X7 Esports, the only team from the Isle of Man at the Amazon European Masters 2022 summer, has once again made the Knockouts, just as they did in the spring. While they finished their group as the second seed and lost to LFL powerhouses LDLC OL in a tiebreaker match for first, there is still hope yet for the NLC’s second representative as they take on GameWard.
Veteran player and support, Raymond "Kasing" Tsang, has been with X7 since spring this year and is determined to help his team go far. He took time off and spoke with BLIX.GG in a long interview that covered everything from his thoughts on X7’s EU Masters run compared to spring, their Syndra pick and why he’s not picking Zilean (yet), and how long he will keep playing for.
Megalodontus, BLIX.GG: Let’s take it right from the top, X7 makes it to top 8 again like in spring and second seed once more too. Overall, what do you make of your run this time in summer so far in group stages compared to spring?
Raymond "Kasing" Tsang: I mean, I think our chances are much better this time around, mainly because I think one of the main reasons why it didn't go so well last season is because I just think we weren't really a fully complete team. We added Anton "Viking" Andersson after 12 games mid season when our record was literally 6-6 ,and I think that was a bit pathetic considering what the players we had. I think us being 6-6 in the NLC was rather disappointing and I felt like a change had to happen in the end. Don't get me wrong, I just felt like we didn’t fit as a team and you can tell from our team our synergy just wasn't there compared to now.
With the addition of Viking, it just feels that we actually have direction as a team. I think our chances are much better just because I think we are more complete and our potential as a team compared to spring is higher. We have a bit more of a direction rather than it just being “the Haru show”.
Obviously, Kang "Haru" Min-seung went to Team Vitality, which I'm really proud of because he told me that one of his goals when he first came here was that he wanted to play in LEC and he achieved it, so I was really proud of him.
BLIX: When you mentioned this team has a higher ceiling, other than just adding in Viking, what were the other contributing factors as well? For example, was it easier to integrate Kim "Chasy" Dong-hyeon because of prior experience?
Kasing: Kind of yes or no? Korean players aren’t exactly new to Europe, right? Because Chasy had never really played or spoken much English, that's one of the big things that you kind of have to take into account when you're playing with Korean players. I think I just have a really good understanding of how to kind of cater towards having Korean players in your team. It's kind of like, mindset, right?
If you compare East versus West, in general with the Chinese or Korean pro players, it's much more about grinding and just consistently playing many solo queue games a day including scrims. Personally, I don't believe in that kind of philosophy. I think it's always more about what you actually benefit from playing that many games and being able to fully focus or benefit from all the games you play, rather than just playing for the sake of playing.
I think when the Korean players came here, that was kind of embedded into their kind of culture of how they should be practising. The way that I kind of helped, especially Chasy integrating into Europe is kind of like Kang "Tempt" Myung-gu in the beginning because his English wasn't so good. They're very shy that they don't really tell you their opinion because it's considered rude or offensive to actually just say, “hey, you know what, I think this is bad” whereas in Europe it’s much more direct. I personally like the fact that I could be more direct [with] my teammates. Amadeu "Attila" Dias de Carvalho, for example, which is why I work really well with him. I feel like he complements how I want to play a lot and we’re direct with each other. No hard feelings, right? Everyone's here to win.
I think one of the main things that the Koreans had to kind of incorporate at the time was just saying their honest opinion, but to be able to incorporate that you to kind of be able to understand them and show that you kind of care about their opinion, rather than just think they’re an import and they should just perform this role. But it just doesn't work like that and I feel that's kind of the mindset that some people have when it comes to Korean players.
BLIX: Would you say because of that, it's kind of unlocked X7’s potential as a team?
Kasing: Yeah, exactly. I personally if you were to get Korean players, you got to know how to incorporate them. I wouldn't say that Chasy and Tempt are bad players and that they will play bad in other teams, but I think it's just all about understanding them and being able to actually incorporate their opinions and make them feel like it's actually a team rather than just a job.
In general, Korea’s mindset leads more towards grinding and hope that you're the one that stands out but it's different here. Europe is more about the better your team's synergy and having a good vibe in the team is important, experiencing the hardships of winning and losing together. I think that's like a really important focus to have now compared to before.
There's a reason why teams like LDLC, for example, are showing, like, such good results. I personally believe it's more about team bonding and synergy and not necessarily about individual carry performances, even though they have really good players in that team. And yeah, I feel it's important for why X7 is working quite well.
Behind the Syndra draft
BLIX: When you mentioned LDLC and you mentioned Attila, the first thing that just came to my head was your match against LDLC where you guys drafted Syndra and Nautilus bot. Could you explain your thought process and why did you guys draft that combo?
Kasing: So basically, Syndra has always been an OG Draven counter. For those of you that do not know, Syndra actually does well in Draven because once you can pretty much outpoke him and pretty much outrange him in a way. If Draven wants to all in, obviously he’s just getting stunned or pushed away. For the laning phase, they should still technically get prio early, because what champion can get prio in Draven early? Since he's obviously fucking strong.
The whole idea behind Syndra is that after your first base and you get Lost Chapter, that's when you can actually start, like, abusing him because he's lower range than your Q range,if you include the hitbox as well. So you probably noticed that in lane, it was probably a bit harder early on but after that we had a lead. I personally think we just messed up a lot and that game should look way different compared to what actually happened. I think the draft technically looks weird, right? But it makes sense if we did what we were meant to do with our picks. Personally I do believe that Syndra technically was a good pick but it didn't work out because we just messed up.
BLIX: Appreciate you explaining the thought process. When you mentioned LDLC being strong, other than yourselves, who do you think are the top four teams in the tournament and which teams do you have your eye on?
Kasing: It's kind of a tussle between the other French teams, right? Because it's pretty much Team BDS Academy, Vitality.Bee or GameWard. I think on a good day, we can beat them all. I do believe if we actually start playing the game properly and not get unfocused in certain times, I think we can actually do really well against the other LFL teams.
There's also Team Heretics and Dusty technically, because obviously they won against us. I personally believe that LDLC is probably one of the favourites going in and based on their gameplay, you can tell right, that even if they were technically behind or whatever, they can always kind of make a situation work in their favour.
BLIX: Since there are two NLC teams in the top eight again, what do you think of the NLC’s progress and what do you think about their chances this time around?
Kasing: I mean, I have a feeling that we might actually do better this time round for both us and Dusty. This is mainly because, just based on the groups that I've seen so far. Dusty on a good day can actually upset in a way because people don't really expect much, but that's the thing, people don't really expect much from NLC.
Obviously we played against Dusty so we kind of know that they actually have this kind of, like, synergy as a team as well, which is similar to LDLC. ‘LDLC lite’ is what I like to call them. They actually play quite well together. But of course, we have to see but I think if anyone's gonna upset, it's probably us and Dusty.
BLIX: The Knockouts are drawn and X7 are going to face GameWard. What are your thoughts on this matchup especially since you'll be facing your former teammate Nihat "Innaxe" Aliev?
Kasing: I'm excited to play against Innaxe since I think he’s improved a lot playing in the LFL. I think it’ll be a great way to show whether our improvement will show compared to our group stage performances.
The current support meta
BLIX: Tell us a bit of your thoughts on the support meta right now, because you are well known for playing Enchanters, Zilean and the like. What are your thoughts on the current meta generally?
Kasing: I would say it’s fairly obvious when it comes to the meta because at the moment, there's three bans on me in the majority of our games. Most of the time, Yuumi, Lulu and Renata [are] actually banned a lot and there's a reason why. Those champions become so strong to the point where it doesn't matter what enemy support picks, as long as you get to the mid-game, you're basically going to be much stronger than [the] enemy because you outscale them.
I think the meta right now, especially for bot lane is all about having a strong lane. By having a ranged champion, that kind of ensures that you push in most matchups. I've shown that I can play Leona or Nautilus and these kind of like melee tanks, but it's mainly because I feel the role that I have in my team is not necessarily to just pick a tank, pray to god, make a big engage and hope my team wins. It's a bit different.
I'm playing with Chasy and Tempt, two really good players who are able to basically play their lanes out really, really well. It's not necessary for me to play an engage champion in these kind of cases but it depends from draft to draft. Maybe I end up playing three or five games Nautilus in a row during EU Masters top 8 [laughs].
For us, we've kind of figured out a style of how we want to draft and other teams obviously may have picked up on that, which is why they're banning certain champions. But yeah, I just personally think that meta right now for bot lane is more about whichever lane has prio can basically dictate the game, hence why like Lucian/Nami has become so popular.
BLIX: In that case, you mentioned a lot of bans against you…Why are we not seeing you just permanently pick Zilean?
Kasing: The thing is,Zilean is not a pick that you can just blind pick, there has to be certain conditions for what makes that pick good. Also, my last performance on Zilean wasn't the best. That was in the NLC 2022 summer finals actually, so I feel a bit bad whenever I pick Zilean.
I love Zilean, it's just the fact that I think Zilean just requires certain situations for him to actually work and in this current meta…let's just say he's not good against a lot of champions, basically.
Age an advantage
BLIX: You mentioned Haru earlier who went to Viitality, so I’d like to ask about yourself. Of course, you are playing in the NLC and you've been to the LEC/EU LCS before and I believe you're 29 this year, how long do you see yourself continuing to play League of Legends set at the highest level?
Kasing: [laughs] I mean, I've been asked that question so many times by my parents as well, you know? When I went to Spain last year, my parents would ask me, “hey, how long are you actually gonna play for?” or “what are you gonna do?”. For me, as long as I’m still passionate about it, why would I stop? As every season goes by, there’s different metas so technically the game always still feels fresh. I think it's important to kind of find that passion in yourself to be able to say you really enjoy this game and you don’t feel forced to play it. I feel like I'm actually able to wake up every day and enjoy my day because I'm doing something that I love.
Obviously, maybe the quality of solo queue has gone down in some cases and everyone always says every year it gets worse but it's more about perspective. I'm not saying it's great but it's always a point to get like something out of it, you cannot just think, “oh, this is just fucking terrible. I can't do this” or “I hate solo queue, so I'm never gonna play it”. Of course you are, you're playing this game professionally. You treat it professionally and you still need to make a living, right? It's just such an amazing job opportunity that a lot of people kind of take for granted.
That's kind of why I feel that people either kind of quit towards their 20s, because they have other responsibilities. I'm not talking about everyone, obviously, everyone has their own reason for why they quit. It's not just because they're not good enough but compared to when you're 17 or 18, you just have probably a lot less time and more responsibilities and different priorities as well.
BLIX: Since you are one of the more senior players, even your team, how would you say you've developed as a person or player over the years to fit your teams? Like for X7, based on how you’ve described it, are you the older brother figure or the ‘team dad’?
Kasing: No joke, I think I am the father of my team! I feel like I've matured a lot and there obviously [have] been things in my past that I'm obviously not happy that I had done. Not being a great teammate for example when I was younger, because back then I wouldn't really know why it was wrong. I had a very negative mindset and I think as I grew older with all the teams that [I] had been playing with, I've kind of changed my mindset towards the game, as well as how I treat others.
I've matured a lot and obviously, I've been winning a lot more now compared to before, where I was kind of just ‘okay’. I don't want to be just known as ‘okay’ for the rest of my career. I want to be where I was before, like going to Worlds and stuff and actually making a big difference.
BLIX: So, Kasing in LEC 2023 versus or playing with Haru?
Kasing: [laughs] I mean, I would love to make it back to LEC honestly. Because for me, it's just like, I feel like I have a point to prove that age is not something that’s bad for you. I don't know, I don't even get how this came to be even a discussion. I feel like the older you are, that should actually be more of an advantage because you have no experience and stuff like that.
One of the things I saw was Caps talking about Varus mid as a counter to Azir and how he came to know about it was because back in the old seasons, people would play champions like Veigar and Varus as counters. Do you think people nowadays would know that? The newer generation of players? I don't think so. People don't really think about that. Also, take into account that once they're playing against champions that they haven't played much against, you already got an advantage from that.
I'm using a pretty simple example about what Caps said, but I also think by having more experience, it depends on how you're able to articulate that too, you know? You cannot just be more experienced and then assume that you're better no matter what just because you're a veteran. It doesn't work like that because it's more about everyone being on the same page.
Thank you Kasing and best of luck. The EU Masters Knockouts resumes today, catch it on the EU Masters Twitch channel.