Despite a surprise win over Royal Never Give Up and two wins over Gen.G, Team Vitality weren't able to make it past groups, as they exist worlds with a 3-3 record. We talked to Kikis after the team's elimination to talk about how their group, a retrospective on his career and looking at 2019.
Renato (Shakarez): First of all, commiserations on your elimination from Worlds, going into the day, how did you guys feel about your chances? Were you confident going into this day knowing you had to play RNG, and all these games like really counted because you were coming in 1-2?
Kikis: We felt really confident going into the day, especially me, because we had good preparation, and I just felt it inside of my bones that we were going to win against RNG 100%. And then I was sure we were going to win at least one more game. I wasn't sure if it was gonna be against Gen.G or C9, but we won against Gen.G. And then I guess we just ran out of juice after the two games to beat C9. They played really well, and they beat us both times they faced us.
And about that, they (C9) beat you both times. Was there anything about them you couldn't figure out or anything specific they did that caught you guys off guard?
First game, we had the game in our hands too many times, in control, and we just threw it away. We just gave it to them, and we made too many mistakes, so it was really disappointing. This game, it felt much harder. They were in control for a lot of parts of the game, and it felt hard to actually get the lead and pressure them. I think they played really well, and they drafted really well. It was much harder playing against them than the other two teams today.
Going into the group, did you ever expect that the team ending in fourth place would be Gen.G?
I expected RNG, us, Gen.G, C9, so I was expecting C9 to be last. I think most of the people did, either us or C9, but they showed really, really good. And it's surprising for everyone that C9 actually got out of this group, and Gen.G showed from such a weak side in the last game. Even though there was nothing for them, they were just hard-trolling the game. So it was really disappointing for them.
I wanted to ask you about a retrospective on your year, even though you didn't make it out of this group. Overall, it's been a year trending up for you. You started in the Polish scene, you qualified to EU Masters, you ended up second, and then you get a spot into LCS. Talk to me about how your year was, and how you think you did this year.
I think me being in LCS for the three years and then getting relegated, my career was kind of in the darkness. It wasn't getting good. I got relegated, and then I didn't have a team for a long time. Then I got into the Polish scene, but I never stopped believing, and I never stopped trying. I was always spamming as much solo queue as I can, and making sure people still know I'm available by playing solo queue. But yeah, I showed really well at EU Masters as well. I decided to role swap at one point, and it was a really good decision for me. So I guess maybe I can say that I delayed my career by like three years, because after UoL I role-swapped to top lane, even though I got the first place in EU LCS, went to MSI and stuff. I think my career really starts right now, even though—I'm not sure if people say 22 is old for League, but I'm pretty fucking young.
Finally, going into 2019, you guys had a pretty good run towards the end of summer. This Vitality roster I think surprised and exceeded a lot of expectations. Do you guys think you're going to stay together as a team, and are you excited to play with this team going into next year?
I think if we do stay together, top 2 in the EU is really likely, since we learned so much here, both as a team and individually on their own to be a better player, since we played against the best in the world. And we learned a lot.
The interview above has been edited for clarity
Images via Lolesports Flickr