Olivia R. March 16, 2020
It's a tough time for Team Liquid. The LCS was postponed and the team's facilities were closed for the next 30 days. But Liquid is the type of team that professes to never give up. They always want to be the best, even during tough times like these.
WIN.gg spoke with head coach Kang "Dodo" Jun-hyeok about the hardships the team is facing, and more importantly, how TL plans to come back even stronger when the LCS returns.
How were you feeling about Team Liquid’s Spring Split performance before the LCS postponed?
Dodo: We just had some rough weeks, rough performances. But in general, we were pretty prepared and confident in the upcoming weekend versus Golden Guardians and EG. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play. But we were still confident we would keep improving and make playoffs.
Why were you still confident?
We are still a strong team. The parts that were missing were just synergy between the players. A few mistakes we were making as a team were definitely fixable, and we were working on it during scrims. We were feeling we were getting stronger every day.
Do you agree with the LCS being postponed?
Yeah, I agree with all the decisions Riot is making. It’s better to be safe than sorry. I’m a little bit bummed we can’t play, but we have to do what we have to do.
Do you think there should be an online format, or do you see further issues arising from that?
I know the LPL is already playing online. They probably figured out a system of how they could do it. I also think LCS and LEC can still be played online.
The only factor that needs to get solved is how are they going to have the players in one place for them to have a supervised referee. Can they force teams to have the players gather in one space for safety reasons? Those things are getting figured out by Riot right now. We’re just waiting and hoping we can play out the [split].
What do you think about Riot’s new formatting for the LCS Spring Split? Do you think it should have more of an impact on a team’s qualification to the World Championship?
For me personally, I did think that dpring should matter more. It feels kind of weird that they are putting everything on the line in the summer. The spring split just becomes sort of weird.
You're basically just focusing on trying to improve, practicing. Then in the summer, even though teams change rosters, that's when it matters. Spring should matter a bit more towards Worlds.
Does Team Liquid still have that drive and hunger despite the Spring Split not meaning as much as it used to?
Our ultimate goal is just to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Spring Split or if we already won four times. We just hate losing. We just want to win.
Do you think this break is good or bad for your team?
For us, I think there is some bad and also some good.
The good is that we get to spend more time meshing together as a team and trying to build more synergy. The bad thing is not having competition, nothing to look forward to. It is a bit tiring, only scrimming all the time. We are hoping to get some news for Riot on when they are going to resume the league so we have something to work towards.
Now that the TL facilities are closed, what is the team’s plan for practicing?
We did have a long discussion with the players and staff. Some of the players want to scrim from home. We are letting them. Some, who preferred the facitilly, they are practicing here. I’m also here in a management role.
I’m taking care of the food and travel. We don’t want them taking Ubers. We are finding ways to minimize contact with other people. We are taking cautionary [measures] to make sure they are safe while practicing here.
How do you feel about some of the players not being at scrims in person?
It’s not the most optimal setup. You want to be in the same place when you’re reviewing. But right now, it’s safety first.
Why is it important to have in-person practices and meetings with the players?
It's way easier to relay information and give feedback to the players. Players can also bounce ideas off each other, just [being] next to each other. Being online, it limits that discussion. We don’t know if they are in front of their computer or in their kitchen eating something.
Did any of the players travel back home to Europe or Asia?
Everyone’s in Los Angeles still.
Do you think teams will be ready for the Summer Split at this rate?
I think the teams will be ready. I'm just not sure if the league will be ready.
The original plan was to have spring, take a short break, then start up summer. But with the delay, we don’t know if this whole situation will be over by the [start of the] Summer Split. We just don’t know yet.
What are your thoughts on the Mid-Season Invitational being held in the middle of the summer?
I personally don’t know how effective that will be. I wasn’t a fan of Rift Rivals, how you'd have to travel in the middle of the season. MSI is a big tournament and it’s very meaningful, but being held mid-summer, I feel it won’t be as effective.
They're choosing teams that won Spring Split, but they could be in a different form in the summer. It feels weird that they have to do that.
Is it important to still have MSI?
Honestly, I don’t think so.
I think if they did it after spring somehow, it would be more meaningful. You’d be able to tell who is the best. The midseason champions, as the title says. But having it so close to Worlds, it will feel really weird.
Are you or any of the team members feeling distracted or concerned about the coronavirus pandemic right now? How are you helping the team to get through it?
I can’t say it’s not affecting us. Everyone is pretty affected. The gyms are closed down, restaurants around us are closed down. It’s affecting our lives. For gaming, the LCS being closed. We’ve been feeling a little depressed and we have to work through it, maintain our form.
It’s just about focusing on the game. We’re gamers. We play this game 10 hours per day, 13 hours per day.
Maybe it does help that we can’t go out. We just have to think more about the game.
As a coach, what has been the toughest challenge for you this Spring Split?
There were a lot of things we couldn’t control, like Broxah’s visa. Just so many variables we had to go through this split. I’m not faulting Doublelift at this point. He wasn’t as motivated at the start because he wanted Broxah there. We weren’t able to try things out or build synergy. We had to improvise a lot of times week to week.
We were at the point that at Week 5, 6, where we weren’t in a good spot. That was a little bit tough. There was very little room for us to try out things with LCS being best-of-one and our standings being not optimal. There was a lot less room for errors this split.
Why did Doublelift continue using Senna during those first few weeks after it was clearly not working out too well? Was there a strategy behind that?
No, as a team we practiced three or four weeks with the champion. We felt it was a strong champion, although it was a different style. We wanted to try it out. We didn’t want to give up right away. It worked well in scrims so we wanted to show that on stage.
There's been nothing like this in esports before. Do you see any positives coming out of this situation for Team Liquid or the LCS?
Right now, people are more aware that people need to wash their hands. That’s a positive. For the teams and the league, we have extra time to practice. That’s a good thing.
How has the support from the fans been during all this chaos?
There's been loyal fans but also ones that want everyone on the team fired. I feel the support from the fans, though. The criticism, too. It’s always good to have fans and supporters, no matter what. I’m really thankful.
Thanks for supporting us in all these situations we’re going through. I hope everyone is safe and staying home and washing their hands.
What will Team Liquid’s biggest strength be when the Spring Split returns?
We have five players that are extremely skilled. We have really strong teamplay.
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