LirA: “In Korea, players can’t accept the possibility of another player playing another hour as they sleep. In NA, there seems to be a thought of being well-rested and using their time efficiently.”

Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with EnVyUs’ Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo during the North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS). They talked (in Korean and translated to English) about feeling opponents’ fear, differences in Korea and North American practice, and LirA’s desire to see more Envy fans at the LCS studio.

Andrew Kim: A common criticism from last split for your team was that you could get the early lead but then fail to close the game. This split, it seems like you’re having a much better time doing so. Did you practice that in particular between the splits?

Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo: Feedback is centered around the players, and because there might be situations where criticism could cause conflict between players, feedback topics have been mostly about reducing mistakes while individually studying better management. I think that’s why we’re steadily improving.

AK: Reducing mistakes is somewhat of a staple for teams regardless of region, saying that the side that makes less mistakes will win. What do you mean when you say make a mistake?

NTY: Generally speaking, it means when people don’t play as a team. When they overplay, trying to play the game by themselves. We’re working to reduce that and working to have a more team-based game.

AK: Nidalee seems to be a very special champion for you. She’s not necessarily the most meta jungle champion, but you keep having success as her. What does Nidalee mean to you?

NTY: I still get nervous playing Nidalee because once she dies, the game is over for her. But I keep playing her because the games work out well. I actually enjoy feeling the opponents being afraid of me. I think that’s what Nidalee means for me.

AK: This fear from your opponents is something you referenced from Week 1 of the LCS as well. How do you exactly identify fear from your opponent?

NTY: I can just feel it. Some players try to kill me by any means necessary, while others try to not be caught out alone, stuck to their teammates. I can see all of that. There are many junglers in NA that play a very team-centric style, and sometimes they try to beat me no matter what the cost. I feel more comfort in that because those players then become predictable to me.

AK: Is it almost like they’ve been taunted by you and want to take you down no matter what?

NTY: Yes. I played a lot of competitive games in Korea as well, and against SKT, players always seem to be drawn to killing Faker (Lee Sang-hyeok), and the game feels like it’s centered around Faker. SKT seems to be playing with the attitude of “You’re coming after me, and I know,” which looks so comfortable. I want to have that kind of aura about me, and I don’t want to be ignored, and as a professional I want to play well. I personally think this way, though I’m not sure about the other players.

AK: You played in Korea for some time before moving to NA, and now you’ve been here for some time. What are some things you’ve learned during your time here so far?

NTY: I learned a lot of English, and that there were some differences in culture. In Korea, players can’t accept the possibility of another player playing another hour as they sleep. In NA, there seems to be a thought of being well-rested and using their time efficiently. It’s like saying “if you put in 1 during your practice, I will put in 2.” Both mindsets have their benefits, but as I experienced both, I like it here more than in Korea.

AK: It must feel good to be on a good start, and you even beat Immortals 2-0, a team that didn’t look weak by any measure. Is there a kind of satisfaction you feel when you defeat stronger and stronger teams?

NTY: Strong teams have a lot of fans, and they have a lot of fans in the audience. It feels a bit better when I beat a team like that. Our team doesn’t have a lot of fans coming to see our games, so it’s a bit disappointing, and I hope more fans come to see us.

AK: What do you think of when you say a lot of fans?

NTY: I would sometimes hear disappointment from the crowd when we get a kill. I heard it in Korea, and a little less from here, but I did hear those sounds of disappointment. I hope our games are also met with cheers.

AK: The summer split this year became more important, since 2018’s teams that will play in the league won’t be determined by which team does well, though the chance for worlds is still on the line. What is something you want to achieve in 2017?

NTY: I hope people don’t forget about me as I continue my professional career. I want North American fans to think “LirA is a good jungler” when they think of good junglers, and I want Korean fans to think “LirA was a good jungler in the LCK.” I play thinking about those images, outside of just numbers. If they lose interest, it’s the end. I’ve received a lot of attention before, and the amount I’m getting right now is still insufficient, so I want to work harder to the point that when people discuss junglers in NA, my name pops up.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Slingshot

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