H2K has reached the quarterfinals of the league of Legends World Championship after going 4-0 (including a tiebreaker) on Friday to win Group C. Slingshot’s Vince Nairn talked to Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski afterward about H2K’s elation, representing Europe and what changed.
Vince Nairn: First off, what are your overall thoughts? When you came into today 1-2 in the group, what did you guys think you needed to do to get to this level and how did you go about executing it?
Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski: So basically we tried to take match after match, so we didn’t really realize that we were going to Chicago until we won versus INTZ. Last week it was the first time on the world stage for most of us, so we didn’t play good as a team and we didn’t play good as individuals as well. We slacked and we just played bad. We played way worse than we should, and this week we picked it up, it was more calm environment because it was now (the) second week and everything went much smoother. The fact that we played four games in one day, every game we became better. I was very glad to have my team perform and how we overall picked it up in one week. It was more about getting what he had in scrims to the stage because in scrims we played really good compared to how we played on stage now. Unfortunately we didn’t show it last week.
VN: There was talk when you guys qualified, like, oh they only qualified through points. And here you guys are, the one team from the European region that was able to make it out of worlds. Does that give you a sense of pride?
MJ: I still hope Splyce will get out of groups, but it’s unlikely, like only 5 percent or whatever. But I’m very happy. I’m very happy that I can be there for Poland, I can be there for Europe, and I’m very happy that we showed that we are actually good players. It’s not that we got here by luck, it’s just that we deserve it and we kind of destroyed all the haters I would say. Like last week, they were like “you guys are shit, you don’t deserve it, you choke,” blah blah blah, you know? And this week we picked it up and we played very good. I’m happy that people stayed with us. People who are with us now, they should have been with us already. They should have believed that Europe can pick it up. I’m very sad for G2, but at least we can represent the region.
VN: You guys had a weird summer split in general. Coming from (Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou) leaving and then (Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek) gets hurt and then you end up bringing FORG1VEN back. How did you guys weather the storm and try to navigate through all the weird stuff going on during the summer split.
MJ: I think it was mostly that Freeze’s hand got, you know, he had problems with his hands, it was nothing that we expected but at the same time we heard that FORG1VEN was playing better because Freeze didn’t play a lot of solo queue for one month maybe more simply because his hand was injured. So when we picked up FORG1VEN, the team started coming back to the old spring split H2K, where we win all the lanes, push all the lanes and try to maintain pressure everywhere. Here we still have to tell FORG1VEN how to play, where he should move on the map, because he does farm a lot but we do this and he listens to us. At the same time he brings his mechanical power, then we became a team. I’m glad that we played with FORG1VEN, but I do believe Freeze is a very good player. His hand is injured, I hope he gets all right.
VN: EU has taken a lot of criticism at worlds. Did you guys feel any sense of pressure at all to come out here and perform well not just for you guys, but for an entire region?
MJ: I think tried to ignore it but we felt it in the back of our heads that we were the last EU hope, that it’s like we are the only ones that can make it out of groups, that we are the second seed that did it by points instead of being the best, G2, that everyone prides. I think the hate was deserved. I think we played like shit. Not one European team performed last week. At the same time, Splyce almost won against TSM and it was a very close game. TSM managed to come back, but Splyce had a pretty good game. They are very young, they have no experience, so I do believe that they will become better next year and same for G2. (Luka “PerkZ” Perkovic) for example, (Gi “Expect” Dae-Han,) they have no experience whatsoever. I think Europe next year should be stronger than this year, but I really hope we can still prove to people that we are not trash. So we will try to perform well and go to semis.
VN: A lot of teams have people that are sick. Is that something has affected you guys as well? If so, how did you try to battle it and contain it? If not, what are you guys doing that nobody else is doing? Because it seems like everybody else is sick.
MJ: I think in Korea, when everyone came back through the same plane, I don’t know what happen but everyone got sick. From our team, (Oskar “Vander” Bogdan) was sick, (Ryu “Ryu” Sang-ook) was a little bit sick, (Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu) was sick, (Micheal “Veteran” Archer) was sick, that’s our analyst, so three out of our five players were sick. I was fine and FORG1VEN was fine, but we were jetlagged. Everyone was super super jetlagged for the first week as well. Now everything improved a lot because we sleep normally now, the jetlag has passed, we wake up normal hours, like, I remember waking up at 6 a.m. in the play day when we have to play until 8 p.m. or something, so, we get tired fast. I think no one is sick anymore, no one is jetlagged, and it all worked out.
VN: When you have teammates that are sick, how do you try to handle it? Because you guys are in close quarters, you’re practicing for a lot of time. How do you try to make it so that not everybody gets sick?
MJ: We try to isolate the people that are sick from the healthy people, but obviously it’s not the case when you play scrims, for example. But before we went to sleep or something we took some medicine just to make sure we don’t catch up whatever they have. They weren’t like, super sick. It was like a cold, but when a cold is hard you cough a lot, you feel cold, and overall your health hurts. It wasn’t super sickness we should be scared of, so we just took a lot of Vitamin C. Our manager took care of it, and took some medicine before sleep. We also took something that could help us fall asleep so we won’t wake up at night because of the jetlag, and now we are fine and happy.
VN: In the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen stories coming out about investments coming into the LCS in both NA and EU from major traditional sports organizations. How do you as a player feel about that?
MJ: Obviously I’m happy that more investors come here, but it’s still mostly NA. I feel NA has overall more investors and more salary for the last two, three years. They are always ahead when it comes to environment and when it comes to the salary, but overall NA LCS just play better quality too. There is no lie, EU LCS is slacking on that, but it’s not because of the people, it’s more that we just don’t have the resources. It’s getting better though, a lot better. I think we have to pay about 40 percent in tax in Germany too so I think that the country we are in is really bad for the LCS, so I hope a lot will change next year maybe, where we do not have to pay a shit ton of tax, and the salary would grow a little bit so it can at least be close to the ones from NA.
VN: I’ve noticed a couple of times during playoff weeks you’ve been kind of a guest analyst. I was curious how you felt about those chances that you’ve had being on an analyst desk and if that’s something you’ve considered doing when your player career is over?
MJ: I actually don’t know what I will do, because maybe I’ll like to be a streamer more than an analyst, but something like this is very nice for me because I still need to practice my English a lot, and it’s an opportunity. I learned a lot as well. I’m very happy when I get a chance to do it, and I will 100 percent be ready for it in the future. If everyone likes it, if you guys like it, if I like it, maybe in the future I will be an analyst.
VN: It did seem like you were received pretty well when you did that, so I was curious, did you notice any of of the praise? I think there might have been a Reddit thread that was just dedicated you being the guest analyst.
MJ: I think it was more because me and PerkZ were bantering with each other so people like it. When it comes to that, you can’t forget about the thing that you have to tell them about the game too, you can’t just banter (with) people and trash talk them. Obviously it’s fun and you should do it, and it makes everything better. But at the same time you just don’t forget about the thing that you actually want to tell them about the game. I had a lot of fun and hope I will be doing it in the future.
Photos courtesy of Riot Games.