Ryu: 'The KT Rolster players were like, you're going to get eliminated'

Yoo "Ryu" Sang-ook faced Faker in the mid lane back when he was on KT Bullets. One particular game between them in 2013 launched Faker's international renown. Provided by Riot Games

This is the farthest Yoo "Ryu" Sang-ook has gone at a World Championship. He's been on some of the best teams to never make the international stage in the past, including the KT Rolster roster.

Now with H2K Gaming, he's made it to the tournament two years consecutively. Last time it ended in heartbreak, as the team lost to Faker's SK Telecom T1 in the group stages before getting eliminated. In 2016, however, Ryu will possibly have another chance at playing Faker in a best-of-five format if the two teams meet in the next few weeks.

ESPN talked to Ryu after his team's tiebreaker victory over China's Edward Gaming to secure the top spot in Group C.

"I was happy even coming to Worlds twice in a row," he said. "But getting out of groups, as first seed, is the best feeling. From last year's tournament, I had a lot of regrets because I got eliminated during group stage. But this year, it's even better because I got out of groups and as first seed."

"I actually never thought that I was playing badly," he said when asked how he was able to pick himself up from his lowest point to return as one of the world's premier talents in the mid lane. "I thought I was performing as well as before [on KT], and I just practice a lot."

Ryu's career has been filled with great moments but has little hardware to show for it. He has never won a domestic championship, and this is the first time he's made it to the bracket stage of a major Riot Games tournament. Even though people doubted H2K's ability to qualify, this year could be Ryu's chance to rewrite his legacy.

"Last year, when I first played with Forgiven, there were some issues with him [and] playing as a team," he said. "But this year a lot of those issues were solved and that's why we're playing better and better as a team."

"My ultimate goal is to win [Worlds]," he said. "I would feel really good. Up until now, I've had a lot of second-places and I've played in a lot of third/fourth-place matches, so definitely winning Worlds would mean a lot to me."

On a possible rematch with Faker, Ryu laughed, simply saying: "I'm not too close to Faker, so there's not much to say to him [if we meet again]. But if I had to pick some words out to say, I'd [tell him], 'Let's have fun today.'"

Finally, I asked about his former team, KT Rolster, who were inches (and possibly two hit points against the ROX Tigers) from making the World Championships. As the last remnant of the best team not attending Worlds in the competition, I asked if he had any words for his friends cheering him on back in his old home.

"So actually before I came here, the KT Rolster players were like, 'You're going to get eliminated, anyways,' so they were planning our vacation plans. But I think we have to postpone those plans a bit now, so I just hope once I get back to Korea we can all go out on vacation together."