This might have been the closest 3-0 in NA LCS history, as everyone was biting their nails, waiting for Cloud 9 to finish multiple games with their leads. Team Liquid ended up being the better team and claimed their spot into the semifinals.
Izento got to speak with Doublelift about their team’s victory, Jhin being meta, team criticism and the art of trash talking.
Team Liquid has 3-0’d Cloud 9 today. Can you talk to me about Game 1, as that baron dance seemingly lasted forever?
I think in Game 1 we had a really weird win condition, because for a long time none of us were tanky so anyone who got hit by cc would instantly die – including Skarner, which was our tankiest member. Our baron dance was really important. From C9’s side, they were afraid to force it because they would have to take that risk and force to reset, which would potentially make the game go on even longer, but they didn’t have enough tools to hard engage on us. I think they were in a pretty bad situation, but if we didn’t play perfectly and made one mistake, the game ends there. The team that’s ahead wins if they get baron, the team that’s losing is going to lose instantly.
I don’t really know how to explain it other than our team has good shotcallers. Both me and Xmithie make good calls on objectives. I think Xmithie was really on point today; his voice is really powerful on the team. He might not be the one that says everything but when he does say something, it’s usually really important for us to listen to. That kind of voice on the team that guides us is important. For me, I make a lot of snap decisions like, “go now, back off, watch out for this”. Xmithie keeps our eyes peeled for the right thing though.
Speaking of snap decisions, Olleh had said in an Inven interview that when “Doublelift says “don’t go in”, that’s my cue to go in”. Do you think that’s more attributed to you as a player or more so the position of ADC?
I think as a player, I’m more calculated in everything I do. Ever since the very beginning, I played purely off of mechanics with no brain at all. Back then, I never thought that I would be a main voice and lead macro for the team and be able to tell everyone how to think or play out the next few minutes. That would be unthinkable to the past me. Now, I think I’m more calculated because the game has evolved a lot.
I think Olleh…I think that might have been a mistranslation from Inven because Olleh was really just saying that, in practice, he wants to test my idea of whether I’m right or wrong and sometimes he’ll just go in anyway to see if it works. The way that they translated it made it seem like he completely does the opposite of what I want, which is not true.
Olleh is just a player where he got a lot of attention for being unpredictable and uncalculated, a crazy engager. Now, players are just a lot better and if you do that kind of shit against a better team, it’s not going to work all the time. I think what’s important is keeping that strength and using it in a calculated way. Play unpredictably and play in a way that’s unexpected. You can be an engaging support player, as that’s really important, but do it in a calculated way. That’s what I really wanted to do with Olleh. When I first started playing with him, he would just throw games when we were winning. And when we were losing, he would just throw so hard that we would lose really fast.
I’ve always been a player that, when we’re losing, I know how to stop the bleeding. When my team is winning, I know how to put my foot of the enemy’s neck and never let go.
Impact absorbed a ton of pressure…really in all of the games, both through the ban phase and in the game. How does that affect your style within the bot lane?
In Game 1, their jungler was mainly playing around bot lane because they knew their bot lane needed help against our Caitlyn and Nami pick. In Game 2 and 3, they picked Ezreal which allowed them to gank top without losing too much bot lane. I think Ezreal is probably the best champion at going 50/50 in any matchup, no matter how hard, or even if it’s an easy matchup, he can really only go 50/50.
I’m really appreciative that we have a top laner that can soak up ganks and not feed. He does his job really well and excels at taking punishment from the enemy team. I think Impact is a mentally strong player and he has great gank-sense. I don’t know how to explain it, he just has a good feel for the game overall. Maybe in another series I would be able to extend my lead a lot higher but against Ezreal I couldn’t really do that. I felt guilty in a way.
You played Jhin in this series. What are your thoughts on Jhin as a champion in the meta?
I think Jhin is a pure skill champ. If you’re bad at him, he’s going to look like one of the worst ADCs possible, kind of like Ezreal. If you’re good at him, you can make a lot of plays happen that a lot of other ADCs can’t do. This really comes down to how you communicate with your team and play with them. He is a utility ADC, he’s not like Ezreal in that factor, he’s not like Kog’Maw who just pumps out damage.
I think the reason why my team is able to use Jhin is because I practiced him really hard and my team is confident in playing with that pick, they encouraged me to make plays. I feel very supported when I play Jhin. I know a lot of teams don’t play it at all, so I’m happy I have him in my champion pool.
It’s been a recurring theme that players don’t give criticism at the beginning of forming a team. Players seem to not be comfortable with criticism until they’ve warmed up to each other. Do you think this is somewhat of an epidemic within teams?
One thing that happened in our team is that no one wanted to be the first one to be a dick. That’s really a bad mentality. Just because you give criticism doesn’t mean you’re a dick, it just means you want to win. It matters a lot about HOW you give criticism. If you say it in a way that’s unproductive and you’re just tearing someone down and you aren’t trying to solve any problems, then you ARE being a dick.
I learned that years ago when I would tell someone they’re bad and they need to get better; that’s not going to help someone at all. I played with a lot of terrible teammates and a lot of the time I can help them improve. The way that you do this is by giving them actionable advice. Teams have a problem doing this because their players aren’t experienced, new rosters, totally new environment and they don’t want to potentially dismantle or disrupt the team atmosphere. This is even more exacerbated when the team environment is already bad, because you don’t want to be the person that makes it worse or appearing to be the root of the problem because you’re the one complaining.
Our team really had this problem and I didn’t want to be the asshole because I’m kind of known for doing that, but in the end, we didn’t have good results! Everyone needed to step it up and now, I think we’re all accepting and able to give feedback.
Speaking to your notoriousness, you’ve been renowned to be a trash talker. Do you think this is necessary within the league? Do you think more players should embrace the art of trash talk?
I think talking trash is fun for the viewers and fun if you enjoy having extra pressure on yourself to perform. A lot of people go about it wrong. They’re waiting until after they win, like, “haha that team was shit”. It’s like when Jensen beat us and he tweeted…well…this is why everyone memes his tweet, “I thought Team Liquid were supposed to be good”, AFTER they beat us.
In my opinion, the best way to trash talk is before the match because you’re betting that you could be wrong. When you say we’re going to shit on these guys, we’re going to beat them and it’s gonna be free…then you open up yourself to be wrong and looking like an idiot, while also opening up the possibility of being right and being cocky, yet you can back it up. Someone that waits for a win and kicks them while they’re down, it’s not cool. That’s not even trash talk, that’s just being an asshole. I try to trash talk before the game to bring hype. After you see your favorite player win, kicking someone while they’re down, that’s not hype, that’s just…eh? That doesn’t make me feel good personally.
How do you feel about playoffs interviews? I say this because you’re one of the most experienced players when it comes to media and you kind of have to watch what you say to not give strategy away to enemy teams. Does this make you feel any pressure after playing such a big game? Do you think other players may feel this pressure?
Some players may be a little too overly cautious. For me, I give my opponents the benefit of the doubt. I think they’re going to have a good sense of my playstyle and my team’s playstyle, so as long as I don’t go into too many specifics, it can’t be bad. Sure, if I go out and say “we’ve been practicing ADC Zed” then that’s really stupid, but if I just generally give my thoughts for the fans…I could be super clammed-up and not say anything, then I wouldn’t have any fans. I think it’s way better to try and be open and just don’t be stupid.
Do you have anything to say to the Team Liquid fans?
Team Liquid fans, there might not be many, and maybe some of them are upset because our regular season was pretty bad, but I’ve always had the experience that most fans come when you win. I’ve had that on CLG, TSM and I’m going to have it on Team Liquid. I’m looking forward to that moment when we win and feel vindicated and we can grow our community.