GX Odoamne: “When you get to Worlds, that band-aid rips off everywhere, and you're like, oh, well, we suck”

GX

LEC

Interview

08/02/2024 - 8'

“Now it feels quite good because there's some stability.”

As Andrei "Odoamne" Pascu embarks on a new season with GiantX, we had the pleasure to chat with him during the twitch live in december. His reflection on recent changes within the team and the strategic addition of new talents like Jackies and Ignar offers an exciting insight into the team's evolution.

| So welcome, Odo. You had one more year with Excel, so you have always been the plan from the start to stay on the roster. Are you happy with the roster that was built around you, if that makes sense?

Odo: "Yeah, I think we made pretty good upgrades. I think Patrik staying, committing to Excel or, like, GiantX now, was quite agree was really nice. Even though we have a rookie in the midlane, I always felt like midlane wasn't really a strong position in the EU outside, you know, big names like, let's say, Larsson, Caps, Humanoid. I felt like everyone else in the pack was quite similar in skills. So, it didn't really feel like we were making a downgrade or a side grade or anything. I felt like it was kind of time to get the rookie in, because I felt like the pool was quite saturated with players that weren't exceptional. So for me, when staff came to me and said, hey, we're going to get Jackies on midlane now, I was on board with everything, but also quite happy that we got Ignar to come. He became available super randomly. We had eyes on someone else, I think, for most of the offseason, but the fact that Ignar became available, I think the moves all made sense."

"As Hidon said in the announcement earlier, we covered a lot of our weaknesses that we had last year because we made second for a reason. It was really random, but you don't just make a second by being lucky. There were obvious strengths for us. The fact that we didn't do more meant that we had a lot of weaknesses. So, yeah, I think with the changes that they made, we covered a lot of those weaknesses, and now it's a good opportunity. Stable roster and stable staff. Because last year we went through a lot of changes, with the coaching staff making so many changes every single split and roster swaps every split. So now it feels quite good because there's some stability."

| But you just made changes as well. So why does it feel more stable now?

Odo: "Because we have the same coaching staff as last year. It felt like we had a good vibe going on. They were really dedicated to making us better and to their vision of the game, infrastructure, and everything. Coaching philosophy is kind of aligned with mine for most of it, and it doesn't feel like these changes or these ideas that they have are completely coin flips and come out of nowhere. Because I felt like when I joined Excel last year, or yeah, well, it was still named Excel. When I joined Excel last year, I felt like a lot of the changes to the roster building made a little bit of no sense because it was just based of like, let's get some cool hype names in, throw them together, and it obviously didn't work because statistically we're just very dysfunctional. So that's what I mean by the fact that there's more stability right now because all the changes and everything they did kind of make sense."

| Laure: "What do you expect the dynamic of this team to be like? Actually, because you were mentioning the fact that last year it was more at the beginning, at least, just piling up big names and expecting them to work together. Taking a bit more risk, bringing in a rookie midlaner, Ignar coming back after having an amazing year in NA, amazing end of the year at least. What do you think the dynamic is going to be like with this iteration of the roster?"

Odo: "Well, I think just the whole mix of players points a lot towards teamwork in a sense. You wouldn't really say they have a lot of star power, but at the same time, teams like BDS made finals, I think, twice, or they were like the top three for two splits. It's not like they have crazy star power up outside of Adam having his funny champion every once in a while, that the fans really loved. Outside of that, BDS was a prime example of a very well-coached team that got good results of having very good fundamentals. So, it's not like you need star power to make it work. That's kind of like what I think is going to happen."

"I think Ignar and Patrick are going to be a very good duo because, with both the support that Patrick had last year and the support he had for a long while, I feel like he didn't really find someone who was really his style. I think the last time he had someone who was really his style was Mikyx. And for me, Ignar and Mikyx are similar in their profiles. Maybe Mikyx is really good, maybe he's a little bit more versatile, but at his core, Ignar is very aggressive, and I think Patrick benefits from being someone who is also very experienced, Ignar having been a player for such a long time."

"So, yeah, I think it is just going to be good fundamentals, strong laners, very happy with Jackies you know. He's a rookie, but his communication and everything is a huge step forward for us. I think it's going to benefit the whole team with the way he communicates and how he involves himself in the game. Maybe he's not really like a facilitator, like someone like Nisqy, but in terms of the level of communication and commitment to involving yourself in place kind of is similar to someone like Nisqy in that sense."

| Okay, very interesting. Honestly, this makes me even more confident in Excel. Kind of want to change my tier list. (laugh)

Odo: "GiantX..."

"... Sorry?"

| Laure: "GiantX."

| Indeed. GiantX. Yeah, I need to get used to it. But what do you think of it? Like, where do you see GiantX in the placements next year? Will you be able to hold on to the good performances you had last split?

Odo: "Yeah, I mean, I think the core is there. It got upgraded in the positions that we made changes. It's hard to say because I think that the things that made us good last year, or at least in summer, we can replicate now, but with a new season, a new patch and everything, we need to see if they're actually going to be one of our strengths or if it's going to be one of our weaknesses. But I think...It's hard to say. But I think, for starters, the top six, I would say, is something that we are very comfortable aiming for. I think it's not an unrealistic result because last year we were like, oh, we're going to win LEC in the winter. And then we went 10th twice, so that sucked. But yeah, I think it just depends on how we gel. But I think with the infrastructure we have and the prior profiles we have, it can work very well."

| Laure: Unless you have one, for me, following up on what you said about last year and the expectations you had, meaning the LEC coming first and then the back-to-back 10th place from winter and spring. You've been playing for a long time. And for me, you came into last year, and every year you are coming with new expectations, new goals for yourself, with a format that was of course new and a surprise in the LEC and the results you had last year, what is your approach this year to manage these expectations? And how are you entering this year for both yourself and the team?

Odo: "Yeah, I think the fact that we went through the trauma of making ten twice is going to definitely help us this year because we remember the feeling and how rough the format can get.As a team? Yeah. We are more aware of how bad things can go, how serious we need to be, and everything. And I think going back-to-back 10th, no one repeats that accomplishment or that achievement from the previous roster. So, I think everyone is really on the lookout for it. And for me, yeah, going from first to last was a speed run I wasn't really expecting. But I kind of enjoy the challenge now this year with being, you know...I think it's just going to be an underdog story for literally every single game we go into. So, for me, it's just more about finding ourselves and myself a bit and just going back to just enjoying the game, and I feel like that's kind of what I missed last year. When things get rough and your tens twice, you kind of lose sight of what made you enjoy being a pro player in the first place."

"So for me, I think this year is more about going back to that because I feel like when I was in Rogue, my whole journey there, I really enjoyed the game, and I was really happy and having fun with it, and with the big pressure of Excel, having a stacked roster and possibly being a contender since the beginning, going tense kind of shocked me a little bit. And now I think it's a bit more of a tempered approach where I just enjoy the game, and that's usually when my team and I play the best."

| Do you think having a young player such as Jackie's can help you find this enjoyment again that you may have when you start a professional career?

Odo: "Yeah, I mean, it's always fun to have a rookie because when they play, and they talk, they're so naïve. (laugh) They're just so happy to be there. And then their whole view of League of Legends and everything is so pink and meanwhile, you have me, and I'm just sitting there, and I'm like, oh, boy, you know, nothing (laugh). So it's really fun to have someone who is just so happy and pure to know just play the game and have fun because I think most of the rosters that I was on were full of veterans and stuff. So, everyone's a little bit more serious when you have a veteran gang, but when you have rookies, he's like this little happy cloud that he's just like walking around (laugh). It's kind of nice for someone like me."

| Okay, really nice. And as you aim to reach the playoffs and maybe further, what do you think will be your main contenders in the LEC?

| Laure: "Top 3?"

Odo: "Who I think is going to be like the top three in LEC? I mean, G2 made a very good decision to just let everyone else handicap themselves by making changes, and you just stayed the same. Because I think we could have done the same in Rogue after winning LEC, I felt like if we had stayed the same, we were probably going to be stronger. Just because I feel like there's this trend in you where teams are kind of downgrading with every single year because I feel like the top talents are kind of dissipating and going to different teams instead of staying on the same team. So, yeah, I think G2 is going to be a clear-tier favorite because I don't see what's even in the top 3. It was like Mad Lions massively downgraded. Let's be honest..."

... Laure: "It's only reviewing."

Odo: "Yeah, I mean, it's like, sure they might end up being insane, but you can't told anyone accountable for saying that MAD Lions is not impressive when you go from those. It's kind of like the same, where when rogue replaced Inspired and Hunt with Comp and Malrang, everyone was super tilted, and then we ended up winning. And that's like, yeah, it's a miracle you won when you were not supposed to win, but on paper, everyone hated it. So, yeah, I feel like BDS even, let's say I think Ice, is his name, right? Even though he might end up being really good, it's not a clear upgrade. I feel like it's a side grade. Mad Lions downgrade. Let's put it like that. G2 upgrade by staying the same. Fnatic, I think they only changed support for June, if I'm not mistaken. So, they might end up being better."

"So, yeah, I think, excluding us, the top three should be mixed between G2, Fnatic I guess...It's so hard because you haven't seen any of these teams play, so they might just end up being bad. And I'm not on the Heretics hype train, even though it's like nostalgia is really strong there. Yeah, it's just like, let's just say fanatic g2 and maybe who's even there?"

| Rogue, Vitality.

| Laure: BDS didn't change too much, either.

Odo: "Yeah, we also feel like BDS kind of had a really big floor at the beginning, and then they kind of went not really downhill, but they didn't really make spectacular improvements throughout the year. So, yeah, it's hard. I think third place is just up for grabs everywhere. A little word about KC."

| Laure: I was about to ask you because that's one of the most anticipated newcomers in the LEC of course. Cabochard, Bo, Saken, to remind people, Upset and Targamas.

Odo: "Yeah, I mean, it could be a dark horse. That roster is so atomic (laugh) that it can go anywhere from either ten or from ten to first because Upset and Bo, that roster did explode in vitality towards the end. So, everyone's a little bit… There is some PTSD there to some extent for the people who watched closely, but the roster has incredible highs. But it's so hard to pinpoint it and say, oh look, KCorp is going to for sure be a really good team. I think for a team like KCOP it's probably better to just let them chill and not put a lot of expectation on them. And you know, let them cook and if they cook well, they're going to be great. And if not, then yeah, they're going to be somewhere."

| Laure: One question that I had about the league in general is because it's really hard to know what to expect from these rosters, but when you look at the mix of teams and players we had this year and what we hypedlast year, with the few adjustments that teams have made, do you expect the level in Europe to be higher than what it was in 2023? Because that's the vote when we see how much we flopped at the world. Sorry, I'm only interested in how well Europe is going to perform at Worlds this year, especially because it's in Europe. But yeah, how would you rate the improvements that the league can make?

Odo: "It's hard because I feel kind of like everyone else does. Europe has been getting worse and worse with the years, just from the fact that top teams are not retaining their star players and talent. Because, for example, let's look at last year, Wunder was on a completely different team than Perks, Jankos, than everyone else. So it's like teams that win; they don't stay together because there's always finances involved, and blah blah blah. So, it's probably hard to keep a roster with five-star players."

"But it's just the fact that there aren't any amazing rookies every year because last year…Last year we had Yike. So it was really good. The year before that, I don't know who was an amazing rooky…You don't have... Imagine every year you would get a player like Yike coming into the league, and you're like, oh, look, the league is getting better because really good rookies are coming in and maybe some of the worst-performing players are kind of getting sent off. It's more like there's just no clear upgrades, just side grades everywhere. And the fact that the floor of the teams might be getting higher just because good players are spreading out everywhere and they kind of just bring up the level of the team."

"But the problem is by the floor gets higher, the ceiling is getting lower, so that's kind of like the thing. So I'm not really sure if this year Europe is going to be a lot better because, given that we're looking at the top three, where we discussed top three earlier, we're like, oh, outside of G2, who do you put? And the fact that you don't know who to put outside of G2 kind of shows that there's a problem with the fact that it's just not a strong region that you don't have a peer favorite."

| Yeah, that's true. I'm really looking forward to see how GiantX and you can match against other teams. The good thing maybe about it is that maybe you can get this third, second, maybe first position, if you work hard for it.

Odo: "We did it in the summer. Out of nowhere, anything can happen."

| Laure: Yeah, It's been a long year. The last question I have on this issue, if you may, which is also something that I've noticed, seeing teams fell at Worlds and knowing how difficult the format can be, how would you manage? I don't know. Results and make sure that you guys are not burnout, because it's going to be three weeks of best of ones again and then best of five leading into playoffs. I want to ask about maintaining energy levels to stay competitive throughout the whole year, because it's been a challenge this year and it's going to be even as well next year.

Odo: "I think it's great. The format changes were good where I think LEC is starting earlier, and there's more break between the splits because it felt off a little bit last year. There was disconnection, a little bit of disconnection from the playoffs and regular season, from the summer split to season finals. So I think format changes are going to help a little bit, but also, I still feel like teams need to properly adjust to the format in the sense where people are still, teams are still super excited, they're like, oh, I want to win the split final, blah, blah. But the way the format works is like, split final is kind of useless in that sense, because since the whole thing is you get a roadshow for season finals, so technically that is the big prize."

| There's three of them as well.

(Odo)-Yeah. So it's like you can easily flop out of one of them, and it's still fine. But the problem is that culturally, everyone is like, oh, we want to win the winter split, spring split, summer split and season finals all together. And I still feel like teams need to adjust the format because you went from a split-out format where it was week five of regular season. You're kind of chilling. You're maybe last in LEC, but you still have like five weeks to bring it back. There wasn't this sort of pressure, but the fact that right now there's only three weeks and there's huge mental pressure, that's kind of like why people get burned out a lot, a lot faster because they're just rest a lot, a lot more.

So now, for me, it's kind of like you can take the L even though that's kind of like a stupid mental...It sounds stupid, like it's a stupid mentality, but you can take the L as long as you treat these three splits like the regular season and treat the season final as the old playoffs in that sense. So, yeah, you just need to make sure that you don't make ten twice (laugh) because you kind of need to make playoffs. You need to make playoffs to make worlds; that's like the OG meme. So that's kind of the thing. So I think it's just juggling expectations. Everyone is just very hungry to win everything. So that's kind of why I feel like some teams are burned out. But again, I don't know how you can go from wanting to win everything to having a more balanced approach where you don't get burned out. But the problem is that I feel like it's not even burned out when you get to the world, and Europe sucks. It's just like, there's just so many...I still feel like infrastructure, there's some dysfunctionality everywhere. Bunch of stats are not really perfect everywhere. Infrastructure is not perfect everywhere.

I just feel like from my experience when I went to Worlds, everyone is just so tired from working with each other in the sense that it's like you handled the same sort of mistakes for the whole year, and then you're at Worlds, and then there are teams that are even better that are punishing you for the same mistakes, and you're just like, let's just do our best. So I just think that's the thing. There are issues. They just get band-aided so much because I feel like there's just not a lot of super-capable people who can identify those problems and propose a fix that is not a band-aid. So when you get to Worlds, that band-aid rips off everywhere, and you're like, oh, well, we suck. So that's kind of like what I think is the main challenge between Europe and Korean stuff, or why European teams don't do well, just because teams are better at ripping those band-aids off."

| Really interesting. Well, thank you, Odo.

| Laure: Yeah, thank you.

Odo: "I guess I'm getting out now. Yeah. Thank you, everyone."

| Thank you so much for the insight.

Odo: "Okay, see you chat. Bye."

- Brieuc "LEC Wooloo" Seeger -