Afreeca Freecs finally earned their much-deserved first victory of the 2019 LCK Spring Split. On 24th of January, Afreeca brought creative picks and strategies to the table against their opponent, Gen.G. Afreeca sent the team’s jungler, Spirit, lane swapped to the bot lane on AP picks such as Neeko and Annie while the top laner, Kiin, took on the mantle of the AD carry with picks like Lucian and Vayne. The ingenuity worked out in Afreeca’s favor and Afreeca won the match against Gen.G with a 2-1 score.
After the match, Ashley Kang caught up with Kiin and discussed the creative strategies of Afreeca, how it felt for the top laner to play AD carries and his resolutions for the 2019 Spring Split.
Congratulations on your first victory of the Spring Split, Kiin. How are you feeling at the moment?
I guess I am a little regretful because we lost the second game. We could have opened the teamfights more proactively and fought more, so I regret. The current meta is all about skirmishes.
We did start the LCK Spring Split on two losses, however, it does feel good to finally win our first match.
I’d like to ask about the creative strategies that Afreeca Freecs brought to the table today. There were lane swaps, the jungler playing AP champions at the bot lane, you yourself going on AD carry champions. How did that come out?
We played the match based on the picks we’ve been practising on, and we’ve won because we played as we did in our practice games.
As we kept losing matches, our team atmosphere was dropping for the worst. We wanted to make a radical change, try new things out. If we kept the losing streak, everything would have gone in a downward spiral, so we wanted to try something.
Spirit, the jungler of Afreeca Freecs, has always been known for his large champion pool and is proactive about discovering pocket picks. Was the idea of Spirit going to the bot lane and picking AP champions an initiative from Spirit, or the coaches?
As far as I’m aware, the idea of Spirit going to the bot lane is something that the coaching staff suggested first. Then they also told me to try out AD carry champions.
And how did it feel to play AD carry champions?
It does feel different to play AD carries on stage. It’s different from the scrims. I think it was really fun.
You did mention in the MVP interview that you should maybe change your role to an AD carry after today’s performance.
Well, AD carries are fun but the top lane has its own attraction. For now, I think I like the top lane more. You can show more in these 1v1 moments during the lane phase. In the teamfight, the top lane can do more through smart positioning.
When you locked in Vayne, every player in the Afreeca Freecs started laughing. What was the team conversation like at that time?
The players actually never thought about picking Vayne. It was the pick that the coaching staff had prepared for. I actually didn’t know that I’d be playing Vayne myself until the moment the coach told me to lock her in. So I guess that is why everyone burst into laughter.
Weren’t you caught off guard by the sudden request to play Vayne?
Yeah, I was caught off guard. But hey, I have to play Vayne now that I’ve locked it in.
I was nervous because I didn’t only lane swap to mid, but also played Vayne. It was the first time in a while that I felt nervous in a match.
However, you “carried” on Vayne even landing a Triple Kill on the champion. Were you feeling less nervous by the time you were performing well on her?
I was still nervous by the time I was on a killing spree. It was only by the time the game was over that the nerves went away, and I stopped shaking.
The match between Gen.G and Afreeca Freecs was a clash of beliefs. Afreeca is always known for its proactive spirit and displayed it during the match, while Gen.G continued to fall back to the AD carry, single damage comp that the team is historically known for. Do you have any thoughts about this, Kiin?
Ruler is an amazing AD carry, so I can see why Gen.G would continue to play around him. We had to try new strategies because we were trying different strategies yet continuing to lose.
Will we continue to see such radical strategies from Afreeca in future matches?
That’s not something that I can decide [laughs] It’s up to the coaching staff. The coaching staff is always experimenting, coming up with better strategies.
What do you think that Afreeca Freecs need to do in order to continue the upward trend starting from today’s victory?
In order to go even higher, we have to refine our teamwork and play as one team. We are still in the process of getting our teamwork together, however, it’s not in completion just yet.
Where do you see Afreeca Freecs placing by the end of the Spring Split?
It’s so difficult to say. There are so many variables factoring into such outcomes, and it will be rash for me to give a prediction on our placement…
If I had to give a rough estimate…I’d like to go to the Playoffs, so I’d like our team to come 5th place.
Thank you for this interview. Do you have any final words for the fans, Kiin?
We lost two matches at the beginning of the split with poor performance. I’d like to thank the fans who had not given up on us and waited for us. We’ll return in our next match with an even better performance. Thank you.