Q&A: Hakuho talks about EnVyUs’ up and down summer NALCS split

Team EnVyUs’ first dip into League of Legends has come with many rises and falls through the summer.

The organization purchased a spot in the North American League Championship Series after Renegades was permanently banned from the LCS by Riot Games in May. The quick turnaround left Team Envy without a lot of time to put together a roster, but the team — let by three ex-Renegades players — got off to a quick start in the LCS with a 5-1 record.

From there, however, it has been a struggle, as Team Envy now sits at 7-9 going into the final week of the summer split. At sixth place, Envy is still in playoff position and controls its destiny to the postseason with games against Phoenix1 and Echo Fox this weekend.

Slingshot’s Vince Nairn caught up with Envy’s support Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent to talk about the summer split, lane swap changes and his own personal background.

Vince Nairn: What are the major takeaways from the loss (against Cloud9 last Saturday)?

Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent: I think the first game, we were playing pretty well. We were winning for most of it. Just late-game team fight issues. With better coordination, we would’ve won that game.

VN: You won the Apex game, which was important, but you got off to such a great start. It’s been a bit difficult since then. What have you guys done try and not let it snowball, even if you’re not winning every week?

NS: We go into each match as if it’s a completely new game. Even when we were losing, we just went in and tried to play our best and worked on improving for playoffs.

VN: The middle of the season was going to be where your toughest opponents were. Was it something you were prepared for?  Even when you were 5-1, was it in the back of your heads?

NS: We knew coming in that the middle was gonna be the hardest part of our season. Personally, I don’t think we prepared well enough for it. If we improve now, I think we’ll be fine, come playoffs.

VN: What, if anything, did you learn from not being ready, completely?

NS: We just had some drafting issues and general team comp issues, I feel. Since we speak different languages, it’s kind of harder to communicate. There’s team comps that are really strong if you play it perfectly, but there were slight errors that we had, which would cause us losses on games we could’ve won.

VN: Still, you’re here with two weeks left to go, still in the thick the playoff race. How does it feel, especially with everything you went through last split with Renegades? How does it feel to be in this position where you still control your own destiny?

NS: I feel really good now. I’m pretty sure we can get into the playoffs, since the teams we have left — aside from TSM (A 2-0 loss Sunday) — are pretty easy, I feel. We’re really hoping to get into the playoffs pretty easily, unless something really tragic happens (laughs).

VN: Is there a general excitement, getting ready for it? For the most part, your roster hasn’t really experienced a lot of postseason success.

NS: We’re pretty excited since we haven’t been together as a team very long. If we can, at least, get into playoffs, that would be good for us.

VN: What do you think about the possible lane swap changes Riot announced earlier in the week?

NS: I’m not sure how I feel of them, yet. I think it has a lot of implications on the bot lane. You can’t really pick losing matchups, so you pretty much have to play winning bot lanes, no matter what, or else you’ll just be at a disadvantage. I’m not sure how I feel about it, yet. If they go through with it, I’ll probably have more of an opinion after playing. Right now, I think it’s kind of strange, since lane swaps are the most strategic thing in the game right now.

VN: Did you receive any warnings? Has there been a dialogue with Riot, in terms of them understanding your perspective?

NS: They haven’t asked us for our perspective, but I think they sent a message a day or two before they announced it. That’s why some people are trying to talk with Riot about it.

VN: Is there a big difference between a change like this, versus the week-to-week changes? What does it do to your preparation when something like this happens?

NS: If it’s like a major game change, like this, you kind of just have to test stuff. With patch-by-patch, you just test new champions with the change.

VN: How do you handle in-game tilt? Was there a moment when you noticed you were titled, and it affected you throughout the rest of the match? How does it kind of manifest itself?

NS: I never really suffer from tilting that much. I guess the closest I had was when I came into Renegades, when they were already on a losing streak, so the atmosphere was (not good) in that kind of setting. I think it’s just something you have to work together as a team. I think spending time away from the game helps a bit.

The way I see tilt, it’s just when a player gets frustrated with their own play or their team’s play. If they don’t work it out right away, they’ll probably start blaming their other teammates. It’s a thing you usually have to have a manager fix. I mostly just keep my emotions out of the game. Saying it, it just sounds pretty simple (laughs), but it’s something that I just kind of do. I go into the game, play my best and not get angry or upset. Well, I get upset, but I don’t get angry or blame teammates.

I think it’s just because people are super young. They come with the mindset where they expect to win, and if they don’t, they get angry.

VN: When you made the choice that this was something you wanted to pursue, was secondary education or college something you actively thought about, or is it something you’ve tried to do?

NS: Initially, I was going to university while still playing challenger series. I would go to class, come back and scrim. I’d play weekend tournaments, so I was always super busy. There were some days where I had to skip class, if there’s an important tournament. I prioritized League over some classes, just cause I did well in school. I never had any issues in university. Trying to do it both, it feels kind of difficult. Eventually, you have to make a choice what you want to do.

I was going to Point Park University. I’ve been doing theater for a very long time. That’s what I was doing before this.

VN: That’s a pretty dramatic shift from study at Point Park. Now you’re here, playing professional League of Legends. Is it something you plan to revisit after your career is over?

NS: Personally, I don’t see myself needing the degree. I could probably find work, without having to get the degree. For now, I want to do esports for a while.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games.