Steven “Hans Sama” Liv is known as one of the best ADCs in the EU LCS. When he was in the second division, playing as a member of the team Millenium, his performance was second to none. Hans Sama proved that he was ready to perform in the first division.
This prominent ADC’s next step was to try his luck in the EU LCS. He transferred to his current team, Misfits, and following his addition the team instantly transformed into one of the strongest competitors in the league.
In 2017, Misfits dominated the EU LCS split and managed to qualify for Worlds. Although the team failed to advance far in the tournament, the ‘IgNar-Hans Sama’ bottom duo displayed performance on par with the top level players. After his partner Ignar left for the LCK, Hans Sama continued to perform in Misfits. In 2018, he played alongside with his new Support, Mikyx. The duo proved to be decent in teamfights. Despite their efforts however, the team did not perform well.
Although the Misfits failed to qualify for MSI, Hans Sama’s future as a pro gamer is still bright. He has already earned some huge achievements as a pro at quite a young age. Since pro gamers these days are mostly peaking in their early 20s, it is likely that he still has a few more years to hone his skills.
We had the chance to meet Hans Sama again during their Korean boot camp. The team seemed to be more relaxed compared to last year, where they looked quite pressured by the upcoming Worlds tournament. Below is the interview with Hans Sama.
Q. When did you come to Korea for boot camp?
It was on the 24th. About 1 week ago.
Q. How are things in Korea? Are you doing well?
We had a tough time finding things to eat. We were all lazy. It was hard to find good Korean food so I had to ask IgNar.
Q. Oh, so you contacted IgNar?
Actually we met 4 days ago. It was really fun. We went out to eat with all of the players in this room too. (Q. He knows everyone in this team right?) Yeah.
Q. Ignar must have recommended some good Korea food.
He brought us to a Korean BBQ place. It was good.
Q. How did the team manage to get Korean food? Did they find anything good to eat?
To be honest, we just went to 2 or 3 restaurants. That’s all. We didn’t have the chance to try other places. Umm… Lotteria? (Q. That’s the Korean version of Mcdonalds.) Yeah. Also, Korean BBQ. But, I try not to eat too much meat. (Q. Oh, so you’re not a meat lover?) I am a meat lover. But my parents tell me to cut down on red meat. They say that it’s bad for my health. I try to eat vegetables.
Q. You are known as one of the most famous and well-performing ADCs in Europe. A lot of Korean fans believe that too. How do you feel about this?
In the middle and beginning of the split, I would’ve be considered one of the top 2 ADCs in Europe. The first would be Rekkles because he and his team showed remarkable performance. After the middle to the end of the split, I would consider myself one of the top 3 or top 4. I think I didn’t get the chance to prove myself in teamfights. We lost a lot of games too. I think I still can be a top class ADC and have the capability of reaching the top spot.
But you know, we didn’t make it to the playoffs. We did have a good chance. We only needed to win about 2 games to reach the playoffs. However, we kept on losing. It was really sad since our mindset was already focused on the playoffs. The team was 100% sure. We were that confident. But, there were a lot of unexpected things. We didn’t expect to be ranked this low and the fans didn’t either.
The way we played was wrong. We had the wrong mindset. For example, when I was playing with Ezreal, it was hard to win because the EU league tended to go for more late games. The team didn’t know how to close down a late game using Ezreal. We only knew how to win in early to mid games. This had a huge impact. It went bad for the team.
Q. So the team had a hard time adjusting to the meta?
Yeah. How we approached the meta was wrong. Also, there were things we didn’t expect… Team Vitality, was expected to rank really low, but in the end, they were one of the top teams. I think the underdogs were able to win against us because we made a lot of mistakes. Misfits didn’t function well as a team.
Q. You probably know your strengths and weaknesses as an ADC. In international events, do you think you can perform well? Worlds, for example?
I think I could perform better in international events. In Worlds, I felt no pressure playing against other ADCs who were really popular and better than me. Bang, Uzi, Ruler, Mystic… They are all better ADCs compared to me.I enjoy playing against them because their performance surpasses any other ADCs in EU. But in some cases, I become really surprised; especially when I played against Uzi. He’s so good. In other matchups, I do have the possibility of winning the laning phase, but Uzi… He’s almost impossible to win against.
Q. So, you enjoy and try to take advantage of the pressure?
I always face EU players so my mindset is to enjoy going against ADCs from different regions. It’s really interesting and fun. There are a lot of things to learn because they have different styles. Chinese ADCs tend to play more aggressively.
Q. Now we’re going to give you a list of ADCs who are currently playing in the EU league. Can you give them a personal rank and list them on the pyramid?
'God-like' should be only 1 player?
Q. Yes. It’s only based on your personal opinion so you don’t need to feel too pressured.
What if there are no 'God-like' players?
Q. You could just leave it blank. Also, you’ll have to put your name on it too.
Really? I do have the ability to rank somewhere near the top. But I still lack ability in teamfights. In the last split, I wasn’t a good team player. Um… I’ll put it like this.
Q. Now it's time to put your name on the list.
I’m hesitant. I’m trying to consider official matches, scrims, as well as solo queue. I do know which player is hard to go against because I’ve met them so many times in solo queue.
Q.So this list is based on official matches, scrims, and solo queue?
Also teamfights, laning… I don’t know about communication because I’m not part of their teams. I would say… Rekkles and Upset can definitely carry a game. All of the rest are good as well.
Q. So, where would your name be placed?
This will go on the interview?(laughter) (Q. Yes)
Q. You said that Uzi is a remarkable ADC. Other players think that Uzi is god-like as well.
I thought that Uzi was really good the moment I met him in scrims against Royals Never Give Up. I thought he had a different style compared to Korean ADCs. I still do believe that the Korea ADCs are the best in Worlds. But, once I went against Uzi, I knew he was something different.
Q. Do other players also believe that Uzi is good?
IgNar does. All he said was “Oh My God” after watching Uzi perform.
Q. This time we’re going to turn the focus on you as an individual. What kind of person were you before becoming a pro gamer?
I was a really reserved person that didn’t talk too much. Naive. I didn’t know anything. Timid. Reserved. Not thinking too much about my future. Well, I wasn’t bad in school. My grades weren't good but they weren't that bad either. I actually never thought I’d be a pro gamer. I believed that it was hard to make a living with it.
However, I started to hear from people - through social media and so on - that living as a pro gamer is starting to become a thing. I also started to meet a lot of pro gamers in solo queue. But I wanted to finish my studies, so I didn’t have any specific plan to become a pro. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that If I choose to study, I would have to go to a university and study even more; probably more than 5 years before getting a job. So, I tried to focus on other things: one was gaming and another path was to create Manga. I loved drawing.
Q. Did you think that your drawings were on a professional level?
I’m not that sure, but I did have some talent. I started near 13 and I was good. It’s quite hot in here. May I turn on the A.C?
Q. Yeah, of course. So, it seems like you were enjoying games as a hobby. Then, what eventually led you to become an actual pro gamer? Were there any motivators?
I was already Challenger. I ranked in the top 50 when I was 14 years old. I met a lot of pro gamers in solo queue. So in France, people started to say that “This guy will become a star in a few years.” The LoL community started to praise my performance.
Q. So, it was the LoL community that led you to becoming a pro gamer?
Well, first I had to persuade my parents. They sometimes took my PC to work because I played too much LoL. But eventually they let me become a pro. They thought that I looked truly happy when playing games. I still don’t know the exact reason why they let me (laughter). Other parents sometimes throw out their child’s PC.
My father let me play tennis when I was 6 years old. He wanted me to become a tennis player. It was his dream and my dream as well. I was pretty good and I could tell that my father liked it when people praised my talent. This actually helped me become a pro gamer. When I was 14, I participated in an off-line LoL tournament. It was a tournament in Paris and luckily he made it. First, he was surprised at how many people were participating in the event. The fans showed envy towards our plays. He really enjoyed that. This event led my father to believe that this scene had intense competition and professionalism like traditional sports.
Also, he got the chance to talk to some players and officials at that event. He heard some positive things about the scene and definitely started to like it. I was really talented as well. He eventually bought me a new PC. My old one was from 2006. It always was on 40fps. In teamfights, sometimes 20fps. I don’t know how I reached Challenger using that.
Q. Wow. So the computer couldn’t stop you from getting to Challenger?
Oh, My PC always shut down and disconnected in the middle of the game. I got a message that I’d get banned from my server if I kept on doing that.
Q. You are sometimes mislabeled as Chinese or Korean. What are your thoughts about that? It seems Ignar really envies you because you have so many Asian fans.
Oh, I’m totally fine with that. I love it. I like my Asian looks. That’s how I was born, since I have Cambodian roots. Also, I kind of like to be part of Asia because they’re so good at LoL. You know, since I’m Asian, I play Kog’Maw real well (laughter). In the EU, no one plays Kog’Maw. Some Asian players are really good with him. I try to use him a lot too.
Q. You have some strong passion towards Manga. Do you like Anime as well?
I’m a big fan of both.
Q. What’s your favorite Anime?
It always changes. Gurren Lagann perhaps? Dragon Ball was mainstream when I was young. But the first Anime that led me to this world was Sword Art Online. It was recommended by my Support when I was on my first team. I was 14 years old. From that point on, I started to draw even more.
Q. Later on after you retire, will you still be involved in esports? Or would you like to try other paths such as Manga or Anime.
I’m not the type of person who’d make a good coach. I don’t have the strengths needed for being one. My current coach is strict and straightforward. I’m not that kind of person. I won’t make a good manager either. I’d like to finish my studies and focus on drawing. However, for now, I’m going to focus on the present; which is League of Legends.
Q. Could you write down your bucket list?
To not die perhaps? (laughter) I don’t want to die from a severe disease. Second would be… Well, if I become a successful player, I’d definitely draw Manga. But, if I fail to have a successful career, I’m thinking of studying. It really depends. Still, I’ll go with creating Manga and Anime because I’m inspired by the fact that it involves a huge amount of imagination. The third one would be becoming a top level player that can compete against anyone in the world. I want to be a legendary player.
Also, in order to be happy I’d need a good family… Umm…. Create or have? (Q.To 'create' and to 'have' has a different meaning.) I’m not going to write that down. The fans might not like it (laughter). Another one. Enjoy life. To eat well everyday. To sleep well. To be better to other people; like my family and friends. (Q. Oh, so do you think you are a considerate person?) Well, I want to be one because I can’t really take care of my family that much. I’m always busy going to other places.
Wait, are you going to take a picture of what I just wrote? My writing looks awful(laughter).
Q. You and IgNar seem to be very close to each other. You played alongside each other at Worlds before and performed really well. When you first heard that IgNar was going back to Korea, how did it feel?
I was okay because we always talked about that subject. So I didn’t feel the difference until I had the chance to play with a different Support. Obviously, they had different in-game habits. I do miss playing with him. I played with him for more than an year, so I was used to his style.
Q. Now that the two of you are no longer together, how would you rate IgNar 's performance so far in the LCK?
He still plays like “IgNar”. (Q. Do you think he is performing better compared to when he was playing alongside with you?) He didn’t get worse for sure. I remember that he was a beast in international tournaments. I can now see that he can perform well in other environments as well. It would be interesting to play against him someday.
Q. Last question, do you have anything to say for the fans?
I want to say something different, but the one and only thing that is on my mind is to say “Thanks.” I’m thankful that they are willing to always stand by my side. I’m quite confident that I can improve my performance as an individual as well as a team. This season we had a bad mindset that led us to a lot of defeats. I sometimes overplayed. I’ve prepared some tools for the next split. I’m trying out new playing habits and champions in order to perform better. The team's performance will improve also.
There will be changes; I’m quite confident that it will help. The Misfits crew and myself are working on it. We’re going to focus on every single element; game by game, kill by kill, turret by turret. This is how you can win a match. It’s like tennis. We have to focus on every point and do our best to win. I’m going to be more strict with myself. I need to exercise, sleep less, and practice more. I’ll need a healthier diet as well.
Oh yeah. About the bucket list again. I said I wanted to be a better person. I want to elaborate a bit more. I want to be more strict with myself. For example, I want to be on schedule, go to the gym every morning and so on.
A managing editor who can do more things than you think.