The League of Legends European Championship Spring Split 2020 hasn't gone the way of SK Gaming. With two wins on the board so far, the team is no longer in contention for a spot at the Spring Playoffs, no matter how they'll perform in the final weeks. But if it's up to the team's longest-standing member, Bot Laner Juš "Crownshot" Marušič, SK Gaming will bounce back in the Summer Split. He joined Inven Global's Tom Matthiesen to have a talk about the team's underperformance, and what needs to happen to turn the ship around.
Last year you guys barely missed out on a top-six finish—what were the expectations for 2020?
We expected more than what we're doing now, for sure. I think we're not playing well on stage, we're not playing together, and sometimes we get surprised in the draft. There are a lot of factors. But obviously, we expected much more than this.
How did you prepare during the offseason?
Well, we got Trick, and LIMIT who's a rookie. So we knew we needed some time to figure out how to work together. The progress we made was pretty much normal and went as we expected.
How is the synergy in the team now?
I would say that there are still some problems when playing together. We're not always on the same page. It helps when there is a clear style within the team, a way of playing. Then you can assign roles in communication about who calls what, who is the primary shotcaller. It's all about figuring out what works for you and what doesn't, and that's definitely something we need to work on.
"Our scrims are going so much better than our stage games. I just hope we can find a way to bring that performance to the stage."
Do you guys have a style you're working towards now?
Kind of. We have Trick as the main shotcaller now. Our problem is just that we need to be on the same page more. On the stage, we don't play as confident as we do in scrims, and it shows. We're unsure when making plays, setting things up et cetera.
How confident are you in your team's ability to improve and get better results next Split?
I definitely think we can get there. Our scrims are going so much better than our stage games. I just hope we can find a way to bring that performance to the stage.
You've mentioned your scrims a few times, and the difference between your performance there and in official matches. How does it keep happening that your practice doesn't translate well to the stage?
On stage, teams tend to play slower and give away fewer kills. The inexperienced teams get a bit more nervous because there isn't much going on in the game. It's much slower, much more controlled. If you make a mistake on the stage, it has a much higher impact. Every mistake you make there means more and has the potential of being punished harder. If you're nervous and flash wrong, mess up a team fight or something like that, it shows.
So yeah, the main thing is that it's slower. You have to be a good team to close out games like that. In practice, you can stomp every lane and then at 15 minutes the game is paused or something like that, you know? You can't do that on stage. You have to be much better, fundamentally. That's what we have to adapt to.
When a season goes as poorly as it is going for SK Gaming at the moment, it can take a toll on a team. What is the atmosphere like, in the group?
I would say that the atmosphere is ok. It isn't that bad. We're obviously all disappointed that we didn't make it further. But we can use this to build, and gain confidence for the Summer Split and do better. The main goal of everyone on the team is to improve. If we can play more proactively on stage we'll get there—I think against Fnatic we showed some good stuff, but obviously we made many mistakes too.
You're the longest-standing member on the SK roster. How does that translate to your role within the team?
I would say that it gives me a different perspective on things. I know what the team was like with other players last year. I would say that we're much better friends now. I would obviously prefer that we weren't such good friends and that we were winning, instead of being friends and losing! *laughs* But it's good that we're friends so we can support each other when we lose.
Finally, is there anything you'd like to say to the SK fans who have had your back this season?
I would like to thank every fan that has been supporting us. I know that, especially me... *sighs* Some games I was fine, but other games I could have played better, for sure. I'm very disappointed in myself. But I'll keep working very hard to make the fans proud. I'm not going to give up.
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.