The second match in week one of the LEC may not have been the marquee matchup of the day, when you compare it to Fnatic and SK resuming their el clasico rivalry and G2 Esports taking on the returning Origen. However Splyce and Excel may have kickstarted a rivalry of their own.
“I felt it was quite easy to win,” said Excel’s Raymond “kaSing” Tsang after the match. Splyce came out as the overall victors, but it was touch and go for a time, particularly after some early game errors.
“We had a shaky start in the game where I forgot to buy items. I was so focused on the matchup and really distracted. This has never happened to me before in a competitive game," Tore “Norskeren” Hoel Eilertsen told us.
“We’ve played scrims with people that forgot to buy items and people noticed it, but this time no one did. I think I hit someone and didn't get gold, so I looked at my items and thought ‘****’. I managed to recall and get back somewhat in time, but the level 1 screwed us over. We couldn't snowball and it was really chaotic. But we didn't panic, no one really did, and I'm really proud of us for that.”
kaSing says he thought that after that level 1, the “game was quite free. I felt like we played the comp correctly until a play in mid. Even after that we still had the game in the bag, but we just fell apart.
“It was one of those things where as a new team, it takes time to mesh. Ki ‘Expect’ Dae-han didn’t hear me when I said they’re going to roam top. It happened like two or three times and it went badly. Maybe he’s not used to how we communicate on stage, with all the white noise and the crowd.
“Expect spoke to me after the game and showed me the video when it happened and was just telling me he's sorry. Basically he feels guilty, but in my mind I don't really care that we lost, in the end it's all about improving.”
After week two, Excel are 1-3, although they have had some pretty tricky matches to try and navigate. Splyce are at 3-1, tied for second place in the league, but there’s a long way to go in the split. Even so, the trash talk has started early.
“I feel like Excel didn't play too well,” said Norskeren. “I expected them to be one of the worst teams of course, but I expected more from them at least, they should've closed out the game.
“They don't have any superstar players. They have some rookies, Marc ‘Caedrel’ Robert Lamont and Jesper ‘Jeskla’ Klarin could become really good players but I think the other ones have passed their prime.”
We gave kaSing the opportunity to respond to Norskeren’s comments.
“In a way it's true,” he said. “Every single player including myself has not been a star player in most of the teams we've been on. For me anyway most of the teams I've been on they've had star players in mid, jungle, top or ad carry. Expect played with all those G2 players, who are really really good. Excel’s players are ones who were overlooked, and these players can prove a point.”
So, it appears Excel are going to be going after the underdog story for this year. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t ambitious. kaSing believes they can make it to playoffs, and when we spoke to Caedrel after their win over Rogue, he was very optimistic about the future.
"Our level of play is getting higher and higher, and I’m not sure where our ceiling is yet"
“It’s going really well so far, we’re all friends, everyone’s getting along really well, scrims have been going good, and I think the improvement we’re seeing week by week is incredible,” he said. “With a 10 man roster we get to scrim our academy team a lot so we learn things from each other.
“The thing is, we’re a team with five players who’ve never been together before, a new team, a new org, and we’ve been thrown in. It’ll take a few weeks to get into shape, but I think by week five or six we’ll be a really solid contender I think. Our level of play is getting higher and higher, and I’m not sure where our ceiling is yet.”
Splyce have three new players of their own, Norskeren included, and he’s just as ambitious as Excel are.
“I think Splyce played really well in Spring last year, so we're looking to replicate what they did in spring and carry that through to summer as well. We should at least surprise everyone. People have said that we'll at least get playoffs but I think we'll be a strong contender for even the finals.”
"People have said that we'll at least get playoffs but I think we'll be a strong contender for even the finals"
Plus, it seems Splyce are meshing just as well as the five friends of Excel.
“We're kinda in the honeymoon phase,” said Norskeren. “But it's one of the best environments I've ever been in. All the coaching staff and scrim environments I've had before have been a joke. We kinda have three coaches now. Everything I do wrong I get told. Before I missed so many mistakes, so I feel like I'm improving so so much compared to other teams I’ve played for. I just feel really happy, I’m learning a lot, and I look forward to every day, I've never had that before. Even scrimming is exciting for me.”
If Splyce continues to win games, Norskeren will remain happy for some time to come. As for kaSing, Caedrel, and the rest of Excel, they’ll be hoping they will indeed start to peak later in the split. If Caedrel’s prediction of Excel’s best coming around week five comes true, then it’ll be just in time for Splyce vs Excel round two. We’ll just have to wait and see how far this rivalry will grow.