Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with Phoenix1 coach Kim “Fly” Sang-chul (in Korean and translated to English) after P1’s dominating 3-0 win against Dignitas on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the North American League of Legends Championship Series spring playoffs.
Andrew Kim: First off, you guys took the match in a clean 3-0. How are you feeling?
Kim “Fly” Sang-chul: It was really tough during scrims lately, but since we won cleanly 3-0, I think that the players have all grown, so I feel like all the hard work is paying off. We only made it to the semifinals so far.
AK: What do you mean when you had tough times during scrims?
KSC: Practice was just really tough. We had a lot of changes in the roster so it was difficult at times, and perhaps because some of the players didn’t have a lot of experience, I had a lot of work to do with them.
AK: The changes in roster for Phoenix1 have been played out, but you guys still did very well consistently despite of that. We of course need to talk about your role as a leader in leading the team through those moments. What was the most difficult about all these changes?
KSC: When Meteos (William Hartman) first came in, we didn’t have a hard time because he had a lot of experience, plays very well, and had a good career. On the flip side when we got the new support player (William “Stunt” Chen), he was still lacking in experience, had a lot to work on as a professional, and needed to learn more about the game. I had to teach him the small details during practice, so that was a little difficult.
AK: The current roster of Phoenix1 seems to have a lot of strong personalities. What is the knowhow of working with such players and keeping them on the same page?
KSC: There isn’t really a special knowhow, but there are some times when players get very prideful of their own performances and think they can do whatever they want in the team. For controlling those players, having subs is the best way to talk with them and convince them. I think the change of roster played a role in that.
AK: Phoenix1 was a team that was in the bottom last split but now is in third, going to the semifinals. Was there a point where you were fully satisfied during any of the games leading up to now?
KSC: I think we got a lot better looking at today’s games, but it’ll be hard to make it to our goal of worlds with our current performances. We improved for sure, but we have a long way ahead of us.
AK: You worked in Korea, China, and now NA, and you mentioned each region had their differences. With all the experience from the other regions, what is something about NA that makes you feel comfortable to coach?
KSC: I don’t know about the other teams, but at least our team isn’t really a small organization. We have a lot of players, staff members, and they create a good environment where I can focus on the team and the gameplay, more so than other regions in my experience.
AK: What is one thing you really like about your team?
KSC: The players have nice personalities. You say that some have strong ones, and that may be true, but they are kind. They’re on the nicer side. The team is also really good with food, so I’m gaining a lot of weight.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Slingshot