Wins against Cloud9 and Team Liquid and a surprising 0-2 week for Immortals helped Counter Logic Gaming reclaim the top spot in the North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS) with a record of 8-2, one game ahead of Immortals and Team SoloMid after Week 5. Emily Rand sat down with CLG mid laner Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun to discuss CLG’s aspirations and progress thus far.
Emily Rand: Congratulations on the victory. How are you feeling and what’s the team atmosphere like?
Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun: I’m generally happy that we won the game. The team is also happy because we won, but we obviously know that there’s a lot to fix. I’ll say it’s still pretty far from where we want to get to, so it will definitely be a rush, but I think we can make it.
ER: I’m unsure of how much you have followed Korea this split, but there is a team in the LCK right now that’s a bit similar to yours, the Afreeca Freecs, where they’ll have an utterly dominant Game 1, and then falter in Game 2 and possibly Game 3 as well. Outside of your series against Immortals, this split’s CLG has followed a similar pattern. Can you explain why this happens, or the team’s general mindset when it does?
CJH: Obviously with a dominant Game 1, it gives us the confidence that we’re a lot better. Post-Game 1 we talk about how we can make the games even more dominant, more clean, and win. I guess in Game 2 we’re shaken now. It’s a trauma that we have to face. Nowadays when we have a clean Game 1, we just say, “Okay guys, Game 2 will be shakier but let’s try to do our best to hold it.” It’s not something easy where we can just say, “Let’s change it” and it will change. Maybe in our mindset we get too cocky or out of focus. It’s definitely something that we have to change.
ER: How do you feel like CLG has improved or evolved from your first series this split to now?
CJH: Gameplay-wise, I do feel that we’ve improved since the beginning. We have more knowledge and we understand the team game a lot more. Mindset-wise, we’ve kind of faltered at times. In the beginning, we were pretty good as a team. Nowadays it’s a lot more shaky and that’s what we want to fix for sure.
ER: You and jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett looked really strong as a duo today. Take me through what it’s been like to play with him this split.
CJH: It’s really fun to play with him. He’s a lot more aggressive than Xmithie (Jake Puchero), the previous jungler I had. He also watches VODs a lot and thinks about the game a lot. It’s easy to work with him. All we have to do is have him communicate his needs in game to me and the opposite from my side. Our communication so far is pretty smooth and we have a lot of confidence in each other. We are a good mid/jungle duo I think.
ER: Today you brought out the Aurelion Sol, which is something that you play somewhat regularly. You play it really well, but also the team plays well around you. What is it about Aurelion Sol that makes you and CLG so successful?
CJH: Everyone has their own style, and Aurelion Sol kind of initiates more along my play style. I understand what I need to do to win the game on this type of champion, so I just communicate really vocally whenever I have Sol or whenever I have a roaming champion and my teammates just learned what they have to do to win the game with those kind of champions. Now, since we’ve played it for a while, for my teammates it’s second nature as well.
ER: Would you say that Vladimir is similar, especially since you’ve pulled him out to face Syndra?
CJH: Vladimir is just a counter pick that I can pick once in a while. It’s a champion that isn’t played as much right now, so sometimes people forget how to play against him as well. I just think it’s another pocket pick that other people don’t always play but I think is good in certain scenarios.
ER: Last week, there was a lot of talk about CLG’s draft. How do you feel like you addressed this or executed on your drafts today against Cloud9?
CJH: With draft, I’m not blaming Tony (“Zikz” Gray, the team’s coach) at all, but I think in any team there are always ways to improve the draft even if it’s a really good draft. As a team we just failed to draft the right champions in the scenarios that we were given, especially versus Immortals we couldn’t do that much because of the composition. We were able to talk more deeply about it afterwards. People voiced their concerns, and we’re just working on fixing it and making it smooth.
ER: There has been a lot of discussion on how important drafting is to a victory. For you, how much of a win is due to draft and how much is due to execution?
CJH: From my perspective it’s hard to separate those two. Draft is the foundation of the execution. If the foundation is solid, it’s pretty easy to view how to play the game. If the foundation is — well if you don’t have one, it’s hard to know what to do to win the game.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games