Jan 27 2016 - 10:54 pm

Reignover: We can beat current Fnatic

When Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin left the best Western team in history in the offseason, he sought a new challenge
Dot Esports
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When Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin left the best Western team in history in the offseason, he sought a new challenge. During a season in Europe where Fnatic bested all comers, posting the only undefeated split in the history of League of Legends, he was bored. After a run at Worlds that saw Fnatic fall just short of the title, Kim decided he wanted a change of scenery.

After weighing offers from Korea and North America, Kim settled on Immortals, a new team in the North American League Championship Series (LCS). But through two weeks in the LCS, he’s still looking for that challenge. Immortals is the hottest team in the game right now, sitting at 4-0 as the only undefeated side left.

“Everyone knows that we are going to lose someday.” 

I talked to Kim after his win against NRG eSports, the only other undefeated team left before Immortals ran into them. The young Korean has a bookish look and demeanor, but underneath lies a bit of moxie and fire. For example, in a Gamespot interview this week, called out former teammate Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten, who apparently said that his new jungler Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon ganks mid better than Reignover in an LCS pre-game bump. That kind of talk is common in that kind of media and usually won’t elicit a response considering it wasn’t even directed at Reignover, but the jungler felt it necessary to throw a jab back at his former mid: Eugene “Pobelter” Park  dies to ganks way less often than Febiven does, he said. Reignover admits Febiven wasn’t intending any offense, but that he might have taken some anyway.

That’s the kind of thing that makes you understand why such an unassuming and composed kid can call himself a “cocky” player when he was in Korea in 2014. It’s also helps you understand why he gets ever so slightly perturbed when I label their win against NRG eSports, a game where NRG scored 4 towers to 2 and built a 1.5k gold lead at 20 minutes, a “comeback.”

“I think against TSM it’s a comeback, but todays match was not really a comeback,” Kim said. “We just avoided fighting on their terms. I think we played a pretty solid game, we didn’t make a lot of mistakes.”

The Immortals team composition, featuring Huni on Lissandra, Reignover on Rengar, and Pobelter on Zed in the mid lane, required spot-on coordination and timing to pull off. But Immortals made it look easy, despite featuring a roster thrown together just over a month ago. That’s in part because of the chemistry and teamwork developed by Huni and Reignover during a year in Fnatic. The two served as the linchpins of the composition, starting fights with Lissandra and Rengar. But the team as a whole seems to be playing with a synergy rare for a new lineup.

“When we first started practice, since the first time we were playing really good,” Reignover said. “Everyone was in a good mood of motivation. Everyone was playing serious so we could win most of the time. It was a pretty easy experience.”

More recently, the team is starting to shake things up and try more strategies, like in Sunday’s heavy engage team composition, a departure from the more balanced approach in some of their previous matches. “We’re just working on that right now and we’re still improving.”

“Reignover is, like, my dream jungler” — Pobelter. 

That kind of innate chemistry was something that defined the Fnatic team of last year. Even in the start of the Spring season, when Fnatic was still trying to get their footing, they played the game with fluid ease. The players said things just clicked. With Immortals, it’s much the same, but things are even easier—they don’t have to worry about communication after Huni and Reignover spent a whole year speaking English.

“I think everyones play style is pretty much same. Turtle play aggressive, but I think it’s pretty good,” Reignover said. “I think pretty much it makes our game. Our players have a lot of synergy with each other. We can make solid games. I think it’s pretty much tough for enemy to play against because we have a lot of aggressive players.”

On Fnatic, Reignover never really got his due. The team featured star players in each of the carry positions and one of the legendary shot callers and supports in Western League, Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim. Someone had to take the back seat.

Many fans remember the last game of Fnatic’s Midseason Invitational run, where SK Telecom T1 jungler Bae “bengi” Seong-ung used Nunu to abuse Reignover in the jungle, winning the pivotal game five. Yet fans forget that Reignover carried Fnatic to their two victories in that series, forcing SKT to pull out their Nunu trump card. Much like bengi himself, one of only two players to win two World Championships, Reignover plays a supportive role.

He is a grand facilitator, his aggressive counter-jungling style opening his teammates up for success. And his teammates love it.

“Reignover is, like, my dream jungler, actually,” mid laner Pobelter said. “He’s great at putting down vision, he has good mechanics, he definitely has no fear.”

Jason “WildTurtle” Tran had similar sentiments: “Reignover is the dream jungler you could never have. He’s really good at playing with the team. When we say we’re going to play around say bot side of the map, he already [knows] what to do. We don’t have to tell him what to do. It’s just really easy to play with him, actually.”

That’s high praise from a pair of LCS veterans, players who have teamed with junglers like Lucas “Santorin” Larsen, Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider, and Jake “Xmithie” Puchero. Last season, Pobelter won the LCS playing with Puchero on Counter Logic Gaming. But he says their synergy just wasn’t there, even if Xmithie was great at snowballing the other two lanes.

“But Reignover is also really good at snowballing out of mid, so I can play a bit more aggressively, I can play more champions,” Park said.

“A lot of people would say that Reignover was the weakest link in Fnatic. Whatever. I think he’s really good.”

During the offseason, Reignover received offers from pro teams from around the world, including his home nation of Korea. The last time he played there, as a younger and more naive pro, was a disaster. The jungler earned the nickname “game over” because when he was in the game, it was over for his team.

Reignover believes a return to Korea could still be "game over"—but this time for the other team. 

“When I was playing in Korea, I think I was really young,” Reignover said. “I was a really cocky player. I just had so many confidence at start. When you start with really huge confidence, then you try to do plays in competitive match and scrims. Solo queue is really different, you know? I just played like solo queue, played like scrims, and then I had a lot of fail.”

Now, Reignover says, he’s much more mature and well rounded as a person, not just a player. On Fnatic, he clearly curbed any tendency he had to feed in the mid and late game, but still managed to play his same aggressive style. Critics might say that’s because LCS junglers can’t expose his play, but Reignover is confident in himself, and he’s earned that confidence.

Reignover believes a return to Korea could still be "game over"—but this time for the other team. Communication is his greatest asset, he says, so if he can speak his native Korean, he can perform even better than in the West. He nearly returned to Korea before Immortals made a “pretty much better” offer than the others he had on the table, while also promising a reunion with Huni.

Reignover believes a return to Korea could still be "game over"—but this time for the other team. 

Huni knew Pobelter from a bootcamp in Korea, and Reignover thought WildTurtle and support player Adrian Ma were “always really good” while watching the LCS from afar. “I also wanted to play in NA, so I think it fits, most of it,” Reignover said.

So far, so good. Reignover says he feels “healthier” on Immortals, that the team puts a better emphasis on spending time outside of the game as well as inside of it. That was a big problem for him on Fnatic, when long hours in League of Legends took their toll and wore him down. The team is playing well, and while they just might go undefeated like Fnatic, there’s still a long way to go and many challenges ahead.

“Everyone knows that we are going to lose someday,” he said. “I think it’s not a problem if we can learn something from it. I think we need more time to be a team to be a competitive team like Fnatic, but I definitely think we can be really solid team and then competitive team at Worlds even.”

When I ask him what he thinks would happen if Immortals faced off his against Fnatic team from last year, he shrugs and laughs. “I’m not sure, I’m playing against me, so…”

But he is “pretty sure” about one thing.

“If we play the current Fnatic, I think we are going to win,” he said. Take that, Febiven.

Photo via Riot Games/Flickr (All rights reserved, used with permission)

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