After Team SoloMid’s press conference Wednesday afternoon, I got a chance to speak with their new jungler Mike “MikeYeung” Yeung. We talked about joining the best team in North America, his growth in the offseason, and what it means to be an outlier.
Miles Yim: Could you have imagined, a year ago, that you’d be here right now?
MikeYeung: Well, I’d have to really live that moment to have an idea as to how I’d react. Because in December 2016, I was a TSM fan. And at that point, I’d been a high-ranking player for many years. So I was thinking, at that time, if I were to become a pro instead of going to college, then the only team that I would think of joining would be TSM. Of course, that was really ambitious of me, but is was something that I’d already envisioned at that time.
What’s something you feel you need to improve upon as a player so TSM can continue their winning tradition?
It’s very, very difficult to find junglers that both take a vocal position on a team and be strong mechanically in their own performance as well. So my goal is to try to be an outlier in this regard, when it comes to NA junglers or Western junglers, where I’ll be able to focus on both of those without letting the other fall off.
During your time with Phoenix1, you were fantastic on carry junglers like Nidalee and Lee Sin, but got more mixed results when the meta shifted to tank junglers. How are you addressing growing your champion pool in the offseason?
My general mindset is that if I have a stronger understanding of the game, and a stronger understanding about how to play around the map, that the champion pool will just come. It’s not necessarily that the champion’s mechanics are difficult to play, because we play all of these highly-intensive champions already like these carry junglers like Lee Sin and Nidalee. So the tank junglers should be theoretically easier. What a lot of people don’t understand is that you have to have a different mindset when you play towards a team style jungler. You have to be more vocal, but it’s really important that when you play those champions, that the team’s carries are the ones that are shining. The team has a better understanding of how to play around objectives, because those champions are best at controlling around objectives.
TSM was criticized at Worlds 2017 for their inability to create much in the early game. Given the chance to be their starting jungler in that situation, what would you have done differently?
If I was in that situation…I do agree that the community was too harsh on [Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen], because it is a team game, and every single play should be planned as a team. So him not being able to create as much pressure does correlate to the laners not setting up for that pressure. I think that he was a little too selfless, but he should have been more vocal, and the team overall should have focused more on a better understanding of the game through macro, instead of just winning through mechanics like in the NA LCS. Even if it works to win through mechanics in NA, it’s still better to develop your vocal strategies, like your macro, because that’s what really changes the game at the international stage.
Are there any jungle match-ups you’re anticipating in NA LCS this spring?
Personally, in the jungler role, if we were to only talk about jungle-specific match-ups, I would highlight Svenskeren and [Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin] as the two junglers I’ve learned the most from competing against in the last split, because of their mechanics and their pathing. Of course, Svenskeren’s mechanics are really good, and Reignover’s pathing, as well as his vision control, is one of his strengths as well. So they have two distinct styles…and you can kind of pinpoint exactly where they’re strong at.
What does it mean to you, being selected for All Stars this year as North America’s jungler? What do you expect from yourself at this event?
At first, I was really happy that everyone had chosen me. And then later I thought, “Why was I chosen, when I had no experience?” I had literally played a quarter of a season, maybe less. I did some thinking there, and in the end, no matter what the reason was, I want to make the most out of this experience, and make sure I take as much away from it as I can. Just put it into my playbook, my experiences as a player so I can move forward and take this to further improve my skill set.
A lot of top international junglers will be playing at All Stars. Is there one specifically you’re really excited to play against?
I was pretty excited when I heard that Ambition was going to be chosen to come to All Stars. Because I’ve read his story. I’ve read how he’s married, one of the older players and he transitioned from mid lane to jungle. And that’s kind of inspiring because he’s an outlier in that regard. And due to this, he was able to outperform everybody’s expectations of him.
This interview was edited for clarity.