Steve may have just finally paid his way out of 4th place, as Jake “Xmithie” Puchero pilots the jungle position to incredible effect and has been a primary reason as to why the team is able to secure their wins so quickly. Team Liquid has not grabbed a 1st place finish since 2015 Summer Split, but this could be their year.
With beaming optimism, Xmithie gave Izento some information about TL’s game against Golden Guardians, his jungle style and why he continues to play professionally.
Team Liquid now owns the record of having the fastest game of the Spring Split against Golden Guardians. Did you guys come into the game expecting to smash the opponent?
Actually, before the game we were talking about how we shouldn’t underestimate our opponents. Play against like you’re playing against the best team, or as if you’re playing against the top teams of NA LCS. We came into the game with the concept that they could cheese, they could do strange strats, so we should come prepared.
The draft was surprising, given that you guys gave them so many power picks. Was that just disrespect or were you just banking on scaling?
We were just comfortable playing against that type of team comp. The coach didn’t want snowball picks from the enemy team because they might have been able to run away with the early game. It was better to just play the game that we usually do and the normal comps that we’re used to facing. We’re pretty confident we can beat any team that played like that with our team comp.
Your jungle style has changed from a control style to a more aggressive one. With your time in Immortals to even now, it seems apparent, but what prompted this change in style?
For myself, I don’t feel like I’ve changed much. In Immortals, I was just playing engage junglers like Gragas, Jarvan, Sejuani and Zac. I feel like it’s the same type of junglers I’ve been playing the entire time. Usually in the jungle you need to be able to engage. My playstyle might look more aggressive because I feel like I have more confidence in my team to back me up, so I can be more aggressive or play more loosely to engage, and even…well, I can’t really say I suicide myself for the team (laughs). I think I don’t have many deaths this season. Overall, I’m just more confident in my team helping me.
Who are some of your inspirations for the jungle role?
I don’t have any specific players that I look up to, but I usually watch any jungler that has interesting routing, like Reignover. I still think that Reignover is a really good early game jungler. I also learn stuff from Dardoch, even Mike Yeung. They may have weird routings, but I still keep up with their pathing just so I get to know their playstyle more.
Do you think that your former teammates Pobelter and Doublelift have changed since the last time you played with them?
Peter is kind of different, he’s just as demanding as before (laughs), but now he’s willing to sacrifice something so we can get ahead in another lane. Before, he was just like, “we need this because I get ahead with it”, but now he’s fine if the team gets ahead off of his setbacks.
With so many veterans and big names on your roster, some have said there could be too many vocal voices on the team. Do you think your team suffers at all from this?
I definitely felt that way in the early phases of the team when we went to Korea. We were all fresh off of just joining the team, so me, Doublelift and Impact were clashing a lot in shotcalling because we didn’t know who to follow. The coaching staff helped solved this problem by encouraging the conversation of who is supposed to perform on certain aspects of the game and who is correct in a given situation. This has worked out well so far but we’re still learning.
You have played the game for what seems like forever. What’s your secret for staying relevant within the scene?
The main drive I’ve had since the beginning has been the competitiveness, whether it was sports or video games. If there’s a ranking or anything competitive to it, I try to play at my best all the time and that’s the core reason of why I’m still playing.
Thank you very much for your time!