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Flame: “I really do want to make it to worlds and be the best top laner in NA. I guess I could be if we win the summer split.”

Flame says he wants to be the best top laner in the NA LCS.
Immortals' Flame (Lee Ho-Jong) says he wants to be the best top laner in the NA LCS. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.

Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with Immortals’ Lee “Flame” Ho-jong (in Korean and translated to English) during Week 1 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series.

Andrew Kim: I think it has to feel great that you’ve started the split well with a victory. How are you feeling right now?

Lee “Flame” Ho-jong: It’s very good that we won, and I think both me and team were able to show a good performance. I’m still pretty upset about the first game, though. I didn’t appeal myself well during the drafting phase, and I wasn’t decisive enough to have a top-centric drafting either. I wasn’t really confident in (Jarvan IV), and even I thought it was a game that I didn’t do well enough.

AK: You still managed to show a great performance on Renekton by being aggressive in lane. You’re really well-known to be a player who can out-play and win lane, so did you feel any sort of relief after you were able to play an aggressive top laner?

LHJ: In terms of Game 1, I kept quiet in order to choose a champion that was good for the team overall, and after we lost I felt like I wasn’t well-versed enough in that pick. So after the game, I told the team that I wanted to play a number of champions no matter what.

AK: Was there any negative responses in feedback because you were so adamant on what you wanted to play?

LHJ: No not at all.

AK: With another big change with patches include a new Rift Herald as well as items that revolve around tankers in the top lane. What are your thoughts on the new patch changes?

LHJ: I think it’s just a way to keep players on their toes. For the teams already at the top, they can stay there as long as they play enough to not lose their touch, but with new patches they need to keep study and play hard.

AK: What are your opinions on the Rift Herald or items?

LHJ: I think you need to think a lot before you take the new Rift Herald, if it’s worth getting it at the moment. That’s the most important. It’s not that hard to utilize and it usually means that you’ll get at least one turret.

AK: As you are a player in North America, I have to ask your opinion on the new league changes of removing relegation in 2018. Many fans across regions are saying that the removal of relegation is either good or bad. What are your thoughts on the matter?

LHJ: Honestly there isn’t much I can do about those changes. I don’t really have any interest in them, either. I don’t pay them too much mind since I’m not that affected by them. I know that American sports take the form of franchising, so it might seem bad for Korean fans, since Korean society prioritizes competition. I don’t think it’s a topic I can say is good or bad. With the experience in the region through different sports, I don’t think my perception can be the most valid on how it might turn out.

AK: Another topic of discussion is Echo Fox’s decision to only scrim their sister team, and they also picked up a lot of former pros for their Challenger team. This management seems to be a callback to CJ Frost and Blaze so that they would keep practice within themselves. Do you think this can work in NA as well?

LHJ: I don’t really know, but I think it’s better than having nothing. They said they would practice with their sister team, so if they have an opportunity to be flexible with their Challenger team, it could be effective. The best thing, I think, would be practicing with teams that are better and have things that they can learn, as well as having good coaching staff.

AK: The summer split is very important to many teams because you’ll be fighting for the chance of making it to worlds. Is there something that you wanted to work on that you were unhappy with in the previous split?

LHJ: Since I am the top laner, I always want to win in lane and be better than my opponent as a baseline. I’m still lacking in communication and my English skills. I really do want to make it to worlds and be the best top laner in NA. I guess I could be if we win the summer split.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Slingshot