After five weeks of play in the 2019 LCS Spring Split, Echo Fox sat at 4-6. Fresh off their first 0-2 week, the team decided to make a change. Lee "Rush" Yoon-jae was benched in favor of Echo Fox Academy jungler James "Panda" Ding. While Panda looked far more on the same page with the rest of the Echo Fox roster, results continued to disappoint. Echo Fox went 0-4 with Panda in the lineup for week 6 and 7, extending its losing streak to 5 games.
Rush returned to the starting lineup in week 8 to play against his former team, Cloud9. While Cloud9 gained an early lead, Rush kept Echo Fox in the game with smart aggressive plays, continuing to challenge C9 at every objective. The Korean jungler's synergy with his teammates was night and day when compared to his matches prior to the benching, and Echo Fox snapped its losing streak against Cloud9 on its way to its first 2-0 weekend of the 2019 LCS.
Rush joined Inven Global after his triumph over Cloud9 to discuss his adjustments since returning to the main roster, Echo Fox's strengths and weaknesses, and the team's focus going forward.
We're joined by Echo Fox's Jungler Rush after a very exciting win over Cloud9. How are you feeling after defeating your former team?
Good! I think we had a six game losing streak, and I'm happy that we broke it.
Was there something about how you played today that was different than when we last saw you start for Echo Fox?
Some people are good at feeding information, but I don't necessarily think that information was making us win. Whatever I think or talk about now, I try to make sure it is about our win condition.
How do you think Cloud9 played today? Did things go as you expected?
I don't think they underperformed by much, but they didn't pressure the whole map as well as they could have. Even though we were slightly behind, and most opportunities were about 30% success rate, that was still a better chance than waiting until they snowballed further ahead. We took the fights when we needed to, and that's why we won.
I think our weakness is early game. I feel like we don't have enough of a clue of what to do in certain matchups. That's something we need to work on, and it might take some time. Also, in mid and late game, we need to have a better understanding of our individual powerspikes and how to optimally play our composition. We need to keep working on that.
Has the level of competition in NA gone up since you were last here a few years ago?
I'm pretty sure they have improved, but that's because players improve through time by default. Of course people fall off, but it's only relative to the time, you know?
The InSec used to be the pinnacle of Lee Sin play, and now pretty much anyone can do it.
Yeah, exactly like that. Overall, people keep getting better as the game grows. You could be behind relatively, but you will improve from your past by default. I can say North America has improved, but relative to the other regions since I was last here, I'm not sure. We may be still behind, but we may be getting closer. It's hard to tell.
So it's not about being the BEST team at any time, it's about the rate of improvement. Was it hard to you to come back to the main roster after not playing with them for two weeks?
When we were losing, we thought that the rest of the team and myself not on the same page. We wanted to figure out the reason, and as long as Panda was really good at listening to others and trying to followup with his teammates, the communications could be smoother than what I was doing previously.
We tried Panda out, and I realized something. Even if I had a really good plan with the correct idea, I was bad at conveying it to others. I knew my plan, but I didn't explain it enough or convey it in the right way to my teammates, so people would have questions in game about what I wanted to do. When that happens, it's even worse than just going for standard play. That's what I was trying to fix in the past few weeks so I could better communicate in-game.
Last year, you were the substitute for Score on KT Rolster. Is there anything you learned from your time on KT that has helped you this year?
For sure. Score had a better understanding of the jungle than me, but he also had more information and knowledge on his laners and their lanes. Most junglers only care about their jungle pathing or their skillset, but in competitive play, you need to be able to understand the macro game as a jungler. The more you know, the better the decisions you can make.
This meta supports an aggressive early game, which is something you've been known for throughout your career. Do you think there is an optimal way to play League of Legends currently, or is it dependent on your team's strengths?
In NA, most teams choose to play for what they are good at. If a roster is good at playing aggressively in the early game, they choose to do it. If a roster is good at scaling compositions, the team will choose to do that. However, if players don't have set tendencies, I think you're supposed to play aggressive. I like to play a really aggressive, fight-centric playstyle, but it's really hard to change others' tendencies. It can take a really long time to get on the same page.
Echo Fox has to win pretty much every game left to get to playoffs. Is that on your mind?
We're just focusing on the last games. Even if we win all of those, qualifying for playoffs is unlikely. Since nothing is guaranteed, it is better to focus on just improving towards summer. We're not giving up, but rather than caring too much about a single match or week, we are focused on finding what we are good at, what we are bad at, and trying to fix what we need to in our play.
Thank you for the interview Rush, your insight is appreciated. Would you like to say anything to your fans?
Thanks for supporting me!