When Jake "Xmithie" Puchero takes to the stage for the NA LCS, it won't be in a Counter Logic Gaming jersey. But the swap gives the oft-underestimated veteran jungler, now with Immortals, the opportunity to prove that not only was he a valuable member of his last team, but a potentially transformative part of this one.
Xmithie sat down to talk with theScore esports about his goal of making it out of groups, a recent campaign to push scrims earlier for NA LCS teams, and his preferred role when he plays Overwatch during downtime.
This will be the first time in a long time that, when Summer Split rolls around, there's going to be a player named Aphromoo that isn't on your team. What's it going to be like to face off against those ex-teammates?
It's just a different atmosphere for everyone. For CLG, they're going to a have a different jungler. For Immortals, I'm just going to have to be a different role than I was in CLG. And as of the moment, it's been working pretty well for us, just looking at scrim records and everything.
You said that you're going to have to play a slightly different role for Immortals: what sorts of adaptations have you seen yourself making already?
I think the biggest thing is just the language differential, since our top laner, support, and even mid actually can speak Korean. And sometimes if it's really hectic, one person might speak in Korean really fast so that the other teammates can talk as fast, and react as fast.
So just that language block is kind of a detriment, but at the same time they're really good mechanically-wise, like pretty much everyone on this team. I think this squad is much better mechanically than when I was on CLG. I've also been learning a lot from them.
What is that language barrier like outside of game? Do you talk to Flame at all?
The funny thing is that there is no language barrier outside of game, we're all just pretty goofy, and everyone hangs out pretty well. Like Olleh has pretty good English, and Flame can still converse really well.
I heard that Immortals has made this effort to get scrims earlier in the day, so that you guys don't have to stay up super late, and there will be time for other stuff. How has that affected you, or has it affected you at all?
I think it was a collaboration of all the teams that want to scrim early, it wasn't really just one team that wanted to do it. It's also overall better for LCS in general, since usually people wake up around 10 or 9 to go to LCS. So it's like, I understand what the teams are trying to do.
Coping-wise, I just have to wake up earlier and not be up playing other games or talking to people. So it's just a minor adjustment, we're all [glad] to adapt.
If this change hadn't been made, what other game would you be up playing?
I actually only play other games right now if I play with friends, so whatever my friends want to play, I usually play that. But I usually don't play any single-player games, or other games by myself.
What have you been up to recently with your friends, in terms of games?
We usually play Overwatch, we play PUBG, and that's pretty much it. It's pretty much everyone's games so far right now.
I've gotta know, Xmithie, who is your Overwatch main? Who do you play, when you've got to lock it in?
I play usually offense, but it's usually hard to get offense in Grandmaster, but usually I just fill if I can't get offense.
So you're Grandmaster in Overwatch?
Nice, nice. If this change hadn't been made, how late would you get up normally?
Usually I'd fall asleep somewhere between 12 to 3 a.m., and then wake up around 10, 10:30, to go to the gym — like before in CLG, I'd go to the gym — or like eat breakfast, or play solo queue games. Now it's like around 12 to 1 that I go to sleep.
Looking back at your time with CLG, thinking about the beginning of your time with them until now, how have you grown during that time as a player and a person?
I think this past two and a half years with CLG, as a person and a player, probably affected me the most. Since a lot of things happened, we went by four coaches in CLG, I think. And every person there, I learned a lot, since I always try to find something positive from average coaches, or decent ones. I always try to think positively on what they want us to be.
Yeah, I learned a lot. And probably the way CLG improved me the most was communication and how to understand people's feelings, and how to cope with other personalities. It was pretty good.
I like the comment about coaching, because even though you're being polite there, you're saying that you're trying to take something away from every coach. And it sounds like you're also trying to respect them. What is the kind of coach you'd prefer to have for your team?
Usually what I want for coaches is mainly just, not really talking about anything micro-wise, just mainly how to win the game, I guess. Broadly, and then let the players talk about how to improve micro-wise, or skirmishes. But mainly coaches are just there to engage in conversation with the teams. How to improve communication is [one of] the biggest things, how to talk to each other, morale is pretty big and atmosphere is pretty big in any game.
Looking back on your competitive career, what do you think is your fondest or most unforgettable moment?
Best moment I had in esports, probably, is when we won [at Madison Square Garden]. I think it's just those playoffs in general, we didn't lose a single game, and everyone's hard work was there. It just showed that we really wanted to win those playoffs.
Prediction time: you've said in the past that the story was always that you've had issues getting out of groups at Worlds. Will we see Xmithie get out of groups at Worlds this year?
That has been my goal after the first Worlds, it hasn't changed. I just want to do really, really well at Worlds.
So that's what you're always aiming at — that one day it'll happen for you?
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can gind him on Twitter.