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Impact on criticism of SKT: “The thing is that when the community hates on you or the team for a significant amount of time, and for a significant amount of content, you will inevitably be bothered by it.”

Impact reflected on criticism SKT feels in the community.
Cloud9's Impact (Jeong Eon-Young) says community criticism can be harsh to deal with. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.

Despite any shakiness the team might have in the regular season, Cloud9 always manages to pull it together toward the end of the split. C9 sits fourth in the North American League of Legends Championship Series standings with one week left in the regular season. Emily Rand sat down with C9 top laner Jeong “Impact” Eon-yeong to talk (with Lee “Robin” Seung-hwan as interpreter) about C9’s recent 2-0 week and how the team is improving.

Emily Rand: Congratulations on your victory today and your 2-0. What was it about your preparation for this week that allowed Cloud9 to perform so well?

Jeong “Impact” Eon-yeong: We started playing a lot more around the team and also our calls became a lot more specific. For example, I won’t just call out, “Top is MIA.” I’ll say, “Hey, top is MIA, here’s where you should be careful, and over here you should be careful.” Because of the more specific calls that were being made and a better focus on objectives in practice, we had a good showing this weekend.

ER: Bottom lane specifically changed a bit mid-split, and C9 seems to have adapted to this well with Smoothie (Andy Ta) roaming as a support to help facilitate mid lane, and the jungler Contractz (Juan Arturo Garcia) has also been used to facilitate mid lane and minion pushes. Does this change your role as a top laner at all when the meta shifts like this?

JEY: The meta definitely has shifted toward that, and it definitely affects top lane as well. For example, top lane is no longer more about trying to get kills on the opposing top laner. It’s more about trying to roam down to try to get vision for the team, you try to help your jungler invade, and try to help out mid. So the pressure that you have top side is no longer being used to kill the enemy top laner but rather to control the map and make sure that the team has an easier time.

ER: Does that tie in at all to why you’ve generally decided to go for more 5-v-5 team-fighting comps? Is that a meta thing or is it more what the team itself is best at?

JEY: The current meta is really punishing to any mistakes you make if you do not have tanks on your team. Therefore, it’s important to keep a balance between the tankiness of each team comp in order to make sure that the late game isn’t completely one-sided toward one of the teams’ comps. Teams usually pick a couple of champs that are really strong early and also a couple of champs that act as a safety net for the late game. As a team, we like to pick aggressive early-game junglers and because of that, the role of tank comes to me. But sometimes Contractz and I switch and he plays tanks and I play more damage-oriented roles. It’s not like picks like Rumble are bad. It’s just that if you make a mistake and you have no tanks on your team it’s really hard to come back.

ER: You’ve been on a lot of different teams, not only iterations of C9 but also other teams over a long career. What do you think is the greatest strength of this C9 team you’re on right now?

JEY: So, as a team, even in the past iterations of Cloud9, the most we’ve achieved is quarterfinals at worlds. We have yet to win the NA LCS as a team since I’ve joined so rather than thinking, “I really like this about this team, or I really like that about that team.” For me personally, I still need to constantly improve myself so we can achieve those team goals that we have in mind. However, I do really like the fact that our team consistently shows improvement.

ER: Lastly, your old organization SK Telecom T1 has been struggling a bit until this past week in the LCK. Do you ever talk to your old teammates from SKT and, if you have watched any of their games, what do you think some of their issues have been as a team?

JEY: On the team, I still talk to kkOma, Bang, and Wolf. Once in awhile I talk to Bengi, though he’s no longer with the team. Regarding their performance recently, I think their form dropped dramatically after Rift Rivals. The thing is that when the community hates on you or the team for a significant amount of time and for a significant amount of content, you will inevitably be bothered by it and that will bring a lot of pressure on you. It’s difficult to keep playing well when that is happening. Although it’s ultimately the team’s fault for not being able to perform well, I think that SKT at the end of the day will still do really really well. For example, even last year when they got third place in LCK going into worlds, a lot of people were saying that SKT was going to perform badly at worlds, but they still ended up winning. That just goes to show that SKT is a team with a lot of experience and a lot of resilience.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games