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Mata on Uzi: “He has a really bad back that he needs to get massages in order to play games.”

Royal Never Give Up claimed the second Group D quarterfinal spot in the League of Legends World Championship after defeating Team SoloMid in Saturday’s final game. Afterward, Slingshot’s Andrew Kim talked to RNG’s Cho “Mata” Se-Hyoung (in Korean and translated to English) about TSM, Western teams and expectations for the rest of the tournament.

Andrew Kim: With your last game against North America’s strongest team TSM, you must have been nervous going into it, since the loser will have to go home. What was the team atmosphere like?

Cho “Mata” Se-Hyoung: Thankfully the team wasn’t all that nervous. The only thing that was bothering us was that we lost both games before our last game, so the atmosphere was pretty bad, but we still focused on the fact that we can make it out of groups if we beat TSM, and played our best without going on tilt.

AK: Splyce had an upset win against you today in a very one sided game. What do you think was the reason that your team lost?

CSH: I think there were a lot of problems on our team. We were capable of playing slowly, but we kept getting impatient, which naturally painted the picture of us falling apart. I feel like that whenever I look at how we lost.

AK: With the game against TSM being so important, how do you evaluate them as a team in general?

CSH: Rather than thinking that their other lanes were not as good, we thought more that since (Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg) was such a talented player, we can’t just leave him be, and played with that in mind.

AK: Your Alistar play was astonishing enough that fans thought teams would automatically ban him against RNG, Yet you seemed to prefer picks like Nami and Karma. Could you elaborate on why?

CSH: Of course I prioritize working with the team comp, and since Alistar is certainly weaker in the laning stages of the game, I think I’ve been favoring picks that give a strong lane advantage.

AK: As a Korean player in a Chinese region, do you think you play not just for RNG, but for China as a region as well?

CSH: I personally think since I am a Korean, I don’t really care as long as my team plays well. Rather than thinking that I am playing for China, I think that I am playing for RNG, my team.

AK: After being part of the LPL for a couple of years, do you think China as a region has gotten closer, or even surpassed some of the other regions out there?

CSH: I think that Korean teams are at top of the regions, and because Korean players can be found in pretty much every team in China, Europe, and America, I think the regions are actually pretty close, excluding Korea.

AK: A running theme of this year’s worlds and last year’s is sickness among the players and support staff. Were there any sick people on your team? If so how did you contain it? If not, what did you do to prevent it?

CSH: Our coaches were very sick, our jungler and even I had some problems with having colds during the tournament. Our AD Carry (Jian “Uzi” Zihao) also had a cold, and he has a really bad back that he needs to get massages in order to play games. Since player health comes first, we take some time so he can get a massage and put in practice.

AK: With so many people sick and Uzi with a bad back, how did it impact your practice?

CSH: Of course if we say we need to practice about 12 hours a day, being sick or hurt takes some time out of that. If the pain is bad enough that it’ll impact the game in a negative way, you have to take time out and take care of that, so I think it had a large impact on practice.

AK: With RNG now going into quarters, is there a team you want to face? A team you want to avoid?

CSH: The results for group B aren’t out yet, but I think SKT will make it out as first. So we have a two-thirds chance of facing either the ROX Tigers or SKT, but I don’t think it matters who we face. I think it’ll be fine if we play our game to the best of our abilities.

AK: This is your third worlds stage in your career. Does it feel different each time you make it here?

CSH: My first time I was mostly bewildered. We almost immediately dropped out of the tournament, and although we expected a lot, we also were very arrogant. I think the second time and won worlds, it was much more comfortable. Of course I had to go to another country for the group stage, but since I was in Korea for semis, I didn’t have a huge sense of accomplishment. Even when we won, I wasn’t overjoyed, and now the third time I came to America again, and I mostly think that we’re having a tough time, so I think each time I feel different. Since I wasn’t at worlds last year, right now we can only go up, but I think I’ll be able to have some peace of mind if we make it to at least semis.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games