CLG top laner Jenkins sat with Gamelevate to discuss his reactions after Day 2 of Week One in the LCS Spring Split, his top lane role models and what he thinks of the top lane meta.
Last year, Team Liquid made some roster shakeups during the Summer Split. One of those changes was promoting Thomas “Jenkins” Tran to the starting role. Jenkins did not disappoint. Now, as the starting top laner for CLG, he has a chance to prove himself to the world why he is one of the best top lane players in North America.
The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Jenkins, thank you so much for talking with me today. I know today was a little bit of a difficult day and not your best weekend so far. So first, I want to ask your thoughts about today’s game.
Honestly, the game was going very well up until the link. It was like the bottom fight where I teleported in, and we ended up trading five for at max one, maybe two. Yeah, but it was just a rough game. We had a not-so-great time entering through dragons post-second dragon. But our early game was, I think, going about as good as we could probably get it to be, besides maybe not getting the rest.
You got to play Kennen. What are your thoughts on Kennen in this meta?
I think it has very good matchups, and I thought it would be pretty good in this particular game. I would just say if you want a team fighter who has a good generally solid laning phase, then yeah, I wouldn’t really mind picking it necessarily. But yeah, if you find a good match for it, it’s probably ok.
I want to ask about your journey as a player. You started in the academy, and you ended up subbing in for Alphari on Team Liquid, where you really got to show your prowess as a player. And now that you’ve had some time to gel as a full-time starting LCS top laner. What’s it been like being the starting top laner for CLG?
It’s been actually different than how I imagined because generally, in most teams, I was like, the new guy on the team. And I didn’t really have a strong voice. And here, I feel like I can actually have that. Also, it feels like everyone around me is starting from scratch, so I think we’re just trying to figure it out.
Is there anyone top player that you’ve looked up to that you really enjoyed playing against? Whether it be recently or in the past?
It’s always been Impact. That’s because he is a very solid player. He knows how to play for the jungle, get his resources and play weakside. It’s just that the champions he has been playing in the past didn’t really show, but what are your thoughts on things like Renekton? I think he does a good job on it usually. But more so recently, I would say Bwipo, just because of how it feels like it’s pretty calculated, like his side lane. He’s just super good. And anything he wants, obviously, he does it very well. And his laning phase is usually generally really solid. And because he role swapped to the jungle, he has a pretty good understanding of what jungle wants to do.
I want to focus a little bit on the top lane meta. I got to ask you yesterday during the scrim about the Janna top, and most likely, we will be seeing it banned for a while until it gets nerfed into the ground. Regarding the professional play meta, we’ve seen a lot of Graves, Gwen, Akshan, and we’ve even seen some tanks enter the meta, and I want to get your thoughts on what you think is strong right now in the top lane.
I think it just depends on what you want to do as a player and what your team wants you to do. Then like each specific comp, so I think Graves is, for example, a generally solid all-rounded pick. You don’t need to play through it, but you can play through it because, like generally, it gets pushed in every lane. Akshan is like the champ you want to pick if you want to set up dives just because of how volatile it can make things, especially with flash/ignite set up, and a lot of people are running recently, where it’s almost guaranteed that the top laner can get dove at level three. I think Gwen is generally a solid blind pick just because she has decent matchups all around. She’ll just naturally farm in every matchup but eventually outscale those champions.
And then there are other picks such as Renekton too. Renekton is pretty popular, and his strength is that he’s very good at fighting early on and getting the best for his team. Some of the tanks that are being used are Ornn as an answer to Renekton. That’s just as like a good matchup and is generally very safe against him. I think that’s generally my opinion on the top meta. The meta is like, if you want to get permapushed, it would probably be Graves. If so, you want a good, strong top laner; It’s either Akshan or Renekton. If you want a scaling champ, it’s perfectly fine to pick Gwen too.
The other question I want to ask is about the teleport changes. I know that many top laners in professional play still tend to go towards teleport/flash. But there are situations where you can use a different summoner spell. We’ve recently seen the LCK and the LPL, players running ghost than ignite. And I want to ask you, what are your thoughts on the Teleport changes?
I generally like the changes because you don’t necessarily have to TP anymore. Now you can secure an advantage with your combat, such as mobility summoner advantage. Like Tryndamire, for example, it doesn’t necessarily teleport just because you can stay in lane pretty much the whole game and use flash/ghost in a side lane; he’ll just run down generally almost any champion.
Akshan is a big one that I think of, like, if you take TP, the threat of a dive is a lot less likely than a threat of a dive with ignite, which also, because he has that threat, he also chooses his own base timer. So he doesn’t necessarily need to have to TP either. So I think the TP changes are pretty good in opening some diversity in the top lane.
I know you’ve gotten to play against many of the LCS top laners in the Lock In. But a couple of new and returning faces joined this week, including names like Huni, Summit, and Licorice. Is there a top laner you want to face off against or someone you want to get revenge on?
I’d like to play against Summit to see how he is it like to play against him because when I went to Korea, I think he was one of the top laners I didn’t get to play against. And I’ve always heard good things about him. So I’m interested to see how he is like to play.
What are your goals personally for the 2022 season?
Probably just working on myself and seeing how I can develop my role on this team. Currently, I’m generally just making sure I can do my job and try not to take too many resources from my team. And there are occasions where I need to do that, and that’s fine, but I would like to work on myself in that aspect.
Next week you play Dignitas QNTMPAY and Golden Guardians. What are your thoughts going to be heading into that weekend?
I think Golden Guardians are a pretty jungle-centric team. I think we expect to see some spicy jungle counterpick on Golden Guardians from what I’ve seen. In contrast, Dignitas generally likes to play around bot lane unless FakeGod is on Renekton, and even then, sometimes they don’t play around FakeGod. Yeah, I think that for Golden Guardians, it will be heavily played around the jungle, whereas Dignitas, they’ll play through bot lane.
Before we end, is there anything you’d like to say to fans of CLG?
Thanks for rooting for us. I know it’s been a rough start so far. But I promise you, we’ll show results.