The first quarter finalists have been locked into place. After a wild day of League of Legends action Group B is sending LPL's FunPlus Phoenix and LEC's Splyce to the next stage. The latter one, Splyce, had a particularly difficult task in front of them. They went 1-2 in the first Round Robin, and only a 3-0 would be good enough to possibly make it. It got close at times, but the yellow snakes did it and got the second seed in Group B.
At the end of the day, we spoke to Splyce's very happy jungler: Andrei "Xerxe" Dragomir. He walked us through his emotions throughout the day, and reflected on the Group Stage as a whole.
Welcome Xerxe, and congratulations! This was a very important day obviously, and I'm curious to learn what the vibe within the team was. What was the preparation like?
I personally felt a bit of pressure, but for me, the pressure actually helps me perform even better. At the beginning of the day I felt: "We're going to 3-0 today." It's just a feeling that you get when you just have confidence in yourself and in your teammates.
Some matches still felt insanely close though.
I mean, they weren't insanely close. They were much better than what we showed the previous days, and that's why I had so much confidence going into today: the previous days we didn't show what we can actually do.
What was the lesson you had learned from the first Round Robin games?
Well obviously our midgame and our Baron setup. That's basically what lost us the game against FunPlus Phoenix. We had a really good early game and we were so far ahead—we should've won that game. Against J Team we tried to cheese the lane swap, which obviously didn't work. We then had Sion and Karthus who were really useless against that J Team's composition. So there I didn't feel like we could do much in the game itself.
Then, knowing you had to go 3-0 today, you win the first game. What went through your mind?
Playing the first game, winning it and knowing that we played well—our early game was good, our midgame was good, we got the Baron—gave us more confidence and momentum coming into the other games.
When did you feel that you had a quarter final spot in the bag?
I would say after that first game. We knew that we can beat FPX and we got a pretty good draft as well. As soon as the draft against FPX was over we were like: "We got this, we know what to do. Let's just play like we usually do."
Is it then difficult to contain your excitement?
For me, that's not a problem. Even if I know that I 'have' the game, I won't make plays that I don't normally do. I keep calm and go for the plays I know will work.
Heading into that final game, the tiebreaker, what was the energy in the team like? Was there still a lot of pressure, or did you guys feel more calm knowing that you'd made it to the next stage?
We were obviously still focussing on the game. We still went into it believing that we can be better than them, and that we can beat them. I think they beat us in the draft by flexing the Ryze top—we thought he would be mid 100%. But even then, I feel that we played a pretty good game. I think they just played even better.
There was pressure still. We knew we are going to quarters, but I still felt that I needed to show that I deserve to be the first seed, or compete for it.
What does it mean to you to have made it to the quarter finals?
It's such a big achievement. I'm so proud of myself and my teammates for the hard work that they have put in. I think we kind of deserved to be here. We've put so much work into it, and it really showed in these games. I'm so excited to be here!
Group B was touted as the 'group of life', as opposed to the 'group of death', since it was perceived as a relatively easy group. Do you agree?
I mean, it's understandable when you look at the other groups. It's not the toughest group. Splyce is still such a young roster, and none of us except Kobbe has been to Worlds before, and that was a couple of years ago. Even though it was an easy group, we were still respectful towards our opponents. We had to be considerate of the other teams, because they're still Worlds contenders, you know? They didn't get here by luck. We had to play our best game against them.
Who do you want to face in the quarter finals?
Anybody except G2. I didn't play the whole year in LEC against G2 just to face them at Worlds.
Looking back, which game you played in the Group Stage gave you the most positive feeling, and which one do you regret the most?
I think I regret the first game against FunPlus Phoenix the most. It was such a free game. I cannot stress enough how good our early game was there. Then the Baron was such an easy thing to execute: we just have to bait it. But we messed up not once, but three or four times in the same game. I still get flashbacks to that game. In that game I felt like I knew what I had to do, but I guess I didn't have the confidence to tell my teammates what to do. I had the idea, but I didn't say it.
I think the most positive game for me was the revenge against FPX today. We played so well. Obviously it was a 3-0 day as well, so I would actually say just today in general. The whole day was so memorable.
In an interview we did earlier, with Humanoid, he said that he was so happy to hear the fans in the crowd. What does that do to you?
It was so crazy to hear the fans chant "Splyce" and chant our names. It gives me even more motivation to perform better and make the big plays, make the whole crowd proud.
Any words for those fans?
Just a big thank you to all the people who are supporting us, and are supporting EU teams in general.
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.