Giants were the second seed from the Spanish LVP SuperLiga and narrowly missed qualification to the Amazon European Masters 2022 summer Knockouts. Placing 3-3, they would have played a tiebreaker against Vitality.Bee, for second place, had things gone differently. Now, Team Heretics is the last SuperLiga representative left in the tournament.
Support Henk "Advienne" Reijenga is immediately one of the more recognizable names on the roster, as a past EU Masters finalist and a former LEC player in Excel Esports. He took time off to speak to us about Giant’s run at this EU Masters, some thoughts on the other teams, and how he worked through his sudden departure from Excel.
First and foremost, thank you so much for doing this interview with us at BLIX.GG. Let’s start with your most recent event, the EU Masters. The giants finished 3-3 and unfortunately didn’t make it to Knockouts though you were close. Tell me about your run in EU Masters and what are your takeaways from it.
Advienne: Well, I think we had a decent run. Obviously, it would have been better if we had won the finals. I think we got a little bit unlucky at the end of groups, where if Unicorns of Love Sexy Edition beat Team Vitality, we would have been able to play Vitality again. It probably would have been close, and we could’ve continued our march forward. After that, no one knows what will happen in the quarterfinals.
Though I say it’s unlucky, other than that, we should have just won against Unicorns and Vitality in the first round robin; then we wouldn't have had that problem.
What would you say change from the first round robin to the second round robin, it seems that you guys played more confidently, at least from what I could see.
Advienne: I don't think much changed; our games were always a bit all over the place. Some weeks it could be really good and vice versa. I think the first round robin just had a bad week, and we just had a better week in the second round.
Also, in our game against Vitality the first time around, we didn’t have a very good draft as well, so it was really hard to kill them at some point. The game was a game of inches, so if we had a worse draft, it was already a lot harder to win.
Speaking of all over the place, you guys came as the second seed from SuperLiga, losing to Team Heretics twice in playoffs. Would you say that you guys had problems carrying on from the SuperLiga going into the EU Masters, or did you have difficulties adapting to the tournament patch, for example?
Advienne: I don't think the patch was an issue. I think we had problems basically all throughout the SuperLiga. Based on individual skill and the fact that I think the SuperLiga wasn't very strong, we could kind of keep it in check and get as far as we went. But I think the problems were always there.
There were just a lot of things like playstyle wise we didn't always get along. There were conflicting playstyles, and yeah, it just didn't always work, you know?
I’d like to touch on you mentioning that the SuperLiga is not strong. Recently. Blix did an interview with GameWard’s coach, and he mentioned, and I quote, “there is a big gap between the top teams of LFL and Superliga.” Do you agree or disagree? What are your thoughts on it?
Advienne: Yeah, I would say so. The LFL top teams go through like a trial fire of playing in the LFL, which automatically makes you a better team on stage or in an official match than the other teams. I think the LFL teams are just pretty good, and yeah, I would say that there's a gap between LVP top teams and LFL teams.
The LFL has a lot of contenders, and that makes it better for competition. If you have four, five, or six teams that could compete for the top, that means that teams get really tested every game for official matches. That means if you slack or you make small mistakes, they get instantly punished, and because of that, you just become a better team. If you don't have that in an easier league, there's a chance that there might be mistakes that go unnoticed, and then suddenly you have to fix it once EU Masters comes around. That's a lot harder than doing it over the whole season.
On top of that, the Spanish teams have a worse ping connection. Of course, it's not a gigantic deal, but I think it makes a difference, especially in close games where if there's a better connection, your spells fire quicker, or your champion moves a bit quicker, and that can also make a difference.
So basically, it's the internet diff?
Advienne: [laughs] Well, I wouldn’t put it that far. But for example, we played with nearly 50 ping from here in Malaga, Spain. At home, I know I play on ten ping or lower, which makes a gigantic difference in how you can control your champion. So yeah, I think it does matter a little bit.
“I guess in ERLs, the scrims are a bit lower in level. I would have liked to obviously still play at the highest level, because that makes you improve the fastest... But other than that I've been really enjoying my time in Spain and with Giants.”
Moving along that topic from SuperLiga to EU Masters again, Heretics are the sole representative of the SuperLiga left. The last Spanish hope. How do you think they’ll do in Knockouts against Unicorns of Love SE?
Advienne: I played them both, and I think that the Unicorns were a bit better, to be honest. I feel like Unicorns are solid; their mid/jungle play well in the mid-game, they know what's going on the map, and they don't make many mistakes.
For Heretics, we never really lost on anything like that. I think Heretics have good team fighting, and their bot laner Jakob "Jackspektra" Gullvag Kepple plays most fights very well. I would say that the Unicorns are probably the better team, but you never know, right? I hope that the last SuperLiga representatives can make something happen for the region, but for a prediction, I would say 3-1 to the Unicorns.
If you had to pick a winner for this EU Masters, which team would you say?
Advienne: I think it can be any one of the LFL teams, of course, but I would probably say that it's between Team BDS Academy, LDLC OL, and…maybe X7 Esports. That's what I would say. I think X7 was surprisingly good, and they would have been my dark horse pick.
How would you say your time has been with Giants so far? You joined in the summer after a less-than-ideal spring, so how would you say your time is with Giants so far compared to your time with Excel or BT Excel?
Advienne: It’s been nice, and honestly, I've been enjoying my time in Spain. I like the people here, and I think Giants have only provided good things. We have a great place where we live, and I think the food's also good.
But I guess in European Regional Leagues (ERLs), the scrims are a bit lower in level. I would have liked to still play at the highest level because that makes you improve the fastest. Some days I feel like it's harder to get pressured to the same level as you would in LEC scrims. But other than that, I've enjoyed my time in Spain and with the Giants.
On the LEC bit, let's just say that things didn't work out well for you in spring when Excel decided to bring Michael "Mikyx" Mehle. When the announcement came out, what were you doing at the time, and how did you take it when you found out?
Advienne: It was a blow because I didn't see it coming. But at the end of the day, that's competition, right? It was rough initially since I already had a relatively long off-season. I was excited to make that my season where I could break through because I would say that my career was still very young, and I still had a lot of jitters playing the LEC since I still didn’t have that much experience yet.
The season where I just came in from BT Excel was just to play the game, and the season after that was to try and make myself shine. I was just unfortunate that I didn't get that opportunity. Everything I was doing with my life at the time suddenly fell a bit flat. But in the end, it's competition, and this stuff happens. You just got to take it on the chin and keep going forward, so that's what I'm doing.
“I learned that sometimes bad things happen, but you can still go forward and that it's not the end of everything. You can still have a lot of fun playing the game, which I did this summer, and I think I learned over this season just to find my confidence and to play every game relaxed and confident.” - Advienne.
I imagined that it was probably not easy an easy time for you, especially with it being so late in spring, as well as most rosters being locked already. What did you resolve to work on before joining your next team? What did you work on in your off time?
Advienne: I had to find some confidence back, of course. You got to realize when you get benched whether you got replaced for lack of quality or because you're not that player you want to be yet. I think it was the latter; that's how I like to look at it. The most important thing was to regain my confidence and get a decent solo queue rank. Also, coming into this summer, my goals remained the same.
I wanted to develop my confidence in my play during this summer because I wasn't that confident before because my career had gone so fast and stuff like that. That's what I was looking at: to be fully confident, to realize what it means to be a good player, and to make sure that I'm using that confidence to be consistent in my games.
Was there anyone who helped you regain that confidence you were in this limbo period?
Advienne: I got good help from my agent, Fabian Broich, who was a sports psychologist at Excel before. He helped me a lot with just regaining my confidence and getting back on my feet. Talking with him helped, and just in general, meeting some of my friends from my university days, talking to people, and just relaxing a bit also helped.
Sometimes you have not to be fully involved in the scene and look at it from an outside perspective to realize what's happening and start changing stuff.
In that regard, would you say you were pressured to perform when you joined Giants since you wanted to show that you still had it in you, or did you just take it along as it came?
Advienne: I think there's always pressure to perform, right? You can come from LEC, but it's not like everything you touch is gold or something. You're just a player that has played on a slightly higher level, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything.
I still felt pressured to show that I was at the level that I came from, that I didn't get into LEC as a fluke, and that I could perform well. Of course, that's very important, and I still want to show that I have it in me to make LEC, so I kept that in mind.
To conclude this topic, what are your favorite memories from your time with Excel, and what lessons did you take from it?
Advienne: My favorite memories were probably from the academy team and in our first run into the EU Masters. We had a really good environment in our team, and we were always having fun together, and I think that contributed a lot to our results.
I guess my biggest lesson… might have just been when I got replaced. I learned that sometimes bad things happen, but you can still go forward and that it's not the end of everything. You can still have a lot of fun playing the game, which I did this summer, and I think I learned over this season just to find my confidence and to play every game relaxed and confident. I just feel so much better playing the game and a lot less stressed nowadays.
To The Future
So, Advienne to win EU Masters and make LEC again in 2023?
Advienne: Yeah, I hope I can go back to LEC for at least or try to return to LEC for next year. And if not, I'll surely try my best to get on the team and win EU Masters. This time finals won’t cut it; I have to win it!
Good luck! The last time you talked to me about your journey from university. If you weren’t competing in LoL, what would you be playing competitively?
Advienne: I don't think I would play any games competitively. I like League of Legends and everything about the game, from the mechanical aspect to the strategic aspects. I don't play that many games outside of this, so…if I wouldn't play LoL competitively, I would just be studying and doing some sports.
If you were back in university, what would you be studying, and what sport would you be playing?
Advienne: I was studying law, so probably that. For sports, I would mix it up; I would just go to the gym, play some football, and recently I've been enjoying climbing, so maybe that's something I’d pick up. Just live like a normal guy, I guess!
That's a fun way to end it. We've come to the end of the interview. Do you have anything else you'd like to add, or do you have any shoutouts to give?
Advienne: It was my pleasure. I enjoyed playing this season, and sadly we didn't get far, but I hope that I at least show them that I still have a decent level. And yeah, we'll see from there.
Thank you, Advienne, and best of luck going forward. The EU Masters Knockouts resumes today, and you can catch it on the EU Masters Twitch channel.