Calvin “k1ng” Truong was setting records throughout Mammoth's historic OPL playoff run
Mammoth have broken the OPL curse, being the first team to take home an OPL split without finishing on top of the ladder. They took down the Chiefs in a convincing 3-0 sweep, knocking down the veterans to their sixth grand finals loss in as many attempts.
It wasn’t just another victory on the Rift though. Calvin “k1ng” Truong was setting records. The star bot laner now has five domestic titles under his belt, making him the most decorated Oceanic player of all time. But, winning is part of the parcel for k1ng nowadays - anything less is considered a failure.
“For me, winning this title doesn’t feel as good as winning my first title,” he said.
That first title, which came with the Dire Wolves in 2017, was after years of just falling short. Two second place finishes in 2016 and one in 2015 meant that the taste of victory then was so much sweeter. Now, winning is a way of avoiding disappointment.
“I’m feeling a lot of relief more than anything, especially after our first split disappointment,” he added.
Mammoth’s 2019 wasn’t all smooth sailing. They bombed out of the Gauntlet in split one as Order steamrolled their way from fifth to the final, which surprised the team. “I was taking it really easy in split one, and losing to Order was a massive wake up call for us all. We needed a massive change in mentality, and we saw the results this split.”
That change in mentality didn’t just come from a wake up call, it came from a huge pick up that was planned from the get-go. As soon as prodigal top laner Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami turned 17, Mammoth snapped him up, giving the solid line up of veterans some youthful flair in the generally boring top lane.
The solo queue extraordinaire also brought a new mindset to Mammoth that forced the older players to change their ways, according to k1ng.
“Fudge has a really radical ideology when it comes to practice, and that rubbed off on the entire team when he joined this season,” he said. “He takes practice and solo queue incredibly seriously, and it’s forced me to adapt my own playstyle. Now, you’ll always catch us trying to improve ourselves, grinding solo queue after scrims at 6pm every day.”
They had the manpower now, and it was just a matter of finding their feet and their style of play. Luckily, it came. The team managed to gel better in split two than they did in split one, finishing with a 16-5 record, tied with the Chiefs on top. But, that doesn’t mean they didn’t rely on an old trick or two from the playbook that gave k1ng and some of his team mates four straight titles.
“We took a lot of the Dire Wolves play style to Mammoth,” he said. “We were known as the methodical slow team as Dire Wolves, and we have played like that as Mammoth.
“We are all individually talented players, at the top of our roles, but what’s setting this roster of Mammoth apart from the Dire Wolves is the fact that we’ve gotten all the best players now, and we’ve finally found our feet.”
Now, k1ng is chasing that glory on the international stage. Time and time again, he’s fallen short at Worlds, at MSI. While doubt has been raised about his ability, k1ng’s not only out to prove that Oceania is on the rise, but that he is one of the best bot laners in the world right now.
“Going back to Worlds for the third year, we want to do the region proud. We still have a lot to learn, and we’ve got a lot to work on to take OCE to the next stage of Worlds, but this is the team that can do that.”
There’s no time to reset for Mammoth and k1ng - the journey has only just begun. The international stage is filled with disappointment from years past for Oceanic League of Legends fans, but the experienced roster should be able to surprise some of the world’s best when it matters. Europe’s calling, and Mammoth will be ready to answer.