When it comes to the bot lane in competitive League of Legends, there’s one pairing in China that’s dominating the stats charts right now: Styz and Pyl. Maybe you haven’t heard of these guys. After all, they play for LGD, a team that was only just promoted to China’s pro league, the LPL, earlier this year. But these are no noobs; as of this writing Pyl and Styz are statistically the 5th and 7th (respectively) best players in the LPL, and Pyl is the league’s best support.
I interviewed Styz last week, but I also got a chance to pose some questions to Pyl, and get his thoughts on the domestic and international scene.
Reflections on IEM
It’s no secret that China’s two participating teams, iG and WE, crashed out of IEM worlds early and somewhat embarrassingly. But part of the problem, many observers have suggested, was that international tournaments are played on the most recent version of the game, whereas Chinese teams domestically play on a game server that is several versions behind.
Pyl acknowledges that the outdated version of the game played in China can be a problem for Chinese teams in international competitions, but he also wasn’t impressed with iG or WE’s preparation for the matches:
Perhaps they haven’t adapted yet to European and American play styles […] I watched a few games, and I felt like the Chinese teams seemed as if they didn’t practice how to deal with Morgana. But yes, the [Chinese] version is outdated, and WE and iG were at a disadvantage by not having practice on the new version.
Who Pyl respects (and fears)
When I asked Pyl who he thought were the toughest lane opponents in the LPL, he gave me the same answer as his ADC Styz: Edward Gaming’s NaMei (ADC) and FZZF (support). “Individually their skills are very strong,” he said, “and their moves in the lane are pretty radical.”
And outside of China? He didn’t name any specific players, but he said he does watch League of Legends matches from outside China, and he said he thinks three teams are very strong right now: “SK Telecom T1 K, Samsung Ozone, and Team Solo Mid.”
Advice for support players
When I asked Pyl about the secret to his success and what other support players should do to get better, he at first told me basically the same thing Styz did: “play more team matches.” But interestingly, Pyl also told me that if you’re a support, playing with just your team’s ADC isn’t a good idea:
I often solo-queue. Only by playing with different ADCs can you get used to different styles of play and discover better moves [for yourself].
Life of a Chinese pro
LGD may be a new team to the LPL, but its performance so far has been good enough that fans are taking notice. Pyl told me that when the team goes out to eat or for fun, they sometimes get recognized, and they’re often asked for autographs at and around competitions.
When he’s not practicing with the team, Pyl also enjoys playing champions he’d never play in matches. In fact, he enjoys playing champions that no one plays. “Maokai, Malphite, Shaco…personally, I rather like playing unpopular champions,” he says. And when I asked him what he’d do if he could change one thing about League he didn’t hesitate: “I’d make Maokai stronger,” he says, “he has already been quiet for too long.”
Onward and upward?
Over the past week, LGD has dropped a spot in the league table, and the team now sits in fourth place behind Edward Gaming, OMG, and Team WE. With Allstars and eventually the S4 finals approaching, some teams are thinking about international competitions, but Pysl says LGD is focused on the LPL. The goal, he says, is “getting into the LPL postseason, and then if we perform well, getting into the finals would be the best.”