CaliTrlolz: "I look forward to innovating the rather boring lane into the most exciting lane to watch in the LCS."
One of the most recognizable faces from the freshly qualified Team 8 has decided to take time away from his busy academics to offer a bit of insight into his playstyle and decision to postpone pharmacy school opportunities for a chance at stardom in the LCS.
First off, What was the reaction from family and close friends when you decided to make the risk to play in LCS instead of going to pharmacy school?
My original intention was to play LoL just for the year gap between pharmacy school admission and undergrad. My parents were never really supportive of the idea; To be honest, I would not let my kid risk pharmacy school for a gaming career if I were in their shoes; thus, I completely understand what they tell and ask of me. My friends were actually very supportive of what I wanted to pursue.
When I told my friends that I wanted to try playing League seriously for few months back in January, they gathered up money to buy and build me an entire desktop set for my birthday present back in February this year, which is easily the best birthday present that I could've imagined. Till then, I've been playing League with a 13inch ultra-thin laptop for 4 years. I'm very grateful for my real life friends who have been so supportive of me and cannot emphasize how much help they have been in everything I do.
Since your team was part of the Challenger circuit for so long, do you still have to catch up in terms of pre-established infrastructure that exists in the US? For example, do you already have a coaching and analyst staff or is that something you're looking to invest into?
Unlike Korean e-Sports, the legacy of US esports is rather short-lived and not as developed. This makes it very hard for an experienced, knowledgeable coach to help out a professional team. I, currently, am not looking forward to finding a coach, although I'm very open to look for another analyst in addition to our current analyst, Matt.
Before you ended up actually earning a spot in the LCS, would you say your decision to focus on school was going to be 100%? (As in, did you change your mind and approach your university after you secured a spot?)
Now that I think about it, it would be make me seem indecisive to just say I was 100% committed to school. But I'm confident that had my school rejected my request for extended leave-of-absence/deferment, I would have given up my LCS spot as I had planned. Because my school has embraced and supported my endeavor to professional gaming, I was able to make this decision to perform in LCS, hopefully without getting relegated, and to make a return to academics in a year. I sincerely thank the school and the community & fans for taking their personal time to sign the petition to help me get through this difficult decision.
You pulled out a lot of unique picks in the Challenger series as well as the relegation tournament, however a lot of innovative picks tend to fade away once play hits a higher level. Do you feel you might revert to a more standard playstyle in the future against heavier competition?
At the highest level of competitive play, the stakes are a lot higher than that of challenger/amateur scene. Understandably, LCS top laners would opt to play what is considered "appropriate, meta champions" for its overall prowess, but also largely due to the fear of failing. If one were to lose a game picking something weird top like Fizz, Katarina, and Vlad, the community is likely to mock the player for its pick even if the champion was not the problem.
I'm different from any other LCS top laners in that I'm not afraid to pull off champions that I think synergizes with our team's composition or works well against the enemy's. Through my four years of experience in League, I have a deep understanding of the game, champions, and their match-ups. This knowledge and experience can definitely be used to have an advantage instead of assimilating myself into the herd that seemingly just pick OP champions without a second thought. I have proven through scrims against LCS teams that my non-meta champion picks fare well even against the top teams in NA. I look forward to innovating the rather boring lane into the most exciting lane to watch in the LCS.
Will the success you have in LCS determine an even further prolonged absence from schooling or have you already talked to the team about playing in one season maximum?
I cannot speak for the future; as I already have denied a decision I proposed, which is to go back to pharmacy school. Aside from the fans, my teammates and the management are the ones to convince me into changing my decisions, so they definitely know that. Given the short-lived career opportunity of professional gamers currently, I think one year is a reasonable time for me to play and retire.
Photo Credit - Team 8
In your time scrimming teams, what are the most troubling teams to play against in your opinion?
We have not scrimmed all the LCS teams recently so I cannot say. But for the most part, we have a pretty decent win rate against top LCS teams, so I think we have a fair chance coming in given we train hard till start of the split.
Are there any particular top laners you draw inspiration from internationally? Any particular playstyles you respect and look up to?
I think recently Looper from SSW caught my attention as he is able to win or go even in his lane most of the times and make good plays around the map with his TP. The playstyle I admire and like the most is NaJin White Shield’s Save. I think he has a similar playstyle to me and it's fun to watch such aggressiveness.
The next season doesn't begin for quite some time. What are your plans to fill the gap and when will your team start training extremely hard? Are you going to have some kind of vacation or are you tied up in school currently?
I will not be able to play League till end of November when the first semester ends. I decided it was best to finish up this semester for Worlds 2015. My goal going into the LCS this year is definitely to attend Worlds, and I do not want my academics to interfere if I get that chance. My biggest fear currently is the gap of time I have without the opportunity to practice League. I really hope not to get rusty and disappoint the fans in LCS.
Do you think your academic success compliments any abilities you've learned in League of Legends or vice versa? For example, do you feel that you're perhaps more disciplined as a result of what you've accomplished through education?
Though I cannot say all the o. chem, biochemistry, anatomy, and nutrition classes I've taken helped me to be a better LoL player directly, it definitely helped me to be disciplined and mature. Education not only provides me the comfort and stability needed to reduce anxiety about career uncertainty, but it also grew my analytical skill and confidence as a professional League of Legends player. The quality to be cooperative, decisive, and vocal came largely from the extracurricular experiences I've had from my undergraduate years.
What are your World Championship predictions and thoughts so far? Any favorites to win the groups as well as the whole thing?
I have not been able to watch GPL and LPL, so I do not extensively know about the Chinese and the Southeast Asian scene. Even going through group stage for A and B, it seems like the Korean teams would be a dominant force this Worlds, given Samsung White's IMPressive 6-0 record, OGN Spring champion Samsung Blue, and Najin Shield who earned their spot by beating SKT T1 K 3-1. I'd like NA teams, particularly TSM or C9, to win and represent our region's strength. So far, TSM has done well for themselves and I wish them the best of luck against SSW in quarter-finals.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. You've garnered a lot of hype recently through your play, so are there any last words you have to say to your fans? (Sponsor shoutouts as well, etc?)
Thank you so much for the opportunity that you guys helped me acquire. I will make this the most exciting LCS for the Team8 fans. I am wholeheartedly thankful for the support and attention. I'll be back into the League scene in December with a newly started stream so keep in touch! Quick shotouts to Gamdias, Freedom! for sponsoring us.
Much Love, Cali.
Favorite food: Korean, Thai, Mexican
Favorite player: Faker
Favorite tournament/match/event: Texas Lone Star Clash 3
Favorite Animal: Cats!
Most enjoyable champion: Fizz
Most annoying champion: Yorick
Biggest fear: underperformance in LCS
Favorite music: K-Pop
Childhood Dream: Starcraft1 Pro
Describe yourself in one word: Ham