take. PraY, however, laughs at them all and he always tries to be as kind as possible.
It's true that PraY has a very handsome face, but his great personality is what actually makes him so attractive.
Is there a foreign team that LZ has to watch out for during Worlds?
In my opinion, I find home advantage [fans' cheers and playing environment] to be a big factor in winning. So we have to definitely watch out for them.
In your opinion, how strong are the Chinese teams mechanically?
I've met many Chinese players on KR Solo Queue, and from what I've seen, they all play extremely well.
Any final words?
The 'World Championship' is the largest tournament in League of Legends. It'll definitely put pressure on our players, but I'd like to tell them to relax! We may have taken the LCK cup, but we still have far left to go.