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Xpecial on in-season patches and changing coaches mid-split

Slingshot’s Andrew Kim talked to Dignitas’ Alex “Xpecial” Chu during Week 6 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series.

Andrew Kim: I want to ask your input about the situation Dignitas finds itself in. With a lot of still untapped potential and some high expectations early in the split, there still seems to be some problems with the team. What do you think those problems might be and how could you guys potentially solve them?

Alex “Xpecial” Chu: I’ve said in a couple of interviews already that we feel like a new team, given that we have a new coach, and new team with language barriers. It’s definitely something that we are struggling with, and it’s definitely showing that we just have a lot more room to improve. That’s just kind of the situation we’re in. We just need to improve, and all of these other teams, they have been improving over a longer period of time than us. We need to start catching up really quickly. Other than that, our goal really is for the summer split, but still we want to make a strong showing toward the end of the spring split and continue to do well, hopefully.

AK: As a veteran player, what was the happiest moment in your career?

AC: It’s tough to say. I definitely had a lot of happy moments with all my teams. There’s always ups and downs. I don’t really care so much about the high points, I think it’s more about being able to bounce back and keep moving forward, and that’s more important than the biggest high point. I mean I still do wish that my biggest high point is in the future, and it’s definitely getting harder and harder each year with how strong the players are getting the teams are getting, the league being more competitive in general. But I do wish for my high point to be in the future.

AK: As a part of preparation for matches, do you also watch VODs from other regions?

AC: Yeah. Mainly of Korea. They play very clean. Obviously their meta is very different from our own, but being able to watch how they move around the map, how they play certain lanes, it’s very helpful, and being able to get inspired by the LCK is very nice. Obviously they’re the strongest region and has been for a really long time, so that’s kinda where I look at the most.

AK: Is there a particular player that you look towards a little more intently?

AC: I think (Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan) and (Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong) are players that everyone looks up to. They’re very very good, and I look at them for different reasons. Mata is definitely more of an aggressive playmaker, but Wolf is in the back, always a team player and there’s things you can learn from the both of them, and their play styles are very contrasting, which is interesting because they’re in the top two teams and top two supports, you could say, in the region. And there’s also (Jeong “Max” Jong-bin), who plays very weird picks and does well on them, but that’s not something I am imitating, but something I do look at and think “Hey, maybe that could be good.”

AK: With the recent coaching changes with David “Cop” Roberson as the newest coach, how do you like the new coaching appointment?

AC: I like Cop. He’s definitely somebody I worked with in the past, and he is very hard working as a coach, and definitely puts in a lot of effort to try and improve the team and whatnot. We have a lot of stuff to work on as a team. It’s never just you add in a coach and your team is magically fixed. It’s honestly really hard work and it really sucks to be not doing so hot as a team, but that’s just a step along the way that you have to be “Hey, I recognize that,” and be ready to just trudge through it and keep trying to improve and keep struggling. And keep working hard.

AK: When it comes to being such a veteran in the scene, who do you think is the most underrated player in the NA LCS right now?

AC: I think (Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell) could be a big one. I think he’s kinda recognized now as a stronger top laner, but considering the strength of the top laner this split, he’s been doing extremely well and obviously he works well with his team, and a lot of it comes down to that he can speak the language very fluently. He’s just somebody that is underrated compared to (Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg) and before that, (Yilian “Doublelift” Peng) as well. Now he’s kind of really shining and being really strong pillar and tank player for his team, and he does really well.

AK: League of Legends international tournaments have been in interesting situations with teams declining invitations, while there are voices in the community that are saying that there aren’t enough international tournaments in League and needs to be more. What are your thoughts on the status on those tournaments?

AC: Obviously, there are some pros and cons for international tournaments. One big suggestion has been getting rid of the spring split, which is something I personally think could be an option. Back in Season 2 , Season 1, you would go to tournaments all the time, and it was very tiring. But here in LCS, you play every single week, and you don’t really travel as much. The fun in that is gone, but at the same time it makes it so that the league itself is very competitive. You have much more of a structure. You allow for a free agency period and stuff like that. It’s tough to say. I personally do enjoy traveling and doing all those things that way back when we used to do, but I don’t see LCS going away anytime soon and I personally don’t like the regular season and LCS that much because of how drawn out it is. Honestly, the most frustrating thing is that you patch so often, so a team that is Rank 1, it’s very common that the Rank 1 team going out of the regular season isn’t the Rank 1 team going out of playoffs just because the patches changes the game so much. It’s not like soccer or basketball or any other traditional sports since they play on the same patch, technically, every single time. It makes it so that what’s the point of the regular season when the game changes so much? For me, it’s very frustrating. I’d rather see kings of a patch, or see teams win on a certain patch and then they have to adjust, to be better on multiple patches, but it allows there to be more winners. I like the tournament style. I like the ability to be like, “Hey we adapted really well this patch, and we’re rewarded for it,” versus if you do well in the beginning of the season, you’re not rewarded for that pretty much at all.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Slingshot