In the 2019 LCK Spring Split Day 22 match between Afreeca Freecs and SANDBOX Gaming was a close fight. SANDBOX Gaming took Game 1 but Afreeca Freecs flipped it over and took away games 2 and 3 for the victory. Kim “Kiin” Gi-in’s performance was exceptional and led the team to victory. Especially, his performance on Jayce in Game 2 was outstanding.
The following is an interview with Kiin and Afreeca Freecs coach Jeong “NoFe” No-chul.
It’s been a while since you’ve won. How do you feel?
NoFe: Our form wasn’t very good recently, but we were able to beat SANDBOX Gaming who’s in second place. I’m extremely happy about that.
Kiin: After the long losing streak, I’m happy that we won against SANDBOX Gaming which is a very strong team. I’m especially happier because we won against Summit [who was previously a teammate]. (Laughs)
Afreeca’s results for Round 1 was lower than fans’ expectations. What was especially regretful?
NoFe: The most regretful thing is not being able to show good performance as a team. We’ll let the past be the past and build momentum to rise in Round 2.
Kiin: The team synergy not being at its highest was punished by other teams. We talked a lot after the games, but the most regretful thing is that our problems weren’t solved easily.
How was playing against Summit who was previously your teammate? Are you satisfied with your performance today?
Kiin: I thought that he’s a good player since last year when we were on the same team. After seeing him do so well in a different team, I started rating him a lot higher than before. His performance today was pretty good as well.
The solo kill I got today was because my teammates cared a lot for top lane today, so that’s what’s expected of me. As for my performance, I’d give an 8 out of 10. The 2 points were deducted because I had several mistakes in landing skillshots.
It was the last match of Round 1 and it was important since you could have ended Round 1 in 7th-9th according to the result. How did you prepare for the match?
NoFe: The expectations from fans were very low for today since our recent performance was very disappointing. I told the players that we have nothing to lose and since nobody is expecting us to win, we should ease our mind and forget the pressure. I think that was some help to the players. We weren’t very concerned about SANDBOX and focused on our plays, preparing according to our team’s situation.
Why do you think you lost Game 1?
NoFe: There was the macro we planned, but I think the players were a bit frustrated because of the variables that suddenly happened. It seemed like when they started thinking something was going wrong, they lost confidence. But the waiting room wasn’t that gloomy after Game 1.
(To Kiin) You feel a lot different from last year.
Kiin: Last year, we won a lot. When I was relegated in 2017, I thought the stress coming from losing streaks wouldn’t be that big, but when we started to really tumble, it was really stressful.
Today’s win should be a good source of momentum for Round 2.
NoFe: Frankly, if we lost today, our goal would have been getting out of the relegation match. Thankfully, we won today and we can even aim for reaching the playoffs so I feel good. I’ll do my best with the players to deliver better results in Round 2.
In recent competitions, the top laner carrying the team hasn’t been happening much. Do you often appeal to the team to play top centric?
Kiin: We sometimes plan that in some matches, like today’s game where I played Jayce. I think we were able to win because my teammates helped me out a lot.
Many people are criticizing Ucal because his performance is below expectations.
NoFe: Ucal is a player that only debuted last year, but he’s been the LCK champion and experienced Worlds. Since he has achieved a lot compared to his short career, the expectations are really high. So I think that’s why fans are more disappointed with his performance. Although his performance has been lower than expectations, thinking of him as a player that’s just starting, which he is, would be easier on him. If he can overcome this difficult time, he can become a lot better player. It would be good if the fans have high expectations in that matter. He'll be performing to reach expectations soon.
There’s a new support player, Senan, in Afreeca Freecs’ roster for Round 2.
NoFe: Senan’s a young prospect who was scouted by coach Yang Gwang-pyo. His performance was impressive from the online tryouts. I’m very satisfied signing him and have high hopes for him.
Any last comments?
NoFe: Thinking of today’s win as the base, we’ll do our best to reach the playoffs. I’m sorry for disappointing all the fans and we’ll do our best to show better performance.
Kiin: I’ll do my best to get out of the relegation level and reach the playoffs. Please continue to cheer for us.