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Inori on Phoenix1’s early success, trying to be competitive in the NA LCS and Pokemon references

Slingshot’s Andrew Kim talked to Phoenix1’s Rami “Inori” Charagh during Week 2 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series.

Andrew Kim: Congratulations on the 2-0 victory (Saturday). The games seemed very one-sided, so did you find that the way the game worked out was reflected in team communication as well?

Rami “Inori” Charagh: I think the pick and ban went the way we expected. They went for the typical pick and ban, and we know they have problems as a team. They’re a new roster. They probably don’t have as much practice, obviously. In general, their roster isn’t as stacked as other teams, so we expected if the pick and ban went our way, the game would just play out in our favor.

AK: Your new team cat has been making huge waves on social media. Do you find it to be a (welcomed) distraction for the team?

RC: I definitely think it’s really nice. In a team, you have not that much free time. You get really stressed, and having something like a cat that can relieve the stress is always nice. I think it’s fun, too. I think a lot of the players are having fun. Ryu loves it, and it’s his birthday too so he’s super happy to have a cat as a pet.

AK: There seems to be this very good atmosphere when it comes to the team as a whole in Phoenix1. Do you have any stories or memories that reflect that atmosphere?

RC: I think from the very start, the staff never pressured us. I think other orgs maybe put too much pressure on the players to perform. If you threaten the person with maybe saying like, “Hey, if you’re not performing, we’ll bring in a sub for your role,” obviously that’s stressful for the player because now he feels like he has to perform or he’s gonna get kicked. I think Phoenix1 is an org that puts a lot of trust in the players and I think that’s really important for the player to grow. Especially if you’re trying to get NA players to grow, it’s really important to put some trust in them and show them that you care about them, you want them to succeed.

AK: Would you say that Phoenix 1 is doing well in what people might consider “fostering talent?”

RC: Yeah I definitely think that they’re doing a pretty good job, and they’re bringing in a new performance coach, so I think they’re putting in a lot of efforts to take care of the players and the mental strain that being a competitive player takes on a player.

AK: Junglers have been a hot topic in the LCS so far. Do you also feel like there is a desire to be one of the names that’s being discussed?

RC: I definitely want to be. This is a Pokemon reference, but I want to be the best, the very best. I don’t care if in the first week people are (saying) I’m getting overshadowed by other junglers’ performances. By the end of itm that’s the important part. I want to be at the end of the split and where I’m happy about my performance level, my skill and everything. I want it by the end of the split to be where I want it to be. Right now, obviously it’s a new team, some teams have (more) stable rosters. Right now I’m trying to learn from each other, trying to get better as a team. I think the team game is very important right now. Also, the jungle is a very heavy communication role, so once you figure out all of the communication issues, things will play out a lot better.

AK: Phoenix1 is having another rebirth story because not a lot of people expected you to do well after seeing the team perform in the past split. Do you feel like the current momentum is something you can ride for a long time? Or are there things you’re arranging to be even better?

RC: I think the first Phoenix1 roster was obviously so late in the season, the spot was bought so late, but they’re just trying to find a roster just to keep them in the LCS. Obviously, you’d want to win, but it’s just like they had low expectations going in. We performed a lot better than expectations, so that’s something people like to support, like, the underdog story going to this split. We’re trying to be the competitive roster, top four, top three, even first place. That’s where we’re aiming for. I think this iteration of the roster is the most competitive, and I think we’ll go very far with this roster.

AK: Would you say the goal shifted from “Let’s stay in the LCS” to “Let’s try to win the LCS?”

RC: After all the roster moves, we’re looking to be one of the most competitive teams. Last split you couldn’t hope for much, like you have to take chances on some rookies so late into the season. Now you actually have time. You have one full split. Worlds ended, so many rosters, like, players ended up like Arrow (No Dong-hyeon) was off KT, Ryu was off of H2K, things like that, you can’t really get in the first time. They didn’t have chances to take these good imports and stuff like that, and you just have to play out with our roster. But now we had a chance in the offseason to prepare.

AK: Seeing as Phoenix1 is one of the teams with a better record, what is a team that you’re cautious around?

RC: I think mostly TSM will be the one who we’re the most cautious of. I think I’m more confident playing into Cloud9 than I am right now to TSM. I think TSM always comes through later on. The start can be rocky for them, but they have such a good support staff, the environment there is probably really good. They obviously have good leadership there. I think that team can always pull through. Obviously, the standings and performance, Cloud9 beat TSM. I recognize that too, and obviously Cloud9 is a really strong team. But for me, I would be more scared later on playing against TSM at the end of the split.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/Slingshot illustration