There are many regions around the world that have League of Legends esports. Outside of the major leagues like Korea’s LCK, China’s LPL, NA, EU LCS or LMS, there are actually many other LoL leagues.
The Korean players that go abroad usually get less attention than the LCK players. Normally, their performance is noticed when they win that region’s championship. If they win the championship, they usually feel that the loneliness built up from being far from home is all relieved.
This time, we interviewed Lee “GBM” Chang-seok and No “SnowFlower” Hoi-jong. These players joined TCL’s SuperMassive and helped the team win the league championship. SuperMassive defeated their rivals, Fenerbahçe and Royal Bandits, with a dominating performance. Notably, SnowFlower earned many MVP titles: season MVP, support MVP and finals MVP.
As soon as we found out they were back in Korea during the break, we called them for an interview. It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen them, but we talked away as if we were old friends having a regular meetup.
※ This interview was held before the Knockout Stage of MSI 2018.
Q. (To GBM) Your shirt is a bit unusual.
GBM: The Turkey fans love this shirt. I always wear this. It’s like Faker wearing the same white shirt every time he’s on air. (Laughs) I also wear only this when I turn on my stream. When I do, the Turkey fans say in the stream chat “Same T-shirt”. I wore this in the play-in of MSI too.
Actually, the team manager bought me this. When I took it off to wash it, I missed this shirt so much that I asked the manager to buy me another one, saying I need to feel the same during the matches and practice. (Laughs) Our team was on a winning streak so I think our manager was happy; he agreed and bought me another one right away. SnowFlower and our coach bought the same one too.
SnowFlower: We all wear the same thing A LOT at the team house.
Q. Let’s move on with the main interview now. You’re on vacation now after MSI. What have you been doing lately?
GBM: I’m playing games at home. My VR console is really fun. There’s a rhythm game called ‘Beat Saber’ and it’s really fun. And I ate a lot of king crab, which I really missed when I was in Turkey.
SnowFlower: I was a guest commentator for the MSI and I met my former teammates at Jin Air Green Wings and ROX Tigers. I caught up with old friends, family, and my girlfriend. Now I’ll be asking GBM about the king crab restaurants that are good and will go there. (Laughs)
Q. (To SnowFlower) I think it was your first time commentating. How was it?
SnowFlower: At first, I was really nervous. As a matter of fact, I was more nervous than when I was playing at the MSI. Frankly, I didn’t watch much of the MSI games before I went to commentate. Fortunately, the meta wasn’t that different from when I played and practiced, so I squeezed out my brain for anything I could remember.
GBM: I saw him commentate for a bit, and he was better than I thought. But still, I thought that it would be a loooong time before he catches up with me.
SnowFlower: I think I was better than you when you were like a parrot that only knows how to say pink ward.
GBM: Nowadays, the players utilize the control ward really well. When I was a guest commentator, the foreign players neglected the control ward too much. (Laughs)
Q. Both of you went to a region that’s not that well-known compared to other major regions. How was it?
GBM: The team house is really good. We have really large rooms and there are a lot of amenities around too. I often get carsick, but it only takes about 10 minutes to get to the arena. That’s one of the best things there.
SnowFlower: It was my first time joining a foreign league and TCL isn’t that well-known compared to other major regions. Still, all our players are veterans. Even if we don’t teach them, they know the macro game well. They’re especially good at slaying the dragons. Well, there were a few times they hit the dragon at a bad time and threw the game. (Laughs)
GBM: Our jungler Stomaged often starts hitting the dragon when I roam to the top lane. I think he does that because he thinks the opponent jungler would help the top lane because I go there. But he starts hitting the dragon even when we don’t have vision on the opponent jungler. Then we get destroyed. (Laughs) Still, Stomaged has a lot of faith in me. He’s very open to advice.
SnowFlower: Our ADC Zeitnot trusts me completely too. It was really nice since I didn’t need to teach them all the small details on macro, even if their macro isn’t perfect. The other three players are veterans in the TCL so it was a lot easier for us to adapt.
One thing that wasn’t that satisfying was the food. Turkish food doesn’t sit well with me. Our coach had trouble with the food too. I lost 7 kg because of that. Of the three Koreans, only GBM maintained his weight. Even so, the kebab was really good.
GBM: I like all types of food. When I’m hungry, I eat. Then I practice. Simple. But if I say some food isn’t good, it’s really not good.
SnowFlower: GBM is really mean. He always recommends the food that he doesn’t like to us. So we look at him suspiciously until he takes a bite. If we look closely, he isn’t chewing. (Laughs)
GBM: SnowFlower doesn’t get tricked that easily, but our coach falls for it every time. Another fun thing is when I recommend some food I don’t like to our coach saying ‘it’s good, right?’ Then he eats it well saying ‘Yeah, it’s good.’ Maybe it’s like a placebo effect or something.
SnowFlower: I’m going to take a lot of Korean food like ramen back when I return. The Korean food stores are too far away from our team house. Most of our teammates can’t eat spicy things. Zeitnut eats well. He’s practically Korean. We’ll be having it together when I return.
GBM: When we introduced Korean food to our teammates, I said “If you try Korean food just once, you’ll really like it.” But they didn’t trust me. Our top laner fabFabulous especially is really proud of Turkish food. So once, we persuaded them to go to a Korean restaurant. After that, they started asking “When do we go to the Korean restaurant?”
Q. It seems like you two adapted quite well. (Laughs) You picked peculiar champions often during the league, like mid lane Illaoi.
GBM: Once, I told our coach “Now is really the perfect time for Illaoi.” And he was really confused. We played Illaoi just once during scrims and we lost that scrim. It was just that she’s strong in laning.
SnowFlower: When they were talking, I was comparing the compositions, and it didn’t seem bad. So I also agreed on the Illaoi pick. GBM asked the other teammates and they all agreed. That’s how she appeared.
GBM: There are a few conditions. The opponent jungler must be an AP tank, and the opponent mid laner has to be Galio. Under those conditions, Illoai doesn’t die even in 1v2 situations. It was exactly like that in that match. The opponent jungler was Sejuani and mid lane was Galio. Of course, I was really nervous at that time. When I watched the VOD after the match, it seemed like I was so breezy. (Laughs)
Q. What other picks did you have?
GBM: I played Ezreal jungle and SnowFlower played top Cho’Gath. I also played Ziggs, Xerath, and Veigar. After the season, I looked at the statistics and found out I played 17 champions. I always have a specific champion to counter the opponent. Our bottom duo was able to pick what they wanted because I have a large champion pool.
SnowFlower: I also have a large champion pool. Played 13 champions. So GBM and I picked according to the opponent's comp. That helped a lot during the split.
Q. So, SnowFlower got three MVP awards.
SnowFlower: I didn’t even know that there were so many MVP awards. I really didn’t know I would get the season MVP. As for support MVP, I knew I would get it. At first, I thought the season MVP would go to GBM or Zeitnut. But I got it. Maybe it was because of that top Cho’Gath I played in the last match. I must have left a strong impression. (Laughs) GBM and our coach agreed. I think I got lucky with the finals MVP. There were many situations where I was able to show what I could do.
GBM: Actually, SnowFlower was good all season, but he was really good with the top Cho’Gath at the end as well, so he deserved it. In that match, I cared for the top lane a lot, especially when the opponent jungler Malrang’s Skarner ganked top lane. (Laughs)
Q. SuperMassive returned to the throne after the two of you joined. The fans should be expecting a lot from you now.
SnowFlower: I didn’t know at first. TCL games have no audience at the scene except for the finals. Each team goes into their booth and plays the game. After the game, we shake hands and that’s it. Still, we know that there are a lot of fans supporting us when we turn on our streams. Last time, GBM gathered 1,000 viewers as soon as he went on air.
Q. It was your first time at the MSI. What was your goal?
GBM: Our goal was the group stage. The top 6. We got just beneath that.
SnowFlower: When our teammates saw the play-in group draw, they said we’ll be going to the group stage no matter what. Come to think of that, those players always got through the play-in stage without much trouble. They told us not to worry. As soon as EVOS Esports was decided as our play-in knockout stage opponent, everybody was really happy, thinking we’d proceed to the group stage. (Laughs) After we started the actual match, we felt that it was really hard.
GBM: Against EVOS Esports, our top and jungle kept on falling behind, so there was too much pressure on our bottom lane. Game 1 was really regretful. We played Kindred and the opponent was Trundle. Kindred was a pick to counter Trundle, but he was having a hard time, so all five of us had a hard game. Personally, I think we really did well because it was the first season with these members. We’ll need to try harder for Worlds now.
Q. (To GBM) Many fans are saying SuperMassive lost because of you. (Laughs)
GBM: I agree with that too. I fed too much in game 3. Game 2 was alright, but Alistar appeared out of nowhere. (Laughs)
SnowFlower: I apologized for that. I was concerned with other things so I forgot to say that Alistar disappeared. And after a split second later, GBM died. I heard him say “It’s over…” over the headphones.
GBM: When I first died, it was my bad, so I wanted to play safe. When I took out about half of the opponent’s HP, I thought ‘There’s no way this will fail!’ But Alistar just popped in. I should have seen him even without the MIA call. I felt pressured that I should do something at mid lane since our jungler was really having a hard time. Yeah, I was in too much of a hurry.
Q. SuperMassive had another impressive game. As soon as you secured a spot for the next stage, you picked ‘fun picks’.
GBM: We prepared that beforehand. We even told the opponents before the game.
SnowFlower: We had our fourth win, and at the start of the last day, I said that I’ll play Irelia in the last game if we win the first one. The opponents still picked champions to win even after they heard that we’ll be picking ‘fun picks’. I was surprised at Draven and Braum. And they picked Rammus at the end. Seeing that, I thought ‘Okay, this is lost.’ (Laughs)
GBM: I still remember losing a 2v1 fight against Rammus. He was just rolling around and Ezreal and I both died hitting him.
SnowFlower: People started to tease him saying ‘since when did Ezreal’s Q cost HP instead of MP?’ (Laughs)
Q. Still, the bottom lane was alright compared to the upper half. Don’t you have some regrets?
SnowFlower: I feel alright because I feel like I was able to show my best. I have no regrets. I was quite surprised at EVOS Esports because they were a lot better than I thought they would be. Their jungler was really good. They concentrated a lot on their top lane in the group stage too.
Q. If SuperMassive made it to the group stage, how many wins do you think you would have gotten?
GBM: Maybe two? I think we would have done the same as EVOS.
SnowFlower: I was going to say the same.
Q. Then which teams do you think you would have defeated?
GBM: Whichever team that got caught in the Russian roulette.
SnowFlower: I think we could have defeated any team if we just played well enough. You know, one of those lucky games.
GBM: Or… games where I don’t feed? (Laughs)
Q. EVOS Esports went on to the group stage after defeating you, but was eliminated really early. Were you relieved or did you feel bad?
GBM: I didn’t think much of that. I think they did better than expected. I thought even getting two wins would be really hard, since all the other teams were so strong. Still, they were quite impressive.
SnowFlower: I also thought the same. I kind of knew how they’d be, you know. They won’t be able to be such a sensation. When I played against them, I felt that they weren’t strong enough to compete with the other strong teams. Still, I think EVOS Esports did well enough. They showed that Vietnam league was pretty strong. They weren’t that helpless in most of the games they lost and their team style was also quite clear.
Q. The standings were quite close until the end during the group stage. How did you feel watching that?
GBM: I think the reason there were teams that played better or worse than expected was because the group stage was Bo1. It’s the same with Kingzone DragonX and all the other teams too. Let’s say that team A beats team B 70% of the time. If it’s Bo1, it could mean that team B could have a better chance.
SnowFlower: I think the same way. Most of the teams that I thought would pass the group stage went on.
Q. Which teams did you two predict would get to the semifinals?
SnowFlower: I thought Kingzone DragonX, RNG, Fnatic and Team Liquid, in that order. When we scrimmed with Flash Wolves, we did quite alright. So after we lost to EVOS Esports, we said that if we met Flash Wolves, we might have won. It was that close with them. As MSI went on, I felt that scrims were just the tip of an iceberg.
We didn’t have the chance to scrim against Team Liquid, but I thought that since they were one of the four major regions, they would end up around fourth. We played against Fnatic once, but Rekkles was too good. In the MSI, he concentrated on farming until late in the game, but during scrims, unlike in competitive games, he puts the pressure on really hard.
GBM: When we scrimmed against Fnatic, Rekkles hit SnowFlower and Zeitnut really hard. Rekkles is especially good with Jhin. Whenever I had time to breathe during the laning phase against Caps, I asked SnowFlower, and he kept saying that it really hurts.
SnowFlower: It felt like I was back at the LCK when we scrimmed against Fnatic. All the LCK teams trade damage really hard in scrims. It felt just like that. Whenever we tried to trade damage together, we lost.
GBM: I thought it would be Kingzone DragonX, Team Liquid, RNG and Flash Wolves. I heard Impact talk about scrims, that Team Liquid really crushed Fnatic in scrims. Moojin also told me that Flash Wolves always beat Fnatic in scrims. So that was my prediction. I didn’t know much about the LPL teams, but since Uzi is really good, they would pass the group stage too.
Q. Rumor has it that NA teams like Team Liquid are always really strong in scrims, but their results in competitions aren’t as good.
GBM: I’m not them, so I don’t know really, but they may have become careless because their scrim results were too good.
SnowFlower: Doublelift was really shining. He did 2-3 persons’ worth of work. Even in the losing games, he was good. I remember him playing Kai’Sa really well.
Q. Now you’ll go back to Turkey and play in the next split. Don’t you think you should make it to Worlds? It’s going to be held in Korea!
GBM: I know. I’m confident. But I heard that Move is back in Fenerbahçe. I heard that his English is really good. I think their macro will become a lot better now. Still, I’m not worried because our bottom duo is strong. Personally, I think Move is a really good jungler. Sometimes, he seems to be feeding, but those plays are because he’s checking the other lanes too much, being slightly late on what he had to do.
SnowFlower: I already asked a few of the LCK teams that I’m close with to scrim with us when we come to bootcamp for Worlds.
Q. Some fans want you back in the LCK. Have you ever thought of returning?
GBM: Sometimes, I miss the LCK. But now, I like it at the TCL. I think it’s better to be the snake’s head rather than the dragon’s tail. (Laughs) I’m just kidding. If I have the chance, I want to come back to the LCK someday.
SnowFlower: I’m a greedy person, so I think I would try hard to get to the head of that dragon.
Q. You two were so talkative today. Any last comments to your fans in Korea and Turkey?
GBM: It’s already been three years since I left the LCK. I’m doing quite well in Turkey. I was just joking about the snake’s head, but I’ll be doing my best to become the mid laner of the snake’s head so that it can bite that dragon. Please continue to cheer for me. I want to say thank you to all the Turkey fans that support us and SuperMassive. Thank you.
SnowFlower: I was touched because there were so many fans that still cheer for us. I’ll see you again at Worlds this year. And I’m always thankful to the Turkey fans, too. I’ll do my best with my teammates to deliver SuperMassive’s dominating performance in the next split.
A managing editor who can do more things than you think.