We sat down with exceL’s 19-year-old AD Carry Alexander “Venzer” Kostadinov before their match with Origen in the European Masters.

exceL eSports made their way into the European Masters 2018 Spring Split after finishing first in ESL Premiership 2017 Autumn Split. Even though the team had some changes in its lineup, namely in the bottom lane, it did not do much to hinder exceL from maintaining their spot as one of UK’s best teams.

In their opening game of the EU Masters 2018, exceL overcame the reigning ESL Meisterschaft champions EURONICS Gaming, secured themselves a first victory and increased their chances of making it to the next stage of the tournament. Next, however, is where the real challenge starts, as the UK based team will be facing the highly anticipated Origen.

The Bulgarian Marksman shares his thoughts on the UK scene, playing on the European stage, facing FORG1VEN in the bottom lane, and defeating the unstoppable KlikTech squad.

Vie: Many titled your group in the European Masters to be the group of death. What did you first think after seeing it?

Venzer: When I saw the group draw I thought we got kinda unlucky, not the worst, definitely a group we could make it out of without too much hassle. Although it is a hard group to be first in I wasn’t too worried about dropping out in groups.

Vie: Which teams would you say are the strongest here? Anyone you particularly want to play against? Any teams you’d rather avoid?

Venzer: The strongest teams, in my opinion, are MAD Lions and GamersOrigin. Teams I want to play against are Origen to see how I measure up and how the team measures up individually compared to some really skilled players, and KlikTech because I want to beat my old support (EdinPriqtel). Teams I’d rather avoid are MAD Lions and GamersOrigin just because of how strong they are.

Vie: You entered your first match as the underdogs but managed to walk out victorious.

Venzer: I never thought we were the underdogs in that match, UK scene didn’t perform well as a whole on the first day but we didn’t even play and I think people are underrating us because of the perceived strength of the region as a whole.

Vie: Today you face one of the best teams of the tournament, at least on paper — Origen. Was one game enough for you to form an opinion? Do you think their loss against KlikTech was just a fluke? 

Venzer: I think the game with Origen will be coinflip, really. They have insane individual players but not that much practice together. I don’t think their loss yesterday was exactly a fluke since KlikTech are really good, but I do think that if Origen play to the level they could with those players they would probably be the best team in the tournament. I wouldn’t say you can call our match against Origen before it actually starts, we just don’t know enough about them to make an educated guess. But we can definitely beat them.

Vie: Facing FORG1VEN in lane must be both exciting and frightening at the same time. Walk us through your state of mind going into this game. How are you preparing for the match?

Venzer: I’ve actually played against FORG1VEN before, both online and on LAN, and I can say that the people who say that he’s washed up are really delusional. Sure he might not be in his prime, but he’s an insanely strong player. I wouldn’t say I’m scared of him but I definitely am a bit nervous. Preparing for the match isn’t really anything worth mentioning, especially since we have nothing to scout (they’ve only played 1 game together outside of scrims).

Vie: What about your teammates? Do you expect them to keep their own against this raw talent in every lane?

Venzer: I have faith in my teammates and I’m sure that they can show up. Would I say we’re stronger on paper than Origen? No. But we’re not that far behind, as to not win through superior team play and coordination.

Vie: Your game against KlikTech is coming up next, but they’re still somewhat of a mystery. They win against every team they face and yet it’s still hard to estimate what they are really capable of. What’s the deal with them? Are they running on borrowed time or are they the real deal?

Venzer: KlikTech are the real deal. They’re really strong players with a year of experience playing with this 5man roster (2 years with a different support). People who unironically say they haven’t been challenged yet and therefore haven’t proven themselves just refuse to face the facts, in my opinion.

Vie: Milica told us they know absolutely nothing about your team and let it slip they are not too concerned. Do you think that will be your ticket to victory against them?

Venzer: If they haven’t put the effort to watch over a few of our games then yeah, they wouldn’t know anything, but if he really isn’t concerned then his hubris is gonna come back to bite him when we play on Tuesday. I think they have very exploitable weaknesses that seemingly other teams haven’t picked up on or haven’t been good enough to punish, so they’re by no means unbeatable.

Vie: This is the biggest stage some of you have ever played on — what’s the mood like on the team? Are you excited? Nervous? Or just another day at the office? What are your goals for this event?

Venzer: I don’t know, the mood isn’t anything too different from what it usually is, we take all games equally seriously. Of course, there’s some nerves and excitement about getting to showcase how good you are in front of so many people against such good teams, but I wouldn’t say it’s something too unusual for us. Our goals for now are getting to the offline event (top4) and seeing where it goes from there.

exceL eSports will face Origen 16th of April, 18:00 CEST. Their match against KlikTech is scheduled for 17th of April, 22:00 CEST.

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