Following their 3-0 sweep over Dignitas in the quarterfinals, Team Impulse's Gate spoke to theScore eSports about his time in the LCS, switching over from support to mid and his champion pool.
How nervous were you before loading in to your first ever LCS playoff series.
I think, in my the first LCS game, I was playing support against Team Dragon Knights. I wasn’t nervous, I feel like I was just ready to play support. But I wasn’t really, like there were so many things I didn’t know about support and the team had to kind of hold my hand through a lot of stuff. So as for being nervous, I wasn’t nervous because I kind of knew that the game didn’t matter that much. But I was still really excited and stuff playing my first LCS game and I think overall the team has like helped me a lot. They do their best because they kinda know that I’m new. So I think for all of these games, from the first to this game, I haven’t felt really jittery or nervous or anything like that.
Have you felt like there has been any improvement from a team synergy standpoint?
Oh yeah team synergy for sure because in the first game I felt like I was all over the place. As for team synergy, we’re not super good at that but I think for having foreign teammates and foreign speakers, it has been getting better pretty fast. I don’t expect too much for team synergy when you have a lot of foreign players but I think we’re doing well. Definitely a big improvement from the first game because that first game, I was just really random. I didn’t know what people wanted and stuff, I didn’t know if something was going on if they didn’t say it or I didn’t say it.
What specifically has your team done to help you improve?
Mostly we have a translator and a coach, we record our scrims a lot, we watch each other’s point of views, we give each other pointers and then we talk about how we communicated usually at the end of each game, whether people thought a different way about the game or not. But overall I think that’s mostly what we’ve been doing to improve our team synergy and communication.
Some people have singled out your champion pool, more specifically your reliance on Azir. You pulled out Lulu against Dignitas, but also had a pair of games on that Azir. Is that something you feel like you need to work on or have you just not been forced to move on to something else?
I feel like not showing picks is smarter, especially for teams that want to research you. I just play whatever the team thinks is good but we actually, as a team, recognize that if we do a certain comp more than one time that it seems like we’re pretty reliant on it. I feel like we practice a very wide range of champions and team comps and stuff like that. I don’t think when people think we’re reliant on certain picks, it's not true. For instance, Impact has played three games on Shen today but they just let him have three games of Shen. He thought he would play well with it. I don’t think champion pool is a weakness for TIP.
I wanted to ask you about that turnaround near Baron pit that let you win that game. The fight didn’t look so good but you managed to turn it around with a great Emperor’s Divide. What was going through your mind as it happened and what was the team’s reaction?
For Game 1 I think everyone, even though we misplayed a little bit in the mid game, thought we were stronger at that point so we wanted to fight as soon as we could. For the play, they kinda just funnelled in for me. I didn’t have to do much and they walked into my ult. So I don’t think I did too much, but I was really sad that I didn’t get my penta. I E’d in too soon. If I waited like an extra auto I would have gotten a penta kill for the first game. That would have been so hype, and then that would have been my achievement. Game 1 Dignitas playoffs got a pentakill. Everyone would have been so excited. I just wanted to hear the audience honestly.
When we talked to Adrian a few weeks ago, he said that you were quickly learning TiP’s in-game communication and that having another natural English speaker on the team helped. From your perspective how was learning to communicate with the Korean members of TIP? How was that developed with a few more weeks of practice under your belt?
Yeah for sure it's been getting better. As for how we communicate usually, from my experience playing on a full English team, there’s a lot of small details that people say but actually when you play at this level people already know. So we don’t usually say too many small details and we just focus on bigger concepts like timers and stuff way more. It’s true that sometimes we don’t communicate something that might be important, but most of the time I think just based on how much game knowledge people know. Even in scrims, we miss the small things, we go back and explain it once or twice and after that it generally isn’t an issue. But for the most part the most important thing on TIP is just we tend to use mostly key terms. Nothing like, no one really talks for a long time. So theres not really one person directing everyone. There’s a lot of communication between everyone.
So it’s a huge teamwork for communication.
Yeah. Sometimes it’s not as efficient but it’s definitely something we’re working on.
Looking ahead to next week's semifinal match, your opponents are CLG. What do you need to do personally and as a team to prepare for CLG and come out on top?
I think after today’s games we have a week until the next game. So until the next game, me personally, I’m just going to keep playing a lot. This last like week I’ve been trying to play as much as I could, and I’m just going to keep doing that. Champion pool wise, I think that CLG’s champion pool is smaller than ours but it could be different because we don’t have all the information of them. We kind of already know some of their tendencies, but as a team I think if we just play well in teamfights we’ll do great. Mostly, I think a lot of teams when they play against us look at Rush because he’s the famed most aggressive jungler in LCS but recently that’s not what we have to rely on anymore. So I think teams have to look out for more than just him.
How has it been adapting to the new roster and losing XiaoWeiXiao?
To say more about the XiaoWeiXiao thing, it was really sudden as in like we didn't expect it at all and I was still expecting to play support with Apollo. When it happened, we spent one or two days not doing much because we were trying to figure out the whole situation. There wasn’t an official ruling yet, but they went to the headquarters to talk a little bit more about the situation. After that, they realized he most likely wouldn't be able to play, most likely through playoffs and Worlds and it was already past the roster lock. So it was kinda convenient because I was kind of a mid laner before and I didn’t expect like to be put in the position. Initially when I heard it I was a little shocked, and now I’m like “I guess I have to do it anyways.” And I’m sorry what was the last part of that question?
How has it been adapting to the roster?
There’s a lot of positives actually. Generally when you get a new player, everyone has this honeymoon phase where everyone is pretty happy before other issues come up in that phase. I’m sure that they can blame me for other things later, but right now things are going well. Definitely for me, personally, it’s quite a big difference moving from Challenger to LCS, so I’m learning a lot everyday. Mostly I think, we’re going to have a decent time in the next match and I expect us to make Finals. Like, I’m pretty confident that we’ll be able to make it past the next round and make it to New York to play in the Finals.
So how has it been transferring to an LCS team on short notice, starting out as a support and then being thrown into the mid lane?
I think mostly the biggest hurdle from switching roles and also switching leagues is that you’re playing against a different caliber of opponents. Also, to touch on the support role, I felt like the support role was a weird role for me. Like I think that I didn’t understand too much about that. Even though I was trying to learn as quickly as I could, there’s a big gap of knowledge just in playing the role for half a year or whatever, to me just being thrown into it. So I just felt like that when I switched to support initially, I mostly knew how to play one champion decently well and we just played that whenever it was up. And then after that I would just kinda struggle with different champions.
As for Challenger to LCS I didn’t expect it at all. When I got the offer I was just playing solo queue. Like Alex contacted me and said that they were looking to add another player, preferably in the support role. Not expected at all. The jump from Challenger to LCS is way different. Just mostly in how teams work in general. Challenger teams are just more loosely bonded. People leave for the LCS on a whim, people leave for other teams very quickly and generally the management is more shaky because they’re not really established. It’s mostly like a group of one or two people that want to run a team but that don’t know everything, or don’t have as much knowledge as these already existing LCS teams do. So switching immediately from Challenger to LCS is definitely a positive experience. I was, of course, concerned that I wouldn’t be able to play at the level my team needed me at first but I think I’m improving, so that’s a good thing.
This article has been edited and condensed for clarity.