On the 11th of July (KST), DAMWON Gaming took victory over Sandbox Gaming, adding yet another victory to the seemingly unstoppable winning streak. They took control over the match by pulling out a very unexpected champion combination, Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu choosing Lee Sin for jungle and Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee picking Sejuani as support. DAMWON Gaming steamrolled through two very short games, proving to the audience of their skills.
Below is a press conference with DAMWON Gaming’s Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon after the team’s victory.
Congratulations on your victory and your seven series win streak, how do you feel?
Nuguri: Today’s match was the first game after the 2019 Rift Rivals, and it’s the last match of the current round. I am really glad that we took a 2:0 victory over Sandbox Gaming, a team that we regard as a very strong team, in this important match.
DAMWON Gaming participated in 2019 Rift Rivals. It was the first global tournament for the team. How was the experience for you?
Nuguri: Before the Rift Rivals started, I was more excited than nervous about the tournament. However, when the tournament started I became really nervous. At the finals, I was nervous that Griffin might lose because it would mean that we’ll have to play. Well, we ended up playing, and I think we earned a very valuable experience. We were all fretting, but the next time we play in an international tournament, we’ll perhaps have an easier time with it.
What is your biggest takeaway from Rift Rivals?
Nuguri: Experience. There are a lot of rookies on our team. We were able to experience a global tournament and add another line to our list of career achievements.
You once again proved that you are a very skilled top laner. If you were to rank the current top laners in the LCK, what would you give us?
Nuguri: Well, we did win today’s game so I think there’s only Sword left in the LCK. It’s hard to have a fixed ranking because the performance of the players changes every day, depending on their form. As of now, I would say I am one of the three top laners in the LCK.
DAMWON Gaming is now on a seven-match win streak. If we also count Rift Rivals, the team is on a ten-match win streak. What is the team atmosphere like?
Nuguri: Well … I’ve always felt we lacked the basics. When I say basics, I’m talking about shotcalling and communications. I think we had always lacked in that area. However, after we’ve won seven series in a row, we started having this assurance that we just aren’t going to lose. That groundless faith that even when the game is going bad, we can turn it around with a single teamfight. This confidence might be a double-edged sword, but for now, we are on a winning streak after all, so … I guess we just gained a lot of confidence.
Another Rift Rivals question — Did you get to scrim other teams, and if so, what did you learn from them?
Nuguri: Even though we were room neighbours, the teams stayed in their own rooms. The talks about the strategies and drafts were usually between the coaches. We just scrimmed as usual. It wasn’t too special.
Did any LPL team at Rift Rivals impress you?
Nuguri: I really liked FunPlus Phoenix and Invictus Gaming from the LPL. For FPX, they move as a hive mind in terms of their shotcall and macro. I get the Griffin vibe from them. For iG, I feel like they have the brute force. I’m personally a big fan of a team style like what iG has. Brother TheShy at that team is amazing.
From next week, the patch will kick in in earnest. Mordekaiser will finally be available in the LCK. What are your thoughts on the new Mordekaiser?
Nuguri: Wow, I’m in such trouble. So Mordekaiser and Qiyana got enabled I. Right now, I’m just banning them at the solo queue. So I don’t have a lot of data on [Mordekaiser and Qiyana. Mordekaiser looks really good, even when I look at his win rate at the solo queue. He seems to be strong during teamfights. I guess he does have a downside, too — That he’s easily counter-able.
I think we need more research on Mordekaiser before he can fully be utilized during drafts. See if he can be used at other lanes. If Mordekaiser can only go top and you blind pick him, he gets countered too easily. So that makes it harder to blind pick him.
TheShy, in a recent conversation, praised Mordekaiser – Saying that he cannot be countered.
Nuguri: Well, I do believe that Mordekaiser has a very good teamfight — but he’s not as strong at the lane phase. But I gotta say, Mordekaiser is OP during the teamfights. Well, I’ll have to try him out myself, give him a go during scrims, too.
You’ve ended round one at the second place in the LCK rankings.
Nuguri: The winning streak is really giving me a tunnel vision. Makes me believe that Worlds is just around the corner, as if we’ll make it … I’m just overwhelmed with this feeling of confidence. The goal for the second round of the summer split is to go to Worlds, no matter how.
Griffin has always been DAMWON Gaming’s kryptonite.
Nuguri: As I said earlier, I believe that our basics aren’t that great, but Griffin seems to be perfect in that regards. I think that is the biggest difference between Griffin and us. Also, the individual players in the Griffin have very good mechanics. They can go toe-to-toe against us. Because we’re behind them on the basics, yet our mechanics are similar, so we fall apart helplessly when we’re going against them.
When people think of DAMWON Gaming, they think of Vladimir. Who is a better Vladimir player – You or ShowMaker?
Nuguri: Vladmir is a champion that I’m personally extremely confident in, and I use him very often. I feel bad for ShowMaker when I say this, but I think I’m just a bit better at Vlad. Whoever is better at Vladimir, it’s a key pick for our top and mid lane. It doesn’t matter who ends up getting him.
Akali is another signature pick for DAMWON Gaming. Who’s the better Akali player in the team, in that case?
Nuguri: I think ShowMaker is about 20,000 times better at Akali than me. [laughs]
Your next match, the first match in the second round of the split, will be against Kingzone DragonX. How do you plan to approach that match?
Nuguri: We’ll just play against Kingzone as we have always played.
Thank you for the interview. Would you like to add anything, any final words?
Nuguri: Every time I play, I feel like my performance is just a few percents off the mark. I felt at that game against TOP Esports, I felt that at that game against JDG, I felt that at both games today … I really want to fill this lack. I fell behind and was a burden to my team at that TES game. At the JDG game, I had a difficult early game. Even today, I could have snowballed better, but things were off …