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Wolf on taking pride in Korean success and the pressure of SKT

SK Telecom T1 is back in the semifinals of the League of Legends World Championship for the second year in a row after dispatching of Royal Never Give Up 3-1 in a quarterfinal match Friday night.

For many teams, getting this far would be an accomplishment; for SKT, it’s an expectation. The reigning world champions (and only two-time champion in League history) will look to make its third final in next week’s semifinals. In the meantime, Slingshot’s Vince Nairn caught up with Lee “Wolf” Jae-Wan after the win to talk (through an interpreter) about Korean success, overcoming a poor first game against RNG and the pressure that comes with being on SKT.

Vince Nairn: Congratulations on the win. How would you sum up what went well for you guys tonight?

Lee “Wolf” Jae-Wan: There were some mistakes in the top lane in the first game, and I think we lost smoothly because our opponents got a snowball off of that. I think we made less mistakes in the next three games. Everyone won their lanes, so we could just win off of that.

VN: How do you handle the expectations that come with being on SKT? You guys are here now going into the semifinals, and for a lot of teams that is an accomplishment; for you guys it’s an expectation.

LJW: Well the most important thing in winning games is winning your lanes. Since my team is very aware that we are strong in lane, I don’t feel like there is that much pressure. But the pressure does return when we make a mistake or lose a game, but I think that’s to be expected for professional gamers. We’re confident in ourselves above all.

VN: Do you personally enjoy that pressure?

LJW: Absolutely not. I do have a competition in me as a pro gamer, but the nature of competition is that one wins while the other must lose. I don’t like the hate and harsh words that tend to go to the loser. I think that negative response is a form of pressure, and that it’s not uniquely a Korean thing.

VN: Is there any team that you prefer to play in the semifinals?

LJW: I don’t think it’ll matter much who we end up facing, but I’d like to face EDG if possible. ROX is a Korean team, and we think that they are a very good team, so I hope EDG beats them to the semifinals.

VN: All three Korean teams are doing well. How does that make you feel about your region as a whole?

LJW: I think Korea is in a uniquely strong position in all different types of games. I don’t exactly know why, but I think Korea as a region is very good.

VN: Does it create a sort of pride to see the Korean teams succeed so much?

LJW: This is what I personally think, and although it’s great to have Korea acknowledged as the top region, I hope the other teams do worse than us. That way I feel like my team could be more special and stick out among the rest. I do have a sense of pride that my region is upheld as a whole as well.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games