The hotly anticipated Vainglory Unified Spring Championship is very nearly upon us. Rounding off the pre-tournament coverage at ESI we have an interview with four of the finest talent to grace the Vainglory scene. We spoke to Action Jackson, Xinyi, Humanist and Excoundrel ahead of the event to garner their thoughts on how the action will unfold at London’s prestigious O2 arena.
Our other pre-tournament coverage includes:
- An interview with Palmatoro, Fnatic;
- An interview with ttigers, Hammers Esports;
- An interview with Bo Daly, Super Evil Megacorp.
It’s safe to say that each and every one of the talents has one common theme running throughout their answers, and that is that they believe NA and EU could well be closer than ever. How will it shape up in London? Only time will tell.
ESI: Who is best placed to be the MVP at the Spring Championships this year?
Action Jackson: From the EU scene I think I would pick Hundor. From NA I would say VONC.
Xinyi: I’m going for VONC.
Humanist: My choice is BestChuckNA
Excoundrel: My NA pick is BestChuckNA and my EU pick is Hundor.
ESI: Which underdog has the best chance of causing an upset?
Action Jackson: Cyclone. This team can come out of nowhere with players like Waldemar who sometimes just turn it up a notch. He’s done it before, and I wouldn’t bet against him doing it again.
Xinyi: Fnatic. As a new roster, they had a rocky start to the season and I certainly had my doubts about how they would fare over the following weeks. They’ve shown remarkable progress over the past split in particular and I think they have a very good chance of upsetting some of the historically stronger teams.
Humanist: Fnatic. Although they ended fourth overall in points for Europe, they had weeks where they felt completely unstoppable. I think with them it’s a momentum thing. If they find their momentum early they could definitely ride it far.
Excoundrel: Gankstars. I think they could perform incredibly well at the live championship. They are my real underdog that I think can step it up to the plate when it matters most.
ESI: The NA scene is considered by the community as the strongest. How do you see them faring on EU soil? How have the two scenes grown alongside one another?
Action Jackson: The European scene has definitely grown but I feel like it’s in a completely different way. North America took a lot of lessons from Worlds and playing against EU teams. Europe’s approach, however, was to go back to the drawing board and try and do their own thing again. They have unique picks and playstyle compared the NA region. It’s really our first chance to see the different styles clash!
Xinyi: EU has always struggled in international and cross-region tournaments however this is the first time that these matches will be played on home soil. We’ve seen a lot of innovative compositions and strategies coming from the European teams that the North American teams will definitely have been studying. The growth we’ve seen from the European teams this season should mean that the skill discrepancy between the teams is a lot smaller leading to some hopefully very exciting matches at the upcoming Championships!
Humanist: The difference between regions historically has been that NA had many talented teams while EU only had a couple. As more EU teams improve, they challenge the best teams to become better. It feels like the top teams from EU have really studied the meta worldwide this season, which historically they have trailed behind in. The top teams from EU are so close in skill and strategy that if one of them beats an NA team, then any of them could do it.
Excoundrel: The NA teams traditionally have always performed well at live championships, whilst EU has always struggled to make their meta work outside of the region. This time round the playstyles/pick strategies feel a lot closer than in previous events and the top EU teams are in prime position to strut their stuff on home soil.
ESI: What are your thoughts on the potential and ability of the teams that played out in South East Asia and Manila?
Action Jackson: As one of the original regions of VG, SEA is definitely very strong. I couldn’t wait to watch the competiton in Manila – especially to see what sort of meta they were playing!
Xinyi: SEA has always been very unique in terms of meta and the region houses a collection of very highly-skilled individual players. They’ve tended to lag behind other regions in terms of team strategies and synergy and as a result have never done as well as anticipated on an international platform. I expect that this event was closely watched by all the regions in the lead-up to their respective championships and it will be exciting to see how some aspects will be integrated into other regional play!
Humanist: I think one of the most interesting things will be seeing which favoured compositions bleed into the Unified Live Championship in London.
Excoundrel: SEA teams have traditionally innovated a lot, more so than most other regions. With the event in Manila directly preceding the unified live championships it will be interesting to see whether tactics and draft strategies are picked up by our NA and EU teams in the Unified Championships.
ESI: What’s next for VG esports?
Action Jackson: I think the Unified Spring Championship is really going to set the pace for this year, with the competition between regions firing everyone up! I can only imagine the competition will continue to ramp up.
Xinyi: The Unified Championships will be a great stepping stone in terms of the development of Vainglory esports. The production and competition from previous Championships has been fantastic. As the other casters have said, it’ll come to down to capturing outside audiences and drawing them into the scene.
Humanist: It feels like the pace of VG esports has accelerated quite a bit this year! It’s hard to imagine what’s next, but my guess would be seeing a continued influx of new orgs and pro teams joining the scene as well as heightened viewer engagement and enthusiasm as teams continue to push the limits of what is achievable. Right now most esport fans tend to think of PCs and consoles as the only devices capable of playing a great video game on, but as VG gets exposure I think we will see new fans piling on-board the mobile train.
Excoundrel: VG esports will continue to grow, the challenge for SEMC and VG as a whole is finding the connection between the audience that currently plays VG and linking that to an interest in esports. VG has made leaps and bounds in engaging its audience and even using esports to draw outside attention – they are pioneering the mobile esports scene – it will only continue to grow and develop.