Team Heretics’ first year in the LEC was hit-and-miss. Respective eighth and ninth-place finishes in Winter and Spring were improved upon by a fourth-place finish in Summer, however the Spanish organisation showed little chance of pushing beyond that.
Now, sweeping roster changes have seen the extraordinary reunion of the former-G2 top side of Wunder, Jankos, and Perkz that won four LEC titles together, signalling a clear change in expectations for Heretics.
Ahead of the team’s appearance in the Red Bull League of Its Own exhibition tournament, Lee Jones (Esports.net) was given the chance to speak to jungler Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski and mid laner Luka “Perkz” Perković in a joint interview.
How did the reunion come about, is it something the three of you have planned for a while?
Jankos: I think we didn’t specifically look for a reunion. I just think that all of us still respect each other as players. I had different players presented to me, Peter Dun and our assistant coach were watching a lot of replays of different players – rookies and also veteran players.
“I had a very high opinion of Wunder and Perkz from playing together and also from watching their games. I just don’t think people become washed overnight.”
The energy would match in the team, especially with Flakked. The only one I was unsure of was Kaiser because I have never played with him, but I thought he was a very good player every time I saw him play. So it was mostly about having the same energy in the team and all being together and working towards the same goal.
Because Flakked is not the smartest person he will trust me on everything I’d say. Flakked and me bring positive vibes and I think Wunder and Perkz have a very similar energy. To me, after three or four days, it actually seems like Kaiser is very similar too. So I’m sure that we can back it up with results, not only having fun but also actually playing to win while enjoying the process.
Perkz, why do you think it never quite worked out on Vitality?
Perkz: It’s hard really to say exactly why it didn’t work out. We went from third in Spring to tenth in Summer. I think it’s maybe a little bit of a mix of us reading the patch wrong and then everything falling apart in three weeks. We have three games a week and each game you lose feels way worse. But it definitely was a big hit because we didn’t even have a chance to compete for the chance to play Worlds. I think just after two really poor years at Vitality, it was time for a change.
I’m still confident in my ability to play and compete to I just wanted to get a team where I can enjoy the process. I think that’s important.
Do you feel that there’s pressure for you to get back to winning titles to keep up your legacy?
Perkz: I definitely have a different mindset going into this year. I feel like I’m the underdog – like I’m a rookie. Even though I’m not a rookie, I do feel like it.
“I’m more eager to prove myself again. I don’t care about the past success, more about what I want to show for the next year. So it’s an important year for me to give my best again.”
Is there an added motivation to win more titles now that Caps has overtaken in terms of LEC trophies?
Perkz: Yeah, there are a lot of titles for us potentially to win. So we have to make sure we win so that we don’t let G2 keep stacking them. It would be nice to win at least a few of them. So, it’s definitely a motivation.
“The biggest motivation is to make it to Worlds. MSI as well.”
Competing internationally is the most fun that I’ve had, I think it’s something every player can strive for, to be able to prove yourself among the best in the in the world. So, this is kind of the primary goal. And I guess to get to MSI, we probably have to win a split as well. So the aim is to make it to international [tournaments].
With the trio formerly part of the G2 roster that consistently did damage internationally and competed with Eastern teams, do you think this Heretics roster could reach that level?
Jankos: I think for now, it’s very early to say because we just started playing together and the game is going to change quite a lot throughout the offseason. I don’t think we’ve had such big changes to the game in years. So it’s very difficult to say how the game is going look like and we’ve just got to learn it.
But like Luka said, the goal is to make it to MSI, to make it to Worlds, to fight for the number one seed in Europe – be it for MSI, be it for Worlds, or be it for the sake of winning medals and trophies. Then looking ahead to international competition and playing against the different teams around the world – yes, we want to beat them. But we can’t forget that to even get the chance to play against them, we need to be good domestically and we need to beat EU teams first.
Lee Jones: We’ve had a year of the new LEC format. One of the biggest changes is that there are now four finals, so essentially four winners throughout the year compared to two previously.
Do you feel like the weight of an LEC title is less than when you won yours?
Perkz: It’s easier and harder to win a split at the same time. For example, I think  G2 would have probably won both splits in the old system, but they actually managed to drop a split to MAD which I think would have never happened in the other system. That’s just my opinion, I think they were always the better team. So there are pluses and minuses to it.
It definitely diminishes the value of who has won. For example, last time in G2 we won four splits together. And I think that if it was the new system, we would have won, like, what, eight titles instead of four? But I don’t I don’t think it matters that much. It would be weird to call them the same as winning the old splits, so maybe it should be a cup or something instead of it being an LEC title. So for sure, there was that one thing that was not really considered too much, but in the end I don’t think it matters too much, honestly.
Lee Jones: Yourselves, along with Wunder, have shown great longevity and had success spanning years.
Do you think that such sweeping game changes in 2024 could be a benefit to Heretics seeing as your roster is more experienced in winning in different metas?
Jankos: That’s too early to say. If the meta is 1-3-1 heavy, then I do think we played pretty good 1-3-1 in 2018, but that was also five years ago and I do think that people can understand the game better [now]. Also, I want to add that the game this year, and last year, was played in a very easy-to-play way. I think it was hard to separate bad players from good players just because the game was always about grouping and fighting for objectives, and which team had the better draft was very often winning these fights.
If the game is more about 1-3-1, I do think it’s going to give us an edge because I just think we are smarter and we have a lot of experience. But if the meta is going to be similar [to 2023], then not necessarily much is going to change.
What are your thoughts on competing in the League of Its Own tournament?
Perkz: It’s going to be fun because you’re playing T1, who are world champs. It’s not that serious, but I still want to win and I want to prove myself in a way – where I want to make sure that I don’t have a bad performance there even though nobody is really expected to do anything. So it’s more like a ‘just go and play and give it your best’ situation. I’m looking forward to it, it’s going to be fun to face Faker.
Lee Jones: The League of Its Own is using a unique champion pool restriction, preventing T1 from picking champions previously used – reminiscent of Fearless drafting. We’ve also recently seen the Fearless draft used in some ERL tournaments.
What are your thoughts on the Fearless draft format and would you like to see it in the LEC?
Perkz: I think it’s fun. I don’t know how competitive it is. I think there is some skill in drafting as well, so drafting with champions in or out – you can see from two sides of the coin. But I think it’s definitely going to be fun to see how it works. I don’t know if I would implement it in a system like the LEC, but I think it’s fun to see.