Today I spoke to Martin "MaRN" Phan, owner and substitute player for team MRN. His team recently managed to qualify into Riot Games' Chamionship Series, as one of the top 8 teams that North America had to offer. Here's what he had to say about it.
Hello MaRN. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions. Please could you start by introducing yourself?
Hello, I'm Martin "MaRN" Phan, I am the manager and owner of Team MRN. I'm 24 years old (turning 25 next week! Woo!), and I've played fighting games most of my life. I love the eSports scene so much that I decided to make a team to accomplish to fulfill the dreams that I've wished for.
The season 3 NA qualifiers have just finished, with MRN qualifying via the lower bracket. What was your initial reaction when your team made it through?
My initial reaction was of course that dreams do come true. I rushed through the studio and to my team and I hugged them all. We knew we just did what everyone thought we wouldn't be able to do. It was the most fantastic feeling I've thought in awhile.
When your team got knocked down into the lower bracket by The Brunch Club, did it worry you, or did you still feel confident in your team?
We said in many interviews that we had before the match, that.. No matter who won, we both would make it into top 8. We were never worried at any point, and that's why my team thrives... Confidence.
Both of your team's wins in the group stage were with 'baseraces'. Was this planned as a strategy, or was it just a heat of the moment decision? How nerve wracking was it to watch?
We didn't exactly win by a base race the 2nd game, we won with a comeback, yes. This wasn't a planned strategy at all, apparently my team just knew that we could win this with Anivia's wave clear and Chogath's. They knew they could stall the other team. It was a very good call by our team and I'm glad we did it.
Nerve wracking is such an understatement. I don't think I've ever puked and pee'd in my pants at the same time (j/k!). I didn't know what was going to happen, but I'm glad it turned out ok!
A number of people doubted MRN coming into the qualifiers. Were you confident your team could win from the start and was there ever doubt in your mind?
When I first made this team (3/5 members) back in July, I was confident we could easily make top 8. Yes, there were many comebacks, and there was the baserace, but in the end, I have always believed in my team. Never did I have any doubts even when we lost to The Brunch Club. We came in thinking that since everyone wanted to decide to make us the underdog, we shouldn't care about what other people thought. It's all about what we thought about ourselves.
How do you feel your team performed overall?
My team performed at 10% potential. We haven't been a team that's been together long, and we all believe as a team we can get better. So I'm glad we've made it, because the only way we go is up.
Were you happy with their performance and did you notice any areas the team needs to improve upon?
We're never happy about our performance even when we win. We play to be the best, and right now, we're not the best and we know it. We need to work on so many things, it's not even worth it to point out. We basically need to work on everything, especially team work.
Clakey D's baron steal followed by an ace for your team, describe it in one word?
When you moved yourself to the substitute position of your own team, to be replaced by Ecco. Was it an easy decision to make?
The easiest decision I've ever made. I knew he was better in every aspect, and I would rather benefit the team, than my personal gains.
Do you feel Ecco performed better than you could have in this tournament?
Of course. But I'm sure we would've qualified with me on the team... Ok, maybe not!
Teams moving into season 3 need to have two substitute players. Do you have any current ideas who you will pick up as your second?
We want Nientonsoh. He is a great AD carry, and even with our bot lane atm, he could be able to help us get better. He is probably the best free agent atm.
Are you and the team planning on moving into a gaming house now that you have qualified?
Yes, we're moving into a beachside apartment, getting a dog, and getting all the ladies, especially MegaZero, since he's so cute~
What was Riot's studio like? Did the team feel comfortable playing there, considering that is where the championship series will be?
We felt comfortable playing there because not all of the members on my team have played infront of an audience, and there is no audience in the studio, so we were happy about that.
Which team did you guys feel was the hardest to face in the qualifiers?
The Brunch Club... Because we lost to them, lol. We weren't confident in our picks or anything like that, and we second-guessed ourselves against them, which we shouldn't have. It was a big mistake, and next time we play them, we'll be sure to give the world a better show!
Urgot has not seem competitive play for quite a while now, following some quite large nerfs, but your team ran him to great success. Has the team been practicing with Urgot, or did they decide to use him on the spot?
We practiced him a couple of games, but we weren't really practicing him a lot. Our practice schedule was probably the worst of all teams in the tournament. We probably played more games total in the tournament, than the amount we've played in scrims/practice.
Are you surprised none of the teams banned Urgot after your team already won a number of games with him?
Not at all, people wanted to underestimate him, and our team. We showed the world that we shouldn't be messed with. The only surprise I had during the whole tournament was when DNG banned Malphite... We really don't run Malphite comps or play Malphite... We are usually the ones that ban him, so it's like they banned for us.
The European qualifiers are coming up in just over a week, do you have any predictions for the event?
I haven't kept up with any of that, I've just been focused on my team.
How much is your team giving up to become professional gamers? Are any of the members dropping prior engagements such as school or jobs?
Everyone's very young, and they were in school. But this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that presents itself in front of our face. We have to take this and run it into the ground. Everyone's taking a leave of absence and coming to Los Angeles, and we'll be practicing to become the best!
Thank you once again for answering the questions and congratulations on qualifying for the championship series. Do you have any final comments or shoutouts you’d like to make?
Thank you to all the fans that actually thought we were going to make it, and all the people that supported us. I'm a realist, and I know there are a bunch of fake ones out there who thought we weren't going to make it. DON'T LIE TO ME! I'd like to thank my team for believing in me and my brand. Without my team, I wouldn't be in the situation that I am and I'm grateful to have each and every one of them. Thanks to djWHEAT, who believed in my team when I first started, it's like he's from the future and knew my team was one day going to make it to this grand stage. Also thank you so so much to our one and only sponsor at the moment, MadCatz. They have sponsored me through fighting games, and everything else I've wanted to do. Without them, I wouldn't be here.