At 3-0, Longzhu is alone atop Group B of the League of Legends World Championship after the first week of the group stage. Among the wins was a 23-minute romp of the Marines, and in an interview with OSEN’s Ko Yong-jun, Hirai said he was quite concerned ahead of the match, resulting in the sleepless night.
“I was very concerned what kind of unexpected strategy the GIGABYTE Marines would bring to the table after looking at them play (their first game),” he said. “I stayed up late into the night thinking and analyzing about the potential X-factor strategies and champion picks, preparing for how we should play against them. The whole coaching staff tossed in their sleep through the night, but we’re happy to be able to win the way we did.”
The Marines turned heads in Day 1 of the group stage as they engaged in a lane-swap strategy against Fnatic that caught the European team off guard. The Marines managed to pull off a win as Fnatic was unable to adapt to the unexpected strategy. The Marines pulled out the surprise Mordekaiser pick against Longzhu, but perhaps thanks to the coaching staff’s efforts, Longzhu walked away with a clean victory.
Although Longzhu is the top seed from Korea, its roster contains three starters who are first-time worlds participants in Kwak “Bdd” Bo-seong, Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan, and Kim “Khan” Dong-ha. Nerves are a common factor for new players like them, but Hirai said the players have done well in that regard so far.
“For the first match there were a couple of players who were nervous, so I was quite concerned,” he said. “But I think they’ll be able to show more good performances since they have gotten used to the stage and are feeling less nerves.”
Longzhu closed the weekend by defeating Fnatic, which is in last place in Group B with an 0-3 record. Before the match, Hirai praised Fnatic and said he was not going to let his team get caught off guard.
“Fnatic is two games down but they are not a team to take lightly, so we will continue to prepare very well so we can win against them,” he said. “Above all, I could see that the players have gotten rid of their nerves and are getting used to playing on the stage, and they will do even better as they play.”