Vici Gaming play two important series this weekend against Hyper Youth Gaming and Oh My God. The results of the matches determine whether or not they will advance into the playoffs of play the Promotion Tournament, where they could drop down into the Secondary Pro League.
Zhu "Loong" Xiaolong, Vici Gaming's top laner, took a moment to talk to theScore esports about the pressures of the upcoming match, having been in this position before, how he fits into the team, and his thoughts on how new players can get into the LPL.
Starting earlier in the split, it seemed that Vici Gaming were much more focused on ganking the top lane than they are now. Is this the result of a change in meta or team dynamic?
I don’t think that the team particularly played around top, even at the start of the season. It may have looked like there was a top focus because of the way things played out, but in actuality, our team has always been focused on the jungle.
In discussing the jungle, your team’s pink ward placement is very aggressive. Who directs vision placement for your team?
It’s a decision made by our coach. Whenever our jungler will go into the enemy jungle to place pink wards, he will let us know in advance he wants to invade to place vision, and as a team we will decide if the laners should follow him in or not.
Also, because DanDy is a carry type jungler, it’s very important that the team works together to make sure he gets ahead.
I feel as if you’ve developed into a more stable presence in Vici Gaming’s games. How do you see your own playstyle and presence in the game right now?
I don’t actually think I’m a very stable player. I think that sometimes I tend to bring my feelings over into my play. For example, if I haven’t been doing well in scrims, I will bring that over into the competition. It’s something I really need to work on.
My playstyle is something that is directed by the coach. If my coach tells me to play a certain style, that is what I will aim to do in a given game.
Next week is a very high pressure week for you. As someone who carries his emotions into games, how are you preparing for these games?
I had a similar experience last split on Unlimited Potential. We came from the LSPL to LPL and didn’t do as well. Since I’ve had a similar experience already, that will prepare me for this coming week. I’m going to focus on next week’s competitions. They’re very important. If we win, we have a chance to make playoffs. If we lose, it will end our spring season. I will forget what happens before or after and focus the games only.
Last season, Unlimited Potential didn’t return to the LPL, but you were still recruited by an LPL team. Does having been able to return to the LPL and know you can still compete at this level give you more confidence this time around?
Previously, when I was on UP, we had to play the relegation tournament, and we got dropped. At that period of time, I lost confidence in myself. I was wondering about myself as a pro player. During this time, a lot of other clubs contacted me, but because I became a pro with Vici Gaming I thought about it for a long time. I was very grateful to Vici Gaming for having given me the opportunity to play for them before, so I decided, after considering it, to come to the main team and become their top laner.
About confidence, I think it’s something you need to very slowly build up and figure out for yourself. For a lot of games this split, VG lost 1-2. This made me feel like we actually could have won this series. I realized that these matches we lost were games that were winnable. This realization allowed me to slowly start getting my confidence back.
Regarding the three teams competing for the final two places in Group B, Vici Gaming faced Invictus Gaming and lost twice, Oh My God beat iG twice, and the last time you played against OMG, you won. Do you think there is a rock-paper-scissors relationship between these three teams at all?
I don’t think there is this type of connection between the three teams. When we played iG, we loss 1-2, so I think we really could have won this set, and it was a shame that we lost, so I don’t think this relationship exists.
We also got most of our points off matches against teams in Group A. We lost 1-2 to Royal Never Give Up and 0-2 EDward Gaming, for example. So I really don’t think there’s a defined rock-paper-scissors between any teams in the group.
Between the three teams, all of us have a chance of dropping down into relegations. Our match against Oh My God will be very important.
In that case, if you do advance to the playoffs, do you have confidence you’ll defeat the Group A team that you face in Round 1 and make it to the next round?
Yes, I think we will. Our team was in a very good mental state at the start of the split, so if we make it into playoffs, I think we will find this mental state again and be able to do well against Group A teams.
Could you describe your team’s current mental state?
The team doesn’t have a very good mentality right now because we recently lost a lot. We’re going to take this week to try to turn our mentality around. Since this is esports, it’s not possible to win all the time. If we find the right frame of mind, then there’s still the chance we can win in the future. As a result we will try to turn our mentality around.
You mentioned earlier that you think your role is to help get the jungle ahead. How do you feel you can best enable DanDy to get ahead as a top laner?
When I first game to Vici Gaming, it had an impact on me. When I was on Unlimited Potential, my team gave me a lot more resources. Yet on Vici, we’re much more focused on team play and team fights, so I’m not given as much attention. As a solo laner, I will try to work on and pick champions that can push out the lane faster. If you push out the lane faster, then you are free to go and help your jungler. This has definitely changed my playstyle.
You made it into the LPL from the LSPL at a time where it was difficult for Chinese players to get noticed as a lot of teams were importing Koreans. How do you think young Chinese players now can get noticed by teams?
Royal was the first Chinese team to really import Koreans, and they received a lot of success since they got second at the World Championships. A lot of young Chinese kids want to become pro gamers, but they’re still in school and don’t think of esports as a job. I think this is the main difference between the new Chinese players and the Koreans. Korean pros know that if they go into esports, this is a job and there are rules they need to follow, whereas the young Chinese kids think that, just because they play the game well, they can take it up as a profession when there are other factors and responsibilities. I think that this attitude needs to change if young Chinese players want to get into the LPL and play with the Koreans.
I’ve had English-speaking fans of the LPL tell me that they like to watch you play and see you as a player with some carry potential. Do you have anything you would like to say to them?
I never thought there might be people overseas who would take notice of me or especially think I might be able to carry games. I think my idea of a player who carries isn’t what I see myself as yet. Perhaps people overseas have this impression because I’m able to fulfill my duties to the coach and my duties to the team. Again, I’m grateful that people notice me.
Translation provided by Jenny Lee.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.