After nearly an entire season without a series victory, Ninjas in Pyjamas 2-0’d Team ROCCAT in Week 8 of the European League of Legends Championship Series. At the conclusion of the match, mid laner Kim “Nagne” Sang-moon spoke with Slingshot’s Kelsey Moser (through an interpreter) about joining NiP, mid lane and Rift Herald, and his goals for the future.
Kelsey Moser: You guys haven’t done a lot of interviews yet, so I’m kind of curious as to what the expectations were for you joining NiP going into the start of the split.
Kim “Nagne” Sangmoon: I didn’t expect anything first because it’s the first time I see each player, and it’s the first time I came to this foreign country, but I tried to watch EU LCS or NA LCS or other country leagues. So I just think that, if I do good, everyone is going to play good.
KM: You also played for a little bit in the Chinese LSPL, so I wanted ask if you wanted to comment on that because obviously there were a couple of difficult splits where the team didn’t do very well. What was it like playing in the LSPL environment maybe compared to Europe?
KS: I was resting for six months, then I had a lot of offers from like NA, EU, a lot of places, but I had the best environment from China: the salaries, the players, a lot of things.
KM: So the salary and the players made LSPL attractive, but what do you think went wrong then that lead to the poor results in the LSPL for WanYoo?
KS: The biggest problem was communication. Not many things, but I tried hard. It didn’t go well.
KM: Is that aspect a little bit better on NiP or would you say that’s still a big problem on NiP for why you are having some trouble?
KS: When we played against Fnatic, in the first week, I thought we could do better than I thought, but looking back I think that was a bit naive. My English isn’t perfect, but I’m getting better.
Rather than saying there are the same problems (as the LSPL team), I get the feeling that the team isn’t meshing well. We have metagame issues, communication issues, and whatnot.
KM: It seemed like your drafting for this series was better than it was last week for your champion priority and things like this. Did you guys have a lot of talk about what champions you want to prioritize?
KS: We always talk about ban-pick after playing a game. Even when we are scrimming or practicing, always. We tried to make a priority (list) of picks, which I think helped a lot, like Zac for example. We didn’t really have solid ideas on counter picks in the mid lane or what picks should be prioritized, but now that we do, I think our game play is cleaner.
KM: Rift Herald has gotten to the point where you use it on mid lane almost exclusively. Some of the mid laners I’ve talked to have said it’s related to the types of mid champions you’re playing. It’s better to use Rift Herald mid if you’re playing against certain mid champions. Do you have an opinion on that?
KS: I think Rift Herald is really important in early game. It’s the biggest objective, so that’s why we usually use it in mid. It’s really hard to take the mid tower in this meta, so we usually use it mid. It’s really big against like scaling champions in mid like Orianna, Syndra, and Viktor, since killing the first mid lane turret is detrimental to their game management.
KM: You say that it’s the most important objective. Some teams will say that it’s like equal to certain dragons, but you think that it’s just better than dragons. Could you expand on this a bit?
KS: I think it’s not bad to take Herald if they have like a stronger mid lane pick or scaling mid champions like Syndra or Orianna. It’s fine to trade.
KM: You have played Taliyah a lot and gotten maybe the most recognition for Taliyah. Do you think Taliyah lets you have a greater impact on the game or is there something else going on with this champion?
KS: Taliyah can push the wave against anyone in the early game, and she can roam. Our team style is strong in early game, so we could add something more if we play Taliyah, and then I feel like, if I roam up and down, our team feels more power and energy.
KM: Early on in your career, you managed to go to the World Championship, and since then you’ve had more struggles on teams that have not done as well. At times, is it difficult to stay motivated? Or have your goals changed at all since then?
KS: When I was in NaJin and KT, I made it to Worlds and did pretty well. I think my struggles since then is a trial of sorts. I can accept that I was just playing poorly if it was because I didn’t put in the work, but I am actually working hard, so I think right now is just a passing struggle in my career. Like people say, there is a reward for those to persist through a period of adversity. So I think if I try harder I can have better results. The results for the summer split haven’t been good, but I believe we can do better if we keep at it without giving up.
KM: Is the goal still to go back to the World stage or survive in LCS?
KS: My initial goal was to just make it to the playoffs. I don’t know where the other players placed their goals at, but I thought that if I worked hard with a playoff goal it would work out, rather than trying to make it to worlds right after building a team.
KM: Eventually in the future, is your goal to go back to Worlds?
KS: I had a long term rest, and since my performance lowered with NiP, I think that the expectations and evaluations of me must have gone down, so I aim to build myself back up again. I then want to elevate NiP’s position in the LCS, and then look to worlds in the future.
KM: A final question: you’ve probably paid some attention to Challenger Series teams and maybe even scrimmed them. Do you feel pretty confident that NiP can do well in Promotion?
KS: Of course we think we’re going to beat the Challenger Series teams, and if I dominate my opponent and give high energy to the team, then I’m sure the rest of the team won’t get nervous and win the game.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games