After a miserable 0-2 performance on Day 1 of Rift Rivals, Unicorns of Love made adjustments in favor of more comfortable mid lane picks to turn the tides of Day 2. After UoL handed Team SoloMid its first loss of the tournament, AD carry Samuel “Samux” Fernández Fort talked to Slingshot’s Kelsey Moser about the change, UoL’s current split, and expectations for the final day of the group stage.
Kelsey Moser: Obviously you had a really big turnaround today from 0-2 to 2-0. What do you think was the biggest factor?
Samuel “Samux” Fernández Fort: After we lost 0-2, we spent the whole day talking about what happened (how can we fix what is happening). We came to a conclusion that we just need to — for example — pull out the Vladimir into Syndra, on which Exileh was really comfortable. We knew Bjergsen is going to blind pick Syndra. We also knew Xayah/Rakan worked. It was fine the last time we played TSM. So we just pull it off again, and this time it worked a lot better. And we prepared the Ivern instead of Hecarim. So we knew exactly what TSM was going to pick, which was like the exact same setup except Tahm Kench instead of Braum, but that really doesn’t matter too much. We felt really comfortable playing this setup. We are really strong in team fights in this setup.
KM: Was it just about finding something that felt more comfortable then?
SF: Yes, I think we lost our confidence after going 0-2, so we just went back to something we are really comfortable playing: a strong team fight setup that we played a lot before.
KM: It seems a lot like Unicorns have been relying a lot on you to show up late game on picks like Twitch or Xayah. Is this something that is a deliberate decision or just how you end up picking?
SF: We just tried Twitch in scrims. We thought it was strong — and Xayah and these kinds of picks. It turns out that it really works for us because we really like hyper carries or carries with a lot of damage. It just really fits our style. It’s really good for us, I think.
KM: When you overload on these picks that have a weaker laning phase and are stronger in team fights, how do you make sure that you can minimize the damage early on?
SF: Hyli and me, we’re really good at not letting the enemy have CS advantage in the lane. We are really good at being even in losing matchups. We are pretty comfortable blind picking Twitch or Xayah at any point. We don’t have any problem doing these picks.
KM: I would say that between this split and last split, we’ve seen you personally develop and get more confident as a player. Was it just a matter of getting more experience or something else in your environment?
SF: Last split was my first split in LCS. I was a bit nervous at the start. I was making a lot of misplays. I got a lot more comfortable as time went on. I think I am improving a lot. Sheepy also helped me a lot with his coaching. Hyli and Csacsi helped me a lot as well with positioning in team fights and these kinds of things, so it’s thanks to them I’m getting more confidence as well.
KM: Unicorns of Love have had this roster for a little while now. Once you’ve played a lot of games together, how do conversations and preparation change?
SF: I don’t think they change so much. I think they are about the same. It doesn’t change.
KM: Is there added benefit to having more time together? How important is synergy really?
SF: Yes, there is definitely more synergy with time together. I don’t think we have been playing that good this split. You might even think we had more synergy last split maybe even though the start of this split was really good for us. But I think we are getting back on track. The longer we stay together, the more synergy we get, and this is good.
KM: There have been a lot of conversations on broadcast and around the game regarding what the North American meta is and why it has been successful or surprising in Europe. What is your opinion on that?
SF: I think North America plays very to the meta. They play really standard, they are really smart about the game, and in Europe, we like to surprise a bit more. Pull off surprise plays. Or play a different style. For example, in EU, we do the lane swap a lot. I think every EU team has done this swap bot lane to top lane and gotten first tower like every game in this tournament. NA didn’t expect this. It worked every game. There are different styles and things NA doesn’t do. I think maybe NA’s style is a bit better, but I think Europe has a good style as well, but different. It has more surprises.
KM: Would you say that because of this “surprise style,” it’s hard to keep getting advantages from it in more matches? Do you have to come up with more surprises, or is it just a matter of making whatever surprises you come up with more consistently executable?
SF: I think if you play really standard, you can expect what they are going to do. If they play correct, they are going to do this right now. They can’t say what are we going to do right now because we are going to surprise them so hard, and they don’t expect what we are going to do, so this is a benefit factor for us, for example.
KM: What can we expect from Unicorns of Love for the rest of the tournament?
SF: After today, I think we gained a lot of confidence, so we can expect better performances tomorrow and probably get finals. I think we are like 2-2 with Fnatic, so it’s likely that we make finals if we win two games tomorrow. We can make it to finals and probably win the whole thing.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games