Slingshot’s Vince Nairn had the chance to talk to Dignitas’ Emil “Magiskb0Y” Reif ahead of Friday’s ELEAGUE Group D play (10 p.m. on TBS) to talk about the disappointment of being dropped by SK Gaming, finding his footing with Dignitas and his dramatic rise at the age of 18.
Vince Nairn: First of all, what do you think about your group here at ELEAGUE and the teams that are in it with you?
Emil “Magiskb0Y” Reif: We’re playing against EnVyUs in the first game, and we have OpTic and Fnatic is in our group as well. I think it’s a decent group, and I think we have a decent chance to make it past this week. I just hope we can win the first two games and make it to the playoffs really fast. I think it’ll be tough to play EnVyUs because I feel they play good against us whenever we play them. I think the hardest match will be against EnVyUs. I think we have a good chance if we beat them in the first game. I think we’d be able to win Fnatic or OpTic.
VN: How would you describe the year you’ve had until this point?
ER: I think this year has been pretty chaotic, actually, in some way. It’s been pretty fast forward. I played in SK, where we kind of got kicked out of SK because they got the best team in the world now. So we were left without any organization, and I felt like it was time for me as well to try something new and try to move on. It didn’t take much time before Dignitas wanted me to play with them. Cajunb he called me and said he wanted me to join the team after the Major. I would have joined before the Major but couldn’t because I played the qualifiers with another team, but whatever. It was great to have the opportunity to play with Dignitas.
VN: Yeah, so the news first broke in May, I think, that there was a dispute with SK and the Luminosity roster. Meanwhile, you are there still under the SK banner as a roster the organization clearly didn’t want anymore. How did you cope with that awkward situation?
ER: For us, it was really tough and annoying in some way because we actually heard rumors a few months before that SK was trying to buy Luminosity. At that point we didn’t really believe in it because we didn’t have the impression they could just get the best team in the world. It’s never fun because you’re playing for an organization that’s trying to get another team. It was not a really great situation.
VN: What was difficult about trying to focus on the game at that point?
ER: At the time we started hearing more rumors, we didn’t really know about it. We tried talking with SK and they told us it was fine. Everything was under control. They were just trying to make us focus on the game and try to qualify for the Major. I think it’s never fun, but I don’t think it affected our game that much. When you hear rumors like that, you try to go and find something else if something happens, so you have an emergency plan. I think everyone would do the same as SK did. I don’t really blame them. Yes, we might be the team playing for them, but if I was in the same position, I would have done the same. Because business is business and I think you need to remember that as well when you’re playing in this kind of industry. If you can get the best team in the world instead of a top-20 team at that moment, you should do it.
VN: What clicked when you get to Dignitas? It seemed like the change in form was immediate.
ER: The main reason that you see in many teams changing a player is the motivation boost. When you get a new guy on the team, it gives a lot of motivation for everyone to try to do better and improve as a team. I think that’s the reason we got so good so quickly is because we were able to focus on the game and tried to focus on the game. Everything was new for everyone. Cajunb was new as well, so it was almost like a new team.
VN: Did you imagine that when you were dropped by your organization, it would only be a few months later than you’re a part of one of the best teams in the world? It’s kind of crazy how fast things happened for you.
ER: When I signed up with Dignitas, I knew they were already a good team. They were playing at the Major. I knew they had the possibility to be a top-10 team. I think they were even ranked seventh at some point with that lineup. It just gave me so much motivation to play with these guys and get better as a player. Of course, I don’t think many of us expected us to be a top three team right now. I think we were even top two at some point. I don’t think many expected us to rise that quickly as a team and win a tournament like EPICENTER, which is a tournament that had all the good teams at one tournament. It’s been the only tournament where every top team has been. I don’t think many expected that. I don’t think we expected it ourselves. I knew we could make some upsets and make semifinals.
VN: Yeah, what was your emotional reaction when winning that tournament? A lot of players had been through a lot of different things this year, and that just seemed like a really cool moment.
ER: I think it all started kind of against Na’Vi in the semifinals. We won the first map. We were playing really good on the second map, we were like 12-3 on Overpass. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many emotions in one game. Being so close to going to a final that’s the biggest final of my career. Then you throw away the second map and need to reset into the third map, which we lost the last time you played against them. I think we were down like 5-1 in the CT side on nuke, and we somehow managed to stay calm and play together as a team. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to have such a great mentality comeback. As a team just staying together. It was really awesome.
VN: You’re still only 18. How do you just try to put into perspective all the experiences you’ve had this year?
ER: It’s kind of unreal at some point. I don’t think (I) realize how big it actually is. When I’m at home at Denmark and at the supermarket and some guy comes up to me and asks for a picture. If you asked me one year ago I don’t think it would ever happen. It’s been kind of unreal for me to be someone people recognize and would like to take pictures with or get my signature. I don’t know how to describe it but it’s pretty amazing that something we like to do and love to do is something that can have results like this.
Cover photo by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack