With a 1-2 score at the end of the first week, Team Heretics experienced a rocky start to their LEC debut. The organization, which took over the slot from Misfits Gaming last year, is fighting for a spot in the top eight by the end of week 3. Veteran jungler Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski expected there to be bumps in the road, though. Heretics’ lineup is comprised of five players from five different teams, and it takes some time to get everyone on the same page.
During the opening weekend of the 2023 LEC Winter Split, Jankos spoke with Em Dash about joining Heretics, sliding into the team leader role, and how he views the journey ahead with his team.
Finding a home at Team Heretics
Welcome, Jankos. The LEC is finally back, and for you, it means playing in a new jersey for the first time since 2018. In the offseason, you initially said it might get difficult for you to find a team. When and how did you end up on Team Heretics?
In the offseason, I was considering stepping down from the LEC for a split. There were some… issues that made it so I couldn’t join many teams, so to speak. But in the end, I decided on competing. We have Bo3’s, we have a new system, and we have a lot of jungle changes.
Overall, I really wanted to compete and I felt like, if I would take a break, streaming would take over and I would enjoy that more. I really like streaming as well, but I really want to compete and I still feel like I still have a lot to give to the rookies. If G2 doesn’t value me anymore, I’m sure that there are teams that can value me.
“I was considering stepping down from the LEC for a split. (…) I really like streaming as well, but I really want to compete and I still feel like I still have a lot to give to the rookies.”
Which players were confirmed to be on the Heretics lineup when the team approached you?
I knew every player when Heretics approached me. They were still discussing with some players, but I somewhat knew what they wanted to do. They wanted to keep [Jackspektra] from the academy team, and I knew that he was gonna play with Mersa. The bot lane was decided. Ruby as well. I think only the top lane, Evi, was something that back then was not sure. But I’m happy with the roster. I think that we have a mix of veterans and people from [ERL]. There are many things to improve on, but I think we have the potential to be a decent team.
Jankos as Heretics’ team leader
In terms of team coherence, I think people assume that you’re the one with the task to glue the team together, as such an experienced player. Is that the role you’ve taken on?
Hm, I think that it’s just that I know a lot because I’ve been through a lot. Not only about the game, but also about how things area in the LEC and esports. I can guide them through the whole journey of joining the LEC, what to expect, and what the days are gonna look like. I can maybe give them recommendations for routines and how we should work from practice to practice and day by day in the LEC. This is why I’m a big voice in Heretics.
But I think every voice is valued, right? We want everyone to be able to speak up and voice their opinion. I think we have a very, very smart coaching staff. I feel like the coaching staff has been stepping up a lot to make us better. I think we are all learning together.
“We want the play to be natural. We want it to feel fluid. It’s something that we struggle with. (…) There are many things we have to be better at, but I have a lot of hope for the team.”
How do you reflect on these first few weeks with Heretics?
So far, I think the journey was difficult in Heretics. I think that we have many things to improve on. But comparing when we started the bootcamp in Madrid to now, we play much, much better. Our game understanding is better. Slowly, we are breaking the language barrier. Everything is gonna take time. But the goal is to make it to Worlds by the end of the year. Hopefully, we can showcase better play earlier than that. So far, I don’t think it’s terrible. I still think we are definitely not a top team, by a huge margin. [Laughs] But I would place us as a middle-of-the-table team.
It’s gonna be a long journey, but it’s very fun. When I played in G2 for so many years, and someone would join our team, we already had a way of playing the game. We would make people play the same way. But now, we are exploring things because we are a brand new team. It’s something that I haven’t experienced in four or five years. It’s very nice to feel the fresh air and change teams.
Is there something you’re specifically focussing on with regard to improving the team? For example, I can imagine that it’s hard to find an identity with so many new players from different rosters. At the same time, you all might have different ideas about how the game should be played.
I think, at this point, we’ve somewhat found our identity already. What we really want to work on now is our macro game. Of course, the laning phase and how we want the play the early game with the jungle are very important, but it’s our macro in our mid and late-game that suffers the most.
First of all, we need to improve our macro by improving our knowledge. But we also need to bring everyone together to agree on plays so that, when we see a play on the map, we can make it happen instead of thinking, “Oh, what are we gonna do next?” We want the play to be natural. We want it to feel fluid. It’s something that we struggle with. Somewhat because of the language barrier, somewhat because everyone came from a different team and has a different background. There are many things we have to be better at, but I have a lot of hope for the team.
A long journey, together
Outside of the game, the team environment is obviously also very important. It’s something we saw with you on G2 as well. In 2021, it wasn’t ideal, but in 2022 you were the fun uncle to players like Flakked and Broken Blade. How is that in Heretics?
We have a pretty decent vibe. We do things together. I’m trying to bring the G2 vibes to Heretics. It didn’t work completely because people like different things, and you have to approach different people differently. We try to hang out a lot. We go for team dinners, we play board games. Evi is a huge board game fan. We go out, talk a lot, chit-chat, and make jokes, so I think it’s pretty chill. It will definitely help us throughout the hard times. I think the hard times didn’t come yet. In the end, we just started LEC. Who knows what is waiting for us?
“We started behind everyone else and we need to work hard to catch up with other teams and get ahead of them.”
Well, what do you think is waiting for you? What are the milestones you’re gunning for?
Currently, we want to make it to the Bo3’s. I think that is a realistic goal. After that, we want to make it to the top four. That will be a bit harder because we have to win against very good teams. Again, something very important to realize, is that we either need to work twice as hard as everyone else, or we need to work faster. We are a new team, we are coming from completely different backgrounds. We started behind everyone else and we need to work hard to catch up with other teams and get ahead of them.
In the end, everyone is trying to improve. Everyone is trying to be better. If the pace we are improving at is not fast enough, maybe we will become a better team, but everyone else will become even better. To be in the top four, we really have to step up a lot. [Laughs] Work smart, hard, and fast.
Team Heretics plays its next game on Saturday, Jan. 28th, at 8 PM CET against KOI. You can watch the game live on the official LoL Esports site.