SK Telecom T1 is back in the semifinals of the League of Legends World Championship for the second year in a row after dispatching of Royal Never Give Up 3-1 in a quarterfinal match Friday night.
For many teams, getting this far would be an accomplishment; for SKT, it’s an expectation. The reigning world champions (and only two-time champion in League history) will look to make its third final in next week’s semifinals. In the meantime, Slingshot’s Vince Nairn caught up with Lee “Wolf” Jae-Wan after the win to talk (through an interpreter) about Korean success, overcoming a poor first game against RNG and the pressure that comes with being on SKT.
Vince Nairn: Congratulations on the win. How would you sum up what went well for you guys tonight?
Lee “Wolf” Jae-Wan: There were some mistakes in the top lane in the first game, and I think we lost smoothly because our opponents got a snowball off of that. I think we made less mistakes in the next three games. Everyone won their lanes, so we could just win off of that.
VN: How do you handle the expectations that come with being on SKT? You guys are here now going into the semifinals, and for a lot of teams that is an accomplishment; for you guys it’s an expectation.
LJW: Well the most important thing in winning games is winning your lanes. Since my team is very aware that we are strong in lane, I don’t feel like there is that much pressure. But the pressure does return when we make a mistake or lose a game, but I think that’s to be expected for professional gamers. We’re confident in ourselves above all.
VN: Do you personally enjoy that pressure?
LJW: Absolutely not. I do have a competition in me as a pro gamer, but the nature of competition is that one wins while the other must lose. I don’t like the hate and harsh words that tend to go to the loser. I think that negative response is a form of pressure, and that it’s not uniquely a Korean thing.
VN: Is there any team that you prefer to play in the semifinals?
LJW: I don’t think it’ll matter much who we end up facing, but I’d like to face EDG if possible. ROX is a Korean team, and we think that they are a very good team, so I hope EDG beats them to the semifinals.
VN: All three Korean teams are doing well. How does that make you feel about your region as a whole?
LJW: I think Korea is in a uniquely strong position in all different types of games. I don’t exactly know why, but I think Korea as a region is very good.
VN: Does it create a sort of pride to see the Korean teams succeed so much?
LJW: This is what I personally think, and although it’s great to have Korea acknowledged as the top region, I hope the other teams do worse than us. That way I feel like my team could be more special and stick out among the rest. I do have a sense of pride that my region is upheld as a whole as well.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games