Team Liquid has clinched a playoff berth for the summer split of the North American League Championship Series with one week remaining of the regular season.
Five of the six spots have been solidified, with mostly just positioning and matchups left to be figured out. It’s been an up-and-down split for Liquid, which started the summer 1-3 after finishing the spring split in fourth place.
Slingshot’s Vince Nairn caught up with Liquid coach Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-sub after Sunday’s win against NRG to talk about the playoffs, the state of the roster and summer split awards.
Vince Nairn: Any thoughts on clinching a playoff spot and, at least from that realm, being able to relax a little bit?
Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-sub: To me, there was no doubt that we were ever gonna make playoffs, so it’s just another day. Just a normal day, not much to say about it.
VN: How about the game? It seemed like you guys just went and took care of business from the start.
CYS:: Yeah. It’s just reminding players that we still have to take NRG seriously. The moment we consider them garbage and that we can cruise over them, that’s when we start losing. I tell them to make sure they take their game serious, and they took it serious. We had some very one-sided drafts.
VN: What’s been your philosophy, as far as that’s concerned? I heard Dardoch on the post-match interview seem excited about Hecarim. How did you guys come the the decisions you made in the draft?
CYS: So, we’ve been doing something called “KISS” or “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” (Laughs) It’s keeping our drafts simple to execute and it’s been giving us good results. We play strong team fight drafts that are easy to execute.
VN: Now that you’re in the playoffs, it’s always funny going into the last week and seeing the mixing and matching. Which teams people want to see or want to avoid. How do you picture it going further, as far as who you want to see or not see in the playoffs?
CYS: Basically, We’re gonna play TSM or Immortals in semis. I think we have a good shot versus anyone we play in quarters. I’m confident versus CLG, C9 and Envyus. I doubt we’ll lose to those teams. I would prefer to play Immortals over TSM, since TSM looks friggan godly.It would be really nice to knock down Immortals a bit.
VN: We talked four weeks ago, and you guys were in an uncertain area. How do you feel the roster has sorted itself out?
CYS: We made it very clear on what we want to do next split, with which players are gonna be long-term players for us. It gave a lot of players room to grow because Piglet was a very fucking good player. He knew what to do, his mechanics were godly, and his knowledge about the game was really insane. For all five players, by Piglet moving to TLA, gave them a lot of room to grow. I think that’s a compliment to Piglet, not an insult, because of how big of a role he played on the team.
VN: How was that clarity helped everybody else?
CYS: Josh is someone that struggles with being a child and being a leader at the same time. Piglet was, in a lot of ways, the leader of our team. With Piglet gone, it gives Josh a big chance to step up as a leader. I think he’s stepped up and is really embracing that role and living up to it. Fabbbyyy has this troll persona of being “The Gatekeeper” and just being a Challenger AD, and he didn’t actually put that much work into getting better. Me and him had a really big talk regarding what he wants to do with his professional career, and I think, he no longer views his role as a Piglet stand-in. He wants to be a long-term AD for TL and play really well and get better.
VN: What kind of growth have you seen from Josh this split? Obviously, the suspension and everything that happened in between splits was something that happened, but have you seen some growth from him, not only as a player, but also as a person?
CYS: Of course. Josh, in terms of play, has definitely improved. He’s not just “Fight! Fight! Fight!” He cares about macro, he cares about vision, he cares about overall team comp strengths, and Josh just wants to win. That never changed about him, but he didn’t have a lot of good avenues to funnel that into. A lot of his behavior, to people who were working with him for the first time, seemed very childish and immature, but he has his way of expressing his feelings. When you get to know Josh and when you give him space, he’s an amazing player and a pretty decent individual. It really shows in how he treats his teammates, how he treats the staff around him, and how he plays on-stage.
VN: Every time I’ve talked to him, he really seems like a nice and insightful kid. I think he gets a bad rap sometimes. But has there been anything you have to do differently, when it comes to dealing with everybody and trying to get the most out of a kid who can be a stubborn 18 year-old at times?
CYS: I coach the way I was parented. My dad and my mom are extremely strict people. They’re very focused on academics and doing well. Just putting a lot of effort into it until you get results. That’s what I expected from my players. I’ve been personalizing my coaching to each player, more and more so. Just getting to know them better and catering to their needs, instead of giving them what I learned and what I was taught.
VN: How do you try to approach tilting, when it comes with your players?
CYS: I think a lot of it comes to self-discipline. Also, because we play a team game, it’s very useful to have your teammates help you on tilt. Having your teammates telling you it’s okay, or asking you what you need, or what are we gonna do next. If someone’s tilting, getting one of the teammates asking them, “Hey, what do you want to do next?” or “Hey, what do you need?” It really helps in the moment. It’s a helpful device.
VN: I think the seasons TSM and Immortals have done a lot for determining the postseason awards, but is there a case to be made for any of your guys?
CYS: Anything I say is gonna come from a biased point of view, but I think Fenix is grossly underrated. I think Josh is a really good player, and I think Sam showed up a lot this split. He showed he can be a really good top lane.
As for MVP, it’s probably gonna go to Bjerg or Reignover. I think Josh can contest Reignover for best jungler, this split.
Photos courtesy of Riot Games.