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Patrik: “We’re All Hungry To Improve”

Tom Matthiesen

The second day of the LEC opening weekend ended great for Patrik “Patrik” Jírů, the bot laner on Excel Esports. While for a good part of the match they played today it looked like they would lose against Schalke 04, Excel turned it around in a moment’s notice to snatch up a victory after all. Patrik, as he has many times in the past for Excel, led the charge and performed outstandingly when he had to.

Patrik XL

Patrik had every reason to smile after his match against Schalke 04.

After the game, Patrik joined us for a brief chat. He reflected on the opening week his team has had so far, and how it compares to his expectations. Patrik also shared his thoughts on the developing roster Excel has, and how he feels playing in a meta that hasn’t settled quite yet.

Hotspawn: Welcome, Patrik, and congratulations on the victory! You won a game that, for a large part, seemed like you wouldn’t emerge victorious from. Did you remain faithful during the game?

Patrik: I think that, during the game, I was quite stressed. The enemy team had control over the map pretty much throughout the whole game. When they got the Ocean Soul, the game should have been over. We were kind of lucky I guess, but we defended well. It’s nice to get a victory like this.

There are loads of things that we need to work on

Hotspawn: As a viewer it felt as if, throughout the match, you had trouble picking team fights with Schalke 04. As if there was constant hesitance. How was that for you?

Patrik: I think our team fights were actually kind of good. I think the whole team was on the same page on how to play them. We had some champions to dive with, but they had good disengage options. So we couldn’t really dive in. I think, in most of the fights, we were trying to hit a first target and then stay together as much as we could. I think our issue was that we didn’t really know how to play around the map state.

Hotspawn: Was that just a problem this game, or is that something that needs more tuning on Excel in general?

Patrik: Well, we’re a new team, right? There are loads of things that we need to work on. I think being able to stand our ground and control an area is one of those things. We also don’t have that much experience with playing an enchanter in the top lane, so it wasn’t that easy for us today.

I don’t think we have decided on a playstyle quite yet.

Hotspawn: Last year, we saw that Excel’s strategy quickly boiled down to “give Patrik resources, he’ll carry”. It’s what happened today too. Are you sticking with that plan?

Patrik: I think that in last Summer Split, we didn’t exactly try to have that strategy, but that’s just what worked for us the best. In my opinion, at least. So this year, again, whatever works for us: so be it. We could end up playing around the top lane, maybe get some Renektons or Camilles, maybe some mid 2v2s… I think we’re just going to play whatever is working for us in scrims. I don’t think we have decided on a playstyle quite yet.

Hotspawn: You mentioned you guys are a new team—how has the communication been within the team?

Patrik: I feel that sometimes we lack a player that takes initiative and does something. That’s maybe why the game today, and our first game as well, were kind of slow. I think that’s one thing for us in terms of communication. I think Czekolad is able to make the right call in high-pressure situations. That’s really good. Dan is kind of the leader in the early game. We don’t have that much synergy yet, you know, but I think they’re doing a good job. We’re only getting better at it. I think our mid to late-game shotcalling isn’t quite there yet. We’re unsure what to do. It’s one of the many things we want to get better at.

Hotspawn: You’ll face G2 next, which is probably the strongest opponent there is right now. Is there any specific preparation you’ve done for G2, or did you just focus on the three-match ‘super weekend’ as a whole?

Patrik: We didn’t prepare for any opponent specifically this week. They all played their first games this weekend, so you don’t see what they do or how they play. They’re also new teams, right? So for now the drafts we play in official matches are similar to the drafts we play in scrims. Lulu was kind of a new thing for us today, but the other champions are ones that we practiced a lot with. For G2… I don’t know. They’re obviously a really good team. I think it’s only good for us to play against them now because they’re just going to get better in the Split. They’re probably going to get better than everyone else faster too. But maybe we can pull out some crazy stuff against them and beat them.

We’re all hungry to improve, and our atmosphere is right to do so.

Hotspawn: There isn’t really an established meta at the moment, and we see many teams experiment with champion picks. Is that to your advantage? Or do you prefer a set meta where you can’t really pick surprise champions, but also can’t be surprised by the opponent?

Patrik: It’s a little bit nicer now, I think. There is still a lot of room to experience things and find out what is good. But it is harder to draft against the enemy—sometimes there are champions that you don’t expect. Like today, I didn’t really expect Schalke to play Miss Fortune and Seraphine. But each team will also always have its own meta a bit, right? One team thinks that Olaf is the best, others prefer Taliyah or something… That’s always a factor too. You can’t really predict what other people will play, so you just have to be comfortable with whatever you’re playing.

Hotspawn: This Excel roster, as you said, needs time to grow. You’re an experienced player now, having played with many rookies. Where do you think this team could get, and how soon can they get there? Is this a top three team by the end of Spring, or is it Playoffs first and let’s take it from there?

Patrik: I think that aiming for the top three is not very reasonable in my opinion. It’s not that we can’t make it, but Excel has, for the past years, tried to reach the Playoffs and that is still our main goal at the moment. I don’t really think there is a ceiling, right? We’re all hungry to improve, and our atmosphere is right to do so. So for now we’ll try to make it to the Playoffs and see how far we can go. But I don’t want to sit here and say that we’re going to make it to the top three already. It’s not that likely, right? There is a big chance we’ll make it to the Playoffs. I feel very confident in that.

Hotspawn: To round up: you gave Excel fans quite a heart attack with the match today, making it look like the game was lost but then pulling it back and winning after all. Is there anything you’d like to say to them?

Patrik: [laughs] Well, to all the Excel fans: I’m sorry for this horror of a game that you guys went through. I guess it didn’t exactly look good, but next time we’ll be better. Tomorrow we’re gonna beat G2, so let’s enjoy that.