League of Legends European Championship is over for Excel Esports. Though the team's results increased compared to 2019, when they ended ninth and tenth in the Spring and Summer Split, respectively, a seventh place finish in the LEC's 2020 Spring Split means they're missing out on Playoffs games. Excel's Support player Tore "Tore" Hoel Eilertsen joined us to reflect on the Spring Split. He opened up about his first Split with Excel, walked us through what went wrong this Split, and what must improve if Excel wants to reach the top in the Summer Split.
You've been with Excel for one Split now. How was the transition from Splyce to Excel for you?
To me, it was like a transition to any other team I've changed to. I adapt pretty easily. Overall it felt alright, and there weren't any difficulties. It was nice to play with a former teammate. Also, I didn't really want to stay with Splyce, and they felt the same about it. So changing teams is something I had to do.
When you were reunited with Caedrel, was the synergy from your old Schalke 04 days back again quickly?
Not really, since he is playing in a different role now. We've both improved and changed a lot as players, so it was playing like playing with a completely new teammate. But outside of the game, the personal stuff, was the same. We've been friends for a while, and that hasn't changed.
When you joined Excel, what were your expectations for the team's performance this Split?
Well, I definitely expected us to do better. But it happens, and you can't really change the past. Of course, it's a letdown and it's disappointing.
"If you're not going to give it your all just because you're disappointed, you're not a good player."
What has prevented the roster to live up to its potential so far, then?
There are a lot of things that contribute to a result like that, but I don't really want to go too in-depth about it—I would just be highlighting player flaws. We failed to work well as a team. I think we didn't find enough time to fit in well. I think Patrik and I failed to bring our good habits from previous teams to Excel. When compared to other teams, I think we didn't improve as quickly as they did. Hopefully for next Split, it'll be better.
On Excel, you not only got to work with new players but also with a new coach: YoungBuck. How would you compare YoungBuck's coaching style to that of coaches you've worked with previously?
We get a lot more freedom. When I was at Splyce, there wasn't really any time for us players to speak up. It felt like we had to follow what they said, and it was hard to enter a discussion with some of the coaching staff. Of them, Duke was the best. He was really easy to work with. Within the team he was more of, how should I say it, a father figure. Though he got really mad if you f*cked up. *laughs* He was the bad cop, in that sense, and Mac was the good cop.
But yeah, I'd say we have more freedom right now. I enjoy it more because it gives us some space as players. It's not only Joey [YoungBuck] we work with, we also work with Alex [Mapache]. Then there is Fabian, our Performance Coach, who looks after my health and makes sure I'm not dying too early.
The way you say it, it sounds a lot like Excel is more of a family environment.
I would say so, yes. In Splyce we just all showed up for scrims, and when it was over everyone just went home. It felt more like a job. In Excel, I feel more part of a team, sort of. Not 100%, but it's definitely more than in Splyce.
Up until the final weeks, you guys were still in contention for a Spring Playoffs spot. Was the competitive drive there until the very end?
No, I would say it dropped severely around week seven, when we realized we had four hard games left. Up until that point, the atmosphere was good though. But of course, when your chances of proceeding drop and you're all disappointed... Things like that will probably f*ck with everyone's mentality and motivation. Not reaching Playoffs is a really big disappointment. I guess making Playoffs but getting smashed 3-0 would make me sadder, so it doesn't really matter.
I think we had a good start, but we just failed to snowball. And like I said before, I think we didn't improve as fast as the other teams did.
When you suffer a mental blow like that, how do you make sure that the disappointment isn't reflected in games you still have to play?
It's up to players themselves. If you're not going to give it your all just because you're disappointed, you're not a good player. If the season is going badly and I, as a player, decide to try less because I think it's over, then that makes me a horrible player. It's a weak mentality to have.
I'm pretty calm about losses in general. I get upset about a loss, but it's important to be calm and review the game to learn from your mistakes. You can't lash out at a teammate if you think they made a mistake. For me, it's important to take time and reflect and not let the emotions run wild. I think that's something I've learned to do. I've had a career for almost three years now. I've learned how to cope with losses pretty well.
In terms of potential, do you think Excel could reach Worlds like you did with Splyce last year?
It's hard to say. We're five humans, and the other teams are the same in that sense. There is always a possibility, but it all comes down to how we adapt for the next Split. You can be bad in one Split and be super good in the next one. It's hard to say. Unless we change drastically though, I don't think it's very realistic. We've been playing very badly.
"I have a bigger voice in the team than I had before, which is a big change."
What kind of change to the team are you thinking of? Mentality training, changing the way you practice, roster swaps...
All those things can change to make it better. But we can also stay together and improve. A roster change doesn't need to happen. We just have to get better. We have a chance to win. Of course we do, just like the other teams do. We just need to work hard to get there.
Now that you're at the end of the Spring Split, how are you going to use your time until the Summer Split?
Well, ultimately I have to listen to what the team says. We're going to have meetings and talk about what happened. Reflect on the Split. I'm going to listen to what the coaching staff and my teammates have to say, and learn where I can improve. There's nothing I can do besides doing my best.
I think I have improved in my role for the team. I'm a communicative person in a role that requires a lot of communication, and I have stepped up there this Split. I have a bigger voice in the team than I had before, which is a big change. But I'll continue to improve on that, going forward into the next Split.
Finally, are there any things you'd like to say to the Excel fans that have been supporting you throughout the Split?
Yeah, of course! It's nice to have fans even though you're performing badly. I'm very appreciative of that. I personally support a bad football team—I cheer for United—but in the end, I still cheer for them even though they lose. I'm really thankful that we have fans like that too for Excel.
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.