Will anyone challenge SKT at this year’s League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational? Top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon doesn’t think so.
“I don’t think there’s a really good team that can beat us or give us problems,” he said in an interview with Yahoo Esports following their victory over Vietnamese representative GIGABYTE Marines. “Our goal is just winning MSI and we’re going to try hard for ourselves.”
After Day 1 of the 2017 MSI, things are going well for Huni and the rest of SKT. They’re the only team to win both of their matches, and sit atop the standings where they rightfully belong.
“[Our] team play wasn’t really bad but we still had mistakes in the early game,” he said. “We got behind in the early game even though we could have gone even and make the late game stronger. We need to focus on the early game. Our pick and ban was as well expected, so it went quite well. For me, I liked the first game, but I didn’t like playing against GIGABYTE Marines because I got kind of cheesed. I could have done way better. I made a lot of mistakes and so I have to focus more, just being rock solid as myself.”
Unlike Lee “Duke” Ho-seong, who was known as a safe, power-farming split-pusher, or Jang “MaRin” Gyeong-hwan who received jungle priority and repaid SKT by taking over games, sometimes entire series, Huni has a reputation of bullish stubbornness. It’s a reputation that’s now complemented by his confidence and onstage presence, although he’s tried to shed this persistent label of reckless in-game behavior.
“A lot of people think that I’m a really aggressive top laner,” he said. “Or that I’m more overextended. I agree in 2015 and 2016 because I had to play around getting pressure, being more aggressive and getting all of the benefits around top and jungle, so people thought that, ‘Huni is too overaggressive, overextended,’ because I had to do it otherwise, it would have gone badly.”
Among the jokes of SKT whipping Huni into shape by forcing him to play tanks, Huni is adamant that on SKT and elsewhere, he’s simply fitting the needs of his team.
“I just adapted to what SKT needs,” he said. “I didn’t change. I just played what the team needed. I think it’s going well. I play half and half, sometimes I play tanks, sometimes I play what I want or what I need. That’s my job.”
Huni paused a bit at what type of top laner he wants to be, before breaking into a smile and throwing up his hands.
“Of course, I would like to play aggressive champions and be dominating the enemy top laner, go everywhere… that’s my playstyle but of course I play for team because League of Legends is a five-man team.”
He wants to be aggressive, but Huni will bend to fit the needs of SKT. Alongside fellow newcomer to the team, Han “Peanut” Wang-ho, many anticipated SKT to transform into an early-game focused, aggressive monster. Instead, Peanut and Huni have adapted to SKT’s mid-game punish style.
Naturally, there are certain times when they can loosen up a bit. One of those opportunities came on Day 1 against the GIGABYTE Marines, where Huni was ganked early but cleaned up late due to the Marines inability to keep up with SKT’s macro movements. Although the Marines were far behind SKT in skill, Huni admitted that playing against them was surprising and somewhat useful.
“We thought that during the game, ‘Oh, these guys are just trying to make a comeback in a fight’” he said. “Playing for ourselves and playing for fights only when it was 100 percent [guaranteed], that was our mindset. They just tried to fight everywhere, all the time. We played kind of defensive but still when we needed to pressure we did. It was kind of new. In Korea, there’s no team doing that.”
Emily Rand’s love of the 2013 KT Rolster Bullets will never die. You can follow her on Twitter.