After a much improved Summer Split, DIG’s hopes for Worlds were unfortunately dashed in the playoffs. We took the time to sit with DIG’s ADC, Frank “Tomo” Lam, to discuss the final weeks of the split, the playoff run, and what’s to come for him and the team as Worlds approaches
So, the last time I interviewed you was actually at the end of the Spring Split. Since, the team had a much improved Summer campaign and you guys fought your way into the playoffs. Reflecting back on all that, what feelings do you have about your guys’ summer campaign?
Tomo: I was pretty happy with our improvement. Even before we had the Support swap, I think we were coming up a bit, but with the change to Poome, I think it really started to take off for us. I’m pretty happy with us having made playoffs, especially since in our last few scrims towards then, we were playing really well. It was just unfortunate that we couldn’t carry that through the tournament.
Before we look deep into the playoffs run, I’d like to talk about the split as it evolved from your perspective. Of course, a few weeks into the split you guys picked up Poome. Poome mentioned you guys had played previously so building personal synergy was quick, so what was it like to come in and get straight to the grind with him?
Tomo: Heh, we were familiar with each other from having played in collegiate together. So, there was that little bit of past experience. But, I think for me, I guess I just needed a fresh start, kind of. Unfortunately, Diamond and I weren’t really working out in the LCS, so eventually Poome got brought in and became the guy for that start.
With Poome’s introduction, did it change how you guys approached team planning or draft in any way?
Tomo: Yeah, I think Poome brought us a bit more stability into Bot. And while Diamond was a great communicator, there was just something different about how Poome’s comms came through and things would become much more ‘controlled’. Overall, I think Poome was able to get us all on the same page a bit better.
Overall, different people communicate differently, but once Poome was in our system, we were super satisfied with the way he was playing and working with all of us.
One final reflection of the split before we talk about playoffs, when you consider holistically your performance throughout the split and how you talked about approaching this year with a chip on your shoulder wanting to make a statement, do you feel that you’ve shown that personally, or is there anything that you’d change?
Tomo: I hope so. I think getting to play in the LCS this past year has made me realize that all the Bot Lanes in the League can kind of beat each other on any given day. I feel like no one was particularly a standout candidate. So, I think I did well this split and showed that I’m here to stay for a while.
Do you think that equality between Bot Lanes is indicative of the improvement of the LCS Bots, or maybe even the decline in play between teams overall? Or maybe it was related more to balancing and things that are in Riot’s control?
Tomo: I think it’s a mix of both. For sure, the game has become much more snowbally at this level. Where, if you make one mistake, you’ll be punished really hard and get stat-checked. But, I do think the League itself has evened out with not too many teams being head and shoulders above everyone else.
As you guys were looking to the playoffs, what was the vibe and energy like around the org? I know there were some conditions where if a few chips fell the wrong way for you guys, you wouldn’t have made the playoffs, so talk to me about that.
Tomo: Yeah, I think as we got closer to playoffs, things became pretty stressful. Especially because I feel like they shouldn’t have been. We started out like 5-4 then dropped a tragedy of like 3 game losses, which to me all those games could’ve easily flipped and we’d had been 3-0 through then. So, I think that was really stressing us all out a bit. But, I think everyone focused up pretty well, and we had the conversation of just taking it one game at a time. “Just one win” was said a lot. But, yeah it was a pretty stressful stretch there then. Once we made it though, I felt like we had a doable playoff run despite being in the lower bracket.
You guys had your first series against TSM end in a win! Which was super exciting for you guys and fans alike no doubt. Talk to me about what that first series was like for you personally.
Tomo: I think none of us were really cocky going in, but there was this sense that we were better than them. We just felt like if we stayed focused and played our style, we’d be able to just win. Honestly, though, it went to Game 5 when I thought it shouldn’t have. I feel like we could’ve easily won in three, but we had a few massive throw moments that just shouldn’t have happened. I think me and Poome cracked under pressure through the series and misplayed a lot, but we’d find good angles in the late stages of the game, especially in Game 5.
Unfortunately, the results of the GG series were one-sided. Can you talk to me about what aspects you think slipped away from you guys since it felt there were times in each game that you guys had something to work towards but couldn’t firmly grasp the tempo?
Tomo: I think it starts at a mechanical level, honestly. We just weren’t sure enough in that regard to be able to pick the fights that could’ve given us the swing on things. It felt like every opportunity that we thought we had, they’d just end up outplaying us in that moment which would cause us to be a bit passive after. So, there were points where we were just getting choked out. And even if it wasn’t a simple mechanical error, it was a selection error where the enemy team just had the circumstances to play better than us in that scenario.
What is it like in those games where you can feel the pressure setting in and the jaws coming down on you? Who’s taking control and directing comms in those situations and guiding the team towards the way out?
Tomo: I’d say it was Jensen and Santorin keeping us in that regard.. They’ve been in these situations before and with their experience are very good at talking through how we can salvage poor games. But, unfortunately, through the games, it was just too little, too late for us in those games, and we kinda got rolled over.
Now to send us off with the next few questions, when you think about the vast improvement of this team and all the changes that came, if this squad remains whole, what are your expectations for the future of DIG?
Tomo: I think the GG series was a bit sour and we didn’t show what we were capable of, but I really enjoyed playing with each of my teammates. I learned a lot through playing with all these veteran guys. Overall, I think our potential is super high, so hopefully we can get the chance to build off the improvement that we had again.
Thinking about the NACL and some popular non-LCS developments , do you have any thoughts on the rise and Championship of Disguised through the tournament, and do you have any hopes or expectations for that area of Pro-League going forward?
Tomo: I watched the Finals, yeah! It was hype for them, I’m sure. But the Tier 2 scene this last round was, uh, probably the weakest it’s been because most of the Academy teams dropped out. I think there’s just a lower skill overall at that level. They picked up the majority of the C9 roster, which gave them players ready to 1v9. But still, impressive overall for those guys and congrats to those guys.
The word around is that Riot might be transitioning towards a content creator lead LCS. What are your thoughts on that as a player?
Tomo: I mean, that’s definitely a way to pull more views and grow the scene. I think either Disguised Toast or Mr. Beast being able to come in with a team would generate a lot of hype for the LCS and bring in new fans into the League. I overall think that’s just positive for us.
Lastly, with a short break coming ahead for you guys, what’s the plan for you personally? Solo Queue grinding, seeing family, maybe a light vacation?
Tomo: I’ll be taking a short break and taking things a bit slow. I feel like towards the end of the split, I got burnt out on League. I played a lot of games through the season, so just chill with friends, see family, and when Worlds starts up, I plan on boot camping in Korea.
Thanks to Tomo for sitting with us! If you’d like to see more of Tomo, you can catch him at these following social links! Good luck to NA at Worlds, and we hope to see you support our NA Talent on the international stage!