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The Kikis Effect: An Interview with Team Vitality

Perhaps no singular player has made such a mid-Split splash in the history of the EU LCS as Mateusz "Kikis" Szkudlarek.

Joining Team Vitality to bolster their ranks and bring about inspired change, Kikis has proved his worth tenfold since entering Summoner's Rift under Vitality's banner.  Speaking with Kikis, bot laner Amadeu "Attila" Carvalho and resident support main Jakub "Jactroll" Skurzyński, we had the opportunity to get an inside look at what the shift was like for the team both in-game and out.


A New Challenger Approaches

What Was it Like When Vitality Approached You? What Was Going on in Your Life?

Kikis: I tried to get back to the LCS for the whole year. I bought an apartment, so meanwhile I was making sure it looked the way I want, but other than that I was solely focusing on League. I played for Illuminar for a couple of months, winning every event in Poland and taking second at European Masters. We did not have anything to do after an event at end of June so we took a break.

Prior to joining Vitality, I hadn't played scrims for over 20 days. But what I did was spam Solo Queue for 10-13 hours a day. At that point, I wasn't even expecting to be in the LCS this year. Then Yamato wrote to me, we came to an agreement within two days, and I came to the house instantly.

How Does Vitality as an Organisation Compare to Past Teams You've Been on?

Kikis: It was long time since UOL and, back then, it was a familly setting which didn't really suit me since I prefer it to be professional. G2 and Fnatic are great orgs and they provided me with all I needed. With Mysterious Monkeys, it was a short time in a tough situation but the organisation also treated me well. MM had good plans in case they did not get relegated but I couldn't provide that to them in the end.

Vitality is really great and if I need anything at all I just tell my manager Clement and it just magically appears the next day, so all of my needs are taken care of.

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As Members of the Current Roster, Were You Guys Worried About Getting a New Teammate So Late in the Season?

Jactroll: Nope, not at all. I knew that if we want to go forward we needed a change and it paid off.

Attila: Not at all since I know when something like this happens, it's for the greater good. I am worried about performing, making a difference to make my team win and to achieve greatness. That's all I worry about.


Kikis Rising

Why Do You Think Vitality Has Seen Such Success With Kikis Joining?

Attila: It felt like we were stuck in the same level as a team for a long time with Gilius. Kikis implemented a new routine, a new play style that fit us better and just improved the team's dynamic from one day to another.

Jactroll: He refreshed the whole roster and he brings something that other junglers don't have: knowledge of laning which brings big advantage to the table.

Kikis, Why do You Think Vitality Has Seen Such Success With You Around?

Kikis: I joined a team with a stable schedule. Everything was in place in order for the players to practice efficently. What I think I bring is that my playstyle and my personality fits really well within the team. We all wanted to play aggressively since day one. It just really clicked and worked in scrims against top teams. We trust each other and we are all really skilled individuals so I think I just filled the blank they needed.

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What is Team Synergy Like Now That Kikis Has Joined? Has Anything Changed?

Jactroll: We play even more aggressive in the early game. Also, our calls became more decisive in later parts of the game because we all listen to each other.

Attila: Not at all. We had the same four players for a while already and changing the jungle makes it different but it's easier for him to adapt and makes us not lose any synergy between ourselves since we already know each other.

Why the Change From Top to Jungle, Kikis?

Kikis: I was struggling to have an impact in Polish League playing top lane with tanks, and when I was offered a spot at Illuminar, I just straight up told them that if I go top lane it's gonna be only a little upgrade and that if I roleswap and go jungle it's gonna work much better.

Two reasons: One was that their curent jungler's form was not so great, and second was that, in the jungle, I can take more responsibility in shotcalling and micromanaging people to have more impact on the game overall. I am a veteran and also a vocal person, while also being aggressive, so I think as a player this role fits me better. Even though people really underestimated me in top lane when I was top three or even top one in 2016.


A Team ReVITalized

Kikis, Have You Felt Welcomed by the Team and Their Fans?

Kikis: Vitality seems to have some really dedicated fans. Ever since I joined (going 9-1 since I came helps haha) I have been getting great support and I have been main point of talks lately, which is flattering to get some recognition for my hard work, but I'm also not used to it since I have been out of the spotlight for a long time. I got along with everyone really well from day one.

It helps that I knew most of the guys from before and I was already friends with Jiizuke and Jactroll, and with coaching staff and management there's no problem as well. It's a short time for story time, but we always get a good laugh whenever someone says something ridiculous because of misspelling or their accent, like "double double combo" from LeBlanc (instead of W W combo).

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Jactroll and Attila, Can You Describe Kikis as a Teammate and Friend?

Jactroll: He is really confident and calm person. It's hard to make any arguments with him because he really rarely gets angry at something. He is so motivated and dedicated to winning that it's inspiring.

Attila: I'd say Kikis is the same person as a teammate and as a friend. He's a kind, open minded person who is willing to listen to everyone's ideas and then give his own without making any drama or anything when the ideas are not the same. It's really important from my point of view that someone is like that in order to be able to work at the best level possible.

Vitality takes on FC Schalke 04 in the 2018 EU LCS Summer Semifinals on August 31st at 17:30 CEST. Do you think Kikis has what it takes to bring Team Vitality to finals? Let us know in the comments below.