League of Legends

BDS Labrov: "Even versus the highest seed of NA teams, I think we still have a good chance of beating them on stage."



Source: LoL Esports

Fresh off a resounding victory in the Worlds Qualifying Series, Labros "Labrov" Papoutsakis of Team BDS sits down to discuss his journey. From confronting his uncertainties against opponents like Golden Gardens to savoring the euphoria of securing a spot at Worlds, Labrov delves deep into the team dynamics that fuelled their success.


He offers insights into the evolution of his gameplay, the contrasts between regions, and his anticipation for the challenges that lie ahead. As Worlds beckons, Labrov's candid reflections underscore the dedication, growth, and aspirations of a player at the pinnacle of his career. 


Congrats on the win, Labrov! This is obviously a huge point of your career, now finally qualified for Worlds. Tell me a bit about how you’re feeling?


I feel real happy right now. Before the game, I was not sure about how the day would go since I had never played against Golden Gardens before. I believed they were a pretty decent team, especially given they played at MSI. Individually, their players have good experience and skill.


I was unsure of how our match would turn out. And I really enjoy Korea and the entire Worlds experience; it's really amazing. So, I didn't want it top stop. Now, I'm relieved knowing we'll continue our run, and I'm confident about our chances in Play-Ins.


This is the most successful year you’ve had at any time during your career. Tell me a bit about what you see as the main differences of this team compared with those you’ve been on in the past. 


To be honest, this is by far the most successful year in my career. At the start of the year, if someone had told me I'd be at Worlds, I'm not sure I would have believed them. I'm genuinely surprised and pleased with how this year has progressed.


I'm grateful to my teammates and staff. They've given their best in practice, performed great, and even when disagreements arise, we've worked through them and delivered on stage.


Hard work has played a crucial role. We also benefit from a great team environment. We're close-knit, spend a lot of time together, and have a lot of fun. Discussing the game, good practice, performance, and maybe a bit of luck – all these elements are a good recipe for success. 


What about for yourself, individually speaking?


I'm definitely playing better this year compared to last. Without a doubt, it's been my best year. Experience has played a significant role. I learned a lot last year, playing in a big organization with prominent players. Even though things didn't pan out as expected, I believe I've improved significantly since two years ago. I'm happy my hard work is paying off. I'm eager to continue improving. If we aim to compete against the top Asian teams, there's so much to learn.


I asked the same of Adam, but obviously the strongest point of your year was looking into the spring, where you made it to the final, and didn’t have as good of a summer. What do you think were the biggest things you’ve worked on since then coming into Worlds?


After the spring split, I felt our fundamentals and early games were somewhat shaky. To be honest, we worked on resolving most of our issues, but we primarily honed in on our early games. We emphasized performing well on stage, practicing, and pushing ourselves harder in scrims. Cultivating good habits is crucial since that's what translates on stage. While we strengthened various aspects as a team, if I had to highlight specifics, it would be our early games and fundamentals.


Source: LoL Esports


How do you now feel about your team coming into Play-Ins? What team stands out the most to you?


Every team in the Play-In has its strengths. I'm not deeply familiar with all the Play-In teams as I haven't watched them extensively. However, PSG stands out as potentially the scariest due to their experienced players. Still, I believe we can overcome any team if we play at our best. We don't intend to underestimate anyone; our goal is to advance as far as possible, and we're committed to working hard for it.


What is your perspective on the tournament overall? How do you feel about Europe’s chances in general, looking at G2, Fnatic, and MAD. Do you think they’ll surprise anyone?


I'd say G2 has the best chance of defeating one of the Asian teams. Their performance in Europe, compared to other European teams, was notably strong. It was challenging to compete against them. Their team play and individual level is very close to Asian teams. While I believe other European teams might have a chance, it's going to be tough to match up against the top teams.


So you believe it's mostly from a macro-perspective?


Individual play and fundamentals, also. In my opinion, top players from teams like JDG, T1, and Gen.G are better in every aspect of the game. They just seem better..


Percentage-wise, what chance would you give G2 of being one of the top Eastern teams?


Against the top Asian teams, I'd give them a 10% chance on a good day. As for like Weibo Gaming – they're a very strong team but not among the absolute elite — I'd say there's a 30-40% chance they could come out on top.


How do you feel about the event as a whole right now? Are you with the consensus that JDG and China look the strongest, or do you think that another team has a chance?


Gen.G, T1, and KT are all good teams. Even Damwon, with two world champions on their roster, is the fourth seed from Korea. They are all really, really good. While JDG might be the favorite due to their MSI win, I believe the Korean teams can certainly contest JDG. We haven't scrimmed them much, but the caliber across these teams seems the same.


Who are you excited to personally play, if you were to advance to the Swiss Stage?


The T1 bot lane. We played against them in solo queue recently, and their performance was insane. Especially Keria, who was considered the best player in the world last year. He's really good, obviously. I'd really like to face T1, and everyone else as well.


Source: LoL Esports


After this match, and from what you watched, what is your perspective of North America?


They're pretty solid teams, but I feel that EU is better than NA. For example, I believe G2 could instantly win over all of these teams. Even BDS would win versus NRG, C9, and TL. We kind of saw it today. Even versus the highest seed of NA teams, I think we still have a good chance of beating them on stage.


When you look at Chinese bottom lanes and Korean bottom lanes, are there any major differences from what we see in the west?


The way they pressure and click in lane. I haven't scrimmed against them, as I said, but from watching them and playing against them in solo queue, it feels like they are more aligned as a duo. They'd pressure you more, during those brief windows which EU or NA teams might not use as consistently as teams in Korea or China. Additionally, I believe they have more options during drafts.


What about between China and Korea themselves?


I feel like (I don't know if it's correct) Korea seems to lean towards a more controlled gameplay. In China it's a bit more crazy, where they gank more, with more solo kills. In Korea it's more controlled, whereas in China it's more to the death.


This interview was condensed and edited for length and clarity.

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