Longzhu Gaming's unexpected 0-3 loss to Samsung Galaxy shocked spectators on the first day of the 2017 League of Legends World Championship quarterfinals.
Throughout the tournament, ESPN spoke with LZ mid laner, Gwak "Bdd" Boseong twice: at the end of Week 1 and in Week 2. The interviews shed light on how Longzhu went from frontrunners leading the pack to strugglers as the tournament progressed.
[This interview has been edited for clarity.]
Week 1: Longzhu finishes the end of the first week with a 3-0 record.
ESPN: Domestically, you are know for playing champions like Taliyah and Galio that play to side lanes a lot. Can you tell me more about why you favor these picks?
Bdd: Both personally and team-wise, I think it's very helpful for the team performance to pick these kind of champions. These champions are also strong in the laning phase.
For a long time, even before you were on Longzhu, you were heralded as someone who could be a strong player. Did this kind of expectation impact you mentally?
Bdd: Well, of course. As a human being, if I receive a lot of expectation, that can become pressure. Recently, I've tried to internalize this pressure.
With Longzhu's style of play, you've gone for more strong lane picks and then either 1-3-1 or 1-4 compositions. Why do you think this style suits Longzhu despite it being somewhat counter to the meta?
Bdd: When we go for this 1-3-1 play on the map, it's because the champions that we pick fit our team's style and preference to play strong lanes.
When you play against teams that play to scale up in the late game, what is one thing you keep in mind during early and mid game to make this style effective?
Bdd: I believe, for all games, the vision in the mid and jungle area are the most important thing, therefore, we focus on them in practice. That's why we can play the game with early leads.
Week 2: Longzhu qualifies for quarterfinals at the end of Day 5 of the World Championship.
This is your first time at a World Championship. What is one big difference from playing at Worlds and playing at home in the LCK?
Bdd: Back in South Korea, we use our own personal headsets. That can't entirely block the sound from the crowd, so I could hear some sound bytes back in Korea. But the Riot headsets completely blocks all the sound, so I can focus completely on stage.
Despite only small patch changes, Longzhu has domestically played with strong lanes and a 1-3-1 or 1-4 setup to snowball games earlier. Now, you've been playing with longer games and teamfight comps.
Bdd: I think there are several factors for this. First, we're just trying to play with the current Ardent Censer meta. It's also sort of our fault that we weren't able to snowball as fast as we intended to. Playing against teams like GIGABYTE Marines -- it was a lot more difficult than expected to snowball in the early stage.
Speaking of GIGABYTE Marines -- they played an interesting hybrid lane swap setup in the first game with Galio in the bot lane with the support. What did you think of this start?
Bdd: Looking at their draft, we actually did expect them to lane swap, so that's why we prepared to counter-jungle early game. After that, our tower dive wasn't successful, and we had some bad moves in the early game, so the game was difficult from that point on.
Ryze has been a somewhat hit-or-miss champion despite its relative popularity. What is important for playing Ryze on this patch?
Bdd: I think there are two points that are really important in playing Ryze. The first is not dying in the lane phase. After farming, you have to splitpush and go to the side and try to match your opponent from there.
Of all the teams left, which one do you think would give an interesting matchup against Longzhu in the quarterfinals?
Bdd: I would definitely like to avoid playing against Korean teams in the early knock off stages, but I think it would be interesting playing against TSM.
[Editor's Note: Longzhu would eventually lose to Samsung Galaxy in the quarterfinals.]
Why do you think Longzhu vs. TSM would be interesting for viewers?
Bdd: I think they're a really interesting matchup because, looking at their Week 1 games, even though they might fall behind early game, they always manage to get back up and throw some punches. So I think it would be a tough matchup.