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League of Legends

Maple Reflects on Career Longevity and the Strength of SEA

Tom Matthiesen

PSG Talon having a great time at the 2021 League of Legends World Championship. Having defeated both Hanwha Life Esports and Fnatic in the first half of the Group Stage, the team sits at a 2-1 score, only biting the dust against RNG. For veteran mid-laner Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang, reaching the Knockout Stage would mean a return to where his international journey started, eight years ago.


Maple and PSG Talon are on track to reach the Worlds 2021 Knockout Stage. (Image courtesy of Lance Skundrich for Riot Games)

Maple joined us for an interview at Worlds 2021 and reminisced his debut at the 2013 World Championship. He reflected on his career longevity and the strength of Southeast Asia, comparing it to the peak of the Flash Wolves era.

Hotspawn: I want to take you back to the very first world championship you played, back in 2013, with Gamania Bears. Do you remember your first game in that tournament?

Maple: I felt super lucky that I was the first in my region. I had only been a pro for half a year. And the first time we played, we played against Faker. At the time, I wasn’t his match at all, so it was a very quick two games and then we went home. I felt like I didn’t really get a chance to do anything.

Hotspawn: How do you see yourself now, in light of that performance?

Maple: The Maple of today is much better in terms of mentality, he’s much more consistent. His understanding of the game is far better as well. In the past, I usually just thought about killing people, but now I try to play according to what’s happening in the entire game.

Hotspawn: You and Faker both started appearing at world championships at the same time. And actually, you’ve both been to the same amount of world championships. What do you think of the longevity of your career?

Maple: Both Faker and I started really early, at 15 and 16. So, we’re still not at the age where we need to consider retirement. [Laughs]

Hotspawn: Do you think your career consistency is undervalued?

Maple: Talking about the historical greats, I’ve faced a lot of them. There is a lot of tremendous talent in there. But you have to win it all to really be in the conversation.

Hotspawn: Do you think the Pacific Championship Series is gonna get to a point where it will be as respected as Southeast Asia was in the Flash Wolves days?

Maple: In order for the region to become stronger, it really needs more young blood to come in. I’m talking about kids who are 17 or 18 years old. I think there are still some, but not a lot of them. For young players, it’s easier to have a better passion for the game and to be willing to learn more. Those are the players that will grow the most.

Hotspawn: What does the PCS need in order to get that development going better?

Maple: I think we need more people that are aiming to go pro. I think we also need our top teams to get better records.

Hotspawn: How far do you think PSG Talon will go in Worlds 2021, then?

Maple: I think, if we maintain our current form, then we can make it out of the Group Stage. But further than that, it really is up to each individual person’s improvements.

Hotspawn: When I spoke to Hanabi, he said that the team’s communication had a lot of room for improvement. Do you also consider it an issue?

Maple: I think our communication is not bad. If we can stabilize in our lanes, we usually have pretty good mid-game macro.

Hotspawn: To round up, as you said, you’ve already played against many of the greats. But which player at this tournament do you look forward to playing against?

Maple: I would say ShowMaker. He is a very strong player. I faced him at MSI and he also won last year’s world championship. Last time I wasn’t able to defeat him or his team, so I would like to face him once more.

PSG Talon play their next game against Hanwha Life Esports on Sunday, October 17th, at 2 PM CEST. You can watch the game live on the official LoL Esports site.