Another North American League Championship series split has finished, with Team SoloMid taking home a historic sixth trophy since the LCS began in 2013. Before the finals between TSM and Immortals on Sunday, two other longstanding NA LCS organizations, Counter Logic Gaming and Team Dignitas, played for third place. Unexpectedly, CLG quickly swept Dignitas 3-0. Following the match, Slingshot’s Emily Rand sat down with AD Carry Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes to talk about the series and the upcoming regional gauntlet for NA’s final League of Legends World Championship spot.
Emily Rand: Coming into this match, most people did not expect the CLG 3-0. What changed between your semifinal series against Immortals and this series against Dignitas?
Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes: I think against Immortals we had a pretty rough day of practice before the match. We changed a lot of our opinions toward things the day before the match, which was really bad. We changed our draft priority, thoughts on how to play the game, everything. We actually just forgot the foundation of how to play League and skipped a lot of steps in how to play the game, so we were able to gain that back for our set against Dignitas. But our match against Immortals, we had a pretty good chance going into it, just based on how our practice was going. Then the last day we just had a bad day of scrims and it just went all out the window.
ER: Does that happen often? A lot of players and teams say that in preparing for a new patch or playoff series that really specific scrim metas develop, especially when you can only scrim certain teams. Was that what happened here or was it more of a random thing?
TH: When you practice something and you’re doing well with it all week, then you want to go into scrims on the last day feeling confident. And if you get stomped then, you just think, “Wait, maybe everything I’m doing is wrong” and you question your picks, your life, your everything. It feels really bad. I think it happens to every team, though, it’s not a CLG-specific thing where certain picks they might be unsure about because a scrim was bad or something. It was just to the extreme for us versus Immortals. We got smashed pretty hard.
ER: One thing that has been humorous to watch in the later stages of LCS and throughout playoffs has been how many targeted mid lane bans Huhi (Choi Jae-hyun) draws. First of all, is that something you guys generally find amusing? And second, how does this help with your drafts because it seems like it has become really important for the team in Champion Select?
TH: I was just joking with him about this before. After we 3-0’d them I said, “I feel like Jae draws five bans every game. I don’t know why.” I guess people just think that since Huhi is the center of the map, if they can stop him, they can stop us. For bot lane there are two or three picks that you might ban but you don’t have to. I think people really just don’t have respect for Omargod yet. Any of his junglers they don’t really prioritize. Essentially that’s why Huhi is getting so many bans. That’s probably a reason why and yeah it gives us a pretty big advantage in draft, especially today.
ER: Your team seemed to really attack Shrimp early. Was that something specifically in your game plan going in, or was it how you reacted to Dignitas’ setup?
TH: To be honest, it’s something we came up with on the spot. We know what they do Level 1 and we planned around it. It’s not something we practiced throughout the week, it was just something we were like, “Hey let’s do this in this game” and it worked every single time.
ER: How did these Level 1’s help OmarGod (Omar Amin), especially since he’s still relatively new and integrating himself onto the team? He seemed more confident today.
TH: I just think Omar is a player who has really good days and really bad days, just from playing with him so far. Today was definitely one of his good days. He was pretty much in the right place at the right time, doing all the right moves. I think he played really well today and I think he does have days where he kind of forgets what to do. Everyone does. I think he just needs to work on consistency.
ER: We’ve seen Kog’Maw rising in priority in NA lately, and after this series you joined Immortals and TSM as a team that has seen success with it. Do you still think it’s a difficult or risky pick to play around, and how did you find success with Kog’Maw today?
TH: I actually don’t think it’s that difficult to play Kog. Playing that champion feels unfair. Playing against it in scrims feels unfair; playing the champion feels unfair. I don’t know if he’s going to get nerfed or what but I’m pretty sure enemy teams cry playing against it just like we cry playing against it. In the end, it’s just another pick that we can play.
ER: In your series against Team EnVyUs in particular, you sometimes had trouble when you went more for late-game scaling. Is that why you went for a more aggressive Level 1 in Game 3 with the Kassadin and Jax?
TH: We were just picking what’s good for us and it ended up that we had Kassadin, Trist, and Gragas, so we were like, “Well, we’re a scaling comp.” For the Kassadin/Taliyah matchup, it becomes really one-sided at a point so we just had to not bleed out.
ER: What is your team’s greatest strength going into the gauntlet?
TH: I actually think we’re really on and off as a team, kind of like how I said that OmarGod performs. We have very good days and very bad days. Our biggest strength as a team I guess is that when we’re on, we’re on. Everyone knows exactly what to do, and we’re moving like chess pieces around the map. It’s perfect.
ER: How would you rate your chances in making it to the World Championship?
TH: Going into the gauntlet, I actually think we have a pretty high chance. Even before we played Dignitas I didn’t think they were a super hard opponent to beat and we showed that today by 3-0ing them pretty one-sidedly. I think Dignitas will be the hardest opponent so we have a pretty good chance.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games