Eugene “Pobelter” Park has been playing mid lane in the NA LCS for the better part of four years. In that time he’s always had a reputation as the mid laner you pick if you need someone solid. He may not normally win lane, but he never lost. But the 2018 Spring Split Finals marks the beginning of a new chapter for the 21-year-old mid laner.
Far from being the quiet workman in the series, Park absolutely dominated, turning in one of the game’s best plays and earning himself the Finals MVP award. Fresh off his first ever championship win, the Rift Herald had the chance to sit down with Park to talk about his time in Miami, playing Azir, and his mid lane legacy.
Rift Herald: First of all, just taking a minute to slow down from everything that’s happening, how has Miami been?
Eugene “Pobelter” Park: It’s been nice, whatever little part it was [we] have been able to get out and see, because we have been preparing a lot. But we got to walk around the venue a bit and downtime Miami, it’s been fun. It’s really lively, a lot of people are here just to get wasted and party and shit like that so it’s a really laid back atmosphere.
We got to see the beach, too, for like 15 or 30 minutes. We were staring at the beach and the ocean the whole time from our practice room, cause we have an awesome view so we were like, “We have to go out here guys.” So it was really fun, we went as a team, and we went in the water for a little bit, but the waves were kinda strong and the water was so salty it was making our skin burn. It was like, “Alright, that was fun. Let’s go back.”
RH: When you were preparing stuff, did you come into this series against 100 Thieves did you have anything specific in mind like a particular goal for yourself?
EP: Just to win ya know? Like, if we win who cares.
RH: Was Azir your main target pick coming into the series?
EP: We were actually anticipating that they would ban it every single game because Ryu is not a player that has played much Azir in the past. He was trying to pick it up in solo queue but wasn’t finding much success, also they had a history of banning Azir on blue side. All of this pointed toward them banning Azir. The third game it definitely felt like they would ban it ,but they kind of ran it back with the same strategy from game one and just kept losing.
RH: With Azir what do you feel like you were able to bring to your team as a whole?
EP: I think Azir is a ticking time bomb. He is the best scaling champion in the mid lane and has a lot of playmaking once you hit level six. So he is just overall one of the top picks in mid lane.
RH: Other than just banning Azir, were you afraid they were gonna come in with a counter or something specific to use against you guys that they didn’t?
EP: Not really. We were pretty prepared for all the weird cheesy stuff they could do, like supports we aren’t experienced against, like Bard or something. Other than that they are a pretty standard team.
RH: You guys, as a team, started out the split doing incredibly well, everybody thought you were absolutely the best, but then you had kind of a rough middle part, what changed for you guys to come back out of that?
EP: I guess we lost our way or maybe our weaknesses just started to show as other teams improved. We were not really on the same page a lot of the time, we weren’t really playing as a team. And we were having some trouble adjusting to the patch super quickly. It’s kind of a crap shoot honestly because it’s best of ones and things change so quickly. We got caught off guard a couple of times, like when Skarner came into the meta we were caught off guard for a couple of games. When Olaf came into the meta we really got caught off guard.
Those are kind of things that aren’t really indicative of us being slow to adapt but rather that you only have one game. With the regular season being best of ones, if you make a bad call once, you lose that game. You really feel like you don’t have much time to adapt outside of playoffs.
RH: Do you feel that you guys are a better playoff team than best of one team?
EP: Probably. It would have depended. If we had better analyzed the patch or been more prepared, maybe we would have had an awesome regular season record to boot, and in retrospect we were only one game out from a first or second seed finish.
RH: Yeah, everyone ended up being so close in the standings, was that last day exhausting?
EP: Yeah, well, it felt like we played a real day of LCS actually. We played three games in one day, it was nice, we actually got to play.
RH: This roster has a lot of similarity to other rosters you have played on, what makes it different. Was it Liquid as an organization, or just the additional people?
EP: I think everyone is just very like minded. Like I said, at the beginning of the split everyone wasn’t on the same page we were making bad calls a lot of the time and that led to inaction, so we just made our team goal to be unified and to try to play together and I think that’s our strength.
RH: For a lot of other mid laners, when you think of the you associate them with a specific champion. When you think of Faker you think of Ryze or Leblanc, when you think of Bjergsen you think of Syndra. But when you think of Pobelter it was a little less clear, maybe you think of Viktor? But after this series it seems like this could have been a defining pick for you, now when people think about you they are probably going to think of your Azir in this series. Was that something you thought about at all, or was it just about Azir being good in this meta and in those compositions?
EP: Most of the good mid laners in the league will have a good Azir. It’s just sort of the nature of the champion and how strong he is. As far as whether or not he is a signature champion for me, uhm, I guess you could say it’s one of them, definitely Viktor, but yeah, probably Viktor and Azir.