This weekend, Huni presented why hes the best top laner in Northern america by dipping into his ridiculous champ pool and carrying two games with rarely picked champions.
On Sunday, his Ekko decimated Malphite and brought back a game his bottom lane was apparently trying to throw, closing out the match and Immortals 17 -1 season with a pentakill. For Huni, though, the Saturday performance against Team SoloMid with Yasuo was more meaningful. He posted a 7/1/ 10 KDA and constructed plays that showed why the champion has always been feared in the hands of the worlds most talented solo laners.
I was kind of nervous to play Yasuo, because my last period Yasuo playing was not really good, he tells me on Saturday, after crushing Team SoloMid with the swordmaster.
“I think we are just playing too good .
Yasuo is a champion that usually appears sillysilly good or a silly pickand in his first game with him, Huni looked like he was swaying a balloon sword. In a loss to Cloud9 at the World Championship last year, Huni ran 5/4/ 9 KDA with Yasuo while watching his lane foe predominate the match with a 9/4/ 2 Darius.
Yeah, it was against Balls! he says, laughing. That time was pretty sad, so actually, I didnt, until now, like to play Yasuo.
With the recent changes to masteries and the new Warlords, though, he started playing the champion again, and its proven to be a powerful picking in the right situation. Against Graves on Saturday, for example, the lane matchup wasn’t bad, and Yasuo outscaled the shotgunner so hard, Huni says.
For now I have so much confidence to play Yasuo again, he tells.
That pickand the Ekko top lane on Sundaywere part of a little showcase of new champions for Immortals this weekend. Support player Adrian Mapicked Karma for the first time this season in both games, another rarely played support to add to a toolbox including Janna and Soraka, who were banned out by TSM on Sunday. Jungler Kim Reignover Yeu-jin pulled out Sejuani and Jason WildTurtle Tran proved off Jhin, all champs the team had yet to pick this season.
Expanding the arsenal
One of the big criticisms levied against Immortals this seasonif you genuinely can criticize a 17 -1 teamis that theyve merely needed to play a small pool of champions and play styles to win 17 games. If they can really merely play a small set of champions and styles, that doesnt bode well for them on the international stage against adversaries who might be smarter at exploiting that small pool.
“We would have won IEM .
Of course, you can also interpret it to mean Immortals are simply too good. They didnt show off a bigger champ pool and various forms of play styles because they didnt need to and no one forced them to, except perhaps on Sunday with Team Impulses support bans.
The incredibly confident Huni naturally believes it’s the second option.
This weekend, the team wasnt trying to make a statement about their champions ponds, show off new strategies, or throw squads off the scent of possibilities pickings in the upcoming playoffs, he says. They simply drafted those champions because they believe they were the one of the best picks in that situation.
And we practise so much those champions, he tells. Those champs is not really new to us. Its normal for us. We have been playing those champ more than one month at least.
Some commentators wondered if this was a test of Immortals preparation heading into playoffs, but the team seems to feel like it just happened to be the right time to pull out something theyve already sharpened. For a team as experienced as Immortals, they dont need to exam something new on stage to know it will be effective. And its not the only thing they havent had to show on stage that theyve been regularly preparing in practice sessions.
I think thats why “theyre saying”, what they feeling, is truly new but theyre playing really well, this is their secret card, new champion, Huni says. I think its not like that. We still have so much champ for new.
The playoffs, when Immortals plays their first best-of-five series as a team, will likely be when we see more of the Immortals tool box. That is, if their competitor can pull it out of them.
Im not scary at all, Huni said. Im just arousing to play. I will just win the Spring split.
Other teams will likely disagree with Hunis first statement( the Korean, who has picked up English well thanks to his indomitable nature to tackle challenges head-on, mean frightened, of course ). Still, towards the end of the season, Immortals appears more mortal than ever, apparently slumping near the end of the season. Huni believes the team fell prey to overconfidence” and got a little too reckless in their play. But theyve since calmed down and will be ready to play controlled in playoffsplus, he tells , no one is playing well enough to challenge them.
playing well, compared to the other pickings, he says. But I think we are just playing too good.
That mimics what the rest of the team says about playoffs, so perhaps a touch of overconfidence still affects them. But its a statement bear from outcomes on the field, and the team seems razor-focused on continuing that level of play to accomplish their real aim. Theyre not impressed by their regular season record. While most teams in the LCS this year talking here winning the split as their target, Immortals only wants the win to earn a spot at the next international event: the Midseason Invitational in Shanghai in May.
The California life
The Korean teen Huni, who turned 18 in December, is no stranger to trotting countries around the world. He has now spent the past year and a half living overseas. After a year in Europe, he now has a full season in North America under his belt, and hes taken to his new California life.
Im pretty sure NA life is like, nicer than EU, he said.
He enjoys all the food options in Los Angeles, where he can get anything from Korean to Italian and everything in between. Plus, the weather is alway sunny, like his effusive personality. In Europe, it rained like five days every week, he tells.
Theyve oozed chemistry from day one .
The team is constructing sure to enjoy their time here, playing plenty of League of Legends but attaining sure to at least expend some time out in the sun. Theyve done a couple escape rooms together, like some of the other LCS squads. Two weeks ago, they trekked to Santa Monica pier, a boardwalk extending into the ocean with its own mini amusement park.
He also picked up another very California habit.
Then we just go shopping every week, Huni says, saying they like to buy clothes and sometimes shoes. When I ask him what the funniest purchase a teammates made, he pauses, then laughs.
Adrian is merely buying super expensive things, he tells, though he acknowledges he didnt actually consider Adrian stimulate the purchases. It can be clothes, it can be belts, it can be pants.
There’s an influx of cash flowing into North American esports, and the best players in League of Legends are benefitting. Adrian famously told me earlier this year that his signing bonus was more than his entire salary last year.
There are hazards involved, of course. Challenger side Ember lately dropped nearly its entire roster after failing to qualify for the LCS. Many criticized the organization for overpaying its players( salaries ranged from $57,500 to $65,000, with signing bonuses jumping the total over $90,000 ), and Its investors reportedly grew skittish after seeing that relatively expensive roster fail to see results.
But if there are any LCS players that deserve to be profligate spenders, it’s surely Adrian and his teammates. While some new organizations may appear to be throwing fund around carelessly, Immortals has spent masterfully. The squad has stormed out to one of the most impressive seasons ever in the NA LCS.
When I afterwards ask WildTurtle about that shopping habit, though, he seemed puzzled. I frankly dont believe any of us go shopping a lot, he told, scratching his head. We mostly just stay home and feed food.
The international stage
Two weeks ago, Counter Logic Gaming and TSM represented North America at IEM Katowice. Their play was disappointing, something thats become a bit of a tradition for Americans at international tournaments. Immortals wants to change that.
So when Adrian Ma said Immortals would have attained NA look like a strong region if they had attended the event, the community scoffed, marking it as American hubris. But Huni agrees with his teammate.
Yeah, Im definitely sure, he said, when I asked him if he agreed with his support. If we just go, I think if we went IEM, like, without LCK team, only SKT, we would have won IEM.
I asked, to make sure: You would have beat SKT?
Yeah. We would have won IEM.
He balks at criticism that Immortals will somehow get figured out on the international stage, or that they dont play enough styles to be effective there. He should know, considering he and jungler Reignover reached the semifinals at the World Championship last year as players on Fnatic.
If Fnatic can get that far, theres no reason Immortals cant, though Huni is hesitant to compare the two lineupsjust wait for the World Championship, he tells, cognizant that Fnatics result was special and will be hard to replicate. But he surely believes Immortals has the tools to do it.
The teams international experience will be key, Huni believes. Both he and Reignover will now have that Worlds experience under their belts. Now they know how to deal with the month-long grind, preparing for multiple matches every week. The remainder of his squad, excluding Adrian, has also experienced that grand stage. Eugene Pobelter Park and Jason WildTurtle Tran were both at Worlds last year as members of Counter Logic Gaming and Team SoloMid respectively.
If Fnatic can get that far, theres no reason Immortals cant .
We have so much experience of World Stage, Huni told. I think we are going to be at least stronger than other squads because we have so much experience at international tournaments.
Of course, that didnt help the current TSM lineup, which features an all-star roster that for some reason cant figure out how to come together. But Immortals is different. Theyve oozed chemistry from day one, a fun-loving squad that seems to only click on and off the Summoners Rift.
Photo via Riot Game/ Flickr( All rights reserved, used in conjunction with permission )