The upset was real on day two of the 2019 LCK Spring Split. Hanwha Life Esports reverse swept KT Rolster with a 2:1 match score. After the match, we interviewed HLE’s AD carry, Sangyoon, on how the team recovered from the shock elimination in the 2018 KeSPA Cup and what his resolutions are for the rest of the split.
Congratulations on the victory against KT Rolster. How do you feel?
Sangyoon: To be honest, everything was a bit depressing after KeSPA Cup. I thought to myself, “We’ve ruined our entire year.” The period leading up to Spring Split as we practiced was hard. However, as we kept practicing we slowly got our confidence back. As we came to the venue today I somehow felt like we weren’t going to lose. And in fact, we won too. It’s good to start the split with a high note.
I have to add, it does feel good to beat SnowFlower.
When you were eliminated from the 2018 KeSPA Cup [by an amateur team], there were a lot of issues raised. People asked whether HLE had “failed” the offseason. Was the loss a wake-up call?
Sangyoon: We didn’t prep any other way; we just worked harder than ever. The coach told us, “Don’t let another embarrassing match happen.” We continued to practice; all we did was practice. Because we couldn’t resolve our issues in any other way.
We didn’t rest at all. We scrimmed every day, even after midnight.
Speaking of the KeSPA Cup loss, your Game 1 against KT Rolster was a complete stomp. How did that feel, and what kind of feedback did the team have internally in order to come back for Game 2 and 3?
Sangyoon: We messed up our pick & ban in Game 1, and there are still ways that you can play around that. Then Bono regressed to his old state. After the game, we just said: “Let’s pick better, and do as we’ve practiced.”
It’s not like we lost the first game even though we did everything we could; we lose because we didn’t do things that we should have.
Hanwha has a history of always coming 6th place in a split. What’s your goal this week?
Sangyoon: Everyone wants to come first place. We do, too; but one step at a time. We’d like to start by walking one step up and coming 5th place [in the split]. That opens the gates to Playoffs and allows us to progress higher.
HLE completed a 10 man roster very early in the offseason. Now that you had time to practice with this 10 man roster, how do you feel about the arrangement?
Sangyoon: 10 man roster is for hiding picks that we would like to use but want to hide. If you use them in scrims, the knowledge will immediately get propagated to other teams. The team that is scrimming us today might scrim someone else tomorrow. So the 10 man roster is useful for internal scrims where we can try out picks, strategies, macros or level 1 setups.
You mentioned that you were happy about beating SnowFlower. Can you tell us more about it?
Sangyoon: After the third game was over and we were about to go shake [KT Rolster’s] hands, I couldn’t stop myself from grinning. I had to stop and keep myself from smiling before I approached the opponent team. It was an unbearable happiness, really.
To beat your friend is double the pleasure.
Any final words?
Sangyoon: Today, a lot of staff from Hanwha Life came to watch our match. It did put a bit of pressure on our shoulders. However, it also made me think that we really have to win this match no matter what. Thank you for coming. To everyone – we will never lose again like we did in the KeSPA Cup.