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ROX coach: “I feel we have no reason to fear SKT. We feel that we have a really good chance of winning.”

With the ROX Tigers advancing to the semifinals of the League of Legends World Championship, they have secured another match against rival SK Telecom T1.

The Tigers lost to SKT in the finals of last year’s worlds and again in the spring final for League Champions Korea. ROX won the summer LCK split but did not have to play SKT, which lost before the finals. They will meet for a spot in the final this time, with the winner playing the winner of H2K and fellow Korean team Samsung Galaxy.

Slingshot’s Vince Nairn interviewed ROX Tigers coach Jeong “NoFe” No-chul (through an interpreter) after Saturday’s win to talk about preparations for SKT and what’s different at worlds this time.

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

Vince Nairn: What are you overall thoughts on today’s win?

Jeong “NoFe” No-chul: Today was a good opportunity for us, and we were able to take advantage of that opportunity, so we’re very thankful.

VN: You and SKT know each other very well. What are the kinds of things that make a difference in a matchup like that?

JNC: Because we’ve faced each other so many times, we know how the teams ban and pick. We sort of know what they’re gonna ban and how the (draft)is gonna play out. So rather than bans and picks making a big difference in our games against SKT, it will be more purely players’ skills that will make the difference.

VN: And how do you feel about the matchup based on that?

JNC: Because we had such a shaky performance in group stages, a lot of fans are worried ROX Tigers may not be at their best. As we practice, we actually think our form is very good right now. Because of that, I feel we have no reason to fear SKT. We feel that we have a really good chance of winning.

VN: Did tonight’s performance maybe alleviate any of those concerns about form?

JNC: Yes, I’m pretty satisfied with tonight’s performance. We faced a team that came out of China as the No. 1 seed, so defeating them like this definitely gave us a lot of confidence in our ability to do well.

VN: Did you do anything differently to prepare the team for worlds this time compared to last year?

JNC: Last year we had a sponsorship issue and a lot of external issues that prevented us from focusing on the games themselves. But this year we have nothing to worry about. We have a very stable environment where players can just focus on the games, so I can maximize upon that advantage. Just trying to get players to like each other and have a very friendly environment so they can play their best.

VN: Do those outside issues have a big effect on the players’ mentality? How do you manage that?

JNC: I believe that League of Legends is a psychological game more than anything. Anyone who’s already at worlds is a very good player. I don’t think the mechanical skills are much different, but the psychological part is where the difference is made. If there’s something going on outside the game that’s really sort of taking the focus away from those games, then it has a huge impact on how that player performs.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games