With the new Team Dignitas line-up recently announced we caught up with returning mid laner Danny “Shiphtur” Le and gauge his thoughts on Worlds, the pre-season, and what we can look forward to as the new roster pushes on into 2016. One of the few North American mids left in the NA region, Shiphtur has been honing his skills in Korea to help Team Dignitas step up next year, so our interviewer Nightsend started by asking about his trip.
We’re here to talk about the pre-season, Worlds, and the upcoming LCS season. How are you?
Shiphtur: I’m doing pretty well. Just a little tired - getting used to NA again because I just got back from my trip to Korea.
Let’s talk about your trip to Korea a little bit. Was it a vacation or were you guys doing work out there?
Shiphtur: Korea was kind of a vacation for me but also my way of practicing harder because solo queue over there is just a lot better: it’s of a lot higher quality and I get a lot more out of it than playing in NA.
Why do you say you get more out of it? What is it about Korean solo queue that you felt was different than NA?
Shiphtur: In Korea everyone is just… a lot better. Individually everyone knows how to play the game a lot better, so it feels a lot more like a scrim or competitive play than in NA where it’s just like laning then everyone doing random stuff.
Do you have any good stories from while you were in Korea? Did anything interesting happen other than just practicing and taking a break?
Shiphtur: Funniest thing was being matched against Korean pros. I remember when Faker had just gotten back from Worlds and we got into a solo queue game with him – I was there with Apollo and we shared a hotel – and we were just like… we were giddy every time we got a kill or an assist like “Faker fed us” so that was pretty funny.
Is there any guiding force you’re adhering to or are you just playing to get better? Is there something specifically you’re trying to improve, something you think is going to be important for the next season, or are you just playing in general to get better at the moment?
Shiphtur: Right now I’m just playing to get better in general. Learning how to snowball properly, to take leads and turn them into something bigger because the biggest thing I learned from Korea is that laning phase just doesn't matter as much but team play is everything. If one person doesn’t do his job then you lose your team the game.
Do you think what little we’ve seen of the pre-season so far is going to change that? We’ve seen rather large sweeping changes to the way the game is working in the latest patches…
Shiphtur: Definitely. Pre-season is just so snowball-y that you don’t even really get to the major team plays other than past 20 minutes when Baron spawns. Before that it’s snowballing, roaming, getting kills and getting out as much tower damage as you can because of the turret changes.
Do you prefer that kind of play style or do you prefer the big 5v5 team fighting we saw in the last two splits?
Shiphtur: I don’t know, it kinda depends. Whichever you get bored of? Everyone got bored of the 5v5 thing because laning didn’t matter but now the whole 5v5 thing doesn’t matter. Now if you get a kill in lane you pretty much win the game – if you snowball properly with your jungler. I think when people get bored of that they’ll want 5v5 stuff again.
Do you think team play is still pretty important though? You mentioned you have to snowball WITH your jungler and it’s not like Season 3 where the mid laner gets two solo kills and just carries the game. Do you think the meta has now moved to earlier game with the team play and map rotations, or do you think it’s pretty singular player focused?
Shiphtur: It’s team play but that doesn’t really involve the entire team to play. Right now if bot lane gets fed you play around bot but before it was that if bot lane got fed you’d wait on them to carry in team fights, rather than carry the early game.
Do you think there are any major outliers in the pre-season with regards the changes? Are turrets too squishy, is the Rift Herald too strong, do you think there are any champions that are ridiculously strong right now, or do you think the game’s just balanced differently?
Shiphtur: Geez… I haven’t gotten a complete grasp on the pre-season yet but from my first impressions the Rageblade seems pretty broken on the right champions like Jax and Irelia. The whole thing with Grievous Wounds not stopping self-healing (or whatever healing) super obnoxious on top of that, and the turret thing is really... you just die and you lose your tower – it’s really lame.
So not a big fan of the pre-season changes so far. Do you think a lot of that stuff needs to be toned down?
Shiphtur: I don’t really care. I think it’s fun, I’m having fun with it, but they’re definitely going to have to tweak it for competitive play I think.
Danny "Shiphtur" Le on stage in the NA LCS last season.
What did you think of Worlds this year? We saw the NA teams not making it out of Groups, and we saw the western teams really struggling against the Korean teams – especially after going out to play in Korean solo queue [bootcamp]. What do you think of the gap between Korea and the west at the moment?
Shiphtur: I think Worlds turned out how everyone expected them to – SKT kinda just stomped everyone – but the real surprise was Fnatic not getting to the finals. I thought Fnatic for sure would get to the finals given KT Rolster and Koo Tigers early performances during Worlds. I dunno, I guess Fnatic just tilted or something. Koo just stayed focussed really well.
What do you think about North America’s performance at Worlds, especially Cloud9 starting off 3-0 and then falling off?
Shiphtur: I was so sad. I just wish Cloud9 had made it, for viewer purposes – I’m not a Cloud9 fanboy or anything – but I just wish they’d made it out of groups for NA to have a reason to watch Worlds. It was not as entertaining without an NA team past group stages.
Do you think any of the teams – especially in North America – that were dominant last season… TSM are having huge changes in their roster, CLG is having huge changes… do you think the teams that were on top last season are going to stay on top, or do you think that the middle tier teams are going to move on up in Spring Split?
Shiphtur: I think TSM’s roster is definitely one of the strongest. As for the others, it’ll probably take them a while to get used to things, especially with all the imports coming, and then they’ll have to get used to NA, the NA ping, and the environment, so I think we’ll definitely see a clear top two or top three for the first split and then it’ll probably middle out in the second split.
What are your expectations for yourself – and your team – going into the coming LCS season?
Shiphtur: It’s really hard to say because we’ll have to wait for our first scrims to start but our realistic goal is to at least make playoffs for Spring Split and then solidify that into top four, top three for Summer.
Any final remarks or shout outs you’d like to do?
Shiphtur: Thank you to all the fans for sticking with us – we’re going through some roster changes and we hope people stick with us, cheers for Riot because Riot loves us, League’s awesome, all that good stuff. Shout out to all our sponsors and yeah, thank you guys for following this interview. Peace.