LEC Spring Split 2022: Finn “Finn” Wiestål on Excel Esport’s Loss
The 2022 LEC Spring Split journey has ended for Excel Esports. After the organization broke the curse and made its first-ever appearance in the playoffs, they immediately fell to Team Vitality in the lower bracket and finished in sixth place. Top laner Finn “Finn” Wiestål disappointed by the result, but he saw a clear avenue to future success as well.
After the series, Finn spoke to us about the best-of-five, reflecting on what went right and what went wrong. Finn also discussed his overall feelings about his first split back in Europe after a one-year adventure in the LCS with CLG, and how he regained his confidence in wake of a disappointing year.
Hotspawn: Finn, thank you very much for joining. You unfortunately lost the series against Vitality, but it was a close one. How are you walking away from it?
Finn: Losing a five-game series is never gonna be something you enjoy. Right now, it’s obviously very painful. A lot of regrets from a lot of moments. Different games, different champions, I just have a lot of different thoughts in my head about things I could’ve done differently to win. There are just so many small things that could have changed. But in the end, the result is as it is. It’s a disappointing end. I had higher expectations for us from practice, from the mood, from the stage games. I had a lot of confidence coming into today. I think we just weren’t able to finish it cleanly.
“Vitality came into game five with a lot of fire and they just went at us. We weren’t ready for it.”
Hotspawn: About that confidence you had heading into the series: what was the preparation like? You had three weeks to prepare for Vitality, which is a very long time.
Finn: Yeah, so we had… I don’t know how many days off, I think two or three days after the season ended. Then we just started scrimming. It was a new patch and it was a pretty big patch, I would say. A lot of changes, especially surrounding the AD carry role. I think it was a big shakeup. We just grinded out almost every day playing scrims, playing solo queue, figuring out what is good and what is bad. We just kept at it. I think we had a pretty good meta read. Perhaps we didn’t, but I would like to think we did. I still think we drafted champions that we had confidence in winning us the game. Today it didn’t work out, but we just have to move forward from this.
Hotspawn: You started the series pretty strongly though, absolutely dominating on Irelia. Was this a pocket pick you had in mind already, or was this an on-the-spot decision?
Finn: I’m not sure. They picked Gangplank third, which kind of surprised me, and then they started banning stuff that I could pick into it. So I was just like “Uhm, sure, I can pick Irelia, that’s pretty good here.” It worked out very well. I think [Markoon] and I had a really good game together that game. I’m a bit disappointed that I couldn’t keep the same level of play all series, but I’ll have to go back to the drawing board and try to figure things out.
Hotspawn: Throughout the series, both teams got more meticulous, it seemed. What started with fireworks slowed down a lot by the end. Were you getting calmer as the series got closer?
Finn: I think it’s the opposite, actually. I think, the calmer you are, the faster the game is because you make better decisions. You punish better. When the enemy makes a play top, you make a play bot. The game accelerates both sides, and eventually, it’s gonna collapse. But since people were a bit more tense, the game was a lot slower and people went for fewer plays.
We kind of felt this—we went for the first-pick Corki in the last game because we felt that the game was gonna be slow and steady. We thought, if we had better scaling, we were gonna be able to thrive in the late game teamfights surrounding drakes and we were gonna be able to win it. It didn’t play out according to the plan. I think Vitality came into game five with a lot of fire and they just went at us. We weren’t ready for it, and that’s why they were able to win.
Hotspawn: Let’s talk a bit more about you personally. This is your first split back in Europe after what I guess was a pretty disappointing stint in NA. I can imagine that disappointment is at the front of your mind now, in wake of this defeat, but how do you look back on your first split back in Europe?
Finn: Honestly, it’s been pretty great playing for Excel. I really like all my teammates, we have a fantastic team atmosphere. I’ve never been in anything like it. We’re having fun, we’re getting along, and I think we’re performing well too in the day-to-day practice. Losing today really hurts. I really thought we could do better than this, leaving after the first round of playoffs and just start over again for next split.
Still, I’m happy with the split and I’m happy where I ended up. I’m really happy I could bounce back after that year in NA. [Laughs] There were obviously times where I had big doubts, considering what happened over there.
“By the end of the year in NA, I had very low confidence in myself. I felt like I couldn’t really play.”
Hotspawn: In what way do you notice that you’ve bounced back and grown compared to your time in NA?
Finn: I would say my individual confidence in my own skills. By the end of the year in NA, I had very low confidence in myself. I felt like I couldn’t really play. Coming back to EU, it was very important that I got that back. That’s why I grinded so much solo queue and got rank 1 when all the Koreans were here as well. To me, that was really important. The fact that I got to tryout for Excel and actually join the team was also a big boost for that.
As the split went on, I think I was able to become a lot more stable. In the past, I’ve been a bit hit-or-miss. I think I still have these tendencies to be a bit hit-or-miss. But this offseason, I will do everything in my power to become a consistent force for Excel. For summer, I think we’re gonna do way better.
Hotspawn: Where do you see this Excel lineup go, then? For Excel as an organization, getting to playoffs was a pretty big milestone to hit. But you, of course, have higher ambitions.
Finn: I think it’s always gonna be the goal to go to Worlds. That’ll always be the goal for a team like us.
Hotspawn: Right, but besides the goals that everybody has. [Laughs] I’m talking more about the evolution of the team.
Finn: Yeah, I think we will just have to find a stronger consistency. I think we have pretty good games, but then we have really bad games. I think in general, everyone in the team has some bad habits that we kind of need to get out. Me included, obviously. I think, if we can get rid of these bad habits, we would actually make really strong improvements with the team. I think those are the demons that we need to overcome if we actually want to make it to Worlds. It is possible. It is in our hands. No one is gonna do it for us. We have to fix these things ourselves.
Hotspawn: In terms of team identity, I think Excel struck me as a team that was pretty flexible and open to experimentation in the drafts. Is that an identity you want to build on further?
Finn: I think that one of our core strengths is that almost everyone wants to play aggressively, almost all the time. That can be a weakness as well, as mentioned before. Everyone wants to always play aggressively and keep pushing our lead. That allows us to play on the full map instead of just playing either top side or bot side in the game. We can shift tempo and make a quick play on [the opponent’s] strong side and it’s gonna work, it’s gonna give us a huge swing in gold. We just have to stay unpredictable, I think.
Hotspawn: Thanks again for joining, Finn. At the end of your split, do you want to say anything to the Excel fans?
Finn: Thank you, as always. I’m very sorry that it didn’t work out this time, but I think they can look forward to us in the Summer Split as well.
The 2022 LEC Spring Split playoffs continue on Friday, April 1, at 6 PM CEST. You can watch it live on the official LoL Esports site.