At the TD Garden in downtown Boston, favorites Team SoloMid secured its third straight North American League Championship Series title and whopping sixth LCS title overall with a 3-1 victory over Immortals. Following the series, TSM held a news conference with members of the assembled media. Slingshot’s Emily Rand attended the finals and listened to it in full. Here are some of the highlights.
Q: Bjergsen and Doublelift, you guys have been going through the NA LCS, you’ve been winning titles, and then you go to worlds pretty regularly now. How do you keep motivation when you have these very long-term efforts to achieve that international success. How do you keep motivation and avoid burning out?
Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg: It’s always been pretty easy for me just because of my love for the game, I think? I really enjoy the game. I like figuring out what’s good, what’s good in the mid lane, what’s good for my team and what we should play. And there’s always things to improve on throughout the split. I hardly ever feel like we’re the best team by far, like no one can touch us or no one else can beat us. And until we reach that point it’s really easy to stay hungry and keep wanting to improve because I don’t feel like we are the supreme best team.
Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng: I think that actually is an issue. Like last year, for example, after we won NA, I thought that was such a cool thing and we won against C9 who was a really strong team in the finals, and to be able to win with TSM after the previous split losing to CLG in the finals was a really big deal to me. I think for now, it’s not a big deal to any of us to win anymore. It’s almost expected. We just came to pick up the trophy. So we’re all thinking about worlds, but maybe last year, at least for me personally, I didn’t have as much of a love for the game as I do now, where it’s fun for me to play solo queue, it’s fun for me to scrim, and I really enjoy playing and competing. It’ll be a big difference this year.
Q: Hauntzer, at the beginning of the split, everyone was asking how you were feeling about playing against Flame, playing against Ssumday with all the influx of Korean talent. Considering how this season went for you, what do you think in retrospect of the Korean talent that came into the top lane?
Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell: When they first joined NA in spring split, I thought they were pretty lackluster. And they weren’t playing to what was expected of them. You know, everyone thinks Korean tops are really good but spring split they didn’t, I guess, find their groove. I was also able to get a lot more resources in spring. And now in summer, since Doublelift’s back, we’re spreading it out more. I’d say they definitely improved as individuals. Ssumday, Flame have gotten a lot better and they’re not as bad as they were in spring, but in terms of top lane talent in NA I still count them as some of the best.
Q: Doublelift, during the teaser in one of the promos, you mentioned something about how you respect Cloud9 and CLG, and you kind of want to keep IMT out of the winners club. You like that it’s just the three of those teams. How long do you think it will take for another team to enter that winners club?
Doublelift: It was pretty close this split. I think DIG and IMT actually had a real shot at winning, but after this, I don’t know. It’s pretty devastating for both of them this split. I think it’s going to be a while. I think the winner’s club because it’s three, and I’ve won three championships and this is also the third TSM championship in a row, three’s a good number. I like three.
Q: Doublelift and Biofrost, throughout this season you see a lot of great bot lane duos and a lot of great individual bot lane players. What do you think the difference is?
Doublelift: It’s really weird. I’ve always been part of good duos like me and Chauster, then me and Aphro, and then me and Bio, we have always been pretty good. I think part of it is just not being afraid to tell each other things that we don’t like that the other person does, and also things that we do like because if you’re just constantly criticizing someone or you’re afraid to criticize them I think that’s a really big problem in a duo lane. Just always be on the same page and after a while you kind of know, you get a feel for your lane partner when you’re always telling them, “Hey, we should try this” or “I think this is really good and I think this is bad” just having an open talk all the time. I think a lot of time during the split we had a lot of problems just because we weren’t playing the right champions, or we weren’t playing the right way, or other bot lanes were out-roaming us or outplaying us 2-v-2. So, just always learning and always talking to each other is the most important thing, even if you’re a great player. If you can’t communicate well you’re not going to be able to show it.
Vincent “Biofrost” Wang: I can’t get out of this by saying what he said, right? (laughs) I think a lot of other bot lane duos, they have great mechanics but it just doesn’t really extend out of that. A good example of a duo that might not have the best mechanics but are really strong as a duo together are Altec and Adrian. They really know how to manipulate waves and they’re really good at deciding when to roam or to stay in lane, and they’re really efficient with their back timers. As a duo they work really well even though mechanically they might not be the best. Some AD carries like Piglet, he’s really strong in lane, but even then Altec and Adrian work really well as a duo lane.
Q: Doublelift, is this the time that TSM goes to Worlds and actually makes it past Quarterfinals and makes some noise and lives up to the recognition that they’ve been getting? Or is it another TSM at Worlds meme?
Doublelift: Dennis was talking about this a little bit in the post-game interview at the desk but we came in last worlds pretty cocky. We thought we were a top four team, and we were like, “Yeah we’re going to win.” Then we were all super crushed when we started losing in the group stages because it was like, “Whoa, we weren’t supposed to lose.” I think coming into this one, we’re humble. We were hungry last time but I think we just didn’t have a great approach to practice and yeah, our mentality was just wrong coming in. I think coming into worlds thinking like a winner but also being humble at the same time is just so important because every team is so good. You can lose early game. Your pride can be wounded if you get solo-killed or just make a lot of mistakes because players are just equally as good as you. I think we had a lot of problems last year, but this year we’re just going to be able to learn from that. Part of that is just being able to come back from bad situations when we make mistakes, which we didn’t have that skill last year.
Q: Biofrost, we’re seeing a lot of other regions and a lot of other teams focus on Ardent supports, whereas today you and Olleh seemed to be going back and forth on the playmaker supports. Why do you think there’s that kind of disconnect?
Biofrost: I think in other regions they have different pick and bans where Rakan is not up, and Rakan is a really essential part to draft where, if he’s up, then you have to play around him because he’s such a strong pick. If he’s goes down and some other champions go down, then it goes to the Ardent Censer supports because that’s the next best thing. If you play safe in the early game with an Ardent Censer support you’re going to outscale a playmaker like Alistar and it just depends on whether your team can play around that and that spike. I know in Korea they’re playing Lulu into Blitzcrank and if Lulu survives early game she just really outscales hard with Ardent Censer and it will be really obnoxious for Blitzcrank to make anything happen. So, I think there’s just a bit of a disparity in playstyles there and it’s also different because of draft.
Q: Bjergsen, what do you say to critics who are disoriented by the fact that you won split MVP even though you came second in the All-LCS voting?
Bjergsen: I think there was a different voting for MVP, which I didn’t really even know. People will have their favorite players, or players that they think perform better than me and I think that’s completely fair. Some players did outperform me in certain ways but I think why I was recognized as MVP is the value that I bring to my team and hopefully my teammates feel the same way, that the value I bring helps us win and helps us get on this big stage and actually make a difference. But yeah, there are a lot of great individual players in the LCS, but like Peter said, if you can’t communicate, you can’t lead your team, it doesn’t matter how good you are, you’re not going to win.
Q: Doublelift: You’ve, since the beginning, been known for your trash-talking. Some regions have trash-talk segments, we don’t in NA. Is there any player you wish you could have a back-and-forth trash-talk segment?
Doublelift: I think that some players in NA force it, like Dardoch, because they came in with no fans and they just want to make a name for themselves. I don’t know, I have bad luck when I talk trash because when I talk trash we always lose. And I’m just superstitious I guess now? I don’t even care about what the fans say I just don’t want to lose. Overall, I think part of it is that you get crucified so hard by the community when you talk trash and then your team loses. So, I don’t feel like I get any extra points when I talk trash and we just crush them, we’re already expecting to win. The most hype is if we talk trash at Worlds. I’m not saying I will or that we won’t but if we talk trash at Worlds, it’s actually good teams with stuff on the line, we’re not expected to win and that’s more fun that just beating up kids at the playground.
Q: Svenskeren, the last time you were in East Asia for Worlds, your participation was cut short a bit. Do you have a message for East Asian TSM fans, or East Asian players or consumers of League who remember that, and do you have anything to say in the leadup to going back there for Worlds?
Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen: I mean, I think I’ve matured a lot over the past three years when I’ve been on TSM so I’m not really concerned with anything happening because, yeah I’ve just matured a lot and I guess, if people are still offended by it I could say sorry but I think it’s been quite a while. At least, I don’t get messages anymore that people are offended by it so I think people have moved on and I’ve matured a lot so I don’t think, like, it doesn’t mean anything anymore.
Q: Hauntzer, what top laners do you want to play against at Worlds?
Hauntzer: Probably LZ’s Khan. He plays a lot of carry tops and has performed really well on them. He’s really confident himself and looks like he’s the best top in LCK right now so I definitely want to play against him. SKT tops are always really solid and they know how to play well, so there’s stuff to learn from there. I haven’t really paid attention to China much as well so those would be my answers.