Smeb wants to be the best in the world.
He started off his campaign to challenge SK Telecom T1's Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok as the best player in the world with a victory over wildcard Albus Nox Luna. The game wasn't as easy as it might have appeared on paper with the underdogs from Albus getting out to a lead early. But eventually, after stabilizing, the South Korean champion was able to take a decisive win.
One player jumped out to him while training for the World Championships: the often overlooked top laner of Team SoloMid.
"Hauntzer," said Smeb when asked if a player or team surprised him while teams bootcamped for the tournament in South Korea. "He showed up really well and was a tough opponent."
When asked if he considered him a rival, Smeb replied with a smile, "Yes."
Smeb explained the Tigers hadn't played a professional game in a while so they came out rusty versus a spirited ANX. It took some time, but by the end, the Tigers resembled the team many believe will hoist the Summoner's Cup in a month's time.
"TSM is far above [the other western teams]," said Smeb.
The ROX top laner was impressed by the North American champion's play and thinks they have the best chance to go far in the tournament out of all the LCS clubs.
On the topic of his goal to become the best in the world, Smeb is humble but determined to live up to the expectations thrown onto his shoulders. Anything but a Summoner's Cup with his closest friends on the Tigers would be a failure after getting the runner-up spot last year.
"I see it as a chance to become the best player in the world," said Smeb. "But it is [daunting]. I need to show I am the best player throughout the tournament with my play."
Finally, in the battle for the title of best in the world, two men stand over everyone else: Smeb, and the man he's never beaten in a final, two-time Summoner's Cup winner Faker.
"I think of Faker as an outstanding player that stands out," he said. "I can't say I'm his rival; [however] after this tournament with my play, I hope I can tell him I am."