Maybe 2019 was not the year Excel Esports ad expected it to be. After an underwhelming start for the ten-man roster, the team found itself in the lowest standings of the league. As the new year started, it has been made clear that the team made powerful changes in the offseason to ensure its climb to succes in the 2020 Spring Split of the League of Legends European Championship.
Bot Laner Patrik "Patrik" Jírů talked to Lara Lunardi about Excel’s team infrastructure, success and synergy, becoming a more assertive player and what it is like to be followed around by cameras all day long.
Your team is quickly climbing the LEC ladder compared to the previous year. What has this team growth process been for you guys?
I think since our coaching staff is one of the best in the league we can improve much faster than the other teams, even though on paper we probably don’t have that much strength compared to the other teams. Mostly it is the coaching staff that is doing a good job helping us solve our issues so we improve and work really well together.
Why do you think your coaching staff is above most teams in the league?
I think YoungBuck has been so successful that he basically knows what to do, how to teach and what to teach when, what things actually matter at the start of the split. We have Fabian who is taking care of everything else, making sure we have a good diet, good sleep rhythm, so we basically have everything covered so we can just focus on the game.
"Our coaching staff is one of the best in the league we can improve much faster than the other teams"
Have you ever experienced a team with such a strong infrastructure, that brings in coaches that specialize in the gameplay but also performance?
It’s an extreme, everything is really healthy. This is my first time in a really serious environment.
You came from Origen, which has a very traditional style of playing the game. What was it like for you to adapt to what Excel is doing?
In Origen we had some jungle support synergy problems in a way, which caused us to not play our early games as we wanted, and that’s not really a thing at Excel. On the map, early game is good. Mid to late game sometimes is a struggle, but I like the difference, I feel like it’s much easier to learn how to play the late game than to actually learn how to play early game.
Why do you think Excel is not facing synergy problems?
Probably because we talk a lot about things, we usually discuss the plan before the game starts so everyone knows what to do. A lot of players suggest things we can do, so there’s always something happening, I feel like. It’s really good that we’re proactive.
Let’s talk about Aphelios and his nerf.
Wait, he got nerfed…
It’s really hard to balance that champion… it’s such a stupid design *laughs*
Why is it such a stupid design? *laughs* Get into it, I’d love to know.
You usually have ADCs that can do one thing, right, like Varus, that can CC someone, maybe Vayne does a lot of damage, but then you have Aphelios and he does everything. He has a long range, he has CC, he has AOE. He is too overdesigned in a way, he has too many guns.
Now we’ve seen Ezreal-Yuumi twice on stage, it worked really well for you guys, but not so great for the MAD Lions…
I didn’t see so much of the MAD Lions match but I think they didn’t use the Ezreal cleanse against Leona and that’s where it can go very wrong, so I assume it didn’t work a couple times for them. Since Yuumi got buffed and she is a crazy a crazy champ just killing everyone, she makes Ezreal better than before, and he gives her enough safety that she can farm up and carry the game.
Compared to when you first started in the LEC, you have become a much more confident player, not just on interviews, but also in game. How did you work towards this confidence?
When I first came to the league I was a 17 year old rookie and didn’t know too much of what was going on. I feel like now that it is my third year I just know better, I know how things go, where to go, what I want from everyone around me, so I think it’s just experience.
What kind of common pressures do rookies face?
I think there is a lot of hype around rookies and that can be a bad thing. Some of them are really good but maybe some of them are not there yet, but they are really overhyped and that can pressure a person.
I noticed your team has been followed around by cameras all over the LEC for a piece of content coming up about you guys. What has that been like to you? Is it sorta like a reality show?
It is kind of like a reality show. They are just mostly running around trying to record us, trying to do something different than I have experienced in esports content, because they are trying to get how things really are. They record when things go bad, they record you when things get emotional, they just want to see everything and make the best out of it.
In the beginning it’s really hard to get comfortable. Sometimes before we are starting (the day) I will wake up and be in my room, and they will walk in my room and ask “how are you doing today” and I was just wearing a t-shirt, had just woken up…
How did you adjust to the cameras then?
It was hard because they would ask me very personal questions. So in the beginning I had some struggles to answer.
Not so big on the personal talks I take...?
*laughs* Well, over time I worked with them a lot, had quite a few talks, they recorded me walking around and stuff like that. Now I just tell them whatever they want and try to help them as well.
What can the fans expect from it?
They can expect a piece that will actually show how the teams are, how the industry works, in a way, they will see what we do, how we behave, what our schedule and routines are like