On the 2nd of December, kt Rolster succeeded in winning the 2017 KeSPA Cup and earned the title “Super Team”. Although the KeSPA Cup was not the biggest event compared to others, kt showed a difference in form compared to their previous state from this year. Looking at the finals, we could clearly identify that kt had become more confident and were more thorough in thinking out their plays.
It was a long road of twists and turns before all this. Because of the flux in communication within the team itself, viewers thought that kt was doing fine on the outside but could not produce solid results on the inside.When some teams struggled with an absence of order, kt Rolster got their ankles caught without any order even being established. The tendency for each member to lead was too strong.
In particular, Smeb and Mata had conflicting methods when it came to leading the team, which did not help the team. The two players, however, refrained from acting on their own separate methods and cooperated with each other. This lead to the success achieved in the 2017 season. We had the opportunity to gain some insight into Smeb’s thoughts and approach towards the 2018 season.
¤ The feeling of winning the KeSPA Cup must have been satisfying. How did you feel exactly?
I was really happy. Because it was the first tournament after Worlds, we rested up a lot and I felt like the overall rating of kt went down. I put my mind into reminding our fans that kt is a strong team. I am very glad everything turned out well.
¤ Khan had some big reactions when it came to you picking your champions in the finals.
In this meta right now, Gnar and Jayce are good offensive picks. Because both our playstyles are aggressive, it is expected to get a reaction like that everytime. Seems like we both know what is good (laughs).
¤ Looking back at this year, it must look a bit unfortunate. Even when you guys first got together as a team, everyone said you guys were a super team.
All of our members are very flashy. We did not mix well because each member was the ace for their former teams. Because we all mutually noticed but didn’t point out mistakes, the growth of the team slowed down a bit.
¤ In particular, I believe the shot calling got a bit mixed up during the late game. Could you tell us more about instances like this?
If the orders are similar, we all go by that call. If there is a call to do an initiative play, it would come from either me or Mata. We often think of the bigger picture. However, there were some difficulties during the mid season where me and Mata’s opinions didn’t match. But, we decided we can work upon agreeing with one another and that is the reason why he joined again.
¤ In what ways did you go about solving this?
After the regular season ended, we had a sincere discussion. We shared our shortcomings and tried our best to give in every now and then.
¤ Did your younger teammates listen well? Usually people can’t stand non-agreeing behaviour.
Since Deft and PawN lived in China for a while and experienced its culture, they got a lot better. In the beginning, there were a lot of things they had to fix. Because I had a lot to improve on as well, it was nice to see the director and coaching staff helping me along the way. It might look cute but they scold me sometimes (laughs). Surprisingly, I don’t really have a voice when it comes to it (laughs).
¤ How was the oldest teammates, Score?
As much as I saw Score and picked kt as my team, I always fantasized about what he would be like. Matching my fantasy, he performed amazing plays to go alongside it. When I think about it, I don’t think there was ever a time where our top-jungle was struggling against the opponent’s. Our synergy was on point.
¤ In the end, Coach Lee Jihoon left the team.
At first, I couldn’t believe it. The other reason why I joined kt was because of Coach Lee Jihoon. I liked him that much. He took great care of me during the season but he was a bit intimidating. At this moment, I can’t really do much. If the chance arrives, I really want to work with him again.
¤ Overall, it must have been tough. Was it difficult merging with the team after leaving ROX Tigers?
In ROX Tigers, we played with a lot of freedom. Compared to the ROX Tigers, any team would look rather blunt and serious. However, kt was not as difficult as I thought it would be to merge into.
¤ Recently, your elementary photo was leaked. Have you seen it?
I saw it (laughs). I think at that time, I still had my baby cheeks. The reason why I had that hair style was because I was in the US at the time and I didn’t want to go to the salon. I kept growing it out and then I took the photo as soon as I got back to Korea. At that time, I also thought long hair looked good on me. (To the interviewer) Could I see the photo again?
¤ Still, I have heard from a lot of people that you are good looking. Do you agree?
Of course. I don’t know the exact reason why I am popular...... I think it is because I was born this way (laughs).
¤ Usually, good looking people touch their face a lot after they shower.
Like a lot of men do, I do as well. I never lower my face when I walk around (laughs). I think I am more kind-looking than handsome.
¤ This year, a lot of top laners performed better than you did.
I just have to think that there is nothing I can do now to change it. I wanted to leave a good mark before I went to All-Stars. Because I didn’t do well before, I didn’t have enough popularity to get picked. My pride did not allow it. I was determined to be the strongest top laner like I was in 2016.
¤ So you are confident that you can be the best?
Of course I think I can. Because I am getting better synergizing with the team, I can perform at my 100%. I believe I can easily pull it off.
¤ Top laners usually have a signature champion. What would you say is yours?
Mine changes quite often. Right now, it is Kennen. I do have Rumble and Renekton, but they aren’t as appealing. I’m good with every champion overall, so it is hard for me to pick a single one.
¤ What was your most regretful/unfortunate game?
Just one game. The qualifying round against Samsung Galaxy for Worlds. Even though losing against SKT T1 was unfortunate, I admitted that they were better. This is because we had a lot of flaws back then. We had really good results leading up to the qualifying rounds for Worlds. In my mind, I thought 100% that we were going to make it to Worlds.
¤ You guys went from winning a lot to having a hard time during the year. How did it feel watching your former teammates win?
In the spring split, we went against SKT T1 in the finals. After the game, I wanted to congratulate Peanut. I wanted to congratulate him sincerely for trying his best to get along with his new team.
In the summer split, SKT T1 had to beat Longzhu Gaming in order for us to qualify for Worlds. Because of this, I was rooting for SKT T1. After Longzhu beat SKT, I still wanted to congratulate him for trying his best.
¤ You now have to prepare for the upcoming season. Which team are you wary of the most?
I am always wary of Longzhu Gaming, Samsung Galaxy, and SKT T1. These teams are teams that you can never overlook. However, comparing all those teams, I am the most confident in beating Longzhu. Through this year’s KeSPA Cup, I would like to believe the other strong teams have felt our presence as well?
¤ Why do you think Longzhu Gaming is a strong team?
Longzhu’s bot lane skill matches their immense experience. However, our bot lane has a lot of experience as well, so I think they can hold their own. Because Longzhu’s bot lane laning is so good, I believe Longzhu is a strong team.
¤ This goes without saying but you would need an immense amount of practice in order to become the best. Which player practices the most?
Overall, we always practice really hard. PawN always trains hard. Even if I only have a small number of games under my belt, I think pro gamers rest whenever they have the option to. Recently though, my teammates are all training extremely hard so they motivate me to do so as well.
¤ How do you think kt Rolster will perform in the upcoming season?
I’m not sure, but the goal is to always get the best seat. I am confident we can do well and try our best to be 1st place.
¤ You once said you dreamed of becoming a coach in the past, Is this still valid?
Recently, the dream has died (laughs). Coming into kt Rolster, I thought about me doing the job that my coaches are doing. Because of this, my dream of becoming a coach has slowly died away. I want to work alone in the future.
¤ Right now you have to focus on training, but do you have any intention of playing overseas?
I do to a certain extent, but I know I do not want to go overseas next year. Because my performance is not on par, I want to improve. Because all of kt have told me that they want to do well with me, my decision to stay with the same has been solidified.
¤ Do you ever want to play with the ROX Tigers roster again in the near future?
Of course. The time I played with them was extremely enjoyable. Of course, making my dream into reality is a difficult task. We’ll try to talk to one another while keeping our form.
¤ As the years go by, your goals seems to change slightly. What are your new goals aside from winning?
My first goal is to rise to the top and stay there. I want to thank all the fans for loving me as a person as well as ‘Smeb’. Because of this, I want to have fun whenever I can.
¤ Are there any last words you want to say?
Before anything else, I know our fans were disappointed in our results this year. We couldn’t make it to Worlds or make it to All-Stars. I want to make sure none of that happens next year. I am going to try so hard that people will say “Smeb has to be picked for All-Stars”. Please stay tuned.