Sheepy: ''We Should Get Out Of This Group. I Want To Take Games From RNG''
Unicorns of Love started their first-ever League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) with a win over League of Legends Circuit Oceania’s Pentanet.GG.
Although they endured a shaky Spring Split, the Unicorns were still able to qualify for MSI after a 3-1 finals win over CrowCrowd.
We had the chance to speak to head coach Fabian “Sheepy” Mallant after his team’s win over Pentanet.GG.
How important was it to start off MSI with a win for you?
It was really important, especially against this team, because the first two teams are going to finish from this group, and I think against RNG, it will be extremely tough. I think if we take the wins against PTG, it’s a clear win out of the group. Obviously, we had some struggles in the split, so coming now with a win on the first day and so dominantly as well — it’s the best feeling.
Without going into too much detail, what was the plan going into this first match?
That’s difficult to give without much detail... We did the prep that we usually do; we went over every game that they had played, checked out soloq [to] see what kind of champion pools they have. We scouted ourselves [to] see what we think they would play and prepare the drafts according to that. And then see what the meta right now — what other teams are playing that makes the meta really strong. We just go from there; I think everybody played extremely strong. Lev "Nomanz" Yakshin got his Orianna, top lane we got the Gnar in a good matchup versus Ornn in a tank matchup. Ana (Kirill "AHaHaCiK" Skvortsov) was happy, our bot lane with Kai’Sa/Alistar were happy too, so I think everybody got something they like. First game getting something like this - it's a great way to start the tournament.
When we won our last final I was so relieved and I was so incredibly happy to go to Iceland. Play internationally, go with my team there, and now we have the situation where we are likely to get out of groups.
What’s it like facing a team that just came from a match themselves? Were there any pre-game adjustments made, due to being able to watch Pentanet.GG play right before your matchup against them?
We were talking about this yesterday. Generally, you want to change your plan because you also have the games before that kind of show what the meta is right now. Because you come in with a certain plan, a certain direction, but all the other teams have been scrimming too. They don’t want to lose their games, especially in the contested ones, so you get a feeling of what the meta actually is and how strong the champions are. So yeah, we made some adjustments but just rather smaller ones also with… I’ve been around for a long time, so you see what’s the core — what you want to build around — and then everything else becomes minor tweaks. So you still have an identity as a team, you’re not totally lost, but you’re also not just picking your stuff and closing your eyes.
You alluded to not having a strong spring split. You guys finished with a 10-4 record like CrowCrowd, but finished in fourth place just under them. You later beat them in the finals. Did you and the team expect to qualify for MSI, or was this year a bit different?
It was up in the air. I think after we lost against the last team we played… I felt like that’s not who I want to be [and] not the kind of performance I want to show, and I had way higher expectations for us; for every single player and myself and our assistant coach - we should be doing better. And how we approach in practice; it’s just not going to happen. It was unacceptable in every way. So after that, we had a really clear talk about what we want to do. It’s always an option, so it wasn’t fully unexpected, but it’s kind of on the bottom ten percent of what should happen. It’s not very pleasant that it happened.
When we won our last final, I was so relieved, and I was so incredibly happy to go to Iceland. Play internationally, go with my team there, and now we have the situation where we are likely to go out of groups. See all the peers that I have here as well. I’m just so relieved; I was crying with joy; it was awesome.
We should for sure get out of this group. I want to take one game, maybe two from RNG. That would be awesome.
You mentioned that you’ve coached for a long time, and this is the first time Unicorns Of Love has made an MSI. Can you describe the feeling of qualifying for MSI? Was it similar to Worlds, or was it slightly different knowing it’s only one team per region?
Obviously, going to Worlds for the first time was a different feeling - not much can challenge that. It’s such a special thing. I’ve been, I think, five times in this situation before to be able to go to Worlds with Unicorns over in the LEC, and we were always like one game short of it. It really sucked. Then we made it to Worlds, and that was absolutely outstanding. Then we went again to Worlds, which I think was amazing too because we had a really strong roster, and I thought we could go far. We went 43-3, I think, something like this. We also went to the group stage and beat SuperMassive with Armut 3-0. Won 3-2 against MAD Lions; it was a really good performance.
But now MSI, going to Iceland, especially in the coronavirus pandemic. Having a feeling that what you’re doing… actually feels more real. It was so important to go to MSI for everybody involved. It was a different kind of importance, but it was very similar.
Last year the team made it past the group stage for the first time at Worlds; with that in mind, what are the expectations at MSI?
We should for sure get out of this group. I want to take one game, maybe two from RNG. That would be awesome. We play against them tomorrow so, let’s see how strong they are. They might outmuscle us or skill check us, as Frosk would like to say or other commentators. But yeah, I want to check how we measure against them. And then in the second phase, if we can’t measure against RNG, I think we have good chances against the other teams. We’ve played against MAD Lions, even if that was a little bit of a different roster. And Cloud9, I think, is beatable too for us. We should for sure get out of this group and afterwards, every win I think is a big achievement for ourselves and our region.
Any personal goals for you as a coach at MSI?
I want to look good; I mean both inside and out of the game. My sister helped me prepare, and I know the makeup artist for a long time, so let’s see what will happen [in] the next few days. I think 80% of my bag or luggage had suits that my sister has [been] choosing together with my mother. You know, it’s a family organisation - what can you do. I’m looking forward to wearing that; I think overall, maybe, have some fun as a team. Bring a little bit more pink into the esports space where things are maybe just too black or too “cool”, you know. I like it a little bit fun. I would like to bring that, and obviously, all I look for is success, growing and performing well, showing up, so I want us to play strong.
Images via Riot Games