Mar 10 2015 - 6:13 pm
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Thorin inven AMA - March 7th-8th 2015

Over the weekend, I took part in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread on inven, a Korean esports community website.
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Over the weekend, I took part in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread on inven, a Korean esports community website.  Since I had to have the questions translated into English and my answers were sent in English to Bnununu, star translator for OnGameNet, who performed the translation, I decided to publish an English translation of the AMA here. 

My opening statement

Hello inven,
  My gaming id is Thorin and I've been working in the field of esports journalism since 2001. My favourite games to follow were originally Quake and Counter-Strike, but in 2009 I fell in love with StarCraft: Brood War and I've been back and watched the VODs for every single OSL and MSL, as well as the main games of all the great players. In latter years, I've been heavily involved with League of Legends.

As a journalist, I've produced two long form interview series ('Grilled' and 'Reflections'), and I now host two talk shows 'Summoning Insight', with OnGameNet English language colour caster MonteCristo (a.k.a. Monte Kim), and 'Incoming Aggression', an LPL preview show with Chinese scene expert Froskurinn. I've also written many long articles about League of Legends players, two of my most histories of inSec and Locodoco. Perhaps you've seen my 'Reflections' interviews with Korean players, where I had Korean subtitles put on them? I did some with Flame, MadLife, Shy, DanDy, Deft and Mata, last year.

I've lived in Seoul for five months of the last year, coming for a few months and going home to my native England for a few months. I plan to return again in the Summer, since I love living there and I'm interested in Korean culture.

Last year, with the help of my Korean friend, I did a short AMA here. I say short, because he was rather lazy, so he only translated a few answers, regretably. Anyway, now I've got superstar OGN translator bnununu here, who'll help me get your questions and relay my answers. I want this AMA to have a different premise to the usual ones. I read the entry about me on the enhawiki and my Korean friends sometimes relay things they've heard about me from inven and Korean sites to me. It seems as if Koreans have a quite different perception of me than I have of myself, so I want to address some of those topics this weekend.

I've seen it suggested that I am just what they would call in America a "shock jock", someone who says controversial things to get attention. It's also suggested I merely agree with everything MonteCristo says on our talk show and that I'm a biased fanboy of Flame. I saw that Koreans got quite angry with me when I proclaimed NaMei the best AD Carry in the world before the Season 4 World Championship last year, throwing insults my way. In short, if you hold these opinions then I want you to "come at me" and actually explain yourself and ask questions I can respond to.

I'm also entirely open to answering questions about League of Legends esports around the world, as well as the history of competitive scene and esports in general. I'm not Korean and I don't feel bound by cultural politeness, so if you want to trash talk, then I'm down with that, so game on! Don't worry, I won't let my Korean girlfriend beat you up for being mean to me ;)

Ask your questions here and bnununu will translate them for me as he has time and he'll relay my answers over the next two days. Ask a good question and there's a good chance I'll answer it.

inven fighting!

Duncan "Thorin" Shields

alt

Lv14. ??????
Always enjoying Summoning Insight. Thank you I feel like you would have to watch a lot of League of Legends matches but with so many games you might not be able to watch them all. Which League do you prioritize?

Answer:
You're right, that there are a lot of games and there is no time to watch them all. It's been the same problem over many different esports titles, since I cover so many. Luckily, I was never one to watch every single game, even for individual tournaments. I've always found only the best match-ups, either between the elite players or deep in tournaments, to be the interesting ones. I also long ago got over the desire to watch games live or avoid having the result spoiled.

I don't watch any LoL games live and actively look at the result before watching. That allows me to decide which VODs are worth watching and then, when watching, to have a sense of the overall context of what I'm seeing. If I know a team loses, but they are far ahead, such as in the Elements vs. Giants game where Froggen's Ahri was carrying, then I know something significant must happen in a moment, so I can be looking for the details which could cause it already. This approach has allowed me to more rapidly analyse and understand matches from all games.

In general, I watch most of the OGN games, some of the LCS games, to prepare for Summoning Insight, the best LPL games and then just games of teams or players I like (Gambit, Cloud9, Froggen, Flame etc.)

Lv.17 ????
Wow, Thorin!? I had fun reading your interviews and your last AMA. I have a lot of questions
1. Do you think the shutdown policy in Korea (No games after a certain time systematically based on age) hinders the development of Korean eSports? One argument is that the shutdown policy is a useful tool to stop young people who lack the self-control from falling into videogame addiction

Answer:
I think it's an inherently bad thing for society, as it reduces the freedoms of individuals, which is an issue I feel very strongly about. The problem with that kind of legislation is two-fold: it is abitrary and it has no nuance. What I mean by that is that it is arbitrary in as much as it sets a specific time at which point the shut-down occurs, which means that if we had an individual who happened to sleep during the evening and then wanted to play for a few hours in the early morning, or before school, then he wouldn't be able to, yet with no good reason on behalf of the government.

Secondly, addressing the fact it has no naunce, this law basically punishes intelligent, reasonable and disciplined people on the basis that some people out there might have difficulty controlling their own drives and desires. That's unfair and unnecessary. I've no doubt there are people out there who can manage their lives without the government forcing them not to play at a specific point of the night, so why should they be restricted on the basis that someone else can't control themselves? Put it this way, there are some obese people in America, but I don't think it would be reasonable to make a law which said you can't eat more than one doughnut in a day. What happens to the guy who eats two doughnuts on one day and then none for the rest of the year?

I think the government should stay out of people's personal lives and only be occupied with running everyday things, which we really need, such as making sure the lights stay on, the water is running and someone comes and picks up the trash. Once the government start interferring with people's individual lives in this kind of manner, it essentially suggests they know better and somehow have the right to decide what is best for an individual. I don't think that's a reasonable way to live, it's both condescending and accurate. That leads down a road where next the government can decide what you read or watch or listen to. Each individual must decide for himself how they should live and I consider it immoral to attempt to decide for another.

On a side note, the law also makes very little sense in as much as the implication is that by stopping people playing at a set time then they will either do homework or go to sleep. It reminds me of a situation in TSM where they banned their players from playing other games outside of LoL, so the players would just go and watch movies or read books during that time, rather than playing more LoL. In the same sense, the kind of kid who plays too video games too much and into the early hours or the night, is probably just going to go and watch movies, read manga or play on his phone in the time he would have spent on games like LoL.

2. What do you think is the biggest competition for League of Legends? Like Dota2, Heroes of Storm, Hearthstone

altIn Korea, I don't think it has any competition. On a global scale, by explaining the game which is closest to it I think I'll be able to outline why I don't see it having competition at the moment. I think the game with the best chance to get close to LoL is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, since it is very much growing month by month and the competitive scene is exploding, which seems to be having a feedback loop effect on the growth of the player-base.

The problem for CS:GO is that it is a largely European and North American game and the fact it is not free-to-play will very likely limit it from success in Asia, where games like CS:Online and CrossFire dominate the FPS market. It also doesn't help that Asia has never seemed as interested in FPS as MOBA and RTS.

I get the sense Dota2 will never close the game with LoL, I think it can have a long and successful time as the second or third biggest esports title, but I can't see what factors could cause it to over-take LoL and I think it's chance to has passed by now. It's very much a known quantity now.

3. Do you believe with balancing philosophy in league of legends? Whether it’s foreign or in Korea, don’t you feel like they just give everyone paper swords (nerf everything)?

Yes, I think the balancing philosophy is pretty poorly executed in League of Legends and flawed in its conception. There is a famous comic in the West which I think is both funny and accurate in outlining the balancing philosophies of the different major developers. I think Riot's balancing philosophy is too tied to the solo queue experience, which is their primary business.

Essentially, they seem to repeatedly follow the trend of bringing out broken champions, which you can tell will be very strong simply from seeing the descriptions of their kits, then nerfing them down patch-by-patch, until they are simply normal or slightly-above-average champions. Beyond that, they will buff old champions, which haven't been played in quite a while, to bring them back into the viable meta. I don't think it's too cynical to suggest the former process is to make it favourable for players to buy champions upon release, when they're seeing them destroy solo queue games. Then, once the champion is wide-spread, it gets nerfed. Likewise, the latter process ensures the older champions don't stop being bought. In short, it's a way to ensure old players have to keep buying champions and newer players must still buy the older champions.

Personally, I prefer the SC:BW approach of putting a lot of different strong things out there and not balancing too frequently. That way there are many ways to play and win the game, since there are many strong things to use, and you find novel interactions between units and abilities, since they aren't just slammed down the second they are found to be strong.

4. Who is the pro gamer you watch the most! (Who is most often on your mind)

To answer literally, it is probably PraY or Deft, since they are in leagues which play a lot more often than the West and they are both starters in basically every single game. I think both are wonderful players to spectate and PraY in particular is playing a style I can barely believe is even viable, yet he is seemingly unstoppable using it. Add in the story-line of his career seemingly being over prior to this year and he is truly a marvel right now.

altIf I were to answer your question in a more general sense, taking into account the part in parentheses, then there are two names which immediately jump to the fore-front: Flame and Froggen. These are my two my favourite League of Legends players and I have seen practically every single competitive game they have played. I think a very valuable and crucially important component of my process in studying the history of esports is that I prioritise the most important matches over those which will be meaningless in a few months.

That manifests in repeatedly going back and watching key matches from the careers of great players, to see if my perception is changed by what has happened since or the time passing. I find you will discover many new details and be able to form and update old theories by taking on this approach. So I can tell you that I have watched the OGN Spring 2013 season in which Flame rose up many times. I have been back and forth over that 13-0 winning streak and Blaze's strategy for implementing Flame so many times I could boil down so many essential principles on how teams prioritise specific strengths and the nature of carry roles, purely from my experiences in watching and thinking about those games.

To me, Flame represents everything a true carry should be in League of Legends: a master of individual match-ups, a monster in terms of overall game impact and in team-fights, possessing a wide champion pool which can integrate things from outside of the meta and those inside, unfraid of the strengths of the opponet, confident to the point of demanding to be the carry threat in the line-up and driving their team-mates in terms of having a strong will to win and not accepting mediocrity or lack of effort from others.

altLikewise, I've watched Froggen's career over and over. Not just Season 2, when I consider him to have been the best player in the world, but even the hard times of Season 3, which is a very misunderstood period of his career, in my opinion, and contains a lot more nuance and philosophical underpinnings than people may be willing to consider. Froggen is the greatest Westerner to every play League of Legends, in my opinion. He not only has incredible skill, as his proficiency with skill-shots and wide champion pool will easily highlight, but he has a strong mentality towards defining his own style and he a work ethic above and beyond any other Westerner.

On a more general level, I also like to go back and watch key series from old series, for similar reasons. So the match-ups of Gambit against KT B would be a good example. I also enjoy many of the series from IPL5 and practically every OGN season has a few series which will really repay rewatching. When I am researching to write a long historical or profile piece on a famous player, I will often spend a few days rewatching games from his entire career, to get ensure I have not misremembered or mischaracterised his style, skills or career story.

Recently, I watched most of Locodoco's career for this very purpose, so I can tell you that I did find some interesting details that have largely been forgotten in LoL history. To give you an example, Woong's role-swap to ADC means many think of him as a weak player who was simply carried by MadLife, since that was somewhat like his latter days in Frost were like, but that guy was a Top lane monster back in the first half of 2012. Prior to the final, he was basically the main carry of Frost and always seemed to get ahead in his match-ups.

In the final of that tournament, Reapered was simply god-like and hard-carried Blaze in two of the games, so I can see why Frost had been confident coming into the final, since in a world in which Reapered was even vaguely human that day, it should have been a much more competitive series, with one of Frost's best strengths being their Top laner. These are the kinds of details which are really satisfying to discover, since they run counter to how the consensus story of these events is often told, people have a habit of going back and mentally rewriting history when players fall off or are no longer effective any more.

Lv.4 Ased
Do you obviously think that it’s fine for the best player in the world to come from a region other than Korea? I think so. But there are some people who display a pathologic rejection against this opinion. It’s like they believe every first place spot in League of Legends is supposed to belong to them – what do you think of the Korean e-Sports fans’ natural tendency of “patriotic masturbation”?

Answer:
Yes, though historically it has been unlikely for most of esports history. In Season 2, I think Froggen was the best player in the world and then in the pre-S3 into early S3 period of time, I think a strong case could be made for WeiXiao as the best, when World Elite ruled the world. Even then, though, you can see that it was only going to be a matter of time until Korea took the throne and never gave it back, as during the eras of those players, you had the likes of Reapered, MadLife and Shy, all playing unbelievable League of Legends and truly help define their roles, with incredible game impact.

altI think a key point to make in having this discussion is that the appearance of Faker really unfairly skews the likelihood of the best player in the world coming from Korea. Korea would already have a high likelihood of having the best player, since there are so many great players from Korea, but Faker is the ultimate outlier in LoL history. Faker is not just the best player in the world, he is the best player to ever be produced in League of Legends and one of the best competitors of any esports game. As a result, as long as he is near prime form, no other region is truly going to have a chance of having the best player. Take Faker out of the equation and I think players like NaMei could at least have been put into the conversation, prior to the Season 4 World Championship.

Right now, I think Korea does have the best player, since it's Faker and if you want to argue over that, then it likely has to be PraY or Deft. There are players who have a chance to ascend to the title, such as China's Uzi and maybe even Europe's FORG1VEN, but the former requires a much higher level of domestic consistency and the latter needs to prove himself consistently on the world stage.

To go beyond the literal discussion of who the best player is and address the side-topic you brought up, of over-enthusiastic patriotism within Korea, I think that is an important topic to address. I think it's pretty ignorant to automatically assume the best player must come from Korea, purely on the basis Korea does produce the most top level players. Imagine if Korea had no Faker, but all the other elite level players it had produced, and then suddenly Faker appeared but in China, that wouldn't make China better than Korea, but it would make a Chinese player the best in the world, maybe even by far.

I really dislike patriotism in general, if one simply admits they have a natural bias towards things local to them, then that's one thing and they're welcome to enjoy reveling in the successes of such focal points, but I don't think it's really defensible as an over-arching life philosophy. Think how obnoxious it is that North Americans are obsessed with discussions of how their region can "close the gap" with Korea. What makes that discussion obnoxious, at least in the tone of its premise, is that it seems to assume that America should and definitely could be the best.

That's a quality of Americans that many from outside of their country dislike and find a little distasteful, the assumption that America should be the best in any given field and if they aren't there they have some key disdvantage which once removed would see them charge to the front of the pack. Again, I'll re-iterate that it's fine for Americans to be most interested in America and its progression, but to even entertain such a discussion, beyond for the purpose of a hypothetical mind experiment, one has to enter into a paradigm of thought which is at least a little unreasonable.

I raise that example because I see the same kind of thinking in Korean people. It is not quite as skewed as that, but it results in people feeling as if they have to think Korean things are the best, else they're some kind of traitor. Every country is just imaginary lines on a map, which itself is not a perfect representation of the section of the crust of the Earth anyone lives on. It's fine to use that model to locate yourself in space, but once you start to define what you like or think based on whether something is on one side of that imaginary line or not I think you're entering the realm of pathology and heading down a dangerous path, in terms of the political and ethical implications which seem to inevitably arise as the result of such a choice in manner of thinking.

I don't care about countries or cultures. I just want to see the best players play and hopefully against each other, whether they're from China, Korea, North America, Europe or Antarctica. If a Faker arises in GPL, I'll go and watch that league, I certainly wouldn't say "well, he must suck since he's not from Korea and I get GBM would shit all over him".

altKoreans seemed to get upset at MonteCristo when he suggested NaMei was the best AD Carry in the world, prior to the Season 4 World Championship, yet that was an entirely reasonable point to make, in light of the domestic success, level of play and role within his team that NaMei had. NaMei flopped at Worlds, that's undeniable, but I did find it a little amusing that people had no problem hailing Uzi as the best ADC in the world, when he's not from Korea either.

If you didn't watch many of NaMei's LPL games, yet had a strong opinion on how good he was, prior to Worlds, and would argue with someone who is both an expert and had watched those games, I'd suggest you were pretty ignorant, whether that player turned out to be as good as billed or not. Put it this way: Monte can be wrong, but that doesn't automatically make you right.

Korea is an awesome country and I respect the work ethic that Koreans have, but it's not some paradise and, like every country, it has its own social growing pains to deal with. I've also noticed that this obsession with all things Korean has led to some quite negative expressions in Korean culture, such as players being harassed and abused on the basis that they have "failed" in representing Korea or to achieve the level expected of them.

Lv.47 JUL
Do you think there needs to be a game community site where all peoples of the world can come and communicate? There would be language barrier issues, but if we could somehow overcome that, of course

Answer:

In theory, there's nothing stopping Asians coming onto reddit.com/r/leagueoflegends and joining in the discussions there. Obviously, they'd need to have at least moderately good English language skills, but there are Eastern Europeans who post there with reasonably limited skills. With that said, I wouldn't really recommend it, reddit is notorious for being a poor place to have discussions, due to down-voting of comments people don't like, so if an Asian didn't have a good grasp on the consensus opinions or the culture of the people he was communicating with, I could see it being quite a frustrating experience.

From what I've seen, sites like inven are actually superior to reddit in terms of being able to have proper discussions and read in-depth information. I've had my friend translate some long posts which analysed LCS matches at a level above that of the majority of Western League casters, it was very impressive. In general, I think the key point to make here is that there is a large cultural and social component to discussion sites, so if people come from backgrounds which are too alien, in reference to each other, then I don't imagine they'll be able to relate to each other very well.

It would be nice if there could be such a site, but perhaps it will have to wait 50 years, until we are all cyborgs or something.

Lm.71 ??????
I think the only teams that can compete with the top 4 teams of the Korean LCS (*I think they meant OGN) is OMG and EDG. What do you think?

Answer:

Well, we really have to define what you mean by "compete with". If you mean have any reasonable chance of beating a top four Korean team, then I don't think that's the case. I think SK, TSM and Cloud9 could probably all win a single game off teams like SKT, CJ and Jin Air. Could they win a Bo3? Obviously they would all be underdogs, but I think it would depend largely on the match-up. I'd love to see SK against Jin Air, I think that would be a great match-up and I'd love to see how nRated and his men would adapt strategically. I think GBM would destroy Fox, but I also think FORG1VEN would smash Pilot.

How about if we had TSM vs. CJ, I think Bjergsen against Coco would be an amazing match-up, with the potential for either to go crazy and snowball on the other. Dyrus is famous for his play on tanks and we've all see Shy tending towards playing Mundo in recent times. On the other hand, if you put match-ups like SKT vs. C9, then I think SKT is going to utterly destroy C9 and there won't be much chance for the Western team to win.

In a Bo5, then yes the chances get much lower for any of the Western teams. I do think people are over-rating the strength of teams like Jin Air and CJ, though, relative to the West. Yes, they match-up well against teams domestically, but once they are facing the best Western teams, I think the gap won't be as large as some may imagine. GE are gods and SKT have the best player of all-time, that means I don't expect to see Western teams winning Bo3 or Bo5 against them, but CJ and Jin Air are beatable, if you get the right Western match-up.

altSpeaking of the Chinese teams, I think they have a better chance than the Western teams, which has always been my feeling. I think EDG have a good style and sense for how to win, with a player (Deft) who can match any Korean player at his position. OMG look quite confused stylistically, in comparison to Korean teams, but you cannot underestimate the strength of their players, individually, and in terms of their team-fighting.

People constantly under-rate LoveLing, but I have seen him play a number of times interantionally and he very rarely ever gets shown up by the opposing Jungler. Being as Korea is quite weak at the Jungle position right now, I think none of the top 4 will have someone who will crush him or neutralise him. If we're just talking about traditional carry roles (Top, Mid and ADC), then I think China has players who are just as good as the Koreans or very near their level.

The difference in previous years, aside from Korean teams having better cohesive strategies and understanding of win conditions, is that Korea has always been by far the best in the world at the traditionally supportive roles (Jungle and Support). With the Korean exodus of players to China, I think that advantage has been reduced massively and may not even exist any more.

If we had a tournament tomorrow, with Bo5 as the format, then I think GE would win it and SKT would almost certainly be top 3-4. With that said, I think OMG and EDG would finish top four and that EDG could go to the final and face GE.

Lv.41 ????
Simply put, is there a team that can beat the GE Tigers?

Answer:

I already answered this previously, but yes, I think there is. Is there a team who is a favourite over GE? No, it's not reasonable to imagine there is right now, not least since they have been so dominant in Korea and the fashion are dominating in is so impressive and startling. I think the teams with the best chance are, in this order: EDG, OMG and SKT.

EDG - They have a good style and I think their approach is quite intelligent, so they would be able to deal with some of GE's strengths and still find a way to remain in the game. They have the only ADC (Deft) who I think can have as large a game impact as PraY, in terms of how he plays within the team as a whole. They also have a coach (Aaron) who has now masterminded three line-ups (WE, EDG 1 and EDG 2) into becoming the best team in one of the better regions.

OMG - Put simply, they have players at four positions which can all pose threats to GE's players. On an individual basis, Gogoing is probably at an equal level to Smeb. Cool is as good as kurO and has more of an upside, in terms of dominant carry games. LoveLing is better than Lee, who I think is quite over-rated and benefits from the strength of his team. Finally, Uzi is probably better than PraY mechanically, though I do think PraY plays a much better style for his team and will have a larger game impact, in terms of being able to affect the outcome of the game. With Uzi, there is always a chance he has one of those miracle games, but PraY has incredible games 2/3 times he plays.

SKT - They have Faker, the largest outlier in the history of the game. It doesn't matter how many brilliant mathematicians you have or how hard they've worked, when a Newton appears he can blow them all away. Faker is capable, on a regular basis, of playing a level we've never seen before in League of Legends. There is no player who can truly stand against him, and no, Pawn having some of the top 20 players of all-time surrounding him doesn't count in this respect.

Not only is Faker's individual level amazing, in terms of skill, but he is hyper-intelligent, to an extent where it almost looks like he is instinctually programmed to make the correct decision, with no hesitation, in any moment. His champion pool is always insane, to the degree that some champions are simply must-bans against him and then he can work wonders with what are ordinary champions for others (Orianna comes to mind). With Faker, you always stand a chance to win a game, against anyone. You still wouldn't beat GE tigers in a Bo5, since you need to win three games, but there's still a chance he could win you two games just by himself.

Lv.5 ?????
Hello ^^ You're probably much better at this than me since you're a professional: what's the fundametal difference between SKT's mid laners Easyhoon and Faker?

alt

Answer:
There's a massive difference between them. Easyhoon is a good player, but I think he was actually on the wrong kind of team in SKT S and in this SKT line-up, when he is fielded. To make the most of Easyhoon's talents, you should have a strong carry Top laner and a dominant laning ADC. If you have those, then he can sit in the Mid lane and cautiously farm up, ensuring he will not feed and that he will be able to provide great utility and presence in late-game team-fights.

People often compare Easyhoon to Froggen and I can see the comparison, but the difference between the two is that Froggen is much more capable of being a hybrid Mid laner and being aggressive and taking advantage of his opposing laner, where Easyhoon seems to default to a passive style in nearly all circumstances and in terms of his champion pool choices.

I described Faker elsewhere in another answer, but there is nobody who can be compared to him. He's not just the best Mid laner right now and of all-time, he's the best LoL player of all-time. With Easyhoon, you have great consistency and a very set notion of how you can and will win the game. With Faker, anything is possible, against any opponent and in almost any set of circumstances. He is the only Mid laner in the world who can literally win an entire game against any opponent by himself. Sometimes, when watching SKT, I feel like Bengi's entire job right now is just to:

1) Place wards
2) Don't die
3) Let Faker carry the game

Lv30. ???
It looks like you’re traveling to Korea pretty often, what are some specific things you do when you visit?
You can watch the matches online, but when I see you in the audience sometimes I wonder what else you do as someone working in eSports

Oh, never mind. You explained it in the main post. I guess you work on your columns like summoning insight or making youtube videos. Thank you so much for summoning insight – I like it when relatively lesser known players are invited onto the show. I was happy to see Forgiven last time. I hope you can continue bringing in players like Fredy. I know Fredy has been in SK gaming since last Spring, but he never appeared in the winner’s interview at least in last year. He’s a good consistent player in Europe since last year so I’m wondering why he won’t appear on camera. Anyway thank you so much for the quality content.

Since you mentioned Froskurinn in the main post, I just want to ramble a little bit, so please ignore.
I feel like she has a lot in common with you, just in terms of your sharp criticism and stuff. She’s like the female Thorin, so I feel like you two would get along. Sometimes I fantasize what if Thorin and Froskurinn got married.
If she wakes up in the morning and makes an English breakfast, Thorin would complain sharply that it sucks. Then she would get mad and make a comeback… isn’t that an amazing couple!?

Um… sorry, I just like imagining it. I won’t interfere with your private business

Answer:

Re: Korea

I don't actually come for esports reasons, though it doesn't hurt that my friend and colleague MonteCristo lives in Seoul. The main reason I come is because I love living in Seoul, I can rent an awesome apartment, for far less than it would cost back in England, and live fairly central, in a city with great transport, amazing internet and delicious food. I have a Bulgogi place near my house that is open 24 hours a day and a portion is only 8,000 won. That's a huge reason to want to spend more time living in Korea! I'd wager I've eaten more Korean BBQ than most Korean people have in their lives :D

There are also lots of attractive and intelligent women in Seoul and they are a lot harder to date and pursue than Western women, on the whole. If you know my personality, then you'd know I love a challenge and I am not easily put off by the difficulty presented by one :)

Re: Froskurinn

Hey, you don't need to convince me, buddy - I agree with you, she should definitely marry me! :D Jokes aside, I can see where you're coming from. There aren't many people in esports who are willing to speak their mind so directly, never mind women willing to do so! I really respect that passion she has for the game and how much she cares about reasonable perspectives being presented and unreasonable ones being torn down and opposed. On a personal level, that's also an incredibly attractive quality for me. I know some people might be put off by how fierce and forthright she is, but I really enjoy that side of her and how she expresses herself.

Some men might be put off by a woman who speaks her mind and is a bit fiesty, but if you know my personality, that's the kind of person, regardless of gender, that I am drawn to and get along with the best. In players, that means the ones who are trash-talkers and very individualistic in their styles of play and thoughts on the game. In women, it means I like them to have a little fire and be willing to, figuratively, go to war for the intellectual principles they believe in.

With all of that said, I don't support her work and collaborate with her because she's an attractive woman, that's just a pleasant bonus that comes along with how dedicated she is to Chinese League of Legends, her expertise within that field and her desire to express herself. Those are the qualities which make me respect her and want to help accelerate the inevitable progression of her blossoming career in esports. I'm not sure how good a marraige we'd have, since in place of Mum and Dad arguing over finances or relationship problems, our kids would be kept awake with shouting matches over the place of ClearLove in the history of LoL and whether Froggen is greater than Misaya ^^

It is nice to dream, though :)

Lv.51 ???
I once saw you comment on an Inven user’s translation onto reddit regarding “SKT from Bengi’s perspective”
You are known for your negative criticism towards SKT’s Bengi, I was wondering if there were any changes to your evaluation recently. Also, I feel like the upcoming IEM will be the most competitive international tournament as of yet. I think the Korean teams will be stopped because NA and EU have relatively improved their standards to handle them.
I think foreign teams were weaker until last year’s All Stars in terms of vision control or teamfighting

From last year’s World Championship foreign teams have begun to fix their chronic weaknesses and are starting to make impressive performances
In the laning phase, I read a column by a Fnatic staff member who said their players lost to Samsung’s amateur players during the World Championship. But I don’t think there’s a difference between Korean teams and foreign teams’ laning phase in actual tournaments. So what matters is strategic understanding and I feel like foreign teams are improving on this aspect daily which makes me feel like this IEM will be really fun. I’m wondering if you feel the same way

Lastly I know that you’re also criticized in the West for your direct/confrontational speech but I think you’re like the Simon Cowell or Gordon Ramsay in eSports. People don’t like you for being so direct but you’re still like the spice that adds a little kick to the viewership, and you’re all from England, too! (Are you not? I’m sorry if I’m wrong)
But sometimes because you express yourself way too directly on social media it seems as if you conflict not only with regular fans but with other personalities in eSports as well. For example, you tweeted that the LCS casters are loud and annoying so Joe Miller replied as if he was quite irritated by your tweet. I’m wondering if you have a good relationship with these other workers (in the eSports industry).

Sometimes, I also personally feel irritated for your direct expression, Thorin. You tend to get a lot of aggro globally and in a way, I’m worried about you. I feel like you can say positive things and keep yourself safe without ever having to warrant that kind of controversy. But your attitude as a columnist to never change your convictions no matter what happens is also somewhat admirable. I think it’s a love-hate relationship.
But while that makes you look cold and objective, there are other times you express a cute side of you, and that completely changes your character. I think you’re very cute.
Anyway, I’m always enjoying Summoning Insight through translations. I like how foreign players can be invited as guests to share some of their thoughts.

Answer:

"You are known for your negative criticism towards SKT’s Bengi, I was wondering if there were any changes to your evaluation recently."

I think one of my strengths is that I am notoriously difficult to influence, so I don't flow along with the trends of the wider public, simply on the basis that others have decided certain things are now the case. In this respect, I think I have a different perspective on bengi's career than others. When SKT won Worlds and then had their undefeated season, it was the opinion of many in the LoL community that every single player was either the best at his position or very close to it.

In bengi's case, the consensus was overwhelmingly that he was the best Jungler in the world and I remember having numerous arguments with people over the fact I felt you should be willing to include DanDy and possibly KaKAO in such a debate and consider the merits each had to offer, outside of the context of the successes of their teams. In short, I never actually considered Bengi the best player in the world. I think you could make a case for him being the most effective, since he seemed to have an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time to create an opportunity for SKT or deny one for the opponent.

altI think bengi's career was massively helped by playing alongside Faker, who had entered his prime. It was also the period in time when the Jungler-Mid lane synergy seemed to be the most important dynamic in a team, as the results of Worlds seemed to suggest, with the exception of Royal Club's run, which was largely due to some unusual outliers (very strong solo play ADC and a laning specialist Mid). I think DanDy was always a better Jungler than bengi, considered purely on the basis of their individual play.

It's harder to say with KaKAO, since his success on KTB was so largely tied into the overall playing style of the team, which was one of incredible chemistry and great shot-calling. I get the sense that KaKAO is in that conversation for the best Jungler, but only developed fully into a god of the jungle in S4. Anyway, in short: bengi was never the best Jungler and he was never truly a god. He had almost every advantage one could have: best possible team-mate, best team-mate the position most important to synergise, best overall team, best coaching staff at the time etc.

Now that I have set the historical context, I'll bring the matter more up-to-date. In Season 4, bengi was really terrible and had none of the intuitive flair which seemed to make him so effective in Season 3. People went hard at Piglet, since he had some notoriously poor games, but I think bengi was the biggest reason SKT could not reach an OGN semi-final that year. In Season 5, first of all the majority of the best jungle talent has left Korea. Secondly, bengi has shown some flashes of intuitive play, though he has also continued to have some poor games too.

"I feel like the upcoming IEM will be the most competitive international tournament as of yet. I think the Korean teams will be stopped because NA and EU have relatively improved their standards to handle them."

I find that statement highly confusing. At Season 3 Worlds, Western teams (FNATIC and Gambit) were able to repeatedly beat Samsung Ozone, 4/5ths of which had won OGN Spring, in the group stage and then Gambit played NaJin Sword closely, despite having Voidle, someone who was not at the calibre of a top international Support, as their Support player. Likewise, there were numerous tournaments in the past where the top European teams were very competitive with the top Asian teams (IPL5, S2 Worlds, IEM VII Katowice).

Perhaps you meant more competitive in the modern era of Season 4 and beyond. I do think this tournament will be more competitive than the beat-downs of IEM VIII World Championship and All-Stars, which saw slumping Korean teams go undefeated. With that said, I don't expect Western teams to be very competitive with GE Tigers, beyond the Bo1 group stage.

"I don’t think there’s a difference between Korean teams and foreign teams’ laning phase in actual tournaments"

I agree, the West has always had some very good laners. The problem was in shot-calling/decision-making in the mid-to-late-game and then in how coordinated they were in late-game team-fighting. I don't think the gap has really be closed much in those regards, Cloud9 have always been very good in those respects, but lack some of the raw skill to match some of the elite Asian teams, and SK have made good strides, but still lack some international experience on some players, so I can't be sure if they are the real deal yet. In terms of TSM, I see them as quite similar to the team from Season 4, with similar strengths and weaknesses, albeit with a different Jungle style.

"I’m wondering if you have a good relationship with these other workers (in the eSports industry)."

I have a good relationship with most of the people I like and respect. The fact someone is famous, popular or successful does not make me automatically consider them a sacred figure who cannot be criticised. In fact, I am rather egalitarian when it comes to how I treat people, in that respect.

Lv.32 ???
It’s unfortunate your AMA is not on the Inven front page anymore – not a lot of people know about it
My questions are:
1. I think the meta between Korean teams and Western teams started out different but now they’re starting to resemble each other as the season goes on. The Korean mid Ezreal, Viktor is being played in the West and the West seemed to prioritize Kalista – she occasionally comes out in Korea too)
But in the top lane meta, there seems to be clear differences. After the addition of Righteous Glory in Korea, Doctor Mundo is often being played (especially by CJ’s Shy that will be playing this IEM). But Western teams don’t play Mundo. Instead, they’re using champions like Kennen and Morgana in the top lane while those are still unused picks in Korea. It’s like how European teams used to play top Aatrox but Koreans never picked it out.
How do you think these differences in the top lane meta will affect the completion in IEM?

I think Westerners have simply copied some of those champion picks you mentioned from Korea. In terms of Top lane, I think it's because players can get away with more in the West without being punished. Also, there is a tendency in the West for LCS players to try and use one-off picks and win a single game with them, whereas Korea seems to strive to find out what is best and then abuse it as long as it works without an obvious counter.

In terms of Westerners using those picks, I think the problem against Koreans will be that the Top laners we're talking about are quite suited to battle such picks. Shy knows Kennen better than any Western Top laner and how to play against it, he even used to practice against Flame (the best Kennen of all-time) in the CJ offices. Likewise, Smeb has the mentality of a carry Top laner and has battled against them for most of his playing career. I think these two Tops will be primed to neutralise and deal with such champions, while playing more effectively into their own teams' comps with their own picks.

2. What do you think is the problem of EL (Elements) right now?

I've made a number of videos on the topic:



In short: I think they have a poor mixture of players, in terms of matching up their strengths so that they cover the weaknesses of the others. Then, they have a fairly bad shot-calling set-up and seem quite confused as to what they want to get from the pick/ban phase. For a team with as much talent as they have, they seem to be obsessed with trying to get specific champions and counter-picks, when they should be capable of winning games with other picks, which would make more sense for the comp and accomplishing something other than a drag-out late-game victory.

3. I feel like the GE Tigers’ first opponent C9 will bring out a innovative (*or cheesy, depending on how you translate it) strategy at IEM to exploit the fact that the matches are Bo1’s. I always thought C9 was a sneaky team. So I think you can never let your guard down. What do you expect from C9 and the GE Tigers, Thorin?

I don't expect them to use anything crazy and I'd advise against it. I think C9 are at their best when they get comfort champions (Rumble, Zed, Lucian) and simply rely on their ability to make good decisions, whether ahead or behind. If they can take that approach, I think they will give themselves the best chance to win that game.

4. Who will win the Spring season LCS in EU and NA? And regardless of their position, who do you think is the most influential player in EU and NA, respectively?

altI think SK and Cloud9 will win their respective splits, since they both have cohesive units and they both employ strategical understanding to win their games. I am more confident in SK's win than C9's, as TSM can certainly win play-off games against C9, so the individual X factor of Bjergsen means it is not assured C9 will prevail.

Influential is such a nebulous term, since some people will interpret it as meaning the player everyone else tries to copy or plays especially to counter. I'll simply pick the player I think has the most impact in their region and define influence as that. I think SK Gaming's FORG1VEN and TSM's Bjergsen are those players. Every team facing them has to be entirely focused upon the performance and style of those two players. They are also both head and shoulders above any player at their position in their region.

5. Thorin, you said that you don’t care whether people criticize you or not. But honestly speaking, don’t you feel sad sometimes? I wonder what you like to do when you’re feeling sad or lonely.

Yes, I am sad some times. Not so often, maybe a day out of each week or for a week out of a span of a couple of months. It's one of the reasons I don't enjoy traveling to events, since the lack of sleep, the many hours spent moving from place to place and the inability to choose one's own food and environment can exacerbate such feelings.


Choosing a reflective and introspective path in life has helped me with such matters. I like to read books on philosophy, to better understand myself, and the mechanisms of mythology, to gain a sense of how to seek out the symbols and mechanisms which can help me construct a more meaningful world view for myself. I've also found meditation and attempting to interpret the myths which resonante most deeply with me to be a productive path to processing difficult feelings and experiences.

If you want some literal suggestions, here is some art I enjoy when I feel sad:
Gattaca (1997 film)
Mindfulness in Plain English (A book by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana)
Sukhavati (2005 documentary film about Joseph Campbell's work)
Truant (2012 Music EP by Burial)
Technopreists (Comic book by Alejandro Jodorowsky)

Also, when I see your analysis videos, sometimes you have a bushy beard and other times you’re really clean shaven. How do you shave?
(*What are your standards of shaving? – is the more literal translation but yeah they want to know about shaving)

In terms of shaving, there is no special secret or method. I literally just shave it all off entirely and then let it grow back without every trimming it. In terms of location, I am probably genetically linked back to those people who used to be a part of clans and had Viking-looking beards. Perhaps I'm just lucky in that respect, living in the era of Game of Thrones being popular and all that.

Lv.6 ???
What do you think is the fundamental weakness/problem for LOL Champions teams that are below 5th place?

Answer:
I think most of them lack true star players. Of course, a number of them are not very well versed strategically and don't work together well, but I think all of those things are a knock-on effect from lacking a truly great player. Once you have a great player, you have a stable piece you can build your team around. You can assess his strengths, so you can assist and play to those, while also finding more supportive players or pieces which can go around him and cover some of his weaknesses. OGN has always been a star's league, that's why when you talk about players who have never reached an OGN final, you almost cannot find really good players who've never been that far (Expession and NoFe might be the only names which spring to mind).

Of course, strategy and team-play can and regularly do triumph over individual skill, but it is not a case of either or, it is more a case of how you balance those factors out. A team with great strategy and team-play can be beaten, especially in a single series, by a team which is lesser in those respects, but has greater players or a greater player, who then have incredible single series performances.

altLook at CJ Entus Blaze of OGN Spring 2014. I think a very solid case could be made that outside of Flame they had no player at any position who was top four in Korea at the time. They had a fairly poor strategical understanding, in comparison to the best teams, and their team-play was good in fights, but nowhere near the level of the Samsung teams. Despite all of that, they were able to reach the semi-final of that season and were both one game from reaching the final and one game from finishing third. How did they accomplish that? First of all, they had "good enough" strengths in the areas of strategy and team-play, secondly, they had one of the best players of all-time in the Top lane position and he produced enough big games to carry them that far.

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