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P1 Zig: “I definitely wish there were more opportunities for us to prove ourselves internationally, and that they were better set up and more rewarding for teams compared to how IEM is set up.”

Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with Phoenix1’s Derek “Zig” Shao during Week 6 (before Adrian “Adrian” Ma was transferred to Liquid) of the North American League of Legends Championship Series to talk about using two junglers and the state of international tournaments.

Andrew Kim: How are you feeling with the current roster changes in the team?

Derek “Zig” Shao: It hasn’t been particularly difficult to me I played with a lot of junglers with different styles in the past, and we’re just sailing it day by day. Whoever the team thinks is the best for any given match or any practice set is who we’ll wind up using. There’s not much too it other than that we have two junglers right now. (Rami “Inori” Charagh) obviously was starting earlier in the season but he had to take a break, and things are working well with (William “Meteos” Hartman). We just didn’t want to change the formula.

AK: Is everything ok with Inori? How is he doing?

DS: He’s fine. He’s back at the house. He had some things he had to deal with, and the IEM weekend break was a good time for him to do it. So he dealt with his things at home, went to Vancouver, came back, and everything’s back to normal at our house. We’re just practicing regularly and everything’s still OK.

AK: Now that you brought up IEM, I want to ask you about what you think about the status of international tournaments. Teams aren’t compelled to go for a variety of reasons, but there are voices that say we need more international competition. What are your thoughts?

DS: I was like an OG. I played back when international tournaments weren’t all that existent. IPL 4 was my first tournament. It was like in 2012. I actually prefer playing international tournaments compared to how the LCS has turned out, but obviously Riot has the most control for everything so it’s hard to go back to anything. They’re still building it up pretty well as it is, but I definitely wish there were more opportunities for us to prove ourselves internationally, and that they were better set up and more rewarding for teams compared to how IEM is set up. Because the incentives don’t seem good enough right now.

AK: You mentioned that way the regular setup has turned out isn’t something you’re too hot about. Can you go into a little bit more detail?

DS: The seasons are pretty long, and I think a lot of other esports have tournament-based play and there’s traveling and stuff. It just seems more fun. The “grass is greener on the other side” type thing. From an outsider looking in, I’d rather personally be going to tournaments than going to the studio every weekend, but I mean this is just fine too. We’re competing and everything and it’s still good.

AK: In your opinion, who do you think is the most underrated player in the NA LCS?

DS: I think actually (Sun “Cody Sun” Li Yu) is pretty underrated. I like Cody Sun, and people shit on him all the time on Reddit, but I played competitive when he was in the Challenger scene, and he’s like a thoroughbred NA talent and definitely deserves more recognition. AD Carries for this season, it’s been really hard to make adaptations to playing properly and stuff. You can see, (Jung “Youngbiin” Young-bin) just came in yesterday as like as a mid main that switched to AD for like two weeks, and Cody absolutely crushed him. So I think he isn’t getting as much credit as he deserves, and he’s definitely a rising star. Especially because this is his rookie split in the NA LCS too and he has to work on a team that’s support isn’t really great with English, and there’s communication barriers. I think he’s making the best of a situation while getting shit on by Reddit, and that’s definitely something that’s under appreciated right now.

AK: Do you watch VODs from other regions for practice?

DS: Mostly LCK.

AK: Who’s a player that you pay more attention to?

DS: Mostly (Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho) and (Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon). I think they are the best two for top laners right now to kind of model yourself after if you’re trying to be a competitive player, like best in the world type thing. Just cause they’re on really good teams as well. I think their play styles are really good they can play from a lot of different positions in the game, with resources, without resources, good matchups, bad matchups, and their play style is definitely good to model after.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games