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League of Legends

GrabbZ: “Fun League. That is what we want to bring to the table.”

Tom Matthiesen

Team BDS has officially announced its lineup for the LEC 2022 season. With Adam, Cinkrof, NUCLEARINT, xMatty, and LIMIT, BDS makes its LEC debut fielding a blend of experience in their players. For head coach Fabian “GrabbZ” Lohmann, the lineup offers something fresh after a four-year adventure at G2 Esports.


By joining Team BDS, GabbZ takes on a different challenge in the LEC. (Image courtesy of Michal Konkol for Riot Games)

In an exclusive, two-part interview, GrabbZ spoke to us about his decision to join Team BDS. In this first part, GrabbZ talks about the lineup he crafted. He goes over each player he picked for the team, what pillars he wants to build for the lineup, and the expectations he has for the roster in 2022.

Hotspawn: Welcome, GrabbZ! You’ve had your first days with the BDS team, scrimming in preparation of the LEC. How has it been?

GrabbZ: It has been really fun so far. A different challenge for sure, coming from G2. But I embrace it and so far all the players are really fun. All five of them are quite funny, good guys.

Hotspawn: In these past few days, weeks, what gears did you have to shift mostly to work with this group?

GrabbZ: It is just what I would call—or what G2 would call—the basic macro concepts. They are not as engrained here. That means tempo, what waves you play on, how to use vision… It’s all a bit rusty, I would say. Also, of course, because the offseason was long for the players. It’s not necessarily that they haven’t known this before, but it’s just the beginning again. We have to bring them all on the same page, making sure that we try to play the map as a unit. It’s the hardest part right now. Everybody sees something different and then tries to go for a play that the others are maybe not 100% ready for. That is the biggest part.

Hotspawn: Let’s talk a bit more about you joining BDS before we dive into the roster further. When did you first hear from them?

GrabbZ: Oh, well, I had something else cooking, which felt pretty good. BDS entered the offseason relatively late with their searching for coaching staff. But we had basically one meeting and it went really, really well from both sides. I think, after the meeting, both management and I decided ‘Ok, this is what we want to pursue’. So, even though we started talking late, I’m still happy with how the offseason went.

Just talking to [Cinkrof and xMatty], it was really clear that they can bring more to the table than just being a player.

Hotspawn: That one talk put you off the other project you had cooking?

GrabbZ: The other option was basically how the offseason goes, right? They also had to wait for players, and they took their time. I didn’t want to wait for months until a decision was made. So, I was really confident with BDS, because they said ‘Let’s move instantly’ and I just took it.

Hotspawn: One of the first names that was whispered to be in the BDS lineup was NUCLEARINT, your mid laner. He seemed to be on board very early, before you were let go by G2, so how much of the roster building were you able to do for BDS?

GrabbZ: I had a big say in what players I wanted. He [NUCLEARINT] was not an instant lock-in, even though there were some agreements with Schalke. Of course, I still did my scouting, and he still was a player that was high on the list. After some talks, we also felt very comfortable to go with him. So yea, he was not automatically in before I came. But of course, [management] told me that they had worked with him before and that he’s a good player to work with, with a good mentality. They confirmed that for me. Therefore, I’m happy to work with him.

Hotspawn: Another player that carries over to BDS from the Schalke 04 roster is LIMIT. Was he an easy keep for you as well? For example, you’ve worked with Mikyx too, who doesn’t have a team right now.

GrabbZ: It’s basically just that LIMIT is a vocal player and fits the leadership role that every new team needs. I felt that LIMIT was a really good player in the LEC for a long time and I just didn’t want his career to end with a tenth place. People have a short memory and they would forget what a good player he can be. So, I think LIMIT was pretty much the easiest choice we had, I think.

Mikyx, of course, for different reasons going for G2 players was not in the works. I mean, I like him of course, and everybody from the G2 guys. But it just didn’t happen to work this time around, for many different reasons. I can’t go into detail because of certain… contextual details.

Hotspawn: Cinkrof and xMatty are players that the ERL fans have wanted to get a proper LEC debut for a while. Both come from Karmine Corp, where they won two EU Masters this year. Is that what drew you to them?

GrabbZ: It had a part in it, but I also want to highlight that, in BDS, we put a high focus on personality. We want it all to match. I think, if you win EU Masters twice, you already showed that you can play in the LEC. Let’s face it, I think good EU Masters teams are probably equal to the tenth/ninth-placed teams in the LEC. Easily.

Hotspawn: If not better, sometimes.

GrabbZ: Yea. In G2 we scrimmed against KCorp as well, so we could see that these players are not bad. I think, ability-wise, there was never a question about it. Just talking to them, it also was really clear that they can bring more to the table than just being a player. The same goes for LIMIT and NUCLEARINT, right? It is a question that is really important. What will you bring to the table besides the gameplay? What can you bring, what type of atmosphere? It was really important that they matched well, and they both fit the bill. It also was a pretty easy choice.

Hotspawn: What do they bring to the table, then, outside of being good players?

GrabbZ: Basically, the question leads into how they see communication, criticism, how they deal with certain moments where it’s not that easy. Because if you’re winning, everybody loves each other. But if players can’t answer me, in that moment, how they would deal with conflict, then I already know they have a hard time being constructive. These players, the ones that are in the team, actually had a clear-cut answer. They could tell me how they would behave in certain situations, how they dealt with it in the past. It was really important to me that I have five players who are functioning not only as a League player, but also as ‘athletes’.

I’d rather have them go for a play, fuck it up royally, and then lose the game from it, than be the “slow, methodical team”

Hotspawn: Well, this brings me to your top laner, Adam. I don’t mean to imply that he is a bad guy or anything, but he appears to have a strong personality, and there were some clashes while he was at Fnatic. So, talk to me about assessing him as a player and a person, and how you saw him fit into BDS.

GrabbZ: It is not a secret, to him as well, that I was kind of apprehensive in the beginning, for the aforementioned reasons. But at the same time, I also had to realize that my ideas came from the opinions of others. I realized that I am a bit biased just by his social media game as well, the way he paints himself in a certain way.

I couldn’t protect Wunder from being called a griefer and an inter all the time on social media. But I know him better, right? So for me, it’s easier to say that he is not that person, he is not someone who doesn’t care.

At that point, I then also have to give Adam a chance to prove himself and to tell me why he is not this cocky player that he seems to be. So far, working with him has been really nice. He is a very calm personality in the room as well. He is someone who wants to give others space as well. While he wants to play aggressively, he is really happy doing what’s best for the team, which was surprising to me. So yea, he has been the biggest surprise to me as well. I’ve been working with him for two weeks now and I have no regrets at all. What he does on social media is his thing. But in a team environment, so far, I have nothing to complain.

Hotspawn: What do you expect from the team in the Spring Split, and potentially the rest of the year? What are the small victories that you’ll be celebrating?

GrabbZ: When getting all players, one thing we made clear and they agreed on, is that, no matter what, we want to be a team that is fun to watch. We made it really clear that I’d rather have them go for a play, fuck it up royally, and then lose the game from it, than be the “slow, methodical team” that is seen as a boring team that doesn’t know how to end the game.

Hotspawn: [Laughs] You can say ‘Rogue’ if you want to, don’t worry.

GrabbZ: [Laughs] That’s what the quotation marks basically meant. I really like the way Mac and MAD Lions do it: coming out swinging and just trying stuff. Initially, I thought it doesn’t really matter what we do, as long as we play good League and fun League. And then for Summer, of course, play for Playoffs and be competitive there. But seeing the bootcamp right now—and maybe this is just the honeymoon phase speaking—we can move the timeline up a bit. The goal we’ve set for ourselves in Spring, is contesting for Playoffs and being there around fifth/fourth. I think that is reasonable, it is doable. Of course, we can royally fuck up, but this is a goal we can set for ourselves.

Then, for Summer, we can see how fast we improve. Let’s face it, I think it’s unreasonable to assume that this roster will suddenly be better than Vitality or Fnatic. They are by far the two best teams in the league. That is expected, at least. So, I’m not gonna sit here and say we win the title, you know? That is probably not gonna happen. If it does, I’m gonna be really happy, and say ‘Oh man, past GrabbZ was so negative!’ you know?

Fun League, that is what we want to bring to the table. We’ll see how far it brings us.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of our interview with GrabbZ, where he talks about the lessons he learned from coaching G2 for four years and how he’ll implement them in BDS.