An interview with Team SoloMid's Santorin

by Kelsey Moser Apr 13 2015
Thumbnail image courtesy of Dennis Gonzales / theScore eSports

After winning against Team Impulse in an impressive 3-1 series, Riot gave Team SoloMid jungler Lucas "Santorin" Tao Kilmer Larsen the MVP title for the best-of-five. He was gracious enough to sit down with us afterwards and share his thoughts on the split and the matches against TiP, facing Cloud9, and looking forward to the Mid Season Invitational.

It looked like you had a very strong series against Team Impulse today. How do you feel the series went overall?

In the first game, we had the better composition, but we lost because we didn't play optimally. The other games we won against them by playing well, so I feel like we did fine in all the games but the first one.

After the first loss, you changed your champion from Nidalee to Gragas. Do you think that was an important change against Impulse?

I think Gragas is definitely a better pick against TiP because Gragas counters Rush's champion pool. We wanted to scout if they had anything to pick against our composition in Game 1, but because we didn't play well the first game, we decided on the Gragas comp.

Despite the wins against Team Impulse, they still picked up a lot of dragons. Did you make a conscience decision to give up dragons against Nunu and double Smite?

Yes, mainly because of Nunu; just picking Nunu gives you dragon control. We wanted to give up the first and second dragon, but fight the third one. Since someone died right before the third dragon in Game 1, they got that one and subsequent dragons.

Was it harder or easier to fit into a new team like Team SoloMid with an already established style?

It was hard in the start because on Coast I only played aggressive styles where I tried to kill the other jungler. [Team SoloMid] wanted me to play a more supportive role. 

The first few weeks we didn't play well, especially at IEM San Jose, because I didn't adapt easily, and there wasn't as much synergy and communication. That's why I only ganked for Bjergsen because we're Danes and had played together before. Now I have better synergy with top and bottom, and it's much easier for me to play for them now.

Has increased synergy allowed you to open up your jungle pathing and style more?

I can play new picks now. Before I wouldn't even play Nidalee — it was too aggressive, but now I can play all the junglers I want to pick. I can say I want to play a new jungler, we'll try it, and if it works, we'll fit it into our style. I'm ganking for bottom lane a lot  more now too. I don't gank top lane as much, but we still want that to happen.

How important was the lane swap against Team Impulse and against Rush?

I feel like TiP's lane swapping is bad in general because they don't know what to do in all situations, so when they lane swapped against us, I was happy. Rush wants to be very aggressive and have early pressure. When they lane swap, that doesn't happen, so I feel I'll win later on against him. One of the games, he played Lee Sin, but he didn't have any impact because of the lane swap. 

I feel like, with the lane swap, we should have won the first game, but we just played really bad.

As a jungler, do you prefer to lane swap or to play standard lanes?

When I play Nidalee, I really want to play standard lanes to have more pressure. When I play champions like Gragas, I don't mind lane swapping. I can scale up for team fights when I hit level six. On Coast, I didn't like to play lane swaps because I felt more useless as an aggressive carry. TSM didn't want that, so I play a more passive style in lane swaps.

Do you have a preference for playstyles between the aggressive style and the safer utility-based style?

I play every style the team wants me to play. I try to suggest new styles for the team. If it works, then we continue to use it. I still want to be the one making plays, but because TSM is solid, they can carry me as long as I'm helping lanes. I'm not trying to carry alone like I was on Coast.

This will be your first time in a TSM vs Cloud9 final. How comfortable are you going in?

I feel we should definitely win. We know how they're going to play, and we know their champion pools since we scrim against them a lot. They know ours too, but our champion pools are a bit bigger. If they pick new stuff, we should be able to counter it.

There's definitely a lot of pressure on me against Meteos. I take him as the number one jungler [in North America]. He's always been really strong and solid. I feel like we'll be the ones bashing heads, like we are in scrims. He plays every single style. He plays aggressive, supportive; he plays the same champion pool as I do. For example, I won't be able to get Gragas in all of the games like I did against TiP because Meteos also plays that champion.

Do you think it will be much harder to play the pick and ban phase correctly against Cloud9 because your champion pools are so similar overall?

Since our champion pools are so similar, we also play the same counterpicks, so if we pick a certain champion, they will pick the same champion we would in response, so it's hard to get around this. 

On purple side, they'll always be able to counter us, and we can do the same thing to them, so it will be down to who plays the map better and who plays better on that day.

Bjergsen called this the strongest Team SoloMid iteration he's been part of, and by the same token, others have said Cloud9 are weaker than they've ever been. Do you feel like these are fair assessments, and you should be able to win?

I feel like Cloud9 is definitely weaker than they were at the start of the last split, but I also feel that we're really strong right now. I'd definitely put us as the number one North American team. If we play well like we do in scrims, we should win.

If we lose the first and second game, though, we might fall into a situation where we don't know what to do. That's why we practice to avoid that situation and why we have our coach and two analysts living with us in the house right now — so that doesn't happen.  

It sounds like you're very confident you'll win and advance to the Mid Season Invitational. Is there a particular jungler or team you'd like to face that you hope will be at MSI?

I don't follow a lot of other regions, since I mostly focus on North America, but I also look at the European region. I really wanted to face Svenskeren, but SK Gaming just lost to Unicorns of Love, so that won't happen for me. 

If I wanted to pick one jungler from Europe, I would really want to face Kikis because he's always bringing out new junglers. I think he's a really interesting person because he never plays a meta pick. He always picks something strange, like Twisted Fate at IEM San Jose. I really want to get revenge.

You just played against Team Impulse, and you probably watched the Team Liquid and Cloud9 series yesterday. Any predictions for the third place match in the North American LCS?

I would probably say TiP will win. But it will be really close, so I say 3-2.

Thank you. Anyone you would like to thank or anything else you would like to say?

I would like to thank my family and friends because they're always supporting me and my decision to go to North America. They really wanted me to stay at home, but they still let me go. I feel I've had some success now, so I can't thank them enough. I also want to give a huge shoutout to my fans because they're awesome.

Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for the Score eSports. You can follow her on Twitter.