In this interview, Tomasz “TheFakeOne” Milaniuk talks with his Polish Worlds Co-Caster Jankos about the past EU LCS season, what has changed for H2k as a team and what Jankos thinks about the future of the EU LCS. Enjoy!
First of all, let’s talk a little about H2k. After changing the roster there was a lot of hype. During the Spring Split, the team struggled a little bit, but that was to be expected. In the Summer Split, some of the problems kept haunting you guys – especially during the end of the split. Why do you think that happened?
Hi everyone! I think that H2k didn’t play badly in general. The main problem was that we didn’t create enough cohesion as a team. That caused us to make a lot of mistakes and it even showed in our scrims – it wasn’t always going well. Obviously, I don’t blame anyone, because I think that no one particular was at fault – the whole team is responsible for the results. In the end, we weren’t a bad team by any means – being the 4th best team in Europe is not too shabby. But of course, it is a little dissatisfying after such strong year in 2016, when we managed to get to the Worlds Semifinals. It’s a little sad to lose out in the Gauntlet already this year.
How do you personally feel about the loss in Regional Qualifiers as one of the H2k veterans along with Odoamne. Have you ever felt like you were responsible for the team as a leader? Do you think it hurt you more than the others in that sense or was it the same for everyone?
To be honest, it’s actually quite difficult to answer that question. I took it very hard as I tried to be the shotcaller for H2k. I took over that role after Ryu left – in the previous roster it was him and me doing most of the talking. This year it was mostly me and Chei, but I was the bigger voice, so a fair share of plays were my calls. Obviously, every player on the team has their responsibilities so not every decision was mine, but I was the one leading H2k. The fact that we didn’t manage to qualify for Worlds was just… unfortunate, what else can I say.
Overall I think everyone was kind of hurt and felt the same way. I don’t think Chei and Nuclear ever made it to Worlds so I’m not entirely sure how exactly they felt. Febiven tries really hard to repeat the success he had on the Worlds stage in 2015 – he hasn’t been able to qualify since. Odoamne was present at the World Championship two years in a row and this was the first year when he didn’t. It definitely hurt everyone, as we all would’ve liked to qualify. It’s also the fact that going to World Championship increases your value as a player, so it’s kind of crappy.
We’ve talked a little bit about H2k, but I’d like to know more about you personally. What problems did you face last year and what have you learned as a leader?
Last year I learned a lot. Mostly from Ryu, who taught me how to shotcall – obviously I tried to do it before in ROCCAT, but the level was much lower because we were also much worse as a team. Our knowledge about the game was poor and the games looked different. In H2k, I played a lot around Midlane and Ryu, which wasn’t this common with me and Nukeduck before. That’s why I think that this season it was good for me to try and play around Febiven, but it didn’t work out as well as before. Febiven talks a lot less than Ryu, so often much more had to come from me than him. On the other hand, Febi is very good mechanically, whereas Ryu has had his hiccups. Every player has their strengths and flaws.
Do you think that this year was also this good for you in terms of individual progress?
I think that this year I didn’t make this much of a progress and I’m not really sure why that is. I think that the transition from a 6th place team to a team that places in the 2nd or 3rd place was a big progress. You have this kind of ‘boost’ where you learn a lot and now there was pretty much no one that I could learn from. It was only me – I could teach Febi or Nuclear and Chei some things, but there was no one for me to follow their example because Ryu left. I was left with Odoamne, so I became the leader. There were talks with the coach to figure out ways in which I could improve myself, but sometimes it isn’t enough. There are times when you can’t lead the game as one person. I think that in H2k we were all good players but there was no chemistry that would allow us to win European Championship or Worlds.
You mentioned the fact that you didn’t have anyone you could learn from. This season there was a lot of talk about European jungle pool and it was mostly criticized. Many players said that you and Trick are the clear best junglers and the rest are far from the top. Do you feel like this is one of the reasons you couldn’t improve? Like you didn’t have much competition because you achieved everything in Europe as a jungler? If so, do you think it’s an issue in the region?
No, I don’t think so. I think the overall level of junglers in the region is quite high and I can learn from others. What I meant before was that I can’t always learn from my teammates – there is no ‘role model’ for me in the team. In a way I had to motivate myself, it was only me who could’ve been an example for my team, not the other way around. As for the jungle pool, I think that Trick is a great jungler. We’ve also got a very talented rookie player in Xerxe. Maxlore was bad at first but he made big progress in Misfits.
I don’t know how Europe will do at Worlds, so far it isn’t great [the interview took place after first few EU matches where the region was 0-4] but EU is a good region. It just sometimes doesn’t work for us – European organizations don’t have as much money as their NA counterparts and we can’t afford to import the best players or to keep ones that already play. We lose a lot of talent and there aren’t that many talented players coming into the LCS. That’s why I think there are some problems with progress and improvement. We were always a little better than NA. Rift Rivals was a failure, but we will see what the final results of Worlds are.
Now I’d like to talk about your future. You’ve said that you don’t consider yourself to be a clear best jungler in Europe – is becoming one your main goal? Is it something that you want to achieve before you finish your career?
Yeah, I think so. I really want to be the European Champion, as I’ve never won the title – despite making it to Worlds. Every year, my goals are the same – to win the EU LCS and qualify for Worlds, but the first thing never happened for me. I will try my hardest next year, but I don’t know what my plans are gonna look like. I can’t promise or tell anything right now but I’m going to try and make the best decisions.
Do you see a future for yourself as a player? Have you thought about retiring or do you want to keep on playing as long as possible? Have you thought about going to NA, like many other players from EU?
To be honest I used to think about NA, but now it doesn’t cross my mind. We will see – in Europe all that matters is how big your chance is. You usually look for the best team you can play for and you decide what happens next. When it comes to me – I’d like to be a pro player for sure, at least for another year. After that, we will see – I also want to start doing a little more of streaming and start recording videos on youtube. You know, guides and stuff like that. We will see what the future holds.
Now I have a question that may be a little bit unusual, but it always bothered me. There was always a lot of talk about Forg1ven and how toxic he is, but H2k with him coming in last second did so well at Worlds. Now that you’ve created a good team atmosphere with other players you didn’t achieve as much. We’ve talked a little bit about why the results were as dissatisfying, but I’d like you to tell me – is toxicity a big issue?
It depends on how you look at it – if it’s justified and it’s like constructive criticism, I think it’s good because it makes the team better. It allows you to grow and improve – I think that there is somewhat of a ‘toxic’ atmosphere in Fnatic, where there is a lot of constructive criticism and that’s what makes them better. About H2k in 2016 – I think a lot of things were unjustified and that’s why it’s hard to compare those things and the criticism can be very unhealthy.
We’ve seen Europe do poorly during the World Championship so far, as you’ve already pointed out before. Why do you think that is – do you think it has something to do with Europe’s work ethics and scrim culture?
I don’t think so – in terms of scrims I think that Europe isn’t worse than NA. Obviously, no region can match Korea. I think it’s more about umm… it’s hard to explain, but G2 is very strong in Europe and it seems like they will get out of the group as they’re playing Fenerbahce and RNG and I think they can beat both those teams. This season, TSM has drawn a group without a Korean team and it is a fairly easy group to get out of. It doesn’t mean the group is bad, but I think that TSM is the best team there. We’ve seen during MSI that it was G2 playing against SKT in the finals and not Team SoloMid who got knocked out in the group stage. Rift Rivals showed completely different results though, so I don’t know – the rivalry between regions is nice and healthy, but it should never be toxic. For now, Korea is clearly the best, I would love to say that Europe is better, but I’m not sure if it is. Anyway, no matter which region is better at the moment, it doesn’t matter, because Korea is just on another level.
So, do you see any solutions for Europe from an EU LCS player perspective? Is there anything that you think would improve the overall level of play?
I think that both Europe and North America don’t know how to lose. That is something I’d like to learn – this sort of Korean humility, that the teams from LCK show. I’m not 100% sure, because I’ve obviously never played on a Korean team, but I think that they just draw more conclusions from their failures than teams from EU and NA. That’s why I think the tempo of progress is sometimes slower than in Korea. It’s the only thing that comes to my mind in terms of solutions that could help with the level of play in Europe. It’s also very hard – European players are much more emotional than Koreans.
Proud? Yes, I think so. Usually, when you are sensitive about what others could say about you and your level of play, you are also proud. I’m not the one to judge, but I think that there are a lot of emotions overtaking players and I think it’s not good. Not for competitive esports at least.
Ok that would be all. Thank you, Marcin for taking the time to answer for the interview and good luck in your shoutcasting adventure.