When assessing any League of Legends match, thoughts automatically turn towards individual one-on-one or two-on-two matchups. Even if these are highly dependant on playstyle, the current meta, and individual champion matchups, one player is inevitably found lacking, and if there is enough of a discrepancy, this will be used in final analysis of a team matchup. In the case of Invictus Gaming and Fnatic, many are ruling a mismatch in the jungle between Gao "Ning" Zhen-Ning and Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen as an edge for Fnatic.
Although he's been inconsistent at times throughout the year, Ning came into his own with the team in 2018 LoL Pro League Summer, and has had fairly strong performances throughout this world championship despite a few hiccups. ESPN Esports briefly caught up with Ning on team media day to talk about his career and the upcoming finals match.
ESPN: Something that western fans may not know is that you weren't always a jungler, but were once an AD carry on Young Miracles. What made you swap to the jungle position?
Ning: I actually played all roles in solo queue except for mid, so I was confident in a lot of other positions and confident in a lot of other positions. Back on YM my duo partner was [Shi "Ming" Sen-Ming] and Ming left to RNG. I couldn't find a good duo in the bot lane so I just swapped my role.
ESPN: A lot of junglers who have previously played other positions default to a farm-heavy style as junglers. You are a much more aggressive jungler, so how did you develop this jungle style after swapping?
Ning: I think that every role has its own playstyle. So I was an AD carry back in the day but when I was playing another role like top or jungle, I would adapt to another style. Whereas I feel like jungle is a lot different than an AD carry role. When you're a jungler you should not be focused on farming, you should just focus on ganking.
ESPN: How would you characterize your playstyle with iG? What do you do for the team of iG?
Ning: Back when I first joined iG, I didn't have a lot of time to mesh with the team so I didn't perform that well. My teammates didn't know my playstyle and I didn't know how the team played. After a while, and right now, I feel like my teammates and I mesh really well together. We know what each other are thinking and how we see the game so now I'm a lot more confident.
ESPN: What is your greatest strength as a jungler?
Ning: I think my greatest strength is that, since I was previously an AD carry, my mechanics are good compared to other junglers. Also because of my personality I like to try new things so I have a pretty good champion pool. Compared to other veteran junglers I still lack a lot of experience but I'm catching up on that.
ESPN: A lot of people have highlighted the jungle matchup for finals as an area that Fnatic (and Broxah) will have over you. What do you think of Broxah as a jungler and what are his strengths?
Ning: Broxah is definitely a really good jungler. I would rate myself and Broxah as the top two junglers at this worlds. The reason I think people have Broxah as an edge over me is because we lost two games to Fnatic during group stage. I feel like it's not only a jungler problem, it's the team coordination. iG wasn't playing to our normal level and we underestimated our opponents a bit, so we were not well prepared going into those games. That's the reason why we lost. Broxah was able to perform really well so it feels like such a one-sided game during those two losses. However, in our first game, I played really well and felt like we were crushing them as well. In the end, in the final, it's hard to say who is better but I think it's 50/50.