WIN.gg talked with Mingyi “Spica” Lu, the jungler for FlyQuest’s LCS roster, after a rapid 0-3 loss to Cloud9 in the upper bracket of LCS 2023 Spring Split playoffs.
After a one-sided series against Cloud9, we caught up with Spica to talk about his loss to their fellow first-place finishers, the changes in the jungle meta, the new Mid-Season Invitational format, and his hopes for a better future in playoffs. From praise for Evil Geniuses to brutal honesty about his loss, here’s what he had to say.
WIN.gg: We’re coming off of a 3-0 sweep by Cloud9, how are you feeling about the series and why do you think it went the way that it did?
I think they were just the better team today. Honestly, I think we severely underperformed based on my expectation of how we should play as a team. I think we have a lot of issues we need to fix. Honestly, game one and two, the draft was very difficult for us. I think in game three our draft was a lot better but I don’t think we were in the right headspace. After games one and two I think we kind of got, I want to say tilted. We didn’t really have a super sharp focus of thinking “every game is a Bo1 and we just need to win this game.” And ultimately, we just lost all three games.
You managed to go 1-1 with Cloud9 in the regular split, but this series was a sweep. Was it the difficult drafts you mentioned, changes in the meta, or something else that made this much tougher for you?
I think in the regular split we had a very good read on the meta, especially early on. We had a very easy way of bringing the game down. It was very easy for us to play the game since everybody knows their roles, now the meta is a lot more different, there are a lot more things you can play, and I feel not like we’re not playing to our team’s strength, but we don’t know what our team’s strength is and we’re scrambling to figure that out. I feel like right now the meta is pretty open-ended and there are a lot of things you can play in every role, except maybe jungle. I think we need to find what works for us and keep drilling that.
You’re mentioning not feeling as tuned into your team’s strengths in this series. In the regular season we saw you as a relatively active early-game jungler, but we saw lots of tanky picks in this series. How do you feel about that style of play?
I wouldn’t say I’m uncomfortable on tanks. I was playing a lot of Maokai in the regular season, I played a bit of Sejuani and a fair amount of Wukong between the last series against 100 Thieves and one game in the regular season. So I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily that I’m uncomfortable on these picks, I just think that the jungle’s dynamic has changed a lot to where you can’t really perma-gank. You have to play more for farm and think about your gank timers more carefully, instead of just running around like before. I feel like we’re not really drafting a lot of play-making early game as opposed to Cloud9. I feel like games one and two our drafts were just really hard to execute. Obviously we had chances of winning if we were a better team, but coming off of the draft, especially game one, I felt like that game was just unwinnable. Game two I think we definitely could have made a difference, but starting from the draft we had a bad hand. Game three I think we had a better draft but we just kind of misexecuted.
Do you feel like the meta is leaning toward these tankier, more farm-focused picks? We’re still seeing some priority on early-game fighters in other regions, like the KT Rolster vs T1 series. Why do you think we saw more focus on these tanks this series?
It’s partially how the draft was going because they banned two junglers in the first game, and I think Vi has been banned against me for almost every game since playoffs. I would play [Vi], but it’s banned so I can’t play it. *laughs* I just think the jungle meta is very stale. You have Maokai, Sejuani, and then you have Wukong and Vi. Outside of those picks, I feel like other champs are just a bit more niche. Obviously some teams, if it benefits their playstyle, they can play Lee Sin, Viego, other things like that. But compared to the four meta champs I listed, I feel like they’re on a lower power level. Especially for jungle. I feel like if you’re not really playing the meta picks a lot of the time, it’s hard to execute and you have to build a specific comp around those off-meta jungle picks.
You’re heading down into the lower bracket, where we’ve seen 100 Thieves and Counter Logic Gaming, third and fourth place in the regular split, eliminated. What are your thoughts on the developments in the lower bracket?
I think in regular split, the placings are often really meaningless because 100 Thieves was third, but I don’t feel like they’re a third-place team. I feel like they had a very good win streak and momentum going [into playoffs.] But in terms of their strategy and their level of play, I honestly feel it was lower than CLG and all the other playoffs teams. Even CLG, I feel like they were very consistent in regular split, but I don’t think they’re a super good team that can challenge for top two or top three. I feel like EG is definitely a good team, they have the talent to go far. So that’s why I don’t put too much stock in the regular season. I feel like sometimes you have a bad week and it’s Bo1 and there are some unlucky things that can happen.
You’ll be playing the winner of Golden Guardians vs Evil Geniuses. Do you have any thoughts on who you think will win and how confident are you in your possible matchups?
I think EG should win, just because I feel like they have better players, but every time I predict things it often goes wrong. *laughs* I think we match up against GG really, really well, so if we do play against GG in the lower bracket I have a lot of confidence. So I guess hopefully EG wins.
Whoever you face in your next match, the winner will be headed to MSI thanks to the new seeding. Are you looking towards MSI as a goal, and what do you think of the new format?
I don’t wanna say “Oh, we’re gonna make MSI” because we just got f—ing destroyed. Honestly, we’ve just gotta focus on our next game, just gotta win and then focus on MSI. As for the format, I haven’t looked at the tournament format, but I feel like having two teams going to MSI makes it more interesting. A lot of people really dislike MSI’s format compared to Worlds because you only have one team and you’ve figured out the power ranking after the group stage. Honestly, I’m excited for the format because you get to see more teams, playstyles, and how people play the game. I think it should be cool for viewers and even us [pro players.] If we go to MSI, we’ll get to play against a lot of other teams.
If you do win your next match and make your way to finals to face Cloud9 again, what do you hope to change and be able to showcase in the rematch?
I think we didn’t prep super well in terms of draft. So that’s definitely got to get better if we do face them again in the finals. I just want us to play better, you know? I just want us to play together and make it a competitive series, because I don’t think this series was competitive. If you were watching this, you could get the feeling that we were not going to win, our level of play was just super low. If we do play again, I just want it to be a competitive series and try our best.