As it was in spring, back-to-back LFL champions LDLC OL won the LFL once again making top 8 once more in the Amazon EU Masters. Despite dropping a game to X7 Esports, they bounced back with a dominant second round robin performance and made it out of the group as first seed. Their eyes look towards the trophy once more.
The Swedish jungler of the foxes, Martin "Yike" Sundelin, has had an excellent year so far. From rookie at the start of spring to two times LFL winner and EU Masters finalist. Yike took time off before their quarterfinals match and spoke about his beginnings, some thoughts on EU Masters 2022 summer and the current jungle meta in this long interview.
Megalodontus, BLIX.GG: Most people know you now as a very good jungler, but I don’t believe they know your story. When did you start your career and how do you look back on it?
Martin "Yike" Sundelin: I think it was when I was still going to school and it was my last year. I was 18, just playing solo queue and I believe I was also Challenger then, and a Swedish team named Hybrid Esports contacted me. I never even thought of going pro, I was just playing for fun. But I kind of wanted to try it and they told me to play in the Swedish league with them. I said, “yeah, sure, why not” and joined the team.
Back then before the NLC, there was the old Nordic Championships where Nordic teams played to qualify from their local leagues. Sadly, we came top three in Sweden and didn't make it but it was really fun for me and I was really hoping to continue my pro journey after that.
I stayed with Hybrid for one year and kept playing in the Swedish League just to get a feel of the feeling of playing competitively. After that, I just started joining other teams and built myself up while climbing up the ERL ladder. From the Swedish League I went to the PG Nationals, the LFL Division 2 and now I'm playing in the LFL with LDLC OL.
BLIX: Sweden is very reputed for its Counter-Strike: Global Offensive scene, what made you choose League of Legend as the game you wanted to go pro in?
Yike: I started playing LoL since [sic] season two and I always loved playing competitive games. I guess this one’s not competitive but I also played a lot of Minecraft and things like that. I just got a really nice feeling playing those games and especially League of Legends. I never stopped playing that game. I just kept playing it and it got even more fun when I started to climb to Diamond, Master then Challenger.
On CS, I do play a lot of CS:GO with my friends. Usually, we mostly chose to play either LoL or CS and I guess we had phases of us playing CS then switching back to LoL. I have around 2000 hours on CS but I was not the best at that game, so that's why I kept playing LoL and stuck to it.
BLIX: You were considered a rookie when you joined LDLC back in spring 2022. Joining such a big organization in France, especially in the LFL as a rookie, was there a lot of pressure on yourself when you first joined? If there was, how did you overcome it?
Yike: I played in the LFL Division 2 and the PG Nationals, which were not that big in comparison, so it was actually a really big step for me to join the LFL. It was also the first time that I had to travel to another country, live there and play with my teammates on-site. That was a really scary thing for me. However, everyone in the team comforted me and I felt very safe in the team so it went on really smoothly.
Also, I think one thing that also made it less stressful was that I knew it didn't go that well for LDLC last year, so when I joined the team it was not like there were the biggest expectations. I guess that made it somewhat easier for me.
BLIX: On that front, how did your parents react to you wanting to start a career in professional gaming and you needing to move to another country to live in with LDLC?
Yike: So in the beginning, I didn't talk much about, like, about my LoL career with them, when I was playing in the lower leagues, because it didn't really matter that much. I didn't really earn any money and there weren’t many viewers overall. When I told them that I'm actually going to play in the LFL, a really big league, and I have to move to another country, they were really surprised.
My mother was mostly scared because she wouldn't know how I would do, how it would be for her son to live in another country and live with other people, because I've always been at home with my parents. But my dad was happy and he encouraged me to go for it. He knew this was a good opportunity for me so he supported it. My mom also supported it but she was just more worried about my well being and the like.
BLIX: That's sweet. Do they continue to keep up with your results and support you on social media?
Yike: Yes, they do! Right now, my dad watches all of my games and it makes me really happy. He writes to me almost every day and he also goes on Twitter and tweets a lot about me or likes my tweets.
It’s also the same with my mother since she’s also got Twitter now and she’s using it quite often. She's from Peru, so she writes in Spanish and it's kind of funny. She goes to my tweets and writes a lot of supportive messages to me, same with my dad. They're really supportive right now and it makes me really happy.
"I think Dusty is a really interesting team, their playstyle is really different to every other team in the tournament. Even though the meta still favours more supportive junglers, I know Lyncas likes to be the carry of the team and likes to play Graves or Taliyah to lead the team. I respect that because I pretty much like to play that style of jungling too. I think it will be a fun matchup in the jungle!” - Martin "Yike" Sundeli
BLIX: From your time playing till now, do you or did you have any players that you look up to?
Yike: I would have to say Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski from G2 Esports. I was lucky enough to play against him in some games and I think he's really really smart and good at the game. He's played for so many years and I respect him a lot. I think his view of the game is really insane and I want to play like that as well when I get older [laughs].
BLIX: How long do you see yourself playing for?
Yike: I have no idea. I'm not young right now…well, I guess I'm kind of young and I want to play like as long as I can. I don't know how long it'll be, maybe up to 30. Maybe? You never know.
BLIX: Since you mentioned Jankos, here’s a fun one. If let's say LDLC played in the LEC now, where do you think you’d place?
Yike: Hmmm…that's a hard question. I really think we would for sure make playoffs with this roster that we have right now, from what we know of the other LEC teams. I think playoffs is at the very least possible. And then in playoffs… I could see us making maybe top five, even top four if we played really good.
I'm extremely confident in my team. We have scrimmed LEC teams as well and so far everything is going well for us. I'm confident with the team and I think we would be pretty good in LEC, honestly.
BLIX: Okay, so the headline will be “Yike says LDLC will spank G2”...
Yike: Oh, no, no, no, don’t say that! G2 stomps us [laughs]!
BLIX: Moving along then, we can move on to the main topic which is the European Masters. Congratulations on making top 8. What differences do you see so far from your run currently and your run in spring?
Yike: Thank you. I think we have less pressure on us now because in the spring, it went really well for us at the start of EU Masters where we didn't lose a single game until the finals. I think that put a lot of pressure on us.
But this time, we already lost the game in our second game of EU Masters so it feels a bit different for us. I think we're not as pressured or worried anymore. Now we just have to play our game and we should do well.
BLIX: Everyone's saying that the LFL will rule EU Masters again, so do you foresee it being a four LFL teams in semifinals to an LFL finals again?
Yike: There's actually a good chance that it will be four LFL teams in semis from how it's looking right now since three LFL teams are first seed and Vitality.Bee are second seed. I think the non-LFL teams I could see going to semis would be Unicorns of Love Sexy Editions or Team Heretics. I think X7 or Dusty could also compete, but the LFL teams for sure have an edge over them.
BLIX: Speaking of Dusty, LDLC will be facing them next. What do you think of them and how do you think the match will play out with you against Linas "Lyncas" Nauncikas?
Yike: I think Dusty is a really interesting team, their playstyle is really different to every other team in the tournament. Even though the meta still favours more supportive junglers, I know Lyncas likes to be the carry of the team and likes to play Graves or Taliyah to lead the team. I respect that because I pretty much like to play that style of jungling too. I think it will be a fun matchup in the jungle!
They also have my ex-teammate, support Paul "Stend" Lardin who I played with in Team Oplon last year, so it will also be fun to play against him.
BLIX: On LDLC itself, last season your bot laner Thomas "Exakick" Foucou said LDLC works well because of something akin to “the power of friendship”. When I interviewed your mid laner Jérémy "Eika" Valdenaire, he more or less agreed with it. In your opinion, what makes LDLC function so well? Do you guys bond very well outside Summoner’s Rift as well?
Yike: Yeah, I agree with what they said, I think we bond really well when we play together. Since the first trials we had, it has gone really smoothly and it was really easy to play with them, and I realised that we would be a good team. But when we played together in person and the way we interact in real life, it's also really insane.
We're all really happy together and we all bond really well. We can joke or talk about anything and no one feels alone or left out. We're all together a lot of the time and I think it has helped us a lot.
“My dad watches all of my games and it makes me really happy. He writes to me almost every day and he also goes on Twitter and tweets a lot about me or likes my tweets. It’s also the same with my mother since she’s also got Twitter now... They're really supportive right now and it makes me really happy.” - Martin "Yike" Sundeli
BLIX: In that case, what’s the team's favourite pastime activity together outside of playing League of Legends?
Yike: [pause] That’s a hard question because we play a lot of LoL together, you know? We don't do that much outside of LoL, honestly. But whenever we do a team activity it’s often a sports activity. The last time we played Padel together and that was really fun. I think the sport activities like that could be super fun for us to play together more often.
BLIX: I know you’ve been asked a lot on your Kha’Zix pocket pick before, so I’d just like to get your thoughts generally on the jungle meta at the moment. What do you think of jungle and champion diversity at the moment?
Yike: I think this jungle meta is for sure different than the last EU Masters and even LFL. It's a lot of champions that just perma ganks or plays for the team, like Trundle, Poppy, Vi and Sejuani. I would say it's not really my favourite meta for junglers but I obviously I’m a pro player so I have to adapt and do my best to make things work.
BLIX: Speaking of adaptation, you've picked Bel’Veth recently which is very different from the champions you mentioned. What are your thoughts on Bel’Vethas a champion and how do you make her work?
Yike: I see her like Viego in a way, I think they're kind of similar. I love Viego and I play him a lot, so for me it’s been really good to play Bel’Veth the same way as I play Viego. Usually Bel‘Veth is played in combination with other champions like a combo, with Sejuani for example, which I think is a super good combo and that's what we played a lot in EU Masters as well. The plan is just play for top lane and getting Bel’Veth fed and if Be’Veth is fed, she's just super broken.
BLIX: Before we end, as you are now assured top 8, are there any junglers or teams you wish to meet or a team you want to meet in the finals If you make it there?
Yike: The most hyped teams to play against would be Vitality.Bee or Team BDS Academy. I will say I think their junglers Duncan "Skeanz" Marquet and Théo "Sheo" Borile are really good. Those are the teams we played in the LFL playoffs and they really pushed us to the limits. It would be really fun to play a rematch with any of them in the finals.
BLIX: We've come to the end of this long interview. Is there anything else you'd like to add or any shoutouts you’d like to give?
Yike: I want to shoutout my family and my girlfriend supporting me for everything. Also, thank you to all the people supporting me and my team. A lot of people send me supportive messages and DMs and it means a lot to us!
Thank you Yike and best of luck in the top 8. The EU Masters Knockouts resumes on September 15th and you can catch it on the EU Masters Twitch channel.