It wasn’t quite the way they wanted it to go down, but in the end, it’s the result that counts: Splyce are now heading to the Worlds 2019 Group Stage to represent Europe alongside Fnatic and G2 Esports. After looking like they were going to dominate the match from the start, their second round Play-In match against Unicorns of Love turned out to be a slugfest, going the full five games and pushing Splyce to the limit. We caught up with jungler Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir after the match to get his thoughts on the series.
“I believe that the series should’ve been a 3-0,” he says. “In the first game we were really far ahead and then managed to win relatively easily in the next two.” Splyce took a huge lead in the first game of the match, but somehow managed to throw it all away, falling to a shock loss.
“We got caught a lot and that slowed the game down,” Xerxe explains. “By slowing the game, they had a late game team composition with Kayle and Kai’Sa. We just let them scale for free.”
Splyce then came out swinging in the second and third matches, winning them in quick fashion. Xerxe popped up all over the map as Qiyana and Olaf, and Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup in particular stepped up, going 7/1/4 in both games.
“The people who say we’re a late game team obviously don’t watch the games we play,” Xerxe says. “In all of the games today we were proactive and there was lots of fighting. It’s not like we were waiting to scale. We were planning to win the game as soon as possible.”
It looked to be back on track for the LEC team, only for a mammoth slog in game four to equalise the series. Xerxe managed to steal two Barons, but it was all in vain as Unicorns of Love pushed their advantage home.
“It’s exciting making the big plays and knowing there are a lot of people watching and you can show them how good you are.”
“It was definitely exhausting,” says Xerxe. “Even though we were kind of getting small advantages, for every one step forward we were taking, they were taking two or three steps more. It was really hard to keep up with them. At some point they just got so far ahead there was nothing we could do anymore.”
It’s actually not the first time Xerxe has made the big plays to keep his team in the match for longer. “I remember it might have been against Roccat in playoffs last year. I was playing Zac and stole two Barons in that game too. It’s exciting making the big plays and knowing there are a lot of people watching and you can show them how good you are.”
It was a tough loss to take, but Splyce didn’t let it get to them. Xerxe says: “I tried to put it in a positive way. Like they managed to mess up two Barons. They were winning hard early but we managed to stall it as much as possible. We were just like ‘Next draft, next game, if we have a better team composition, we will win in 20-25 minutes.”
“It was definitely weird hearing the Unicorns of Love chants in the same studio that I used to play for them.”
It took a little longer than that, but in game five, Splyce managed to come out with the win. They got an advantage, and stuck with it as they carefully picked apart UOL’s base to secure their spot in the Group Stage.
As well as the prospect of progressing to the Worlds 2019 main event, Xerxe had something else on his mind while on stage. He was up against his former team in Unicorns of Love. They have a brand new lineup and come from a different region nowadays, but Xerxe still felt strange going up against them: “It was definitely weird hearing the Unicorns of Love chants in the same studio that I used to play for them. Knowing the chants were not for me was weird.”
However, Xerxe now has to put the past behind him, and look ahead to the Group Stage. Splyce are in Group B, and will be up against FunPlus Phoenix, J Team, and GAM Esports. It’s certainly not the hardest group of the four, and Splyce will be looking to prove their worth and make it out in one piece. There are still plenty of opportunities to slip up, though.
“We are against FPX, which is an insane team,” Xerxe warns. “I totally believe we can make it out of groups though. I’m not going in there with the mentality of ‘We made it to groups, whatever, now we can just lose all the games.’ I want to make it out of the Group Stage, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
“I definitely think the other two teams are strong. But if we manage to get a tiny bit better, if we stop messing up some executions, stop getting caught, then I believe we can beat those teams.
“I just know that no matter who I play, I will always think I’m the better player, and I’ll always aim to win. That’s my goal, and Splyce’s goal is the same: Just make it as far as possible.”
Xerxe is confident, but now Splyce will have to back it up with their performance as the Worlds 2019 Group Stage gets underway on October 12.