Armao Talks Unique Perspective As A Substitute, His Performance And More
Jonathan “Armao” Armao has been in a unique position when it comes to his role as a substitute. As opposed to being the normal substitute who just comes in when needed— usually playing a handful of games— Armao has gotten to do much more.
It all first started with the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) Lock-In tournament, in which he helped Team Liquid to a 2-1 record in the first week. Past this, his services weren’t quite needed, but he was still an active part of the team and a crucial part of the Team Liquid Academy roster.
Fast-forward to the Mid-Summer Showdown (MSS), and once again Armao is needed. After starting jungler, Lucas “Santorin” Larsen, had to step down due to health issues, Armao was once again ready to heed the call.
Armao had to come into a Team Liquid that disappointed expectations after having a poor performance versus Cloud9 in Round 2 of the playoffs. He not only had the pressure to perform well, but he also had the pressure to withhold Team Liquid’s name, a Team Liquid that had won the first-ever LCS Lock-In tournament and was unstable all throughout the regular season.
Not only did Armao heed the call, he broke expectations. A Team Liquid with Armao was able to take down a late-split surging Team SoloMid in a 3-1 best-of-five count in Round 3 of the playoffs. This momentum carried over into the finals, in which Team Liquid had a chance to enact revenge on Cloud9. Team Liquid quickly got themselves a 2-0 lead but ultimately fell to a Cloud9 reverse sweep.
We had a chance to speak to Armao two weeks ago after Team Liquid’s match versus Golden Guardians.
You are certainly not in a normal spot as a sub. It’s not often that substitutes get to see significant playtime such as yourself - getting to swap in and out. You obviously were subbed in for Lock-In, then later on for MSS. What’s it like to have maybe not more say as a substitute, but more influence than the normal substitute in the LCS?
I’m definitely more of an active sub, obviously, I’ve been playing for like a month. Right now, I’m just part of the team, I guess. My ideas of how I wanna play are incorporated and considered more than if I’m just playing. To be honest, whenever you’re subbed in, you’re usually incorporated. Because when I subbed in the finals and the semifinals, a lot of it was making sure I was comfortable playing, ‘cus I’m the new person— they’ve all been practising. I wouldn’t say it isn’t hugely different I’m just more incorporated, playing all the scrims versus a couple before jumping kind of like how the finals were. It’s been more practise and integration since it’s been a longer period.
It’s been a month of you being the starter for Team Liquid in place of Santorin. Do you think you're already used to playing for this team, or is there still individual minor details that you think need to be worked out?
It’s definitely getting better, but I’d definitely say there’s a lot of details that need to [to be] worked on. I think it’s normal, but it’s very different (referring to playing academy vs lcs) in terms of opponent and just working with the teammates. I think it has been getting better, definitely, the past couple of weeks have been pretty good improvement even though last week our results weren’t good on stage. I think moving forward, it’ll only be better.
You mentioned some minor details that needed to be worked out. Without going into too much, can you expand a bit on what details need to be worked out?
We usually lose most games in mid-game. We’ve had a couple of disaster early games, I guess. But usually, we’ve been ahead [in the] early game and then mid-game things slow down, or we just make big mistakes and stuff like that.
Going into this season, Team Liquid was one of the teams to beat just by virtue of the members of its roster alone. As someone who can give a unique perspective-- one that comes from a sub that has actually gotten to play multiple games and key games as well-- what do you think of the team’s performance this year so far?
Going [to] game five in the finals, not bad. Winning is good [laugh]. Overall, the spring season [was] pretty successful. As for summer, before I was playing tumultuous and after still a bit tumultuous, we’ve got some stuff to work on. I don’t think the performance is where it needs to be relative to the roster, summer has a little bit to go. I don’t think the team’s performance has been super bad or anything, it’s just about getting in the best form for playoffs and going from there.
In the month of time that you’ve had to play, what do you think of your performance thus far?
Not super good. I definitely think I can play better than I’ve shown. I think I’ve improved a lot, even though it’s not really showing it. At the beginning, it was pretty disorganised the first couple of weeks I played. There were a lot of mistakes happening, some of them mine, some of them just team mistakes, everything was a bit tough. And in the past couple of weeks it’s been more structured. Yesterday it looked like I was performing really bad, but I don’t think it was actually that bad, just things going wrong in coordination and stuff. Plays were actually good, just a lot of missed execution. I think I can play a lot better, but I’m not super upset with how I’m playing.
Dating back to the Lock-In tournament, how do you see your performances? Have they improved, gotten worse or have they stayed the same?
I think I’ve improved significantly, just on everything, basically. The Lock-In plus finals meta was all pretty easy to play with anyways, so these metas are definitely harder. I’ve been working really hard to try to play all the hard champions well. The stage results haven’t been that good yet, but I do really think I’ll be able to play all the champions I need to play like Lee and stuff like that. Overall I think I’ve improved a lot even though it doesn’t show. And part of that is the Udyr, Hecarim meta was both easy and then the champions like Hecarim is easily my best champion, probably. I think I’ve improved a lot even though it’s not showing.
Obviously, TL has gone through a lot in this split alone with Jatt no longer being the coach and the situation with Alphari. How have you personally dealt with it so far? Did you just put your head down and play, or was there more to it?
For me personally, I didn’t really work with all the changes other than subbing in briefly with the finals and the Lock-In, but the Lock-In was really early, right? Everything was just kind of the start of the season, so it’s a bit unique for me. I miss Jatt, I like Jatt a lot. He was definitely a big supporter for me. It feels bad, at least for me, this is kind of the first time I’ve been playing a long time in the scrims and everything, so I don’t really have a reference point. I definitely enjoyed having Jatt and I thought he was very cool.
Going back a little bit to the last split, apart from the LCS Lock-in where you had to play in place of Santorin due to him not being in North America yet, did you expect to ever see play again later down the line not just that Lock In performance?
I did not expect to play. Obviously, I was trying really hard in Academy, we were doing really well other than our bad Proving Grounds— we had good regular seasons while I was playing. I obviously want to play LCS, but expecting to play, definitely not. Santorin being a great player [and] it being in the middle of the season - definitely not. Health issues were extremely unexpected.
Since this interview, Santorin has returned to the starting jungle position, putting Armao back into the substitute role.