2019 is upon us, and a new season of the LCS is soon to begin. 2018 was a glorious year for Team Liquid, who became the champions for both Spring and Summer Splits.
One of the main reasons Team Liquid was so successful was Jung "Impact" Eon-young. His stable performance in the top lane was a pillar that supported the whole team. He is now entering his second year with the team. As he finished his fourth year in the LCS (NA LCS), Impact recently gained residency.
Despite being jetlagged, Impact lively shared his thoughts about Worlds, his new teammates, and other top laners.
Hi Impact, how have you been?
I practiced a lot with the team in December, went to Korea for the holidays, and now I’m back. It’s been only a couple days since I came back, so I’m a bit jetlagged, but I’m playing a lot of solo queues.
You’re now officially an NA player. How is life in the US?
In LA, the weather is always great, and there are diverse foods here. I like that I can enjoy eating what I want to eat. I like Korean food, of course, but I also like food from other countries. I think that’s why I was able to adapt to the US well; many people struggle from the food when they go abroad, but I had no issues with that.
As for lifestyle, I think it’s not much different [from Korea]. I guess I tend to exercise more. Other players here work out a lot, so I do too.
So the Korean players don’t exercise much?
When I was in Korea, nearly no one did. Nowadays, some seem to do so, but I’m not sure. I think they might not have enough time to exercise.
Does it help to maintain your condition when you’re going through the season or when you’re practicing?
I’m not sure. You know, working out and gaming doesn’t apply directly like it does in traditional sports, but it’s not like it doesn’t help. It’s good having a healthy body, but it’s also good to practice. As a pro player, it varies from player to player. Some people think exercising and staying healthy is important while some think it’s better to practice during that time.
In my opinion, whoever doesn’t exercise just doesn’t want to bother. (Laughs) Or they don’t have the will to exercise. I think it helps when you have several people going to the gym together. If there are several people, at least one of them says ‘let’s go’.
Did you predict that C9 would do well at Worlds?
No, I didn’t. As you know, they like to fight. That’s their style, and they utilized that well. It seemed like Reapered intended that from the picks & bans; for example, he picked a lot of champions that can make something happen by just pressing ‘R’.
On the other hand, we went the hard way. We played the standard way, but we struggled from that and screwed up early in the tournament. If it weren’t for that, we would have been able to get to the knockouts, so that’s really regretful.
I heard that the whole team was a bit confused during Worlds.
It seemed like we kind of forgot how to win. We played a lot of scrims with good teams and lost a lot; we lost confidence. Personally, I was pretty confident. I thought that I could beat any top laner in the league. So I did my best to convince the team that we’re not a bad team, that we can do well. We gradually got better and did well in the latter half, but were eliminated. I felt really sorry about that. If we played like that from the beginning, we would have made it through the group stage.
How did you feel watching your previous team reach the semifinals?
I felt good, honestly. Sneaky, Jensen, Reapered; we were all in the same team. Reapered was really disappointed after losing to WE at the quarters in 2017. We lost 2-3 back then; we could have made it to semis. Anyways, I felt really good seeing them reach the semis this time. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it.
You mostly played tanks at this Worlds, right?
The group stage meta was like that. At Worlds, the meta changes as the tournament goes on. If Urgot and Aatrox are banned, you go with Sion and Ornn. Later on, it changed to Camille or Viktor. What I played was the group stage meta.
They say winning is the meta.
That’s true. I personally think that going Ice Gauntlet with Sion against Urgot still isn’t very good, but TheShy got a solo kill with that. After that, everybody started to use that. After seeing that, I realized, winning is everything.
After watching the last Worlds, many people are saying the gap is closing now.
I partly agree with that, but the Korean teams are still really good. Afreeca is a really good team; they could have done a lot better than they did. Even the game against C9; they could have won all those games, but they lost 0-3. I could see that they had some fear of making mistakes or something. There were moments that they could win, but they backed off so easily.
On the other hand, C9 is known for their aggressiveness and fighting without looking back, and they’re good at that. Afreeca didn’t play the macro game when they were ahead and didn’t fight when they needed to. When C9 collapsed on them, they weren’t able to do much.
As for Gen.G, I think they read the meta wrong. They played as if the meta was centered at bot lane; we did too, and so did RNG. But no, Worlds was mid-centric. It was a mid-jungle meta and at Worlds, there are so many talented mid laners like Rookie. He was so good. One of the reasons we thought it was bot-centric was after scrimming with Gen.G. Unfortunately, we were wrong.
Many LCK players came to the LCS. Why do you think they did?
There were a lot of players that wanted to come to the US other than the ones that did. I think it’s because everybody says that living and the lifestyle is a lot better in the LCS than the LCK. Less pressure and more free time.
Some people have a prejudice that the LCS players don’t work hard. I know the LCS is no Afreeca running double barracks, but we all are doing our best in our own way. It’s just that it’s up to the players to maintain their prowess or to improve.
Whatever you do, you need to do your best at your job; in this case, gaming. The freedom doesn’t grant you better prowess. Some people may become lazy with more freedom which can lead to worse performance. It just depends on the person. There are people who need the pressure and obligation, but there are also people who do well on their own.
Faker, for instance, he’s extremely talented, but even with that talent, he puts in enormous amounts of effort. Even if he wasn’t obligated to practice, he would be practicing. I learned a lot from him. The environment wouldn’t matter for guys like him.
For me, the free style is more suitable. I don’t have to be pressured to fulfill a number of solo queue games. It’s even harder here; after 11 PM it takes so long to find a game. If I were obligated to play until 2 AM, I would just do it simply because I have to, not because I want to improve. I would just go numb after a certain point and play without thinking much.
Even with the freedom, I can never let go of practice. That’s what I’m capable of. Our team requires us to do solo queue games, but not that much. Naturally, we have free time after 7 PM. Some people go out and meet friends, some practice, it’s all up to us.
Now let’s talk about your new teammates. Jensen and CoreJJ joined. How are they?
Jensen is just as he was when we were in the same team; like a monkey. (Laughs) (A monkey? Why?) Yes. He just doesn’t see things. (You mean the map?) No, sometimes he just sees nothing. From time to time, he has something like tunnel vision; the enemy is right next to him, but he doesn’t see it. Because of that, I try to look out for him more, tell him to be careful more often. If he can improve that, he’ll become more of an amazing player.
His personality is also awesome, but he swears a lot as well. (Laughs) Sometimes, he’s kind of childish and is a bit crazy. There's a word that we call him from time to time, but I think it’s not an appropriate word for an interview. (Laughs)
I recommended CoreJJ among the candidates. Since he had played in the NA before, I thought there would be less trouble with the communication. It turns out his English is pretty good; maybe even better than mine. He’s not used to speaking English so much so he struggles sometimes, but time will solve that. He’s really good in-game. We won many scrims because of him. His play is really clean and neat. I was surprised by that.
What’s the biggest difference between him and Olleh?
Olleh kind of improvises more while CoreJJ looks at the situation and makes more smart plays. I’m not saying that Olleh is bad; improvising is also a good ability. We’ll have to see them play against each other to see who’s actually better.
I think CoreJJ’s strength is playing really smart. I’m usually the one to call lane swaps and now CoreJJ adds in his opinions more; it’s more convenient for me. Also, his thoughts on plays or macro are quite similar to mine so it’s easier as well.
How did the team dynamic change after the roster change?
We reduced a lot of impromptu plays. Again, it’s not that improvising is bad, but you need to see which fight you can win and try to avoid the ones you can’t. Although the recent meta instigates a lot of teamfights, it’s not that we need to engage in all of them. Seizing the proper moment to win a fight is very important. That’s where we improved a lot on.
Now for the hardest question. I’ll give you a list of LCS top laners, and you’ll have to rank them.
What? (Laughs) I haven’t even scrimmed against some of these players.
First, we need to put Licorice hyung at the top.
(Wait, isn’t he younger than you?)
Yeah, but since he reached semis, he’s my hyung.
*Note: Hyung is a Korean word for ‘older brother’ and is occasionally used to express respect.
Do I have to do all of this? Anyways, I’m confident that I can do better than any of these guys.
(You can just pick 1st to 5th.)
But some will be disappointed if they’re left out! (Laughs)
Actually, I haven’t scrimmed yet against Licorice. Can I put him next to me?
This is so hard. There are too many of them that would feel hurt.
Since I haven’t played against all of them in this meta, I’ll just do this with the impressions I have of them.
But it would be awkward to put somebody at last place. I’ll just do this like that.
Can you explain a bit?
First, Licorice hyung is here because he went to semis. Oh wait, but I still want to be above him. (Moves his name a bit higher than Licorice) Can you take a picture again? I’m 1st and Licorice is 1.5th.
Anyways, he’s probably the one who got the most solo kills off me. Those were because I wasn’t concentrating enough.
The reason I organized the list like this is that I think I can win lane against any one of these players.
After Licorice would be Ssumday; he’s obviously a good player, but thinking back on it, I think I always won lane against him, under my standards. I think I’m better than him, so I’m above him.
Next is Hauntzer. He’s been in the NA LCS for a long time and was extremely good when he needed to be so I put him here.
As for Huni, he kind of has a style that’s all or nothing. For the record, my evaluations are based on the long term -- not just this year. Huni sometimes needs to compromise, but he seldom does. Of course, I don’t know his situation in the team, but that’s what I felt.
I’ll leave a message to Huni: You may think I’m a bit harsh on this evaluation, I apologize. Fighting for 2019! (Laughs)
Next are players that are mechanically good. V1per has good mechanics and has potential. Since we were on the same team, I knew him pretty well. He’s a player that can improve a lot when he knows the team game better.
Broken Blade has kind of a weird style of laning. He’s really good on 1v1s and sees when he can pick up a kill, but that’s sort of different from laning. He’ll also improve a lot when he learns the team game.
The rest would be players that haven’t left a big impression on me, and their results weren’t that good either.
I’ll be interviewing Ssumday next. Do you have anything to ask him or anything to say to him?
I think I heard Ssumday wants to become friends with me. Or it could have been that he wants to become closer to the Korean players. Anyways, say hi to me when we meet during the season. First, let’s add each other in the messenger app. (Laughs) I’m kind of sorry for putting you under me and Licorice, but it’s my interview so I should be at the top, and Licorice went to semis so he deserves his position. So please understand that I rated you very highly. Don’t be too disappointed. And Don’t hesitate to talk to me when you see me.
You should have played some scrims by now. Which team do you think will do well in the upcoming season?
Since we have a good win rate, I think we’ll do well. But there still are teams that we haven’t played against; C9 went to Korea to boot camp. Although we won’t know until the season starts and see what happens, I have a feeling that GGS has a good chance this time. They’re a very aggressive team; once they have a good flow, they’ll do well. As for the other teams, I’ll know after playing a bit more against them. Olleh fighting!
Do you think Team Liquid will sweep the LCS again?
That would be an important thing to do, but I think doing well on international stages is more important. C9 was in last place at one point during the summer, but they reached semis at Worlds. It’s important for me to do well there. We’ll need to continue to improve until then.
Recently, I’ve been working on improving mechanics. I pick mid lane for my sub role so that I can concentrate more on my mechanics. When you look at players like Rookie, it feels as if he’s at an unreachable point, but I started to think if I practice more and put in more effort, I can do what he does.
We’re all human after all. Before, I just thought it was talent, but now I think I just need to put in more effort. Watching other players play has also been helpful. Faker is really good at that, at hitting skillshots and evading them. I learned a lot by watching him as well.
This year would be a very important point in my career. I’ll become a player that’s good at both tanks and carries. I’m not saying that I wasn’t good at the carry role before, though. (Laughs) I’ll become even better.
Thanks so much for the interview. Any last comments?
Well, I’d like to apologize to the top laners first. (Laughs) Honestly, I feel a bit guilty, but this was just for fun. You’re all good players so please don’t blame me. I’m looking forward to competing with you all during the season.
And to the fans, I’m sorry for not being able to deliver better results at Worlds. I’ll make sure we do better than before. As for Worlds, we won’t aim for just getting there, we’ll be aiming for getting to the semis or even further. Thank you for your support and please continue to cheer for me!