Jonas “Memento” Elmarghichi has a history in the promotion tournament, having played with bottom European League of Legends Championship Series teams ROCCAT and Giants Gaming during his career. This time, however, he is the starting jungler for Schalke 04, one of the top two Challenger Series teams vying for a spot in the LCS.
Schalke managed to win its first series in the tournament against Mysterious Monkeys, but Memento said he was disappointed with his personal performance. Following the series, Memento spoke with Slingshot’s Kelsey Moser about Schalke’s top-centric approach, his synergy with his top and mid laner, and Schalke’s rivalry with his previous team, Giants Gaming.
Kelsey Moser: I wanted to ask about the approach you guys took the first four games with 1-3-1 or 1-4 and strong top. Is this something you wanted to pick against Monkeys, or is it something you feel is really strong generally?
Jonas “Memento” Elmarghichi: I think it’s strong in general, actually. Because bot lane is really hard to gank before Level 6, at least, so I think you always play around top in the early game. And if you have a strong winning top, you have a win condition that you can always rely on later.
And also SmittyJ is like really good, and we know he’s better than Kikis, so we just went with the approach.
KM: I think we saw — at least in EU LCS — that sometimes you have situations where the enemy team has stronger teamfight comp or something like this. Was this a concern for you in this series when you played these kinds of comps?
JE: We always try to draft a scaling top or a scaling bot so we always have a win condition, so if something goes horribly wrong in early game, we can always rely on the scaling bot. We never go like — this full early game.
But, I think it’s — most drafts we always have the better comp. Except maybe when we play Elise, then we tend to go for more carry players like Lucian mid or Jayce top, but it tends to work out.
KM: Speaking of the Elise, it seemed like this was really a high priority pick for a lot of the series. Then you ended up banning it and going for Gragas, can you explain the thought process as to why you shifted the priority and decided to just ban the Elise?
JE: The thing is that I’m really horrible with Elise. I haven’t played that much solo queue lately, so I haven’t gotten that much practice on it. I can still play Elise, but you saw me miss a lot of cocoons, and it wasn’t like — I couldn’t play it to the optimal, and right now, Elise, if you can snowball better and play it to its highest potential, then you can take over a game. If you can’t, then she’s going to get out-scaled — like Sejuani out-scaled me because I didn’t snowball early enough.
We just decided to go for the safe comp, and my Gragas is really good. So I just locked the Gragas in instead. I actually prefer that more, but I still need to practice harder.
KM: In the fifth game, for example, even though there had been so much top priority, Amazing went ahead and went mid very early and caught Caedrel a bit off-guard. Did you anticipate the early mid gank, or how did you recover?
JE: I mean — we saw him actually running into river, but any normal jungler would just go and farm up his camps so he wouldn’t fall behind, but he got very creative, and he just went for a gank mid that usually shouldn’t work. I actually expected him to go farm his jungle to keep ahead because, with tanks, you just want to scale, you know? You don’t want to risk it. But he went risking it, and it tended to work out, and he got snowballed, so it was a good call.
KM: Both teams went for strong top split-push compositions, but there would be moments where Monkeys would group into one lane, and then you would instead would go for pressure in mid and bot (in response to top, for example). How do you identify and who identifies when you have opportunities to go for trades in multiple lanes like this?
JE: I think it’s mostly Smitty because he’s the one playing the split-push. He tells us when he can actually get something advantageous off it. Usually, when we have a carry top, we just want to let him, you know, scale faster, get advantage. Even if we lose maybe a mid turret or maybe some pressure somewhere else.
A lot of times, our vision was really shit — we give up a lot of vision to let our top laner push more, but maybe that was avoidable. I think it’s mostly Smitty telling when he can actually do something and what the right call is. He’s kind of the shotcaller.
KM: Mid priority is often considered super important, but you tend to play toward one side lane or the other and not necessarily focus on using or transferring leads mid. Do you have a kind of philosophy for this?
JE: I think it’s just me and Caedrel don’t have the best synergy, so we don’t tend to work as well together, but we can actually abuse mid priority. But, overall, I think — I usually just want to play towards Smitty, and Smitty does his job always, so it makes the game easier. But I think me and Caedrel have to work harder together, and we can focus more mid lane priority. But I definitely think it’s really important. I think we’re not getting punished because it’s a bit lower tier teams. Like, if we were maybe against a higher tier team, we wouldn’t have stood a chance. I don’t want to say we’re lucky, but we’re OK right now.
KM: I’ve heard this line from a few junglers. “I don’t have good synergy with my mid.” Can you explain a little more what that feels like or what it looks like?
JE: Maybe when I went back with NighT in Giants, I think we had pretty good synergy. Usually, I tend to get a read on my mid laner and understand how he works, and I can actually work with him. I used to always go roam with Night, and we had pretty good synergy.
With Caedrel, I think we don’t communicate as much, and I don’t really understand him that well like I did with NighT, but I think — if we just start duoing a lot more, then we could actually get the priority. But let’s say we have a really good mid/jungle synergy, then he would push out one wave, and I would be clearing a camp at exactly the same time, and I’d be like “Hell yeah, let’s go right now,” you know? Then we would go just get vision together or kill the enemy jungler. You saw how they took like every single red buff from me. They just like push in mid, and then they just go together, but me and Caedrel never did that.
I think it comes down a lot about communication about lanes and how you — like “I can move after this wave” because sometimes he doesn’t say it, and sometimes I don’t say I’m going to base. I think it boils down to communication and if people actually want to work together or not.
KM: When you talk about SmittyJ, it seems like you guys get along really well and duo sometimes. Do you think the fact that you seem to have a good camaraderie influences how you play?
JE: Yeah, I think so, too, like being friends outside the game is actually important because you can actually talk about multiple stuffs and not be — you know — be afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. The thing I like about Smitty is that he’s really straightforward. He’s not pulling bullshit, and I’m actually really good with criticism, so if something goes wrong in top lane, and he thinks “My jungler is inting” (he says it sometimes), but I will never get offended because I just talk with him after, and he explains what I should actually do, and I how we could work better together.
If people are more sensitive, I can definitely see it, you know? Where they get offended if someone says you aren’t playing well or something. But I definitely like working with him.
KM: Speaking of “my jungler is inting,” I think in regular season especially, you seemed to struggle a little bit with going too far or too hard on a play. I feel like this has improved a little bit. Is it something you identified and worked on it?
JE: I think I was just a horrible jungler. I mean, I’m definitely really bad right now. But — in the regular season, I think. Normally, for me, in the beginning I have a really hard time actually getting comfortable with my laners and understanding them. Because as a jungler, it’s really hard identifying how your laners work.
Oh bot lane always needs ganked, or maybe bot lane doesn’t need ganked, they just like vision. Then I just give vision to bot. And maybe top lane says “I need ganks,” then I will give him ganks and give vision bot or something like that.
But it was really hard to identify it in early season, so that’s why we didn’t seem to have the good synergy. Towards the end of the split against — was it PSG? It was PSG, then Giants. I think in Giants game, that’s when we actually started understanding each other.
We didn’t really manage to pull it off on stage as well, but I think — I mean, we didn’t really play like we do normally in scrims. In scrims, we just play so perfect and we get really frustrated when we don’t play perfect. That’s kind of what I like about the team. We could legit just win every scrim, you know? Then we lose one scrim, you know? And everyone just goes mad shit because we just made one mistake, and everyone wants to play perfect. It’s really nice to say if we don’t get too emotional about it.
KM: I’ve heard others say that this may be a bit of a problem of EU scrim environment. People will get tilted, and you cancel the scrim, but you like how people will get really upset over scrims or like this about the team, could you clarify a bit?
JE: I mean, I don’t like people being tilted or being emotional, like you should be able to have emotions here — and your job here because you should be able to do your own job even when it’s horrible and it has gone really bad. We don’t tend to pause that much. We tend to play it out.
What I meant about what I liked was at some point it’s really bad if they tilt or they get frustrated, but I would be more worried if I saw my teammates not caring about making a mistake. If they were just “That blows,” and they just move on, but if they actually care, that means they actually want to improve. They want to get better.
KM: You were pretty hard on yourself earlier. It looks like your fingers are in a bandage, though. Are your hand okay? Is that impacting your performance at all?
JE: That’s the sole reason why I didn’t play that much solo queue. It happened in an incident back when I twisted the top finger (of all fingers, it was the middle one), but then the doctor said it would take like fifteen days where I have like this thing, and I couldn’t play because it would hurt. So I would just play scrims, and then I wouldn’t play anything else.
They said it was fifteen days, right? So I walk there, and it’s been fifteen days, and they put on this instead. So now I have two fingers. I take it off when I play because it’s impossible to play like that.
Now that it’s starting to feel better, I will start spamming solo queue and get better again because that was a horrible performance.
KM: You’re practical about, but we’ve ween really good games in the past from Memento for sure. Is that something that allows you to not feel really unmotivated when you underperform? How do you bounce back mentally after you have a series where you’re this unhappy with how you played?
JE: Work harder. It’s the only way. There’s no other way. I can’t just — I don’t tend to live in the past where I just go like “Ah, but I used to be good. I remember. I used to have that.” The past doesn’t exist, it’s just — you just have to move forward. If I play bad, the only thing I can do is play more solo queue, watch more LCK VODs, try harder. Just harder. You can always try harder.
KM: For the rest of the tournament, it seems like people are more looking forward Giants and Schalke than potentially NiP vs Schalke. Part of that is because you guys have had this back and forth a little bit on Twitter and in interviews. People are really highlighting Gilius on Giants, of course. Do you have any feeling on your history and this direct matchup?
JE: I think it’s kind of funny. In particular, I don’t really care. I just play for myself, you know? I just got to make LCS. But I think it’s really interesting because both me and Gilius have (played in the relegation tournament) with both teams. He (was) relegated (with) Schalke, and I (was) relegated (with) Giants — and also, I was the one who relegated Schalke as well with ROCCAT. I didn’t relegate them, but I won a series against them, and then Misfits relegated them. I definitely think the storyline is fine. I could definitely do some more BM talk and make it interesting.
They also had this game — what was it? In the Challenger Series regular season where they got 2-0’d hard stomped, and they were like “No, we weren’t even trying, man,” and then we were like picking Yasuo and shit. It’s not like we weren’t trying, but in their head, they probably thought that they weren’t trying. It’s a pretty easy excuse, but if you’re a real professional, you always play your hardest, no matter what.
KM: I have to put you on the spot even though this interview won’t go up first, but NiP and Giants play tomorrow. Which do you think is the better team?
JE: NiP will smash them.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games