Splyce entered the League of Legends World Championship with lesser expectations (internally and externally) than perhaps any of the other 15 teams.
After playing in the relegation tournament of the European League Championship Series’ spring split. Splyce rose to second place in the summer and qualified for worlds through the regional gauntlet. Realistically, winning a championship wasn’t in the cards for Splyce, and the team concentrated more on learning from the experience of going 1-5 in Group D.
Slingshot’s Vince Nairn talked to Splyce coach Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi after the games about the season as a whole, expectations for European teams and what goes into his wardrobe.
Vince Nairn: First of all, how would you sum up your worlds experience?
Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi: I think in a scenario where the group stage is best of one, its very volatile. A lot of things can happen. Games can be lost very early on. Games can be won very early on, especially with how the meta looks. It’s all about making the first decisive play and just driving it home all the way. We had some games where we played worse than I expected of us, but of course, there’s a lot of new things going on for us because we’re playing on a stage that is bigger than anything else. We’re playing against players that have been here before, looking at our group. So all in all, I’m pretty happy with the outcome. We showed up in some of the games. We showed what we are capable of. In some games, not so much. The goal right now for us, to summarize it, is we take everything we learn here and build on top of the empire that we’ve built with the team.
VN: Especially coming off last week and having some good stretches, did it mean something to you to at least come out and win one game? Out of pride, if nothing else?
JM: For sure. Getting a victory, I think, people can always talk about how games are close. But nobody will care about that if they look back at it in history. They will look at the score line. 1-5 looks way better than 0-6. There would be too many jokes about last year at worlds when I was at the analyst desk. I said C9 would go 0-6 in the group. I made a bold prediction before any game was played in the group. And I think that there would be too many dnak memes regarding that if we went 0-6. So of course, pride-wise, it’s a good one. It looks way better than 0-6.
VN: The region as a whole has come under heavy criticism. Did this week help the region at all? Did you feel any extra pressure?
JM: I think the story of H2K and the story of us was something that wasn’t completely unexpected. H2K showed some problems of closing. That’s something that happened in the past for H2K. And then everyone also expected there’s a possibility they showed up big, which they did. They went 4-0. Our story and H2K’s story was something fans expected. G2, I think, the criticism toward EU is heavily because of what happened to G2. I feel bad for them. But that’s just the case if you’re the face of Europe. Everyone was expecting a lot of G2 because they were the ones that were dominant throughout the split, so a lot of that responsibility falls on their shoulders, especially after what happened at MSI. G2, scrimming them, I expected so much more from them. Scrimming them, it looked like they were in top shape. Definitely, they played better than they ever had, and on stage, they just big-time choked. And that happens sometimes. I feel kind of bad for them in a sense, but that is the responsibility that comes with being the face of Europe and the villain of Europe as well.
VN: You guys very much take the long-term approach of building this team. With that, what were the things you took away the most from these last two weeks?
JM: I think looking back at every single weekend, our practice regiment (was good). It’s very positive for us to put ourselves on the map because we had a lot of difficulties finding top scrims because other teams. They don’t really care about the team that went 3-2 against UOL and almost lost, this organization named Splyce. It wasn’t a big deal for the Chinese region and Korea, of course. So it was harder for us to get the scrims that we wanted. We didn’t get to choose, but after some networking we were able to get some scrims. We just basically grabbed whatever we could. We couldn’t really structure practice the way I wanted to, but we just had to do the best that we could with whatever we had. And of course that’s no excuse. You can look at Albus NoX, they didn’t scrim it at all. But it is something that matters in my opinion. Looking at player development, the players felt way more comfortable the second week on stage. They had some scenarios in Week 1 where people were shaking on stage. It was a very new experience because there were so many more eyes on us than before. I think players definitely, me included, we feel we are accustomed to the world stage at this point. Coming into the future, that will matter a lot.
VN: One thing that’s been weird all week is that a lot of teams seem to have players who are sick. Were you guys affected by that at all? If so, how did you manage it?
JM: Not really. We had a problem with Wunder being sick, but my mindset is always to do the best with what I have. Try to make the best out of it, and you take whatever you can from the experience and move on. In our case, Wunder was a bit sick. I don’t think it affected us too much. We just went with it. It’s a scenario we can’t really affect, so we just do the best with it.
VN: It seems like this happens almost every year. Is there something about this that lends itself to players getting sick?
JM: For sure. Our practice regiment was completely different. When we were in Korea, we practiced harder than we ever had. If you don’t go outside much and get that breath of fresh air and you just push all the time, your immune system is going to be weaker for sure. I think in the end, as a coach, sometimes when people ask me for predictions, I don’t like doing them too much. If I’m doing analyst work, OK, but there are always things you can’t predict happening. Illness. Maybe I walk out on the street and get hit by a car and suddenly I can’t walk. There are so many variables of what can happen that can be very unpredictable. Especially in a group stage like this and a best of one scenario, there are so many things that happen sometimes. There are many variables at play that you can’t control. So you just look to what you can control. Sure, you can feed your players some multivitamins. They’ll be better in that case. But generally speaking, there are a lot of things you can’t control, and you have to make sure you push as much as possible on the things you can actually control.
VN: One thing I’ve been dying to ask you: You have one of the more colorful wardrobes of anyone in League of Legends. What goes into your decision on what to wear for games?
JM: I don’t like to put too much thinking into it. This guy Chris (Ehrenreich), he worked with us. He used to coach CLG. He helped us out in the beginning as well with some basic structure of how to do it in the house. And he told me that you can only have so many good decisions in one day. So after he told me this, I don’t want to waste one of my good decisions on my wardrobe. So I just go with my gut feeling. This works, that matches, and I just go with it. Sometimes, the day before, I go “I want to wear this” and it’s specific. I play the scenario in my mind. The last time I wore this, things went good. I don’t 100 percent believe in that, but it’s just a small thing I process in my mind before the game. Sometimes, the tactical turtleneck comes in, and this is needed for today.
VN: Do you have any particular outfit that is your favorite?
JM: There’s this tie I didn’t use at worlds, actually. But there’s this tie that has a bunch of crowns. It’s my favorite tie for sure. I feel like when I’m wearing that tie with the suit I’m wearing right now, I’m like, “Yeah, I feel good. I feel good.”
Photos courtesy of Riot Games