Interview with CLG Nien: "Unconventional picks are incredibly strong - especially in a Bo1 format"



Wed 17th Jul 2013 - 4:18pm

Despite a series of big roster changes, CLG sits in third place in the NA LCS and look to be improving with every game as their players become more accommodated to their new roles. I caught up with CLG Nien about their recent games against Curse and TSM, the dominance of certain top lane champions, and the state of the meta.


We're 5 weeks in for the LCS Summer Split, how much do you feel you've grown as a top-laner ever since your transition? Do you enjoy playing top-lane more now compared to ADC?

Nien: I've grown a fair amount as a top-laner. Before swapping to top-lane it was always my weakest role. I was a bit hesitant to play top for CLG because of this. I knew I could do it in the long run though, and I've always wanted to be on CLG so here I am now  :D

I love top lane, I really do. AD will always have a special place in my heart because I put so much work into it, but the versatility in picks for top lane is something I absolutely love. Being able to pick literally any champion in the game is something that is very appealing, as near the end of my AD 'career' I was getting pretty bored of picking the same 10 champions over and over again.


CLG maintained a strong lead in your previous game versus Curse, what do you think was the main thing that cost you the game?

Nien: I think the main thing that stopped us from winning that game was indecisiveness. Not only did we throw our lead because of unclear calling, but we also lost the game because of it. Often-times there were simply suggestions to do things rather than clear-cut calls, so everyone was not on the same page at times, and this caused us to either force a bad fight or split when we shouldn't have. We learned a lot from that game and even though the mid-late was very sloppy, we played the early game fairly well so I am looking forward to playing versus them again!


In your previous match against TSM, they banned Elise, Kennen and Shen. Do you think that these bans were targeted at you or is it because these champions have the potential to be game-changing?

Nien: I expected the Elise ban vs. TSM because of what happened at MLG Anaheim, but I had no idea they would ban the other two. Those bans were definitely targeted at me - I guess they just assumed I could only play Elise/Shen/Kennen/Jayce, all of which were banned. I think I've played 10 different champions in the LCS so far, which is one of the highest amount of champions per player, so they were kind of wrong in their assumptions ^^. I just busted out the Irelia for the first time, and did pretty decent with it.


On the topic of Irelia, we haven't seen Irelia being picked in a long time, but your unconventional pick certainly proved to be successful. What is it that makes her a worthy pick and what does she bring to the table that other champions don't?

Nien: I picked up Irelia to counter some champions that have been commonly played recently, and also because unconventional picks are incredibly strong - especially in a Bo1 format. When there is only one game, throwing a curve ball at the enemy team can really throw them off, and ultimately cause them to lose. That's not to say the Irelia pick caused them to lose, we just outplayed them throughout the game, and I got carried. Irelia's kit is just very very strong - her W and passive especially.

Having 40% tenacity built in is an amazing thing to have as a bruiser, allowing you to pick up an early Ninja Tabi almost all games and crushing most lane opponents with it as it is very cost efficient. Her W is very strong because at max rank, it does 75 true damage and heals you for 30 every auto, which adds up a ton.


Without giving any secrets away, can we expect any unconventional champion picks from you in the coming weeks?

Nien: Yes, definitely. I will be adding many champions to my champion pool. I don't want my top lane opponent to ever be able to predict what I am going to play and prepare for it, especially considering I am a pretty weak top-laner at the moment. Not only do I have the advantage of being unpredictable, picking up a large pool of top lane champions will allow me to have a much better understanding of how to play all lane match ups in the top lane, and ultimately improve as a top lane player.


Twisted Fate is always a hotly contested champion, but CLG allowed Reginald to pick him up in the previous game against TSM. Was it part of the team's strategy to let him have that champion and if it was, what was it that made your strategy so successful?

Nien: Yeah, the bans/picks worked in a way where we could allow them to get Twisted Fate in order to get a much stronger line-up. We traded Twisted Fate for Nocturne/ Thresh, which is a great trade for us. Thresh is one of Xpecial's best champions, and Nocturne is a counter to Twisted Fate. We were glad that they fell for the bait  :D

One of TSM's - and a few other teams downfalls for that matter - is that they cannot play Twisted Fate. He is a very strong champion if utilized correctly, but it seems like many teams undervalue him/don't put enough effort into adding them to their champion pool, but hey, I'm not complaining.


Jungle Pantheon has proven to be quite successful for CLG in scrims and despite your loss to Curse, Pantheon did seem strong in the early game. How do you think this strategy could be improved -- would it simply work better if Pantheon didn't get all the kills? Are CLG likely to use Jungle Pantheon again?

Nien: Pantheon is very strong because of his early game presence and the global ultimate that he has. Globals are generally very strong and work very well especially against teams with not much coordination, such as in NA. We will probably use Pantheon again, but for when we do I am unsure!


LemonNation from C9 did an AMA recently, and he considers giving an ADC empty lane farm a very inefficient way of playing as he believes that there is more value in giving farm to both solo-laners. What is your opinion on this considering that it contradicts CLG's playstyle?

Nien: I agree and disagree. Although prioritizing ADC farm is not nearly as strong as it used to be - as ADC's have ultimately gotten a lot weaker compared to other roles - ADC still has the most impact mid-late game. A team with an under-farmed ADC is at a severe disadvantage if both teams are at a level playing field besides the ADC. I think splitting the farm equally is always ideal, not prioritizing the solo lanes over the ADC.


What are your thoughts on Xypherous' proposed changes to Jayce, reigning in "abuse" cases such as priming his ranged W? Do you think toning him down will significantly affect his play rate?

Nien: I think that Jayce nerfs have been needed for a while, he was too strong. It might be a bit too many nerfs, though we shall see ^^. I think he will still be a decent pick after the nerfs but nowhere near as strong as he used to be.


Thank you so much for your time, Nien. It's been great talking to you again. Do you have any shout-outs or closing statements you'd like to make?

Nien: As usual, a huge thanks to all of my fans, and also to CLG fans as well. Thanks to family and friends for supporting me and also a huge thanks to our sponsors, AzubuTV, Razer, NZXT, iBUYPOWER, and ELOBUFF!

Stay updated and follow Nien on Twitter at @CLG_Nien.  You can also follow Amy on Twitter for more interviews at @amzmaria.