Lee "Easyhoon" Jihoon has quickly adapted to life in China, as he has quickly started to learn the language and is adapting to Vici Gaming's environment.
The former SK Telecom T1 mid laner and reigning world champion took a moment to talk to theScore esports about his thoughts on the champions he's favored, using Teleport, his role on the team, and Vici's upcoming match against Oh My God.
I read an earlier interview that was translated from Korean where you said you wanted to prove yourself away from Faker, and this was part of why you came to Vici Gaming. Do you have any additional comments on this right now?
Since Vici Gaming aren’t doing well right now, there is a lot we need to work on before I can comment on this.
Coming to Vici Gaming, do you feel you have to change your style to play in a way that isn’t naturally suited to you?
When I came to China, my playstyle began to change. Recently, I played Lissandra a lot. In Korea, I never played Lissandra, so I think my playstyle has changed already.
In Korea, you were very well known for your Azir play, but on Vici Gaming you haven’t been able to win games with him. Do you think that right now Azir doesn’t suit Vici Gaming or is there some other reason it hasn’t been successful?
I think the meta in the LPL and the LCK is very similar right now. Even SKT right now play Azir and Lulu — champions that are also popular in China. I think the difference between me playing Azir for SKT and for Vici Gaming is more a problem with me personally. I haven’t been practicing Azir as much in solo queue or in scrims.
Right now, mid lane Teleport is very popular. Is there a difference in the impact you have in your games when you bring Teleport and when you don’t? What do you have to do when you don’t take TP and the enemy mid laner does?
If I play Lissandra or Twisted Fate or similar champions, I feel I must take Teleport. Lissandra’s laning phase is weak. Her range is very short. Her damage is low. Lissandra must take Teleport. If Lissandra doesn’t take Teleport, the enemy mid laner will have a very easy laning phase.
Azir players don’t like to take Teleport because Azir’s laning phase is very strong. He doesn’t have to recall first. He always recalls after his enemy recalls. His team fight is also very strong, so he has to take Heal, Exhaust or Barrier in this case. It’s a better choice.
If I don’t have Teleport, you need to compensate for it. I need to focus on when the enemy mid laner needs to recall back. I need to force him to recall back and push out so that he has to use Teleport to return to lane. As a result, my teammates won’t feel pressure.
When I spoke to Loong earlier, he said that he feels your team plays a lot around the jungle, so he has to focus on pushing out the lane to assist invades. Do you think your role is similar?
When I play Lissandra, I always push my lane and try to use Teleport for our team. If I play Azir, I always try to clear minions to save our turret. Depending on the champion I play, my role will be different.
Early game, mid laners don’t have a big role. If there is a lane swap, the other four players have a very large role, but the mid laner doesn’t really have a role. In the mid game, mid laners have to clear and save the turret. If I can, I have to try to roam or solo kill or destroy my enemy's turret.
Do you agree that Vici Gaming’s style is to play around jungle?
I think our team’s style is focused on the jungle, yes. For example, if the lane has been swapped, our AD carry and support and top will try to take turrets while our jungler invades and tries to take camps from the other side of the map. Other teams may just pull their jungler to also take the tower. We give DanDy our support, and we expect DanDy to carry us.
This coming week, you have very important matches to play. In particular, you will face OMG. Do you have thoughts on how OMG might play and how you have to prepare to face them?
I don’t know if Cool or icon will play. Recently, OMG have always had Cool come to the LPL, so I am guessing Cool will play in our game too. If Cool plays, most of his champion pool is fine, but if he plays Twisted Fate, it makes it harder for us to beat their team. Cool’s laning phase isn’t very good, but it’s very annoying to deal with his Twisted Fate. This week, we either have to focus on how to beat their Twisted Fate or we have to ban it. That’s our biggest focus.
What were your expectations for this split? Did you expect to be struggling for playoffs placement?
The most important thing for us right now is to focus on getting into playoffs. I don’t have a comment on our expectations.
Some have said that Group A is not as strong as Group B. If you make it into the playoffs, do you think you will be able to beat the Group A team you face in the first round?
Yes, I have that confidence.
Do you have any additional comments for fans who might read this interview?
Thank you very much for cheering for us.
Translation assistance provided by Jenny Lee. This interview was conducted primarily in English with some questions answered in Mandarin Chinese and translated into English.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.