After spending a year overseas, Shernfire has returned to Oceania for his first taste of the OPL with the Dire Wolves. We got the chance to catch up with him and talk to him about his substitute situation with Sybol, his time on his own in North America and Korea, the Dire Wolves game against Avant Garde this weekend, and more!

Note: This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Last week the team announced that they were sticking with you for the rest of the season. Why were you chosen over Syb0l?

It was a team decision. I don’t think subbing out every game was benefiting either of us and I think my goals were more in line with the team’s goals. I was more determined to succeed and had more ambition.

Many teams have tried out six-man rosters, and very few of them have succeeded. Do you think it’s because teams haven’t figured out how to manage subs yet or is it just not feasible in League of Legends?

I think six-man rosters only work in Korea because in Korea the competition is very even. Their gaming is culture it’s like sports in Western countries. So, there’s a lot of people out there that want to be a pro gamer, and if you’re a sub for a team you always have to work your way up just like in a traditional sport, so it’s the same as if you were an amateur boxer, you have to work your way up.

Whereas in OCE or NA you just have to get a high solo queue and you’re straight away on a team. Unless there’s a big cultural change, it’s not happening. Because even though gaming isn’t temporary anymore, it’s not a dream that everyone has like being a soccer or a basketball player. It’s not something where everyone is willing to put in so much work for it. There’s only so many people that are willing to put in so much work to for this dream and not many people have this dream and are willing to chase it, compared to people who are willing to chase being a soccer or basketball player.

You first picked Ivern when Graves was open last week. Is that you trying to adapt and expand your play-style?

Yeah, I believe that if you want to be a complete player you have to be able to do everything and not just be a quote/unquote “aggressive” or have a playstyle. I think having a playstyle means you’re limited. You don’t do that if you want to be unconditional, that’s the way I see it. If you’re conditioned only to be able to win on certain champions or only do well on those champions, then you’re not going to get the best results. If you play 50 games, you’re not going to get those champions every game.

So for me, it was about playing different champions and learning different champions. Especially after the loss to Legacy, I took the time to learn a different champion and a different playstyle because Ivern is very different to every other jungler.

A couple of champions are slowly being nerfed and falling out of the meta. Kha’zix has gone past first pick priority, and there are more Rengar nerfs coming. Which champions (if any) do you think will re-enter the meta as a result?

I think the meta is the same, but the overall jungle is nerfed. I think the biggest thing besides the champion nerfs, was that the jungle camps got way stronger, so that changed the whole game, so junglers like Graves and Elise that don’t need a leash will become stronger. Overall, I think it’s still the same. It’s conditional, which champions you want to play, and it’s all situational to me. I don’t think there’s a first pick worthy champion right now; it’s all about how you want to do your draft and how you want to make that champion work in your composition.

Where do you think you rank in terms of OPL junglers and who is your biggest competition?

I think I personally can’t rank myself, but if I were to choose rankings I’d say Spookz, Carbon, and Juves. Personally, I don’t think they’re my competition but that they’re competition among themselves that’s why I can’t rank myself. They’re just competing amongst themselves.

You spent over six months on your own playing Korean Solo queue after leaving NA CS. Did that improve you as a player and how so?

I think it improved me outside of life. I was just a kid who got handed everything in life, even though my parents aren’t the richest and they’re just hard working. They spoiled me so when I was living on my own I had to figure everything out myself, and I had to grow as a person if I wanted to do something like that.

Even going to North America by myself meant I had to learn how to do simple things by myself which I didn’t know how to do because I was spoonfed a lot of the time. So that helped me a lot in becoming a better player and a better person because I believe lifestyle is a big thing. If you want to become a better player your schedule needs to be centered around practice. It’s not 16 hours a day of practice which I used to do which is inefficient; you’re not going to get an improvement if you just play 16 hours a day.

You spent a year overseas first in North America and then in Korea. How do you think the Oceania scene has improved and progressed since you last saw it?

I think it’s regressed. Of course, everyone has grown in gameplay. I don’t even know because I was never in the OCE scene but I think people are just complacent. How can a team win four times in a row and not make it to Worlds and how can nobody overthrow that team that’s won four times in a row just to make Wildcard Qualifiers and fail.

Obviously, you spent some time playing in NA CS, and so you have a little bit of experience with team houses, but for most of your teammates, this will be their first time living on their own. How has that been?

Everyone here is a little bit spoon-fed so in terms of cleanliness it’s not the best but we work with it, and everyone’s got days where they wash, so it’s not a big deal. But it did come up after a couple of weeks where we actually had to have a set schedule, so nobody just says ‘I’ll leave it to that guy’ or whatever.

The Dire Wolves have been chasing the Chiefs and Legacy for a couple splits now, but they’ve never quite caught up. What makes this roster different?

What makes this roster different is me. I think before this, and I think everyone in the OCE scene is like this, the thing that I want to change the most and that’s already changing is that you need to take responsibility. Take responsibility for your mistakes, take responsibility for the problems you’ve had and don’t just shift it to a teammate you want to kick or don’t just shift it to some other problem that you think is out of your control. I think that’s the biggest change that’s been made in the almost penthouse place.

You play Avant Garde this weekend who are right beneath you in the standings. How do you feel that game’s going to play out?

Across the board, I don’t see any threats at all. I just see a similar team to every other team. They’ve got their strengths, and they’re like a mini version Chiefs. They’ve got a mid-laner who’s their best player, and they just play around that, but it’s an easy problem to solve.

Chelby was known for his more aggressive playstyle in previous splits, but on this iteration of Avant Garde, he’s focused more on supporting his solo laners. We talked about your Ivern pick already, so you’ve sort of been trying out the same thing. Do you think that’s because of the meta or simply a team decision?

It’s just their team. Some teams just decide to use their strengths which is fine, but you can’t ignore your weaknesses which I think is what Avant Garde do. They try to use their strengths and then ignore the fact that their bot lane and top lane aren’t as good as other laners. You can’t do that in a team game; you have to be able to work on your weaknesses and play to your strengths.

What weaknesses do you guys think you have to shore up before playoffs?

I think what needs to change is just making sure we don’t get complacent and just individually working on ourselves. Right now we need to figure out what’s the best draft for us and what we need to change in our individual play because right now the only thing that’s stopping us is finding out what the meta is. And there’s a new patch next week and that might not even be the one that playoffs is on so we’ll need to figure that out too.

Any final words or shout outs?
Shout out to LG and to all the underground fans who followed me ever since I was in Korea.

Dire Wolves take on Avant Garde on Sunday 12 March from 6PM AEDT – Watch the OPL live here.