Kingzone Coach Hirai: “We were able to keep most of our prepared strategies hidden…We’ll leave these surprises for MSI.”

Image Source: Korizon

On 14th of April, Kingzone DragonX defeated Afreeca Freecs to hold up LCK Championships cup and qualify for Mid-Season Invitational. Kingzone had a shaky start, giving up their first game, but came back strong to reverse sweep Afreeca on the best of 5 match. At the heart of this victory was PraY, who played Kai’Sa for all 4 games and was awarded MVP on the last three games of the finals.

After the games, Kingzone DragonX spoke with the media and talked about their strategy, their preparation coming into the finals and their resolution towards MSI in Europe next month.

Afreeca Freecs didn’t ban Kai’Sa. PraY, you continued to play her for all 4 Games. 

PraY: I think Kai’Sa is a really good pick. Whenever she was up for grabs, we first-picked her. By Game 4 I was sure that Afreeca Freecs will ban her, and in my mind I was thinking of the ADC champion I should play when they ban Kai’Sa. However, Afreeca did not and I decided to play her again.

What would you have done if they did ban Kai’Sa?

PraY: Whatever ADC Afreeca picked, I would have picked the whatever the next best ADC was available try to make the best out of it.

Congrats on the win. GorillA, you were seen picking Morgana. Morgana and Kai’Sa are thought to be a powerful combination; how much do you think the two champion’s synergy impacted towards today’s victory.

GorillA: I’d say that Morgana is a high risk and high return pick. During practices, we experimented and found a counter for Morgana. However we were convinced that the opposing team didn’t know about this counter, so we decided to prioritize on her. She’s a pick that can really make Kai’Sa shine. She can cast Black Shield on Kai’Sa and enable her to dive deep into the enemy lines. I’d say that Morgana and Kai’Sa combination allows for a late game hypercarry.

PraY: “I’d say that Chinese teams are very strong. We’re still yet to know the eventual winner for LPL, but whoever wins LPL will pose a challenge to us.”

A question to the coaching staff. The first set was difficult. What parts were lacking, and what internal feedback was given to make the defeat into the victory?

Hirai: This interview will be released to the global audience, right? I’ll try to answer in a way that doesn’t leak our strategy towards MSI.

First, in Game 1 we were overconfident in our pick and ban strategy. This is something we did feedback after Game 1 and made amendments to our following Games.

Second, in Game 1 we were still adjusting playing big stage. We were playing competitively for the first time after a long break, and players were easing into the new environment. I actually came out feeling good in Game 1, as I saw the mistakes that we could fix in order to make the next game a victory. It was a good warm-up towards letting us reverse sweeping the match.

Now you’ll be heading into MSI. Is there a team that you are specifically watching out for?

PraY: We keep track of the international matches too and take inspiration from them. During our practices towards the finals, we scrimed against few Chinese teams. I’d say that Chinese teams are very strong. We’re still yet to know the eventual winner for LPL, but whoever wins LPL will pose a challenge to us.

In Game 3, Kingzone was behind in the early and mid game. How were the in-game convo and atmosphere during that time?

GorillA: In Game 3, we drafted a combination that Kai’Sa could hypercarry, and we thought that we’d hang on until that could happen. During the Game, there was a moment where the opposing team tried to kill Morgana and overcommitted, we were able to gain advantage from that. From that moment, we started believing that we could take Game 3.

“Why won’t they ban Kai’Sa” says the subtitle. PraY played Kai’Sa for all 4 games in World Finals, being awarded MVP in 3 of the games. Image Source: SPOTV

PraY, you really raked up all MVP points. It certainly must feel good; you really became the “Face of Kingzone” today.

PraY: I played today not even knowing that they were still tallying the MVP points. There were moments during today’s games that I did feel I was overperforming on Kai’Sa. Judges seem to have seen this and awarded me MVP for the last three games. I’m really thankful.

Hirai, how was the preparation towards the finals? You are known to give a lot of freedom of power to your players, was it still the case as you were practicing towards the finals?

Hirai: We practiced a lot. We would be up until 5AM, 6AM, not just the players but the coaching staff; refining our plays, analyzing the strategies. I believe today’s victory is a yield of that labor.

Afreeca Freecs is a versatile team that plays really smartly around picks and ban. We did some heavy analysis on this, thought about different surprise picks that Afreeca Freecs could bring to the table and planned how we will counter every situation. We experimented a lot and prepared for different strategies.

With Kai’Sa not being banned or picked up by Afreeca Freecs, we were able to keep most of our strategies we prepared for the finals hidden…We’ll save these surprises for MSI.

We really tried to make sure that the players are in the best condition for the finals. That players get plenty of sleep. We practiced in the team house and flew at the last minute to Busan on planes.

Khan: “As soon as this session is over we will head back to our accommodation and communicate among ourselves on how we could become better. That’s something really good about Kingzone, that we can gather up and talk.”

You’ve won two LCK Champions in a row. You’ve come a long way, trying to improve ceaselessly and now you are at the peak of your performance. Can you tell us more about the motivation behind this?

Khan: I won’t say we’re at “the peak”. I think there’s plenty of room that we can improve on. For the games we’ve won, there could have been ways that we could have played better, closed the game cleaner. For the games we’ve lost, we have to remember we’ve lost because of our lack.

As soon as this session is over we will head back to our accommodation and communicate among ourselves on how we could become better. That’s something really good about Kingzone, that we can gather up and talk.

Kingzone DragonX is sponsored by an overseas company a Chinese company. What do you feel about the sponsorship and has there been a promise of extra sponsorship if you won LCK?

Hirai: This interview will be going out to China too, right? Thank you, CEO.

(Players and the media laughs)

Hirai: As far as I am aware, teams corporate sponsorships provide a very high level of support and welfare to their players. We also have a similar level of support to our players…but in our own way, with more freedom to the players. We try to support players in a way that is best for each of them, which I think is part of our strength. This is something that our sponsor has been behind, too.

The CEO mentioned in the passing that they might be flying us to MSI in business seats if we qualify. We worked so hard and won LCK, I’m sure business class flights will be on the table…? (Laughs) I hope this interview goes out in Chinese. CEO, I love you.

Are you now the best mid-laner in the world?

Bdd: Best mid-laner in the world…I think it’s too early to talk about that. I’d have to see my performance in MSI before making a judgment on that.

In a recent SPOTV video special, you seemed very close with Madlife. Do you have any words to Madlife?

Bdd: Madlife hyung…I love you.

Khan, you’re on a 100% win rate on Jayce on this split. How did you feel about being able to play Jayce – your most symbolic champion – on Game 4? Did you practice Jayce when preparing towards today’s finals match?

Khan: The moment I picked Jayce, I had flashbacks of last year’s Summer Split finals. It felt like I was given a mission, a specific role to play in that Game. I was determined to complete it.

As of practicing in Jayce, he’s my favorite champion that I’m always playing even outside official scrims. I’m really proud of my performance on Jayce, and it’s a card that I can always draw even without practice.


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