On the 12th (KST), Afreeca Freecs took on APK Prince in the first match of Week 2 in the 2020 LCK Spring split. Although APK pushed Afreeca to game 3 with a very eccentric team composition, Afreeca was able to snowball the game with repeated bot dives at early points in the game.
The jungler for Afreeca, Lee "Spirit" Da-yoon joined Inven Global in an exclusive 1 on 1 interview to talk about the victory, his relationship with his head coach, and his goals for 2020.
Although Afreeca lost one game today, Afreeca’s still on a win streak. What are your thoughts on today’s victory?
We predicted that they prepared well against us tonight, and they’ve definitely done that. I’m disappointed that we were injured by their counter. I still think that they’re a great team, and despite how it was in-game, I’m glad that we won.
If we take a look at game 3, it’s a team comp that’s well suited for diving bot lane. I thought that your team comp was Afreeca’s trump card. What kind of team comp was it exactly?
After seeing their team composition that they prepared against us in game 2, we thought that they had a specific game plan against us in game 3 as well. The coaching staff told us to just play whatever they want, and it worked out.
So the team composition wasn’t premeditated?
Yes, the team was ordered to play however they wanted in-game, so because of it, we just picked champions suited for such an order.
You didn’t get a lot of stage time last year, and there must’ve been a lot of thoughts running through your head back then. Can you share what it was like?
I just prepared the same way that I always did, and I was granted the opportunity to play on stage, so I’m glad that I have the chances to show the good and the ugly to my fans.
Your statement on how happy you were to defeat coach NoFe became controversial. Did you happen to catch some of the reactions?
No, I was really busy practicing.
Although this may be a bit sensitive, can you share some more insight on your statement?
At this point, I don’t think there’s anything more I can say about what I said.
When you didn’t get a lot of stage time last year, you must’ve been very anxious. What did you tell yourself to not be anxious? Were there moments where you lost faith in the coaching staff?
Last year, I didn’t get to play the entirety of the Summer split. That was the first time that happened to me, so there were times where I thought, ‘What if my career ends here?’ and it was also a time where I gave a serious thought about retirement. However, such a time was short lived. I told myself, ‘I can just prove myself next year’, and practiced really hard with such a mindset.
I see. Was there a specific instance for such a resolution?
Our head coach, iloveoov, gave me lots of advice, and not only did he keep checking on me whenever I felt down, he also kept motivating me, so I was able to play without worrying.
Do you remember anything that he said to you back then?
He said, ‘Next year is just around the corner. Right now, it’s just a season of passing, so use this time to prepare for next year’. So I listened to what he said and did what he said.
How much do you like the head coach?
I realized that there’s a reason why he’s a legend that’s been in this scene for so long, and I always have the utmost respect for him.
You stated in the past that you made it this far because of him. Does that statement still stand true?
Definitely. As time passes, the emotions behind what I said become bigger.
This season, Mystic joined Afreeca, and you were once teammates on WE. You left a comment online asking him about joining Afreeca, so was there a time when the two of you talked about joining?
When I left that comment, he simply said, ‘Sure, I’ll join the team’. I called him to ask, and he said, ‘Okay’, so I told him, ‘Sure, bro. I’ll be waiting’.
What’s it like after Mystic joined the team?
It’s fun. He’s a fun guy overall, and if I’m brutally honest about it, he’s a bit crazy. He uplifts the team atmosphere, so he’s great.
You played with him for a long time, so was there anything specific you two talked about?
It’s been a while since I saw him, so we talked about things from his life in China to how we were doing in general. Sometimes, we reminisced about our old days over a meal.
This season must be a very special season for you, where you want to achieve a lot of things. What’s your personal goal for 2020?
The biggest thing for me to achieve is to hit my career high this year. To be more specific about my goals, it’s to play the game without making mistakes. I think that in a team game, the ultimate goal for all 5 players on a team is to play the game without making any mistakes.
To achieve your goal, you undoubtedly need the help of your teammates. How do you feel about Afreeca’s roster this year?
I feel that this year’s roster’s really great, and the fact that I can see everyone is trying their best is really good. Whether the players are starting or they’re on the bench, everyone respects and cares for one another, and I think that’s why we’re all playing well.
Lastly, what would you like to say to your fans?
Because of the coronavirus, I’m really sad that fans can’t come to spectate, and are stuck watching the games from home, especially at the fact that I don’t get to hear the crowd cheering, whether I played well or poorly. I hope that I’ll be able to meet all my fans very soon, and I want to thank fans watching from afar send me messages cheering me on.