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Hans sama: “My focus is more on winning the title than on going to Worlds”

Tom Matthiesen

For the second Split in a row, Rogue has made it to the top three in the LEC Playoffs. And for the second time in a row, it is G2 who stands in their way of reaching the grand finals. After suffering a loss against MAD Lions, Rogue found their footing against Schalke 04 in the Playoffs’ lower bracket. With a 3-1 victory, Rogue advanced, in large part due to the performance of bot laner Steven “Hans sama” Liv.

Hans sama

A familiar opponent awaits Hans sama in the LEC Spring Split Playoffs. Image courtesy of Michal Konkol for Riot Games.

After the victory, Hans sama joined to talk about his performance. He spoke about the importance of staying focused during a best of five series, and how he ensures he’s in the right mental state. Hans sama also talked about playing Kalista, and working together with his lane buddy Trymbi to perform well during the laning phase.

Hotspawn: Congrats Hans on the victory! That was pretty one-sided in the end. How do you feel you performed in the series?

Hans sama: I think I played very well. It could have been better at some times, but I feel like I’ve always won the bot lane, in every single game. In the mental battle or in the play battle. They weren’t hard wins, but I always felt like I had more pressure. I guess that’s also because of the champions I picked. I was happier about the mentality I had, and that I did my all to actually win the games. I really tried to do things in the game in order to win. Basically, I did my all every single game to force stuff. To always have an actual plan, to make the team plan, to help my team as much as possible. I was trying to create pressure, opening up the map, and I feel like I did that well. We got some good early to mid-games.

Hotspawn: You’ve spoken before about making sure you’re in the right mental state. What did you do to prepare for this match?

Hans sama: It means making sure that you’re not too attached to the last game, that you cannot be affected by it in a negative way. I could see that maybe our team can focus too much on the negative sometimes.

Hotspawn: They’re too critical in the middle of the series?

Hans sama: Too critical, yeah. This is something that we have to work on in order to be a team that comes back insanely well. I feel like we don’t come back as well, maybe. That’s something I tried to focus on for today. I always tried to focus on the next game, even if we fucked up in the last game. We still won, and that doesn’t matter for now. The thing that matters the most is the next game and how we play in the next game. If we always focus on the negatives of the game that we won, that’s not good. [Laughs]

Mistakes are gonna happen all the time. I just want us to become a team where we are comfortable about making mistakes. In one game today, we kind of threw. When we throw, we are in a lower mental state and we become less confident. That’s dangerous if you aim to be a top team. If you aim to be a top team, there are teams that will try to come back no matter what. If they threw a game, they’re gonna try to find a way to come back.

Hotspawn: And you made sure that your mind was always on the game ahead of you.

Hans sama: I kept feeling pretty optimistic. I mean, I really wanted to win. I tried to take many steps to keep up the good mental state, to keep up the good awareness. I think my play was good as well. Sometimes I died because I wanted to play too aggressively. That’s how I am as a player now, I guess. [Laughs] In the team, I am the guy who just wants to go crazier. I’m very proactive. I’m not someone who’s silent. Maybe I make some mistakes because I’m talking a lot, or I’m thinking a lot about the macro. That might happen more because I’m trying to think of everything. My micro, because I’m trying to lead the bot lane a lot. I am the primary shot-caller, saying how the bot lane should work. Trymbi is a rookie and I have more knowledge on how to move as a bot lane.

I kind of want to have that responsibility. There are so many things that I can do and it feels nice. At the same time, maybe sometimes I will just end up dying. [Laughs] That’s the negative side-effect of playing aggressively all the time and trying to look for opportunities.


Hans sama and Ismael

Hans sama and Rogue’s Performance Coach, Ismael Pedraza. Image courtesy of Michal Konkol for Riot Games.


Hotspawn: Since you’re well-aware of what you think is the right mental state to be in, do you help your team at all with getting them in that mindset too? Or is that something that’s done by your performance coach, Ismael?

Hans sama: I would say that Ismael helps the team more to help the team be in a good mental state. He’s always there to help us. I wish that I was more supportive for the team sometimes. When people get tilted, I can get tilted as well. It’s very hard. So I want to start it, lead with having this mentality. Some others on the team do it as well. I think it’s going the right way. Today, we were pretty good at being there for each other. We really shouldn’t fall in that trap where people will just play for themselves. It just affects how you play as a team if you don’t focus.

Hotspawn: Let’s talk a bit about a particular champion we saw you play very effectively against Schalke 04: Kalista. It’s a champion you’re known for playing well. Was today just a ‘Kalista day’ for you against Schalke 04, or do you feel it’s a top priority for you no matter what?

Hans sama: I feel like playing Kalista helps me more to help my team. I would be happy to play Xayah and scale for free but… Maybe it’s me, maybe I am the problem and I just can’t chill. But when I was playing Xayah and just chilling, it just didn’t work. I want to play something to help more. I feel like Kalista is one of those champions that I have a really decent micro knowledge of. I can open the map up really easily because of that pick and the confidence that I have. It’s the same with some other champions. But some champions are just more passive than others. They play more for the 3v3. The team has to help you a bit more. You just can’t win a 2v3 or a 2v2 easily with those champions.

I mean it’s possible—Ezreal can win his lane—but it’s not as consistent as having a Kalista and just stomping, fake-pressuring, stuff like this. That’s why I play Kalista. The champion is not that good, I think, but I know how to play her exactly in terms of macro, in terms of laning. I can make Kalista look really strong, so that’s why I play her.

Hotspawn: It’s also a champion that requires extra synergy between you and your support player. The synergy between you and Trymbi is something that has visibly improved in the Split. Are you happy with the state of that synergy at the moment?

Hans sama: It’s not perfect; I think we were in a big, big slump these past couple of weeks. It was very worrying during the series versus MAD Lions and after the series. I feel like the team fell apart. Well, we really fell apart! We really hit the ground. I can’t believe it, but we really hit the ground. So today against Schalke it might be a one-sided series, but I feel like it could have been more one-sided. But we are coming back to the top again and this is what I’m happy about.

The practice of yesterday and the day before yesterday gave us a lot of hope to actually win today. Our first scrims after the MAD Lions series were bad, but the last two days we came back. Being in that position, being able to come back, gave me a lot of good feelings about this team. We came back from a very hard spot and we won today. Maybe it could bring us to a higher level, even.

Hotspawn: Your next opponent is going to be G2. During the regular Split you had one very close encounter with them and one where they pretty much stomped you. How are you looking forward to the series?

Hans sama: I’m pretty excited. [Laughs] I feel like the G2 we’re gonna face right now is going to be stronger than the one we saw versus MAD Lions, for sure. They problem-solve really well. This is just another challenge, honestly. My focus is more on winning the title than on going to Worlds. I really want to have this in my career. That, when you think about Hans sama, you don’t think “well he didn’t really win any title.” So I would like to win more titles. G2 is on my path right now. It’s also a good motivation to have a finals where there is not a G2 or Fnatic for the first time. MAD Lions made it. Fighting for a MAD Lions versus Rogue final is pretty exciting.

Hans sama and Rogue face G2 Esports on Saturday, April 10th, at 5 PM CEST. The winner will advance to the LEC Spring Split Grand Finals.