Albus NoX Luna continued its surprise run in the League of Legends World Championship after going 2-1 on Thursday to clinch a quarterfinal berth and make it out of Group A. The wildcard representative from the CIS is certainly the talk of the tournament, and Slingshot’s Vince Nairn caught up with Michael “Kira” Garmash after Thursday’s games to talk about advancing, being the underdog and how they plan to continue.
Vince Nairn: If you could, just describe the emotions going on and the feelings you’re having right now?
Michael “Kira” Garmash: Before worlds, someone asked me, “What do (you) want to do if (you) get to quarterfinals?” I said, our games would be in the evenings waiting, I said, “I would go to sleep.” Because our team really wants to sleep.
VN: To a lot of fans here, you weren’t really known, you know, like a week ago. But now you guys are the celebration of the group stage of worlds. What’s it like just to come from not really being known to all the sudden being the stars of this whole thing?
MG: I really like to be the underdog, because no one expects anything of you, so when you start to win, everyone is cheering for you, because of “wow, teams that no one knows that must be shit, started to win.” It’s pretty crazy and cool.
VN: We talked after the first ROX game, and you were just happy that it was “the first time we won the early game in a 100 games!” To go from that point to this, what were the things that you guys needed to do? What were the the things that needed to come together for you guys to play as well as you did?
MG: We need to win more early games, so we can win others. Our macro games weren’t so bad against them, sometimes even better. So, we need to get to 20 minutes with 0-0 deaths and kills and we will win I think. That’s our target now.
VN: Has it sunk in yet? You guys made it out of groups against three pretty good teams and were able to make it out.
MG: I lost the last game so I’m not happy. We wanted first seed but threw versus G2. Not threw, just didn’t play our best because we got to quarterfinals. Like, we already did so much! If we get first seed it would be too much.
VN: Did your mindset change at all after you guys clinched (making it out of groups?) Did your mindset change at all against G2?
MG: I think mine (did) 100 percent because as Viktor I played a really good game, as Vladimir I played the first 30 minutes maybe good. Afterwards I made so many mistakes. It was so bad. It’s still one game and it was not enough, so it was hard.
VN: The first thing a lot of people think when they hear Russian League of Legends is Moscow 5. Did you have any feeling toward that team? Was succeeding something you wanted to do because of them or was your motivation different completely?
MG: No, at the moment I almost forgot about them. When I started to play professional League of Legends, like playing ranked etcetera, I watched all their games, tried to learn from them, especially (Alexander “Alex Ich” Ichetovkin), mid laner, of course. So, yeah, I’m pretty aware of them because I learned from them, but when we played today, I didn’t remember them. No, I don’t feel anything.
VN: At the same time, now people are kind of saying that this is the return of Russian League of Legends. Do you take a certain level of pride being able to do this for your country and for your region?
MG: At first we had three Ukrainian players and two Russians. So not Moscow 5 already, not (all) Russians, but CIS. Yeah, maybe now CIS would be a better region but still, we don’t have so much good players. I think it’s not even about that, it’s about a mentality problem, mental wall. You have to push this wall before you do something. Change your mind or something like this. While they have this wall, no one will play really good. We had this wall, we thought like, “OK doesn’t matter guys. We did relax it. Maybe we can win, let’s do our best, just don’t think too much, and play your best.” That’s why we are here.
VN: What else needs to happen? You said it was kind of a mentality thing in CIS region. What else needs to happen for that region to kind of continue to improve and produce more quality players and teams?
MG: I thought that maybe we need new add-on for World of Warcraft (Laughs). First step that (needs to be done) we will not only have one league, that we’ll get in Moscow, so that’s the first step. Second step I think is scrim partners, because previously we scrimmed only with Turkish team and some challenger series (teams) of Europe and OCS, almost. So now we play more professional League of Legends that are semi-pro now I think we’ll catch up. We need more people in Russia to play, because it’s not only mental, but also parents’ fault. How I say, because from 13 years when I started to play computer a lot, my parents usually said to me, “Why do you do this? You (won’t) do anything with this in your future. Stop doing this, it’s useless.” So if players stopped to think about it a lot just, “my parents are wrong,” just don’t care. Then we’ll get (better).
VN: A lot of teams have had players who are ill coming into the tournament. Did you guys have anybody that’s been sick? If not, have you guys been trying to fight off what it seems like everybody else has?
MG: (Alexander “PvPStejos” Glazkov) and (Kirill “Likkrit” Malofeev) are already ill for two months since our bootcamp, maybe three months, before our grand final. At Wild Card they got more sick, so yeah, my teammates are sick. Especially Likkrit, now he has red circles on his skin, we don’t know what the fuck is this, we just said to him “OK (if) you are dying, just play our game and then die afterwards, please.”
VN: Why do you think that is? Because it seems like this happens every year around worlds time, everybody seems to get sick in the lead up to worlds. Do you have any idea why that might be?
MG: It’s because airplanes, they are cold etc.Climate changes, and I think we are prepared for this because everytime we get to bootcamp, we are sick. Every time when we get to our events we are sick, so it’s usual for us.
VN: Likkrit got up and talked on stage about giving a lot of respect to G2 and it seemed like he was very impassioned about how much criticism G2 has taken this week. Do you feel a similar way as well? Is it kind of like a mutual respect thing among you and all the other teams?
MG: I think G2 did really well. They didn’t troll any game. They tried their best, so yeah they’re pretty good team because of this. I hate them for this because we didn’t like get (the) win, not No. 1 of group but still yeah, I’m very proud about them because they played until the end. They tried their best and I really like them for this.
Photos courtesy of Riot Games.