Few figures in the League of Legends have a skillset like Joseph Osceola "Cowsep" Hursey's. The Master Yi main has done it all, from achieving high ranks despite being a one-trick pony to streaming on a multitude of platforms and experiencing life on several of League's premier servers. We were delighted when we got the chance to speak with Cowsep, and we hope you enjoy our interview as much as we enjoyed sitting down with Mr Master Yi himself.
Tell me a bit about how things have been with you recently. What has 2022 been like for Cowsep?
Well, I've been focusing a lot on YouTube and TikTok, and trying to get away from streaming. Because when it comes to streaming, you spend a lot of time putting out content that you can only make so much out of. When you create video content, that can continue to reward you even when you're not around.
It's quite unique that you're expanding into TikTok, that's not something you hear of too many League streamers doing. What has been your experience with that?
I really like TikTok. Even though there haven't been many League streamers diving into it, it's definitely becoming more popular. It doesn't make you any money really, but there's just so much potential for exposure there that it helps you become relevant again. You can't just stream to Twitch and expect to grow — TikTok's that "life hack" nowadays. Back in the day, we used Reddit to grow, but now you can't really use it because there's so many roles — so many people try to self promote. TikTok just seems to be a really good avenue to increase your reach.
So you streamed on Facebook and now multistream — what has been your experience in doing so? What are some of the pros and cons?
When I went into multistreaming, I was thinking of it from a perspective of like, "I'm gonna grow on multiple platforms and make myself available to people everywhere." But I've actually turned off my stream on YouTube, for example, because I feel the videos themselves perform better, and the streams aren't as professional as a video.
The streams aren't making me grow on these other platforms. They're more things that supplement the audience I've already gotten there. So I think most people going into multistreaming are thinking what I was thinking, but that just isn't the case. The multistreaming is a supplement to what you already have there. Like on Facebook, you should be posting videos to Facebook and streaming as a supplement, instead of having streaming as your main focus.
What's preventing you from doing more YouTube streaming?
I was doing some YouTube streaming, and I did enjoy it. But the viewers aren't reflective of how many people watch your videos. And on top of that, there's no clear and concise way of knowing how your livestream affects your VODs. At the end of the day, to me, the most important thing about YouTube is when I post a video that it gets a lot of views. And with my YouTube streams, you had to create a thumbnail for them. And even then, you don't get that many views on them. And then when you finish the stream, if you leave up the VOD, it doesn't get that many views.
Master Yi is the worst he's ever been
Moving to some more game-specific points — how bad are the most recent Master Yi nerfs? If we were to look at all of the highs and lows of Master Yi throughout history, how bad is this Yi?
Right now, Master Yi's the worst he's ever been. I play in Korea, and in the current elo I play there Master Yi has a 41% win rate...I've never seen a champion this bad. He's really bad. But it does look like he's going to be getting large- scope changes, so we should be seeing Master Yi hopefully get a little bit more agency in high elo while being a little bit worse with low elo.
But we're going to have to wait two patches for that. So I recommend to my viewers to keep playing him, have fun (especially if you're lower elo, he's still okay). But if you're in higher elo, just have a little bit of fun with it. He's never been this bad, so I guess enjoy him having a lower ban rate.
Is there a way for them to balance Master Yi to where he's viable in high elo while not being overpowered at lower levels?
Yeah, but we're probably going to lose things that we like about Yi. I'm expecting we're gonna lose a lot of E damage (the true damage on hit). That's just what makes Yi so fun, is that you could shred through tanks and stuff. But that's also what makes Yi so powerful at low elo.
They need to shift more power into his Meditate, and a little bit out of his Q. His Q shouldn't be doing damage, but they give him on-hit damage there. I think they're really insistent on keeping the on-hit in the Q, so we're probably going to be seeing power-shifting out of E, because E damage also goes to your Q. And they'll probably put some power into Meditate.
How has Yi's weakness affected your content?
The biggest problem is probably YouTube, because people won't be looking for Yi content as much? I cut my stream hours in half, because it just doesn't make sense to play as much. And I'm trying to figure out other ways to make content — maybe not necessarily Master Yi-ortiented.
For the next patch and a half my content's going to be probably less effective. But when Yi comes back with his rework , I would expect that I'd get a bump. That's the bad part about being a one-trick pony. You're at the mercy of the patch, and how your champion's doing. And if you're not playing that champion, less people watch, which sucks. But your ultimate goal is to get away from that.
But I like the champion too much, so I just keep playing him. But maybe one day I'll try to branch out — on stream I've been playing some other champions as well like Volibear and Wukong, and some of the more meta champions. It's a night and day difference between how much I had to try in the game. When you played those champions, they just play themselves.
One of the other defining characteristics of your stream is the fact that you play on so many different servers — one of them being the Vietnamese server. There was a lot of hype around the VCS teams at MSI this year, what are your impressions of their region's solo queue?
I really love Vietnam's server. I even went to Vietnam to live there for a few months to play on it. They're really good. I think people really underestimate them, and a lot of people have egos for their regions. I feel like Vietnam is pretty similar to NA in terms of skill level of their overall solo queue.
The thing is that you gotta realize that NA solo queue has something like 1.3 million players in ranked. Last time I checked with Vietnam (it's probably lower now after COVID because of the PC rooms and stuff), it's pretty similar in terms of player base to Korea. They were over 3 million players in ranked. So even if they are less successful in terms of pro play, they have significantly more players than the other regions, which gives them an edge in soloqueue.
There they are actually not bad in soloqueue. They're pretty good. In my opinion, Vietnam is one of my favorite servers to play on, but the problem is, they're very similar to na in terms of ghosting. If I play there on stream at all, they're all over my stream. It just makes it really hard to play. But I really love playing there, and I might play there off stream or with the delay again.
What about playstyle wise?
NA has better overall macro, and Vietnam is similar to Korea where they like to fight. When I talk about their skill level compared to NA, I'm not talking about how they play, but how hard it is to climb.
Especially after Tyler1's journey in Korea, a lot of people are realizing that Korea's a little bit more micro-oriented because of their ping. Their macro game sense is a little weak because they don't typically get to late-game, because they just got to do their thing early. Vietnam is kind of similar, because Vietnam isn't like the US where people can have 100 ping. The ping in Vietnam is good enough that the mechanics are good.
They kind of adopt the NA strategy a little bit to have a better macro play. They like to fight more — very similar to Korea — but they have a little bit more macro play. They're not as good at fighting early as Korea's server, but they are a little bit better in macro play. So I feel like they're in between the Korean and NA servers.
What was your opinion of the NA streamers playing in Korea? Did you expect them to do as well as they did?
Tyler1 landed about where I would expect him to — though he's a special case since he got griefed a lot. I expected him to end up where he ended up, but now after seeing him here, I think he could have went further if he wasn't getting targeted. Because they were really ticking away at his mental — it was a hard one for Tyler.
When it comes to other streamers, in general, hitting Challenger in Korea's harder than hitting Challenger in NA. But some of the streamers didn't really surprise me and some of them did. TF Blade I knew would do fantastic — he's just such a great solo queue player. I didn't really know much about KatEvolved, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that he actually managed to hit Challenger as well. Same with Baus.
When it comes to Europe, I feel like European players in general will typically hit higher ranks in Korea. Because I think that their solo queue's much stronger. But I think somebody that's like low-to-mid Challenger in NA probably won't hit Challenger in Korea. Usually that's confirmed when players come over here.
But I think it's really important to realize, for example, NA has more Master tier players than Korea does. But Korea has almost three times the players in ranked games — becoming a Master-level player in NA is easier than in Korea. But of course, all the regions have the same amount of Grandmaster and Challenger players, so there's a lot of competition. But overall, if you're a top-level challenger — even in NA or whatever — you can come over to Korea and hit challenger, and it's not that surprising. The surprising ones are people that might be low-Challenger. If they come over here and do it that would be really impressive.
What was your reaction to Faker's comments on Korean solo queue?
One of the issues with the Faker situation is that he's calling out a player from the China server — one of the professional Chinese players. And so this creates a lot of finger-pointing. A lot of people think the issue is with China-server players and things like that. So in fact, if you are running a certain VPN from China on Korean solo queue you get kicked out of the game and you can't reconnect to it. They actively took measures to remove players that were using this particular VPN to play in Korean solo queue.
I feel the issue is that they're putting so much focus on players that are coming into Korean solo queue, instead of focusing on the players that are playing there already. I play in China solo queue quite frequently, because I get 60 ping there. And in my experience, the solo queue there is pretty reasonable and fun for me.Then I go over to Korean solo queue, there's just a lot of fingerpointing — it's never their fault. Many players want to blame somebody else for what's going on there.
I think that's one of the biggest problems with the drama we have with Faker, instead of looking at Korean solo queue as a whole, they're finger-pointing. They're taking this opportunity to blame, for example, that Chinese pro player. I'm not saying what he did was right, but we need to look at who's playing in Korean solo queue already, and try to fix that.
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.