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Going into the second round-robin of the 2022 League Championship Series, Team Liquid have finally secured their intended starting roster. After a long green card delay and short personal break, Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in is finally back in the bot lane with Steven “Hans sama” Liv to make his mark on the league.

For most of the LCS 2022 Lock In tournament, and seven of their nine spring split games, Hans sama has been playing with Bill “Eyla” Nguyen, Liquid’s Academy support. This has forced Hans sama to adapt to a new lane partner and style of play. With CoreJJ, Hans sama can focus on being the best bot laner possible. But, with the less experienced Eyla, Hans sama is caught between being an ADC and a veteran leader.

On top of it all, he and Liquid dealt with COVID-19 complications at the beginning of the split, which further delayed their synergy development. Nonetheless, the team still finished the first round-robin tied for first. And now, with playoffs approaching and a trip to the Mid-Season Invitational on the line, Hans sama is ready to turn on the heat.

Watch the interview above, or read the transcript below.

You completed the first round-robin in first place. How does it feel to have the first round of games done in the LCS in your first split?

Hans sama: It feels nice to finish this first round. We are 7-2 and, even before LCS, we won the Lock In tournament. And I think we showed good strength as a team … We [keep having to] change players, so it just feels like, every week, we can’t just keep improving, improving, improving — because we have different supports and it becomes a little bit different in terms of the champion pool and the way we play as a team.

But so far, I’m happy to be able to win that many games in the LCS, including the Lock In, and I’ll make sure to win even more. And I think I’m not at that insane level yet. I think next week, we’re going to be and I am going to be.

At the beginning of the season, you spoke with Inven Global about your level of play, specifically. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with playing with two supports, which you still are doing. Can you talk about where you think you are compared to where you want to be individually?

Hans sama: I don’t think I’m satisfied with where I am individually yet. I’ve got a pretty clear idea on how to improve on that. But this period of time where I have to practice with two different supports, I have to work on different stuff with both of them. And I feel confused most of the time, because I just like to play with one support more and just build the stuff together.

Liquid hans sama
Hans has played professionally for around seven years, nearly defeating SKT in his EU LCS rookie split in 2017. | Photo by Parkes Ousley

I would just do whatever I think would be necessary with that support in terms of habits and stuff. But I have to always swap around and it becomes a bit hard for me to even focus on my own stuff. CoreJJ is going to come back, I think. With CoreJJ, we could be very, very strong.

CoreJJ said that Eyla was the second-best support in the LCS. I spoke with Eyla about that, and he kind of laughed, saying he might be close. What is it like for you working with Eyla?

Hans sama: I think Eyla is a really good player and a type of player that is really, how do you say it? There’s some type of player that wouldn’t be up to improve [as much as Eyla], but I feel like he’s always positive with good vibes, always looking to improve. He doesn’t really have this feeling of blaming others, even though others make mistakes. I feel like he has a really nice attitude.

I think he’s really good mechanically, and I thought that he was really special on ranged supports. I think he’s really good on that.

Because I’m the veteran, I need to like talk more … I think he’s used to talking more. But it feels unnatural for him to do that with that many veterans in the team. I was always trying to try to talk more with Eyla, and then CoreJJ would talk more, so I would talk less and just focus on my AD carry things. But yeah, playing with Eyla has been pretty fun so far.

What is it like playing with Bwipo? Yesterday, before your games, Bwipo was outside talking to you about how to jungle, pathing to bot and other things. He was also telling you how to do things in bot lane to play with the jungler. It’s funny to see because you’re a bot laner and have been playing competitively longer than him, but I wonder what it’s like playing with such a creative mind.

Hans sama: I think playing with Bwipo is actually really nice — he’s really quite smart. Obviously, a lot of people know that he’s very creative … I enjoy being his teammate.

Every game has some bad things that happen, but it feels like even though it was someone else’s mistake, he would never take the position of, “Yeah, it sucks for me.” It just feels like he’s very positive somehow.

liquid bwipo
This is only Bwipo’s second team in a major region, coming to the LCS after four years with Fnatic. | Photo by Parkes Ousley

For example, [if] I made a mistake that f***** his lane, he [takes the blame]. He doesn’t put the blame on others. And I thought, as a top laner that has that little jungle proximity — I think what he has is one of the least in the LCS — and he still does a decent job. And he never has trouble [or says], “I need more help guys.” No, he’s always fine.

And if there’s something bad that happened, not even his fault, he’s like “Oh, my bad.” He is trying his hardest and I feel like he’s very nice to work with.

Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg said, in his post-game interview, that even though TSM is really bad now, he wanted you all to take it seriously and not lose to them. Did he give you a pep talk before the game?

Hans sama: No, I think we were having a bit of fun before the draft began and he said to “focus up guys,” and that he really wants to win. All of our teammates try their hardest. And it’s pretty nice, it’s pretty inspiring. And I will try my hardest as well. I like that kind of vibe in the team.

I want to touch back on your career some. The LCS is in a very interesting place because League has existed for a long time now. We have pros like [Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black], who’ve been here for a decade, and a bunch of teenage rookies. It’s a really weird mix. What is it like for you and what is your own reflection of your career?

Hans sama: Being with this Team Liquid team, specifically, I feel like everyone is so strong. We can be so strong.

Sometimes we don’t have the greatest game in the LCS, and the games that are kind of odd, but I feel like our potential is really, really strong. I can see it. I feel really excited to be on Team Liquid this year.

Team Liquid in the LCS
Liquid bow after an LCS victory. | Photo by Parkes Ousley

And for my personal goal, expectation and feeling of myself, I feel like I can go to the next level, past what I did last year. I think last year, I had a nice performance at [the League of Legends World Championship 2021], and I had a clear idea on how to improve.

Before Lock In, there were some things happening. I didn’t think that I had a clear practice. For me, everything felt messy because of the roster swap and because I was starting practice late. But after all of that, when everything is settled, I think I can go to the next level. I’m trying really hard to adjust to things that are different here in NA and Team Liquid, [rather than what I had] on Rogue in EU.

I feel very excited to be part of TL. I think we are going to do really great.

Our site puts out Power Rankings every week and we put Team Liquid as the 10th best team in the world last week. Do you think you guys could be considered the 10th best team in the world right now?

Hans sama: Yes. *laughs* I’m not sure. We’ll have to see in the international tournament. It’s where you prepare for the matches against the best teams in the world and see how it goes. Right now, if tomorrow we would play against the best team in the world, I have no idea. I have no idea.

But like I said, I think I could actually see how much potential we have because everyone is so good. Everyone is a veteran. But, on top of that, I think mechanically we are really, really good. And we know almost everything about the game. And it’s just about putting all that together.

So we are on the same page, doing the right thing together, always feeling connected playing out on the map, synergy-wise, with a good vibe as a team. I just see that angle to that opportunity. I have this feeling that we can be so much stronger. I’m going to work really hard to reach that with the team.