ROX Tigers took another step towards playoffs -- and KSV, a step back.
On the 21st of March, the 42nd day of the 2018 LCK Spring Split took place. On the 1st series of the day, ROX Tigers defeated KSV with a score of 2-1.
In game 1, ROX had a great macro. Although KSV had taken the lead in the early-game through trades, ROX made a bold but successful move toward securing Baron -- taking down several towers as a result. ROX solidified their lead by winning the 2nd Baron fight. Afterward, ROX aced KSV near the red-side jungle and takes the 1st game.
In the following game, no kills were made until the mid-game. However, by using the lead KSV had secured during the laning phase, they secured two earth dragons and continuously applied pressure on ROX. Although the Tigers attempted to turn the tides through teamfights, their attempts were negated by CoreJJ's shield. After taking all the objectives for themselves, KSV slowly choked out ROX and took the 2nd set.
In the final set, ROX took the early lead through Skarner's ganks. And although KSV's ADC, Ruler, successfully stole an earth drake, ROX took both the 1st tower and Rift Herald. KSV attempted to make a comeback through a teamfight in the midlane, but they ended up getting decimated -- losing 4 players in the battle. After securing the Baron, ROX's ADC, Sangyoon, took advantage of his immense gold and EXP advantage to push for the win.
After the series, the two MVP titlists of the match, Lava, Sangyoon, and Kang Hyun-jong were invited for an interview with the casters.
Today's match was very important in terms of ROX making playoffs. How do you feel winning that match?
Lava: We had to win today to ensure our chances of making playoffs. I'm very happy that we won such a match, and that now, we have an attempt to make playoffs without having to depend on other teams' match results.
You guys aren't guaranteed a playoffs spot -- yet. Let's take a look back at the split.
Coach Kang: There were a lot of unfortunate games, but at the same, there were a lot of games where my players delivered. We are in a good position right now. I think we'll make good results if we make playoffs.
This split, a lot of people have been seeing highly of you; especially since ROX's performance got a huge boost.
Coach Kang: I think the gap between being a "good" coach and a "bad" one is very slim. As for our players, they're just like Jinx from the last game. When they're happy, they play well -- but they make just as many mistakes from the excitement. For two seasons in a row, we couldn't make an impact here in the LCK, but our players focused from the very beginning during this Split, and it's been showing on their performance.
You guys won against KSV in Round 1, but they aren't a team to look down on. Were you nervous before playing against them?
Lava: I was very nervous. The match was very important...
Crown has been playing a lot of off-meta champions like Vel'Koz. Were you worried about his potential picks today?
Lava: Crown is exceptionally good on Vel'Koz, so we started picks and bans by banning that champion away from him. I was fairly certain that we could win in any fights as long as we did just that.
In game 1, you guys made a bold attempt at taking Baron. Who made that call?
Sangyoon: SeongHwan told us that Skarner was at bot, and told us to, "hit the Baron, hit it!" If SeongHwan received the MVP instead, he would've been full of himself. After the game, while in the booth, he said, "hey, my Baron call was awesome." It was as if he thought that call was a significant part of the victory. He's probably happy that I mentioned this in the interview. (Laughs)
In game 1, Lava used every single ultimate very effectively. Did you have a good feeling today?
Lava: I was actually pretty bad at using Taliyah's ultimate effectively. But after a series of being frequently scolded and learning, I started getting a hang of it. Our head coach gave me a lot of tips in regards to using the ultimate.
Coach Kang: This season, Lava and SeongHwan are the two players that I scolded the most. Just a few days ago, I was a bit harsh on them, so I worried that they would be in low spirit today. But I'm very thankful that they played well.
Does the head coach often get angry?
Sangyoon: Unless we play completely passively and/or lose helplessly, he doesn't get angry. If we truly did our best, he comforts us. Nowadays, whenever we're feeling down -- as if the head coach started taking drugs -- he would act crazy and try to brighten up the mood.
During picks and bans in game 3, I bet you guys had a difficult time on deciding which ADC to play.
Sangyoon: Our head coach recommended us to play Jinx from the early phase of picks and bans. Our coach really, really like Jinx. To be honest, we didn't even get that much practice on her, and in addition, Key hates playing with a Jinx. But our head coach always recommends us to play her. We were picking between Tristana and Jinx, but our head coach told us, "If you're going to rocket jump away from the enemy to run away, might as well rush in with Jinx and kill them all."
Why do you favor the Jinx pick?
Coach Kang: Game 3 was a fight of vigor. KSV had a great engage composition, and the existence of Zac itself in the game was applying a lot of pressure on the players. Sangyoon, then, told the team, "I'll play Tristana and escape death one time with rocket jump." But from the looks of the game, with that mentality, you would've lost anyway. So instead of running, I told the team to move forward. The enemy team took Braum as their first pick, so we took an equally strong support champion to ensure we don't lose the laning phase, Thresh.
Were you really planning to play passively with Tristana?
Sangyoon: I would've forward jumped with Tristana... and probably would've ended up dying anyway... (Laughs)
Karma has been rising in popularity recently. Do you think she's an okay pick?
Lava: She's great when paired with a strong ADC.
Coach Kang: Lava played really well in Round 1, but nowadays, it seemed like he was planning to get carried by his teammates! So it's not a pick that I want him to play. But I feel like Karma is returning to the meta.
Key had also performed very well today -- MVP worthy. Was he disappointed that he didn't receive the title today?
Sangyoon: He was very uncomfortable with the fact that I received the MVP title today. He's very ambitious and greedy. He always does well, too. He often competes with SeongHwan for MVP points, but who cares if you're not in 1st place, right? (Laughs)
Lava has the highest number of MVP points on ROX, right?
Lava: With this, I'm now at 600 points.
In the final moment in game 3, you scored a quadrakill. You played very aggressively.
Sangyoon: As soon as Skarner got ahold of someone with his ultimate, everyone started screaming, "wahhhhhh! Kill them, kill them all!" and started chasing everything. To be honest, I barely even remember.
In that battle, Lava only supported Sangyoon.
Lava: Before the start of the game, I told the team that I was going to only care for Sangyoon.
Now, your only remaining opponent is Jin Air Green Wings. What would you like to tell your players?
Coach Kang: JAG is waiting to play their next match, but I won't be saying anything because... head coach Han is probably watching... I'd like them to do well today and play a great game against us.
Sangyoon: Can't you beat coach Han?
Coach Kang: A fight between a heavy-weight and a light-weight is decided by a single strike... (Laughs)
Any final words?
Lava: We'll win against JAG and show a good performance in the playoffs!
Sangyoon: We're still not guaranteed for playoffs, so we won't drop our guards and do out best until the very end. And also, our sponsor, Hanhwa Life, thank you always for providing us with food.
Coach Kang: Thank you for coming to watch our game, despite the bad weather. I also want to thank the fans that are cheering for us from there homes. We'll do our best to become a team that deserves your cheers -- and show a good form in the playoffs.