With the 2018 League of Legends World Championship just around the corner, teams from across the globe are all hurrying to Korea for boot camp. Among the many, one of the first to arrive was the North American champions, Team Liquid.
In 2018, Team Liquid was rebuilt from the ground up. Having been built of the most well-known veterans from the NA League of Legends esports scene, the team carried immense fan expectations. And without a surprise, TL went on to win the North American League of Legends Championship Series, two splits in a row. With this domestic success, TL as an organization qualified for the biggest LoL tournament, the World Championship, for the very first time.
"It was all a combined effort." The players didn't point to themselves when asked who the MVP was for TL to get this far. The strongest of North America will compete in the World Championship, and our team happened upon an opportunity to speak with them during their boot camp in Korea.
Q. This is the first time that Team Liquid as an organization qualified for the World Championship. Please say hello to your fans in Korea and the rest of the world.
Cain: This is TL’s first World Championship, and so, we have certain expectations. I came to Korea with the mindset to make good results. Please watch over us.
Pobelter: I agree with Cain.
Q. It’s only recently that you’ve arrived here in Korea. How is life here?
Pobelter: Pretty comfy -- but actually, we’ve all been getting sick recently. There’s a sickness spreading throughout the team. It started with Dodo and Doublelift. I was like, “Please don’t get me sick,” then I got sick. I hope I don’t spread it to anyone.
Q. Doublelift had said in a previous interview that he made a promise to Steve, that he’ll get TL to Worlds -- and you guys, together, were able to come through with that promise. How do you all feel?
Doublelift: Since all of us have been to Worlds before, it felt great seeing Steve experience it for the first time. It’s especially special when you’re going [to Worlds] for the first time. Steve was really excited, and I felt like he trusted us to do well this year. He had full trust in the players and coaches and rarely stepped in.
Q. Who was the most important member for TL to get this far?
Everyone in Unison: Cain, then Dodo.
Doublelift: As for the players, all of us did equally well to get here.
Q. Is there a specific player or team that you want to play against or avoid at Worlds?
Pobelter: There isn’t a team that I want to avoid, but I have teams that I’m looking forward to playing against. I want to play against Fnatic and take revenge this time.
Xmithie: I’m just looking forward to playing against all the Korean teams -- hopefully not in the group stages though. (Laughs) I like playing against really good players because I can learn a lot from them. Peanut is not at this Worlds, but it was always fun playing against him.
Olleh: I want to play against KT Rolster. I started my career there, so I want to play against them.
Doublelift: It’ll be cool to play against KT Rolster, the first Korean seed. I’ll play against any ADC, but not Uzi. No Uzi, please.
Impact: I want to play against IG. More specifically, TheShy. He seems to have very great mechanics.
Cain: I’m just hoping that we don’t land in a tough group. There are no 1st seeds in NA, so it’ll be hard this year. We’re practicing with that in mind, fully expecting a very tough group stage. However, I’m still confident.
Q. Let’s talk about the meta. Do you think the meta will favor you guys at the time of Worlds?
Olleh: I think it’ll be an aggressive support meta since Pyke and Thresh are getting buffed next patch. I think people will pick these aggressive champions instead of picks like Braum and Tahm Kench. I personally like it.
Doublelift: I think the meta will be pretty good for our team.
Q. How do you think NA will perform at Worlds this year?
Doublelift: Last place.
Xmithie: We’re going to win Worlds.
Doublelift: The expectations are low. Top 16.
Pobelter: I’m not too sure. We just began our boot camp for Worlds, so we’ll need to scrim against more teams to know definitively.
Q. Four of the ex-Immortals members have come to Worlds -- all except Flame. Have you guys talked to Flame before coming to Korea?
Olleh: I often hung out with Flame before leaving for Korea. I frequently talked to him.
Xmithie: I actually forgot -- I actually forgot that he’s the only one that couldn’t come. (Laughs)
Q. Impact, you’ve always reached the quarterfinals when playing at Worlds. Are you confident this year?
Impact: I was just lucky. Last year and the year before that, I did well in the beginning [of the tournament], but I fell apart during the second week. Every NA team was like that, actually. This year, we won’t have a “week 2,” so I feel like there’s hope. But I won’t be satisfied with quarterfinals -- I want to try and reach the semifinals.
Q. You’re no longer on Cloud9, the only NA team that consistently reached the quarterfinals. I wonder who’ll reach it this year, you or them.
Impact: It’ll be great to meet C9 in the quarterfinals, actually. (Laughs) It’ll be great for both teams.
Q. Doublelift, you’ve attended Worlds multiple times. How does this roster compare to your previous rosters? Are you more confident?
Doublelift: Yes, I’m way more confident in this team than before -- maybe except for season 6 TSM. The main thing though, is that I played like an idiot during past Worlds. I often randomly died… This time, I’m a lot smarter about my plays. In addition, the way the game is right now, it’s easier for me to tell what’s dangerous and what’s safe. In the past metas, it was a lot harder for me to see when to play safely or aggressively. I'm really confident in my team’s ability to win this year.
Q. How about the rest of you guys?
Impact: I feel that Team Liquid is a bit more strict compared to C9, so I feel a bit more confident. C9 is also serious when it comes to competing, but it’s a lot more "memey" over there.
Olleh: I played with Cody last year… we often talked about things not related to the game. Here in Team Liquid, our conversation is always about the game. Last year, right before I competed at Worlds as an Immortals member, I was a roam-centric support player. However, during the actual tournament, it was the Ardent Censer meta… and I couldn’t adapt in time. I think that’s why we struggled in week 2. This time, I’m more thoughtful with my plays, and I know what to do in any given situations.
Xmithie: Every time I go to Worlds, I’m confident in my team -- confident that we can take it to the Finals. As to your question, Immortals had a different playstyle to that of TL. IMT had a more “relaxed” playstyle. Also, with IMT, we were able to play with any lane, but in TL, with the current meta, we’re playing more around the bot lane.
Pobelter: The first time I played at Worlds on CLG, we played with Huhi jungle for like two weeks while preparing for Worlds because we didn’t know if Xmithie was going to get his visa or not. Last year at Worlds when I was in IMT, I wasn’t that confident either because we played really poorly as a team -- including a lot of other problems. This time, I feel pretty good.
Q. Cain, you’re attending Worlds for the first time as an NA coach. How does it feel?
Cain: In a way, I’m inexperienced. It’s my first time going to Worlds as a coach. My players are all veterans with a lot of experience, so I believe that we can do well.
Q. Do you think you’ll do better than Cloud9?
Cain: We beat C9 in the Finals [of the NA LCS], so I feel like I am responsible to do better than them.
After the series of questions, we wanted to find out what the players were thinking. To provide answers to our curiosity, our interview team brought along something special. Called the "Brain Map," we urged the players to fill in the different, blank parts of the brain.
We’ll now move on to the next part of the interview. You’ll all be given a sheet of paper in which you’ll write down what’s on your mind. It’s called the “Brain Map.” Please be honest with what you write. You can write anything!
Q. It seems like everyone is done. We’ll begin with Impact’s paper, please share with us!
Impact: League of Legends occupy the largest part of my brain because it’s the most important to me -- it’s my job. I then wrote coffee and coke because I always drink those two -- I always think about them. I wrote down “delicious food” because my teammates like ordering delivery food such as chicken and eating at home, whereas I like going out to find and try new, delicious food. I also think about my health and physique, so I wrote that down. Lastly, the “girlfriend” is self-explanatory. I’m also thinking about my family, but I forgot to write that down...
Q. Next up is Doublelift!
Doublelift: In the middle here we have the most important one, defending Azeroth. Everything else doesn’t really matter as much. I’m addicted to coffee, but I haven’t had any for 4 days… although I feel fine, I really want some right now.
Doublelift: My life is pretty simple. I want to shower again, I feel kind of gross… I then want to go to the gym -- I’ll probably go to the gym first, actually. (Laughs) And then I want to eat more chicken. I eat chicken every day, it’s like the only thing that I eat. Worlds is on the smallest circle here because it’s still far away, it’s not as important. (Laughs)
- How is Korean chicken?
Doublelift: It’s really good, but “Goobne Chicken” is the only one that isn’t fried or breaded. Maybe not, but it seems like it’s the only one that isn’t super oily. I like to eat healthy food.
Q. Olleh, you’re up next!
Olleh: I wrote the World Championship in the middle here because that’s all I’m thinking about nowadays. Then I wrote solo queue because I have to constantly keep up to date with the meta and practice new champions. Then there is sleep because I’m doing my best to try and stay healthy. “What should I eat?” is also something that I think about first thing in the morning when I wake up, especially because I’m in Korea.
As for the “Myself, Confidence,” part, I wrote that down because I’m doing my best to prevent what happened during MSI. I began watching old VODs of my good plays to gain confidence. I also wrote down “future” because I started to often think about what I’d become in the future. Thinking this actually helped me improve as a player. Lastly, in the smallest circle, are my rebellious thoughts… I want to drink sometimes, maybe go clubbing… but I’m only thinking about it, (laughs) not actually doing it.
Dodo: I’m going to double check.
Q. Xmithie, can you share yours?
Xmithie: In the middle is League of Legends --
Impact: Jake, is that Fortnite??? (Laughs)
Xmithie: Hey, I haven’t played Fortnite in months!
Impact: You still watch Youtubers.
Xmithie: Anyways, it’s pretty self-explanatory with solo queue at the top, and music in the bottom. I listen to EDM, to country, to pretty much anything. It really depends on the mood. I also brought a number of carriers that are only like a quarter full, so I need to buy things to bring back. However, we don’t have many days off, so I probably can’t shop too much. Also, I need to go out. I don’t know why, but I just want to go out.
- Both Xmithie and Doublelift put solo queue on their papers. How is Korea’s solo queue?
Doublelift: It’s really fun. Diamond players here are better than NA Challengers -- significantly better. It’s actually way more fun. The 9 ping is great, and I feel like my mechanics are actually getting better. In NA solo queue, I sometimes feel like my mechanics are getting worse. Also, because the players are better [here], I feel like it's almost as good as scrimming.
- Have you met the other players yet?
Doublelift: Yeah I played against iBoy, and I crushed him -- that felt really great.
Q. Pobelter, you're up next!
Everyone in Unison: Wow.
Pobelter: Thank you.
Impact: Hey, your girlfriend is going to read this, you know. All you have is League of Legends.
Pobelter: (In Korean) This is an opportunity that comes only once a year and not every player is able to compete in it. That’s why I really want to do well.
- Pobelter, your Korean really improved since the last time I saw you.
Doublelift: He’s been rehearsing that line. We heard him do it. (Laughs)
Q. Next up is Cain!
Cain: I, too, am only thinking about League of Legends. In the middle, is “keeping up with the meta!” Every region has a different approach to the meta, and I feel like I wasn’t able to catch all of it in the past. “What champions should we draft? What strategy should we aim to execute on stage?” that’s all I’m thinking about nowadays.
After the players were done sharing their thoughts, we moved on to the next section of the interview. We learned what they were thinking through the brain map, and now, we wanted to know if the players themselves knew what each of their teammates were thinking.
We’ll move on to the next part of the interview. We will begin the ‘OX Quiz’. If you agree with the statement, raise the ‘O’, and if you disagree, raise the ‘X’. Impact, please stand aside, you’re up first.
Q. The first statement is: “I think Impact is too confident in himself, accounting for both in-game and outside of the game.”
- What do you think the outcome is, Impact?
Impact: I think Peter raised ‘O’... and… everyone ‘X’?
- Why do you think that's the case?
Impact: I'm not sure... it's just a feeling.
- Turn around and look!
Impact: Wow! Everyone raised ‘X’?
Q. Let's move on to the second statement: “Impact’s nickname, ‘Top Die’: he’s still deserving of that name.”
- What do you think the outcome is?
Impact: I think most of them raised 'O'.
- You can turn around and look.
Impact: Wow! Everyone raised ‘O’?
Doublelift: This is team confidence, Impact. (Laughs)
- Do you personally think you are still deserving of that nickname?
Impact: Yes, but I didn’t expect everyone to raise ‘O’ like that… nice guys, good teamwork.
- Do you still call out “top die,” when playing?
Doublelift: Yeah, he says “top dead,” all the time.
Q. Xmithie, please come on out! The first statement is: “Xmithie is the brain of our team.”
Xmithie: They all raised ‘X’.
Impact: Can I do half? (Laughs)
- What are you expecting, Xmithie?
Xmithie: Like Impact said, it’s half and half. The shotcalling is divided among the players depending on the phase of the game, such as the mid and late game.
- You can turn around.
Olleh: Follow Jake!
Impact: The main shotcalling thing doesn’t apply to our team, because everyone talks when we play.
Doublelift: Yeah, actually, everyone is the brain.
Olleh: But I remember in MSI, when we lost our minds, Jake was the only one that was trying to do something, cheering us up.
Q. The second statement on Xmithie: “I wish Xmithie would gank my lane!”
Xmithie: It only matters what Peter says, and it’s an ‘O’. That’s the only important lane.
- Turn around!
Impact: You always say it’s easy to gank bot lane. Give me an option!
- I mean, while Xmithie ganks other lanes, you can hold out on your lane and win through that way, right?
Impact: If someone is willing to make that sacrifice… it’s usually me. (Laughs)
Q. Next up is Pobelter: “Sometimes, I really do think POB has 200 IQ.”
- Before we reveal the answer, Pobelter, do you think you have 200 IQ?
Pobelter: Yes. Everyone voted yes. I just know.
Doublelift: You know what, I’m going to switch it to ‘X’ just because you said that.
- Take a look!
Olleh: I didn’t bring my stuff from home, but Eugene told me that another studio was coming, too, and recommended me to ask them. Eugene saved me!
Pobelter: Otherwise you would’ve voted no? (Laughs)
Olleh: I think EQ is more important. I don’t think IQ really matters. It’s just a random number.
Impact: Actually, I think it matters… (Laughs)
Doublelift: Originally I voted yes because I saw you playing Despacito on the violin. I didn’t even know you played the violin. I used to play for a few years when I was in school. It was back in middle school and elementary, so I’m terrible now.
Impact: I voted yes because I saw him read a book.
Doublelift: I don’t even know how to read a book.
Impact: Before practice, I saw him reading a book.
Xmithie: That means you’re 200 IQ.
Impact: Eugene is just a smart person.
Q. The second statement on Pobelter is: “Eugene is the most handsome player in our team. He’s in charge of the “face” of Team Liquid.
- What do you think, Pobelter?
Pobelter: Everyone probably voted the same thing… but I can’t tell if it’s a yes or a no.
Pobelter: I’m going to keep my expectations low and say that everyone voted no…
- Turn around!
Pobelter: Wow! Everyone voted yes? Thanks, guys!
Doublelift: You’re a handsome Squidward.
Olleh: You’re our face, the face of Team Liquid!
Q. Doublelift, please stand aside! The statement is: “Doublelift is the best ADC player in NA, if not the world.”
Doublelift: That’s a straight four yes. Can I turn around and look?
- Well… please turn around.
Xmithie: Well, you said you didn’t want to play against Uzi!
Doublelift: Because I’d crush him too hard!
Xmithie: You know what, okay, I’ll say yes. (Laughs)
Pobelter: Just to add to the question, there is a big gap between NA and the rest of the world.
Doublelift: Yeah, that was a pretty open-ended question.
- Is that really the case? RNG’s head coach recently said in an interview that the gap between regions is starting to run thin.
Doublelift: Of course he’d say that, he’s at the top!
Q. The next statement for Doublelift is: “He “secretly” has many fangirls.”
Olleh: Secretly? You mean openly?
Impact: Secretly? Let’s just say yes guys! Peter will get problems guys!
Xmithie: Bonnie, this is for you.
- What do you think Doublelift?
Doublelift: Well, Impact literally just said his answer out loud. (Laughs) I’m going to go with a fifty-fifty. Those who said no are sparing Bonnie’s feelings.
- Is that really the truth, though?
Xmithie: We looked at our Twitter followers, and Peter had 7% [of female followers] over a million.
Olleh: Peter has 70,000 girlfriends.
Pobelter: Guys I don’t think 7% of a million is -- wait, is it 70,000?
Impact: EUGENE, 200 IQ! 200 IQ!
Next up is Olleh. The Final statement of the 'OX Quiz' is: “He’s the kindest player on the team.”
Olleh: I think it’ll be half and half.
- Who do you think raised the two ‘X’?
Olleh: Hmm… I think Jake and Impact.
- You can turn around and look.
Xmithie: It’s because we’re the only ones that really know him. (Laughs)
Doublelift: I guess I don’t know him.
For the next part of the interview, we wanted to do something special for an important member of Team Liquid.
We're going to give you guys a sheet of paper. On it, please write down a personal message you want to send to Steve.
Q. To wrap up the interview, can you tell your fans your World Championship resolution?
Impact: I wanted to come to Korea in 2014, but unfortunately, I couldn’t make it. Now, the Worlds is taking place in Korea again. I want to take this opportunity and make good results.
Xmithie: This year, my goal is to make the NA fans proud… for once. We’re going to do something this Worlds.
Doublelift: I think one of the biggest reasons why League is becoming less interesting in NA is that our teams are really bad internationally… So I just want to do something really amazing this Worlds. Hopefully, win it all, or at least make a deep run. I want to show the fans that we’re all good players and that we can work well as a team.
Pobelter: I’m going to do everything that I can.
Olleh: My career is getting better with time. Impact was always a royal roader, but I am a player that climbed slowly. I want to perform and show the world that I’m getting better.
A managing editor who can do more things than you think.