After a slow start during the summer split of the European League of Legends Championship Series, Spanish organization Giants Gaming was able to climb out of the cellar and secure a playoff seed with a third place finish.
Slingshot’s Alexandre “DrPuppet” Weber had the chance to talk with jungler Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian about their slow start, evolution of the team and fixing the shot-calling and meta problems.
Alexandre “DrPuppet” Weber: Congrats on qualifying to playoffs. You have been around for a while in the Challenger scene, played for several teams in the UK and even in the Challenger Series, however this is your first time here in the LCS. Can you tell us a bit about the way into getting to the LCS?
Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian: I think it was a really long road. Even when I was back in the Challenger Series, I thought I was better than some jungler LCS pros, but I had no direct proof for that and lacked experience. So I would have been nervous for the first weeks and didn’t get picked up because of that. The best thing that ever happened to me was being picked up for Challenger Series because people saw how good I was and I got recognized more. Even Dynamic Queue helped me, because people could see that I was ok at shot-calling. Before Challenger Series, it was a long road. So I wasn’t aiming to become a pro, I was basically going to university while also doing LANs, but then I realized I liked the game and played the game more that I had no social life and rather played the game than actually study for university. So I decided to take a break from Uni and pursued my career in League, and in one year I made it into the LCS, and I think I’m doing pretty good.
AW: It seems like a long road until there. What have you studied before?
NS: Mechanical Engineering.
AW: So basically today you finished your first regular split of the LCS. How have you evolved as a player, shot-caller and how did the team evolve throughout this split?
NS: At the beginning, it was a bit hard to communicate with the Koreans. Even SmittyJ wouldn’t say as much. I’m actually really proud of Hustlin, because I could see he was smart, he would understand and analyze his mistakes and come up with ideas of how to play champions better, but he never had the confidence to say it out loud or to proper shot-call. Now he does calls occasionally. I think at the time he joined us he was our biggest rookie and had no Challenger Series experience. So I am proud of him and everyone on my team since everyone improved a lot their communication. So in the beginning there wasn’t really a flow in the communication system and S0NSTAR would do most of the shot-calling, so it would be me and S0NSTAR shot-calling. So people would also give barely information and after working on it a lot, it is going great now.
AW: After all those struggles solving the shot-calling, what do you think was your key of success?
NS: So I think understanding the meta was a problem for us at the start and I didn’t know as much as I should have known about waves. So I had to learn more about Wave Control. Before that I would ask for information, now I changed to a more leading shot-calling style and will say what to do instead of only asking for information. With that, I force the team to give me information because if they don’t give me the information in time, it kinda sucks.
AW: Did you do something additionally or different to your usual daily training routine to train the shot-calling?
NS: We would lose some scrims because people wouldn’t give the information, so we just talked about this. So I felt I have the responsibility to help my team early game since I am the jungler, so I told my team you need to say when you can pressure so I can abuse it as a jungler. I could get the information myself, by looking around the map, but if I do that, I can’t think of other things. I can’t think about everything at the same time. It took us a long time to fix the communication but in the end we made it and are improving consistently now.
AW: Is there someone you don’t want to face in the playoffs or do you think you can beat anyone at this point?
NS: I think we are ready to beat anyone, but the unknown factor is H2K due to the bot lane changes and the new patch. It is not that I’m afraid of the patch, it is just the patch, because I don’t know if we will be able to adapt to the patch well since we struggled a bit with it in the beginning of the split. The Koreans would follow the Korean meta and we had to learn to figure out the meta for ourselves. As long as we can adapt fast to (the new patch), I think we can beat anyone.
AW: Is that all you are going to change in the practice going toward playoffs, focusing on understanding the meta or are you going to have some changes in your training routine?
NS: I think we will have to wait to see who we end up facing in playoffs, so we can prepare for them and their play style. Since it is a new patch, everything can happen. People go back to their usual style or they play something completely different. I think everyone is going to test first what works and whatnot in the coming patch, so we will see if our champions still work or not and take it from there. I don’t think it will change too much in the upcoming match, except if you can take the first turret bot lane in one wave and if it needs 2 or 3 waves to take it down the meta might also just stay the same.
AW: What do you think about the lane swap changes?
NS: Lane swaps are pretty much over, due to the cannon spawn and the bot turret resistances. So if you lane swap on top side, you give the bot side team a free turret, drake and they should still be able to defend their top turret. So I don’t think it is worth it to lane swap anymore, and only on the fifth wave on top there will be a cannon minion, so I think lane swaps are dead.
AW: Do you have any shout outs left?
NS: Shout out to my dad for always supporting me, my Mum as well and everyone that has supported me. Thank you!
Photos courtesy of Riot Games.