Foxdrop: “My future is really up in the air right now”

Foxdrop: “My future is really up in the air right now”

With the dust settled, but memories still fresh in his mind, we sat down with EU Masters’ favorite member of the casters desk.

After two weeks of intense League of Legends action, many of those who tuned in for the European Masters 2018 would recognize Dan “Foxdrop” Wyatt. Although relatively unknown as a caster outside of his home region in the UK, Wyatt has secured himself plenty of fans after his time in the international competition. He quickly proved himself able to go toe-to-toe with the best talent in the scene, working together with LCS veteran Trevor “Quickshot” Henry, as well as many others.

Wanting to get to know him better, we invited Foxdrop for a chat. We discussed his road to the EU Masters, experiences there, the future of the UK scene, and what’s next for the up-and-coming caster.

Vie: First things first — I feel like most EU Masters viewers may have seen you before, but couldn’t necessarily put a finger on it. Shed some light on that, what was your road to the caster desk like?

Foxdrop: I’m a Youtuber and Streamer normally. One day a year ago, pretty randomly, the ESL Premiership (UK’s regional league) needed a caster and I expressed interest. Did a bit more casting, became a regular on the Prem this year, and got into the Masters.

Vie: For many, it may have been their first time seeing you cast, but the overall response from the community was really great. Ballpark it for me, how great of an experience these past few weeks have been for you? 

Foxdrop: Dude, this event has been ridiculous for me. My main goal when I got into casting was to mostly just have fun and be “me”. I’m so happy that people were able to feel that and enjoy the games too, honestly, it made the whole thing unforgettable for me.

Vie: It’s been more than a year now since you first joined the ESL Premiership caster desk. What does it say on your business card these days — “YouTuber” or “caster”?

Foxdrop: Good question, I’d probably still call myself a YouTuber. It’s my main source of income, it’s what I spend most of my time doing, and what I’ve been doing for the longest. But that might change soon, who knows.

Vie: Looking back at the EU Masters — and it was pretty subtle — but I got this lingering suspicion that you may have been rooting for the UK. So what’s the verdict? How happy are you with UK’s results?

Foxdrop: Haha, I did my best to keep that a secret! Overall I’m happy with how the UK performed. I think I was expecting more from Misfits Academy but considering the UK scene is very small, no complaints.

Vie: I had an opportunity to chat with H2k’s Veteran on the subject and the topic shifted towards the highest placing UK team not actually having any UK players. What are your thoughts on the subject? 

Foxdrop: This is a tough topic. exceL don’t have any UK players but the organization is probably the most invested into the UK scene — the only team with a gaming house, that salaries players and staff, etc. The team is still a domestic product at the end of the day. It’s hard to say though, it’s a very tough topic to break down.

Vie: Do you think xL’s success could lead to this unhealthy habit of relying on the foreign imports rather than investing in local talent?

Foxdrop: It could lead to that situation, in which case I think the rules would need changing. Thing is that the UK does produce talent, it’s just that they go overseas because that’s where the money is. So with more infrastructure, more money, I don’t think exceL’s situation would become the norm.

Vie: Let’s talk Origen — that has to be as close as you can get to the concept of “smurfing” in professional League. And they haven’t dropped a single match since their debut game, too. How do I put it, this has to be bullying, right? 

Foxdrop: The story of Origen is one of the more interesting pieces coming from the EU Masters. They’ve looked far from solid in their games which is a good testament to the strength of the regional Leagues — but Froggen. Froggen is 100% smurfing. That guy is insane.

Vie: There were quite a few teams that really showed up this tournament. Which teams did impress you the most? Did anyone catch you off guard? 

Foxdrop: Illuminar has to be the most impressive team. Considering making playoffs was considered good for them, going to the finals and smashing GamersOrigin in the semi-finals was exceptional. KlikTech also exceeded expectations — it’s impossible to quantify the strength of regions without international tournaments, but the Balkan bros definitely proved their worth.

Vie: Now that the dust has settled, how well would you say the top EUM teams would fair against the LCS level teams? How big is the gap between the two leagues?

Foxdrop: I think top European Masters teams would struggle against LCS. Gamers Origin and MAD Lions would probably stand the best chance, but even they would be underdogs in a BO series against the lowest LCS teams.

Vie: Does that say more about the current level of the LCS teams or the shortcomings of the EU Masters teams? 

Foxdrop: I would say it says a bit of both. Historically speaking, you would need a really bad team to get relegated out of LCS, or a really good team to get promoted. I think GamersOrigin or MAD Lions are close to that but not sure that the bottom LCS teams are that bad right now. At least in EU.

Vie: We got to see a lot of new, young talents who don’t get so many opportunities to play on the international stage. Any future stars we could be seeing in the LCS soon?

Foxdrop: There were a lot of standouts in my opinion. Tynx from GO stood out a lot. Milica and Sacre from Kliktech too. Icebeasto from Illuminar. Selfmade and Werlyb from MAD. A lot of good players.

Vie: Some of these young players have insane macro, but they might be lacking in any other aspect. Do you believe the national leagues, where the level of teams can vary tremendously, is the best environment for these players to grow? 

Foxdrop: I think the regional Leagues that have good infrastructure are a good place to develop and grow. Not to mention it’s where the LCS teams scout their players, increasing your chance of being picked up. France and Spain are the best examples of those Leagues in my opinion.

Vie: Mid-Season Invitational is almost upon us. Hit me with your boldest prediction.

Foxdrop: NA makes the finals again.

Vie: Okay, so what’s next for Foxdrop? 

Foxdrop: My future is really up in the air right now. The next few weeks will determine a lot. Whether I stay and focus on Youtube and streaming, whether I go and do more casting. Really hard to say right now, but I definitely want to cast more.

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Millenium Neon: “We mostly wanted to beat GamersOrigin, so that we could prove that we are the best French team”

Millenium Neon: “We mostly wanted to beat GamersOrigin, so that we could prove that we are the best French team”

Right after the final game of the European Masters concluded, we grabbed Matúš “Neon” Jakubčík for a quick chat.

Even though Jakubčík’s Millenium came short of making it to the LAN finals, it was a strong performance overall for the French team. They overcame their opposition in the group stage without losing a single game, including easy victories against the Nordic champions Team Atlantis and ESL Premiership champs Misfits Academy.

Their first loss of the tournament came in the deciding match in the knockout stage against the major underdog Illuminar Gaming. Millenium became the second team to be upset by the Polish team, following Spain’s Movistar Riders. Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek and his team did not stop there, as they managed to overcome Millenium’s rivals in the French league — GamersOrigin.

We sat down with Millenium’s young AD Carry for a blitz interview about his experience in the European Masters, losing against the underdogs, and his plans for the future.

Vie: You breezed through your group in a very convincing fashion. What were your expectations ahead of the group stage?

Neon: All of us expected and hoped to make it to the offline event, unfortunately, we couldn’t make it.

Vie: Which team would you say looked the strongest overall?

Neon: MAD Lions definitely looked very strong and I really expected for them to win the whole thing, the only team in top 4 I didn’t expect is Illuminar but they clearly proved me wrong.

Vie: EUM so far showcased a lot of new, young talents. Who you’d say are the most likely ones to move up to LCS soon?

Neon: Selfmademan and Nemesis [both MAD Lions].

Vie: How well would you say the top EU Masters teams would fair against LCS level teams?

Neon: I still think the gap is pretty huge, even though some national teams would probably be able to compete against the lowest EU LCS teams.

Vie: You came into this tournament as one of the favorites to qualify for the LAN finals, but you came short of achieving that. What were your goals ahead of the tournament?

Neon: We mostly wanted to beat GamersOrigin, so that we could prove that we are the best French team. And after that, put up a good fight in finals

Vie: Your journey through EUM was a bit of a wild ride — your group stage went as expected, but playoffs was a massive let-down. What happened there?

Neon: Smart preparations from our opponents left us in a really tough spot and caught us off guard, also our ingame performance was really shaky.

Vie: What’s your impression of the Polish Illuminar? 

Neon: If there’s a team to upset it’s probably Illuminar. As far as I know, Polish people on LAN events can be really overwhelming and tough to play against.

Vie: You really showed up for your team this tournament and established yourself as one of the best up-and-coming ADC’s. But which teams were the hardest for you to lane against?

Neon: Probably Illuminar, due to the matchups I was playing, but I don’t think anyone in the European Masters would have been too huge of a problem for me.

Vie: What did you think of the EU Masters in general? 

Neon: I think the tournament was really well done and very beneficial for all the young and new players looking to showcase themselves. The only thing that I’d maybe change is not making the group matches best-of-one.

Vie: You are still very young. What are your plans for the future? How big of a part will League play in it?

Neon: I’m still in school but after I’m done with it I plan on focusing full-time on League of Legends.

Neon’s Millenium finished 8th in the European Masters Spring Split, taking home € 8,000.

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H2k Veteran: “Illuminar look like a different team every series they play”

H2k Veteran: “Illuminar look like a different team every series they play”

Right before the first match in Leicester, Michael “Veteran” Archer joined us to talk about the European Masters.

Head coach of H2k-Gaming shared his thoughts on the importance of national leagues for the growth of the region, recognizing and developing the young players, and becoming a fan of Illuminar before they even qualified for the semi-final.

Vie: I know ahead of the EU Masters you were quite familiar with the UK scene. But how about the other regions? Did you know what to expect from them?

Veteran: I was by far more familiar with the French and Spanish scenes than I was with the UK scene. I very sparingly watched the UK scene, and the majority of my experience with it comes from playoffs — otherwise it was sparse games of Misfits Academy vs. top UK teams. The French and Spanish scenes are by far the most effective at attracting young talent in Europe and received the majority of my attention accordingly. most of my top players to watch come from these regions.

Between the two I’d say I was the most familiar with the French scene. It’s divided into neat tournaments that are easy for me to slot into my schedule and catch up on, while the Spanish LVP is a lot harder to follow when you’re scrimming until midnight some days. I’d often have it on and only catch the last game or so if I’m lucky, but if there was a player I wanted more detail on then I’d make a concerted effort to catch up on his game – keeping up with the Spanish league becomes a necessity if you have a vested interest in the rising talent of Europe and the raw talent on display makes it worth anyone’s while. ESL Meisterschaft is also somewhat easier to follow. Watching them back in 2016 H2K was a fond memory so I still check back though it has dwindled – I used to watch a lot more of them while I was in Schalke relative to now, owing in some part to scheduling changes on my end and in others to the fact that LVP has consolidated a lot of the players I was watching there. I definitely catch their playoffs still.

Vie: exceL secured a Top8 finish for the UK. Is that a solid enough result for the underperforming region? Could you see it having an impact on the future of the UK scene?

Veteran: No region will say anything less than top 4 is ‘solid enough’ I’d hope. If the question is concerning the UK scene specifically then I’d be worried that a roster like Excel’s made it further in such a big event relative to Misfits Academy. This is not a slight against the players, they have a lot to be proud of and I’m glad they took their chance and ran with it. This isn’t going to be a slight against the soft import regulations of the European National Leagues — I think the fact that there are little to no restrictions in that regard is what has allowed the National League scene to function as such a bright starting point for future European player development. The North American Collegiate scene by its very intrinsic nature simply cannot replicate an underbelly in America like we have in Europe and it is (I hope) part of the reason why Riot were pushing that State-oriented tournament earlier in the year.

My issue is that org owners are typically not as well informed as people would wish to believe and I worry to a large extent that they will be led to blanket under-prioritise UK players relative to potential imported ones. Once you have that type of blanket ideology in one National League then it becomes a fairly doomed one. I hope I’m wrong and Excel’s example isn’t used to un-even the playing field against players from a country there, since the diversity in players is where the strength of the National League system arises and there are some strong UK players that shouldn’t suddenly find themselves discriminated against. There are some very hands-on owners, and that is not necessarily always a good thing, and I hope that they are surrounded by people who will keep them and each other objective about pick-ups in the future.

Vie: There were quite a few teams that really showed up this tournament. Could you say you were impressed by any of them? Any teams you thought would make the Top 4, but didn’t?

Veteran: MAD Lions and KlikTech were the only teams that looked to come in with a specific game plan at each stage of the game. MAD Lions simply came in with a wealth more experience about how to execute each stage of theirs vs. varying troubles. I wouldn’t say Kliktech were exposed, they were more learning. I was positively impressed by the adaptation they made to revert back to tempo junglers after their stints on Sejuani/Zac picks, since it meant they learned a lot more about how their team was actually functioning optimally and I wish we could see them go further in a different EU Masters – it seems very unlikely that they will stay together now the roster has been released. Likely LVP bound.

As for impressed, Illuminar look like a different team every series they play. I’m rarely one to heap praise onto specific coaches over players — in the end of the day, it is the players’ understanding that will win the game even if the coach guided them or taught them properly and it should be paramount that that is recognized — but Veggie amazes me in his ability to figure out how to make his group of 5 work together effectively over time. His teams do not come out with a defined style, they more come out clearly understanding their own strengths and weaknesses in a very short span of time and it happens consistently.

Reason Gaming should not have gone as far as they did either but they did, and KMT were the original upsets. That being his drafts basically focus all their strength onto purely Icebeasto and their map play with the pressure Icebeasto creates with a de-facto numbers advantage around baron from his manipulation of botside has won them many a mid-game. Sebekx has shown a lot of strengths as well, so for me this is a team that built around the strengths of their solo laners and have gradually found ways for their weaker counterparts to be useful around what they bring. I’ll reiterate that this is not the same team they were in groups. They aren’t even the same team they were in the RO12. I don’t know what team they’ll be by the time the semi finals start, so I’m probably more excited to see them in action than anyone else at this point.

Vie: How well would you say the top teams in the European Masters would fair against the LCS level teams? How big is the gap between the two leagues?

Veteran: MAD Lions could make waves. They’re the most complete roster out of all the remaining teams, and they have the fundamentals of the game down. I definitely see in them a few things that the lower end of the table doesn’t quite have down yet, particularly in terms of mid/jungle. That being said they evidently haven’t been challenged on a few things and even the way their mid/jungle play is not optimised at a certain point in the game. I hesitate to go into specifics on weaknesses about teams that are still in play for obvious reasons so I think I’ll leave it at that.

Vie: What about the individual players? Did anyone catch your eye? Anyone you saw and thought “I would love to have this guy on my team”?

Veteran: So I already knew about Milica from Schalke where we had Nikolai as a sub and he was able to identify this Cassiopeia that was completely 1v9ing a random solo queue game for me. I have been watching Selfmademan, Nemesis, Larssen, Crownie, Tynx, neon, Toaster, Satorius, Phaxi, Prosfair for a while so I’ll name some that surprised me specifically this tournament that haven’t got the coverage these guys have.

I swear every time NiP won a group stage game it was because Blomster Finn was smurfing. This guy was winning matchups you shouldn’t win – which is standard for National League let’s be real – but literally all I watched this guy in solo queue for was his Kled where he essentially one-tricks it but he was making impressive calls with his pressure with champions like Sion, outright destroying the map on Gnar, and generally seemed to have a good system in mind for how to play mid-late while his supposedly more experienced teammates were becoming utterly dependent on him. Larsenn had good performances and Smiley had his game to shine but Blomster has done some very impressive things on a consistent basis this tournament and I think that needs to be said. I want a replay of that Gnar/Sion matchup, no idea what he was doing to that guy but it should be illegal.

Jejky from Esuba was pathing exceptionally intelligently. He seemed to be very good at tracking where he should be relative to where the enemy jungler was, which is a hard thing to instill in even some LCS junglers. Not much has been said of Esuba since they bombed out so early but Jejky started becoming a seriously interesting player to watch, I felt like he had a very well studied view of the game as a jungler and was hoping to see a lot more from him further into the tournament. It’s a shame we never got there. I still now feel like if he was picked up by even an LCS level team he would be far from a crutch and you’d be surprised at how little you’d necessarily have to teach him.

Aesthetic [from Team Atlantis] by a similar degree was winning every jungle matchup, it seemed like a nightmare to play against this kid and he was putting on a 1v9 show. He seemed to be very efficient in his approach to the early jungle which is everything, but more so he seemed to have a great sense of where enemy players would be in an isolated scenario later in the game – basically, he was just very good at setting up picks to snowball mid-late game. I’m not too worried about this guy since his performance did make waves among a lot of National League players which is more or less what you need to do to get a job.

Vie: Some of these young players have insane macro, but they might be lacking in any other aspect. Do you believe the regional leagues, where the level of teams can vary tremendously, is the best environment for these players to grow?

Veteran: I think such an extensive system of leagues and tournaments is the absolute best thing these players can have to develop in. I think a culmination in the form of something like the EU Masters is the best next step to it. It doesn’t just work as a competitive next level but as a showcase that these players can be striving to impress in while they are practicing in their National Leagues. Something that these players need to get used to is pressure. All too often you’ll find players going from online Challenger Series to offline LCS or even offline CS Playoffs and it’s day and night. I know how the players competing at multiple LAN events per split in, say, the French scene will react to audiences of varying size. There will still be differences, but the players are allowed to work on their reaction to these pressures particularly since dividing the regions by Nation is a sure fire way to gather an audience in said regions.

Vie: That being said, there is a certain level of risk involved for any team looking to pick up an unproven talent, there’s this notion that they’ll get “exposed” against an opponent who actually knows what they’re doing. Do the EU Masters provide the right environment to ease those concerns? Or does it still look like a children’s playground looking down from the LCS?

Veteran: Again, I think the big distinction is online to offline. I wish the EU Masters had been offline from RO8 rather than Semi Finals, since if this is going to be the big showcase of potential LCS-worthy talent then you really do need to show them performing in an offline environment. Maybe even earlier than that if Riot can do so, since if they want this tournament to function in a showcase-like manner as it pertains to LCS then it should ideally be as offline as possible.

Vie: What did you think of the European Masters in general? Is it a step forward from the old Challenger system?

Veteran: I think the consolidation of the National Leagues as the direct underbelly for the LCS is much more positive than Challenger Series. It allows development of players and organizations on a far grander scale un-restricted by the team limit of CS. Each of these National Leagues have divisions below, you’re seeing sub-Master tier players be given a foot in the door to see if competitive play and the scrim environment are really things that work well with their ambitions. The very existence of these Leagues has done so much for Europe already and to see them become the mainstay and the fruits of their existence given a main stage in the form of the EU Masters is one of the best decisions I have ever seen Riot do for this region and it should be applauded.

Vie: And Riot talked about it a lot, too — the future of the region and helping grow the next generation of players. Do you believe EUM is the best way to do that?

Veteran: If Riot are serious about growing the future generation of talent then the support they have given to the fruits of the National League’s existence should be representative of how they focus on Europe in the future. This is not an arbitrary league run by Riot that becomes the de-facto step below LCS just because. It is a recognition of the organic growth of the scene from the people that will eventually make us a top region, and I believe that that organic growth is a fire to be kindled — not something to be consolidated, changed, standardized (particularly relative to NA) or any such thing. Let it be and trust the market.

If Riot simply look into how to expose the great work that is already developing rather than just go for control for the sake of control, then I will take their statement seriously and support them every step of the way.

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IHG Woolite: “People saw our bad performance in groups so obviously they expected us to drop out fast”

IHG Woolite: “People saw our bad performance in groups so obviously they expected us to drop out fast”

Underestimated by many, Woolite’s Illuminar secured themselves a spot in the Grand Final.

Against all odds, the Polish powerhouse made their way all the way to the Grand Final in the European Masters 2018 Spring Split. After a less than stellar performance in the group stage, where their only victory came from the German side Ad Hoc Gaming, many miscalculated Paweł “Woolite” Pruski and his team.

In their opening game of the knockout stage, Illuminar played against the heavily favored Movistar Riders. In our interview before the match, Jesper “Jeskla” Klarin Strömberg, AD Carry for Movistar Riders, spoke out against the Polish team and called them out for being one of the weakest teams in the whole tournament.

IHG surprised everyone and came out of that encounter victorious. They overcame the threat of a Spain-based team and found themselves just one step away from the LAN finals.

Illuminar opened the series against Millenium with a quick 25 minute victory and played consistently throughout the series to secure themselves a spot in the Top4. With two favorites behind them, the Polish underdogs bring another one down and get revenge after a devastating group stage loss. This time, the team that got blown away are the French GamersOrigin.

To talk about their underwhelming group stage, unexpected performance at the playoffs, and chances at the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester, we sat down with Illuminar’s star AD Carry Paweł “Woolite” Pruski for an exclusive interview.

Vie: You had a rough start in the group stage, but you managed to pull through in the end. What did you first think after seeing it? 

Woolite: I was really surprised that we went 1:2 and got worried that we won’t even make it past the group stage. Our expectations were much bigger than that, we aimed for first place in the group so it was a big disappointment. When we finally went through from 3rd place I knew we will have enough time to fix our mistakes.

Vie: Looking at the European Masters, which teams would you say look the strongest? 

Woolite: Definitely MAD Lions and GamersOrigin. I was really impressed by KlikTech as well since they came from the Balkan region which no one is familiar with. About winning the whole thing — anything can happen in offline matches.

Vie: The tournament so far showcased a lot of new, young talents who don’t get so many opportunities to play on the international stage. If you had to guess, who you’d say are the most likely ones to move up to the LCS soon?

Woolite: It is a hard question. I believe a lot of the players in the Top4 of the European Masters are LCS level. I’d guess Selfmademan [of MAD Lions] or Icebeasto [Illuminar] are really likely to go there but there are much more players that deserve it.

Vie: How well would you say the EU Masters teams would fair against the LCS level teams? How big is the gap between the two leagues?

Woolite: Any team from this Top4 could handle bottom LCS teams, I think. Especially MAD Lions or GamersOrigin, they are showing really crisp macro. Looking outside of the Top4 the gap gets really big suddenly.

Photo via ESL

Vie: Not many expected your team to get this far, as most of your games you entered as the underdogs. Is it safe to say you have already reached your goal set ahead of the Masters?

Woolite: People saw our bad performance in groups so obviously they expected us to drop out fast. Our scrim level was much higher than that and we aimed to go AT LEAST to semis in this tournament. Also being the underdog put the pressure off our shoulders so we showcased our true level. We knew we can beat Movistar Riders and Millenium if we performed like we do in scrims.

Vie: Your journey was a bit of a wild ride — you just barely made it out of the groups, but completely exploded in the playoffs. It’s like we were looking at completely different Illuminar in the playoffs.

Woolite: I think we were not proactive enough in our earlier games. Even in our win vs Ad Hoc it was a very slow game. Once we realized that, we started playing more aggressively and picking for a more early-mid game. I think the teams in the playoffs didn’t expect it at all so I’m happy with our progression through the tournament.

Vie: Jeskla of the Movistar Riders trash-talked your team pretty heavily before your match. It must have felt great to eliminate them?

Woolite: The only reason Movistar Riders were in this tournament was because they won in the LVP semifinals against Giants who had no jungler (their toplaner Th3Antonio was jungling xD) so I don’t understand where it’s coming from. Their ten man roster obviously did not pay off.

Vie: Your first game on LAN was against GamersOrigin. What do you think of them? You got, well, destroyed by them in the groups. Did that add extra pressure? Or did revenge serve as a motivator for you to perform?

Woolite: GamersOrigin are really good this tournament and we know it. We got hard stomped in groups by them but it only made us stronger. We were much better prepared for them this time. I feel like all the pressure was on them since they are the heavy favorites. Our morale is really high after the wins and we want to continue plowing the enemies on our way.

Vie: Toaster and Pulsas have been pretty dominant in their lane throughout the tournament and yet you completely shut them down.

Woolite: I think it’s all about playing our game in this matchup.Delord and I have been playing for a really long together so our synergy is better. I also think GamersOrigin usually win as a team and not individually, so we have to out-macro them. I was always confident in my laning even when I had to play against FORG1VEN, so I’m not scared at all.

Vie: What do you think of the European Masters in general? Do you think it’s good for the growth of the region or was the old Challenger system more motivating? 

Woolite: This format gives more hype that’s for sure. It’s more interesting to see regions fight it out in a big tournament. I’m happy Riot is trying to promote this much more than before. I always felt like no one cared about Challenger Series but now a lot of people are engaged.

Vie: Thanks for your time, Woolite. Any last words?

Woolite: Thanks to everyone who was believing in us even after the group stage results. We will give our hardest on Sunday. This tournament means a lot to me personally since I have a lot to prove. I’m capable of showing that I can be a consistent player and you could already see a difference in the playoff stage. It’s a fresh start for me.

Illuminar Gaming will battle it out in the Final match of the EU Masters against Origen on Sunday, 29th of April at 18:00 CEST.

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MRS Jeskla: “Illuminar are pretty bad and we should easily win over them”

MRS Jeskla: “Illuminar are pretty bad and we should easily win over them”

Movistar Riders are brimming with confidence ahead of their first playoff game against the Polish powerhouse Illuminar Gaming.

We sat down with Movistar’s 17-year-old AD Carry Jesper “Jeskla” Klarin Strömberg just a few hours before their first match in the elimination phase of the European Masters 2018 Spring Split. It’s been a rocky start for the Spain based team in the international tournament, as they struggled to find the key to victory and lost in two of their three group stage matches.

In the tiebreaker games, however, Jeskla’s Movistar Riders picked themselves together and showed everyone why they were considered one of the strongest teams ahead of the tournament, defeating both Ninjas in Pyjamas and SPGeSports.

In the first game of the playoffs, they will have to go head-to-head with Polish Illuminar Gaming, for whom the group stage did not go so well either — they lost against both GamersOrigin and Penguins, and picked up a single victory against group underdogs Ad Hoc Gaming. Flaunting a lot of experience on their lineup, the Polish team will be looking to redeem themselves where it matters the most.

The young Swede, nonetheless, is not scared.

Vie: Your group certainly wasn’t of the easier ones. What did you first think after seeing it? What were your expectations ahead of the group stage?

Jeskla: I thought it wasn’t too bad. The only team that was good was MAD Lions and I thought we could beat them and that we were a lot better than NiP and SPG. I expected us to come second place but also there was a chance to come first aswell.

Vie: Looking at the European Masters, which teams would you say look the strongest? Any predictions on who will take the whole thing?

Jeskla: I think MAD Lions is looking the strongest and then maybe Origen? I am not really sure. I think no team is really looking that much stronger than others but I would say MAD Lions if I had to pick one team.

Vie: EU Masters so far showcased a lot of new, young talents who don’t get so many opportunities to play on the international stage. If you had to guess, who you’d say are the most likely ones to move up to LCS soon?

Jeskla: Probably Nemesis and Crownshot. [both MAD Lions]

Vie: So far your journey through the European Masters was a bit of a wild ride — your group stage didn’t go so well, but you really picked yourself up in the tiebreaker games. What happened there?

Jeskla: In our group stage, at least first two games, our confidence level on some of our players was pretty bad so that’s why we lost vs Ninjas at least, but we got the confidence back and just started to play like normal.

Vie: You came into this tournament as one of the favorites to qualify for the LAN finals, but your performance wasn’t that great at first. How far are the goals set for your team? What’s the absolute minimum you’d be happy with?

Jeskla: I think at least semifinal for us is very important to reach and we should if we play like normal. Reaching semifinal for me personally is also very important.

Vie: Some would say you got an easier end of the bracket. Do you agree with that sentiment?

Jeskla: Yeah, I agree with that. I think GamersOrigin is the only decent team on our side of the bracket.

Vie: Today you’ll be playing against the Polish IHG. What do you think of them? Do you think you can take them down and move on to the quarterfinals?

Jeskla: I honestly think they are pretty bad and we should easily win over them. I just prepare the same way I always do and I think we should easily beat them 2-0.

Vie: KlikTech became somewhat of a mystery this tournament. They win games they had no right winning and lose games they should’ve won. What’s the deal with them? Are they running on borrowed time or are they the real deal? 

Jeskla: I’m not really sure. I was very surprised, I thought they would be a bottom tier team in this tournament and I think a lot of people thought that as well. But they proved everyone wrong, so maybe they are a good team… I don’t know.

Vie: You are still very young, only 17 years old. What are your plans for the future? How big of a part will League play in it?

Jeskla: Hopefully it will be a big part of my future as I want to reach LCS as soon as possible.

Movistar Riders will be playing their game against Illuminar Gaming 20th of April, 21:00 CEST.

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NiP Larssen: “The goal is to make the LAN finals”

NiP Larssen: “The goal is to make the LAN finals”

Mere hours before their deciding match against MAD Lions E. C., we sat down with Ninjas’ star midlaner Emil “Larssen” Larsson.

The 18-year-old Swede has been playing competitive League of Legends in the UK for the past few years where he represented some of the best teams in the region. His last team, Diabolus Esports, now makes up the core of the new Ninjas in Pyjamas lineup.

It was a shaky split for Diabolus in ESL Premiership as they just barely made it out of the group stage, only to fall against exceL eSports in the quarterfinals. Together with his AD Carry Ludvig “XDSMILEYs6” Erik Hugo Granquist and jungler Marc “Caedrel” Robert Lamont, they departed the UK based team and joined with Finn “Blomster Finn” Wiestål in the top lane and Morgan “Hustlin” Granberg as a support to form the new Ninjas in Pyjamas.

After a strong start in the European Masters, NiP managed to take down one of the favorites Movistar Riders, only to succumb to ESL Meisterschaft Spring Split finalists SPGeSports.

Vie: Your group certainly isn’t easy. What did you first think after seeing it? What were your expectations ahead of the group stage?

Larssen: When I saw the group I thought that we got into the group of death, by far the hardest group in my opinion but I was still confident that me and my team can do well, so my expectations were that we could really place anywhere in this group, which we still can.

Vie: Which team would you say look the strongest here at European Masters? Any predictions on who will take the whole thing?

Larssen: MAD Lions to me are by far the strongest team since they play very clean and have a lot of different styles, they have very strong players in every role as well and play very well together.

Vie: EU Masters so far showcased a lot of new, young talents who don’t get so many opportunities to play on the international stage. If you had to guess, who you’d say are the most likely ones to move up to LCS soon?

Larssen: Nemesis and selfmade [both MAD Lions] are to me by far the best players LCS team could get from EU Masters in my opinion, they have very good synergy together and both are great players.

Vie: How far are the goals set for your team?

Larssen: For me, I think we can beat any team if we have a good day, my goals are set to make the LAN finals, but obviously there’s a long way to go.

Vie: And that game vs SPG… The “trading inhibs for a nexus” has become somewhat of a meme already. What happened there? 

Larssen: We made the call to backdoor and get the inhibs and then let me base and defend the nexus towers. Sadly it was a matter of seconds and was an unlucky outcome, I would say since it was very close to defend the nexus and then being able to end the game.

Vie: Of course your team core is fresh from the UK scene, namely Diabolus Esports. How did that deal happen to be? Whose idea was it to leave Igloo and Hadow behind?

Larssen: Diabolus did let us break our contracts early to search a new team for European Masters which I, xd smiley and Caedrel really wanted. We got NiP and got other toplaner and support since Hadow and Igloo are not on the level needed for this tournament.

Vie: So your deal with Ninjas is just for the duration of EU Masters?

Larssen: Only for EU masters.

Vie: You’ve been playing in the UK for a few years now and it hasn’t been doing too well so far in EU Masters. How do you feel about the current state of the region?

Larssen: The state of UK is pretty bad I would say, bad viewership which generates pretty bad players. But it’s the only region I can play in since I got school and better regions have gaming houses, the only time I can fully focus on League is on summerbreak which i did last year when i played in Challenger series.

Vie: “UK DOWN BUT NOT OUT”?

Larssen: About that meme, I don’t know a lot about it but UK teams will likely go down pretty quick.

Vie: Today you will face probably one of the best teams of the tournament — MAD Lions. What do you think of them? Do you think you can take them down and secure a playoff spot for yourself?

Larssen: I absolutely think we can take MAD down, especially since its best-of-one and anything can happen, bo1 are always a bit of a coinflip.

Vie: You said before that Nemesis is one of the best players in this tournament, and tonight you will face him head-to-head. Walk us through your state of mind going into this game. How are you preparing for the match? 

Larssen: Before every game, I always prepare the same way — by looking at how enemy midlaner prioritizes his champions. Going against Nemesis I’m confident like I am against any midlaner, even though I think he is the best mid out of LCS without a doubt.

Vie: So, let’s talk KlikTech. 

Larssen: Honestly, I think KlikTech is good, but not that good. I’m pretty confident that teams like us, MRS, Illuminar, for example, can take them down pretty convincingly, though I think their solo laners are pretty strong.

Vie: What are your plans after the European Masters?

Larssen: Hopefully I will go full-time League during summer break which is right after UK masters, so hopefully Spanish scene or higher.

Vie: Thanks for doing this! Any last words?

Larssen: Obviously thanks to NiP for allowing me to play this great tournament! 🙂

Ninjas in Pyjamas will play their tiebreaker games tonight at 18:00 CEST vs SPGeSports and 22:00 CEST vs Movistar Riders.

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