Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with Phoenix1’s No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon (in Korean and translated to English) during Week 7 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series.
Andrew Kim: First off, congratulations on your clean victories. You played incredibly well in both games as Ezreal, showcasing perfect positioning. Do you practice him often?
No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon: I don’t practice him often, but as Fervor of Battle was buffed, that made quite a big difference. I’ve been using Ezreal here and there in solo queue. During scrims, I played other picks mixed in with Ezreal, but the win rate with Ezreal was higher. During competition, I feel comfortable playing a champion that’s designed to be hard to kill, and since he also has carry potential, I picked him.
AK: Many people say that Ezreal isn’t necessarily a strong meta pick, but rather goes up and down depending on the player. Do you agree with that evaluation?
NDH: That’s certainly a part of it, but composition plays a part as well. Of course, depending on the player, the Ezreal can make a large impact or small impact, but I think the composition of both the allied team and enemy team plays a large part. It’s better if it looks like Ezreal can safely deal damage, and lately the AD Carries have been quite vulnerable, so we see picks like Ziggs in the bot lane. So I think Ezreal is a pretty good pick given all that.
AK: There were some changes to the team. First it was the jungle, and now it’s your supporter from Adrian “Adrian” Ma to William “Stunt” Chen. He seems to be working really well with you, despite being brand new to the team. Do you feel like there’s a difference between the two?
NDH: I don’t feel a large difference when it comes to laning. If there would be a tangible difference, we’ve always liked to play defensively to farm, so it’s fine. I do get the feeling that (the support’s) champion pool got a bit wider. He’s already showed a variety of picks. Not much else in my opinion, though.
AK: Some Korean players mentioned that the scrims in Korea versus the ones in America are quite different. Do you also feel like there are some large differences?
NDH: These kind of teams exist in Korea as well, but there are some teams that kind of go on tilt during scrims, and the number of those teams in Korea is comparatively smaller. I can feel that North American players have a weaker mentality, this is with me included as well as my teammates, but I don’t think the players are generally strong mentally. Sometimes we run into some unexpected situations as well. This wasn’t recently, but there were times when scrims would be canceled due to blackouts, or because someone needs to go home, or because someone is sick. But of course if a player is sick, the scrim would be canceled no matter what. But we do run into some random situations like that. I actually feel like both regions play their hardest in scrims, but the solo queue here is where the difference is.
AK: Are you saying that NA solo queue isn’t as effective for practice?
NDH: There are 200 Challenger players. I’ll preface that I haven’t played solo queue in Korea recently so I don’t know the exact details there, but when I was in Korea, Challenger players would be matched with other Challengers or Master tier players, with the very lowest being Diamond 1 players being mixed in who are in their promos or something. In NA, with 200 Challenger players, I get matched up with Diamond 3, Diamond 4 players. I’m not saying this to degrade those players, but they should play games with players of similar skills, right? Solo queue in NA, master tier players play with Diamond 4, Diamond 5 players.
AK: And this is all happening often enough that you’re feeling this difference?
NDH: Yes quite often. So I heard most teams want to just increase scrim blocks to three. With 60 ping and rather strange matchmaking, it doesn’t become much practice. I get some small everyday stress with stuff like this. Of course I can have fun with lower ranked players as well, but it’s not fun to lose, is it?
AK: The Phoenix1 team runs with a uniform of sorts, with a uniform, pants, and even matching shoes. Did you also have that kind of culture in Korea as well, or is this a first for you?
NDH: I was in KT Rolster when I was in Korea, so looking back, we kind of unified our colors to red for worlds. We had red as one of the accent colors at the time. I think NA teams put a larger focus on team uniforms. I think having that kind of culture also promotes proper teamwork and solid decision making.
AK: You’re being heralded as one of the best AD Carries in North America right now, despite this being your first split. Do you still feel like you have a long way to go?
NDH: Well, it feels good that some people do think that highly of me, but I think all I’ve really shown are my Ezreal games, which are very recent. I’ve made some small mistakes here and there as Ashe and I missed a lot of ults. So I think I should not play with that top-tier mentality just yet.
AK: Will you be the best AD Carry in NA one day, though?
NDH: Of course, I do want to be the best. I think I should have that as a goal.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Slingshot