In his second season in the NA LCS, Deftly started to become more vocal in the Golden Guardians.
Even though Heimerdinger became nearly extinct in the NA, Deftly was earnest enough to reach out to a one-trick Heimerdinger player for tips. He was eager to learn, and what he learned had paid off with victories.
Golden Guardians are only one game down from the top, and they were dreaming of getting to the Oracle Arena, the home of the Golden State Warriors.
※ This interview was conducted on Day 1 of Week 5.
It’s your second season in the NA LCS. How are you adjusting?
I think I’m doing really well this season. Last season I had a few nerve issues; I was just happy to be in the LCS, I didn’t want to play in the academy, I didn’t want to go to school, and I got LCS offers, so I said that I'd take it right away. (Laughs)
I played anything, listened to everybody; I was just there on the team without vocalizing what I wanted, what I felt like I should have done or shown my strengths as a player. That showed in the first few weeks in the LCS. I wasn’t really doing much. Coming into this split, I’ve become more of a complete player and helping my team a lot.
Do you have any role models as a player?
Yeah, my name is Deftly? (Laughs) Ever since I started playing League, I looked up to Deft a lot back when he was in Samsung. I was like ‘Wow, this guy’s ridiculously good’. Back then, I never thought that I would go pro. My parents really hated me playing games; they took my computer away and told me to go study.
And I was never very creative with names, so I just copied his name. So my name’s mostly in honor to him; he’s a really good player, and I hope I can play against him one day.
Most players in the scene’s goal would be winning Worlds. What goals do you have as a player besides winning Worlds?
I think most NA players shouldn’t think about winning worlds yet. My long-term goal would be one of the best NA AD carry players the region has seen. Right now, if you think of really good NA AD carry players, you think of Sneaky or Doublelift. Not that many other names come to mind, so I hope to join them there.
You had said before that Teleport was OP, and Riot is now nerfing Teleport. What are your thoughts on that?
TP is really strong right now in bot lane; it discourages fighting. Recently, most of the bot lanes just go farming and scaling. If you do fight, whoever loses the fight could just TP back, so it’s not like anything’s lost. So it’s really safe.
Maybe bot lane will go back to heal. Usually, bottom laners’ secondary spells use something safe to keep you alive. So it was like Heal or Barrier before. Maybe with the mages, they might start using Ignite for more kill pressure. But I definitely think TP will be picked not as frequently as now.
It seems that Riot’s showing movement towards nerfing funnel comps. What do you think?
I like playing funnel comps, but at the same time, I don’t like playing against funnel comps, so I understand why it’s a big deal. It all depends on how the team plays. It’s kind of lame to play against; having one champion with two champion’s worth of farm. It’s still very fun to play, though. (Laughs)
You played Heimerdinger again. Most NA players aren’t playing Heimerdinger anymore, yet you’re still playing. What’s the reason?
NA as a region is rather slow to learn things. AD carries here don’t play as much off-role. Even I’m really bad at my off-role too. But I’ve been practicing a lot, playing a lot of solo queue to learn these new champions. And I also asked this one-trick on how to play Heimerdinger. He showed me everything. (That was Heisendong, right?) Yeah, he’s like the only NA challenger Heimerdinger.
When I first saw Heimerdinger in Europe, I thought that maybe I should learn how to play him, so I messaged Heisendong, and he gave me this whole Youtube series on how to play Heimerdinger.
I felt that in Korea, a lot of the pros ask these one-trick players for tips, and I thought no one in the NA ever does that, so I reached out.
Previously, you had said that when five brains work together, it’s better than one. LCK Griffin says that they always aim for making plays without any calls. Was what you said something similar to that?
I think if that’s possible, it’s like the perfect team, where everyone’s on the same page, knowing exactly what the team needs to do, and what the team wants to do. There would be no words needed to be said.
In NA at least, we aren’t as strong as Korea, (Laughs) so talking for us is good, to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
Do you usually make the same calls?
Today, we were really confident coming out of picks & bans because we got a lot of our comfort champions. This week, I practiced so much Heimerdinger. (Laughs) I was kind of worried because I thought since I played Heimerdinger last week, they might ban it this week, but they ended up giving it to me. They gave us exactly what we wanted so we demonstrated what we could do with them.
So because you had your comfort picks, was it generally easier to agree on calls?
At first, when we first got Mickey into the team, everyone had their own thoughts on how they wanted to play the game, but after playing together for about two-three months now, everyone is pretty much on the same page and knows how to work together.
Currently, all teams are very close together in the standings.
I definitely think this split compared to the last split, the top teams are not as strong, and the bottom teams are not as weak. So there’s a lot of teams in the middle, and a lot of “upsets” happening.
Right now, I think any team can beat any team now. Especially with the meta changing so much. I’m just happy that it’s not like last season for us where we started week five with a 1-7 record. (Laughs) This split’s looking a lot better already; we already got more wins than we got from all of the last split.
Do you think you’ll do well in Bo3/Bo5s?
Right now, I think Bo1 helps us a bit, because of our off meta picks like Talon with a Smite or Heimerdinger-Fiddlesticks. But I still think we have a lot of different picks that we could show, but I’m confident that my teammates and I can do fine in Bo3/Bo5s if we make the playoffs.
The finals will be in the Oracle Arena, which is like your “home” home. It seems that the team would be excited since you’re doing so well.
We talked about that right when the venue for the finals was announced. We were saying, “Guys, this is our goal. We have to make top four; even if we’re at third/fourth place match, it doesn’t matter.” We really want to be there. That would be like a dream come true for all of us.
Over the offseason, we got to go there and watch the NBA players. We got to meet them, and it’d be cool if we play there ourselves. It’s something we’re looking forward to.
So that should be a good source of motivation for your team.
We all have it in the back of our minds. Motivation is more so since the last split went so poorly, no one wants to repeat that. We’re all working twice as hard.
As of your match against CLG, you’ve played against all teams in the NA LCS this split. Apart from winning or losing, which team was the most difficult to play against?
I personally think that TSM and Echo Fox were the hardest for us. TSM and Echo Fox have two unique styles of play. Echo Fox likes to fight, and we’re a team that also likes to fight a lot, so we have some trouble fighting so much against them when we need to play the map, play slow.
On the other hand, against TSM, they’re very slow and calculated; they don’t take random fights, and it feels like you can’t breathe when you play against them.
How about Team Liquid?
Team Liquid is actually a really good team but against us… They did a lot of weird stuff. (Laughs) Like Vladimir starting E level 1. I felt like we didn’t really get to play against the real Team Liquid, and the win was kind of gifted to us. It’s hard to say. I’d say that wasn’t like a “fair” match. (Laughs)
What do you think changed the most in your team compared to the last split?
One big thing was the change of mid laners. From Hai to Mickey; Hai’s a really smart player, a really talkative player. With Mickey in now, everyone has to think instead of just turning their brains off, listening to Hai, and hopefully, we win. (Laughs)
Now it feels like we’ve unlocked everybody on the team. Everyone’s smart on the team, so we can all put in ideas together, and we can come up with the best situation.
Does Mickey make you think more, or did you just change as a team?
It’s a little bit of both. Because Hai is gone, we all have to talk more and think more. At the same time, Mickey provides a lot of smart plays that we can do. His way of thinking isn’t like ours. It helps to see another side. Not only that, in picks & bans, he’s really smart. He also talks to Korean teams; he tells us things like, “Guys, in Korea, they’re first picking Swain, we should play Swain!”, And we’re like, “Oh. Okay!” (Laughs) It really helps a lot.
Do you have any last comments to the fans?
Thank you so much for supporting us. The last split was definitely really rough, and this split is looking a bit better. Hopefully, you keep cheering for us.