The first NA LCS Summer Playoff spot has been locked. Team Liquid bested OpTic Gaming in their first game of Week 7, punching their ticket to playoffs and retaining sole possession of first place.
OpTic Gaming looked bloodthirsty, hitting the rift with Noh “Arrow” Dong-Tak’s signature Draven and a first-pick Akali in the hands of Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage. This was the first Akali pick in the NA LCS since the recent reworking of the Fist of Shadow, but it was just another day at the office for Eugene “Pobelter” Park.
Pobelter sat down with Inven Global after the game to discuss Team Liquid’s victory and share his personal experiences with LCS fan interaction.
We’re joined by Team Liquid Mid Laner Pobelter following our first Akali game in the NA LCS, which seemed to be no trouble for you at all. How did you handle the new and improved Fist of Shadow on the rift today?
I played Akali a bunch at the beginning of this week. If you don’t try new champions fast, people will start to realize they are OP and they will be banned in every single game. Knowing this, I played as many Akali games as possible once the rework went live so I would have the opportunity to get familiar with her changes. I tried to understand her skills, strengths, and weaknesses from a big picture perspective.
While we didn’t have much opportunity to practice against it scrims this week, I felt prepared when I saw PowerOfEvil lock it in and was confident heading into the matchup.
Mid Lane has become a mobility arms race with Zoe, Akali, LeBlanc, and Fizz being premiere picks in the meta. Do you think we will see more of that in the coming weeks?
Not really. I think assassins have always been something you can pick into Zoe. Zoe is super strong, but you can play more laning matchups into her than any other champion. It’s all very dependent on your execution. You’ve already seen the Leblanc, and since Fizz got buffed, maybe we’ll see him too.
There’s a lot of stuff you can play in the Mid Lane currently. It’s probably the most diverse it’s been in a really long time, even compared to earlier this split. You can play bruisers, utility mids, poke champions, control mages, assassins. Every archetype of mid laner is viable right now.
Does that make recent weeks overwhelming to prepare for as a Mid Laner?
Well, I just focus more on what I feel confident in playing. Today was a good example of that because I was pretty confident on Galio and was able to handle the Akali.
Last week, you tweeted out that you were harassed by a fan at the LCS. If you’re comfortable with speaking about it, would you mind giving us more insight on what happened?
Yeah, it was a few weeks ago. The fans were coming up, and normally, people ask for handshakes or even hugs and that’s fine. This guy, though, was tweaking everyone’s nipples, and my reaction was, “What the f**k are you doing, man?” So I approached him while kind of guarding my chest, and he pushed my hands to the side and did it anyways and laughed afterwards.
He was a big burly dude, it was just a weird situation. Some people just don’t understand personal boundaries or possess the social awareness to know what’s okay and not okay in everyday situations.
The very next week, a fan grabbed my hand and kissed it. The morning after that happened, I woke up and made the tweet.
A lot of people from Riot have approached me empathizing with my situation and assuring they would take care of it. There’s a stricter policy now on letting people know what crosses the line. People are calling it “Nipplegate” (Laughs).
Well, it is a serious issue that needs to be talked about, so I’m glad that you spoke up and shared your experiences. What can Riot do to stop these interactions in the future?
A Rioter who works with Player Management came up to me and told me that going forward, any offenders and their respective parties would be immediately kicked out of the NA LCS arena. If there is a second offense, they would be permanently blacklisted.
Do you think there’s cause for concern regarding a future of over-regulation of interactions between players and fans?
(Laughs) Like that “No Touching” scene in Arrested Development?
In all seriousness, it’s okay if a fan wants a high five. Hugs I guess I’m okay with, though a rioter I was talking to pointed out that it’s kind of forced affection for a stranger to demand a hug from you, so I guess that’s kinda weird. But I can always say no to that kind of thing, you know?
It’s just weird when someone touches you forcefully. It’s not hard to keep your f*****g hands to yourself.
As far as the Team Liquid fanbase goes as a whole, though, how have your interactions been with your fans this year?
Pretty good, everyone who shows up to LCS in our jerseys has been so nice and friendly. A lot of fans come from far away. Some people come from across the state, across the country, even overseas. They’re really excited to be here, and that’s always really awesome to me.
I actually met a fan last week who asked me to sign his TL Pobelter jersey, and when he took it off, he had my Immortals jersey under it! Matching pants, matching shoes, everything. I thought that was really cool. We talked a bit and it turns out he lives in the Bay Area near the Oracle Arena. I told him to come to the 2018 NA LCS Summer Finals because we’d definitely see him there.
There’s a lot of cool fans that show up, and I really want to make that clear too.
Are a lot of your fans this year newer fans of yours from Team Liquid, or notorious POB fans donning the blue and white alongside you?
There are definitely some familiar faces who frequent LCS. Some people have come up to me and told me how much it means to meet me in person after following my stream for five years or so, so that’s always a really cool experience.
Do you keep up with r/leagueoflegends during the season?
Yeah, I read it to keep up with professional matches for other reasons. I can look at a match recap really easily and get statistical information pretty quickly. Aside from that, I’ve been trying to stay away from it more often nowadays.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great place for the community to have discussions regarding professional League of Legends, but I think it can be damaging to how you perceive yourself as a professional player. If you have a bad game, people don’t go easy on you.
That’s sports culture, so I’m not complaining about it. But at the same time, I don’t need those thoughts taking up space in my head. I don’t think it’s good to swing up and down in level of play with the community’s perception of you, so I’m just trying to stay grounded.