The European League of Legends Championship Series is back in action, and so is G2 Esports' position at the top of the rankings as they outlasted a feisty Fnatic 2-1. The crowd may still be reeling from the arrival of Fnatic's Rasmus "Caps" Winther, but G2 quietly and decisively sealed the deal on Thursday.
Ki "Expect" Dae-han's performance may not have delivered the highlight reels that Caps did, but the top laner contained his opponent, Paul "sOAZ" Boyer, and he assertively delivered the victory to his squad, and to his jungler, Kim "Trick" Gang-yun, whose presence within the team was instrumental in his arrival in Europe.
"I was playing in the LPL and my contract ended," he says, when asked about how he landed on G2 Esports's radar. "Trick and I talked [about me joining G2], and I got in contact with the coach."
To many, a change of scenery can be brutal, especially regarding language. What used to be expressed spontaneously in a language becomes a challenge to formulate in another, and Expect was no exception. "The culture in EU is better than in China -- just my opinion," he says. "In China, communication with people was really hard. I'm bad in English, but I know a little bit of it, so I can talk to my teammates [in G2]."
But no matter where he goes, League of Legends is a universal language in itself with objectives to take down, and strategic calls to follow to that effect. In 2014, he spoke Midas FIO's language in OGN Champions' spring season, the pinnacle of Korean competition at the time. In 2016, he molded his prowess to 2144 Gaming's in the Chinese LSPL and to the needs of G2 Esports in the European LCS.
The top laner experienced several stages, all different from one another, but Summoners Rift was still the same. When he landed in Berlin, his challenge lied outside of the rift, and G2 made it easier. "I didn't have a hard time adapting to EU LCS play. When I first joined G2 and played, I think I played really well," he points out. "I didn't have a hard time. My teammates are very friendly and kind, so I was able to adapt fast."
Fast forward to the present, and Expect is resuming where he left off -- the 2016 World Championship. "It was a good experience," he recalls, "but I have bad memories."
The team was poised to make an impact in Group A, but a string of losses derailed their plans of a bracket stage run as confidence levels tumbled. The top laner's mind may have been clouded in the first game due to the difference between the World Championship stage and the EU LCS's, but he's been there before. "In my first game [in the World Championship], I was nervous, but it felt like playing in the LCS. I was never nervous [beyond that]," he says.
But that was then. Two months of rest later, he needed to prepare. He was very quick to pinpoint the latest trends in the top lane, and the challenges that lied ahead of him. Ranked games and scrimmage sessions followed, further asserting the needs of the team on his end.
"Communication is important in the tank meta, so I focused on communication. I think my English is bad, and I need to study [it more]," he said. "G2's coach helped me a lot in communication and in-game, giving me tips. I'm really thankful to my team."
His performance against Fnatic served as a benchmark, as he sought to identify gameplay issues. Were they related to communication? How about team play? As it turned out, neither were the issue.
"My team play was better than in scrims. My communication was good, but I think I could play better," he highlights. "I made a mistake in a team fight, but we won. We'll focus on the next game. I think we can win everything from here."
"I would rate my play at 6/10 [right now]. I would like to improve my play to a 10/10 within a month," he adds. "Right now, I don't like my skill level, and I will improve to make our team play better."