Any opportunity to join a League of Legends Championship Series team seemed good for Rami “Inori” Charagh.
Phoenix1 has tested that belief through five weeks of the North American LCS summer split with a 1-9 start and a spot tied with Echo Fox for last place. Still, the team is starting to trend upward after picking up its first win of the split Sunday against Apex. Inori didn’t start his first match until Week 4 as he sorted out visa issues, and there’s been a difference since he’s joined the team.
For Inori, the road to the LCS has been long enough that the team’s struggles haven’t dampened his joy of being there. He’s played since Season 2 but gained a reputation for being a toxic teammate, one he’s spent the past year trying to overturn. He finally got the chance to play in the LCS by signing with Phoenix1, a team born out of the forced sale of Team Impulse between splits.
Slingshot’s Vince Nairn caught up with Inori during Week 4 of the LCS to talk about Phoenix1’s chances, adapting to the LCS and overcoming a toxic reputation.
Vince Nairn: You had to sit out a while, but how do you feel about finally getting back to play on the team?
Rami “Inori” Charagh: It’s still hard right now because of how late our start was. We have to play against teams that have been practicing for three months in advance. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m happy to be here to play. For me, I can’t fix every problem with the team. I’m trying my best to be a leader on the team. I still think we need a lot more time to grow.
VN: With everything that happened and the team getting in the LCS so late, it almost seems like you guys are in a lose-lose situation. How do you go into this split knowing this?
RC: Going it to this, we knew this was going to be a rough start. Our goal was to make the best team environment possible and hope for the best in the end. Because our season has a bad start already, we have to say “hey, what could we do?” Our standings are pretty bad right now so we need to focus on the game. If we have better prep for our bans, we can easily be better towards the end. We can easily be a mid-tier team towards the end, instead of a bottom-tier team.
VN: How did this opportunity come about for you? What were you doing when you got the call?
RC: I went to Korea for a month to practice by myself. I got Challenger in the Korean ladder. I came back and I was looking for a team. This was before the whole thing with the LCS teams going crazy like TiP. I had some tryouts laid out and had like two options, Phoenix1 and another team and I just went with Phoenix1 and it was great since they were in the LCS. It’s sad that this is how I first experience the LCS, but I still love the experience so it’s not that bad for me.
VN: Is it a mental block that you have to get past and say, “hey we’re losing but we know we just have to get past it?”
RC: I think that we can’t take these losses so hard. Especially what our situation is. We got to make our team environment as clean as possible because that’s the best we can do right now. A lot of losing teams, their team environment goes to shit, and that just means you aren’t going to get better. If we want to get better we just have to make it the best we can. Make it so that the players aren’t afraid to make plays. Some of our players are afraid to make plays because they are not confident in themselves and I think that if we make the right team environment they can be more confident in their own ability and we can succeed as a team.
VN: What are some things that you can do to get the confidence back for you and your teammates?
RC: It’s just positive reinforcement. You can’t be negative. You do VOD reviews after scrims, you can’t be like, “I don’t think you should be doing this,” and be like “Hey man, I think this is what we could be doing differently. These are ways you can improve.” You can’t be negative. When someone messes up in scrims and in the LCS, they are going to feel like shit. You don’t have to rub it in. You just have to be like, “it’s alright man.” We are trying to get better as a team, mistakes happen and we just have to learn from that.
VN: What are the things you have to work on in the game now that you have the full roster?
RC: Our gameplay, we are getting so much better team wise, just individual mistakes cost us the game. So, against CLG when we lost game two, our Trundle was supposed to defend against the Fiora split push. He decided to push up and try and 1-v-1 him and he got somewhat selfish and it cost us the team there. Stuff like that needs to be removed from how we play the game. It’s a team game and we just have to work together as a team.
VN: You guys were neck and neck in some of the games, like CLG. Are you guys seeing things that you can build on?
RC: I think our mentality is better than most teams. We don’t get too down. We always think we can come back. “We’re the better team. We can win this.” It’s good to see things like that because our morale is pretty good right now. If we keep stuff like that up we can be pretty good.
VN: What has your career been like up to this point?
RC: I started in Season 2, I climbed really high elo. I was challenger Season 3, Challenger Season 4. I’ve just been high ranking the last few years. I have been on random Challenger teams, but I had a bad reputation which made it hard for me to get on one of the LCS teams because that actually delayed my opportunities to join an LCS team. I’m glad Phoenix1 gave me the chance. It is sad still, to be in that situation.
VN: Has it taken time to get rid of the reputation that you have built?
RC: Reputations are so hard to get rid of, they’ll stick with you until the very end. It’s like, whenever you get a second chance, you need to make the best out of it, that’s all it is. People will still think of you how you were before. If you show people what you are now, they’ll tell other people and they’ll tell other people and that’s how you change your reputation. For the last year I’ve been trying really hard to fix my reputation. I was trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. I had such a solo queue mentality where it’s like me, me, me. But it’s about the team. Watching CLG play I’m so jealous. They play so selfless. They play as a team, and it makes it so much better.
VN: How much does it mean to you that you made it to the LCS knowing your struggle in trying to change how people see you?
RC: I think it was really hard, and I‘ve always had desires to quit. But I knew I could be really good, play really good. What does it matter if you don’t get a chance to play? Stuff like that really brought me down. I’m happy I’m actually here and actually playing. Like these losses, I feel like this experience is one in a million. Not many people get to play in the LCS and I’m just happy to get this experience.
VN: Who is one player that you looked up to as inspiration?
RC: I never really looked at NA players to model my gameplay after. I looked to Korea, mainly Chaser. I thought he was really aggressive, same style as me. Like hey, what is he doing what am I doing to play like him. I even met him in Korean solo queue and told him how big of a fan I was of him.
VN: Besides Faker who is up there in the conversation for being the best in the world?
RC: If you had to compare any other player to Faker it has to be Bjergsen. I feel like he has been just really popular and really consistent. I think people try and overrate him, but honestly he has just been so consistently good you can compare him to Faker status (in NA).
Photos courtesy of Riot Games.