Mousesports toplaner Niklot “Tolkin” Stüber: “I would absolutely love an all-Prime League EUM finals! Not only would it mean the trophy is definitely going to the DACH region, but also because we would be the likely winners, having destroyed Team GamerLegion in the Prime League playoffs.”
Prime League 2020 summer champions mousesports (mouz) seems to have finally match the hype attached to their roster. When mouz’s roster was revealed, many tipped them to be one of the strongest teams in the European Regional Leagues (ERLs), but spring was not meant to be.
For summer however, we now see a different beast. An immaculate run through the Prime League playoffs to now one step away from entering the European Masters (EUM) finals to cap off a stellar season. Toplaner Tolkin (the ‘CEO of Playoffs’) joins us today to talk about EUM summer, the team’s differences from spring, their current strengths, a little bit about Urgot and his famous Aatrox.
Thank you for accepting this interview. So for EUM quarter-finals, what a series against K1CK Neosurf! Tell us how you saw that series as a whole.
Tolkin: Coming into it, we were really hyped. Last EU Masters in spring we lost against a Polish team and I think their scene as a whole is really strong. It was exciting and fun to play against the Polish champion as the German champion.
For that series in Game 3, what really surprised me personally was mousesports letting Marcin “iBo” Lebuda play Renekton, a champion he has been exceptionally strong on. What was the decision making like in draft?
Tolkin: Obviously I cannot go into too much detail when it comes to drafting decisions, but having a good draft always requires you to make a trade or compromise somewhere. It wasn’t particularly fun for me to play against the Renekton + Nidalee combo, but I was confident I would be able to deal with it, and bring more value to the team as the game progresses since we were playing Shen + Hecarim.
With you guys knocking out K1CK, you now face AGO ROGUE, the team that knocked you guys out last season. How do you think the series will go and what do you think of their toplaner Mathias “Szygenda” Jensen, who has had a monstrous season so far?
Tolkin: Having knocked out the Polish champion already, it would feel great knocking out their runner-up as well. Bonus points for getting our revenge for spring too, so its personal for sure.
I think the series will be close. Just like K1CK, Rogue is a team you cannot underestimate. They have a wide array of strengths and one of them is Szygenda. He is a great player and it will be a fun matchup to play and to watch. I believe us to be rather similar players in terms of what role we fulfill in the team, and also in terms of champion pool.
That’s fair. So let’s assume mousesports makes it to EUM finals, who do you think you guys will face and why? Will it be an all-Prime League finals?
Tolkin: I would absolutely love an all-Prime League EUM finals! Not only would it mean the trophy is definitely going to the DACH region, but also because we would be the likely winners, having destroyed Team GamerLegion in the Prime League playoffs before EUM. Their midlaner is also an ex-teammate of mine and a friend, so it’s always more fun to play in those kinds of matches!
Unfortunately, I do believe them to be inferior to LDLC OL, but not by much. That series will be close and heavily dependent on who wins the coin toss for side selection, just like our series against AGO ROGUE.
Spicy, I like it! The summer season so far is shaping up to be much better than spring. How do you reflect on mousesport’s EUM run so far? What’s different this time around?
Tolkin: EUM summer always feels very different in comparison to spring. The meta is more refined as the patches are closer to the Worlds patch, it feels like more people are watching and the stakes are higher. Teams usually spend the last 10 months practising with unchanged lineups so there is more synergy compared to spring.
For us specifically, it’s clichéd but we were the definition of not playing to our strengths in spring. We played a very slow game and even played control mages in the mid lane, which is just unheard-of for mouz.
I think our run has been great so far, much better than spring. We've shown we can carry through all positions with different compositions, and we plan on going all the way!
This is interesting because if I’m not mistaken, despite winning the Prime League summer title you guys struggled quite a bit more during the regular season. But as playoffs and EUM came about, the team seemed to suddenly ‘click’.
Were you moments of struggling as a team this split due to not playing to your strengths? How did you guys overcome it?
Tolkin: You are not mistaken. Very early on in the split our starting midlaner (Adam “LIDER” Ilyasov) was unable to play for two weeks and we were forced to play with our sub, Trong “Rueven” Nghia Hoang. Unfortunately, the enemy banned Riven and those two games were against direct competitors in the standings.
But in the end we knew it wouldn't really matter. Just like K1CK, we finished fourth in regular season and ended up winning it all. We knew as long as we make the playoffs we would perform when it mattered. This is something I feel is very common this season not only for the ERLs, but also for the LEC teams and other major regions.
In that case, I’d like to ask you a little bit more on mouz’s strengths. A lot of people see mouz as a ‘skill check’ team, do you personally think this is a fair assessment? What do you think are mouz’s greatest strengths?
Tolkin: I really like the ‘skill check’ point and consider it a compliment, as I believe it to be true. If you are unable to match our aggression, you will not beat us. A lot of teams ‘handshake’ certain matchups and are happy with small leads, but we’re not afraid to press harder both in draft and in game for more advantages.
As the tournament progresses this becomes less significant, as only the best players and teams are still competing. But if there are any weaknesses we can exploit, we can easily run away with a game as you saw from our first game against K1CK.
I think this is the best way to play LoL, and it’s something you see the top Chinese teams do as well. Obviously, they do it much better than us but it’s a similar style. Season 10’s signature has been how impactful drakes are and they are so strong that the meta mostly revolves around securing them. So as a team with a 1-3-1 identity, we had to adapt as split-pushing isn't an option when such a major objective spawns.
We have become very good at teamfighting, even though we often draft champions that are somewhat unorthodox to outright teamfight with, and this is a great strength we have built upon ever since the Prime League playoffs.
Conversely, what do you think are mouz’s biggest weaknesses?
Tolkin: Naturally, if you always press harder and go for more bloody, risky style this strength can become a weakness. It’s a double-edged sword if your opponent can match you and completely shut down overaggressive plays.
On that note, it seems a lot of flack tends to be directed towards your jungler, Patrick “Obsess” Engelmann, if things don’t go well. But so far he’s been having an excellent EUM. What does Obsess bring to the team that can’t be seen by fans and spectators?
Tolkin: I think people just like to be stuck with their narratives. Many often continuously talk about "the LIDER show" and fail to see how so many of our games in Prime League playoffs was me popping off. They don't recognise how hard Obsess carried in the finals against FC Schalke 04 Evolution, or how our botlane duo can also hard carry.
Obsess literally went 10/0/10 in our game against GamersOrigin, and he was on the champion that needed to carry. That shows our trust in him and with good reason. So what does Obsess bring to the team that can't be seen by outsiders? Honestly, I don't know.
There’s no bullshit segment where I talk about his communication or something like that. He is just a very good, flexible jungler that can play the Sejuani for his carry champion solo lanes or Hecarim and run over our opponents.
Indeed, you’ve had some really standout games so far. I’d like to ask you a little bit about Urgot. Recently, you are one of the few players who pick him quite consistently. What about Urgot now in your opinion makes him so strong?
Tolkin: I believe Urgot went largely under the radar for a long time. He still has a lot of potential in the right situation and you can blind pick him too. A lot of his harder matchups are not doing too well ever since the repeated nerfs to the Conqueror Keystone, so now he can hold his ground and even beat a lot of champions with Press The Attack.
Urgot’s strengths are his very safe laning phase with a big power-spike on levels 9 and 13. He suffered a bit after Death’s Dance got nerfed due to Aphelios and Ezreal abusing it, however against tanks especially Urgot shines in front-to-back fights.
You are also known for a champion that’s almost not picked in the current meta: Aatrox. How do you feel about him not really being a meta pick and why is he so weak now?
Tolkin: Aatrox is a great champion and I absolutely love him! I enjoyed playing him a lot in the recent seasons, but he was meta for more than 2 years I believe in many forms, such as his old reviving ultimate to Riot removing it and so forth. He struggles right now because his sustain in lane took a hit and his ability to waveclear was hard nerfed as well.
The Conqueror nerfs and one of his known counters in Camille being so prominent right now just makes him a weak pick overall. Much better alternatives exist and although I miss him, it’s fine to rotate a champion out of the meta after being a staple for so long.
Since Aatrox most likely won’t be played for awhile in the competitive scene, do you have any tips for our readers who might want to pick him in solo queue and be as good as you?
Tolkin: I would heavily recommend against picking him right now and look to other champions instead. But if you must pick him…one tip that used to be important was to not use E on the first Q, unless your only intention is to poke.
Lots of people waste their E on the first Q and are unable to get a good chunk of hitting the first Q with the longest range. Use W and the second Q with E to make sure not only the passive auto-attack gets procced but also the third Q, unless your enemy has a mobility spell or flash, or is willing to take a lot of damage.
Those are great tips. Before we end, you’ve had a pretty interesting 2020 thus far. What are your personal goals for 2021?
Tolkin: That is a hard question to answer, as it’s never easy to plan ahead in esports. I have won the DACH League every year since I played in it and I don't want to add another year to that list. Ideally, I’d like to play in the LEC.
But for now I just want to focus on what’s right in front of me and do well in EUM, win it all and then look at what opportunities are available.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Tolkin: I want to thank the fans who have tried to compete with the Polish community in Twitch chat and on other social media platforms. It’s no easy task as they are very passionate and love their teams, especially Łukasz “Puki Style” Zygmunciak. I intend to do our fans proud this Saturday and Sunday!