Interview with ZionSpartan about Super Week, fitting in, and the future
Sat 31st May 2014 - 2:49pm
Rising from the ashes of Team Coast, Darshan 'ZionSpartan' Upadhyaya and Danny 'Shiphtur' Le are the new solo laners for Team Dignitas, joining the team shortly before the beginning of the Summer Split. Following the roster changes, Team Dignitas entered Super Week with a sublime showing against compLexity, followed by a victory against the defending champions, Cloud 9.
Team Dignitas continued to impress, ending Super Week tied for second place with a record of 3-1. I got a chance to ask ZionSpartan about his experience with the team so far, and what he thinks the future may hold.
Hi Zion, congratulations on your start to the Summer LCS and thank you for participating in this interview. I hope this Super Week has been a suitable welcome to Team Dignitas, and that you're enjoying your time with us so far.
Over the past couple of months, you have transitioned from falling into relegation, to being on one of the top teams after the first week of the NA LCS. How does such a drastic change of situation influence your outlook on the game and your confidence?
ZionSpartan: Being in relegations is definitely somewhere I do not want to be again, and I am glad to be back in the LCS on Team Dignitas. I feel that I have been given another chance to prove myself in the LCS on this team, and I do not want to squander it. As for my confidence, it definitely felt great to beat Cloud 9 for the first time in my professional career in an LCS match, so that definitely helps.
Alberto “Crumbzz” Rengifo mentioned in a post-game interview that the team has been spending a lot of time going to the gym together and eating together, and also that he has been having a lot of success in duo queue with you and Danny “Shiphtur” Le. How do you feel about the synergy between you and the rest of the team so far? Is there anyone who you particularly “click” with?
ZionSpartan: I get along with the rest of the team pretty well. Doing a lot of activities with the team throughout the day gives me a lot of the time to get to know the rest of the team better, resulting in better team synergy.
2014 has seen a lot of the "old guard" players like William “Scarra” Li, Brian “TheOddOne” Wyllie, and Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco moving to a coaching role, as well as many LCS teams employing analysts. How does the presence of Scarra and other analysts change the team dynamic when preparing for matches?
ZionSpartan: It is just very helpful to have a support staff when running a competitive league of legends team. There are so many x-factors that the analyst/coach can take care so that the players can focus solely on the game, and our current support staff is doing that job quite well.
ZionSpartan and Scarra after the match versus Cloud 9
In a post-game interview, you spoke about the decision-making process used by Team Dignitas, and that many people are contributing to shot calling. We've seen both strengths and weaknesses of this system in Super Week. Do you think this system works well for you? How does it compare to your previous experience on Team Coast?
ZionSpartan: I think this system of shot calling works quite well. It is quite similar to what we had on Coast, but the communication overall is just better.
Recently, given the popularity of fast pushes in the side lanes, we've seen top laners play a much more “map support” type role in the early game as you roam around. For example, Teleport is a staple Summoner Spell, and it is used to protect vulnerable towers or to influence fights across the map. Against Complexity, we even saw you clearing a lot of jungle camps and taking the Red Buff. What has caused this shift in the early game role of the top laner, and do you think it is a good change?
ZionSpartan: The top laner in this current meta is very often just a secondary jungler on the team during the early stages of the game if a 2v1 is initiated, which in many cases it is. This leads to a buddy system in the jungle where the top laner is starved from farm and has to scrounge for any scraps he can find. I definitely do not enjoy this style of top lane.
During Super Week, Phreak and Jatt spoke about you as the original LCS carry top laner, as your champion picks were more damage and duelling focused which complemented your split-pushing style. On top of Jax being more popular now, we've seen you playing Shyvana multiple times this week as well as Dr Mundo. Has joining Team Dignitas changed the way you make your champion choices?
ZionSpartan: Being on Team Dignitas has not changed the way I make my champion choices. The team still allows me to play what I want without forcing picks onto me.
Your first LCS match with Team Dignitas was against Complexity, and was a very strong showing from the entire team, including a penta kill from Shiphtur. Were you expecting your first game with the team to be so successful?
ZionSpartan: I expected that we would do well our first game, but I definitely did not expect Shiphtur to get a pentakill.
In the match against Evil Geniuses, there were many times that your opponents would send two or three champions to chase you, or stop you as you split pushed. Most of these times, you made the decision to engage the enemy and take someone down with you, but later in the post-game interview, you said this was the incorrect decision. Could you elaborate on the decision making process you experience in situations like these, and why you felt that you played these situations incorrectly?
ZionSpartan: I put myself in a position where I had no choice but to turn and 1v3. If I had better ward coverage or if I had not overextended on these cases, I probably could have saved myself a minute or two of grey screen time.
At other points in the match against Evil Geniuses, there were multiple points at which Baron engagements ended badly for you and the team. What caused these problems that allowed Evil Geniuses to get back into the game? You also spoke about making the decision between continuing to push lanes or to teleport and group with your team during these Baron fights. In a perfect world, how would you have played this differently regarding the Baron?
ZionSpartan: We as a team just needed to control the area around baron better and be more adamant about teleporting in and catching them when they are in our vision.
Regarding the same match, there were multiple problems encountered by both teams in terms of shot calling. In a difficult match like this, how do you maintain your psychological stature and regain your advantage, especially when you are on a new team?
ZionSpartan: When the game drags on and the team may be falling behind, you need to stay positive. It is quite a difficult task for a man to stay positive in the face of adversity, but that is what you must do if you want to win.
GGs are typed as the Nexus of Evil Geniuses explodes
When Team Dignitas faced Cloud 9, the casters noted that Cloud 9 are much more likely than other teams to opt for "standard" 2v2 and 1v1 lanes. In this match, these standard lanes were in effect, but flipped so that you were on the bottom side. Were you expecting, or planning for, this switch? How did it change the way you played the early game?
ZionSpartan: I dont specifically remember the early game for this specific match, but I could safely assume that either us or C9 was looking for some sort of lane swap. It didn't change the early game much besides knowing what side of the map the jungler would be for the first few minutes of the game.
At the end of the match against Cloud 9, the final rush for the Nexus involved the enemy Trundle and Morgana attempting to clean up the low health members of your team, whilst your team was trying to finish the Nexus. At one point, you peeled off the Nexus in order to defeat the enemy Morgana. A similar fight happened in the match between Cloud 9 and Complexity, allowing the Nexus to be saved. In this high pressure scenario, how do you manage your focus between the Nexus and the enemy champions and ensure your victory?
ZionSpartan: It can be very difficult to know whether to focus the nexus or the enemy champions during any sort of base race or nexus rush where you are trying to end the game. The #1 thing is to just not tunnel because the team that tunnels less will most definitely win the fight around the nexus due to the fact that the team defending the nexus must position themselves poorly in most cases to stop you from killing it.
When you faced Team Curse, you found yourself in another lane swap situation. After a successful invade of your Blue Buff, Curse opted to place their Lucian against you in a solo bottom lane whilst their Soraka supported the top laner against your duo lane. This strategy seemed to work very well. How did you adapt to this unexpected swap?
ZionSpartan: I would say we adapted poorly to this swap due to the fact that Curse got 3 buffs and were able to have their adc free farming in a solo lane vs a mundo. We were able to mitigate the losses by making plays on the top side of the map, but Curse's adc got strong off the early game.
There was one fight during the game against Team Curse in which Team Dignitas re-engaged a 4v5 near Baron Nashor. The fight began well as you pushed your opponents back and chased them into the mid lane. At this point, the team was split up and Team Curse managed to turn the fight around, which allowed them to take Baron soon after. With hindsight, what went wrong, and what would you have changed about this engagement?
ZionSpartan: In the first place, there was no need for us to continue to chase them because we could have gotten a free baron. This was due to the fact that I foolishly flashed into the enemy team to continue the chase. This chase could have turned out ok, but we had very poor focus leading to us getting wiped.
Finally, in previous LCS splits, Team Dignitas has started dominantly before falling behind later on. Ending Super Week at 3-1 and beating the defending champions Cloud 9, do you feel that the team can maintain their strong form as the split continues? What role do you see yourself playing in the continued success of the team?
ZionSpartan: The best teams are those that are constantly dedicated and hardworking with the right mindset to win. As long as everyone on the team is putting their utmost effort into winning and everyone has a positive attitude, I don't see why we couldn't become one of the best teams in the world.
ZionSpartan: Shoutout to all of the fans that have supported myself and Team Dignitas, and also I'd like to say thanks to all my friends and family that have been with me every step of the way. I'd also like to mention a shoutout to all of Team Dignitas's wonderful sponsors. I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your lives :).