Although Doublelift is an LCS player, he's a very familiar face here in Korea. Not only is he a 1st generation player that has consistently been staying at the top since season 1, but he's also maintained a good relationship with Korean players throughout his long career. Nicknamed "Dupgu," Doublelift has always been a popular and well-loved player in Korea.
Doublelift made his way back to Korea for boot camp in preparation for the 2019 MSI. It was right after he's added another LCS trophy under his collection. Having been a long time since we've met and talked last, our team wanted to share an open-minded conversation with Doublelift - we didn't want to just talk about the upcoming MSI.
From inquisitive stories regarding Team Liquid and its players to stories regarding eventual retirement in the distant future. Let's hear what Doublelift had to say.
It's been a while since you've said hello to your Korean fans. Please introduce yourself in one unique sentence.
You're already putting me on the spot... (Laughs) I'm Doublelift and TL is back in Korea for boot camp, and I'm the best and everyone else is trash.
The last time that you were here, you were sick with a cold. How are you feeling this time?
I feel great. The group stage is in Vietnam, and I heard it's dangerous to drink water there. It's really easy to get sick over there, so I'm taking extra care. It's important that I stay healthy.
You've been to Korea on multiple occasions. Compared to your first time, how is your experience in Korea?
The first time that I came here was for the OGN invitational in season 2. Back then, I was just a little kid that was really excited to travel. I didn't know anything about Korea and I was a bit uncomfortable.
I've probably been to Korea about 15 different times now, and it feels like my second home. I can understand a lot of Korean now and the people are really nice. I'm very comfortable here.
Last year, when you were here for boot camp, you said that you ate a lot of 'Goobne Chicken', as their chicken isn't fried and are grilled. How about this year?
Yes, we still eat Goobne Chicken like every other day. Some of my teammates who don't really care about eating healthy go for 'BHC' and 'Nene Chicken' which are fried. They taste a lot better, but I really don't want to get sick, so I'm eating healthy.
You're known in Korea for being a buff, healthy pro gamer. Aside from weight-lifting, is there a sport that you particularly enjoy?
I actually hate sports. I can't play them, I'm so bad. (Laughs) I only started going to the gym because I didn't want to be fat anymore. After losing 40 pounds, I developed a habit of going to the gym. I just kept going out of pure habit and became what I am today.
I don't remember you ever being really fat.
I was really fat. I had... what's called manboobs, so I always wore hoodies and t-shirts to cover them up. (Laughs)
Do you do heavy workouts? Or do you just simply go to the gym consistently?
I'm actually a really lazy guy, so I always preferred to lift really heavy for 30-40 minutes than staying at the gym for 1-2 hours.
NA has a lot of 'buff' players, such as Hauntzer and Goldenglue. If you're to rank yourself among them in terms of strength and muscle mass, where would you place yourself?
Hauntzer is actually skinny, but Goldenglue and Svenskeren are actually crazy, crazy big. They're like Olympic statues. I'd say I'm a little above average.
Recently on Twitter, you asked your fans that you were looking for a hobby and that you were receiving recommendations. Did you find the hobby that you were looking for?
Uhm... No. (Laughs)
I can't do sports - I hate sports. I started watching anime and TV shows but they were all kind of boring. So maybe, the fans could give me more recommendations.
I'm looking for shows to watch. The only series that I'm watching is Game of Thrones, but everyone watches that.
Were there any unique or memorable hobbies from the recommendations that you were given?
I don't know if it counts as a hobby, but some of my fans recommended me to play Dark Souls. I played that game for like 100 hours and I died so many times. I literally spent 10 hours dying to the same boss... but it was really fun in the end. I appreciate the fan who suggested that game.
I played the other games in the Souls series, and I also started playing Sekiro. I beat it right before coming to Korea, so my mind is free of that game.
So in the end, your hobby is gaming? (Laughs)
It's not really a hobby for me!
The TL roster had a makeover this season, and you've just finished playing Spring split with them. How're your new teammates? Do you guys work well together?
First off, we got along a lot better. I think our personalities really match well together. I also think CoreJJ is a very good anchor for the team - everyone likes him. He's a really kind person, so you always feel that you can talk to him. At first, I just wanted to talk and hang out with CoreJJ because my only opinion of him, in the beginning, was that he was good at the game. But then, everyone was thinking about what I was thinking, and they all wanted to hang out and play solo queue with him. When you hang out with CoreJJ, you basically hang out with everyone else, so you can say everyone became close through him.
And no offense to my former teammates, but skill-wise, I think we saw a big upgrade. The last time that we went to MSI, our weaknesses were pretty exposed.
Our team has gotten a lot better... but the weird thing is that it was a lot harder to get to MSI this year. I think it's because NA has really improved as a region. It was 'this' close - you might not be interviewing me right now. You might be interviewing TSM Bjergsen or something.
I'm happy that TL upgraded as a team and that the LCS has gotten better as a whole.
The LCS and LCK share a different playstyle. CoreJJ has had experienced playing in NA in the past before coming back in 2019. Do you think his past experience helped him merge with TL better?
NA and Korea have different styles, but NA is just worse. (Laughs)
And as for the question, yes, I think so. If you've been on an NA team before, you're used to the words that NA players use in-game. People talk a little more directly in the LCS. It's more laid back, but you have to mentally understand your teammates because some players are just really quiet. Players are often afraid to talk, but when they do, they just 'explode'. You have to be ready for that. Luckily, our players are really mature, so we don't do that. CoreJJ knows what to expect from us.
TL made it to the MSI by defeating TSM in the LCS Finals. How do you feel about that victory? Can you give us a brief review of that match?
I feel like it was a bit cheapened because of Zven's throwing in game 5 - although I still think we would've won as our team comp outscaled theirs.
The Finals was very intense, and I don't think I'll ever forget it. It was my very first time being in a reverse sweep. It was crazy.
The feeling that my teammates and I had shared was pure trust. It was like 'brotherhood' trust. In scrims, it's easy to get frustrated when things go bad. Even when Impact struggled as he had a tough early game, we fully trusted each other and together, developed a clear mid-to-late game plan. I think we were playing at another level.
In that series, was there a particular set that you remember the most?
Honestly, it'd be game 5.
I actually didn't play very well in game 5. I tanked a bunch of skillshots as Kai'Sa. But it was the most memorable as I felt the pressure - good pressure. Game 4 was good, too, as we solo killed the enemy under the tower.
When the Nexus exploded in game 5, how did your teammates react?
We were just... all screaming. (Laughs) We were hugging each other, celebrating.
I honestly didn't expect CoreJJ to be so happy, he looked almost as happy as when he won Worlds! I was also very happy for Jensen. When we went on stage... I think it was the very first time that I had a teammate tell me that he loves me. You just don't do that in America. It's weird, but it felt good. I mean, I love my teammates too, but it's hard to say something like that in person.
And honestly, if everyone on my team had won before, I don't think we would've won this split. We had players that never won before, so the players who had, were practicing especially hard to win for the team. It's very inspiring to have players like that on your team.
The most memorable Finals that I have ever played is still my very first victory back in season 5, but this one is also unforgettable.
You've won on 3 different teams, and have won a total of 6 LCS splits - just one less domestic victory than Faker. Does the feeling of accomplishment and happiness lessen with each victory?
It's a rollercoaster. Sometimes it's, "we won, but I still don't feel good," while at other times, it's, "Oh my god, we won!"
Every championship has a different story. Each split, I have a different motivation, and each roster has a different team atmosphere. Right now, our team is the happiest team that I have ever been a part of. We're really relaxed, and we're just really good friends. This may sound weird, but when I'm working/practicing with my teammates, I'm happy as I feel that I'm hanging out with my friends. The other rosters were a bit more stressful, it felt like I was in the military - boot camp.
The feeling of winning used to be like, "Whew, we won! We went through hell, but it was worth it!" This time around, however, we were more laid back. We played with more positive motivation.
This is CoreJJ and Jensen's very first MSI. During the last MSI, I feel that I broke my 'NA sucks at international tournaments' mental block. With the removal of my mental block, and with this MSI being Jensen and CoreJJ's very first, the MSI will be an interesting chance for us.
Last year, during an interview with us during boot camp, you said that Uzi is a god and that you'd have a hard time playing against him. This time, he isn't here. Are you more confident about going into MSI this time?
Thank God [that there's no Uzi]. (Laughs)
I feel really confident going against every bot lane this MSI. Aside from us, the best bot lane is probably SKT.
But honestly speaking, every team at MSI is going to be strong. They won their domestic title for a reason. Every bot lane I feel will be challenging... but CoreJJ and I have been working really hard. I feel I can play a lot more relaxed with CoreJJ because he's so good. With him, I play at a level that I have never played at before.
If TL plays G2, you'll play against Perkz, a former mid laner in the bot lane. How do you think the match will play out?
I'm really confident that we'll be the way better bot lane. (Laughs) I see games where G2's bot lane is 100 CS down, losing tower, and getting killed 2 vs. 2. I can't remember any games like that for us. CoreJJ and I don't make many mechanical mistakes and I think we play a lot cleaner in general.
Perkz is interesting... He's a really good player, but the AD position requires a lot of experience to play at a high level.
Each region has a different playstyle. For example, some regions have begun playing Sona and Taric, while some haven't. Are you confident playing that kind of meta?
Yes. In NA, we played Sona and Taric, a lot. I'm confident playing with that comp, and I'm also confident about playing against it. Each region has its own cheese strategy going against it.
I'm not too sure if the Eastern teams are willing to play Sona-Taric. It's popular in NA and EU, but I haven't seen the comp being played in LPL or LCK yet. It might be a style difference.
The best of each region are gathering in one spot, the MSI. How do you think the MSI will be played out? How well do you think TL will do?
I think TL will make it far. Saying that we'll win... it's going to take a little bit of luck.
You don't go into a tournament saying that you're going to lose. A pro player needs to enter a tournament with the mindset that you can win - because it's true, you definitely can.
I need to first worry about breaking my curse - making it out of groups. (Laughs) And then I'll focus on winning the tournament.
If Uzi was the star during the last MSI, which team or player do you think will be outstanding this year?
In terms of the bottom lane, I don't think anyone will outshine the rest. I think Teddy and Mata are really good, but... we'll see what happens when we play. But honestly, I think any team can win.
In addition, I think people are really sleeping on G2. People don't rate them highly enough. Fans think their strength is just cheese and unorthodox strategy, but I think they're just a good team, period. Their mechanics are really good, and their macro is pretty good. They're a very creative team.
I honestly predict that G2 will beat SKT. SKT is a very standard team that plays by the book - classic League of Legends. But G2 just throws all of that out the window. They don't care how people have played in the past. They figure out the craziest strategies and break the meta.
Each team has its own strength. As for our team - I don't want to spoil it - but I think we'll do good this MSI.
A lot of 1st generation League of Legends players have been retiring lately. Madlife, PraY, and Ambition all retired at around the same time. As an OG player yourself, how do you feel about the situation?
I try not to think about it.
And actually, my coach told me right before MSI, "Peter, you don't have that many years left." (Laughs) He was serious when he said it, too, and I ended up agreeing with him. I think he was trying to get my mind off of Sekiro and on the MSI.
In actuality, I'm not that old right now, but with age, my priorities in life might change - I might not devote 100% of my life to League of Legends.
I think that might be what happened to those who retired. Like for Ambition, he's married and has won Worlds, so you can understand that he doesn't want to focus 100% of his time practicing. I also found out from CoreJJ that Ambition is a really popular streamer now. I'm really happy for him because he earned it. I'm hoping that all of the 1st generation players become successful once they retire.
I don't think about it too much, but luckily, I have a really big fanbase - maybe not in the world - but in America at least, so I feel secure. I just don't want to waste all of my life as a pro, and MSI is another chance for me. I'm just always trying my best.
Although NA doesn't produce as many fresh talents as the other regions, you've always been consistent throughout your long career and have been staying at the top for a very long time. What's your secret to keeping up with the new talents?
It's kind of a mentality thing. It's how I was raised. I was raised with the mindset that "it's never good enough."
When I get an A, I ask myself, "why didn't I get an A+." When I get a 99 on a test, I ask "why didn't I get a 100." The same thing applied to League of Legends. I was never good enough. When I get 90 CS at 10 minutes, I ask myself, "why not 95?" When I land 9/10 skillshots on Ezreal, I ask, "why not 10/10?"
This kind of mindset is actually a little bit self-destructive, as you'll always be stressed out - always dissatisfied with yourself. But if you are willing to make the sacrifice, it's a great mindset to have to be really successful at something. There is no reason to think that you can't get better.
I feel like I never waste time. I'm always looking for ways to improve.
A lot of people say that with age, professional players get a better understanding of the game, but their mechanics deteriorate. What are your thoughts?
It's very true.
I like to believe that I'm an exception to the rule, but the truth is that old players just have bad mechanics. I'm not going to give any names, but you can see it happening in the LCS. There are a lot of old players in NA, and they have a hard time dodging skillshots and they make a lot of questionable mechanical plays.
For me, mechanics is the easiest part of League. It's just clicking - you can only get better at clicking. I guess I could say that I'm natural-born or lucky in terms of mechanics, or maybe, it's because I just play a lot of League.
In the distant future, when you finally retire, what do you think you'll be doing?
That's a good question. I think I could stream for one year before I get really sick of it. Maybe I'll be a commentator... if League remains popular that is.
I don't want to be a coach, that's for sure.
You don't think you'd be a good coach?
Definitely not. I'd be a terrible coach. If Faker became a coach, do you think he'd be a good coach? I don't think so. (Laughs)
Can you tell us your resolution for the upcoming MSI? In addition, is there anything that you want to say to your teammates and coach?
I'm a little cursed, so I don't want to say that I want to make it out of groups. (Laughs) I just want to say that my resolution is to do my best and leave with no regrets.
My coaches always say the right thing at the right time to motivate me, so all the coaches and teammates are a really big part of Team Liquid being here.
The last thing that I want to say is that, when CoreJJ, Jensen, and I went out for Dinner last night, a fan asked for a picture and asked CoreJJ to take the picture. (Laughs) He didn't even know who CoreJJ was. So I was hoping that the fans ask him for a picture to make him feel better. He was laughing, but I think he was a little hurt on the inside.
A managing editor who can do more things than you think.