Sam "Kobe" Hartman-Kenzler has been a mainstay in the North American League of Legends scene since its inception. A former player for Counter Logic Gaming, Kobe transitioned to a caster for the League of Legends Championship Series and has grown to be a favorite amongst fans. Bringing a unique blend of game knowledge, experience, and emotional intrigue to each and every match, Kobe has cast some of the most iconic moments in North American League of Legends history including Cloud 9's historic quarter-finals win over Afreeca Freecs and Team Liquid's Mid-Season Invitational upset of Invictus Gaming.
GINX Esports was able to conduct a brief interview with Kobe, gathering his thoughts on the World Championships 2019, what he's looking forward to, and some of his favorite moments.
(Please note: this interview was conducted before Clutch Gaming’s qualified for the Group Stage)
Which team (or teams) do you think is the favorite to win the World Championship in Paris?
I'd say G2 are favorites but people are underestimating China again simply because IG performed worse in summer and had some drama with their jungler. FPX are definitely a contender though ever since they added Tian and Doing. SKT are also coming back strong with Clid+Faker doing some heavy lifting.
Do you have a dark horse team or team you're interested in the most to see how they stack up against international competition?
Honestly, I am very excited to watch Clutch Gaming play on the international stage, they've put so much hard work this year and come a very long way from spring. If they make it past play-ins they will be in one of the hardest groups with Huni's old teams FNC and SKT which will be hype!
Ask. Believe. Receive. We welcome ourselves to group C! It's been a long journey to get to where we are now but we are more than happy to go head to head with the titans of the game. See you boys soon. @T1LoL @RNGRoyal @FNATIC #Worlds2019— Clutch Gaming (@ClutchGaming) October 8, 2019
Does Team Liquid have the best potential for international success of any team the LCS has ever fielded?
Yes. Most are in agreement this is the best roster on paper that NA has ever sent, but as we know, Cloud9 has been best NA performer at Worlds and not the team with more "potential" so we will have to see!
Was there a specific player, or aspect of Team Liquid's play that you felt grew the most over this season?
Impact has really proven to be a master this year for Team Liquid, especially at MSI on the international stage. He has played weak side some games for them as well as carry some and been a huge teamfight initiator and voice for the team.
How would you define "success" for the LCS at Worlds?
Finals. I'm not messing around with any of this "look strong in a best of 5 vs blablabla..." I want a finals.
Over the years, you've cast multiple events both domestically and internationally. Do you have a favorite moment that you cast?
There are a ton of great moments to look back on but I think still to this day, 2015 Madison Square Garden CLG vs TSM "And the faithful shall be rewarded" is my favorite.
Looking forward to this year’s World Championships, we can only hope to have another moment as raw and powerful as Kobe casting the Quarter-Finals match-up between the LCS’s Cloud 9 and the LCK’s Afreeca Freecs. With years of disappointment and heartbreak leading up to the series, it was evident just how powerful and meaningful the series was to NA fans as Kobe had to take a moment to collect himself after the final Nexus fell.
Now after two consecutive events where NA has found some international success, the expectations have shifted from being the perennial underdogs to legitimate contenders. As Kobe stated in this interview, success for NA is no longer just making it out of the group stage: “Final ... I want a finals.”
The group stage of the 2019 World Championship, which sees all four groups battle it out at the Verti Music Hall in Berlin kicks off from 12th October and all of the action on Summoner's Rift will be broadcast live on the official Riot Games Twitch and YouTube channels. A full schedule for the Group Stage and Knockout Stage as well as the full groups at Worlds 2019 can be found at watch.lolesports.com.