Team BDS is in its element after two weeks in the 2023 LEC Winter Split. The organization, which only won seven games in the entirety of the 2022 LEC season, has already raked in four wins so far with its revised lineup. BDS is well on its way to the best-of-three stage, but bot laner Juš “Crownie” Marušič sees plenty of room for improvement.

After BDS’ victory over Astralis, Crownie spoke with Em Dash about his return to the LEC after spending a year on BDS’ academy lineup. He discussed how he pulled through a tough period in his career, and what his role is on BDS as a veteran among less experienced players.

Crownie’s return to the LEC

Congrats, Crownie, on yet another victory for BDS. It’s already looking better than it ever looked in 2022. For you, this return to the LEC couldn’t have started better, right?

It’s pretty good, but it’s still quite early. I believe I’ve been good enough for the LEC since last year, when I wasn’t in the LEC. I thought I deserved to play in the LEC for sure, especially after [our bootcamp] in Korea. But sometimes, unexpected stuff happens that you can’t predict. Like, people just don’t agree, and they want other players to start.

It was hard, last year. Especially losing two LFL finals, losing EU Masters’ final… it was really tough. For now, things are working out. People are seeing that Labrov and I are good together. We’re a good team. We do some things well. There are some times when we are shaky, but it’s a very nice feeling overall. It’s very easy to fall out of the LEC and then struggle to get back. So, I’m very grateful that I managed to come back.

“We scrimmed BDS’ main team all year and we won 90% of the games against them. I was a bit mindblown that I was not playing, but I guess I just had to wait for my time to come.”

Let’s expand on that ‘struggle to get back’ because I can imagine that, especially if you feel that you’re good enough to play, it might be demotivating at some point if you don’t get a starting position.

I can agree with that for sure. The community also loves new players, so everyone always hypes up the rookies. [Laughs] It only gave me more motivation. I had a few people in the scene who stuck by me and gave me advice when I was feeling sad. I’m grateful for them.

I just kept grinding. We had a lot of scrims against LEC teams in 2022 and I was always doing well. So, I always believed that I was good enough. We scrimmed BDS’ main team all year and we won 90% of the games against them. I was a bit mindblown that I was not playing, but I guess I just had to wait for my time to come.

Things are good for now. A lot of teams have slow starts and we are benefitting from the synergy that we had before.

In the offseason, did you already know you were going to be a starter for the LEC team, or were you fighting for the spot?

I was told in the offseason that I would start on the LEC team. It was implied to me that they would give me a chance to prove myself in this organization. Then I found out that I was gonna play with Labrov, which I was happy about since we played together before and I think it’s important to have familiarity. I also knew the other three, since they were in the org already. I was pretty excited.

Crownie BDS LEC 2023
Crownie greets fans after another BDS victory. (Source: Michal Konkol for Riot Games)

Being a veteran on a young lineup

Although you have familiarity with the team, it’s still quite an inexperienced team altogether. Adam has been to Worlds, sure, but if we look at time played in the LEC, you’re the most-seasoned one. Do you think that matters for the team?

I would say the most experienced players are me and Labrov. Adam is in the middle, I would say. He did go to Worlds, but it was quite fast. The more splits you play, the more situations you’re familiar with. I would say me and Labrov know the most, so we try to lead people a bit. Both with what they want to play or should play, and how to play the game. We lead the discussions. I review the game a lot with him overall. I think Sheo learns pretty fast. He’s pretty talented. Nuc as well. They just needed a good environment to thrive in.

I’m also happy that my individual performance is good. I think it’s the most important, for me. I wouldn’t want to play in a team where I felt like I was getting carried. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling for me. It’s nice for me to see that I can still have clutch games on stage. I don’t really feel that nervous, nowadays. I guess that just went away with the years. [Laughs] In 2019, 2020, I was quite nervous on stage.

“I wouldn’t want to play in a team where I felt like I was getting carried. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling for me.”

You say you don’t want to be carried on a team. Do you feel the explicit need to be the superstar, or do you not want to ‘fall behind’ your teammates?

I wouldn’t say ‘superstar’ or something. I just always want to feel like I’m contributing to the draft, in-game, or outside of the game… I just don’t want to feel like a passenger. So far, I think it’s fine. I think playing stuff like Jhin suits us since I’m a bit more self-sufficient and I can set up my teammates well. They like to fight and play a skirmishy style.

I think it’s just about being confident in what you play, and then most things will work out. A lot of teams are still struggling with their identity. With the format changes, if you’re a confident team that knows what it wants to play, you can do some damage in the best-of-ones.

Crownie BDS LEC 2023
Crownie is happy about his return to the LEC, although he wishes it had come sooner. (Source: Michal Konkol for Riot Games)

Team BDS’ identity and growth

You’re giving me perfect setups for follow-up questions. [Laughs] I wanted to ask about the identity of this BDS lineup. You mentioned the scrappy style, and obviously, you carry over some experience from playing with the other players before. So, what is that vision of how you want to play the game?

I think, generally, we want to have strong lanes and get early leads. Today was a bit different because we were losing in the bot lane, but top was winning, jungle was winning, mid was even in a Sylas versus Syndra game, which is really good. But we want to pressure the bot lane, get early plates and drakes, like how we played against Fnatic. Our mid games are a bit weaker than our early game, so we had some issues transitioning our leads. For example, this happened against Excel.

We don’t want to scale and play slowly for 25 minutes. We saw that that wasn’t the optimal way for us to play the game, so we just leaned into the other style.

“In the end, you can’t win every game, but you just have to improve from game to game.”

You’ve had a great start with the team, but the year is long. Things can even change in the final week of the best-of-one stage of this split, and you might just drop out. How are you looking at the next weeks for BDS?

I would say we are pretty close to best-of-threes. If I understand the format well, one more win would lock us in 100%. If your score is 4-5, that’s like 8-10 at the end of last year’s splits, and that was generally enough for getting to the top 8.

So far, we are thinking a bit about best-of-threes. But, since the patch is gonna change and probably have a lot of impact on the bot lane, we still have a lot of focus on the best-of-ones. The goal is to reach best-of-threes, at least. So, everyone has it in the back of their mind.

We just want to show good games and show improvement on the things we didn’t do well. I think we could easily have won the Excel game. In the end, you can’t win every game, but you just have to improve from game to game. I think we’re doing a decent job at that.

Team BDS plays its next game on Saturday, Feb. 4th, 8 PM CET, against G2 Esports. You can watch the game live on the official LoL Esports site.