William “Meteos” Hartman is an LCS jungler currently on OpTic Gaming. He has been on legendary teams like the first iteration of Cloud9, as well as FlyQuest, Phoenix1, and 100 Thieves. His analytical style to the jungle role has made him one of the most famous North American League of Legends players of his position. I caught up with him during the third game of the LCS finals in St. Louis. We chatted while the game was playing in the background and even saw Team Liquid coming back into the series.
Daily Esports: What do you think of Game 3 [of the LCS finals] so far?
William “Meteos” Hartman: Well, it looks like Liquid’s still putting up a fight in Game 3. I don’t know. Their drafts have all seemed pretty weird today. It seems like they’ve sort of doubled down on the narrative of, “Everyone’s saying Impact can’t play carries,” so now it’s they’re only playing carries on Impact. It seems like they would probably be better off with some kind of front line engage.
What do you think of some of the other picks so far? The Sona/Taric, the Lux, the Heimerdinger.
I think the Heimer kinda made sense on paper, but it didn’t seem like Jensen was that comfortable on it. In fights, just seemed like he was not making the best decisions, which just comes from practicing a champion enough. That one didn’t really work out. Then Game 2, Liquid chose to fight against the Sona/Taric. That’s a bot lane that’s been popping up everywhere.
Usually, you just ban Taric so you don’t deal with it. They want to try Ashe/Zyra, which on paper can work. You’re gonna dumpster that lane. You can hopefully kill their turret quickly, but … they have that top lane matchup of Kennen into Irelia, which was last picked, by the way. Rek’sai spent most of his time up in that top side. And so the way League works, if your jungler shows top, their jungler is either gonna counter-gank that, or he’s gonna just run bottom right away. So TL’s bot lane, because their jungler is showing top, they have to sort of release their pressure. Not push the turret as hard so they don’t die to a gank. It seems like they are playing off. Not really in their best form.
As an LCS jungler, how do you approach these kind of games? Are you watching their pathing more than usual? Do you think the pathing is indicative of the series so far, with Akaadian taking over?
I think Akaadian’s been on better picks most of the time. Game 1, he was Rek’sai into Jarvan, which has been overwhelmingly Rek’sai-favored recently. It seems like the Jarvan rarely wins that matchup. That was good for TSM. Liquid actually did a pretty good job Game 1 of messing with Akaadian early game. They got a kill and they blew his flash. That was pretty good by them. For Game 2, Xmithie was on Rek’sai and Akaadian was Hecarim. To me, in solo queue, it seems like Hecarim and Rek’sai are the best junglers and Akaadian’s been playing them and doing really well. Xmithie has been playing Jarvan. He’s playing Skarner now Game 3, which I’m not overly excited about. I feel like Skarner doesn’t do damage at all. He literally just does none.
It’s the Conqueror junglers.
Exactly. Conqueror is just crazy right now. I think getting good value out of that is pretty important. And it seems like it’s not what Team Liquid was practicing.
Do you have any specific plans for the summer? Presumably you’re starting on OpTic? I have yet to hear anything otherwise.
I have yet to hear anything else too. So that is the plan, as of now. During the off season, I’m not really planning too much. This was kind of the big event for me. I flew my brother out; he’s never been to a big event like this. It’s cool getting to hang out with him and show him what my world has been like for the past five years. Aside from that, I’ve been just getting back into streaming. I just want to play a lot of League, get ready for next split. I’m still confident in my abilities as a player for sure, but obviously we’re not winning. I’m just doing anything I can to get better myself.
Is there something you do as a veteran LCS player to kind of keep the newer players on your team grounded in a sense? If games are going bad, “We just gotta pick ourselves up and focus on what we can do to win”?
I’d say usually I try to help people feel better after we have a hard loss. Sometimes, I get kind of rattled from losses too, but not usually. Only if it’s something really messed up. I usually try to check in with players if it seems like someone’s out of it, like tilted or something. I’ll try to talk to them and see what’s going on, see if I can help.
Do you think junglers are the players that get the most tilted onstage? If you lose a Baron steal, or a Dragon. I feel like stuff with supports or AD carries, the worst thing is that they get picked off, or they get focused. With you guys, it’s very instantaneous, whether or not you guys have secured something or lost something.
Right, it can be for sure. Getting Baron or Dragon stolen is pretty tilting, ’cause your whole team is gonna be upset at you. If you think about it, it’s a really weird situation where it’s not even that big of a mistake to get Baron smited from you. Human reaction time isn’t good enough to smite exactly missing the health; part of it’s guessing.
And the game isn’t always showing the health. It could jump down from like 800 to 400 in half a second.
Definitely. You don’t know when your AD carry is gonna crit when they hit it, that kind of stuff. You don’t know when the other team is gonna jump in, so there’s a lot of things going on. It’s a much smaller offense than missing a tank minion, right?
It’s so much more gold.
Yeah, they still miss tanks all the time, but what I’m saying is that the input going into it — it’s a lot more understandable for a Baron steal. It’s just the output of actually getting Baron instead of you is insane. The result of the mistake, if you can call it a mistake, is significant. So it’s viewed as you did something horrible. When in reality, there’s only so much you can do.
I mained jungle for like 3 years and I just got burnt out in like Season 7 or 8. How do you keep up with your position? Have you thought about switching to a lane? Have you just always loved the jungle?
Mhm. I haven’t really given it serious consideration to switching. Sometimes I feel like support nowadays is closer to what jungle was for the longest time. For the most part I enjoy jungle. Playing solo queue can be frustrating at times because everyone likes to blame you for everything. You have a good amount of control in solo queue as jungle. Probably like one of the highest roles, but still you’re one person out there with five. I guess the hardest thing about jungle is you’re really likely to get blamed. If any laner has a bad time, they can be like, “Our jungler sucks,” and the other laners will be like, “Yeah, that sounds right. Our jungler sucked,” that kind of thing. It’s whatever. I’m pretty used to it, but it can be kind of annoying still.
Jumping back to OpTic, how has it been, not necessarily directly competing, but obviously Dardoch is on the team as well? Do you have a really good relationship with him? Are you guys trying to make each other better? Or is it just one of those things where it’s like, “I’m gonna work on me, you’re gonna work on you, and then whoever shows up, shows up”?
It’s probably somewhere in the middle there, where we’ll talk about the game and it doesn’t really feel like either one of us is trying to hide something from one another. It’s a pretty beneficial relationship for the most part. We don’t see eye to eye on everything. A lot of it is just like, he’ll come to me and be like, “Yo dude, what do you think about Riven jungle? It seems busted.” And I’ll be like, “I don’t really play Riven. It doesn’t seem that strong to me, but if you like it then go for it,” kind of thing. So we don’t always agree on everything. We’ll see situations differently of course, like anyone would. We’ll give each other tips or ask each other questions about stuff. Share our opinions, stuff like that.
Tomorrow are the LEC Finals. G2 versus Origen. Who do you think is gonna take that?
G2 versus Origen, so Origen beat Fnatic?
Yeah, they won 3-1 earlier today.
Interesting. I didn’t actually catch that game at all.
Actually, I was a little bit disappointed that they didn’t bring out some of the crazier picks. Fnatic picked Sona/Taric Game 1, and Origen immediately answered in the first round of picks with Zed/Blitzcrank. They won that, Game 2. Patrik and Mithy played Sona/Taric; they kinda stream rolled. Game 3 Fnatic won, and then the last one Origen just took over.
Interesting. It seemed like a lot of people were expecting Fnatic to make it. It should be good though. G2 looks pretty strong. It’s really interesting when you look at the reasons. It seems that Griffin, TL, and G2 all kind of followed a similar trajectory throughout their season … starting incredibly strong. Once they secured first, they kind of took a dip, dropped some games. At least for playoffs so far, Griffin got 3-0’d in finals, and Liquid looks like they are about to get 3-0’d in finals. Maybe G2 is gonna go and get 3-0’d in finals.
With the winner going to [the Mid-Season Invitational], is there anything specific you try and take with you to international competitions?
MSI’s a rough one. It doesn’t necessarily feel like a reward as a player. Just ’cause there is not that much of a break between spring and summer, if you go to playoffs. If you go all the way through playoffs, then you have another MSI event. So it seems like a lot of the time the players that go to MSI actually end up looking a bit weaker when they come back. [It could be] it’s just them not taking the competition as seriously, because, “You know, I just played against, like, Faker and Uzi. Now I’m playing against ‘you know.'”
The “G2 took a vacation right before” meme.
Yeah, there’s stuff like that. I think that losing your off-season, just losing that break, can be really hard. When LCS is in season, time just goes by like that; it’s so fast. So having breaks is really nice to recuperate.
[Gameplay from Game 3 catches our attention in the background. Team Liquid is hanging in there.]
I always love five-game series. I’m from New Jersey, so I’ve been able to go to Toronto, Boston. I went to the World semifinals in Madison Square Garden. But for Team Liquid, how do you think their mentality is with being down two games, playing backs against the wall? CoreJJ is on Tahm Kench finally.
It looked like CoreJJ was running it down a bit in the start of this one. They seem to be recovering; I don’t know. … You’re in the finals, and you’re about to lose — it’s pretty hard. I mean, I guess it’s where you kind of see how everyone’s mentality is, right? There’s the players, whose gonna get really scared to lose and kind of choke, and there’s the players that over-perform when their back’s up against the wall. The clutch factor and whatnot. Liquid seems like they are all pretty experienced players, so I don’t think they are going to make any really crazy tilt decisions or anything. It’s definitely hard to be them.
Meteos has been and will continue to be one of the most recognizable North American players due to his longstanding success and amazing hair styles over the years. It was great to meet him and see exactly what’s going on in a pro’s head during the most tense time a player could have. Make sure to follow Meteos on Twitter.