I MAY had one of the more fascinating paths to the League of Legends World Championship.
Qualifying out of the Chinese gauntlet, I MAY’s 9-7 record was only tied for fifth best in the Chinese league during the summer split, but the team defeated Team World Elite twice (once in the summer playoffs, and again in the regional gauntlett) to punch a ticket to worlds. I MAY is 1-2 in Group C through the first week of group play.
Slingshot’s Andrew Kim had the chance to talk to I MAY’s Kang “Athena” Ha-Woon about expectations, the Chinese region as a whole and the transition from playing in Korea to China.
Andrew Kim: A lot of people are expecting some results from I May due to the surprise entrant storyline. What do you think about that?
Kang “Athena” Ha-Woon: I’m happy as long as the fans look upon us favorably.
AK: You’ve been the mid laner for Korea’s ESC Ever, China’s Edward Gaming, and now I MAY. What’s the main difference in your experiences?
KHW: The thing that’s toughest for Korean players transitioning to China is the food. Game play wise, the in-game communication is difficult.
AK: Since you mentioned communication, how do you overcome the language barrier as a Korean player in China?
KHW: Everyone else except me can speak Chinese. I can understand some Chinese as well, but I can’t when it becomes too fast. I definitely have an easier time understanding than speaking.
AK: Are you learning Chinese to help communication?
KHW: A little bit as I play games.
AK: As you play with other well established Chinese team such as Royal Never Give Up and Edward Gaming, how did you guys think would do in the gauntlet? Were you confident you could go to worlds?
KHW: I thought with RNG and EDG out of the picture, we could make it to world championships. Even in our game against RNG we lost in a 3-2 so I thought we had a real shot.
AK: There are also a lot of people who doubt I May, calling them a weaker team relying on luck. Do those opinions bother you?
KHW: They’re all correct statements so I don’t think it bothers me.
AK: As you were a star mid laner in ESC and now in I May, has your role as a player become bigger? Smaller?
KHW: I think it’s very similar. When I was in Korea I had less of trouble working with the team, though.
AK: Finally, as you make it to the world championships, how did it feel? Are you nervous at all?
KHW: If we came in as the first or second seed I think we would have been much more nervous. Since we came in third, I’m less nervous and more relaxed.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games