Note: The questions and the answers for the interview have been re-organized and edited for better readability.
Hello, Caps! Really nice to have you here with us. How has Korea been treating you, and how’s the jetlag?
Caps: Hello! This is the fourth time I’ve been in Korea. However, I’ve never stayed in Korea for more than a week. I’d usually leave by the time you’re adjusted to the jet lag. This time, I’ve had the time to settle into a new time zone. So I’ve been really enjoying Korea.
What are some activities you’ve been doing, now that you’ve adjusted into Korea?
Caps: As a team, we went to watch the (LCK Regional Qualifier) final at the Nexon Arena, and the Promotion match (between BBQ and Damwon Gaming). Other than that, we’ve gone out to eat Korean BBQ a few times. And of course, play some League of Legends.
Let’s rewind the time a little, and talk about the recent EU LCS finals at Madrid. You are wearing a t-shirt from that occasion, for today’s interview (Laughs).
Caps: The whole Playoffs was actually kind of weird. We were already strong favorites, and everyone was expecting a 3-0 stomp. Also, we had already qualified for Worlds at that point. I personally feel like I underperformed because I think my mind was already on Worlds. But we’ve won, so (Laughs)
Sounds like the Summer EU LCS finals was almost a little anti-climatic for you.
Caps: I would say so. However, I was awarded the MVP which I wasn’t expecting. I was very happy about that.
I understand that Team Vitality also was invested in the finals – If you had won that match, Team Vitality would automatically qualify for Worlds, which now they have.
Caps: Yeah, (Team Vitality) were definitely cheering for us (Laughs) I’m happy to have helped another team into Worlds. A lot of EU LCS teams that have performed well in Spring performed poorly during Summer; G2, Splyce. So the points didn’t seem to reflect the current performance of the teams. However, Team Vitality definitely seem to deserve a seed. Team Vitality played very well in their third-place match, and when I watched it I felt like we had to win for them.
Earlier this year, the League of Legends meta had a period where non-marksman champions were being picked in the bot lane. During this period, Rekkles was not playing for Fnatic. Rekkles is such an iconic part of Fnatic; it would have been a strange period, to play without him.
Caps: That was a period when we learnt a lot. We learnt how to do things without relying on Rekkles. Now that Rekkles is back, we can both rely on him and apply the learnings (we’ve had during the time where Rekkles wasn’t playing).
Even now, we have an option to play Bwipo so that gives the team extra flexibility. A lot of teams in the EU LCS mentioned how difficult it was to play against Fnatic because we have a 6 man roster, and a player can play in a different lane. So in the end, (Rekkles not being a starter for that period) turned out to be a good thing.
It was kinda weird not having Rekkles as a part of the team, but it’s good that we’ve come to a point where we can play with 6 different players, choosing players depending on the match-up and the game.
As mentioned, Rekkles is such an iconic part of Fnatic. We’ve also noticed that you two players seem close when Fnatic visited the Nexon Arena. What’s your relationship with Rekkles like?
Caps: Rekkles helps me a lot. He’s been in the scene for so long, and I try to learn a lot from him. We have the same ideas about how to improve ourselves and become the best players possible. How much solo Q we should play a day; what to do even when we are not playing League; lifestyle and work ethic.
Obviously, we have our differences, but I’ve learnt a lot from him. He’s a good friend.
You’ve been playing for Fnatic for some time now. You’ve been playing for Fnatic for almost two years…
Caps: Yeah, by the end of the year it would have been two years.
How have you changed, both as a player and a person, over the time you have played in Fnatic?
Caps: Back when I was in Turkey, and even when I first joined Fnatic, I was a good player individually, but bad at coordinating with my teammates or utilizing my teammates for lane advantage.
Even last year, we were avoiding the problem altogether. We’d send the jungler to the bot lane and let Rekkles carry. However, this year, we’ve decided to learn how to play around the mid lane. (We had to improve) if we were to perform both in EU, and internationally. Broxah and I practised together a lot and focused on working together as a team. Now, we have better communication, and we both understand each other more. During my time on Fnatic, the biggest improvement I’ve made is around teamwork and communication.
When we talk about Caps as a player, we must also talk about your huge champion pool. Only recently, you’ve played mid Wukong and mid Vayne in EU LCS.
Caps: It just comes down to trying new things. I don’t feel inclined to perfect a champion before I play one. I’ll try new picks even if I haven’t had too much practice or don’t completely feel comfortable on that champion. I’ll take risks. I know that sometimes it doesn’t work, but I’ve learned to take the right risks.
Fnatic has been the No.1 team in the EU LCS for a very extended period of time. How does it feel to play on such a team; does the high expectation put you under pressure as a player in any way?
Caps: It’s nice to have high expectations set on you. In a way, you’re pressurized to meet those expectations but also it makes me want to go beyond them. As of now, everyone expects (Fnatic) to do well within EU – but I want to deliver internationally. It’s true that EU hasn’t performed that well for a while. I want to break those expectations.
Fnatic is the first seed for EU. I also hope that both the second and third seed of EU LCS do well, but most of the people’s expectations fall on Fnatic, the first seed. If there’s any team that should challenge (people’s perception of EU’s poor performance at international stages), it has to be Fnatic.
You’re dubbed the “Baby Faker”. Can you tell us more about the nickname and how you feel about this nickname?
Caps: Faker is a (common noun) now, an idea of someone who performs at their peak. When someone makes amazing plays, we immediately think of the word, Faker. So when people first began to call me Baby Faker I didn’t give it too much of a thought.
That being said…I have, and always will have respect for Faker. So in that sense, the nickname is really nice. Faker is the ultimate icon of a player in League of Legends, so that’s a lot of weight on my shoulders to be named after him.
Faker didn’t make it to Worlds this year. What are your thoughts on this?
Caps: I really wanted to play against Faker (at this year’s Worlds). I’ve never played against Faker before. I’ve met him a few times in solo Q, but never in a professional match. So I’m a bit sad.
If we had beaten RNG last year (at Worlds), I would have played against SK Telecom T1; but RNG was too good. I hope that one day (Faker and I) both make it in an international tournament and we can one day face each other.
Talking about upsets and teams not making it to the World Championships – At the 2017 Worlds, you were helped by Longzhu Gaming. For this year’s World Championship, Kingzone DragonX (the current iteration of Longzhu Gaming) have also not qualified for Worlds.
Note: In the 2017 World Championship, Longzhu Gaming were placed in the same Group as Fnatic. Longzhu Gaming’s performance against other teams were crucial for Fnatic qualifying for a tiebreaker, which Fnatic won and progressed to Quarterfinals.
Caps: I had hoped that Kingzone would make it (to Worlds) because they helped Fnatic at last Worlds. Also, we’ve played against Kingzone DragonX twice before and I had thought that it would be fun to play against them again. It’s good to have these ongoing storylines, perhaps rivalries, between teams.
Yes, it is sad that Kingzone DragonX didn’t make it, but at the same time, the three (LCK) teams that have qualified for Worlds have really stepped up. KT Rolster, Gen.G and Afreeca Freecs all played well and deserve to go to Worlds.
What are some players, or teams, that you’d like to go against at Worlds?
Caps: In terms of mid-laners, I’d like to go up against Rookie. Regarding teams, I’d like to play against Gen.G; I think they are a very strong team.
At MSI, you reached the Quarterfinals after playing a tiebreaker against Team Liquid. What do you think about Fnatic’s performance at MSI? Did the results impact how you approached the EU LCS or the coming Worlds?
Caps: On Fnatic, I’ve been to Worlds once (at 2017) and MSI once (at 2018). Both times, Fnatic barely made it out of groups; through a tiebreaker. Then, both times, we were eliminated by RNG right after (Laughs).
At the 2018 World Championship, I want to do better. I don’t want Fnatic to get out of Groups through a tiebreaker but qualify to the Quarterfinal in a convincing matter. I want to give a serious challenge to whoever we meet at the Quarterfinal.
Speaking of the tiebreaker with Team Liquid, can you tell us more about the rivalry between NA and EU?
Caps: The NA and EU rivalry has always been a big thing, that gets maintained by trash-talk and memes between the two regions. Fnatic have been lucky, as we’ve always been able to beat NA teams. (Laughs) We definitely seem to have an edge over them, and we want to maintain that edge. Maybe make it even bigger. (Laughs)
What is Worlds to you, Caps?
Caps: It’s…I think it’s a time to prove myself. While it’s good to perform in your region, it’s the international stage that really matters. World Championship is when you peak as a player and show the best performance of the year.