It wasn’t pretty at times, but Royal Never Give Up made it out of Group D of the League of Legends World Championship. Dubbed the “group of death,” RNG earned second in the group after winning the final match Saturday against Team SoloMid to clinch a quarterfinal berth.
Slingshot’s Vince Nairn caught up with Li “xiaohu” Yuan-Hao afterward to talk (through an interpreter) about qualifying to the quarters, Western teams and how to stave off illness.
Vince Nairn: It was kind of a crazy day. How would you sum up your overall thoughts on making it to the quarterfinals?
Li “xiaohu” Yuan-Hao: I think our performance today is still kind of unstable, so I think that we still need to adjust our performance and our status to be firmed, or for us to get better
VN: What did you think after the loss to Splyce? That was probably difficult. How did you guys rebound?
LYH: After we lost the first game and then we lost to Samsung again, at the time, we were not performing as well as we should. When it came to the last game, because it was determining who would make it out of the group stage and who would go home, everyone wants to win that. Everybody tried our best. That (desperation) was the biggest reason we won.
VN: China struggled last year at worlds. Between you and EDG being able to make it out of groups, did it restore any pride to the region?
LYH: Although EDG and us made it out of the group stage, actually, I think both our teams have not performed that well. You saw we are kind of unstable — both teams. So for right now, I think we have a lower chance of winning from quarterfinals to semifinals. It more depends on how we can practice and get back to our performance in the coming week
VN: What do you need to do for that to happen?
LYH: We need to increase and have more time for us to play and practice next week. We need to be more focused on practicing than other things.
VN: What has this experience been like as a whole to this point?
LYH: First of all, I feel very happy I can be on one of the teams to participate in worlds because this is the biggest and most important tournament of the year. On the other side, I also worry about my own performance on the stage. I worry I cannot perform well. All I can do is try to play the best I can and to make our team better.
VN: What did you think of the Western teams in your group, TSM and Splyce?
LYH: For TSM, if they get more time to grow and improve, they can be one of the very top teams and maybe get a chance to win the world championship. Especially for Bjergsen, I feel really sorry that he can not go on from the group stage. He played really good. For Splyce, I think compared with EU teams from last year, I actually think Splyce has played significantly better than teams from last year. For Splyce’s mid lane player (Chres “Sencux” Laursen), he’s a player who is really good in every single aspect.
VN: A lot of teams and players have been getting sick during the tournament. Is that something RNG has had to deal with?
LYH: In the past few days, Mx and Uzi, they both had colds. So we brought medicines from China to help them. But although they’re OK for today, they are not getting back to that status of being able to perform really good.
VN: You’ve been around and in international tournaments before. Is there anything in particular that lends itself to players getting sick? This isn’t the first time this has happened at worlds.
LYH: I think it’s very important for the pros to protect themselves, especially during the worlds tournament. If you get sick during worlds, it can really make you feel less power.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games