Since joining Phoenix1 in the tail end of 2016, Arrow has earned himself 2017 NA LCS Spring Split MVP with his plays on Ashe and Varus. Though P1 eventually fell to C9 in the semifinals last split, it seemed like a just beginning for the hyper aggressive AD Carry player. Despite P1’s admirable showings at Rift Rivals, the team has mostly struggled to stand its ground, placing near bottom of the standings in Summer Split. Now faced with a real threat of relegation, Arrow was gracious enough to share his thoughts on this split, Ryu’s prolonged absence and plans for the off-season.
Even though P1 is out of playoff contention at this point, it was impressive to watch you dismantle CLG. How does it feel to defeat a second place team?
Oh, I didn’t know CLG was in second place. Team morale was pretty down for sure. We were on a losing streak and I think we have to win all the remaining matches to avoid relegation. I could be wrong, but winning today’s match gave us another chance. If we lost today, we would’ve been in relegation for certain. So, it feels really good. We were under a lot of pressure in Game 1. After losing the first game without putting up much fight, I told myself I should play aggressively while having fun regardless of whether I win or lose. It helped us to draft our comfort picks and to give our 100%.
Fans touted that they saw a snippet of “Arrow back when he was in his golden age”. Why do you think today’s game went smoothly?
I’m aware some people said it was as if my old MVP Arrow self has manifested today, but I shouldn’t let it go to my head because it could be pressure later on. Anyway, I’m very grateful for the kind words. That kind of performance was possible because we put down the pressure to win. I believed we would face relegation if we drop the first game of the series, which added to the pressure. The opponent giving me Kalista was definitely one of the reasons I was able to deliver today. I’m very confident with her.
You stood your ground this split without much to show for in terms of standings. What do you think was the biggest obstacle?
Top and jungle meta have shifted slightly with the rise of tank junglers. We weren’t able to catch up with new meta and had to give up what we do best while adjusting. It’s a vicious cycle because we don’t do what we do well in trying to adapt to new meta and lose confidence in defeat. Roster change also had an impact on fatiguing teammates.
Did going to Rift Rivals mid-split affect your performance after the event?
When there’s a new patch on the live server mid-season, all teams are in trouble. When a new patch hits, every other team will be trying it out while teams that go to international events can’t. There’s definitely a deficit when it happens because we’ll be playing with the previous build while the live version is somewhat different. Even the tiniest change can bring about big differences. We’ll start at a disadvantage in terms of timing and practice hours.
MikeYeung’s freshman split is winding down. What is he like at the teamhouse?
MikeYeung is first and foremost like a kid. All the teammates like him for his upbeat, childlike tendencies. I think he’s very young and he fits his age group. He’s fully acclimated to teamhouse life and been doing wonderfully.
Ryu was absent from starting role for quite some time until today. Can you tell us what was going on?
Ryu was having some health issues and told us he needed to rest for a while. He could only sleep 3-4 hours a day and needed some time off from matches.
With only a single week remaining in the regular split, what do you plan to do during the off-season?
If I can have the time, I’d like to travel around the US. I’m definitely visiting Korea. I wish it wasn’t rainy season in Korea. I’m fine with snow, but I’d regret going to Korea if it was raining all the time while being super humid. I plan to spend some time with my family. After this split, my time with Phoenix1 is more or less done unless we miraculously go to Worlds. I think I’ll take a short reprieve in Korea and think about what to do next year.
What’s your biggest regret from this split?
Well, there are some things I regret, but it’s hard for me to name a single biggest regret. There are small things like “I shouldn’t have pick certain champions” or “I should’ve listened to my coach.” Hindsight is 20/20, so I have small regrets regarding those minor aspects. Gameplay-wise, I should’ve shown more guts when I had the chance or should’ve backed down when it made sense to do so. It’s all because I wasn’t confident. As long as I play well, those issues can be fixed.
Tell us about your mindset going into the last two remaining matches of the split.
We’ll be facing TSM and FLY next week if I remember correctly. Many people think we would defeat TSM. As for me, though, I think we can crash their party without guaranteeing a victory. If anything, we’ll just put down the pressure to win like we did today. In case you didn’t notice, we don’t have much to lose at this point. TSM, on the other hand, has higher stakes when they lose. [laughs] It doesn’t mean I’ll play absent-minded or casually. I’ll do my best without feeling the pressure that’s weighing me down. Defeating FLY makes for a higher chance of avoiding relegation. That’s why I’m hellbent on taking down FLY no matter what.
Any shoutouts you’d like to give?
When I was in KT, I always thanked the staff and coaches. I don’t think I’ve said any of those things when I was in America. Since the regular season is coming to a close, I’d like to use this opportunity to thank everyone who is related to Phoenix1 including former players and staffs. I’m grateful for what they’ve done for me and the team and just wanted to say it has been fun.
*This interview was conducted in Korean and has been edited for readability.