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ROX GorillA on reaching the semifinals and playing SKT again

Three Korean League of Legends pros -- Lee "Duke" Ho-seong, Kim "Pure" Jin-sun and Kang "GorillA" Beom-hyun -- apologized for a joke about prostitution made in an on-stream chat in 2016.
Three Korean League of Legends pros -- Lee "Duke" Ho-seong, Kim "Pure" Jin-sun and Kang "GorillA" Beom-hyun -- apologized for a joke about prostitution made in an on-stream chat in 2016 that caused social media uproar last week.

The ROX Tigers will face rival SK Telecom T1 in the semifinals of the League of Legends World Championship after defeating EDward Gaming 3-1 in Saturday’s quarterfinal. The entire season has led to this matchup for the two top Korean teams, and Slingshot’s Vince Nairn had the chance to talk to the Tigers’ Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon on Saturday (through an interpreter) about the quarterfinals, Korean dominance and playing SKT once again.

Note: This interview took place before the report and subsequent denial that the ROX Tigers were disbanding, so it obviously was not mentioned.

Vince Nairn: How would you sum up the win to get to the semifinals?

Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon: To sum it all up, I think EDG’s top laner getting switched was a big factor in those games, but our form was much better also. I think that’s the reason why we were able to defeat them.

VN: Not that you played poorly last week, but a lot of people — you guys included — thought you could play better. Do you think you reached that potential this week?

KBH: At the beginning of the tournament, we did our picks and bans based on who the opponent was picking and banning. So we were following their trend. But starting this week, we actually decided to become more proactive with our picks and bans and try to figure out what we are good at. I think that was the reason we were able to overcome our difficulties from last week and really shore up this week.

VN: What kind of happened in Game 3?

KBH: I don’t think there was anything wrong with our picks, but I think the problem was that because we won so dominantly in Games 1 and 2, we just had so much confidence and probably overconfidence, and we sort of tried to create team fights using our teleports. There was one misplay that led to a snowballing from the other team. I think that’s where it went wrong.

VN: ROX Tigers vs. SKT again. How do you feel about that matchup?

KBH: SKT is definitely not a team that we wanted to meet. If we had to meet a Korean team, I would have preferred to meet Samsung. But it is what it is. TO get to the finals, we will have to defeat them. So we will try our best to do that.

VN: Three Korean teams in the semifinals. How does that sound as a Korean player seeing your region perform well once again?

KBH: People always say, “Oh, this year, LCK is not going to show up because these players left and so many good players are gone to other regions,” and stuff like that, but it makes me so proud to see LCK still really doing great. I wish that LCK can continue its success in the future as well.

VN: How is this year’s worlds experience different from last year?

KBH: So the similarity between last year and this year is we had tough group stages. The difference is our opponent in the quarterfinals last year was actually a tougher opponent, KT. This year we had an easier opponent in the quarterfinals, but our true opponent is in the semifinals. That’s the difference.

VN: You guys and SKT know each other so well. What are the things that will make the difference this time?

KBH: The junglers from SKT received a lot of criticism back in Korea because they were not doing so well. But they are back to how they used to play, so it’s going to be a real threat, and also I think the second most important factor in the lane will be the bottom lane. If we are able to dominate the bottom lane and jungle, I think we will be able to come out on top.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games