New York Excelsior is already exceeding fan's expectations - no choking in the playoffs. Last year, they were predicted to win the championship but failed to do so. This year, they turned things around in the playoffs. Their victory against Atlanta puts NYXL one stop closer to the championship. After their win, Dong-gyu "Mano" Kim spoke with Inven Global about their bout against Atlanta and how they can defeat the Titans.
Congrats on the win today! You're one step closer to the grand finals. How do you feel about that?
It feels really good. It feels even better because people have that perception of us choking in the playoffs. I think we're slowly changing people's perspectives so that makes it feel even better.
What are your thoughts about your match against Atlanta just now?
Atlanta did a really good job preparing both a comp and a playstyle to counter our Bastion comp. We had to think of how to adapt to that in the middle of the match. I feel that's why we won today.
In Atlanta's previous match, Erster and babybay were popping off. How did you stop those two from doing the same thing to you guys?
Of course, we had to watch their game and their POVs in particular. We had to study their playstyles, their tendencies, and prepare a strategy to focus on them during the match. It was designed so they absolutely do not pop off in this match. That worked out well!
I'd like to emphasize that our DPS players played really well against them as well.
In these playoffs, Saebyeolbe is back in the lineup with his leadership. How important is he in this lineup right now?
No matter how bad the situation is, SBB is always positive and never gives up. If you listen to our comms, he's never negative. He's integral to our success in that sense. He keeps everyone in check in making sure our mentality is in the right place.
What does Saebyeolbe bring in this lineup that you haven't experienced during the regular season?
SBB has a really loud voice so during the match when he shouts something out, it's very clear to everyone on what he needs from us. To reiterate, his positive energy is vital for us.
Heading into your next match against Vancouver, what are things that you guys need to improve on?
Obviously, the whole team is a strong core, especially their DPS players. We have to improve and create a plan so they do not pop off as well, just like this match with Atlanta.
I talked to JJANU not long ago and asked him what NYXL's weaknesses are. What are your thoughts about what he said?
To respond to that, I'm just assuming JJANU is saying that based on our scrims. When we scrimmed, we weren't preparing a specific strategy just for Vancouver. It was primarily for practice and improving. Next week when we face Vancouver, our team right now won't be the same team that he's thinking about. It's going to be a totally different team than what they've experienced in the past that will cater to their playstyle.
In your opinion, what do you think are Vancouver's weaknesses?
Their DPS and support lines stand out, but their tanks aren't as good as Meko and I in terms of skill level and how important they are to the team. Also, sometimes Vancouver starts a team fight based on their confidence level and nothing else. Once we take advantage of that, I feel we can exploit it and turn it into our favor.
During the regular season, Vancouver beat you guys in the previous two meetings. What do you guys need to do to win in order to advance to the grand finals?
Similar to Atlanta where we lost both times in the regular season, we felt we learned and improved during the second match. Then, in this match, we beat them. So, I think we can do the same thing against Vancouver with a gameplan that we'll come up during the week.
If there's one player from Vancouver that you need to focus on, who would it be?
Haksal is really good. Our result will depend on if he carries Vancouver and if we are able to stop him.
One last thing, is there anything you want to say to Vancouver before your match next week?
I want to trash talk, but every time I trash talk, we lost. So, I'm not going to do it this time. I'll just say we'll try our best next match and accomplish our goal that we didn't do last year - go to the grand finals.
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