When GAM Esports opened their participation in the 2023 League of Legends World Championship Play-In stage, there were fears that they would succumb to yet another early exit on the international stage. Back in MSI, GAM fell to North America’s Golden Guardians and Latin America’s Rainbow7 in succession and subsequently finished at the bottom of the standings.
A few months down the line in Worlds, the same disappointing story looked to be repeating itself for the reigning VCS champions. They dropped their opening series to Brazil’s LOUD 2-0, thus sending them to the lower bracket and setting up a rematch with R7 — the same team that eliminated them from MSI. Even so, despite the early setback, GAM recovered their form and bested R7 in the Group A elimination match to continue their run and face LOUD once again for a spot in the Main Event qualifiers up for grabs.
Following GAM’s Group A win over Rainbow7, Palette talked to BLIX about how the team recovered from their opening loss to LOUD, how they rebounded for their series against the Latin American representative and much more.
Pedro Romero, BLIX: Congrats on beating R7, Palette. I want to start this conversation by covering your thoughts on how the team was able to take down your Latin American opponents in a series as crucial as this.
Nguyễn "Palette" Hải Trung: There are two parts. We had one or two very good meetings before the match that was about us sharing each other's feelings. We talked about everything. We talked about how to play and how to be in a good mental. As for the second thing, we thought we had the preparation [sic] for the game very well, so the winning was very obvious.
BLIX: About how the team rebounded from that first series against LOUD, what do you think went wrong from that match and how did you guys correct your mistakes from that series for this encounter?
Palette: In the first match against LOUD, I think it was all about mental. We had mental issues. We have so many champions that we played well many times, but in this match, we weren't good so it was all about our mental, and after this win against R7, we feel so relieved and we believe that we can turn the tables tomorrow.
BLIX: It's with that thought in mind that you guys are going to have that rematch against LOUD. How are you going to approach this match specifically since it's a rematch? Is it going to be the same as how you approached it against R7, or is it going to be a little different?
Palette: Our approach is we don't need to be so different. We just need to be ourselves to win so we can win the next match.
BLIX: I want to take the focus away from this match and towards the VCS' participation so far in Worlds. Although GAM have been able to come back and recover from that loss against LOUD, we've also been seeing a surge in form from your VCS colleagues in Team Whales as they qualified for the second phase of the Play-In stage. That said, how have you seen the current form of the VCS teams in relation to the other regions so far in this tournament?
Palette: We think the VCS is a really strong region, but after two years where we couldn't have fans watch the matches nor could we go to international events, it was a problem where we didn't have any chance to improve in [that timespan], so I think this Worlds is very important for the VCS and we will prove that the VCS is strong.
BLIX: It's been around two months since you joined GAM from SBTC and the issues that they had. How have you been able to fit in with GAM as your new team with the little time that you had? And in doing so, what has been the biggest thing that you've had to focus on trying to get in sync with the rest of the team?
Palette: Before I joined GAM, I watched their games a lot to understand how they communicate and understand everybody in the team. With that, I think it was very easy to join the team dynamic, and I think my personality is very funny and I can very easily talk to people. It's made [it] easier to get in the team, so for now, I think I'm focusing only on how to keep it up and continue playing with our teammates.
BLIX: You mentioned the fact that VCS teams were not able to compete in international events for the past two years and that you guys have been trying to catch up to the rest of the world. Where do you see that gap right now given that VCS teams are now able to compete in these recent string of international events?
Palette: As for the gap between VCS and the four major regions (LCK, LPL, LCS and LEC) and even PCS, back in 2018 and 2019, when we were able to compete in international events, I think the gap was very close, but after two years where we were unable to both improve and not attend the international events, I think we are a little bit far away and for now it's the time for us to focus and prove that VCS is not far away from the PCS, EU and NA. One other thing I want to say is I know the gap between VCS and the LCK and LPL is very far, but for the rest of the major regions [in relation to] VCS, we believe we can close the gap.