Team Impulse will be fielding substitute players in place of Kim "Procxin" Se-Young and Choi "Pirean" Jun-Sik for the first week of the North American LCS 2016 Spring Split, TiP's support Austin "Gate" Yu told theScore eSports.
"Actually, for the first week of the LCS split, I will be playing mid lane for Team Impulse," Gate said.
This means Gate will be starting mid in TiP's games against Echo Fox and Immortals, putting him head to head against Henrik "Froggen" Hansen and Eugene "Pobelter" Park respectively. Gate has prior experience as a mid laner as he was called up from the bench towards the end of the summer split to fill in for Yu "XiaoWeiXiao" Xian after he was suspended for Elo Boosting.
Kenneth "Ken" Tang and Meng "beibei" Zhang will start at support and jungle respectively in Pirean and Procxin's absence.
"Our Korean imports are still pending visas and won’t be able to join us," Gate said. "I’m sure I’ll be able to use some of my experience playing Adrian on the same team to my benefit though. "
Those Korean imports, Procxin and Pirean, are unknowns in the North American scene. Procxin was previously a substitute player for DetonatioN Gaming in the LJL, while Pirean is a top Korean solo queue player. According to Gate, they're ready to play in NA's highest level, but there are some communication issues to still work out.
"Their work ethic is very good and can definitely play at the LCS level," Gate said. "Some communication and synergy issues are expected in a multilingual line-up, but we also have a translator who speaks multiple languages with us."
Aside from Procxin and Pirean, the team also features Wang "Feng" Xiao Feng, another solo queue star, and former Team Coast player Brandon "Mash" Phan, who Gate says has a unique skill among AD carries.
"Not many people know this, but Mash is one of the only AD carry shotcallers I know," Gate said. "He’s really good at controlling the map and identifying player strength and movement. He was one of the keys to success in Coast’s NACS run last split."
Mash and Gate will eventually be working together in the bot lane, but the pair have a history together. According to Gate, Mash was the one who got him a tryout with TiP.
"We were playing bot lane for fun together in solo queue and TiP scouted me. A lot has changed since we were playing then, and maybe I’ll be able to teach him something now," he said.
Gate also said that his experience as a mid laner has improved his support play. He says that he sees the game from a different perspective now, compared to the average support, and the roles aren't too different in terms of the skill set required.
Gate also has to deal with playing against his former teammates, a problem exacerbated by the fact that all four of TiP's ex-players are on different NA LCS teams. He says he's looking forward to facing off against them, though he still does keep in touch with Apollo "Apollo" Price.
"It’s a pretty weird feeling seeing your old teammates on other teams! I have a lot of respect for Apollo, Impact, and Rush and ultimately I hope I will put up a good performance against them," he said. "Apollo and I talk to each other pretty often so I think it will be a fun experience fighting each other."
As for what's ahead, many have pegged TiP's roster as one of the weaker lineups in the NA LCS. The unknowns and solo queue players haven't given many TiP fans a lot of hope as to what the team can do this split, especially in the face of some stacked rosters.
"I feel as if though people are criticizing this roster due to the lack of knowledge about the players," Gate said. "I think the thought that TiP would place last in LCS even though most people don’t know anything about most of the players is a little too rash. If anything, I think the players, as rookies, should deserve more time."
As for the team itself? Gate says that the new TiP squad is ready for the challenge of turning their critics into believers.
"Regarding the new roster, I have confidence that we will surprise a lot of people," he said. "We are the wildcard of the season and we have a lot to prove."
Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore eSports. He makes a lot of Keymaster/Gatekeeper jokes. You can follow him on Twitter.
Lisa Doan is an associate producer for theScore eSports. She doesn't get the joke but she's upset about the pun. You can follow her on Twitter.