Despite some initial doubters, top laner Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon's time with SK Telecom T1 has shown that he is more than a carry top laner. Playing for his new team, he has adapted himself to SKT's system.
Now, having topped the LCK spring playoffs with SKT, Huni weighed in on coach Kim "kkOma" Jung-gyun, how his perception of Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok changed after playing with him instead of against him, and who he views as the biggest threat to his team heading into MSI.
So what is Kkoma like? What is it like working with him?
I think he's not playing League of Legends, he's playing art.
He's playing art?
Yeah. He's teaching art, how to make art in League of Legends. He's not teaching League of Legends. That's what I felt when I joined SKT. It's completely different from when I think of League of Legends, and just playing the game.
But he's making art in League of Legends ... There's Kkoma art, and I'm just following his order.
So you're just one color in his palette?
Yeah, and he's drawing with the players.
Wow. That's quite the analogy.
Of course the players are the best players. But Kkoma is also the best, so that's why I explain it that way.
Your teammates on SKT all have huge reputations: what has surprised you the most about your teammates?
I will say the teammate and the coach system. Everyone is motivated. So first of all, I was just surprised at that ... Imagine I win something really huge, let's say the World Championship. [SKT] has won the World Championship [three times] ... and sitting next to me right now is Faker. He's still playing solo queue.
And it's the evening for you guys right now, and I assume you've been playing all day?
Yeah, and this is quite insane. He's winning all the time, but he never loses motivation. As a pro gamer and League player, it's five people playing. Let's say two people aren't working hard, the other three people will obviously be getting exhausted, because if you see one of your teammates isn't motivated, then of course you're going to lose your motivation.
First of all, I was really surprised that five people, ten people, all of the coaching staff, all of my teammates, everyone ... They're always motivated, and I could never lose motivation.
So you're saying that even a third World Championship in a row wouldn't be enough?
I think so! This guy's crazy.
You've played against Faker before joining SKT, but what is it like to play with him? Is it intimidating at all?
This guy is crazy. He's actually good.
I think he's good, too.
He's way, way better than people think. Like way, way better. I'm his teammate, and he's way, way, way better. This is incredible.
Solo queue and the team game are different. As teammates, when he's mid, it's so much different.
The first time I met him in solo queue, I thought that he was not that good. In solo queue, he was kind of trolling, he was even losing laning against me, when I played mid. It was like Season 4, 2014.
Then 2015, I met him for the first time competitively in MSI, when I was on Fnatic. I still thought that he was still not super good. Like he's good, but I didn't know why he's very, very, very good. I didn't think that way, because he was my opponent.
I was confident. Like, "Of course I can beat this guy." I should teach this guy how to play League of Legends, you know? I want to do it.
I failed it, but I realize he's actually good ... I learned so much from him, sitting next to him and learning so many things. Just watching scrims and learning everything.
So it was playing with him that taught you how incredibly good he was.
And he's improving every year. I don't know what to do.
Who do you see as your biggest threat at MSI? What region represents the biggest challenge to you?
I don't know (laughs). If I was not on SKT, I would say, "Yeah, SKT!" But I'm on SKT, so I don't know what to pick. Maybe the Chinese team, Team WE. And I hear that G2 is a really great team too ... and also TSM is a really great team too. I don't know.
It sounds like you guys are pretty confident heading into MSI.
Yeah. If I was on G2, I'd say of course SKT. But I'm on SKT, so I can't say SKT.
I think everyone can understand what I mean.
How confident are you that SKT will win Worlds this year?
I'm not sure yet, actually ... usually the teams are working way harder in Summer. Usually. Because it's closer to getting a seed for the World Championship, and it's just bigger.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.