Before Brazil’s INTZ e-Sports shocked the 2016 League of Legends World Championship audience by beating China’s Edward Gaming, the ROX Tigers fell behind to fellow Wildcard team Albus NoX Luna in their first match of the tournament. While the ROX Tigers had the game well in hand after a few more minutes, it was a bit of a scare, especially in hindsight with EDG’s disappointing loss to INTZ.
Following the match, theScore esports caught up with Tigers mid laner Lee “KurO” Seo-haeng to talk about their first game and how he's dealing with the pressure of being tournament favorites.
The ROX Tigers are favored to win the tournament, but Albus NoX Luna are more likely to be underestimated because they’re a Wildcard team. How did you prepare for them and was it different than preparing for other teams?
Usually, no matter what team we play against, we prepare in three steps — what champions they play, what surprise strategies or pocket picks that they could have, and try to learn from mistakes in our plays. That’s how we prepared for this matchup.
You started with an early kill deficit. What went wrong and how did you and your team fix it by the early-mid game?
At that early jungle fight we thought that we would be able to join the fight first, before our opponents. We thought that if the junglers fought each other first, our top and mid would be able to join faster and we would be able to have a better fight. Contrary to that, Elise’s HP was going down too quickly and we thought, “Oh, this is not turning out so well.” But then after the accident happened, as we played the game, we knew that the game was manageable. In those situations we just keep talking to each other and saying, “It’s okay, it’s okay, we can still win this.” That’s how we always come back in games.
You went with Jayce mid when you’ve only played Jayce twice before in your career. What went into the Jayce pick and how did it fit what you wanted to do with your composition?
We wanted to focus on champions that would poke for our composition. Also we thought that we could use a champion that dealt a lot more damage and that’s how we got to pick Jayce.
What has been the difference from your appearance at last year’s World Championship to becoming the favorites to win this year’s World Championship?
It definitely feels different compared to last year. Last year people were saying things like, “At best, the Tigers team will only go to the quarterfinals.” The expectations weren’t so high at that time. Now, for this tournament, we hear so many people saying that ROX Tigers are the best team and that we should definitely win Worlds. Listening to those comments, it just feels really good, but it’s a lot of pressure at the same time.
How do you deal with that pressure?
I think that if we play well and win the remaining five matches in the group stage, we’ll definitely be able to overcome our nervousness.
Emily Rand is a staff writer for theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.