OK, maybe the rumors of Immortals' demise were greatly exaggerated.
The top-seeded team in the playoffs with an outstanding 17-1 record couldn't get through its first postseason series last week, losing in embarrassing fashion 3-0 to the rejuvenated Team SoloMid. Saturday was a different story, though, as the Immortals plowed through the cursed Team Liquid to win third place.
"We weren't, individually, comfortable [playing this meta's champions]," Immortals' jungler and league MVP Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin said. "We just needed to practice a lot of games. It wasn't enough games to [be] completely confident, but not bad."
With how the current meta is played out, a team is reliant on its jungler to be one of the focal carries of the team. Reignover, while an aggressive player, hasn't been the type to take over games by himself this split. He has been the shield to top laner Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon's sword. And when the meta fit Immortals' star one-two punch combo with Huni carrying and Reignover shielding, supporting, and guiding his partner's offense, the team was unstoppable. The past two weeks have been a role reversal for the now longtime teammates.
"It was kinda uncomfy, of course," Huni said with laugh to the question of how he likes playing utility champions. "Everyone was saying, 'Huni can't play tank champions' and I have a really bad history picking tank champions on the stage. So that's why I didn't play them even though I practice a lot of tank champions. ... But I realized, it cannot be possible with just damage champion in the top and then duel against enemy. It's kinda sad, I realized it and then followed the meta."
When it came to the memories of their first season they'll remember the most, both players answered their losses to Counter Logic Gaming to break Immortals' perfect season and the blowout loss to Team SoloMid in the playoffs. For two players who've become accustomed to winning championships and even completing a perfect season, their mindsets are always in a victory mentality. The wins strung together and can't be separated from the others. But their losses, however, is what has changed their outlook on the game and themselves as players.
For every loss Reignover and Huni are dealt, they do their best to make sure that was the last loss they'll experience for quite some time.
When asked on his opinion of his jungle opponent Saturday in Rookie of the Split winner Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett, Reignover said, "For Dardoch, people are praising him a lot. I know he's a good player, and I know he's a really a good rookie. But every time we meet Team Liquid, I don't know why, for some reason Team Liquid, as a team, play really bad. Even Dardoch doesn't do anything, I don't feel any pressure."
"I didn't even think about how good he is," Huni answered when I brought up his matchup with Samson "Lourlo" Jackson. "I don't think he's really high-class."
I asked the players to rate themselves following their first season and if the two, who've been widely considered the best at their roles, still consider themselves the top in their position, they disagreed.
"Well, we just lost [last week] so we can't say that," Huni said bluntly. "We have to improve and then we can prove next season."
Said Reignover: "I guess the winner of the final has the best top-jungle. We used to be best top-jungle [pairing] but we're now third."
"Third, yeah," Huni concurred.
- Immortals (@Immortals_gg) April 16, 2016
Looking into the massive final Sunday between second seed Counter Logic Gaming and sixth seed Team SoloMid, the imported Korean tandem do have a rooting interest. Bora "YellOwStaR" Kim, TSM's starting support, was a teammate of Reignover and Huni's during the trio's historic run with Fnatic last year in the European LCS and other international competitions.
On the question of which team would prevail Sunday, the two didn't waver in their predictions.
"Of course TSM is going to win," Huni said.
"TSM is going to win. Maybe a 3-0," Reignover said.
"Maximum it'll be 3-1," Huni responded to Reignover's 3-0 prediction.
Finally, seeing as we're in Las Vegas, I asked the most important question of all: How are the Immortals going to celebrate their victory tonight?
"Well, we're all under age except for Jason "WildTurtle" Tran," Reignover said. "We're just going to maybe go swim in the pool tomorrow."
"Spa," said the Immortals' top laner.
One week after the pair's worst loss as teammates, they deserve a nice Sunday swimming or at the hotel spa. Next season, maybe even next week, it'll be back to work, setting their aim on the prize Immortals truly wanted -- the NA LCS championship.