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SK Gaming coach Swiffer: “I think something that’s been letting us down is our early-game”

After a disappointing 0-2 week, SK Gaming sit at a 1-4 record. Swiffer joins us to talk about their progress as a team so far as well as his personal goals and expectations for spring.

SK Gaming came into the LEC 2022 Spring Season with Erik “Treatz” Wessén roleswapping back to his original position and adding two new players, as well as bringing in head coach Simon “Swiffer” Papamarkos to the lineup. Swiffer has had a long stint with Excel Esports’ academy team, he won the NLC and made the EU Masters finals last spring, and now he’s competing on the big stage.

First and foremost, thank you so much for joining me on this interview, Swiffer. Commiserations on the loss against Excel. What are your thoughts on that game, especially with that crazy ending?

Swiffer: Thank you, pleasure to be here. Actually, because we’re on a delay, I haven’t had a chance to see the ending yet. I kind of saw up until the point like where we were basically holding our own in the game, so that’s something that I’m just going to go back and watch over in a bit.

I think we kind of knew what they were going to draft. There were some question marks, for example, like top lane etc. I think for the most part, we were comfortable with what we picked. I was very proud of how tenacious the guys were when some of the plays didn’t work out in the early to mid-game, and how we managed to compose ourselves and then seemed to start making a comeback towards the mid to late-game. I thought that was really, really well done.

I also think it reflects on the decent practice that we were able to do, considering that has been something that we’ve been working on coming into this week.

You’ve picked up one victory but also four defeats, how would you evaluate SK Gaming’s run in the LEC so far and what do you think you guys need to work on moving forward?

Swiffer: I think something that’s been letting us down is our early-game, and I think that’s obvious from statistics across the board. It’s something that we generally didn’t value super highly going into the beginning of the spring, just because we thought that teams wouldn’t be able to necessarily close out with early-game leads against us. We thought that if we had focused on other parts of the game that would be better for the long term health of the team.

Going into the next couple of weeks, because I do feel like we’ve made significant progress in our mid and late-game, I think we just need to really refocus our efforts on those early parts of the game and our early macro.

I’d like to ask you a little bit about facing Excel, and I know you mentioned it on broadcast with Laure. You faced Markoon and Advienne, but not just them. You also faced Youngbuck as well, someone I think you probably worked closely with at Excel. What was it like facing all of these people you’ve worked with for a long time?

Swiffer: I thought they played exactly how I thought they were going to, I was very deliberate in scouting exactly what they would want to do and everything like that. Henk (Advienne) and Mark (Markoon), if they get out of lane, they’re very, very productive around the map and I think it showed in the game. I think we matched it quite well. Some stuff happened in the early portion of the game that didn’t allow us to maybe take the fights on as equal odds as we would have liked.

And for Joey (Youngbuck), I learned a lot from him, obviously, being under him for two years. I was maybe a bit nervous but also, quite excited going up against him. I think there were a couple of mind games going into the drafting phase, which I thought was quite funny. I had a lot of fun but the result was ultimately disappointing that we weren’t able to get the win.

I’m happy for them as well because some part of me still wants to see past colleagues and teammates succeed. I just wish that it wasn’t at the cost of our own success.

I’d like to ask you a little bit about accepting the position on SK Gaming based on what you mentioned on broadcast. You mentioned that you were hesitant to accept the role for the SK project, what made you finally decide to accept the offer? Was it the scope of the project in LEC or something else?

Swiffer: Going into it initially, it was something that always was my goal and that was to end up in the LEC or at least, a top level league. The thing that caught me off guard was that it came about a lot quicker than I thought it would. I didn’t know if I was quite ready for it.

I had time to think about it, of course, and then I came to the conclusion that this was something that I wanted to do. I think that pressure that I would face, and as you said, the scope and magnitude of the project, as well as the stakes being a lot higher was just something that I just had to make sure that I was ready for.

I took a few days to think it over and I came to the conclusion that I was, and that was where the apprehension basically stopped. And then I was fine from that point on.

Belated congratulations on making LEC then! Since your background comes from working with an academy team, do you guys work very closely with SK Prime?

Swiffer: The head academy coach Max “Raqo” Temminck and I, we do keep in contact quite a lot. I keep him up to date on the things that we’re working on and he does the same with me. As for the players, I kind of want him to develop more, rather than me just kind of stepping in and telling him or the players what to do. So he has a lot of freedom to develop the players on his own. If he ever feels like he needs another opinion, I’m always around of course.

I’ve interviewed a few of your former players before because I cover the NLC as well, and a lot of your players always spoke highly of you and tell me you’re very gifted with developing players and coaching etc. Currently, you have a rookie on the team in Sertuss, how is he fitting into the team? Are you working with him more closely than the other players to adapt to LEC life?

Swiffer: I think we have preconceived notions about things like simple macro and stuff, and basically the difference between what it takes to win in the ERLs and what it takes to win in the LEC, I think is significantly different, whilst maintaining some of the same qualities. So what I work on the most with Sertuss is probably how he wants to play like mid-game, maybe some things in the early-game that he maybe could have gotten away with in the ERLs that he may keep can’t do anymore. And also incorporating him into the wider team, macro and all of that.

Also, that’s really nice, I didn’t realise that my former players thought so highly of me when all I hear from them is how I run down draft every single time we play! So that was really nice to hear. But I think the main thing that has stayed the same is basically getting everyone on the same page, which is the majority of the job. I do think we’re on the way to it but we still have some work to do.

Since you are new to the LEC, what are your personal goals and expectations for spring?

Swiffer: For me, I’m always happiest if I feel like the team has come together, and we’re winning or losing as a team. That’s kind of whether I know I’ve been successful or not.

In terms of actual placements and maybe more tangible goals, playoffs are definitely something that’s on the horizon for us in terms of long term achievements for myself. I do eventually want to win the NL- the LEC (laughs), and I also want to make an appearance at Worlds in the long run. Hopefully not as far into the future as people might expect, but I mean, I hope to do it with this roster

Well, you’ve already won the NLC! This is just a funny question before we end. I saw on Twitter that you were holding Spawn’s child and joking about how you can’t go past two wins. How is SK Gaming going to get their third win?

Swiffer: I need Jake to hurry up and have more children, because it seems to be a correlation that exists now. And so now that he’s set it our preconceived notion to winning, I suppose that that is like that’s the plan going forward. That’s what our team strategy meetings are going to be all about!

We’ve come to the end of the interview. Do you have any final words on any shoutouts you’d like to give?

Swiffer: I just want to say thank you for the interview, very nice to talk to you. And to everyone that is following us on SK, continue to stay with us. I promise you that we will make a splash.

Thank you Swiffer and best of luck in the coming weeks.

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