After the end of the AbsoluteArena Invitational, two players from the finalists' teams - Moscow5 and Gamehoppers managed to squeeze out a few hours so that this interview could become reality. Please don't forget to also look up our interview with Team BLACK who finished third in the Invitational.
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You had somewhat touch-and-go and intensive final matches in the AbsoluteArena Invitational, what would you say was difficult for you going up against your opponents?
- M5: Hello, I am Alexey "Alex_Ich" Ichetovkin, the AP Mid for Moscow5. The games were not that hard, we know their team pretty well and still got perfect match history against them I think. They are really good, first game was kinda close, but we got better teamcomp that made our mid-late game. In second game they went kinda all-in with renekton jungle and it didn't go quite well for them I think. Still I think they can improve a lot and be threat for top teams.
- GH: Hi, I am Benjamin "fluumis" Oldén, the support player of Gamehoppers. We tried some stuff against them and we felt that it was a lot closer than it normally is, since the only team we are having problems beating is Moscow5. I feel that we are making a lot of progress even with a substitute.
As one of the "titans" and one of the up-and-coming teams in the European LoL Scene, a lot of players look up to you guys for meta changes. Are you working on some new and interesting things as far as gameplay goes, something we might see in future tournaments?
- M5: We are trying theorycraft a lot, but it's hard to make something new in League of Legends. Though we bring some champions like Zilean back to life, so I think it's enough. And anyways I wouldn't tell you the truth, haha.
- GH: We are already trying to influence the meta game ourselves and also looking for ways to improve it, even looking at how other teams that aren't even our server are changing it and how we can make what they are doing better.
As far as the tournament went, what would you say about your rivals? Did you expect the team you ended up versus in the finals, were you surprised by teams like SK Gaming and Teamless falling out, while Team BLACK made quite an uproar?
- M5: SK is not that strong nowadays they need to play a lot as team to get back so it's kinda predictable. Fnatic and Teamless are kinda equal in their level, so I wouldn't predict that match but didn't expect BLACK team to come that far in this tournament.
- GH: We have played m5 a lot recently and since we have not been scrimming them so the practice we have had against m5 has mostly been in the finals of tournaments. With regards to SK and TL, we were not too surprised at BLACK beating them as sk have had another roster change recently and the teamwork is not going to be there instantly, that will come over time. TL have not been practicing too much recently so we were not really surprised to see that. BLACK are a force to be reckoned with and I feel we know that alot more than other teams since we have played against each other quite alot and they are really close to us, we know what they are capable of and there is more to come from that team. When we played them we banned Sona, Shyvana and Rumble since we knew that they were playing perfectly with that combo, so we wanted to see what else they could throw at us and they proved how good they are when they beat us in that game. But we were really happy to go 3-1 over all against them in the whole tournament.
Out of the three teams each of you played against, could you elect a MVP player or generally somebody who you would like to play with in Solo queue based on his style?
- M5: They all are strong players, wouldn't choose mvp, though Shushei's gragas was kinda hero/player I didn't like to play against :)
- GH: Gosu Pepper if he was not a support just because I look up to him and want to adapt to his playstyle more, If it had to be a player in another lane I would say xPeke as he is consistently causing us problems and he is such a nice guy!
What is your opinion on the overall plays by the up-and-coming teams compared to the "old timers", we saw a lot of teams which are considered top notch being outplayed, is that something natural in your opinion?
- M5: All teams got downswing and upswing, so it's natural that new teams that you don't know what to expect from win against old teams. Level of playing is growing up fast, meta changes fast every patch, so some teams getting worse and some teams getting better depending on items/hero changes.
- GH: I believe new teams are more eager to perform as they are the ones looking to get into good organisations, they aren't already "safely" in one if you catch my drift. I feel that teams in our situation have alot of work to do since we have more to prove.
ECC Poland is fastly approaching,with a lot of interesting teams and matches ahead of us. What do you expect out of the groups as far as team performances and possible uproars go?
- M5: All these teams are really good, I think our group is much harder than group A, though I think our team and CLG.eu got better chances in the group.
- GH: We have scrimmed against x6 and I think they could cause alot of upsets, but if I had to call a winner... it would be between CLG.eu and M5.
Based on your elite status as a team, you're expected to go into the finals of ECC Poland. Ff there isn't an uproar and you get to the finals who do you expect to meet there and how hard do you think the finals would be with that 40 000$ prize constantly putting pressure on your team?
- M5: The prize is not pressuring our team, I wouldn't predict anything, to speak about finals you need to reach the finals, right?
What is your opinion on the Season 2 Finals, we see a lot of contendors and a few heavy-weights sitting in their spots?
- GH: think that there are so many up and coming teams (especially on the european scene) who could contend for it, but since we have all come to late in the season obviously that is not possible :D But with the current contenders I think the current "experienced winners" are likely to come out on top.
Your performance as a team has been grade A these past few months with a lot of tournament wins, are you steadily preparing for the Season 2 Finals and what are your expectations for this and other major events?
- M5: We want to win everything speaking about Season 2 Finals, because it is the most important tournament. Sadly, we are not going to MLG because we couldn't make visa's in time.
You had to pretty much use a substitute top throughout the tournament. We're not going to delve into how Kikis left the team unless you decide to share, so how was it having to play with a new top, was there more pressure and insecurity than there normally would be, and how did it affect your strategy?
- GH: It had an effect on our strategies since we obviously haven't refined strategies with a particular player, that is what is needed to beat teams like M5. Having said that, we were really happy with the substitutes we used - Andreas "Venom Blademasta" Max and Simon "El Muppo" Näslund. We are really grateful to them as they have been great friends doing us a huge favour!
What is your opinion of practicing in Korea, and do you think investing in a gaming house is worthwhile in all cases?
- M5: I think that having gaming house more than short period of time causes more negative than positive. Practicing in Korea takes too much time, even OGN tournament goes couple of months. I think it is great but takes a lot of effort, so not sure if we will go to Korea for long tournaments or training. Still I think korean players do more professional training with coaches and other things that gives them huge edge comparing to other countries.
Can you maybe give us some info on when we can expect to see you with a solid top player picked out and what tournaments we'll be seeing you in the near future?
- GH: We have some top players that are interested in joining our team so we will try them out as usual, you will see us play the IGN pro league and the fnatic cup tomorrow and some more tournaments which you will have to ask my manager about, can't think of them off the top of my head. Our main focus is Season 3 and we will hopefully make a bang there!
A lot of players try to reach for the dream of being a "pro player" but never reach it. Being relatively close to that dream if not already living it, how has that changed you in real life? Have you had to give up on some things, take up new ones, or do you just have fun playing Zilean all day like the rest of us?
- M5: I had to give up my job, because with flights all year long you can't work on full-time job. So now I'm focusing on my personal life and League of Legends completely. It becoming more and more job that is pleasure to have, though sometimes you get really tired of playing, but have to do it.
- GH: Everything I do, whether its in real life or in LoL or whatever... I aim to be the best or at least give 100% in everything I do. Of course I have had to give up some of my time for this, but you won't get anywhwere if you don't make the commitment needed, I started playing at the start of season 2 and I went from watching players like Wickd's stream and wishing I could get to that stage to sometimes playing in front of 30k people in such a short time and I have enjoyed nearly every second of it. I think it is important to have fun while you do it too! Zilean is fun and strong as support but much better in mid lane as Alex Ich and HawkDon showed today!
What is your everyday life like, can you give us some insight? Most people have no clue what good gamers actually look like and they tend to associate them with "nerds". Are you into sports, cooking, maybe some other hobbies as well?
- M5: I don't have much time lately, I was having job + playing league of legends, played chess before, now haven't played for ages, though still want to get my skill back :) Lately I'm focused on my girlfriend, I am trying to leave most of my free time to her.
- GH: I try to workout at least 3 times a week, I practice my guitar alot and hang out with my friends as much as I can, its important to balance your ingame and out of game life as being unhealthy in real life can have an effect on your gameplay. I am also studying part time to be a gym instructor! But ofc LoL is a big part of my life too.
Well, it's been a pleasure to have this interview with you, please shoutout to anyone you want to. Our last question is one largely influenced by our tournament viewers - Will Gosu ever get a laptop cooler and Do you gangnam style?
- M5: I want to shoutout to BenQ, MSI and Moscow Five for supporting us, to my girlfriend Katya, to my parents and to all our fans, we love you guys, keep rooting for us and it will help us to become victorious. BTW Gosu Pepper is with us on bootcamp now but he still found computer with videocard issues haha and it keeps rebooting. And yes, I GANGNAM STYLE.
- GH: I would like to give a shoutout to my team and organisation, El Muppo and VENOM BLADEMASTA for standing in for us, all the upcoming teams (tt dragons, Megashock and BLACK), Fnatic and crs.eu aswell (you know why) and most importantly my family who have been backing me the whole way. Also a big shoutout to our manager Joe "InnerFlame" Elouassi! Who doesn't Gangnam style?