Jesiz on having the right mentality as a team: “If you’re a bottom tier team, you need to stop trying to become SKT. You need to start thinking “how am I going to win this week?”

After a one-sided series against Misfits, we had the chance to talk to the Fnatic Support Jesiz about the series, what went wrong at Rift Rivals, the difference between Fnatic in Spring vs Summer and the importance of the Fnatic fans. Enjoy!

First of all, congratulations on the win! How do you feel right now?

I feel good about the win. I think we just need one more in order to secure our first place spot in our group? So yeah, I feel pretty good. I’ve probably been a lot more relaxed recently. I’ve been pretty stressed this entire split, just because of how practice has been going and Rift Rivals as well. But with this win against Misfits I feel a lot more relieved. I’m not going to stop working as hard as I am but I’m definitely less stressed.

Misfits will, most likely, be one of the three teams from Group A that are going to Playoffs, unless Roccat are going to pull another miracle run for Playoffs, like they did last Split. That said, Roccat were the only team to beat you guys this Split!

Yeah, that series tilted us really hard. I know professional players and teams aren’t really supposed to tilt, but after we lost that second game, we honestly just tilted hard and lost, so…

Happens. Was the Roccat series one of the factors as to why you’ve been so stressed out over the past few weeks?

No, losses don’t really stress me that much. I only care about the process, practice and growth. So when I feel like days aren’t productive and we’re not improving as much as I want us to improve, that’s when I stress. I want us to be the best European teams, I want us to go to Worlds and prove our worth. When practice isn’t good, we’re not just going to fall behind the best teams in Europe but we won’t have all those months of practice that all those competitive international teams are going to have. I care a lot about productivity and our growth in general.

A lot of fans expected you guys specifically to stomp the NA competition during Rift Rivals, that didn’t quite work out as planned. What went wrong at Rift Rivals? Some people said that Fnatic got “exposed” at Rift Rivals, would you agree?

The week before Rift Rivals we were playing Splyce I believe. They were playing the up-to-date meta as well and I feel like in that series our style was starting to lose its touch. At least to me, it was really obvious that we wouldn’t be able to win against a better team using that tactic, purely because the meta was so much stronger than what we were playing. So already a week before Rift Rivals I knew that this wasn’t going to work in the long-term.

Going into Rift Rivals, a lot people had high expectations of us, but I didn’t have any expectations at all. I didn’t know how good the NA teams were, I watched their VODs but it’s different when you actually have to play them. They were playing solid, they were playing the meta and so we just got stomped. I don’t think we necessarily played worse than them individually or as a team, we literally were just troll-picking during that meta. Honestly, it just came down to our picks & bans.

Has that changed the way you pick & ban now, that you now force yourself to play meta champions and playstyles?

We had our style. People would call it animal style. And I think it’s good for a team to have an identity or a style to rely on. But at the end of the day, there’s a reason as to why the meta is the way it is. There simply are some patches where you just can’t ignore what is being played. I think these past few weeks have shown that. There’s no way you can pick a weak Botlane and let the enemy Support roam Mid, you just can’t play the game that way. I think we’re forcing ourselves to play according to the meta at the moment.

Ignoring Rift Rivals, this split has been going absolutely fantastic for Fnatic. You managed to beat all your major opponents and currently are 9-1. However, last split when you came into the squad, Fnatic looked very shaky. There even was a point where you guys almost didn’t make playoffs and barely got in by winning the last game of the split. What was the key element that you learned from that difficult phase?

I think the most important thing that I learned was that if you’re a bottom tier team, you need to stop trying to become SKT. You need to start thinking “how am I going to win this week?” instead, not “how am I going to be SKT at the end of the split?”. If you’re a bottom tier team and you’re trying to become SKT instead of focusing on getting these important wins, you aren’t even going to make it to Playoffs. That’s what happened last split: We all knew we were strong individuals. We knew that we had this high skill ceiling that we’d be able to reach eventually. But we just had the wrong approach. At the time, we should’ve stopped trying to play like the top tier teams and should’ve played to our strengths instead. Once we started doing that, we succeeded.

This is different for teams like G2. G2 know that they’re going to make playoffs, it’s just going to happen. So from the start of the season onwards they can go “let’s practice and experiment with our way of playing”. The same applies to TSM in NA who also went “alright, we don’t mind losing a couple of games during the regular split, because we eventually want to be able to play multiple styles to beat the international competition”. I think you can only really think this long-term when you’ve been playing as a team for a long time. We were five players who didn’t know each other before, we couldn’t build on some kind of synergy like other teams could. I think we were a bit delusional at the time and didn’t acknowledge quickly enough that things weren’t working.

Let’s talk a bit about Group B. H2k and UoL look threatening as always, despite the latter being in a bit of a slump currently. Do you think the two teams are close to Fnatic and G2?

No. I think Group B is just way worse. It was this way last split as well. I don’t know whether G2 is doing this on purpose but the groups are a bit unbalanced. H2k and UoL are below us and G2. H2k are really good at scrims, but judging them based on their on-stage performance, they’re just not as good. Between H2k and UoL, I’d have to say that H2k are the better team.

If the Group standings remain this way, there’s a decent chance you guys will face the Unicorns in the Semifinals.

Yeah. Should be fine.

Is there anything you’d like to say to the Fnatic fans or to your fans?

I mean I’ve never really had a lot of fans. Fnatic is the first organization that had a lot of fans from the beginning. Ever since I joined the team I received a lot of support, it’s been a bit surprising to me. Before I thought “I don’t have that many fans, so I don’t need this support”. But once I started to feel all this support I… I try not to take it for granted. I try to appreciate it as much as possible, and I do appreciate all the fans. It genuinely improves my performance and of course, it makes me feel better as well. I’m very grateful for all the support.

Thank you very much for your time!

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Darius Matuschak

Darius is an esports journalist trying to nurture esports culture whenever possible. He got into esports while finishing his Bachelor in Journalism, and has been a regular EU LCS attendee since January 2017.

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