Counter Logic Gaming was the heavy favorite going into last weekend’s quarterfinal match against Team EnVyUs in the North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS). Still, it took a full five-game series for CLG to win. Slingshot’s Emily Rand sat down with mid laner Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun after the series to talk about the match, draft priority on mid laners, and CLG’s upcoming semifinal match against Immortals.
Emily Rand: Congratulations on the win. How do you feel about the team’s performance today?
Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun: Ummm (laughs), pretty disappointed, but they’re all problems that can easily be fixed, especially the draft, so I’m not too worried. We just have to be confident in ourselves and prepare for the Immortals match.
ER: You’ve had a few memorable, long, and drawn-out series against Team EnVyUs before. Is this why you prioritized more scaling in the draft, or was that one of the mistakes you just mentioned?
CJH: I think the reason why we went more toward scaling was just because of how the draft went. They banned a lot of mid picks especially and we couldn’t really pick a stronger jungler and a stronger mid laner so we had to play passive and scale up. We didn’t really want to be in that position, but we were kind of forced to be, and that was a mistake that we made.
ER: I had heard that you were practicing a lot of Lucian headed into this week, but it was CLG that chose to ban it today. Is that because Lucian has risen that high up in priority on this patch or for some other reason?
CJH: My teammates I don’t think wanted to deal with the Lucian pick. Nisqy had a pretty good performance with it in the regular split against TSM, so even though it was one of my picks, I was pretty comfortable because I just had more picks I can play and they thought that Lucian was one pick that nV could have just won the game or won the series, so we just decided to ban it.
ER: You were heavily-criticized last year for your small champion pool, but as it turns out, not only have you been one of the stronger mids this year, but you draw more target bans than any mid laner in NA. How does it feel to prove the community wrong?
CJH: I mean, it doesn’t really matter to me, but it is pretty satisfying that people realized that I’m improving, and that they see it. But yeah, when people said that I had a small champion pool I didn’t really understand, since I played a lot of champions back then as well. My teammates always knew. Whenever I named mid lane champions they always told me to shorten it because I had too many and it wasn’t good for practice.
ER: A lot of people were looking at this patch and wondering if the mid lane priority in draft would shift that much since a lot of the mid laners were tuned or adjusted. In this series, we saw standard picks along with Nisqy’s AD Kog’Maw and your pocket Vel’Koz. Is this indicative of what we could see in other series?
CJH: People will have one or two pocket picks they’ll have in mind, but I don’t think it will be this common. It only happened because of the way that the draft went, there were so many mid laners that were banned that you couldn’t really pick a meta champion, most of the mid meta champions were banned and I think that’s why picks like Kog’Maw came out. Vel’Koz is just one of my pocket picks.
ER: Do you think this was a targeted strategy against you specifically for this series only, or will we see more pocket picks in the semifinals?
CJH: I think EnVyUs did this against me. I never had that in scrims at all, at most maybe one or two mid bans but never, “Oh, I guess I can’t pick a champion that I practiced in scrims” kind of deal. It is pretty annoying but since I have a feel for it, even if it does happen again in playoffs I think I can deal with it better.
ER: I spoke with you earlier this year about integrating a new member onto the team when Dardoch was still around, and I’ve spoken to your teammates about this regarding OmarGod. How far has OmarGod come in this past two weeks? And how do you think he’ll do looking ahead to semifinals?
CJH: Omar has come a long way. I don’t think we’ve reached our goal yet because I don’t think that any of the other players (have peaked). Everyone still has some stuff to improve on, but I think Omar improved the most. He didn’t really know the team game before and I’m just really proud of him, that he keeps improving. Sometimes it’s really fast, and sometimes it’s really slow, but we can always see that he is improving because of the way that he treats practice and the way that he treats us. It’s really much more positive. I have a lot of confidence toward him and he’s just really easy to work with because we were focusing him a lot in scrims, what he should improve on and giving him a lot of criticism, and he never gets down. He always says, “Oh, I’ll try to do that next time” or he shows it in action, so I’m just really proud of him.
ER: One thing that Stixxay mentioned was that he had spoken to him about dealing with community criticism. As someone who unfortunately bore the brunt of CLG’s criticism last year, is this something that you also have talked to him about?
CJH: Yeah (laughs). I did tell him how I deal with the criticism that I get. I just told him that the most important thing is the team and how the team feels about you. Also that, if he doesn’t feel confident or thinks that the team doesn’t feel that he’s good he has to tell us, so we can keep reassuring each other. Criticism isn’t something that you can totally ignore, but it’s also something you can use to improve on. I told him that I also improved a lot from the criticism that I got instead of trying to ignore it. I just tried to stay mentally strong and improve on what I can do better. Also I told him to look at those comments, whenever he does well, to look at those comments and they’ll give him motivation. I’m happy with how he’s dealing with it right now.
ER: You are going to be facing Immortals, a team that struggled against in the regular split, so how are you going to prepare for them next week?
CJH: Since we don’t really have that much information compared to them having information on us, we just have to be strong and play as a team. That’s how we won a split. We just have to keep improving on what we can do instead of focusing on Immortals.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games