On the 26th of August, 'Immortals' defeated 'Counter Logic Gaming' with a score of 3-0.
Everyone who has met Pobelter in person has probably felt the pleasant aura that radiates from the player. Being born in 1995, Pobelter is still relatively young and yet, he has been playing as a professional player for seven years; having started his career back in 2011.
IMT is comprised of many talented players. They have two players from Korea, 'Flame' and 'Olleh'; the jungler who is currently rated as the best in NA, 'Xmithie'; and the praised rookie, 'Cody Sun'. But there's no denying that today, the award of "player that played the biggest part in achieving today's victory," goes to Pobelter.
As seen in many cases - such as SKT - having a reliable, core player in the midlane makes playing around the map much easier for a team. And IMT is privileged to have such a player.
On the 26th, the team pushed all their resources onto Pobelter and had him carry the "weight" of responsibility. By completely focusing their picks and bans on the midlane, IMT gave Pobelter Cassiopeia and Lucian, which are two champions that require stellar mechanical skills and are almost always required to do well during the laning phase. It was a tactic that only a team with a capable midlaner can pull off.
And Pobelter delivered. In both the laning phase and teamfights, Pobelter led his team to victory while displaying nothing less than excellent performance. IMT was able to gain the lead during the early to mid-game thanks to Pobelter's ability in playing out the laning phase, to eventually take the game thanks to the said midlaner's ability in playing out teamfights.
The following is an interview done with Immortals' midlaner, Pobelter.
Please introduce yourself.
Hi, I'm Eugene "Pobelter" Park, and I'm the midlaner for Immortals.
How do you feel after that victory?
It feels good winning 3-0... especially because I was playing against my former teammates. It's a special kind of good - kind of feels like you're taking revenge... (Laughs) But yeah, it feels good winning without dropping a single game.
What kind of strategy did you utilize for playing against CLG?
There were a few things that we did targeting their team. But of course, I can't really disclose too much information. But what I can say is that all of us put in a lot of time to make sure we'd perform well today.
During the 1st set, HuHi picked Viktor. And for his keystone, he chose 'Thunderlord's Decree' over 'Deathfire Touch'. What are your opinions on this?
The most popular choice overall for Viktor is Deathfire Touch because it's strong in lane with Viktor's Q poke. But in NA, and especially in Solo Queue, a lot of people just go Thunderlord's for the burst - putting more emphasis on the burst damage and caring less for the Q poke. Cassiopeia vs Viktor is already a Cassiopeia favored matchup, but on top of that, HuHi took Thunderlord's, so it gave me a really comfortable laning phase.
In my opinion, in a Cassiopeia vs Viktor matchup, if the two players are equally skilled, the Cassiopeia will most likely win.
In the 2nd set, CLG took Vel'Koz. What are your opinions on this?
We knew that we could expect Vel'Koz after watching them play their EnVy series last week. So I actually tried him in a scrim even though I had no intention of actually playing him against a Cassiopeia. Through the experience, I discovered the strengths and weaknesses of the champion. I realized that if you just play aggressively in the early levels and give Vel'Koz no room to grow, Cassiopeia will end up with a huge lead.
Did you pick Lucian in game 3 for the same purpose of applying midlane pressure early on?
We were having a lot of success from just pressuring mid really hard in the first 2 games, so I felt a lot of confidence on the Lucian pick - especially because so many midlaners had been banned out. When Cassiopeia is out of the picture, Lucian can pretty much beat every other midlaner. Also, comp-wise, it seemed like we out-scaled them because they had no way of reaching our Kog'Maw in fights. So as long as I went even or better, we had a good shot at winning the game.
Today, during drafts, it felt like your team put emphasis on your lane. Did you feel any burden? Or were you completely confident?
I actually felt very confident heading into the series, because I've been performing really well lately on stage and during practice.
Also, I recently got sick a few days ago so I couldn't show my peak form today, but hopefully, I recover quickly and play at my best.
I'm not really that sick, it's honestly just a cold. But the funny thing is, when I won LCS during my time in CLG two years ago, I also got sick right before the playoffs.
A lot of fans say that HuHi's laning phase isn't his strong suit.
I feel like he doesn't apply too much pressure during the laning phase. He didn't really go for damage trades during the series. It seemed like he was playing to go even or maybe playing to survive for team-fights later on. Eventually, all the games reached that point, so I don't think he played weak or anything like that.
How did you guys improve so much [compared to the Spring Split]?
First of all, I think the jungle swap we had with CLG proved to be extremely successful for us, so I'm really thankful for that. On top of that, Coach Ssong had a really big impact on our team performance.
How exactly did Ssong help the team?
First of all, he understands the game really well. And he also understands what it means to be a professional gamer, which is very uncommon in NA, as most coaches here are not former pros. In Korea, however, most coaches have played on stage as a player, and I think that is a big deal - being able to understand the mindset of a pro player. He also garners a lot of respect from our team members because we know that he used to be a big reason for the success of Rox Tigers back in the day when he was their coach. Also, our Korean players understand him more easily because they don't have to deal with the cultural barrier that they would have to otherwise face when playing with an NA coach.
Does Ssong still play League of Legends these days?
He plays a good amount. Of course, he doesn't play as much as us, but he is frequently playing Solo Queue and is working just as hard as any of us.
What's Ssong's tier?
(Laughs) I was teasing him a little bit about his rank, and I don't really know Korean culture too well... so I'm sorry coach if I offended you. He was getting close to Master tier, but recently when I checked, he had fallen to Diamond 3... but we can just say "bad luck Solo Queue," and "bad luck teammates," so it's okay.
While watching streams, we saw how loud Olleh could get... especially when shotcalling. Does he make the decisions during games?
He just gets really loud because he gets very excited and emotional when we are on stream. But in terms of team decision-making, we are very collaborative. We'll all talk about what the best idea is, and if we're unsure, Xmithie will make the call and we'll follow it.
In general, who in IMT makes the call for fights when playing on stage?
Usually, our initiator will make the call. For example, if Olleh is on Alistar, he will say, "I will flash initiate their backline," and that's how we start a fight. Cody and I will also discuss on how we could follow up with our initiator - whether to dive in or to kite - especially when one of us have 'Flash' on cooldown and the opposing team have a champion like Jarvan.
Unless it's a big golden opportunity for a single player to make a play, shotcalling and making the decision to fight is done by everyone in the team.
We heard that Olleh brightens up the team atmosphere.
I guess you can say that. Olleh is very Jovial, cheerful, and always singing a song.
How about when playing in a losing game?
Actually, I feel like I'm the one that tells the team that "we can still do this" when playing in a losing game. You know, no matter how impossible it seems, I always talk about the ways in which we can make a comeback.
Is Xmithie, in general, a quiet player? When playing on stage, his facial expression doesn't seem to change at all - whether you guys are winning or losing.
Xmithie is a stone-faced strong mental player. He's the player that usually tells us to "be quiet" if we are getting carried away by being too excited. Along with me, he also tries to get everyone in good spirit if we are in a losing game. But in general, he's very passive in games and doesn't get emotional.
With this victory, you guys will face off against either DIG or TSM. Which team would you rather face?
Of course both teams have their strengths and weaknesses... but I don't think there is a team that we would prefer to face. We will head into the Finals with the confidence to overcome either of them.
Which team do you think will make it to the Finals [TSM or DIG]?
Honestly, I can't tell. I think it'll be a 50-50.
Do you rate DIG highly?
Dignitas has gotten a lot better lately. Their side-laners are very strong - Ssumday, Altec, and Adrian. Also, previously, DIG has 2-0'd TSM right before the Split ended, so that's that.
How about Keane. Be honest. Are you confident in playing against him?
I think Keane just tries to do his job. He either tries to go even in lane or tries to apply pressure for his strong side-laners. I think that's his sort of playstyle and mentality.
Have you always enjoyed playing games?
I've been playing games my whole life... ever since I was three years old. It's kind of funny because my parents always told me to stop playing video games all the time. But one day, I just got really good and they stopped restricting me so much. I'm very thankful for that because I've heard stories about other pros having their parent-son relationship being harmed because of the whole thing - like parents taking away your computer or forcing you into being tutored.
My parents didn't go, "Eugene, drop all your studies and play all the games you want." They weren't "fully" supportive about it, but they understood that this is what I'm passionate about and what I'm skilled about, so they gave me the time and space necessary to succeed in it.
When your parents started supporting you, was it before or after you successfully debuted?
Right after I graduated high school, they supported me for a little bit, because at the time, financially, being a professional gamer wasn't too rewarding... so they were kind of hesitant.
And then, at my very lowest, I have gotten relegated on 'Winterfox'... and although my dad was still supportive of me, my mom told me "maybe it's time for you to go back to school." But on the very Split I joined CLG, we won the finals, and they have been very supportive ever since.
If granted the opportunity, will you play in the LCK?
Honestly, that would be really cool. Obviously, it would have a very different environment to NA, but being able to play in the top league with the best players in the world would be very cool. So if an opportunity like that ever comes up, I would definitely consider.
But the funny thing is: when an NA team goes to boot camp in Korea, the players in Solo Queue type to you in English. But when I type back in Korean, they go like, "Oh, what the hell is this? Are you a Korean? Are you an imposter? What is this?" (Laughs) So it seems like in Korea, people don't even see me as a player that is capable of communicating in Korean. Hopefully, that changes. (Laughs)
We initially thought you had perfect Korean. But we found out that you still prefer English.
Overall, my Korean is probably close to elementary level. But in terms of League of Legends, I think I would be able to understand everything perfectly.
So, which team would you like to play for in the LCK?
I think I'd want to play for a team with a history of good results... so you know... like SKT. (Laughs)
Also, you would probably learn a lot playing with such talented players like Faker.
But honestly, any team with good results and good players will do, as any team from the top 4 or 5 in the LCK are extremely talented.
You are still very young... but it has been 7 years since you played professionally. Have you ever felt... say, tired?
Yes... there were times where I felt very tired.
But actually, this Split, I've been more motivated than ever, and at this point, I don't think I'll ever get burnt out if I haven't already. Every split, I work even harder and try to get everything to motivate me. That's the kind of drive I have. If someone compliments me - great - I will work even harder.
Do you still find fun in playing League of Legends [or is it strictly for work]?
Yes, just scrimming and getting better with the team is definitely still rewarding. I also really enjoy playing Solo Queue even though it can be very frustrating at times.
The weird thing is, usually, when a pro player starts out, they act up in Solo Queue, then eventually clean up their act. But it's the opposite for me. In the past, I used to be a Buddha in ranked and didn't really bother with the 'feeders' or 'trolls'. But now, I kind of get frustrated and sometimes even spam ping... because I'm trying to get better as a player here!
You've been in IMT for two years now. How is the team treating you?
So far, IMT has treated me really well. Players have everything that they need to be successful. So I want to stay with the team for as long as I can.
What is your goal as a professional player?
One day, I want the fans to consider me as the best. That is my goal. I want them to say, "I look up to Pobelter for his plays." I want that kind of recognition.
What does "pro gaming" mean to you?
My entire life is basically pro gaming... from when I wake up to when I sleep, all my time is devoted to my practice and getting better. In terms of what it'll mean to my life overall... It's hard to say because I'm still a player... I think I'll be able to understand it better after I'm done with it - when I'll be able to look back and see all the good memories.
This is a personal question... what does "Pobelter" mean?
It has no meaning. I made it up when I was younger because I thought it sounded cool... and I've kept the nickname ever since.
Any final words?
We'll be playing in the Finals in Boston next week. We really appreciate all the support the fans are giving us, and I hope they cheer us on during the Finals as well.