Peace midlaner Tally is reflects on his wild year of 2021 around the globe and back to the World Championships.
For PCE Tally, the journey back to the international stage was one with many uphill battles. After the 2020 LoL World Championships, he made the journey over to North America to play for Golden Guardians Academy. While playing in America is a dream for many Oceanic players, Tally was missing something. Playing in LCS Academy, there was no opportunity to compete on the international stage, leaving Tally with a lack of motivation. And after one split, he came back to OCE alongside Babip and joined Peace, the 2021 LCO Spring Split Runner Up. And after a rough Summer Split, they made the gauntlet run to the World Championships.
Now, after a long battle through the play-ins, Peace’s journey in 2021 is over, but their road towards growth is just starting.
In this interview, we speak to Peace Midlaner James “Tally” Shute about his past year in League of Legends and being able to make a return to the League of Legends World Championship after those struggles.
Sage Datuin, Esports.gg: Let’s talk about being at Worlds. What was this whole experience like being able to bounce back after an 0-2 start to being able to reach the final stage of play-ins?
PCE Tally: I am really glad about the format we were given honestly. The fact we got to face the top two teams straight away was actually really great for us. We were able to learn so quickly. If we had the format the other way around, we would have a lot more mistakes in the games we won. I am glad the format was the way it was. Against Red Canids, I think we both gave it our all and had no strategies held back. Every player gave it their all and that was definitely a highlight of Worlds this year. That series was so much fun to play and to win it felt amazing.
Sage: So what was that experience like playing against Hanwha and LNG? What were you hoping for against them?
PCE Tally: I think the fact that we got to play games where there weren’t really expectations on us really helped our rookie players get comfortable with the stage. Especially for Violet, being able to play against Deft, someone he looked up to was awesome. We were able to play in our element because some of us gained confidence winning lane against some of the best players in the world. That mentality was able to carry into our games that we needed to win which is really good.
Sage: Let’s talk about the year as a whole for you specifically. You began 2021 in America before returning to the OPL. What made you want to return?
PCE Tally: When I was in NA, I was not happy because there was nothing to compete for in my opinion. Halfway through the split, I knew I was not happy and I wanted to do what I could to get back to Worlds. In NA Academy there is no big trophy you can win and you just exist there hoping to get called up to LCS, but it was not for me. I did not want my career to end like that which really affected my motivation in the team which they noticed. As I was getting dropped from Golden Guardians, I knew straight away I wanted to come back to OCE. I wanted to pursue international competition. Luckily, the same thing happened to Babip and we made the journey back to OCE and Peace together. I knew straight away, we had an opportunity to get back to Worlds.
Sage: What was that like being able to qualify for Worlds the first time with Legacy after so many years?
PCE Tally: I’d say I was always confident we were going to win on Legacy. Every player on that team found success overseas already so it was not as special as I imagined. Still, being able to go to Worlds last year and make the run we did was amazing. I have been playing for a long time, so being able to achieve that goal was amazing. But qualifying this year felt more amazing than the first because of all the struggles we went through to even get here. I am so proud of this team for getting this far.
Sage: What were some of these challenges on Peace that you experienced at first. Were there things maybe that viewers were not able to see?
PCE Tally: We definitely had internal issues as a team to begin the split. There were so many roster variations we made which created problems as a team. We did not know why for so long and we were trying every single iteration to get something to stick. Deep down, we knew which roster was the best for us, but it took some time because we struggled to all mesh together.
That is when I made the decision to transition back to midlane and not play top because what we really needed was a midlaner. Babip and I showed we have great synergy as a mid-jungle duo so we went back to that. Once we got to this conclusion, we began to play a lot better. We began to gain so much more confidence after spending so much time struggling. It was amazing to qualify for playoffs. I knew that if we got to the playoffs, we could win it all because our scrims were extremely strong. Our scrims against PGG were actually so strong. Leading up to the semifinals, we expected that 3-0 when finals came.
Sage: What has it all meant to have the LCO be a breakout year for the Oceanic region? After having a lot of players transition to NA, what is it like to get even stronger after that?
PCE Tally: It honestly does not feel like an individual victory. Our strength to show that we can compete at a top level feels like a win for OCE. There are multiple seeds in other regions, but we are able to accomplish a lot. This is all with just one seed and not as much support. I think the support we receive from other regions as well is insane. Everyone wants us to succeed because of all that we have been through. Losing the OPL, gave me so much motivation to come back eventually and one day get out of play-ins. We did not do that this year, but there is always next year.
Sage: Do you have any final words?
PCE Tally: I’d say genuinely just thanks to all the support. It is really cool. Seeing this rookie team get the recognition they deserve has been an amazing experience to watch. There are some players on this team who are somewhat shy so it also helps their confidence a lot too. It is cool to see recognition that OCE is actually a good region and that people see there are talented players.