Last week, we announced the roster which will be defending our colours in the LCS Spring Split, which is scheduled to start on January 14th. There are two changes from the previous roster, with Gang-yun “Trick” Kim now occupying the Jungle, while Jin-hyun “Emperor” Kim is our Marksman going forward. We truly believe in the potential of this team, which is already bootcamping in Berlin, and we are confident that, with these players, we will be able to achieve the goals that were set when the roster was assembled.
Before today’s practice session started, we sat down with Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek and picked his brain on matters concerning the team’s newest recruits, his return to the top lane and the squad’s expectations for the LCS season.
Can you walk us through the process of assembling this lineup together? How did this squad come together?
After we qualified for LCS, we had to think about our next steps. We had our differences with SmittyJ and Jesse, so we decided it was best to part ways. We had to look for new players, and we did not hesitate to look for new talent outside of Europe, also because it became apparent that there is a bigger pool of good junglers to choose from than of top laners.
You are now moving to the top lane. Are you confident about playing in this position?
It does not matter which lane I play. I love the game and I will try my best regardless of where I am assigned. Europe has never been known for having a big pool of great top laners (unlike what happens with junglers and mid laners), so I will try to change that. I am confident in my abilities, and even if it might not show at the beginning, I will work hard to be one of the best.
What is your opinion about Emperor and Trick? What made you choose them?
I really like them and I cannot wait to play with them. They are hard-working players with a lot of ambition, and they want to show to the world how good they are. When I was watching VODs from their competitive matches, I noticed that they are just really good at the game, and I want to use that potential.
Two other players remain from the previous lineup, Perkz and Hybrid. Did they impress you during the season?
Yes, both of them impressed me. They are very talented and smart players. Hybrid helped me a lot in terms of communication, and we had a great jungle-support synergy. We could always count on Perkz to perform and not falter in those crucial moments.
Having come through the Challenger Series, the team is regarded by many as an easy opponent. Do you think this takes away some of the pressure you will have to deal with?
It definitely takes away the pressure of performing. If expectations are low, you can only surprise everyone. I played the entire last season in an underdog team because no one believed we could actually be better at the game, and we always surprised people with our skill.
What are the team’s expectations for the LCS season?
We are a fresh team with new roster, so it is really hard to predict how we will fare against all the other teams. Anything less than playoffs will be a complete failure, and if we qualify for the playoffs we will do our best there.
You came under a lot of criticism when you left UOL and joined a Challenger Series team. Were you happy to answer the critics with qualification for LCS?
It was hardly a surprise that people would criticise someone leaving an LCS team on his own and going straight back to Challenger. I am just happy that I made the right choice and that I am back in LCS.
What is your opinion about YoungBuck?
I recommended him for the head coach position myself, so I have high hopes for him. He struck me when I got to meet him in the previous season as someone who is mature, intelligent and knowledgeable. I think he will be a great addition to our team, and I look forward to working with him.