SK Telecom T1’s top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon talked extensively about his now infamous top lane Lucian pick during a Feb. 2 stream and revealed some of the basis behind the decision.
“It wasn’t just a whimsical pick. It was all approved before the game,” he said. “If I can say this now, I played Lucian top in 25 scrims. That may seem like a little, but he was the second most used champion during scrims for me.”
The game in question was against Team SoloMid in the semifinals of last spring’s North American League of Legends Championship Series. Immortals, undefeated at the time, made a controversial pick that involved three damage dealing carries in its lineup, with Huni, the top laner at the time, taking Lucian. Although it seemed like the pick looked like it was paying off in the early to mid game, TSM would get the better of Immortals in the late game and won the first game of the series.
“That game, the gold difference was like 10K,” he said. “We threw that game, really. I’m innocent! It’s not a game we lost because of me.”
The pick has since been an infamous moment in Huni’s career that on one hand cemented his play style to be carry-centric aggression. It also garnered heavy criticism from fans in both North America and Korea, as many labeled the pick a random one that no one was able to stop, which led to the Immortals’ loss to TSM.
Huni offered a different point of view, saying that such an action is impossible for multiple reasons.
“Drafting is a team-wide thing,” he said. “It goes through the coaches, players, and they all come together to make the decision. Obviously we talk about the picks before the game. What team would allow a player to just make a random pick out of nowhere? A lot of people think I just picked him on a whim, but I’ve never made pick decisions like that in my life, especially in a tournament game. LoL is a team game, so if we lose because of me, the guilt is enormous, and a lot of problems come forth not just for the team, but for me too. There’s no reason to go through all of that, right?”
It wasn’t all frustrations or regrets for Huni, though, as he said the Lucian pick did give him a great “concept” that goes along with him and his career. With many SKT fans in Korea pegging him as a troublesome player incapable of playing tanks in the current meta, the reward of his debut victory as a solid tank player was all the more rewarding.
“It’s a lot of fun to read (posts) nowadays,” he said. “I did get a lot of negative comments, and although some people said that they looked forward to my play in Korea, some people judged me to be a player who can’t play tanks and a trashy player who makes random picks. Because of that, I wanted to play a tank for my (SKT) debut match since people said I couldn’t play them. I had to show everyone that I can.”
In his debut match against the Jin Air Green Wings on Jan. 18, Huni played Maokai in Game 1 and Poppy in Game 2, dying only once each game, proving that he wasn’t only capable of playing tanks, but he was able to excel in them. He even received an MVP nod along with Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and was part of the post-match interview.
“After I won my first game, I was so happy,” he said, recalling that moment during the stream. “I was the happiest man on Earth. Thinking about it right now gives me goosebumps. I played well, I had fun, and I thought it was good that I started on the right foot. I worked hard and was lucky too, which gave me good results.”
Still, Huni is far from happy about where he is right now, and he’s well aware of how heavy a responsibility he has as a member of SKT, as well as the potential backlash if his performance slips.
“I need to work harder,” he said. “I have rivals now, and I have to face a lot more strong teams. Honestly speaking, though, there’s no need for anyone to really hype me up this much, because I still have a lot to learn. I don’t think this will ever happen, but if we lose because of me, the community reaction will shift immediately, even if I did play well in the other three games. The saying that the world of professionals is cold really rings true here. You need to be good at everything all the time as a pro.”