On April 7th, SK Telecom T1 punched their way to the LCK spring split finals ticket by defeating Kingzone Dragon X with a 3-0 match score. The first two games were very close, especially game two in which SKT T1 overcame a very large gold deficit.
SKT T1’s win aligned the stars for a much-hyped rematch of the organization’s last match with Griffin, which was considered by many the most exciting match of round two. Below is the press conference interview with head coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun and support Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong after SKT T1’s win.
Congratulations on your win! How do you feel, advancing to the finals?
Mata: I am satisfied that we’ve won 3-0. Every one of our coaches and staff worked day and night to make this possible. I think tonight’s victory was a just reward for our efforts, and that we can win it all if we keep on trying.
Mata, you are going to play in the finals two splits in a row, but under a different flag. Do you have any comment on that?
Mata: I have never been to two finals in a row, so it feels good. It would be nice if I win two finals in a row, regardless of my affiliation.
kkOma, anything to add to that?
kkOma: At the start of the split I promised our fans that we would show them an SKT T1 that is always improving. Thanks to the effort that our coaches and staff have put in, I am glad to be able to say that I am true to my word.
SKT T1 won with a 3-0 match score, but the match was much closer than what the score tells you. When did you start to feel confident that you would win?
kkOma: I was biting my fingers until the very end. If you look at the playoffs of other regions, you can easily witness a seemingly one-sided series go all the way to game five. Bo5 matches are all about maintaining composure and playing your own game until you see the enemy nexus explode, so I watched keenly until the match was over.
How about you, Mata?
Mata: I also didn’t think that I felt sure until we destroyed the bot lane’s tier two turret in game three. This was especially because we had a hard time in game one and game two. We maintained focused until the end, and it led us to victory.
Did you expect a 3-0 win today?
kkOma: It was very hard to anticipate what the score would be – As I said before…
(Mata steps in)
Mata: We weren’t expecting a 3-0 win, but we came into the game confident that we could do so.
kkOma: I didn’t think that we would win 3-0 either, but I was very confident that we would win.
You now face Griffin in the finals with a high level of sharpness, something that Griffin might be lacking. How do you think the finals will go?
kkOma: I am sure that we can beat Griffin in the finals. I can’t wait for the match. Of course, we will need time to prepare against a very strong opponent on the biggest stage. However, the spirits are high throughout the entire roster and thus we are very optimistic about our chances. Although we made a good number of mistakes today, I believe that we have the most talented roster in the league and our coaches are working hard to help our players reach their full potential.
How about you, Mata?
Mata: I think the bot lane will be the key if we are to defeat Griffin. I noticed that they are struggling a bit, nevertheless, they are a very strong force and thus not to be underestimated. I actually think that they are the stronger team and we are the challengers.
Kingzone utilized a wide variety of champions during their match against DAMWON Gaming, and they also drafted Vi today. SKT T1 seemed to be very comfortable with dealing with a champion that has not been played for quite a while – was this something you have prepared for?
kkOma: I don’t want to talk about the specifics because it may drop hints when there is an important match left to be played, but I can tell you that Vi was a champion we prepared for. We had the luxury of having more time to prepare, especially being able to watch Kingzone play against DAMWON Gaming. They had a very nice match overall, but they also exposed areas of error that we could capitalize on.
Mata: The Vi didn’t really catch us by surprise because we had already practiced against it. Personally, I don’t think Vi is a good pick overall. It was one of the reasons we were able to win the first game.
Coming into today’s game, many people were interested in the rivalry between Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and Heo “PawN” Won-seok. Did Faker seem to have the rivalry on his mind when he played today?
Mata: Well, I’m not Faker, and I haven’t asked him, so I’m not sure. The Faker I know is a player that does not have anything else on his mind other than him and his team winning the game. I think Faker is not at his best right now, but he is getting there. By the time the finals happen, I think he will hard carry us to victory.
kkOma, who do you think will step up as the key player in the finals?
kkOma: I think the bottom lane will be key. Previously, our team played heavily around the top side of the map. Some days, we expected a top lane carry, and on others a mid-jungle carry. Nowadays though, I think our bot lane is very strong and can carry too, a very valuable change in that we now have more options to play the game. As for Faker, he is always someone who steps up in the most important moments, so I expect him to do well in the finals.
Do you have anything to say before we conclude the interview?
kkOma: I tried to look as confident as I possibly could in interviews this split. I am happy that we could give the fans the performance that matched my confidence.
Mata: We have only the last match left for spring split, and I want to win it. SKT T1 is a team that I am learning a lot from. I want to conclude this split with a victory for such a team and its fans.