Till this day, Impact had already spent 3 years in North America. With his long invested time in NA, Impact had taken in the sincereness of every passing moment. The long hours and dedication poured in had finally paid off. Last split, Impact held up high his first NA trophy and signified his ever NA LCS win.
Despite all this, this was not the end. Evocative like a pine tree, Impact is more serious than ever this year. The reasoning behind this is due to the 2018 World Championships being held in Korea. Impact made it evidently clear by saying “I am a Korean”. In addition, after the failure to qualify for the 2014 World Championships in Korea, Impact explained that he has been waiting and yearning for this very moment. It just shows how much he resented failure.
Clarifying the teams he wants to meet at Worlds, Impact had chosen the team that has given him the biggest historical ‘Impact’ in his career. That team is none other than SKT. Previously, Impact was apart of the two hottest teams in this season. SKT and Cloud9. As frankly as he could, Impact shared his thoughts on his former teams without reservation.
After the win against TSM on the 24th, we got to sit down with Impact. Let’s see what he has to say.
¤ TL’s start to the split has been a success. How do you feel?
Last week, we didn’t play all that well. We fell apart during the early game and kept throwing during the mid-game. With the team as a whole, we started to discuss how we could do better in our games.
Personally, I was not satisfied with my performance. In order to up my ability, I played a lot more solo q. Usually, I would play around 4 games after scrims. But with the recent circumstances, I increased that number to 6-7 games. I kept playing until I slept. As a result, my champion pool increased and we were able to swiftly beat TSM. Even if they were to ban a lot of the top lane picks, I had absolutely no worry.
¤ You beat TSM early in the split and put fuel to the fire. You must feel amazing.
Of course, it feels great. We did well in picks/bans. Our top and mid scaling were ideal. I initially thought bot lane was going to be a 50-50, but our bot lane got an early solo kill and won the lane. Because all the lanes were ahead, it was a rather easy game. As a team, TSM completely broke down.
We also played well in regards to jungle skirmishing. By farming all the Krugs, we were able to slip by our weak phase. While Olaf is supposed to be oppressive towards Sejuani, TSM was not able to do so. As a result, TSM’s bot and jungle fell behind and had lost all avenues of winning.
¤ This is your second split with TL. It seems that overall team synergy has improved a lot. What are your thoughts on this?
I do believe we improved a lot in the macro aspect. Although it is my personal opinion, I think NA teams are pretty bad at macro. They don’t know how to take down tier 2 towers. But with our team, we have been practicing how to utilize Teleport and Siege Minions to take down tier 2 towers. As a result, we are now able to easily break down tier 2s. From today’s game (Sunday), it is evident due to how well we snowballed the game.
We rarely hit Baron now. Since Baron is so strong now, it is incredibly detrimental if you accidentally give it over to your opponent. It is only when everything is definite, we start Baron. It is not necessarily us playing dirty but more so us focusing on winning as cleanly as possible. We don’t attempt to win games by simply fighting the opposing team.
¤ Was the practice to effectively take down tier 2 towers Coach Cain’s idea?
Yeah. We initially felt no need for it. But, since League has become so snowball reliant, we realized it was a required practice.
The best teams create early game leads and use their immaculate macro to cleanly close out the game. In the end, if you can’t macro properly as a team, there is no point. The game we are aiming for is not games when you win from pure physical skill alone. Our goal is to be a sophisticated team.
¤ You solo killed Hauntzer and pressed on the attack. Was the champion disparity big enough to oppress him in lane?
It was an incredibly comfortable match up for me. Since I play Renekton a lot, a have quite a bit of mastery on him. In addition, due to the Essence Reaver changes, Renekton has become even stronger.
In all honesty in regards to the solo kill, Hauntzer misplayed really hard. Aatrox is never supposed to be the one starting the fight with Renekton. It was to the point where I was confused why Hauntzer went in. 'Why would he even go in?'. I really was surprised, but I killed him regardless (laughs).
Oh and when I saw TSM pick Olaf, I knew we won. Although Olaf is a strong ganker, he is not that good against a Renekton. Due to Renekton’s double dash on his E, it is difficult for Olaf to land his axe. From Olaf’s point of view, the only option is to dive. But in the Aatrox-Renekton matchup, Renekton can almost always push in the wave. In the end, Olaf can’t even dive Renekton.
Because I knew the enemy jungler would be unable to threaten me, I knew for certain we had won the game in picks/bans. The actual game went as I predicted.
¤ Following last split’s win, do you think you will be able to win this split as well?
As long as we don’t break down in the early parts of the game, I have confidence we can due to our macro. A couple of the NA teams don’t even do side control. It almost feels like they are aiming to win just through consistent fights.
Fights in the early 10 minute marker are important. While players from LCK do they early game fighting is important, the mid-game inevitably becomes macro dependent. If the opponent won’t fight, that is the end of it. Since NA teams are so bad at macro, a team like us, that is excellent in marco, has the upper hand. I’m not saying we are extremely close to winning the finals again, but I have a good feeling we will do well.
¤ Is there any team that is seemingly a threat in stopping TL from grabbing their second NA title?
I thought of TSM. Even though we beat TSM, it is hard to say it means much due to the games being a BO1 format. With Sunday’s game, TSM’s picks/bans were just a bit unfortunate.
The coach could have made a mistake in the draft or there might be an issue with the player’s champion pool. Also, it makes me think that TSM was unable to replicate their scrim performance on stage as well. On our team, we call this ‘Baited’. Some matchups are doable in scrims but pan out completely differently on stage.
For example, the Aatrox-Renekton matchup is just that. When I practiced as Aatrox in this matchup, I didn’t think it was that bad. However, when I played Renekton, I realized this was a matchup you cannot lose. You must look at it from a variety of perspectives. You cannot base your draft solely on scrim results. You need to think in-depth and then implement it.
TSM is a team that has very good macro. TSM, especially, is good at utilizing global ultimates such as the Tahm Kench. I believe TSM’s problem really only lied with their draft. As always, TSM is a frightening team.
On the other hand, Echo Fox is a pretty hilarious team (laughs). That team ditches macro and only looks to fight. OpTic Gaming has the same feel. Whenever I watch games from both of these teams, it is like watching a fun movie with popcorn. This is why except for TSM, I’m not really worried about the others. As long as we don’t drop in performance or get stomped early game, I am confident.
¤ Despite what you said, TL lost to Golden Guardians.
Yeah, we did lose to GGS (laughs)... we just fell apart in the early game. Since we were behind in the early game, we became a bit impatient. Before we realized it, we were giving them leads. A strong team should be able to wait for the opponent to make a mistake and seize it. After the loss to GGS, we received significant feedback.
In the game against TSM, we had the lead but almost became impatient again. When my teammates asked if we should start Baron or not, I said: "No, NO". (laughs).
¤ Which players are the ones to be more cautious?
Usually, it is me and Pobelter that look at the situation calmly. We both make good situational decisions.
The player who wanted to hit Baron in the game against TSM was Xmithie. It was probably because Doublelift’s Kai’Sa was fed. I responded by saying "Only after we get side lane control and sweep vision, we can hit baron". If it was last week, I would have also said to hit Baron (laughs).
Even if the opponent has a 10% to take it, the correct call is to not hit Baron. We are not the ones that should be impatient. The opponent should be. We just need to beat them with macro.
¤ This year, Worlds will be held in Korea. This must be a huge motivation factor for you.
I really want to go to Worlds. In 2014, Worlds was also held in Korea. Back then, I desperately wanted to qualify for Worlds. Unfortunately, I failed to do so. I was so angry at the time. Although I went to Worlds in 2016 and 2017, the thought I always have in my mind is 'I will go to Worlds in Korea no matter what.'. This is why I am so avid on qualifying to Worlds this year.
For me, this LCS Summer Split will be dedicated to honing myself for Worlds. It is important to me to show how well my team can do at Worlds. We must uplift our worth and train like never before.
¤ Do you focus more on Worlds rather than the current Summer Split?
For me, yes. This is because it is much more motivating for me to perform well at Worlds compared to winning the NA LCS. I am Korean. I want to show everyone how good I am in Korea for Worlds. If I cannot, I think I will be deeply ashamed. Because I have such big motivation (going to Worlds in Korea), winning the NA LCS is a natural goal to achieve along the way.
¤ Is there a team you want to specifically meet at Worlds?
The team that pops into my head... I want to say SKT T1. But, SKT is not looking so hot right now. It feels like they have fallen into a pit.
I get the feeling that SKT is having a rather difficult time adjusting to the meta. Whatever the case is, everyone is still looking at what is ‘meta’. There are teams using ADC, team not using ADC, or teams that have stopped using ADC but have recently started playing them again. It is confusing. While there are teams that play well or bad in chaos, SKT seems to have not yet found their color. It seems they are still in a state of confusion.
Due to the meta allowing a multitude of viable picks/strategies, team synergy and macro is quintessential. SKT seems to lack the team play that fit with team comp and strategy. To be honest, I was a little bit embarrassed when SKT picked Jax mid. I watched while thinking 'Is that good in the LCK?'. The result was not that good. Like I said before, it seemed as if SKT got ‘baited’.
Despite all this, I do believe SKT can come back. Next year, I think they will do better. SKT is SKT. But regarding this summer, I have no idea what is going to happen. They might do well or stay the same. Regardless, I want to meet SKT on the World Championship stage.
Also, EDG. EDG has an old friend of mine who I used to play within C9. Ray. I heard he is doing well. I really want to see him.
¤ Does that mean you want to face off against him?
If we vs, I think it will be a little easy (laughs). Saying this will probably help out Ray. It will act as motivation. I’m only saying all this because I miss Ray.
Lastly, I want to meet with RNG. Unlike other Chinese teams, RNG is never impatient. They play their games incredibly slow. Even if they are 10 thousand gold ahead, they don’t hit Baron. They continue to press the lead and poke. RNG is a team that slowly grinds out their enemies. I learned a lot from RNG at MSI. I realized they are an extremely good team. Last year when I was with C9, I scrimmed a lot with RNG. They weren’t close to being as good as they are now. RNG feels like a different team.
While a lot of it is credited towards the coach, it is clear the way the RNG players viewed the game has changed. Especially, their top laner. I can feel he has improved a lot.
¤ I have heard you are close with Jensen, Sneaky, and Smoothie. What are your thoughts on the most recent roster changes to Cloud9?
I understand Reapered’s decision. If Reapered didn’t see the passion in them, it is natural for the coach to swap players. Isn’t that what a coach is supposed to do? I honestly don’t understand why people complain to Reapered about changing players.
In all honestly, Reapered did perform a gamble. In NA, who would have thought to bench Sneaky? If there is anyone who will, it is Reapered himself. However, due to his decision being a very big one, Reapered needs to take responsibility for his actions. Depending on the result, it is inevitable that he will either get praised or criticized.
¤ From a friend’s perspective, what is it like seeing those players get demoted to academy?
Because I am close with Jensen, Sneaky, and Smoothie, it is definitely difficult to see that as a friend. When I duo with them from time to time, I tease them by saying "I’m an LCS player, and you’re an Academy player. How’s it like down there?" (laughs). I do it on purpose. I’m essentially giving them motivation. Although what I say is intended as a joke, it will definitely rattle their nerves a bit.
I hope that they give it their all, so I can see them on the LCS stage again. To be honest, LCS without Sneaky and Jensen is strange. They are both popular, and each has their own distinct character. Sneaky and Jensen are necessary players for the League.
Also, I think both players are really trying their hardest. Before, Jensen’s ranking was Diamond 2. Looking at his rank, I guess he did seem to have a problem with his attitude. Recently after scrims, it looks like Jensen is now playing at least 8 games of solo q. He plays until he sleeps. I believe he is Challenger 800lp now.
For Sneaky, he always played a lot of solo q due to his stream. However, he would pick troll champions and mess around. Now, Sneaky seems to have gotten more serious in regards to attitude and picks.
In the end, I believe Reapered saw two things. He is taking a risk by swapping in Academy players and stimulating the preexistent players. In other words, killing two birds with one stone. The downside is that, if everything goes wrong, he might not be able to kill either bird.
C9 last lost all of their recent games. If you look at the games, C9 plays extremely well until the mid-game. I don’t know it is because Reapered gave them good early game instructions, but they move as a team. However, in the late game, it is very obvious that they lack experience. If they address this issue, I believe they are going to do extremely well.
¤ Lastly, is there anything you want to say?
By doing well in the LCS, I really want to qualify for Worlds and perform well there. I want to show that even amongst Korean top laners, I am still a great player. I will say hi to you guys on the World Championship broadcast.