On 23rd of January, Griffin defeated Hanwha Life Esports with a 2-0 match score and continued the team’s dominating win streak in the LCK. In the first game, Griffin fell back behind HLE but turned the game around through a series of teamfights and Viper’s clutch performance that awarded him a Pentakill. In the second game, Griffin continued to dominate over HLE led by a pocket pick Fiddlestick support.
After Griffin’s victory, Ashley Kang interviewed Viper, the AD carry of Griffin. Viper discussed the Pentakill in Game 1, his philosophy around teamfights, how his defeat at 2018 LCK Summer Split finals impacted him and a message to DAMWON Gaming.
Viper, why are you so good?
[laughs] I just played the game as usual, and the game worked out in our favor.
I’d like to talk about your Pentakill in Game 1 against Hanwha Life Esports. You scored a Pentakill as Kai’Sa and turned a difficult game around. What’s your first-person perspective of that event as you landed the Pentakill?
The enemy Urgot was separated from the rest of the team. That allowed for a good opening for a teamfight. No one in the team spoke, but we all knew that it will be a good teamfight, and we went all-in. Our skills and crowd controls landed well. It was a chaotic fight, but everyone did their job. Before I noticed it, I had a Pentakill. Sword-hyung, he kept telling me “Penta, Penta, we have to give Viper Penta!” and handed it to me on a silver platter. So I ate the delicious meal.
You used your cleanse and Flash perfectly, you somehow dodged the Urgot ult…
I saw it and dodged it. I saw Urgot Flash in and ult, so I Flashed to dodge it.
There was at one point an 8k gold difference between you and HLE. In the current meta, it’s difficult to turn the game around once the gold difference has passed a certain point. Many viewers, at that point, had already accepted that Griffin might lose for the first time in the Spring Split. However, you never gave up.
I told the team that the game is still winnable as long as we take it slow. That we should cool our heads and play our best. So we got our spirits up once again and kept going.
It is true that it’s difficult to turn a game around in the current meta. There are assets like turret shields. Objectives are much stronger now. When there is a gold gap between the two teams, it continues to snowball. However, the game also has mechanisms in place which allow you to make a comeback, such as the execution gold. A team can turn the game around even with just one teamfight. We clung onto that idea, and we patiently waited and bid our time until it was the perfect moment to open a teamfight.
Speaking of teamfights, I also want to ask about Griffin’s state-of-the-art teamfights. Even when Griffin is behind, there is trust that Griffin can somehow make a comeback.
It’s true that we execute our teamfights well. However, the variables that feed into a teamfight are also important factors. There are teamfights that are impossible to win no matter how well the teamfights go. One must be able to find the best moment for a teamfight. A potential teamfight might have a bad outcome, so you must back away and create a situation where a teamfight has a good result in 5 minutes from now. I think our ability to see an opening for a good teamfight and set one up is just as important.
Of course, the individual skills of the players must be backed up in order for a team to win a teamfight. Also, the individual players must have trust for one another. A team must have the ability to create a good teamfight set-up in order to be better at teamfights.
And in Griffin, anyone can make a shotcall for a teamfight. It is sometimes the top laner, or the mid laner, or myself. Sometimes it is the support that sees an opening [for a fight].
I’m winding on about teamfights [laughs]. Teamfights are about the individual skills of the players as well as the trust between the players, these are two important factors. So we try to focus on these two.
You mention “trust” often. Trust seems to be a recurring theme for the team. Where does this immense trust that Griffin players have for one another come from?
It’s a theme that our coach [cvMax] puts a heavy emphasis on. cvMax always speaks to us about trust within the team. So that shapes our team towards that direction. I’d say that our coach is a big influence there.
The performance that Griffin has been showing in the LCK has been impressive, to say the least. As the result, there are more eyes watching you than ever. The lines for your fan meetings have grown longer, and the chants for Griffin at the beginning of the match are louder every day. How do you feel about this?
I am grateful. It’s been a long journey for us, from the Challengers Korea stage to where we are now. It makes the long journey worth it. I’m thankful that there are more fans than ever watching us, and I remind myself to work even harder.
Do you feel any pressure about more fans and audience watching your games?
I won’t say pressure, however…From a third person perspective, it might look like we’re playing an exciting match. However, for us in the middle of it all, every teamfight is a grueling battle (laughs). Sometimes, I wonder how our matches would look like to an audience. To watch these teamfights and to be at the center of it are two different dimensions. I remember watching the LCK as an audience, getting hyped over good teamfights. However now that I’m a part of those teamfights, there is pressure and weight on my shoulders. However, the fun part has not gone away.
What is the goal of Griffin for the 2019 LCK Spring Split?
Our goal is always the championship. Last year, we climbed all the way to the LCK Summer Split finals [KT Rolster] then were defeated. We finished our last season as the second placed team. So the championship is our goal at the moment. I’d like to win the split.
It does sound like the defeat [against KT Rolster] in 2018 has impacted you. It seems to have driven you and Griffin to be even more motivated.
Ah, of course! Always… (pause) I believe that the losing team always takes more out of the match. Because we’re all humans, we have emotions. The victorious team might get drunk on the high of the victory and miss the things that they have to reflect on. While the defeated might work harder in order to not repeat that feeling again. I keep going back to these memories [of defeat] and try to work harder.
The next match is against DAMWON Gaming. In a recent interview with ESPN Esports, ShowMaker said that Griffin is the one team he would like to beat. He referred to the fact that DAMWON has never won against Griffin before. What is your response to this?
If you finally come out victorious against an adversary that you had always been defeated by, it can become a platform for growth. So it is a mindset that everyone should have. That is what one should believe in. I’d also like to prepare hard, and deliver a match that is fun to watch.