Let’s rewind our clocks back one full year.
All those who play League of Legends professionally wished they were playing in Worlds 2022 while a select few players were actually competing on the world stage to show their talent and determination. Among those who imagined the biggest spotlight on themselves were BDS, one of the newest additions to LEC.
To make this dream come true, they promoted their academy roster to the LEC with some new additions and surprised everyone by performing way better in Spring than anyone would have guessed, almost winning the whole split and going to MSI.
And now we’re back at Worlds, and here BDS are, as one of the select few.
We spoke with BDS’ support Labros "Labrov" Papoutsakis about making it to Worlds, making it out of play-ins, the wake up call of losing and his thoughts on the format changes.
Note that this interview was recorded before BDS bested PSG Talon on October 15th.
BDS in the Play-in
Aykut Sapaz, BLIX: Hello Labrov, thank you so much for your time and congratulations on getting to the advancement stage where you will face PSG Talon tomorrow for a shot at Worlds Swiss stage. What were your expectations before going into this game?
Labros "Labrov" Papoutsakis: I feel like Oyster is like a good team. Especially their bot lane has some power picks like the Draven and the Blitz that you need to respect in some scenarios and they can pressure bot lane well which they did this game. But I was confident that if we play well as a team and perform well individually, we should be able to win.
BLIX: So you went in there going for a fight, but did you know you would come out on top?
Labrov: Yeah, kind of. I mean, I don't want to underestimate them but I feel like we're a pretty solid team. I don't want to sound too cocky but I think we can beat almost any team. I think tomorrow will be a good challenge because PSG so far has looked the best. I want to see how we will be against them.
BLIX: Yeah, PSG is usually the team that advances in MSI, in Worlds. Let's be honest, nobody expected BDS to be here at the start of the year. But as the year went, you guys evolved, you guys showed strength, and now you're at the biggest stage in the world for League of Legends. Was this what you expected when you joined the team? Did you think you would end up here?
Labrov: To be honest, considering how my previous years have been in the LEC and joining a bottom-tier team from the start of the year, if someone told me I would be at Worlds right now, one game away from MSI and winning the split, I would call them completely crazy.
But yeah, I'm very happy with how it has been going and I'm very thankful to my teammates and to the staff, my teammates for playing so well and trying their hardest and pulling away the differences that we might have. And same for our staff, they have been doing an insane job. I feel like the manager in BDS is insane. We never miss anything, so maybe that's the reason we are doing so well, unironically.
One stage nearly done, two to go...
BLIX: You guys went through great lengths to get here, but you still have a mountain to climb even if you beat, PSG. You have the main stage. Is there someone you're excited to face in the main stage if you make it there?
Labrov: Well, I don't want to look too far. I just want to take tomorrow's game first. But I think if we manage to make it there, facing any team from any top team from Korea and China will be really nice. I think we will be able to learn so much because they're very, very good.
BLIX: So, it's the top fighters you want to go against. You know, the road to getting there is great, but the road you've passed already is also great. You lost the first time but you're still taking down teams in the lower bracket. Did that affect you in any way, like losing your game to go down to the lower bracket?
Labrov: Yeah, it affected us in many ways. First of all, I think it was a reality check for everyone. Because I feel like we were very prepared for the Golden Guardian series. But after that, we took the day off the day after instead of scrimming or at least doing some solo queues or preparing and stuff. We completely took it off and I think we for sure underestimated Team Whales. I think they're pretty solid. We were not in our best shape individually. Also from a draft perspective, I think we didn't try to add many tools or show many tools during the series. We kind of slacked in many ways.
Maybe it's actually not bad to lose like this to Team Whales and then come back to reality and see we still have many issues that we should work on and improve. And yeah, I think maybe in the end, we will manage to make it.
BLIX: So it was a very good wake-up call for you guys indeed. That's great to hear, never too late to start going back at it. Speaking of Team Whales, they're going to be playing against GAM tomorrow. We're going to see a Vietnamese team advance no matter what. Who do you think it will be?
Labrov: Honestly, I have been very impressed by Team Whales’ play style. Their bot lane has impressed me a lot, and same for their mid laner. And although I think they lost to GAM in the finals in their region, I would say Team Whales has been having a momentum so far. I think it will be close, but if I have to guess someone, I would put Team Whales, personally.
BLIX: Very insightful. And I also wanted to ask, this is the first year we're seeing this type of Worlds. We're going to see Swiss, we're seeing Best of Threes in play-ins, and we've seen you in the World Qualifying Series. So, I feel it's the best to ask you this question: What do you think about the new format?
Labrov: It's definitely very interesting. I think generally, I feel like switching and not having the same format for 10 years in a row can be a good idea just to see, because this format is also in, if I'm not wrong, some other games. And yeah, I like it personally. And yeah, I think it's very interesting. And hopefully, we will win tomorrow so we can feel it even further.
BLIX: Hopefully you get to experience the whole format, but we'll see how it goes. Thank you so much for your time, Labrov. Lastly, is there anything you want to say to BDS fans out there who are very excited for your rise?
Labrov: Yeah, I want to thank all the BDS fans for supporting us so much. Here in Korea, everything is so amazing. The people here are so wholesome. It honestly feels great. And yeah, I want to say thank you to the fans and we will try our hardest to not disappoint you in Europe.
Header Credit: Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games