Xerxe on his matchup against G2's Trick: 'I'm training a lot for this game because I know I can get on his level'

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Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Flickr

The Unicorns of Love have charged furiously into the 2017 EU LCS Spring Split, boasting an undefeated 5-0 record through four weeks of play. But their Week 5 opponents, G2 Esports, have similarly taken no prisoners, sitting at 6-0 on the season.

One of these two teams will register their first loss this week, and a major factor in the outcome could come from the battle that's set to take place in the jungle. In terms of picks, both UoL jungler Andrei "Xerxe" Dragomir and G2 Esports' Kim "Trick" Gang-yun have similarities — they've shown a willingness to use Ivern, and both are comfortable using Rumble this split.

What separates those two junglers is their experience at the highest levels of European League of Legends competition. Trick is a two-time EU LCS MVP, earning that accolade in both spring and summer 2016. He boasts an overall KDA of 6.04 so far this split, playing Kha'Zix (7.17 KDA) in four of his games and winning all three of his Ivern games.

Xerxe, despite his impressive results so far, is new to the EU LCS, having spent time with Dark Passage in the Turkish Champions League. He is undefeated on Ivern this split, earning a 39 KDA over five games with the champion and posting an overall KDA of 8.26 — second only to Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen in the EU LCS.

But UoL have a track record of finding and developing talent — like Zdravets "Hylissang" Iliev Galabov and Kiss "Vizicsacsi" Tamás — and so far it looks like Xerxe is the real deal. Before his Week 5 matchup, Xerxe spoke with theScore esports about what it was like to join UoL, what he's learned so far, and how he's preparing for his imminent matchup against Trick.

What was it like when you got the offer from Unicorns of Love? What were you doing and how did you react?

I was a substitute for UoL in scrims before they went to IEM Oakland 2016. I thought we were doing really well together, winning most of the games. I also expressed my wish of joining the team, but I wasn't given a sure answer as [Kang "Move" Min-su] was still part of the team. Even though I was happy for them winning the IEM, I got a bit discouraged and I thought I'd receive a straight "no."

I remember the evening of Nov. 24, when [UoL coach Fabian "Sheepy" Mallant] messaged me to ask me to talk. He didn't know this, but I had written a notepad with all the reasons I should be on the team, in case he refused me. Luckily, I've never used the list. Sheepy called me on Skype and for 10 minutes he said nothing relevant, I was so confused! Out of nowhere he said "welcome to the UoL family." I was so relieved and happy, and I couldn't believe it.

What has been the most important thing you’ve learned since you started playing in the EU LCS?

Sheepy taught me that the most important thing in game is adapting to each circumstance. This way I can never be caught by surprise and know how to handle the situation. Outside the game, I learned how to use the washing machine.

Did you view yourselves as underdogs going into this split?

I believe most people did see us as underdogs. This didn't really bother me. I knew we were a well-built team and we could improve even further the more we played together. I believe [Kim "Veritas" Kyoung-min]'s absence was yet another factor for which people considered us underdogs. At the time Veritas left the team, I was a bit afraid that we might not be able to find someone to replace him. We got [Samuel "Samux" Fernández Fort] in the last second, he has proven himself to be a great addition to the team.

Based on pre-season predictions, the Unicorns have surprised a lot of observers. At what point did you personally realize that this roster was among the region’s best?

Pre-season predictions were not in our favour. We were ranked as an average team by most. I always knew that the roster was strong, especially with veterans like Vizicsacsi and Hylissang, but I personally realized we were among the region's best after we won against H2K.

You are currently undefeated on Ivern this split (5-0). How strong do you feel this hero is in the current meta?

I feel like even after the nerfs he went through in the last patches, Ivern is still pretty strong. In SoloQ the champion might not seem so useful because of the lack of communication between the players. On the competitive scene, on the other hand, the utility, the shields and the heals he can provide for the team is what makes him so good.

You’ve got an upcoming match against G2, where your opponent in the jungle was the EU LCS MVP for the last two splits. Are you intimidated at all by Trick? What will you be focusing on as you face off?

I think Trick is a really good player and jungler, but despite his titles I learned not to be intimidated by my opponent. When I go on the stage, to me it doesn't matter who I face, I always give my best and do everything in my power to secure the win. I'm training a lot for this game because I know I can get on his level.

You and Trick have some similarities in terms of hero pool: the use of Ivern, and the willingness to use picks like Rumble. How do you approach that situation in this matchup? Will it require you to play something outside your comfort zone, or do you think you will you have enough room in the draft to play some of those shared picks?

It's true we share almost the same champion pool which makes the upcoming series even more exciting for me. People underestimate how big my "comfort zone" is. Sometimes I do prefer off-meta champions over the usual picks, but that's because I strongly believe they work better in that situation. I don't do it on purpose and even if people might criticize me for it, I'm here to win at all costs.

You’ve said in past interviews that you’d love to go to Worlds. If you qualify, what’s the first thing you’ll do?

If we qualify I intend to celebrate with my teammates and dye my hair pink.

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a krug enthusiast. You can find him on Twitter.

Trick on attending IEM Katowice: 'I think for EU teams [it] was worth it, but for other regions I think [it was] not worth'

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Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Flickr

G2 Esports attended IEM Katowice as Europe's likely frontrunner, but ultimately fell short of a first-place finish. Their final day, marred by technical difficulties and accompanying delays, saw them fall 2-0 in the event's grand final to LMS team Flash Wolves.

RELATED: ESL: G2's technical issues at IEM Katowice caused by software installed during practice

But back in the EU LCS, G2 have continued to exert their dominance, beating Vitality 2-0 in Week 6 to preserve their undefeated, 8-0 match score. Though they have some potentially challenging upcoming matches, including Splyce in Week 7 and Misfits in Week 8, G2 have already clinched their playoff spot regardless of result.

Before they take the stage to defend their record, G2's Kim "Trick" Gang-yun weighed in on their experience at IEM Katowice, his favorite jungler matchup in the EU LCS and why he's so comfortable playing against Rengar.

Overall, how was the team’s experience at IEM?

It was good for us because [it helped us to] improve a lot.

Several teams declined their invites to Katowice. Do you feel that the trip was worth it for your team? What sorts of lessons did you take away from the competition?

I think for EU teams [it] was worth it, but for other regions I think [it was] not worth. We learned jungle and support playstyles [as well as] pick and ban phase for IEM.

How much do you think the technical issues and fatigue affected the outcome against Flash Wolves?

I didn't have technical issues, but my teammates [did], lagging or disconnecting. Then [when] we played against Flash Wolves, everyone was tired.

What do you think about the strength of EU LCS teams as a whole? What is the practice environment like?

I think [that] creative picks are the strength of the EU LCS. Hmmm, I like [the] freedom [of the] practice environment.

Are you scrimming teams in the other group more as a result of this split’s format change?

A bit.

Who has been your player to match up against so far this split, and why?

Jankos, because when we played against H2K I got pressured by [him].

We’ve seen you play against Rengar very successfully (4-1 vs. him) in both the LCS and at IEM. What makes you so comfortable in playing against this champion?

Before Season 4 I played only Rengar, so I know how Rengar works, and it makes feel comfortable [playing against him.]

You’re facing two of your closest EU competitors in Splyce and Misfits in Week 7 and Week 8. Does your preparation for tougher matchups differ at all?

I think [that] Splyce are a good team, and Misfits are also good. [For] both weeks we will be ready [to play] against them.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.

NicoThePico parts ways with Fnatic

by 4d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Fnatic /theScore esports

Fnatic head coach Nicholas "NicoThePico" Korsgård has left the team, the organization announced Monday. Team manager Finlay “Quaye” Stewart will step in as the team's interim coach until a replacement is found, while Michael “Garki” Bolze will take over as manager.

NicoThePico was previously Origen's head coach before being replaced by Alvar “Araneae” Martín in July. He himself replaced Luis “Deilor” Sevilla as Fnatic's head coach in August.

"After joining Fnatic at the end of Summer Split 2016, I got the chance to build a new roster together with the FNC management for the upcoming season. We started off looking good and had apparent synergy and meshed well together, both in and out of game. As time went on we started facing challenges on the inside. As a result, problems occurred that I could not foresee beforehand and fix in due time," NicoThePico said in a statement.

"As I have been unable to provide the needed remedy, I feel that someone else with an outside perspective on the team and its issues, in both draft and gameplay, might be a better solution than what I was able to provide. I’ve decided to step down as Head Coach of FNC effective immediately."

Fnatic are currently in third place of Group A of the 2017 EU LCS spring split with a 4-6 record. They face Giants Gaming on Mar. 25.

"I am of the belief that we have a truly talented group of players capable of far more than where we currently sit in the standings. I will do my best to give the players a better structure and the resources needed to succeed," Quaye said in a statement. "Together with remote coaches, analysts and our players, we will make sure to give ourselves the best chance at playoffs and making it to Hamburg. The situation is far from ideal but we strongly believe that we are moving in the right direction.

"I'd like to thank Nico for all his hard work and wish him the best of luck in the future."

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Infographic: What if NA LCS and EU LCS were still best-of-one?

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Thumbnail image courtesy of theScore esports

While Riot Games abandoned the best-of-one format for the NA LCS and EU LCS back in 2015, theScore esports wanted to see how the current standings would stack up if the leagues still used the format.

Though Team SoloMid are currently leading the NA LCS with a 12-2 match record, counting only the first game of each match, TSM would actually be tied for third place with Echo Fox, Counter Logic Gaming and Immortals, each with 7-7 records. Interestingly, even with best-of-one, Cloud9 would have the same 11-3 record.

In Europe, across both Group A and Group B, league standings would actually remain largely the same counting either first game record or match record. The primary difference would be G2 and Misfits being tied for first in Group A with 7-2 records. G2 are undefeated in the official standings with a 9-0 match record.

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. Follow him on Twitter, it'll be great for his self-esteem.

Ocelote on G2's international struggles: 'It's really not the end of the world'

by 2d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

G2 Esports' League of Legends roster is on an unprecedented domestic win-streak, but team owner and CEO Carlos "Ocelote" Rodriguez says he's hoping the streak will end sooner rather than later.

The last time G2 Esports actually dropped a series in Europe was more than one year ago, when they lost 1-0 to Fnatic on Feb. 2, 2016.

Since then, the team has won or tied every series they've participated in domestically. Ocelote says the pressure is building, and he'd rather lose now instead of when it becomes too much for his team to bear.

"Every game we don't lose is one game less until we do lose," Ocelote told theScore esports. "We will end up losing. To some degree, I kind of want to break this win streak, but in a harmless moment. This streak just builds up more pressure to live up to the expectations again. Of course, we are doing our best effort to kill those expectations that we have to ignore in-game, but of course, if we keep adding pressure by not losing, it is going to be a problem."

G2 is already locked in as one of the top seeds for the 2017 EU LCS Spring Playoffs, but the team isn't rushing into anything. Despite their success at home, G2 has a bigger issue — their performance abroad. After dismal showings at the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational and Worlds, the team finally put together a strong international performance at IEM Katowice 2017, but even IEM was bumpy for them.

G2 was almost eliminated from the tournament during the group stage, only to claw their way out of their group, make it through the playoffs and finish second to the Flash Wolves. G2 might be looking stronger internationally, but Ocelote said the team is still actively working on their stage fright.

"We're doing a lot of exercises, a lot of open talking to each other," Ocelote said. "Weldon [Green] added a lot to the table, but Weldon is not everything. There is everything behind G2, between G2 and the LoL players to help them overcome their international fears."

Ocelote pointed out that the players are still young, and they're not used to having this kind of pressure heaped on them. It's pressure that also gets compounded with their domestic win streak. Ocelote said he and his staff are always available to speak with them one on one, but overcoming the fear of a high-stakes failure isn't something happens overnight.

"They feel loved unconditionally, and they feel like even if they f**k up at Worlds, even if they qualify for Worlds and f**k up at Worlds, they know that I love them unconditionally, because they did their best effort to overcome that.

"There's no curse, there's no outstanding something, it's just a team that is pressured because they're winning within Europe, and they're not able to translate that gameplay outside. It's really not the end of the world. We will overcome it over time, I have no doubts in my mind, if we didn't already. I'm not in a rush. We'll keep working and do our best effort to make that happen."

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Best Skin Concepts: Lee Sin, the Blind Monk

by 14h ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of no crowns for kings / Tumblr

Skins of the Week is a weekly series that highlights the best skins and skin concepts for a heroes, champions and characters across a variety of games.

This week, we're focusing on League of Legends' greatest martial artist, Lee Sin, the Blind Monk. With a new skin set to debut soon, we're taking a look at the best skins and concepts for LoL's ubiquitous jungler.

God Fist Lee Sin

Lee Sin's moniker is "The Blind Monk," so it seems a bit silly to create a skin that is defined by Lee Sin being able to see normally. That said, for every Lee Sin player who has ever gotten tired of the constant jokes about being blind, God Fist Lee Skin is the skin for you.

Beyond the inclusion of sight, God Fist Lee Sin has a great silhouette, which seems more than slightly similar to Marvel's Iron Fist. Personally, I can't wait until Riot releases Super Ultimate God Level Tier Lee Sin, which will likely feature gigantic hair for no real reason.

Red Demon Lee Sin

by mist XG

Taking Lee Sin in a completely new direction, this 'Red Demon Lee Sin' by mist XG turns the peaceful, meditative monk into a fighter bent on destruction. The greaves and gauntlets are the highlights of this concept, showcasing just how deadly Lee Sin can be. Twisted and dangerous, Red Demon Lee Sin is a solid concept for a darker, evil version of the well-loved champion.

Traditional Lee Sin

by no crowns for kings

Outside of his default appearance, Lee Sin's skins gradually move further and further away from his moniker. But no so with this skin, which is inspired by traditional clothes worn by Chinese monks.

While the beads are a nice touch, it's the sashes that flow outward from his back that are the highlight of this concept. They could provide some great animations were this concept to become reality. This twist on Lee Sin's title is colorful, exciting, and makes me wish it was available for use.

Dragon Priest Lee Sin

by Beastysakura

Dragon Priest Lee Sin is certainly more beastly than what one would expect the monk to be. Much like Red Demon Lee Sin, this concept features greaves to emphasize his deadlier aspects, though the primary draw this time are the monstrous face and hands. While Lee Sin is normally fierce yet retains an air of peace, this Dragon Priest variant is more animalistic, more tortured, yet undoubtedly just as cool to imagine as his other skins.

Galactic Pilgrim Lee Sin

by narm

Lee Sin in space is just a great image in and of itself, but this skin concept takes the idea and runs with it to a strange yet awesome conclusion. Galactic Pilgrim Lee Sin has a lot going on for him, with the color scheme and shock gauntlets being at the forefront, but it remains recognizably Lee Sin as its core.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

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