Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with Team EnVyUs’ Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent during Week 1 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series. They talked about Envy’s Korean bootcamp, League of Legends meta changes and Hakuho’s take on LCS franchising.
Andrew Kim: What did you guys do as a team in between splits?
Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent: We didn’t really have a break. We had like one week off and then we went to Korea for boot camp. We were in Korea for about a month and we came back, had like three days off and then started scrimming. I think in general we’ve been practicing a lot. Probably about the same as the teams that went to MSI. They came back and they had maybe a week break, so in general we were still practicing for the most of it, just I guess not as much as last year. Last year we did three scrim blocks, we’ve done two so far.
AK: It’s kind of played out how Korea’s solo queue is so much better than North American solo queue. What are some things outside of the game that you really liked or enjoyed about Korea?
NS: Korean food is super good. It was good to have actually authentic Korean food. The air wasn’t that good, but that was more because of dust storms from China. That was kind of unlucky, but we were kind of in a business area so there’s not too much fun stuff to do. It was mostly offices and stuff there. They had a lot of good food places.
AK: For the bot lane in terms of new patches after MSI, there is obviously the addition of Xayah and Rakan. We’ve seen some incredible plays from Aphromoo yesterday as Rakan. We saw some Rakan play today. What’s your evaluation of Xayah and Rakan?
NS: I think Xayah and Rakan together is super broken. The all-in potential once you have both ultimates is super easy, and then in general trying to fight those two is pretty impossible. There’s (not) an AD that can out-DPS Xayah, and Rakan is a super strong team-fighting support. His lane is kind of weak if you know how to play around it because if he misses his knock up, then it’s super easy to win a trade against him. I think in general both can work by themselves. I think Rakan is easier to work into a team comp than Xayah, but people still usually ban one or the other. I think more people ban Xayah just because how much damage she does and how easy it is to shove the lane with her, which is usually what you want in the bot lane.
AK: Changes are coming from Riot in 2018 in terms of franchising, the removal of the relegation system, and stuff like that. There’s a lot of conversation in the community about whether or not the removal of relegation is good or bad. What do you think about the matter?
NS: I don’t have too strong of an opinion about having relegation or not. I think it’s probably worse for the Challenger scene, but I think for LCS it’s better for the players because franchising means more money in the scene. The only issue is, since you still have to buy a spot and Riot gets to pick what teams come in, it’s the same issue as the Overwatch League right now, all of the major orgs just dropped their teams because of the (reported) $20 million to buy a spot. But Riot has $10 million, I think as the (price). I’ll just have to wait and see how Riot actually handles it. The only issue that can come from franchising is if there’s a team that’s just there because they have fans (even though the team) is bad, but I think there’s was a ruling where if your team was ninth and 10th for five split or something you get kicked out? I think overall it’s probably better for the scene.
AK: Another interesting topic is Echo Fox’s decision to just scrim their sister team, they also signed what the fans are calling the “meme team” made up with a bunch of former professionals and streamers to play in the Challenger series. Do you think this new decision to scrim against Challenger teams is a smart strategy?
NS: I don’t think that’s a really smart strategy because usually you want to play against the LCS teams to see what’s their idea of drafts and play style is. It’s usually better. The meme team thing is smart considering the franchising decision because honestly Challenger this split doesn’t mean anything. Not to be harsh, but since even if you win Challenger and get into LCS, you might still not have a spot next split. For them, it’s smart business-wise because you can build up a fan base and Riot will want them to be in the league next split.
AK: It definitely comes across as a business-savvy decision.
NS: It’s definitely a business decision but it’ll probably be funny. I’m not upset about it. The only other thing about the Challenger scrimming thing is pretty unfortunate because they did that this week so basically they canceled all scrims with all the teams they had and we were supposed to scrim them three days this week. It was quite unfortunate for us.
AK: I’m sure every player has their own ritual or their own way of preparation before they go into a game or coming out of a game to maintain their peak mental and physical conditioning. I want to ask if you have any of those kinds of special activities or rituals that you do before or after the game to make sure you’re razor sharp for the next one.
NS: I don’t really do anything before or after games. I don’t really struggle with tilting or mental stuff. Though I think before matches I take caffeine, that’s it. I guess that’s all I need.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games