Not in NA Anymore: Interview with Oceania Champions, Team Immunity
Thu 26th Dec 2013 - 3:14pm
Oceania is an infant in comparison to other League of Legends regions, but the teams that are in the region aren't new to the game. Players on teams like Frenetic Array and Team Nv have been playing on North American servers since the beta, and the granddaddy of Australian teams, Team Immunity, competed in North American tournaments for bids to Intel Extreme Masters.
Since the creation of the Oceanian server and the exodus of the Australiasian League of Legends community, Team Immunity has remained the best team in the region, taking down their regional qualifiers to make it to the International Wildcard Tournament in Season 3. At Gamescon, Team Immunity beat Mexico's Lyon Gaming and Turkey's Dark Passage in groups, but lost to the then-favorites paiN Gaming from Brazil and Lithuania's GamingGear. Immunity made it to the bracket stage, but were beaten 2-0 by eventual Wildcard winner GamingGear.
Since their loss in Cologne, the team lost two of its longtime members in Mid Laner Patrick "HeavenzCurse" Chan and Jungler Ross "Elysia" Jones and has had to regroup by picking up some new players. I sat down with the team to discuss the team's experiences in Cologne and at the World Cyber Games in China, as well as their expectations for the future and their feelings on the Oceania server.
Andrey "Rosey" Rose now goes by the moniker Venom.
Manager: Frank "Sangy" Li
Top Lane: Brandon "Swip3rR" Holland
Mid Lane: Simon "Swiffer" Papamarkos
Jungler: Sam "spookz" Broadley
AD Carry: Derek "raydere" Tran
Support: Andrey "Venom" Rose
So, first let me thank you all for taking the time for this interview. I know you guys have busy lives and the time difference makes these things a bit difficult. Let's start with a bit of history for those that don't know the team. Derek, you're the last remaining starter from the original Frenetic Array squad that was picked up in early 2012, a team that was in a number of North American tournaments. How did you guys get picked up by Team Immunity?
Raydere: As our original squad were doing quite well within the Australian scene, Team Immunity approached us and offered themselves as a potential new organisation in mid 2012. We took this opportunity to move forward and join them as we felt this was within our best interests. Team Immunity has been one of the premier Australian eSports organisations since 2003 and they opportunities and support they could provide us were within our best interests.
As a team, you've had some significant turnover. You've had players take sabatticals, players switch to substitute and then back into the starting line-up, and recently you had two of the founding members of the squad Heavenz [HeavenzCurse] and Elysia leave. How do you guys deal with that as a team? Now granted you're not as bad as some teams in this department but is it difficult to get your team playing as one cohesive unit? Has there been significant changes in the team's playstyle since Heavenz and Elysia left?
Sangy: Since joining Immunity, our core roster has remained relatively similar with changes often being attributed to players taking extended leaves of absences. Recently, after beign together for the better part of 1.5 years, after our performance at Gamescom, we felt a different direction was needed. We have known Swiffer and Spookz from playing against them many times in the competitive Australian scene. As shown from our recent performances in Australian competitions such as CGPL and ACL as well as our recent WCG campaign, our new team has come together well.
In regards to the new changes, Swiffer brings more of a carry playstale as opposed to the more utility and peel based playstyle which Heavenz relied upon. Our team is now much more aggressive and dive focused as well as pushing and objective oriented opposed to focusing on winning lane and farming up for mid/late game.
So, Derek, Andrew, and Brandon, you guys won the Season 3 Oceanic Championship, and you guys looked pretty strong coming out of it. Coming into the International Wildcard Tourney at Gamescom, how did you guys feel about your chance at worlds?
Venom: Being the Oceanic Season 3 winners was a huge opportunity for us going into the wildcard tournament. We didnt know how we would go as we havent played against another team outside of our scene so we went into it wanting to do our best. Playing scrims against top EU teams really opened our eyes before the tournament and got us into good shape and feeling confident in our play.
Raydere: We definitely had high hopes for the Gamescom tournament. Despite the fact we were underdogs, we knew we could compete against both GG and paiN from our experience in playing against them whilst we were on NA. We knew our weakness would be our lack of experience on large of international stages, however we were very positive about our chances and to this day I believe on a good day we could have had a reaslistic chance to make it out of the Wildcards.
You weren't the favorites for the even, as Brasil's paiN was for the most part considered the team to beat, but you showed decently during the group stage taking games off the teams you were supposed to beat (Lyon Gaming and Dark Passage) and losing to the teams that were seen as the strongest (GamingGear and paiN). Going into brackets it looked like you'd show well. With all that said, why pick AD Lulu mid in game 2 versus GamingGear?
Sangy: Lulu OP. (laughs)
Raydere: After our first game against GamingGear, we were dissapointed seeing how it was a very close game and we had the opportunity to win. We had played AD Lulu in our qualifiers for the Wildcard and despite the fact it was actually a very close game, our mid laner [Heavenz] believed we needed something quirky to pull out the win.
Recently you guys went to China to represent Australia at the World Cyber Games, and went 2-2 in your group, beating Brasil's representitive Kabum and Japan's Rampage, but losing to CJ Blaze and Hong Kong's Energy Pacemaker. How do you guys feel about your performance there and how was the atmosphere there, especially for the newer members of the squad who hadn't gone to Cologne.
Spookz: Getting the opportunity to go to the WCG and compete in China was a great experience. Unfortunately, we did not perform to our expectations. Prior to WCG, there was a large (by Australian standards) tournament back home which was played on Patch 3.14, so our preparation on Patch 3.13 was not as solid as we would have liked. Our most dissapointing game was probably the EPHK one, where we were quite ahead, however ended up losing the game. We were definitely disappointed about the games and some of the lag encountered by all the teams, since it didn't give everyone the opportunity to give their best performances.
In terms of atrmosphere, for Simon and I it was our first opportunity to play overseas. Definitely something we will remember for a long time. The huge Chinese crowds, the casters, the fanfare, and the spotlight, as well as the chance to play on the big stages versus some of the best teams in the world will forever be a highlight in our pro-gaming careers, and we hope to get the opportunity for many more international competitions in the near future.
Do you guys mostly play on the Oceania server, and, if you do, what's the one thing that you think can be improved about it?
Venom: The Oceanic ladder is obviously not as competitive or deep in terms of skill as say the NA ladder. This is inevitable given the player base but I feel the server can still be competitive and a tool for getting good practice in. I just feel it's a matter of attitude and whilst recently it's gotten a lot better, there are still ways to go in terms of people taking the solo queue ladder more seriously.
Where do you guys see yourselves at the end of Season 4?
Venom: At the end of season 4, we hope to see ourselves stay stop of the Oceanic scene as the most dominant team. Our number one goal remains another shot at the Wildcards and the opportunity to play versus the best teams in the world at the 2014 World Championships. We've gotten a taste from playing versus CJ Blaze at WCG of the top Korean teams and we believe that we are or can definitely be good enough to qualify and compete vs the best teams in the world from all the other regions.
Spookz: Individually I know we all want to be the best players are our respective roles as we can be. I can't speak for anyone else but I know that I have a lot of room for improvement personally. I wish to get to the level where I can jungle at a world class stage because I think we personally have some of the best carries in Oceania, and even the world, in Swiffer and Raydere.
Do you have any shoutouts?
Sangay: Shoutout to Team Immunity and it's associated sponsors Intel, RedBull, Steeleries, Benq, Gigabyte, Antec and GeIL for their support. Big thanks to Riot Oceania for the opportunity to play in WCG and of course out fans, both domestic and international. Please keep cheering us on and we hope to do well in the future! Thank you to Tristam and Dignitas for this interview opportunity.
I'd like to give a huge thanks to Team Immunity for taking the time out of their schedule during a heat wave to do this interview. Follow the guys of Team Immunity on Facebook and Twitter. Individually, they can be found on Twitter @Swip3rR, @Sp0okzz, and @iMRoseyintel (Venom). Follow me @Rampant_Idiocy for more interviews with players from the Oceanic and Asian scenes here on Team Dignitas.