"Wheels of change keep turning," Chris "PapaSmithy" Smith said after Week 1 of the 2019 LCK Spring Split drew to a close. The three teams that have recently been promoted to the LCK -- Griffin, DAMWON Gaming, and SANDBOX Gaming -- each finished undefeated at 2-0. Meanwhile, household LCK names such as KT Rolster, Gen.G and Kingzone DragonX all dropped to the bottom of the rankings.
DAMWON Gaming's mid laner Heo "ShowMaker" Su discussed his thoughts on the recent upsets in the LCK, why he believed the newly promoted teams are more "adapted to the current meta," and named one mid laner he'd like to beat in the LCK.
ESPN: Congratulations on starting the 2019 LCK Spring Split with two victories, ShowMaker. How are you feeling?
ShowMaker: I'm extremely happy. I think today's victory is more satisfying than the last one [against Gen.G]. We're now we are on a two-win streak.
DAMWON Gaming has been exceeding everyone's expectations so far. Why do you think this is the case?
ShowMaker: I think we have actually been underperforming until now. We didn't perform well during Challengers Korea, the 2019 promotions or the 2018 KeSPA Cup. Our performance just wasn't as good as our scrim results. Then this year, the venue for the LCK changed, and everything started clicking together. Everyone's performing better. A [positive] energy from the new stadium? Maybe we adjusted to LoL Park faster. Maybe we're finally getting used to playing on the big stage.
ShowMaker, you are one of the most renowned solo queue players in South Korea. We see your in-game name in the top-10 list constantly. Some might say that your performance until now hasn't been as impressive as your infamy in the South Korean ladder. However, you've stepped up now that you're playing in the LCK. How's that so?
ShowMaker: Nothing seemed to work out for me during the KeSPA Cup. Perhaps it was my nerves getting to me. My skills will miss, my shotcalls weren't correct, and I would be making mistakes. Then came the LCK Spring Split, and everything started working out. When I started making fewer mistakes, my performance got better.
So you're finally showing your potential?
ShowMaker: I'd say that even now, I haven't shown my full potential. But I'm getting there. Recently, I've only been playing champions like Galio and Urgot in the matches. In solo queue, I would rarely play such champions. I've been more known for my plays on assassin champions. If I'm allowed to pick such champions on the stage, I think I'll show an even better performance.
Can you name two champions in particular? Champions that you're known for in the South Korean ladder?
ShowMaker: Zoe and Syndra. I was also known for my LeBlanc; however, she's not that good currently. If I am allowed to pick AP nukers, I become very confident.
The teams that have come from Challenger Korea have been showcasing a great performance so far.
ShowMaker: All the teams that have been promoted from Challenger Korea have won every single game so far, haven't they?
Exactly. DAMWON Gaming, Griffin, SANDBOX Gaming. Compared to this, the staple names of the LCK are performing poorly. Teams that attended 2018 worlds -- Gen.G, Afreeca Freecs and KT Rolster -- have started with two losses. What do you think about this trend?
ShowMaker: First of all, the current meta is based on skirmish and aggression. I think that benefits us.
Also, I think the promoted teams have gotten better. There isn't a big "gap" of performance from the first-place team to the 10-place team. Now, nothing's an upset. All the teams are playing at a similar level.
Teams like KT Rolster and Gen.G have gone through roster changes, and I'd also say they had an unlucky week. In previous years, if a high-tier team and an underdog team face each other, the high-tier team would almost always win. Now, it's an even match. And within this situation, where all matches are at similar levels, KT and Gen.G fell to bad luck.
You speak of meta, and indeed the meta is more aggressive. The new teams seem just more comfortable playing around this meta. What makes them so different?
ShowMaker: The existing LCK teams have been playing against other LCK teams. They've been playing the "LCK style macro" against one another -- fewer kills, slow-paced. While we who have been promoted Challengers have been playing the Challengers game. A Challenger Korea match, on average, will have lot more kills per game. So I think the new teams are more adapted to the current meta. The LCK teams have been determined to stick with the safe macro playstyle, while the CK teams are more used to frequent skirmishes and aggressions.
You've beaten Bdd, someone you quoted as your idol. What's next for you, ShowMaker? Which team or mid laner would you like to beat next in the LCK Spring Split?
ShowMaker: We play Griffin for our next match. I've never won a single game against Griffin. So I'd like to beat Griffin and Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon. Yes.