Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with Cloud9 coach Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu (in Korean and translated to English) after clinching a spot in the North American League of Legends Championship spring finals.
Andrew Kim: First off, congratulations on the clean 3-0 victory. Any thoughts on the victory?
Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu: First off, I think we prepared more this match thinking that we didn’t want to lose no matter what, and I’m satisfied by the performance by the players because I think they’ve showed what they are capable of from practice. Today Contractz (Juan Arturo Garcia) got the Rookie of the Split award, and I got the Coach of the Split award, but I thought we both had many weak moments during the split, and I think perhaps it would have been more meaningful if the awards went to someone else. I do think we showed that we worked even harder by accepting these awards, so it does feel fulfilling.
AK: Did you have anyone else in mind that deserved the awards more than you and Contractz?
BHG: I didn’t really think that much who will win the rookie award. No matter who it goes to, for instance Akaadian (Matthew Higginbotham) was very impressive earlier in the split, but struggling in the later stages, and Cody Sun inversely struggled in the earlier stages but improved vastly as the split went on. I think Juan was a little inconsistent so I didn’t really have a firm idea on who might take that award. As for the coach award, I thought Coach Fly (Kim Sang-chul) would get it, seeing as how he dealt with roster changes, and other difficulties during the split while still producing results.
AK: With the 3-0 victory, it was very strangely one-sided from the viewer’s standpoint. What were your thoughts watching the match from the back?
BHG: I certainly didn’t expect a 3-0. I think Phoenix1 had the same drafting strategy from the last week of the split to the playoffs, so we did prepare for that and the potential of them deviating to a new drafting strategy. They ended up going for their usual strategy, so it went easily as we prepared in practice. I expected us to win from the drafting phase, seeing how it went.
AK: The Mid Season Invitational format changed to a larger and longer tournament. From the players’ perspective it might be good for international tournaments, but could be tough on the schedules. What are your opinions?
BHG: I think MSIs have been kind of short-term exhibition matches for fun so far. The fact that the teams participating there have little to no time to rest is an unfortunate reality, but I think there is a lot of honor in being part of such a tournament, and playing with the the best players in the world is a good experience itself. I think we’ll be able to deal with those difficulties.
AK: After this morning’s match between KT and Samsung, the finals of the LCK spring split is going to be between the telecom companies. Which teams do you think will win out?
BHG: I think we can only tell once they play one another.
AK: Is it hard to determine?
BHG: I was part of SKT, and in KT there is Deft (Kim Hyuk-kyu) and PawN (Heo Won-seok) who I played with before, so I don’t really care who wins. The winning team is my team. If I see them at MSI, it’s good, if I can’t, then it’s just disappointing.
AK: Going up against P1 with multiple junglers and now supporters, are there any difficulties that come with playing against diverse rosters like this?
BHG: Honestly many teams are using the six-person rosters and prepare many drafting strategies around that, but not many of them are clearly distinguishable in terms of who we choose to go with under what circumstances, or have vast drafting strategies that don’t overlap like we do. We don’t really feel more burdened facing other six-person rosters, but we work hard to make our opponents feel uncomfortable.
AK: With Cloud9 going to the finals, and the last semifinals round determining whether TSM or FlyQuest will be your opponents. Seeing how Cloud9 has been playing against TSM for so many finals, is there any pressure or difficulties playing against TSM for the top NA spot?
BHG: Not really. Either way during the playoffs we need to beat anyone we meet in order to become champions, so in a sense every team is a difficult in the playoffs, but I believe that we can do better, believe in our practice, and go beyond.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Slingshot