This interview was condensed and edited for clarity. It was conducted by Matt Demers with Song "Smeb" Kyung-ho and the GE Tigers' translator.
Matt Demers: What’s it like coming into this tournament? Being first in your league, everyone thinks you guys are going to win this thing, so what’s it like coming in with that confidence?
Smeb: We believe in each other very much. That make us more confident and our team synergy and our friendship is very good, so that’s why we have lots of confidence.
Matt: I was watching you guys scrim against TSM yesterday and you were all relatively happy - you know, joking around and that kind of stuff. Something that I wanted to ask about those scrims was about GE playing Diana; we’ve seen more Diana in the actual tournament than we were expecting. Why do you think that is?
Smeb: Nowadays, lots of teams are using Diana and it became a famous champion, but yesterday was a scrim, so we just tried using her. We just tried one time because everyone is using that, but in Korea still it is not very famous like in Europe.
Matt: Do you guys feel comfortable experimenting in the early stages of the tournament, where you’re kind of expected to win?
Smeb: Because it was only scrim, we wanted to try a lots of new champions and new things. We wanted to find one who is a very good match for me.
Matt: Is there anything specifically about Cloud9 that you guys took advantage of?
Smeb: Because we are still playing in the LCK in Korea, we didn’t prepare too much for Cloud9 but we know which characters Cloud9 uses a lot.
Matt: If you have a choice between analyzing video right after you finish a game or watching the next match live, what do you guys usually choose?
Smeb: We like watching the live matches and then the five of us will meet together and just talk about our game with fresh eyes. We don’t normally watch our footage after the game.
Matt: Your Western fans really like the way you guys dress. Pretty much what I want know is who came up with the idea.
Smeb: In our company there is one woman whose name is Se Jin, she’s always suggesting stylish clothing
Matt: So does she just pick it out, or suggest it?
Smeb's Translator: I can answer that question for you. So normally, she will ask our entire company which one they like. Like she will first ask our association so because I also love fashion and she studied fashion in her undergrad, she will go buy clothes and ask us which one we like best?
But for some, like the cat one, she says because NaJin was a big match that she wanted us to be so cute and make them powerless [Editor's note: "powerless" by having the Tigers look "fun" in contrast to NaJin's intimidating look].
Every time we want to let them (the players) be different and fun. Normally the clothes players wear are not so nice, they very serious, but we want to give them a friendlier image.
Matt: It’s working! Are there players that don’t like doing it?
Smeb's Translator: Nope! At first some people said they don’t like pink, but after the fans and everyone said how much they like it they started to very much enjoy that style of [clothes].
Matt: How does it feel for you (Smeb) to get a kill lead? Does it take a lot of pressure off you? Suddenly you’ve got a lot of kills and a lot of gold to spend. Do you ever think “Ok well at least I’m set for the rest of the game?”
Smeb: When I get a lot of kill[s] and a lots of gold, I just say “well, I’m strong now so I should tell my teammates that I’m strong so we can win.”
[Editor's note: the translator also added that Smeb enjoyed "telling" the other team, as well.]
Matt: Are you guys looking forward to the next round?
Smeb: Of course we are looking forward to the next game, but it’s not as much pressure as the first and second one because they were best-of-ones, but in the next two game we start to play three matches so it will be easier.
Matt: Do you like playing longer series?
Smeb: Of course. We prefer best-of-three. They’re not very tiring like a best-of-five, but it’s better than a best-of-one because if we make a mistake we have one more chance to make it right.
Matt: Who’s usually the person on the team that says “This is what we did wrong. This is what we need to fix?”
Smeb: All of us. It’s collaborative.
Matt: How does it feel to be on a team that’s very successful and that a lot of people feel is the best in the world. How does it feel to be on top like that?
Smeb: It’s unbelievable that people call us “the world’s best team.” I can’t believe I’m on that team.
Matt: Have you had a difficult journey as a player?
Smeb: When I was with Incredible Miracle, I didn’t have a very good grade, so during that time he had a hard time. When I became a player I thought that I was the best, but actually when I was on IM it wasn’t like that, and I lost confidence.
Confidence is the most important thing, so I worked hard to get it back.
[Editor's note: the translator referred to "grade" in the context of criticism and general performance.]
Matt Demers is the Supervising Editor at theScore eSports and is enjoying Poland's weather. Follow him on Twitter.