After struggling for much of 2017 — fresh off a ban for the entire duration of 2016 — Anson “Empt2y” Leung is once again performing at a high level for his newest team, G-Rex. Most importantly, he’s doing it for them at this year’s World Championship. Despite all the struggles, Empt2y has been a key part of G-Rex’s perfect 4-0 record in the Play-In stage and will need to be sharp if G-Rex hopes to qualify for the main event.
We had the opportunity to chat with Empt2y about his career, G-Rex, and the World Championship.
Firstly, as someone who knows well about the trials of your career whether it was your ban in 2016 or your comeback attempts in 2017, how does it feel to be contributing to G-Rex right now on the world stage?
It’s my pleasure, I guess. I didn’t do well in [Wayi Spider] and Kowloon Esports, but the manager of G-Rex still invited me in 2017 so it’s an honor. I guess it’s a bit of luck so I’m glad that I have these teammates and coaches.
You, Candy, and Stitch were teammates on Midnight Sun three years ago… Did you guys intend to team up again on G-Rex? What exactly happened?
It just happened. Since, at that moment they were looking for a Korean mid and AD, [Toyz] asked me if anyone was good for the role. I told them Candy at that time and they were still… actually, at that time I didn’t recommend Stitch because I thought he would want to stay in Samsung. But I think Toyz contacted Olleh and [Olleh] introduced Stitch to him. That’s how we got all three of us together again.
More on old teammates, what is it like playing with Candy again after all this time? Are you rekindling old synergy?
I don’t remember too much about 2015… I didn’t have any synergy with Candy. We just played with each other and by ourselves. It was the main reason we fell in the regional finals [that year] because Flash Wolves is pretty good at mid-jungle synergy. Coming into this split and this year, I tried to practice more with Candy than before and we realized that mid-jungle synergy is really important. Every team is trying to do the best strategy so I put all my focus into the early game for Candy.
Actually, since you use Korean to communicate with Candy, I always wondered… When, how, and why did you learn to speak Korean? I know you know Mandarin, Cantonese, and English.
Actually, I stopped my school life at 13 years old and I found out that I had nothing to do at that time so I started playing league. I just fell in love with those Korean girl groups and I started to watch a lot of those TV programs, while learning Korean at that time.
Oh, who was your favorite group?
At that time, it was SNSD. But I’m done with that, so now I have no favorite female group.
Ah, makes sense. I guess it worked out for your career though!
I guess! (laughs)
Still on the topic of languages, what is the communication like in G-Rex with several languages?
Actually, I will just speak in Korean for the early game with Candy. Once we get to mid game, we discuss what we have to do with Koala in Chinese. I just translate it immediately for our Korean players. I’m used to it.
Many people expected little from G-Rex because of HKA’s performance last year, but you guys put a perfect 4-0 record for the Play-In stage. How did you feel coming into it and do you feel that the Group Stage is in reach?
I think we were confident from the start since I didn’t think we were really the 3rd seed team. The meta change really made us struggle in the start of the Summer Split so that cost us the playoff chances of getting the 2nd seed. So now, we just play like we’re the second seed. I just hope we do great in the Group Stage.
You say you’re the #2 seed… Is that because MAD Team isn’t good or do you just feel improved?
I’m not saying that MAD isn’t good… Of course their jungler is the best in the LMS right now, but I still think we would beat them if we faced each other in the quarterfinal.
Anyway, what is it like being on the World stage now as an individual? You had a lot of trouble getting here so does that make it extra special?
It’s amazing. I thought I gave up this dream in 2016 and 2017 since I think those events really cost my life. I almost dropped this dream. Since I’m also a translator for my team, I didn’t work as a player that much since the beginning of Spring. After that, being a player on the World Stage is just excellent for me. It’s really amazing.
So, lastly, I told a lot of people that you were actually Canadian since I’m one of the few people who knows anything about the LMS in the west. It caught wind and now you’re really popular among NA fans… Some people are even saying “TSM Empt2y.” What do you think about that?
To be honest, I started to contact NA teams since 2014. Liquid, or Team Curse at that time, CLG, TSM and C9 were teams that I sent my resume to. Only Steve from Team Liquid replied to me. I was playing with 180 ping in Hong Kong when I got into the NA server so I didn’t actually join scrims at that time. I went to NA once before in 2016, but there were still no teams interested in me. I guess it’s because Worlds was happening at that time. I would be really glad and pleasured if I could go to the NA LCS after this year ends. Teams, please contact me when my contract is over (laughs).
Photo: (Riot Games, Lolesports)