Austin "LiNk" Shin is the midlaner for NA LCS team, Counter Logic Gaming. Shin was formerly a player on CLG Black, and has played midlane for CLG since the beginning of season three.
What happened for you to move to CLG as a sub from CLG Black?
I stopped playing on CLG Black because of school. I think this was after season two was over and there wasn’t really much going on at the time. There were no tournaments going on and nobody really wanted to scrim because everyone was going to be on break and school was starting up for me. I originally didn’t plan on joining CLG because of school, but then after a lot of thinking and talking with my friends about what I want to do in life, I just decided to pursue my dreams.
What were your initial impressions of the team once you joined the main roster? What was your chemistry like with everyone on the team?
Well, at first it was kind of weird because I was playing with CLG and I was always a CLG fanboy. I looked up to these guys and learned from them while I was learning to play league. So, it was quite strange to be living with them and playing games with them for a living. At first, I didn’t have a voice on the team because I was the new guy. I’m trying my best to hold my own weight and do well in every single game I play in scrims and in matches. So, in the very beginning I felt, I don’t want to say comfortable, it just felt weird. It’s simply because I was just a new guy and thats just how it is.
You mentioned how you felt weird joining CLG, and they are one of the biggest, most popular teams. Did you feel thrown into the spotlight at all or did you feel any pressure that you had to hold up the CLG name?
Yes, I’ve been asked this a lot of times before. It’s like, I was replacing jiji at the time and jiji was this guy who used to be god and he was one of the most famous players on CLG. Not only that, he’s also a midlaner that I looked up to and learned from as well. So, it was kind of weird to replace him and it was quite saddening for me to do it and I just wanted to do well and prove to everyone in the world that CLG is a strong team again.
Coming into season three, the LCS was announced. What was your opinion of having an every week structured tournament rather than having a big tournament every month?
Personally, I liked how season two was ran. It was a lot more casual in a sense, there were a lot more tournies that were more important like MLG’s and IEM that you would just have to practice for. And then there was kind of like small tournies every week that you could choose to attend or not like NESL. With the current format, I’m not really a fan of best of one, I’m more of a fan of best of three and best of five. So, it’s really tiring too because you are playing two to three games a week and sometimes five games a week. You’re trying to get in scrim practice, you’re trying to get in a day off and you're trying to figure out what you want to play and practice in solo queue. It really does become a strict schedule.
Do you think that now you’ve done that type of play for two weeks that you are used to it now?
Definitely in the beginning when I first started playing on CLG the schedule was a lot more lenient. It was kind of like you wake up at two and then we are going to scrim until eight or ten and that’s all we’re going to do. Now, we gotta wake up at twelve and play some solo queue, have some VoD review afterwards and then we scrim from two to ten. It was a lot more scheduled basically and a lot more strict in a sense.
Recently, some would say that CLG has been playing better as a result of better practicing. Do you mind the trade off of that structure if you’re getting better results?
I think you definitely need a structured schedule if you want to be the best. I feel like a lot of the reason Koreans do so well is because they have such a structure schedule and they can just practice really hard and hone in what they want to work on. The North Americans have kind of a weird schedule and are still trying to get into the groove.
Towards the end of the first split, CLG was almost relegated out of the LCS. What was that experience like and what were the weeks before that like?
The mood was just pretty shit because nobody really wanted to be relegated and it was potentially the end of an era because if CLG gets relegated we’re pretty much fucked for at least a split. Not only that, if you’re relegated, there’s zero chance you can qualify for worlds. So, it something that I don't want to face again and I don’t want to experience and I think everyone on the team doesn't want to experience as well.
After avoiding being relegated, CLG still has a tough time in the second split in comparison to their season two performances. Was that frustrating with the fact that CLG had a non consistent roster? Did you ever feel that CLG’s performance was out of your control?
I feel like as a team we didn’t deserve to go to worlds because we weren’t strong enough. A lot of problems existed in the team in terms of strength, communication and a lot of different factors. It’s not something a world class team would have. If you look at SKT T1, they are almost perfect in every way. If you look at CLG, there’s a lot of problems that you can’t really see when you watch them play. Well, sometimes you can see them. But, there were a lot of problems that needed to be fixed and addressed and worked on. Like, in this split we fixed a lot of them and we’re working towards becoming one of the best teams in North America.
Recently in the LCS you filled in the jungle for a month. I don’t think there are many players in the LCS that could instantly make a roleswap and have the same amount of success you had. How are you able to play both roles at a professional level.
The reason I can play a lot of roles is simply that I can play a lot of roles in solo queue. When I was learning the game, I chose to not be a one trick pony. I chose to learn every single role because it’s my belief that if you want to be good at a game you have to understand how each role works and how every champion works because if you want to counter a champion you need to first play that champion to see what he does well and what he does weak against. Roles are pretty much the same thing . If you want to know how a jungler plays it’s better to play as a jungler in solo queue.
Did you learn anything from your time in the jungle that has changed the way you play midlane?
It just allowed me to understand how the jungler works and how to communicate with the team. A lot of the junglers job is to create map control, it can be a lot of subtle ways. It can simply be walking into lane and forcing their jungler to help defend the 2v1 push. It can be the jungler walking into their jungle and warding up and realizing that the jungler isn’t there and that he’s probably on the other side of the map. So, the bottom side should be careful, for example. There’s a lot of thing that a jungler can do to indirectly help the game or indirectly help your laners do better. As a mid laner, I realized how I could utilize the jungle for this.
Where would you rank other NA LCS midlaners just based on individual skill?
It’s Bjergsen and then Hai and afterwards it’s just kind of a toss up I feel like. A lot of the strengths of the midlaners stems for the coordination with their jungler and a reason why cloud isn’t on this list is because him and xmithie used to coordinate really well because xmithie knew how to gank midlane the best. But now that they have xmithie on AD and Zuna in the jungle it’s a different story. So I feel like clouds strengths have fallen a lot.
What do you think your biggest weakness is in the midlane? What is something you’ve had trouble with in the past?
I feel like I want to work on laning these days. In a real game I can always choose to go even, or do well and just be consistent. But, I’m working towards trying to smash lane and carry the game.
What is your greatest strength in the midlane?
My strengths will always be long rage AP carries that can zone and poke. That’s just because of how my playstyle works. But, I’m also working towards learning assassins just in case we might need them for the team.
Image Sources: Counter Logic Gaming, In2LoL,Riot Games