Despite a loss to the Flash Wolves, reigning champion SK Telecom T1 is off to a successful title defense at the League of Legends World Championship.
A 2-1 start in Group B has SKT tied for first place with Cloud9 entering the second week of group play in San Francisco. Slingshot’s Andrew Kim talked to SKT’s Lee “Wolf” Jae-Wan (in Korean and translated into English) about getting used to the big moments, SKT’s coach and the origins of his red hair.
Andrew Kim: This makes your second world championships with SKT. How does it feel to make it here again?
Lee “Wolf” Jae-Wan: It feels different every time because it’s a stage where I can see where I stand, and where I stand compared to others. I also want to make myself be known more than anyone else.
AK: Your North American fans don’t all know the story behind you dyed hair. Why red?
LJW: In 2013 or 14 I made a bet with (Lee “Heart” Gwan-Hyung). The bet was that the loser had to dye their hair in the color they are told to by the winner. I lost the bet, and Heart chose red, but the fan reaction was pretty good, so I’ve been doing it ever since.
AK: You game against I May was incredibly clean. Where does those crisp calls come from?
LJW: When we do feedback, it’s usually around mistakes that were made during the game. So we always work to reduce potential mistakes. Whether it be scrims or competition, we just focus on our own game by reducing mistakes.
AK: Who was in charge the pick and ban phase against I May?
LJW: Usually coach KkOma gives us ideas on who might be a good ban or a good pick. Then the players talk with him and come to a consensus whether or not to go for it.
AK: Speaking of KkOma, he has the image of a very strict and stern coach. How is he really?
LJW: I personally like him a lot. There hasn’t been any player from SKT that didn’t like him. He may seem like he’s strict and hard to approach, but he’s very good to us, and most of all he’s very good at what he does. We like our coach a lot.
AK: Mata from Royal Never Give Up used the SKT skin in his first game as Alistar. How did you feel about that?
LJW: He played very well using my skin, so it kind of felt weird. It almost felt like he stole something from me.
AK: You’ve been Bang’s support for about 3 years now. How is he personally?
LJW: I know he seems standoffish, but when he’s with me he’s really bright. He’s a very fun friend to be around.
AK: You mentioned in a past interview that you are the cheerleader of SKT. What does that entail?
LJW: Sometimes I die first or don’t make it to a fight, so as I watch I give positive reinforcement by saying “yeah that’s a good idea,” or “go for it.” When I see them during solo queue, I just think that my teammates are so good.
AK: What was the toughest on you when you play in a foreign tournament?
LJW: I think I had a pretty good time getting used to time zones before, but this worlds I’m having a hard time. Even about 20 to 30 minutes before this game I took a nap and other times while waiting for our games.
AK: Why do you have such long fingernails?
LJW: I actually had to cut my thumb nail because it cracked. When my nails are short, it hurts my fingers, and I also use them to press keys on the keyboard.
AK: Finally, your team entered the tournament with a lot of criticism from the fans. How did you deal with that?
LJW: I didn’t mind it that much. Like always I only thought about what we are good at. We also won IEM spring and the MSI, so we’re entering worlds very much with the intention of winning the whole thing.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games