Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with Team Liquid’s Samson “Lourlo” Jackson during the North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS) to talk about spring split struggles, forming the summer split roster and LCS franchising.
Andrew Kim: First off, what did Team Liquid do between splits? How did this team sort of some together again?
Samson “Lourlo” Jackson: So basically everyone went on vacation obviously but we started again about a month leading into the LCS. We started the first two weeks as a trial period. We tried out Youngbin (Jung Young-bin). We tried out a few different mids, Piglet (Chae Gwang-jin) at mid still with a different AD Carry. We just tried that for the first week to see what fit us the best. We went forward with the completed roster and started scrimming.
AK: It’s gotta be a very interesting position to be in being a part of a team that was sort of going through so many different changes in the previous split in terms of players. How have you grounded yourself in order to not get swept in by the changes or what’s being said by the community?
SJ: I still think I’m improving as a player. I think that makes me more motivated than ever because I know I saw a really high ceiling as a player and I just tried to better my teammates the best I can with what they have. I just try to give them advice, just work with them to make them stronger individuals, and hopefully we’ll mesh together at the middle or the end of the season.
AK: The new changes to the Rift Herald and some major changes to tank items have come in the new patch and it seemed like your lane was the one that was impacted the most in terms of how the game will play out. What do you think about the changes?
SJ: The items are interesting. I think it gives tanks more variety because you don’t just go the standard Sunfire, Spirit Visage, GA every game. You can have a Stoneskin Gargoyle Plate or Adaptive Helm. You can switch out for even Abyssal. So it’s just more variance in terms of what you can do up top, and for the Rift Herald, it just gives another objective to play with because when team goes for dragon, you can just trade on the other side of the map and get a lead off of that. It gives more options on the map, and I really like it a lot.
AK: What do you think of Riot getting rid of relegation next year?
SJ: I think overall it’s a good move for Riot. There are not many negatives; it’s mostly all positives because I think relegation is just never good. I played it last split and I don’t want to make anyone else go through that because it is pretty much utter hell because there’s so much stress. It’s just not worth it. It’s not even healthy, I feel like, because your job, your career, and maybe for some people it’s their life on the line with the org. It’s pretty crazy when you have that much responsibility, so relegation being gone is a really big help, and I think just the franchising in general is going to better the scene and develop it and grow it more.
AK: With the removal of the Challenger Series, they kind of tweaked it to kind of an academy system where teams can better bring up and train new talent. Do you think the academy system is going to work out in the long term?
SJ: I think at the start, the academy scene will be pretty lackluster, but I think maybe in the second or third split I think teams will start utilizing it way better because I think teams are just going to have to figure it out or feel it out to get the best options for the five they want to field in that role. There’s going to be a lot of trial and error for a lot of the LCS teams, and overall I think the change for the academy teams will benefit even LCS teams in the future.
AK: With Echo Fox signing the former pros as a Challenger team and also doing all its scrimming in-house, what do you think of that concept?
SJ: I think it depends on the sister team’s strength. If you have five competitive players who can actually put up numbers and actually play well like LCS teams, then it’s worth it. But there’s not that many individuals in NA right now that can perform at that level, so it’s hard to get a competitive match if you have a sister team like that. If they can train them well and make them into competent players then it’s worth it, but overall I think it’ll just be worse practice for them.
AK: So if a different team did something similar but with a more competitive sister team, do you think it can work out in the NA LCS?
SJ: Yeah for sure. If you have ex-LCS players or even players that can play in the LCS right now, like say, a C9 Ray and Impact kind of thing, and then one plays against the other, that’s super good practice for the players. It just depends on the players you can pick. There’s just not as many as owners want right now because there’s just more talent that needs to be found.
AK: Being a professional gamer comes with a lot of stress. Despite your team’s bad performance last split you hung on to the NA LCS. What do you do in order to cool off, relax, to make sure you’re at your peak mental and physical condition to order to compete in the NA LCS regardless of what happens outside?
SJ: I think I have this never ending hunger for the game. Since I’ve started League of Legends it hasn’t changed much, I just want to be able to just succeed and be a top team, and that just drives me everyday even if we’re losing. Even if we’re winning, it’s still there. I think that hunger won’t go away for the time I’m in the LCS and I hope that I can keep improving and make sure my team gets some wins.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/Slingshot illustration