The Chiefs has had a tough start to its League of Legends Worlds 2022 campaign. The LCO representative shoulders the hope and dreams of the entire OCE region, and with a team comprised of top regional talent it’s unsurprising that head coach Leo ‘Babip’ Romer reckons that “this roster has the potential to go the furthest ever seen from an OCE team at Worlds.”
However, there have been teething issues, and while few expected The Chiefs to conquer European powerhouse Fnatic, defeat at the hands of LJL representative DetonatioN FocusMe definitely could have been avoided.
Having represented three different OCE sides at Worlds over the past three years, this isn’t veteran midlaner James ‘Tally’ Shute’s first rodeo. If there’s anyone in the LCO who knows just how important performing on the biggest stage in the MOBA game is, it’s him.
Following The Chiefs’ defeat to DFM, we had a chat with Tally about the game, the team’s LoL Worlds experience so far, and some of the off-meta picks which have made the headlines in recent days.
The Loadout: I’d just like to start by getting your general thoughts on the game.
Tally: I’d say the game was not very good for us because we shouldn’t really have a volatile early game. Consider our comp – we just hit mid-game and we were better in teamfights, even when we were down a huge amount of gold. I think that we just weren’t able to find the ability to be comfortable on stage. Personally I’m just not playing how I normally would – it just feels very foreign to me. So I think when we’re able to find that [comfort] we’ll be in a much better position.
Do you feel that it’s the change of environment contributing to that feeling, or other factors?
Personally it’s just a confidence thing, because I’m used to these kinds of venues – I’ve done this many times. So it’s not an environment thing, [but] I’ve just gotta find my ability to be a good player again.
Although you’re trying to find your rhythm as a player in-game, what has the general Worlds experience been like for you and the team so far?
Environment-wise this is one of the best Worlds I’ve been to because we had a pre-boot camp at Red Bull in LA as well. So we settled in, got over our jet lag, and were already adjusted. Flying over here, the venue is amazing, and the practice we’ve had has been really good. It feels like it’s getting better every year – which it should be – so that was a step up.
I think that where we’re more of a well-modelled team – it’s easier to see what’s going wrong and make fixes – so I don’t think we’ll be stuck in this rut for long.
And you’re now working with Babip as your head coach rather than as a player. What’s it been like having that transition from playing alongside someone to working under them?
I would say we have the same dynamic, because I feel like mid-jungle already communicates so much together – when you talk to your coach it’s the same kind of dynamic [in that] you’re always deciding what’s the best thing to do. And I consider Leo a pretty smart guy, so he’s done really well through transitioning to coach, and he’s been a really big help for our jungler Park ‘Arthur’ Mi-reu, so I think that he’s done really well and he’ll continue to do well in the future.
Coming back to the venue, watching at home the Mexican crowd has sounded phenomenal. So what’s it been like for you having that crowd in front of you?
I definitely think the Latin American crowd – and the Brazilian crowds – are amazing. I don’t think that OCE crowds are bad – we just haven’t really had them in a very, very long time – but the LCO final’s probably three times as big as this, and the energy in this arena feels as high, if not higher. So it feels really good playing in front of a crowd and getting that adrenaline rush from the cheers and the rumbling.
Coming over to NA I see that a few of the boys have gotten involved in Champions Queue, while some like yourself are sticking to solo queue. What’s the thought process behind sticking to the latter?
Playing Champions Queue is really good for improving your teamwork, playing a lot of meta champions, and becoming a better macro player. In solo queue I can practice some really niche, individual stuff that’s a lot more micro-heavy than in Champions Queue, because [in solo queue] you can’t really rely on your jungler or support getting you out of bad situations.
I just value solo queue because it’s instant, and I think that the problems I’m having right now are more individual than a teamwork thing, because I think that teamwork has always been one of my strengths. So I’ve been focusing on that whereas the rest of my team has been playing Champions Queue.
Thinking about meta, over the past couple of days we’ve seen some off-meta picks like Zac mid and Zilean top. I would just like to get your thoughts on them.
These picks are actually really cool, because I think everyone conforms to the meta, and doesn’t really think outside the box of what you can really do with the game – there could even be scenarios where you don’t need to play AD Carries bot, and just play double melee champs.
I think that League is really flexible, and it’s really good when players like Bùi ‘Froggy’ Văn Minh Hải and Kang ‘ADD’ Geon-mo try out new stuff and it works, because it means more people will do it and a different meta will form.
A lot of champions can be played if you’re good enough – this is why one-tricks are so good because they can always make their champ work no matter the scenario. In competitive you’d say it’s bad because they are unable to do x and y, but the Zac mid – which really shouldn’t work in this scenario – was made to work.
I also think Zilean top is really cool, because it works really well with Hecarim, and it shuts down Aatrox in lane – it’s a very smart pick, and I would like to see more players thinking of stuff like this.
I remember last year as we left Play-Ins and got into the Group Stage, the meta evolved before settling towards the end. I know that you don’t have a crystal ball, but do you feel that we’ll see a similar evolution this year? Or do you feel that what we’re seeing in Play-Ins will become standard?
I’d say that there definitely will be an evolution, because in the scrim meta the Play-Ins teams play the Play-Ins teams, and the Groups teams scrim the Groups teams – then if you’re a really good Groups team like Royal Never Give Up you’ll be scrimming the Groups teams too.
I think that we prio Graves and Hecarim highly, but I don’t think Groups teams will – you’ll see a completely different meta because the champs are so volatile and need to get leads. I even saw RNG pick Vi when no one else had done that. So I think there’ll be a completely different meta [with a] really high Jax prio, and utility junglers so the main carries can shine.
You’ll be able to catch Tally and The Chiefs in action once again when the team takes on Evil Geniuses and Beyond Gaming later today.