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LemonNation on Riot Games starting the players union: “There’s just no way that the players by themselves would do it. I think most of the players are too lazy and just too focused on other things.”

LemonNation says Riot Games helping start a League of Legends players association is good because it wouldn't be done otherwise.
LemonNation (Daerek Hart) says Riot Games helping start a League of Legends players association is good because it wouldn't be done otherwise. Photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Slingshot.

Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with FlyQuest’s Daerek “LemonNation” Hart during Week 2 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series. They talked about summer split goals, adding Jason “WildTurtle” Tran and why Riot Games kick-starting a players union is good.

Andrew Kim: It’s gotta be a very interesting situation to be in as a member of FlyQuest because we’re seeing a complete reversal from last split. The unexpected incredible success, and now it’s kind of an unexpected rocky start. Is there any particular reason that you can find that is such a big contrast between the two splits?

Daerek “LemonNation” Hart: I don’t really know. I think right now, we tend to pretty consistently win the early game, but we tend to have issues closing out, and a lot of issues in the mid game getting caught or having our overall plan kind of be in sync as a team. I think right now, we’re kind of having trouble because we’re all doing well early game in our lanes and we’re all getting these leads pretty consistently, even in scrims, but I think given time we should be able to make ourselves work. Make our team come together.

AK: One of the things that seems to be a theme for FlyQuest, as Moon (Galen Holgate) said, is that going to worlds is very important to the whole team. Obviously for Moon, who’s never been there, but for the rest of the team as well. When it comes to reaching that goal of making worlds, how much does it matter to you as a team?

DH: I think all four of us except Moon have gone to worlds every single time we’ve played in the LCS, I believe. So not making it would definitely be disappointing since we’ve always made it before. We really, really want to go.

AK: Is it more about keeping the streak alive or is it just the idea of going to worlds itself that is so satisfying?

DH: I mean, it’s definitely just going to worlds. Even if we didn’t have the streak, we’d still desperately want to make it to worlds. Right now we’re definitely not playing at that level for sure, so hopefully we can bring it together by the end of the split.

AK: An interesting debate right now is the idea of a support in the game. In Korea, SKT’s support Wolf (Lee Jae-wan) has been very vocal as to the importance and the worth of a support is in the team. It tends to be overlooked because it’s not that flashy in comparison to other roles. As a veteran support yourself, do you think supports are under-appreciated by the scene, and what makes a support so crucial to the game?

DH: The support’s never going to be the one making pentakills, or 1-v-5 outplays, or things like that. They’re kind of the bitch role, they need to move away, do as much as they can with what gold they have. But of course it’s extremely important. There’s so much the support has to do to make the team work.

AK: What are those crucial things that maybe the layman doesn’t understand that’s kind of taken for granted, almost?

DH: It kind of depends on the game, what the support has to do. The support is the person who has the most control over the map and control of the vision. It kind of depends on the support, too.

AK: Let’s say we’ll boil down the support to the most important thing a support needs to do, baseline for all the supports. If you are a good support, you need to do this?

DH: If you’re a good support you basically have to constantly fight for vision and constantly control the map. You need to be matching or taking control of where the enemy’s support is placing his wards, making sure that your team knows where they are, making sure you’re clearing them, giving direction to your team where you want to take vision control. Getting all of that kind of knowledge to your team so that your team knows where they can make plays, if they can make catches or if they can get caught, that kind of thing.

AK: One of the things FlyQuest has also been dealing with has been the rather late acquisition of WildTurtle as the AD Carry. I’m going to guess that you guys didn’t scrim all that much before you started. From what I understand it was a very last-minute thing. What were some difficulties that you found as a support playing with WildTurtle?

DH: It is true that we got WildTurtle quite late. We weren’t allowed to talk to him until he came back from MSI, and that whole thing because he was focused on that. I’m really happy that we did get WildTurtle. He’s an amazing player, and I think we’ve been doing quite well in lane at the moment. We tend to get a lot of advantages in that phase of the game. Turtle’s a very good player.

AK: When you’re in esports as long as you’ve been, you have to have some opinions about how the league is run or how things are being done for the players. One of the new initiatives from Riot in 2018 is going to be the players association. Right now it still seems up in the air as to how successful it might be, so do you have any aspirations or hopes that a player association is just the thing they they need?

DH: I think a players association is definitely needed and I’m very happy that Riot’s taken the initiative to start it because without Riot actually taking the initiative to fund it and get good representatives as options for us, it just wouldn’t get off the ground.

AK: The common criticism has been that the pros will never get together to create a players’ association by themselves.

DH: Yeah that’s true.

AK: Why do you think that is?

DH: I mean we’re constantly competing with each other. The pros aren’t talking to each other. There’s the friendships and teams and stuff like that, but we’re never brought all together. The only time we were brought all together was by Riot. We were brought together recently for the players summit where we had all the players association (talk) and stuff like that. There’s just no way that the players by themselves would do it. I think most of the players are too lazy and just too focused on other things. They’re too focused on competing and winning. We’re all technically on the same side, but we are all competing against each other as well.

AK: Recently Riot put out a new video about creating the new championship skins for SKT, and they’re very elaborate. Let’s say you win worlds and Riot comes to you and asks which champion you would want to make a skin for. Which champion would you choose?

DH: I like Zyra the most as a champion, but she’s already been done. If I were to just choose a champion I think Ivern’s the coolest champion. He’s not a support champion and I don’t play him, but I think having a skin for him would be quite cool. Besides that, Morgana would be a good choice as well. I also quite like Tahm Kench as a champion as well. I don’t play him that much either. I like his walk.

AK: It’s only been two weeks into the NA LCS. There’s a lot more games to play, and more work to be done not just for your team but for all the teams. If there’s something that you’d take a day, get together, and not get up until the team discusses or fixes an issue you have, what would that issue be?

DH: I mean, we already do that.

AK: Then what was the most recent issue that you guys talked about?

DH: A big issue that we’ve been having is we tend to 4-1 and 1-3-1 a lot. That’s a big part of the meta, and we tend to be good at getting leads with those kind of comps, but we tend to stop respecting the opponent’s timings of things. Even if you have a huge lead, at some point they have priority and you have to give up some stuff. Sometimes we feel so strong we can just run them over when we can’t, and we tend to throw a lot that way. I think we have to take it a bit slower than we are and respect our opponents more when we have a lead.

AK: Do you think it’s an analytical problem or an ego problem?

DH: I’m not really sure. I think it’s just, I think we’re a bit too HAM.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Slingshot