The 2016 Worlds roadshow hit the beautiful Chicago Theatre for the Quarterfinals and Liquid Legends was there in force to cover all the action. Our resident Russian, Wonderful, trekked across the Atlantic to snag some great interviews with Samsung's improving rookie ADC, Ruler, and SKT's unkillable bot lane force, Bang. He also talked with Kuro on the ROX Tigers' forever tilted cat, the mid lane meta and their mental block against SKT, and he spoke to Jankos on International junglers, Korean boot camps and being within a shot of becoming the first Western team to make it to the final of Worlds in 5 years.
Meanwhile, Zess met up with ROX's Smeb to discuss his off meta top lane picks and why Korean top laners have dominated both foreign top laners and the MVP awards in recent years.
Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk
Congratulations on beating Cloud 9! Do you think that you’ve achieved a lot during this World Championship?
Thank you! Personally, I think I’ve achieved a lot as a player during this tournament, so I’m happy about it.
Your Caitlyn and Jhin were spectacular tonight. Do you rate those two higher than any other ADC right now?
Everyone knows about my Jhin. *laughs* In the case of Caitlyn, she’s a pretty strong pick right now plus I enjoy playing her a lot.
In the semi-final you’ll play against the winner between H2k and Albus Nox Luna. Would you prefer to play against anyone and what’s your prediction for this quarterfinal?
I think H2k will win 3-1. It will be pretty interesting to play against Ryu in the semifinals.
You’ve won seven games in a row now, is your confidence rising before the final games of the tournament?
If we continue playing like we are, the semifinals will be easy for us.
This is your first ever international tournament. Wasn’t it scary to play so far away from South Korea and in front of the sold out arenas?
I was worried because I’ve never played in front of so many people in South Korea. But after we started playing I felt calm and focused again.
The last time Samsung Galaxy were represented at the World Championship Samsung White won the tournament. Can the current iteration of Samsung repeat their success?
In my opinion, we just need a bit of luck to be a champion and not just a contender.
There are four of the very best AD Carries in the world on the other side of the bracket. Who would you like to face in the final to show that Ruler is the best?
I’d like to play against SKT T1's bot lane, Bang and Wolf, but their team is very strong. Can we just play against their bot lane while the rest of the team is subbed out? *laughs*
Any final words for the fans?
I'll try super hard to become a better player and help my team, so cheer for us! #SSGWIN
Bae "Bang" Jun-sik
Congratulations on beating RNG, do you feel satisfied judging by your results at Worlds already?
There are some moments where I could perform better, but overall, it’s fine.
Did SKT T1 expect games to be harder after playing RNG at MSI and seeing their group stage performance?
I had no doubt that we’d win.
In the semi-finals you’ll either play ROX Tigers or EDG, what’s your prediction for that match?
I personally, want to play EDG. But I think that if ROX wins the first game, they’ll win 3-0 easy and even if EDG wins Game 1, it’ll still be an uphill battle for them..
You only played Ezreal and Jhin tonight, do you feel like those two are the strongest picks right now?
I think there are better champions to counter Ezreal and Jhin, but I just feel the most comfortable playing those two.
SKT Telecom has already won two World Championship titles, do you think that you can repeat it and hoist the Summoner’s Cup once again?
It’ll definitely be harder than the last year, but I think we have a decent chance of doing it.
For many you’ve become the best ADC in the world in the past year, do you have any rival ADCs you want to face at the World Championship?
I think my rival would be Deft. Usually, when I play against anyone I have the mentality that I’m better or at least, I'm not worse than them. In the case of Deft, I think he has better mechanics than I do, which doesn’t make me worse than him, but I just consider him as a rival. Also, one more reason is that we’ve been friends for a long time, but we’ve never played against each other on a big stage outside of MSI when we lost, so I want to play again.
Samsung's Ruler said yesterday that he wants to face you and Wolf in the final. How would the bot lane matchup go?
I’m surprised he mentioned that and judging by the results of scrims, I think it’ll be interesting. *laughs*
Would you like to say anything to the Russian fans who love Bang?
I respect your country, it’s so big. Also, I didn’t know that people liked me so please continue. *laughs*
Lee "Kuro" Seo-haeng
You beat EDG tonight, were you expecting the series to be more difficult?
No, I actually thought it’d be easier.
The ROX Tigers had a pretty shaky group stage, almost losing to G2 and losing to Albus Nox Luna and CLG. Did you consider at any point that you might not advance?
Well, *laughs* we were really worried that we'd need to buy San Francisco - Seoul tickets, but in the end, it all worked out.
The ROX Tigers finally won the LCK final this summer. Will it help in going deeper into the bracket?
Before we won LCK Summer, PraY was the only guy with a championship win, so after tasting the victory we want to repeat the success at Worlds. And it requires beating SKT T1.
Like you said you’re going to face SKT in the semi-finals, a team that you’ve lost three finals to, and a team that you haven't beaten since Spring. Do you believe that this is the time the Tigers finally overcome them?
Yes, I believe it’s the time. We have beaten them in some games, so by recalling those moments, we’ll be able to achieve the victory. *laughs*
Tonight you played only Aurelion Sol and Ryze. With Syndra being almost permabanned, do you think that those two champions are the strongest picks right now? And if not, which picks can compete with those two?
I agree with Syndra, Aurelion Sol and Ryze being the strongest and I'm trying to hide some picks right now to show them later. *laughs*
After 2014, a lot of mid laners have gone to play outside of South Korea. Are there any you’d like to play against again?
I wanted to play PawN tonight because I had a lot of difficulties playing against him before in scrims. So when I saw that Scout was going to start, I felt relieved, and I think that’s one of the reasons why the games went easier tonight.
The ROX Tigers team house cat, Makta, looks super tilted and sad in almost all of the pictures on social media. Does Makta absorb the team's negative energy to keep you all tilt free?
*laughs* Well, mostly it’s because we always wake Makta up to play, so he looks grumpy. But hey, there are a lot of happy pictures as well!
Is there anything else you want to say to the fans?
I didn’t play Syndra tonight, because I want to play it against SKT T1 in semifinals. *laughs*
Song "Smeb" Kyung-ho
Congratulations on the victory, how did you feel that series went. What could have gone better?
We weren't doing well in groups and didn't do well in scrims, so our confidence was really low going into this match. We feared that the ROX that had done so well this year was gone, and we had lost our mojo, but being able to win this series has helped bring our confidence back.
Many were surprised by the Maokai pick, why did you pick it over something like Rumble?
When I pick it isn't always about the 1v1 lane but how I can bring something to help out the team as a whole in macro plays. Based on their first three picks, I knew that on Maokai I could keep the Jhin busy while being unkillable, so it was the best pick for our team.
What about that Fiora pick? Was that just for fun?
Even though we don't have the most practice with Fiora, I've been trying to convince my team that Fiora can be a very powerful pick in specific situations, and I felt like this game it was a good chance to showcase what Fiora could do.
Could you elaborate on what you consider to be Fiora's strengths in this meta?
Fiora's early game is quite weak now, but she is still a monster late game. Recently, melee supports have fallen out of favor for ranged supports, who are vulnerable to the damage Fiora can bring. EDG's draft did not have a lot of hard CC, so I felt like I could scale well into the late game and be a big threat to their back line.
Historically, Korean top laners have always had an edge against foreign top laners. What do you think is the difference between Korean top laners and foreign top laners?
I don't have that much experience against foreign top laners, so I can't say what they aren't doing. But for Korean top laners, the top ones are all very analytical. After every loss, we will grab the replay and analyze our mistakes and work through them with our coaches. We all want to succeed and be the best.
On the back of that, the past four splits of LCK have all had top laners as the MVP, including yourself. Why do you think that top laners have been picking up more accolades?
Well for a period of time the top lane meta was Renekton vs. Shyvana where you just farmed each other's waves, while mid lane was a lot of kill threat. Now mid lane just farms, but top lane is very volatile, so you see good top laners be able to have very impactful performances.
You're going up against SKT again. What will you do differently to ensure you finally beat them?
We don't have anything specific planned. I think we just need to be confident in our accomplishments, and take to heart that it is time to overcome the name 'SKT'.
Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski
The games looked pretty easy from the press zone, did you expect more from ANX?
We just executed the plan, we knew what they’re capable of, and while they were more aggressive in the group stage, we were ready for everything.
H2k have transformed their subpar first week into a 4-0 second week of the group stage. What changed in the team to produce that result?
We played too excited and choked a bit during the first week and in the second one, we played slower, much like in scrims. Also, Korean teams are better at punishing our mid/late game compared to our group, so we need to step up before semifinals.
Talking about the semifinal, you’re going to play against Samsung Galaxy there. What impresses you the most about their team and what do you expect to see?
Ambition is very smart, they play all the meta champions, and I feel that the only way to beating them is to smash the laning phase. I don’t know anything about our preparation yet, but watching VODs might be too useless, considering how good Samsung are right now.
H2k might become the first Western team in the Worlds Final since 2011. How do you rate your chances going into semifinals and finals, considering that Ryu has said that H2k can get finals?
Ryu was just trying to be nice, I think. *laughs* I’d rate our chances in the semifinal as 20-80. C9 played bad, so they got stomped, we can perform better in p/b, laning, and the overall gameplay, but the chance is still very small.
Were there junglers at Worlds who impressed you?
Bengi and Peanut. I can’t talk too much about scrims, but most European junglers are obvious and easy to predict. Bengi is super smart, and I believe SK Telecom T1 will be the team winning the tournament. Peanut is smart as well, I could predict almost every of his moves in scrims, but he’s way harder to react to.
Will meta change at all for the jungle later at Worlds?
Early-game junglers should still dominate, even if Zac is a good champion. It’s mostly other lanes, like supports who started with Nami/Karma into Alistar one shotting them and now there is Zyra.
You weren’t able to go to Worlds in 2014 and 2015, narrowly not qualifying. Do you think that this run redeems it?
Well, I still wanted to go back then, but the only thing we can do right now against all those tier 1 teams is to win few games and show that we deserve to be here instead of going out in groups.
Is the entire LCK that much stronger or just the very top teams?
The entire region. They try harder, have less ping, and have better solo queue, so when I play against Korean teams in scrims, it’s a very different experience from the usual one. *laughs*
What do you think about people saying that teams shouldn’t go to the Korean boot camp anymore?
I think you should always go to South Korea. The best teams, the best ping, the best solo queue. Unless you can't scrim, you should go.
Do you think that H2k being in the semifinals is a representation of an actual level of EU LCS?
I think Europe is still a decent region, even with G2 choking. Hopefully, next year will be better, while we’ll try to win 1-2 games against Samsung, maybe take an entire set, so we can officially say that Europe is decent. *laughs*
Any last words to Russian fans?
Well, I have Slovak ancestors, so I feel happy about ANX’s success this year. Keep your heads up and cheer for us now!