Interview by Daniel, translated to English by 5MahN, and video subtitled by Acerunner
For over a year, top laner Blaze has been one of the stars of the team CJ Entus Blaze. With his legendary play on Kennen and Irelia, Flame has quickly become one of the most hyped top players in Korea. Cloth5 brings you this interview of Flame straight from the source for the first Flame interview specifically catering to his Western audience.
Could you please introduce yourself?
Yes, in Korean.
Hello. I am the Korean team CJ Blaze’s top solo laner, Flame. Nice to meet you.
So let’s start right off with the first question. Throughout the LoL community you’re known as a very handsome man, in reality do you have a lot of female fans?
Well I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have any female fans. However, though I guess I do have some popularity, other pro players have a lot of popularity too, so it’s not just me.
Were you aware that, in English, ‘flame’ means to berate and trash talk someone?
No, I didn’t really know…
Really? Since you did have a bit of a reputation, international fans were really curious whether that was why you chose your name. I know that isn’t true, but if you could tell us how you came up with ‘Flame,’ that would clear up any misunderstanding.
*Fun fact: Flame used to be known for swearing a lot and ‘flaming’ people in KR solo queue.
First of all, that story is not true at all. Honestly, I was going to just use the same ID I used during my amateur days. However, we decided that it wasn’t that good, so I brainstormed ideas with our manager, coach and other players. From that list the name that I chose the name that I thought was best.
And that’s how ‘Flame…’
Yes, that’s how I made the name ‘Flame.’
Okay, so on to the next question. When did you decide you were ready to debut as a pro player, and could you tell us about how you came to be a pro player?
I didn’t play games in order to become a pro. I was playing for fun and luckily got an opportunity. The distance from Busan, where I lived, to Seoul is quite long, but they said they wanted to do an offline audition. So I came up to Seoul and met the coaches and other players. Spending time with them, life was pretty good. I came to think that, if I stayed here and played League, I would be successful and it’d also be fun, and I knew I wanted to try. So I worked hard and came to be where I am now.
When you lane against someone, you usually end up with a substantial lead. As related to your team’s gameplay, how do you manage the landing phase? What tips do you have for dominating in lane?
First of all, you make up your mind to win lane. So you pick a champion that will win lane. You also choose a good team composition…. In my opinion, team composition is most important. If you don’t pick a good team composition, then unless you gain a huge lead in lane it’s very difficult to win.
Who do you think is the best top laner in Korea? Also, who do you think is the best from each of the other regions?
In my opinion, Shy plays extremely well. I don’t watch a lot of foreign matches so I don’t know who’s best in those regions. From the matches I watched before… I thought Stanley and PDD were very good. However, I never got to face them and haven’t seen them play recently, so it’s hard to give a clear answer.
On Blaze, who usually makes the orders for plays?
There isn’t anyone specific who makes orders. Instead we’re a team with several people who talk a lot and make calls. Together, we usually decide which call is best and follow it. So it isn’t one person saying “let’s do this and that.”
So it depends on the situation?
Recently there was an all-star tournament. Who would be in your all-star team? It’s okay to pick yourself, too.
Well, I think the all-star team Korea sent was pretty much the strongest one.
Besides playing the game, is there any activity you or the team likes to do?
I really like to exercise. I used to like playing sports that involve a ball. Now, though, I don’t really have the opportunity or people to play sports with. I discovered it’s difficult to enjoy those type of activities. If I do happen to have free time I watch movies. During vacations, I’m the type that plays solo queue.
LoL is always in your life?
There are times when I don’t have anything else to do so I just play LoL (laughs).
If you weren’t a pro gamer, what would you be doing?
At this moment if I wasn’t a pro gamer, I would probably be studying in college. I don’t really know what I’d do after college, but I think I wouldn’t have done anything too crazy.
Now, if you could tell us your most unforgettable memory from your LoL career.
I can’t really choose just one… Soon after I debuted, we went to IPL and lost so that is a haunting memory.
Any good memories?
Okay, so the times we lost were pretty bad. Overall, I think some of the big games we had, like the ones against Najin Sword…those are memorable.
The one where you played top Nidalee?
The games against Najin Sword I didn’t play Nidalee, that was the game against Frost.
Then the game where you beat Maknoon…
Those times I think I played Kennen and Diana.
Oh, sorry, I should have researched beforehand.
No it’s okay.
So now, we have to talk about the Spring Champions final match. What happened there, and what has Blaze done to make sure that doesn’t happen again?
To be honest, we were kinda complacent and laid-back. As most people saw, our score was 9 to 1. Honestly, our team atmosphere was not very good, so we couldn’t communicate well to discuss strategies. Even though the atmosphere was a mess we still thought we would win the tournament because, honestly, even while we were going 13-0 the atmosphere wasn’t awesome. So we thought we would win and planned to clean up any issues after the tournament. In the middle of the tournament, we didn’t want to completely… we didn’t want to delve deep into the problems our team had because that could be detrimental to our condition right before the finals. So we couldn’t prepare a lot and the atmosphere wasn’t good, and I think we were too relaxed. We may have been too proud. It’s rather regretful.
Yes, as a fan I felt regretful as well.
But Ozone plays very well.
In the semifinals Blaze played against Frost, and I thought that whatever team won that matchup would win the entire tournament. A lot of people thought that way but it didn’t turn out to be true…
Honestly, we thought that way too.
Lots of people agreed with you. Watching with my friends, we said the that match was like the finals. So now let’s talk about the international scene. From the NA and EU LCS, which team do you think is strongest?
Well I haven’t watched recent games, but the word around is that C9 is strong. Looking at the past and what I think now, Gambit is still powerful, though not as much as before. Nowadays, compared to Korea, I think the overall skill level of the other regions has decreased.
I think it’s true that their skill level has fallen. So what do you think they’d have to do to rise to CJ’s level?
I don’t have any experience with the foreign style of training, but from what I’ve heard they don’t lead the most efficient lifestyle. Related to their practicing style, habits, manners–they don’t pull the maximum benefit out of the time available. I heard that they don’t lead very… professional lifestyles, which I think might be a disadvantage.
The World Championship is approaching. If you qualified, what team would you most not want to meet?
I wouldn’t want to meet Korean teams. Even getting chosen to represent Korea means you’re first, second or third in Korea. If we did happen to qualify, facing those teams would be as difficult as a LoL Champs final match, so I think it’d be best to avoid the Korean teams.
Nowadays there are a lot of line swaps and 2v1 lanes. Do you miss the days of lonely 1v1 top lanes?
Well there are times when I think to myself that I just want a 1v1 lane. However, that’s not how the game goes. Also if if I’m in a 2v1 situation then I know someone on the other team is also in a 2v1, and there will always be an unsatisfactory variable. I think it’s just better to just do your best with the situation you’re given.
The next question is something many people are curious about. What’s the difference between a good solo queue player and a pro player?
As everyone says, since LoL is a team game, solo players don’t have the knowledge about strategy or positive thinking. Often the solo queue player doesn’t know how to fill their exact role within a team.
In the 2v1 situation where your tower gets quickly pushed, Blaze came up with a counter-strategy. Could you explain how the team came up with the idea?
If think you’re referring to the deep lane freezing strategy, and that was something I’ve liked to do since I was an amateur. I got feedback since then that using that strategy can lead to a lot of advantages in game. Lane freezing can lead to a game that is very difficult to lose. However, in the current meta, there are situations where it doesn’t fit.
In a situation where your lane is getting pushed and you’re behind in CS, in top lane, what is the best thing to do?
First of all you have to stay focused and make the best plays that you can. If there really is nothing you can do, then send the jungler down to the bot lane instead to push a tower or get dragon.
Okay, so the last question is a fun one. There are three champions: Irelia, Nidalee and Teemo. Who would you have a one night stand with, marry, and kill?
No comment. For now, kill off Teemo. For the rest, no comment.
So that’s all the questions we have. For the ending why don’t you say something to your international fans.
That I came to sit here doing an interview because of the interest you guys have shown, it’s a great honor. I’m grateful for all of your support and will continue to work hard to earn that support. Thank you.
You can go here for Flame’s player bio.