GAM Levi Discusses The “Double Edged Sword” Of Their Play Style At Worlds 2022

Between Saigon Buffalo being knocked out during Play-Ins and GAM’s rocky start to the group stage, Vietnam hasn’t had the most luck at Worlds 2022. We asked GAM Levi about the strength of its region and its first Worlds since 2019.

Vietnam is a region defined by their bold approach to both drafting and fighting in-game. They fight to the end and that spirit has carried the tournament for both representatives.

GAM were kind enough to let us interview Đỗ ‘Levi’ Duy Khánh during their “off days”. Of course they didn’t participate, but all the players were still practicing hard. We are grateful for the time he spent with us ahead of their remaining group stage matches at Worlds 2022.

The opportunity to talk to GAM during a short break in their practice gave us a view of what most people don’t see: their practice space.

It was a hotel room, reserved and adapted for the sole purpose of being a practice room for the players. Players and coaches were all close together and working together to improve. Sticky notes were pasted on the walls and lampshades of constant notes made for and/or by each player.

Someone turned in a chair draped with a jacket, a jacket that read: Levi.

GAM Levi Drops Training Weights At Worlds

Between scrims and other commitments, GAM has a packed schedule during their time here. Levi chatted with us for a bit and went straight back to his PC to practice throughout the day. Even after talking to us and playing a solo queue, they had a fully booked schedule until at least 10pm with scrims and team meetings.

And while Levi is a much-loved player by many for his excellent playing over the years, he was adamant that everybody around him was hard at work giving GAM their absolute best shot at winning.

“As you know, we need a lot of elements to be at the top of our region as a team. We need everyone on the team to join in and contribute, and I think my part is only a small one. We get support from the team manager and also from people who work behind the scenes.”

Hard work is an absolute necessity for Vietnam to compete internationally. Each team has its own hill to climb, but Vietnam’s break from international competition puts them at a disadvantage in more ways than one. A lot works against any Vietnamese team when it comes to playing internationally.

Saigon Buffalo was previously eliminated from Worlds and GAM is the only remaining VCS team. However, don’t let that confuse you into thinking Vietnam is a weak region.

Levi’s has been at the top of the Korean Challenger all the way to the top, which is an achievement in itself. However, there is more than that. He and many of his teammates have consistently been close to Challenger on Korean servers, even with a high ping limiting their ability to play.

“When we play in the Korean solo queue, we are matched against the top players from Korea and China, which increases our skills. But we also play in hard mode when we play on Korean servers.”

“In Korea they have 8 pings or lower. We have 80. So we are already behind and we have to work even harder to win.”

At international competitions, Levi and the rest of GAM are allowed to drop their training weights. They’re already playing against the likes of Faker and Ruler in solo queue at 80 ping, and LAN events are an opportunity to level the playing field.

Once the jet lag is over, at least.

“I feel like we had severe jet lag in the first 2-3 days we arrived. After that our performance in scrims got better and I think we had decent results in scrims. But our results in the field have not yet translated to our performance on the podium, and we have more to do.”

As if that wasn’t enough, GAM has one more obstacle to overcome: the meta.

Hold on to their weapons

At first glance, meta-reading doesn’t seem like a big deal for Vietnam. Their upper side is very well adapted to support junglers and top laners who want to trade, and Kati is able to play a pretty wide pool of mid laners. The problem comes from the support meta.

In Vietnam, support players usually stick to hard engagement. They dictate the pace of the game and often start fights. While wizards may seem “easier” on paper, it’s not possible to change the dynamics of the entire team overnight.

“Our design may not be the best fit for the meta. But it best suits our team, our strengths. It’s still playable, but we definitely made some mistakes in the game.”

So instead of changing the way they play and line up for wizards like Yuumi, they stick to their strategy and strive to perfect it. An approach with many advantages and disadvantages.

We asked Levi whether the VCS’s reputation as an explosive competition with constant combat was a strength or a weakness.

“In a way, this is a double-edged sword. Because of this playstyle in which we fight a lot, the frequency of making big decisions also increases a lot. With all these big decisions, if you screw up one, you’re throwing the whole game.”

“If we are able to perfect our game and make better decisions in these key moments, this could be a… great strength for our region.

Vietnamese teams have not had the time to sink their teeth into teams from incredibly strong regions such as the LPL and LCK. Solo queue is very different from scrims and stage plays.

While GAM’s playstyle has a lot of potential, it also carries a lot more risk than running a wizard and delaying combat. One wrong move and you lose. Something that happened to GAM several times during the tournament.

On paper, it looks like GAM has been decimated in every game. In practice, they made one mistake in every match that left them incredibly far behind.

And even from that position, each player’s individual skill level on GAM was so high that team fights seemed close. GAM’s position is difficult to be in, but they handle the pressure with grace.

Levi’s Legacy

Levi has played all over the world. From his time with 100 Thieves in North America, to a brief stint with JDG before returning to GAM in Vietnam, his career has taken him world traveler professional with more experience than most professionals.

Even then, he could still watch esports as a fan. What started as a dream has become a reality and Levi was happy to be a part of it for so long.

“As an esports fan who has turned professional, I am very happy and excited to see esports grow to this level. As a professional football player I feel even more proud. I am someone who has made a small contribution to make esports what it is today.”

GAM’s chances of getting out of the group stage are not great. Even if they win all three of their matches, they will have to force a tiebreak to have a chance to advance. But they are not going to make it easy for the other teams in their group.

Levi and the rest of GAM have fans around the world behind them, and “Captain Levi” gets spam as soon as he takes the stage. And, for those fans, Levi brushed off his English and delivered a direct, untranslated message to those who supported him.

“I want to say to my fans around the world, thank you for cheering us on, and I hope you will continue to cheer for us this week.”

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