Out of all the players we interviewed in the last NA LCS Spring Split, there was one player that lingered in my mind. It is none other than LirA, Clutch Gaming’s jungler. It was prevalent that there was a lot on LirA’s mind after moving from Team EnVyUs to Clutch Gaming.
Come to think of it, it would have been a difficult time for LirA during the Spring Split. Although Clutch finished 4th place, compared to the good result, the journey was full of turbulence. The jungle role demands a high level of communication. Due to lack of fluency in the English language, LirA was put in a difficult situation to say the least. In addition, LirA was put into a team being the one and only Korean. Through the interview we had with LirA, he began to open up more and told us what was on his mind.
In anticipation of the upcoming Summer Split, we decided to prepare a very unique interview in order to give LirA some much needed vigor. Because LirA claimed he had never really partook in fun activities in his time in the U.S., we found it fit to take LirA to a ‘healing camp’. In other words, we took LirA to an amusement park with one of the world’s most scariest roller coasters, Six Flags.
The weekend preceding Memorial Day, we arrived at Six Flags with LirA. Due to the visit being on a weekend, there was an explosive amount of people at the park. The anticipation of excitement from riding the roller coasters was coexistent with the anxiousness of not being able to experience all the rides due to the number of people.
※ Aimed to be the world’s fastest roller coaster, the Goliath was made. Having 78 meters (26 apartment stories) of drop, Goliath has the world’s longest drop as a roller coaster. The drop slope also topped the world record with 85°s.
Reporter : It was difficult to see you struggle in the Spring Split. It is the reason we have brought you to this healing camp for an interview. Is it true you have never went on a relaxing vacation whilst being here?
LirA : During my 2 years here, I went on a trip to Texas once. I believe this is the first time I went somewhere to have fun this year. Coming here makes me so happy. Although I am worried I will not be able to go on multiple rides due to the amount of people, the line isn’t as long as I had thought. I think I will be satisfied if I get to ride a minimum of 3 roller coasters.
Reporter : Did you get some much needed rest when you went back to Korea?
LirA : Being in Korea for over one and a half months, I believe I spent half of my time talking and drinking with my friends. I slept a lot and exercised as well. I came back with a “I can do it” mindset. However going into practice, I realized I still have a long way to go.
Reporter : Clutch Gaming finished 4th place last split. Come to think of it, the result is not necessarily that bad right?
LirA : There is no meaning if I don’t get 1st place. Also, there is a significant difference between us and the first place team (Team Liquid). This is because our goal against TL in scrims is to try not lose in the first 20 minutes of the game. Due to this, I had several times when I thought “Why am I playing here”. We had so many problems here and there.
Because I stood out on my previous team last season, I received a lot of high expectations this season. However joining a new team, it became difficult to perform due to synergy issues. The jungler needs to have good synergy with the team. My guess is that Clutch Gaming’s fans don’t like me too much because I am not as good now as I was last season.
Compared to last year, my style has changed a lot as well. I used to be a jungler who can take advantage of my teammates. Due to issues such as the language barrier, I feel like I have no style at all. I used to be a very selfish player and made a lot of ambitious plays. Now, I am too busy covering and matching for my team.
Despite all this, I am not going to stop trying. Although I have times when I want to quit, it would be wrong if I did (laughs).
Reporter : In times of hardship, how best do you go about relieving stress?
LirA : Winning. I get so much motivation when I win on stage. Despite sometimes wanting to go back to Korea when things get tough, I believe I can hold my ground as long as I win.
Reporter : You receive more money playing here compared to Korea. Isn’t this enough to uplift and keep you going?
LirA : The tax… (laughs). Because the U.S. is such a great country, they tax a lot. If the money I received was prior to tax, I’d be extremely happy. Putting tax into consideration, my pay is cut in half.
▲ If you click the video, you can check out the Goliath.
(※caution: loud sound)
I was so nervous before going on the ride. It was a lot of fun. First going up, my heart went crazy. When going directly down, I felt a massive surge of excitement. Because the safety braces didn’t hold my upper body properly, I think I was even more scared than I should have been. Despite resembling the famous Korean ‘T-Express’, the Goliath was a lot sharper and faster on both drops and turns. I sheded a tear when the roller coaster turned unbelievably fast on the last turn.
Rating : ★★★☆☆
◎ Twisted Colossus
※ Combining both wood and steel, the Twisted Colossus is the longest and most innovative roller coaster in the world. Being the landmark ride for this park, the Twisted Colossus can be seen outside of the park by millions of people passing by it everyday. While the roller coaster is climbing the initial drop, another roller coaster on the very next track is also ready to leave.
Reporter : Shall we do another short interview while waiting? In this upcoming split, how well do think you will perform?
LirA : I’m guessing my teammates will see this interview? To be honest even using all of the luck we can get, I estimate we would place 7th. At this point in time, my teammates haven’t been able to practice as much. Until their skill level meets the bar, I think we all need to practice harder.
Reporter : Using this interview as an opportunity, is there anything you want to particularly say to your teammates?
LirA : Although mechanics is important, I only wish they study more about the game. Watch a lot of tournaments as well. Due to League of Legends being a 5 man focused game, there can be a hole within your team if one person doesn’t know the game well enough. I, myself, watch VODs every day and try to implement/study them. All of my teammates’ mechanics are extremely good. I only wish they would increase their understanding of the game.
Reporter : If you were to compare your life to a roller coaster, where do you see yourself now?
LirA : It feels like I am at the stage where I am on top of the ramp before falling down. To be frank, I don’t have much time and my wrist is in poor condition. I am giving it my all in climbing up the ramp. I wish I can let go and freely fall down. Without any regret. If I were to conclude my professional career as a player like Bengi, I believe I won’t have a single bit of regret.
Reporter : In the upcoming split, which team do you think will do well?
LirA : Because this meta will inherently force a lot of fights, it is really hard to definitely say. I predict that most games will end in the early portions of the game. Therefore, teams that prepare well are going to excel. The mediocre prepared teams will go home with regret.
▲ If you click the video, you will be able to see a video of Twisted Colossus.
(※caution: loud sound)
Twisted Colossus. First of all, most roller coasters only have one main climb and drop. However, Twisted Colossus has 2 main drops. That was extremely fun. Because I was able to go through the familiar drop feeling twice, it was double the excitement and horror. If you ever want to ride this roller coaster, I think you really need to prep for it.
Rating : ★★★★★
※ A roller coaster that has your feet dangling in the air. Because this roller coaster provides the closest sensation of falling, people with the fear of heights should take caution. The highlight is the 360° rotations. Not climbing from ground point, Tatsu operates by rotating whilst dropping from an already determined height. Due to the particular seating arrangement, Tatsu brings a completely new experience compared to most roller coasters.
Reporter : In a previous interview, we discussed with you about the importance of operating a team with the jungler as its center point. What advantages does a team have when operating with the jungler as the centerpiece?
LirA : If the jungler does his job well, the team receives unmeasurable help in vision. Also, a talented jungler has the ability to snowball top, mid, and bot lanes all in the same game. Because of this, I believe it is the easiest way to win a game if you center the team around the jungler.
Reporter : Which team achieves this the best?
LirA : The old ROX Tigers comes to mind. That team counter jungled relentlessly. On top of this, their laners were always the fastest to back up their jungler. A stronger team than ROX would be Samsung White. When ‘DanDy-Mata’ was in Samsung White, you couldn’t do anything when against them. Even thinking about it now, I realize how strong in macro they truly were.
Reporter : In order to have a jungler as a team’s center, you need your laners to backup fast. Having laners that backup fast just means they come regardless of what they give up in lane.
LirA : Normally, one wave is worth roughly 100 gold. 150 gold when it is a siege minion wave. But, a single jungle camp is worth 150 gold. For example if I get counter jungled, the combined gold of my camp loss and the opponent’s own camp is 300 gold. If the enemy jungler then goes back and clears his own entire jungle, the gold differential can lead up to 3x my gold amount.
When a laner comes to backup his jungler, it is crucial to ensure the laner has little to lose when doing so. If the situation demands a laner to go immediately, I believe it is overall beneficial for the team for the laner to help his jungler at whatever cost. If you calculate the gold gained if a kill is earned, it is in no way close to a loss.
Reporter : If you become a coach in the future, do you think you will center your team around the jungler?
LirA : When looking at coaches, a coach who was previously a mid laner centers the team around mid lane (laughs). Since I am a jungler, I believe I am going to do just that.
Reporter : Let’s say you were drafting players for a team. Which players would you want to pick?
LirA : First of, I want to pick Score as my jungler. Score doesn’t hold back when in a disadvantageous situation, and he always wins matchups that he is favored. With the vast amount of experience Score has, I believe he will be a formidable player. For bot lane, I would pick Sangyoon and Mata. Sangyoon really uplifts the overall mood, and he is also extremely good in lane. Mata is just one of my favorite players who manage macro.
Mid would be Faker. If Faker is on the opposing team, it is too nerve wracking. It will feel more safe and secure if Faker was on my team. In the top lane, I would pick Khan. Khan’s role for the team is to be the mood maker (laughs).
▲ If you click the video above, you will see a video of the Tatsu ride.
(※caution: loud sound)
Most roller coasters have their highlights centered around the first initial drop. When I realized Tatsu didn’t have anything to hold your feet, I thought to myself ‘You guys are going to get someone killed’. I felt like my soul was being forced out of my body every turn. Tatsu felt very unique and different from other roller coasters. If you like roller coasters, I suggest riding Tatsu.
Rating : ★★★★☆
Reporter : How was today? Did you have fun?
LirA : It was incredible. At first, I thought I was going to wait in line for 2 hours each ride because it is the weekend. The line wasen’t as long as I thought. I used to be only able to boast about going to Texas. But now, I have one more trip I can boast about.
Reporter : Today’s concept was rejuvenation. In the future, what activities do you want to do to help you heal some of the pressure and stress?
LirA : I am currently in the process of finding a hobby. However, it is probably going to be working out. When I went to the gym in Korea, the feeling of my body becoming better was amazing. If I have time, I want to learn pilates. My goal is to be on a diet in order to create a body that allows me to play games more.
Reporter : Lastly, is there anything you want to say to your fans or friends?
LirA : Last Spring Split was worrisome. Because I wasen’t at my bestest form, I believe it was a period for me to stack some experience. Although achieving 4th place is a fairly good result, I still have a lot more way to go. It is a process we all need to help create and work on. If you guys have faith in me, I promise to show promising results.
In my personal opinion, the upcoming World Championships held in Korea will most likely be my last chance to play in Korea. I want to go out on an international tournament and remind people there is a jungler named ‘LirA’. I hope you guys can continue to support me.