After becoming the first player in NA LCS history to make the finals on two different teams, Darshan "ZionSpartan" Upadhyaha sat down with theScore eSports to share his thoughts before the team heads out to Madison Square Garden.
Going into the venue, how was the team's vibe?
The vibe was knowing that it's important to just stay focused. Not to let the pressure get to you, focus on what we've learned from practicing these weeks, and focus on just playing like we were in scrims, because we were playing extremely well.
How was it at the end of game three? Was it a relief for your guys?
After winning game three, it felt great to win of course, proving that hey, CLG we can do well in the playoffs you know, debunking that whole CLG will choke at playoffs because that's just not true anymore. We can perform, we can play well, we just have to practice well, have the right mindset, and the right attitude and that's what we came in with, and that's why we 3-0’d them.
Is it a huge relief now that you guys are secured into the finals? You guys aren't playing a third place match.
Yeah. It's pretty disheartening to go to New York knowing that you'll be playing a third, fourth place match. It's great to know we're going there to play in the finals at Madison Square Garden, just like saying that sentence, it brings a smile to my face.
Let's talk about TiP. What did they do wrong in those three games? Where did they mess up?
I think a lot of times there's like a dichotomy between the way Rush plays the game, and the way their team comp is. So, a lot of times they'll have a late game focused team comp and have early game focused junglers. So they're kind of like a mix and match between early and late game, which kind of makes their team comps kind of janky. It's unfocused. So they could have went like, Lee Sin and Shen, go for more early game strength, but they kind of like had to protect the AD Carry and early game from Rush and then they always had Impact on a tank. I feel like they were trying to play to all their players' strengths, but as a result, they didn't have a solid way to win the game. The first two games, we had comps that outscaled them. Even though they started games well and got early leads, we won because we outscaled them.
Impact played more of a utility role today, were you surprised they didn't change their carry priorities after their first few losses?
I was expecting Rumble or something, but it seems like Team Impulse's style is having Impact on a tank for Rush can play carries. That worked for them towards the end of this split, but it just wasn't working against us.
You're the first player to make it to the NA LCS finals with two different teams. You were in the inaugural finals over three years ago with GGU and today you're qualified with CLG, do you feel any different going into it now as a more mature player?
Yeah. I mean, I don't think people realize how long I've been a pro. When people think of pros that have been in LCS for a long time, they think of Doublelift, xpecial, Dyrus, but what people don't realize is that I've been playing in LCS since season 3, and it was great to make the finals that first time when I was like, 16-17 years old. I was still in high school, so I wasn't super focused on that competition, I was just living the dream. I was in la-la land. Now three years later, after all the losing I've done, and the growing I've done as an individual, it's great to finally make it back, on CLG, to the finals, to make it to Worlds for my first time hopefully, and prove that I can be one of the best players in the world.
Let's talk about Chris as your coach. You guys have had several coaches in the past, however, in this split, you guys brought on Chris. What makes him stand out? What does he bring to the team?
He just brings more structure, and basically discipline of the team, which was definitely needed. We have Tony "Zikz" Gray who does more of the strategical stuff, so it's nice to have Chris as someone who can interface more with the players when necessary to help focus on what Tony's talking about, help make sure the players are focused on winning, basically making sure that we're working together as a team, we're practicing efficiently, and we're doing our jobs - getting better at the game, and he's there to facilitate that. Having two different coaches is just a lot better, because he fills the gap that Tony has.
So about tomorrow's games. Who do you think will win?
Judging off scrim practice, Team Liquid is definitely looking like the stronger team, but a lot of times people say things about scrims and you know it doesn't translate as much to the big stages. TSM always plays better on stage. Something I think always happens with TSM sets is that they're going to lose the first game most likely, Team Liquid will catch them offguard, and the question becomes, can TSM adapt? They adapt so often, not always, but a lot of time they're behind at the beginning of a series and they come back .They get stronger with every game. Are they going to get strong enough to beat Team Liquid? I think they'll definitely lose the first game, maybe the second game. It's gonna be a close series.
Who would you rather face?
I'd rather play against TSM.
The fans have stuck with you over the past three years, and stayed loyal even through the dark times. Do you have any words for the faithful?
Thank you for not only being a fan of CLG, but also, believing in the team. That constant meme of not doing well in playoffs, we finally broke that tradition. And for me, I've done so much losing, and I'm just glad to prove that I'm a strong player. I'm on a good team, and I can play with that team. I can be something meaningful in the eSports scene, that's always what I've wanted to do. Moving from high school to college, and I really appreciate all the people who have followed me on this path, and I hope to make them proud. And my friends and family for supporting me.
As many fans would say, is this a golden age for CLG?
It is. The golden age has finally come. It is our Faith age, whatever you want to call it. CLG is a team. That's the bottom line.