Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim is the French captain of European favourites Fnatic and has been around the League of Legends scene since its inception. He’s only 23, but he’s one of LoL's most experienced players.
Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim is “a proud Fnatic captain,” he Tweeted yesterday after his team’s victory over China’s Edward Gaming in the quarter finals of the League of Legends World Championships. Yellowstar is a Worlds stalwart, having been to all of them since they began five years ago. The only other player to have achieved this feat is former Team SoloMid player Marcus “Dyrus” Hill, who retired from the game recently after TSM failed to make it out of group stages. After talking to Yellowstar after his victory, it sounds like he’s still loving the game and is going to be around for some time yet.
Fnatic beat EDG 3-0 in a whitewash that was unexpected even to most of the hardcore fans who had taken over Wembley Arena. London’s fans showed their European pride as Fnatic out-positioned and out-played their opponents across Summoner’s Rift. Did Yellowstar expect the victory to come so easily?
“You never know what to expect,” Yellowstar says. “We scrimmed a lot against every team, but when we didn’t know the groups yet we were like ‘are they playing seriously, are they hiding, are they trying to troll,’ and we can never know. We had really good success during scrims, but we were worried because our tournament didn’t start very well, so we thought maybe we were too confident, maybe scrims didn’t work that well. However in the end, the Fnatic that showed up in the scrims showed up on stage just now, so we’re really happy about that.”
EDG had chances to capitalise on a few Fnatic mistakes in all of the games, but it was the European team who were able to punish their opponents when the opportunity arose. “I think we had pretty good chances coming into game three. The strategy of EDG was pretty clear to us, so what we wanted to do was shut down what they’re good at. We did that really well by shutting down the peel they could offer to Deft, because that’s who they play the most around. We think that their communication wasn’t great and they weren’t able to do their gameplan, so we could capitalise on that.”
Yellowstar is one of the few pros who remembers what League of Legends was like at the very start. “Everything is so different from year to year. You get more people coming to watch you, the competition is really, really tough right now. You have to keep up with the pace, you have to practice a huge amount of hours, because you know that if you’re missing a few hours of practice, then someone might be better than you. Your rival will become better and you won’t be able to face his team. The most important thing for a player is to stay motivated."
“But the crowds now, everything is just amazing,” says Yellowstar. “When we started we had to bring our computers to the event, you know? Back then you had only 200 people watching you. Now there are thousands, they’re chanting your name, it’s amazing to have this level of support.”
Fnatic won the very first World Championship back in 2011, without Yellowstar on the roster. Asian teams have won Worlds each time since. With Fnatic going undefeated in the LCS regular season, and with a semi final booked with either KT Rolster or Koo Tigers, is this Fnatic’s best chance yet to get their hands on the Summoner’s Cup?
“Even though Europe was really dominant during season one and Fnatic won the World Championship,” Yellowstar tells me, “and even though Fnatic got through to the semi finals in season three, we lost to a Chinese team. But this year, we beat a Chinese team in the quarter finals, so this might be our best chance to reach the final and win the whole tournament. It’s too early to tell, but I think we have the tools to do so. We have to keep working, and doing the same stuff we’ve been doing up until now.”
Who does Yellowstar think he’ll be facing in the semi finals? Both teams are Korean, and people I’ve spoken to so far have had differing ideas of how Sunday’s quarter final will go. “I don’t really know, because those teams know each other really well,” says Yellowstar. “They’ve been playing each other for a whole season. But now, coming into Worlds, they didn’t know that they’d be facing each other, so maybe they haven’t scrimmed against each other. A lot of things might have changed since the last time they played, so it’s hard to tell.”
Yellowstar played in London last year during the LCS’ brief stint here. Now that there’s more on the line, has the atmosphere changed? “It’s different. Last year it was LCS regular season, and this year it’s Worlds quarter finals, it’s just bigger stakes. So many people are hyped. They know there are four days of quarter finals, of big matches. On paper everyone is saying that everyone can beat everyone, which isn’t actually true because on paper you can imagine who’s going to win. For example I would’ve have gone for Origen and SKT. I think our match was the closest one so far.”
There’s no retirement on the horizon for Yellowstar just yet, and having Worlds take place in various cities across Europe is contributing to his enjoyment. “In the end, it’s a lot of fun. I really enjoy playing in Europe because it feels like home.”
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