North American League of Legends broadcast personality extraordinaire Rivington Bisland III hopped over to the other side of the interview mic to speak with Upcomer during the Play-In Knockout Stage at the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational.
This is his second time to travel to Vietnam with Riot, and his second time talking with many of the emerging region pros, offering us a unique look into some of their growth. Riv recounts stories, shares thoughts on TSM, and provides a refreshing look into Team Liquids strengths and hopes for the MSI Group Stage.
Interview recorded after Flash Wolves advancement, but before Phong Vu’s.
Riv: Throughout watching Group A and B play separately in their own round robin, I thought Vega Squadron was awesome. I want to see this team be super diverse in groups. At international events, we usually see the teams circle around a meta when we get to the main event. Usually, everybody conforms to that, but Vega might spice that up! Now we are seeing that their “lightning in a bottle” style is really good in a best of one, but maybe in the best of 5 they can be figured out.
And that seems like what Phong Vu Buffalo may be able to do. I think they are now the favorite that I want to see moving forward. Also, they’re playing in their hometown region and they seem to be using that hype pretty well. To see them go even farther would be great for Vietnam.
Yeah, of course. You really do get super hyped. I’m excited to come and talk to each of these players. International events are really awesome. I kind of want to create a brand for each of these players and allow them to do that in these interviews. I’ll ask them the type of player they are, what they bring to the table for their team so people know who they are.
In NA, players are often timid or hold back, like “Yeah we’re doing well, everyone is playing well.” So I love to hear the diverse answers you get from these international players. “This is my first time on this stage, I’m super nervous. But after the first few games I realized it’s the same game and we could do it.” Their learning experience is awesome to view.
This event I’d have to say [Phạm "Zeros" Minh Lộc]. Last year his interviews were kind of timid the first time. He has opened up as such an amazing player with skill, but also knows he is someone who needs to be on the forefront of his team with mentality and aggression. He’s so willing to deliver that information now. Before he was timid, now he admits his faults and breaks down the team’s focus.
It’s really awesome to see that development in players to understand the role they need to take, that they’re a veteran on the team, and a role model for other players to look up to. So definitely Zeros for my favorite. He stands up there with his superhero pose and he’s confident and ready.
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And Phong Vu Buffalo has really been on my radar, because as a runner up, I’d like to say I think [Nguyễn "Palette" Hải Trung] has been underrated. This guy is an absolute god. He can call the shots for the team, and speaking with the casters and translators, I’ve learned he’s the guy who says, “Yes we can.” It’s amazing we haven’t gotten that much information on him this event, people focus on his carries. But the support is the one making the impact. Palette is definitely the one on my radar besides Zeros. It’s been awesome seeing them play in their home town, so I do hope they do well, but I think they will.
Well I normally tell them to just “talk to me about X.” That allows them to take control and determine whether or not they want to really go into it or just a bit. But it does kind of put a crux in it when they do answer everything. Then you just have to go to those easy low hanging fruit questions that you don’t usually want to ask, but it’s just like, “Alright, I’m going to have to resort to this now.”
Hmm, that’s a difficult question. I think the international events as of right now are really helpful for any player currently developing. But actually even for NA, only a few teams are ever able to do that. And for that reason, I actually would’ve loved to see TSM here due to the fact that [Matthew "Akaadian" Higginbotham] and [Sergen "Broken Blade" Çelik] are learning in that region. They just joined TSM, so seeing what those two could bring back to the region and TSM as a whole to build up everybody is the growth I’d love to see. Though don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited to have Liquid here representing NA.
I think NA itself still needs to build each other up. We have this mentality that I think falls apart when events go too long. You have to play one stage, and when the second stage comes up, boom you have to play against the fresh SKT. That’s really daunting. It becomes tough and I think mentality is one of those things we need to focus on for teams in NA. Make sure our players are growing correctly and not just saying, “Hey we’re going to an event,” because it’s what you taking away from the event. There’s an extra 50% that we’re seeing international teams bring. Even when they’re not fresh, when you look at SKT, if they’re ever down 10K, you know they’re still in it. Their mentality is always there. I’d love to see that stuff come from NA teams more.
On one of the dark days during the Vietnam period of mourning for the previous president that passed away, we were able to go out on the Saigon river and do an entire tour. We got to hold Burmese pythons and try a lot of the traditional Vietnamese food. We tried elephant fish, these fish that look like big elephant ears, and of course the tiger prawns which are ridiculously amazing. They bring them out in a teapot and put hot water into them and you have to eat them in 30 seconds.
The first time we did it, [David “Phreak” Turley] was a little more enthusiastic than me. You know, he took the head off and sucked the juice out of it, he did everything. I was like, “Ehh, I’ll just eat the tiger prawn.” But these experiences actually raise my palette in being able to try new foods. I’ve always been a big texture person, but when you put a squid in your mouth it’s such an experience. But it’s all so amazing, you encounter so many new flavors; you realize you want to do more of this.
The food was fresh, and the hospitality is amazing. That’s something I’ve always loved and appreciated. I was here back in 2012 for the Vietnamese Regional and coming back to relive the experience has been perfect.
For everybody counting out Team Liquid, you have to remember they’re here for a reason. It’s not a mistake that they’re here. The mentality thing I talked about earlier was present against TSM in the finals. They were down 0-2 which doesn’t look great, but they put the numbers up and were able to get that win. Now we have to respect the fact that they’re here and give them support. If we’re just knocking on them the whole time, what can they say when they lose? “Well, that’s what you expected.” No, build them up. I think from the analysts and casters standpoint, obviously we have to be critical, right? But I do want the fans to be behind Team Liquid. We need to get behind them at these events.
[Yiliang "Peter" "Doublelift" Peng] said he was having a bit of trouble and we saw that yesterday. So get behind him even more, help him be that trash talker. There’s absolutely a chance they can go very far, top 3 even and face off against iG or SKT and take them to 5 games. I believe. I believe it can happen! We have world champions on this team flanking the best ADC North America has ever had. And now Jensen on this team who has looked quite stellar internationally. It didn’t look like he had too many jitters in his first games and TL was pretty quick to identify what their problem was. So if we get behind them, they’ll figure out how to get some more wins, and we will see them getting top-three.