Although it was not an unrivaled start, Team Liquid is having a relatively easy cruise with 4 wins and 2 losses. Amongst the many NA teams, TL has shown a solid performance with an EU draft style.
Despite this, Coach Cain is seeking constant improvement. In this meta, he explained that the ability to learn and implement a multitude of champions is critical. While clarifying that the lackluster performance at MSI was due to weak champion pools, Cain expressed a strong voice in expanding their player’s pools
On the 5th, Team Liquid will participate in Rift Rivals. From this point on, it will be exciting to see the result from TL’s experimentations. The following is an interview with Coach Cain on international tournaments, the meta, and NA’s pride for Rift Rivals.
¤ You are currently tied for 1st place. The start of the split was great for TL. How do you feel?
It is good. Because it was so difficult adjusting to the meta, I am relieved. Although we did receive some unexpected losses, I believe it is not a bad start to the split.
¤ Since you said the meta is hard to adapt to, what aspects are you focusing on in preparation for a game?
It is very difficult to pinpoint what the opponent will pick. There are teams that play Marksmen and others that don’t. However, it is noticeable to see a less of Marksmen champions. In my opinion, I actually agree that not picking a Marksmen yields a stronger team comp.
Despite this, while practicing a variety of picks, we actually leaned towards picking Marksmen more when it came to comps that do well in tournaments. Without being swayed too much by the meta, we have chosen what we can do best in current circumstances. I believe this is why we were able to cruise so easily throughout the early parts of the split.
¤ Impact has said that TL has improved a lot with macro. How have you worked towards building a stronger macro team?
From the moment I came to TL, I thought a lot about how I could improve TL’s macro. In the end, I realized macro relied heavily on player communication. I tried my best to get the players to talk freely with one another. In order to have good macro, you can’t throw. I strengthened feedback to reduce the possibility of throwing.
I am sure you have seen it a couple of times, but there are moments when we don’t do that well in macro (laughs). Regardless, we are all trying our best.
¤ You are headed to Rift Rivals. Facing an EU team, EU seems to be much more adventurous regarding the meta.
I already know the games are not going to be easy. I don’t believe picking anything we want will result in us winning (laughs). Due to the players being familiar with playing their own roles, it is inevitable to have a lack of mastery when it comes to new compositions. Take Doublelift for example. Since he has always practiced and played on ADC, Doublelift’s performance is not as good as you think when it comes to playing other champions.
Also, when it comes to cheese picks and gold funneling, we are also implementing those as well. Doublelift is in the process of practicing it. Because we are preparing a little something on our own, we should be able to use it at Rift Rivals.
¤ Isn’t it still a standard strategy when picking a Marksmen?
Currently, in the meta, it is difficult for an ADC to scale. Since the games are so fast-paced, there are a lot of instances when the ADC simple won’t have the time to scale.
This is why I strongly believe Doublelift and other players should practice a variety of champions. However, once we have practiced enough, we intend to actively a multitude of other champions as well.
¤ Despite Rift Rivals being treated as an event, it is still an international tournament. Since TL had difficulty at MSI, what went wrong for TL?
Although our players have had long careers, for some of them, it was their first time at MSI. There were also issues with the draft phase. When an international tournament begins, each regions’ unique take on the meta is revealed. As you practice, the meta can change every day.
In order to follow the ever so changing meta, you need to be able to play a multitude of champions. This was the portion that we lacked. We were in a state where we had insufficient knowledge of a lot of champions. While I should have tried to push my team to practice a variety of champions last split, we have always been a team to practice on what we are good at.
The players either did not like the mainstream picks or, when picked, had no confidence in them. In the end, the players were under a lot of stress due to the mental toll. We could have played much better, and there was plenty of regrets because we were unable to show that.
¤ What are your thoughts on the possibility of winning another split?
Because we won last split, our goal is to of course win this split. As long as we play like we did before and not get too lazy, I think it is absolutely possible.
¤ Is there a team that you are quite cautious of?
As a lot of other people have been saying, it has to be TSM. Personally, I don’t think we match too well against TSM. It almost feels like TSM counters our style of play.
To be honest, I thought TSM was so scary in Spring. They were good at team play and did not make any mistakes. However, I don’t think that way now. I believe TSM is a team to be wary of but not a team to be afraid of. Since we are doing well in scrims, there aren’t any teams we are afraid of as of now.
Despite Echo Fox being a team that loves fighting and is good at team fighting, their macro is a bit unfortunate. Since we make fewer mistakes regarding macro and are definitely not bad at team fighting, Echo Fox is not a big opposition to us.
¤ Would the issues at MSI happen again at Worlds?
Since the players did have mental issues, they have been consulting with our team’s psychologist. We are currently diagnosing exactly what the problems were and conducting personal counseling frequently.
Again, I want to emphasize that champion pool is crucial in this meta. Hence, even if the issues regarding MSI didn’t happen, I would have and am forcing my players to learn a variety of champions. Because the players themselves have realized how important champion pool is, they are also working on expanding their pool on their own.
¤ Did you have any problems with adjusting to NA?
It has been a year now and so far there are no problems. Although I do miss Korea every now and then, I think I have adjusted well. Since America has such a diverse set of food, I had no problem getting accustomed.
I usually go to Korea once every off-season but due to MSI, I was unable to this time. Because it has been a while since I last saw my friends and family, I do miss them a lot. I guess I miss the people the most.
¤ Since you said the meta is difficult, have you contacted the Korean teams for advice?
I have a lot of friends in both Korean and Chinese teams. I ask them from time to time (laughs). But, how can I say this... I got a little bit lazy.
If the meta is truly hard to decipher, I do go out of my way to ask around. However, we have been so busy doing our own thing this split that I have not yet contacted the Korean side. The one thing that I am a little troubled by is that good picks change every week. I would think that I will contact them a lot more now.
I asked a lot during last split. There is a coach by the name of Zefa in Afreeca Freecs. I exchanged plenty of information back and forth with him. Before the Spring finals, I even contacted Peanut to hear his take on the meta.
¤ At Rift Rivals, there is a revenge match from MSI. Since you are facing off against Fnatic, is there anything you want to particularly say?
I don’t think we are going to lose. Of course, we are thinking of winning against Fnatic. Stay tuned. Myself included, the players all take Rift Rivals seriously. I cannot let the NA fans down. We will win.
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