After his rough deployment to the LPL, MaRin returns home.
MaRin's 2015 career was extraordinary, from a Maokai that snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat, a Fiora that showed what it means to 'outplay', to his signature and seemingly unbreakable champions Rumble and Malphite. It was only fitting that he was crowned as the MVP of the 2015 World Championship.
However, everything changed when he joined the LPL in 2016. He suffered through relegation matches with LGD Gaming, and his shotcalling couldn't get through the language barrier. His fans were heartbroken, but they - and we - still believe that he will return to his peak form once again. After all, he was once the MaRin, and he will always be the MaRin.
Without further ado, let's hear what MaRin has to say about his thoughts after returning to the LCK, as well as his thoughts about his new team, Afreeca Freecs.
Welcome back to the LCK! How have you been?
I've been practicing so much that I never sleep more than six hours a day. I want to be a role model for my teammates; not just as the oldest in the team, but also as the team captain.
Afreeca Freecs is practically a brand-new team compared to last year's roster. What's the team mood like?
We do have our downs when we lose scrims, but we generally get along very well with each other. We like to play board games during our downtime in order to get to know each other better.
Who do you think has the best synergy with you among your teammates?
That would be Jonghoon "Kramer" Ha. He always tries to see the best side of me no matter what, and he is easy to get along with because he is friendly and thick-skinned. Same goes to Seohaeng "KurO" Lee. We knew each other already, and he too is thick-skinned. As matter of fact, we all get along very well because we all want to do our best.
You were the main shotcaller during your career with SK Telecom T1. Is that the case in Afreeca Freecs as well? Also, how do your teammates feel about you being the shotcaller?
It's mostly interactions between junglers and laners during the early and mid game, and then I start to make calls in the late game. I'm assuming that my teammates are following my orders without questions because they are afraid of me. (Laughs)
You've played in the LPL with LGD Gaming during 2016. What was is it like?
I tried very hard, but it still didn't go well. I didn't give up even as our position dropped in the early season, but eventually I felt frustrated when we just couldn't win. I was disappointed in myself, so I reflected on my shortcomings. I found out a lot about myself too.
Can you give us an example of something you found out?
For one, I've found out that I have an astigmatism. I'm guessing that's one of the reasons why I haven't been doing well lately. When the fans started to send me medicine for treating poor eyesight, I thought it would be a good time to have my eyes checked - and that's how I found out. I feel much better with glasses, and I felt that my games were going better too.
You tend to call the jungler a lot during your games, and there were speculations that your strength was hindered by the language barrier between you and the jungler. Do you agree?
In the LPL, I didn't make use of the jungler as well as I did in the LCK. However, the fact that I didn't do very well in the LPL is mostly my own fault. I did practice a lot, but I wasn't in good shape. I was under a lot of stress because of that too. Fortunately, I don't really dwell on the past, so I'm over it now.
Why did you choose to return to Korea?
After leaving LGD Gaming, many teams from all around the globe made offers for me to join them. I chose Afreeca Freecs because they seemed to have wanted me the most out of all the teams, and I could really tell because they kept in touch a lot. Also, I realized that language barriers are a real thing, so I wanted to be in a region where I can communicate well.
Do you feel any pressure for returning to the LCK?
I do feel pressured, and I am also afraid of what might happen if I don't do well. I'm still looking forward to it though.
As the toplaner, how do you feel about Dayoon "Spirit" Lee? Is the teamwork building up well?
Our teamwork is great, but I sometimes have to keep him down. I do understand that he likes champions that can charge into the enemy, but I would prefer to have him come back alive afterwards. (Laugh)
The old Afreeca Freecs was famous for its aggressiveness. I guess that's no longer the case with you at the helm?
Although I'd prefer to play optimally rather than just aggressively, we are currently finding out what works best for us. Sometimes we just do what we must to win, and sometimes we just pick fights whenever we can.
As the team's shotcaller and captain, is there anything that you want from your teammates?
Well, I would like our AD Carry to survive and deal as much damage as possible. (Laugh) More seriously, I want my teammates to have a more competitive spirit, because I don't really feel it from them. Though, I think that might be because I'm filled to the brim with competitive spirit.
Your shotcalling with SK Telecom T1 was spectacular. Will this be the case for you in Afreeca Freecs as well?
My shotcalling in SKT was made mostly during the late game too, so I expect it to be similar for Afreeca Freecs.
The current meta is all about the botlane. Aren't you worried that it might be too different from what you were used to?
I am worried. However, I think I can win my lane as long as the botlane duo doesn't lose. I think this bot-centered meta came about because the botlane is too easy to attack. Most of my scrims are centered around the botlane as well.
You've went through both the meta centered around the toplane and the botlane. Which do you feel is better for you to play in?
It feels better when a game is centered around the toplane.
Could you name three players that you want to face off against in Summoner's Rift?
Seongjin "CuVee" Lee was great in 2016, so I want to see how good he is in person. Gyungho "Smeb" Song and Seunghoon "Huni" Heo also come to mind.
Last question, what are your goals for the 2017 LCK Spring Split?
We are trying our best to win the Split, but I have reservations because we are a newly-formed team. So we will show how we are improving as a team over time. I'm not sure if I can be as good as I was in 2015, but I think I can get close enough. Please cheer for us on our way to become the best.