Excel Esports have finally made it to the LEC playoffs. After six splits of missing out, the seventh time was the charm as the organization locked in a fifth-place finish. For bot laner Patrik "Patrik" Jírů, who is on his third year with the British brand, it meant a long-desired return to the best-of-five stage after last making it in 2019.
Patrik spoke to Inven Global at the end of the regular portion of the 2022 LEC Spring Split and reflected on his long journey back to the playoffs. He discussed how he has grown as a player and as a person since, and what we can expect from Excel now that they’ve finally made it to the top six of Europe.
Welcome, Patrik! First of all, congratulations on making the Spring Split playoffs after chasing it for so long with Excel. Has it sunk in yet that you've made it?
Yeah, I guess. [Laughs] I'm not sure. I'm just happy and I feel good that we made it, you know?
It's been three years since you last made it to the playoffs, which was back when you were still on Origen. If you reflect on those past years, which include missing out on the playoffs by an inch quite a few times, what has that journey been like?
Missing playoffs every time, it just didn't feel good at all, you know? Maybe in some of those Splits, I thought that I was playing pretty well and that I was doing good in games, but we still didn't make it. If you don't make it so often, you just doubt yourself and you ask questions if you're doing something wrong or if you're still good enough. I think, making playoffs for a change, maybe I can have a little bit more confidence in myself for now and see that what I'm doing is good. And keep going.
"I tilt a lot less and I keep my focus high, even this late into the split"
How did you keep your head in the game for all those years, if you started doubting yourself? The community has praised you a lot, and I recall you being voted as the best bot laner of the 2020 Summer Split, for example. Do those things help?
I don't think I cared too much about that award. [Laughs] Of course it's really nice, but it's not a real achievement, right? I just think, for me to keep my confidence high, I need to play good. It's really simple. If I play good, I'm very confident. If I play bad, I'm very mad about it and I don't feel good.
How do you feel about your own performance this Split?
I think I had mostly good games. I can remember maybe just a few games where I lost the game on my own. I think it was a game against G2 where I played really bad, and a game versus BDS maybe. So, overall, I think it was a pretty good Split for me. Just a few hiccups here and there, but I feel like it was more consistent than the years before.
Have you taken on a different role within the team in all these years at Excel?
Actually, I feel like my role is the same. This split I think we usually drafted a strong AD carry, then I got strong in the game, and we win in teamfights. I think that was the case last year as well. In that regard, I think, I haven't developed as much. I think our playstyle is pretty similar.
As a person, then, do you see that you've grown? What's different from current-day Patrik compared to the one who made playoffs three years ago?
I think the biggest difference from 2019 and 2020 is that I think I deal a lot better with stress nowadays than before. I still tilt, you know. [Laughs] We all tilt.
Sure, you're a competitor, you want to win.
I mean, yeah. Usually. [Laughs] But I just think I'm handling it better when I feel stress from the game, or when I'm maybe a little burned out from playing too much. I deal with it better than before. I tilt a lot less and I keep my focus high, even this late into the split. If you play so long, so many scrims, it's not always easy to be focused and try our best. That's the biggest difference, I think.
"Adaptability is very important and it might be something that we will have to practice in scrims a little bit"
Looking forward now, it's the first time in a while that you'll be playing best-of-5s. I guess, on Excel, only for Mikyx it hasn't been that long since he last played best-of-5s in the LEC. How do you look at the playoffs?
I'm really excited to play best-of-5s because, when you play a best-of-1 and you lose, you usually feel like, "Ah, that game was really close." Many times, the game is actually really close and it's just one bad dragon fight or they steal Baron, something like this. Some small little detail that you can lose the game from. But I think, in best-of-5s, it gives you a lot of space to play well and actually show up.
There is the added layer of having to be versatile in drafts, adapting to your opponent, and having a lot of stamina for the series. Will that be something that makes a big impact on your team?
It's been so long for me since I played a best-of-5, that I'm just really not sure. I think, when I play these playoffs, it will feel like my first time. I think adaptability is very important and it might be something that we will have to practice in scrims a little bit. Scrims are five games, after all, so I just have to not underestimate it.
Alright, to round up the interview, is there anything you'd like to say to your supporters who finally get to cheer for you in a best-of-5 again?
Thank you for all the messages, all the posts on socials. For everything. I think this is the most support I've gotten in a team. It just feels amazing and I'm happy we made playoffs, finally.
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.