Maurice "Amazing" Stückenschneider
So you just won the tournament – your first championship since the Challenger Series with Origen. How do you feel?
I feel pretty good, confident and happy about everything because we came into this event and knew that we probably had jetlag coming in, but that wasn't even the case. We just came here, felt really good about ourselves, and did what we had to do basically.
Yeah, it seemed like of all the teams at the event you guys “had it together” the most. How long have you been playing with PowerOfEvil?
Actually just a week, maybe a week and a half. We just recently decided to go for him, so we acquired him and started practicing with him. I'd been duo queueing with him for a bit beforehand, so I could get to know him a bit better. But we just practiced for one, one and a half weeks maybe, came in here, and enjoyed our time.
So how did that end up happening? I know xPeke was talking about taking a step back, but how did you end up with PowerOfEvil?
I don't think there's this thing where “xPeke wanted to step back” was in the air. It was more of a decision that just came in as soon as he noticed that for this offseason he wasn't able to practice and just had to focus on the management side, so we had to make a short term call. Peke informed us that he's probably not going to be able to play at IEM, and therefore I decided to look around because I had time in the offseason coming in and I was kind of eager to play solo queue anyway. I decided to try out a couple of mid laners, already knew PowerOfEvil because he's German and I'm German, so we had that coming in. When I felt that he was actually smart enough and social enough to be on the roster, I gave Peke the get-go, and he decided to sign him.
PowerOfEvil and xPeke, at least on the surface, seem like very different people – they have very different champion pools and PowerOfEvil is very new guy while xPeke is one of the biggest veterans in the scene. How has slotting him into that role affected your team?
It didn't affect the team at all. Usually you get into rhythms and automatic things that some players that come into the roster may not know yet. Automatic rotations – we say something and mean it a certain way – so in the beginning, for the first three days, we had to work him into those automatic rhythms, and when he was actually settled in and knew what we meant with what we were saying it was pretty easy to work with him. There was no difference for us. He's pretty fast learning, and he's already good at English, so there was no issue for us.
Champion pools being different was a bit weird for us, that he has different priorities, but it's not that we have to completely change our playstyle. Him playing priority mid champions, like Cassiopeia especially, makes it easier for me as a jungler to work with him than Peke, especially last year because of the meta he had to play around a lot of control mages and wasn't able to be an aggressive mid lane. So I had to take a step back and try to see what can I do and what I can't do, and in most cases it was more of a can't do side. Now with him playing in that mid lane that he prefers, it's really easy for me to say “okay we can do this, we can do that” and execute on it.
Now that you've seen your new mid laner in action with the team and it's gelled really well, how are you guys thinking – at least so far – about approaching the next split? I know, for instance, that CLG said they were going to have two mid laners but ended up just going with one for the whole split. Do you think that Peke might be more inclined to stay out and take more of a managerial role during the next season?
I don't necessarily think so. I think PowerOfEvil performing this well actually motivates him to a certain extent. Because the management side is not just up to him, you know, so he's probably going to look for people that are competent enough to allow him to fully practice again and therefore maybe take a step back, as he already did, but not be completely retired, which is the plan anyway. So come Spring Split, he's going to be able to practice again and we'll actually have this two-man system coming in. At that point, I think our roster is going to be really, really strong. Peke, what he likes to do is be this really clutch player that really does whatever he wants to, where PowerOfEvil can more or less fill the role that Peke had last year. He's going to be that control mage guy, he's going to do this, he's gonna do that, and we're going to have this basic rhythm with him. Whereas when it's really, really important, I think Peke's going to be the one to take a step in again.
Looking back a little bit, it's been a little while since Worlds and you've had a little time to digest it. You made Top 4, which is pretty insane for a new team, but how do you see your personal performance and the performance of your team removed from that a little bit?
I think we learned from Worlds. I personally learned again, that whenever you play the season and you come in with a new patch and all that, and you play versus domestic talent, you usually actually become worse in my opinion. Come Worlds, we had everyone coming in bringing their own strategies, bringing the metagame from their distinctive regions, you learn a lot more about the game and you actually play the game and understand the game on a higher level. Using that here at IEM made us seem way stronger than the competition – it's just how it is. I don't necessarily think we're better right now than we were at Worlds, but we used what we learned at Worlds pretty well to bring out the best performance in us and in myself.
What are some of the things that you took away from the games at Worlds that you're going to try and incorporate going forward into the next split?
I think side lane dives are things that most people stay away from, or just in general dives, and the support/jungler synergy that we already established kind of in the Summer Split was enhanced by the fact that we played against the best jungler/support duos in the world, and so we could use that and just making the right calls every time basically.
Going forward into the Spring Split, Europe is kind of in an...interesting place right now, but you guys are pretty solid and seem to have escaped all the carnage. How do you see the changes to the scene from this safe perspective?
As long as none of our members suddenly decides to join the EU Exodus and go to NA, we're pretty safe and I think in EU we should be a contender for the top 2 spot. To be fair, it's pretty damn sad to me to see so many players jumping ship going over the Atlantic, going to NA and just do it for the money, because quite frankly I think the domestic talent in EU is at least twice as strong as in NA and it's only going to grow. Just like Korea, after the Exodus they still managed to win Worlds. I think EU still going to have really good teams coming into Season 6, and most of the players that are leaving right now are doing it for nothing but money. That's something that I don't like to see, because it doesn't seem to be as rewarding to be the best at your position, to be the team domestically as well as in the world, and it's more rewarding to be someone that goes to NA, is a personality and becomes a streamer, so it's...saddening to see that the EU scene is seemingly dying out simply because of the lack of monetary compensation as well as exposure.
Of course, you were one of the first players to go to NA. If you could do it again, would you stay seeing what's going on these days?
It really it depends on the team. With TSM, if I jumped ship which I had the opportunity to do, I would've stayed in NA for the remainder of my career to be fair. I was lucky, back in the days when I left TSM, to go and get on a team like Origen. Because for some reason, my market value was pretty damn low because I went to NA and NA being the worst region every time. People underestimated me totally, and I think if I jumped ship again and decided to go to NA, I think the job offers in EU would only be to promote certain teams and not to actually be the best for them.
So we're seeing this huge exodus from EU to NA – is this entirely because European teams cannot offer competitive contracts most of the time?
Yeah, it's basically just that. Most of the teams are bound to certain sponsors that are usually domestic. What I mean with domestic is simply their own country, because EU has so many countries and catering to every single country and catering to every single language is really hard for a lot of sponsors. So what's happening is basically that a team decides to put its residency somewhere, get a sponsor there – for example, when we started out we had Spanish domestic sponsors, and then we've grown and grown and got Azubu and everything like that. So we actually started small, are successful, and therefore get a lot of sponsors coming in that are broader than just a domestic sponsor. I think for smaller teams, especially lower tier teams, it's really hard to make that step happen where they grow from their own country to Europe, to the world. These steps are really hard to take, which I think is not going to change any time soon unless suddenly everyone decides that Europe is now a united nation and we're all going to speak English 24/7. I think it's mainly that, and to be fair NA offers something that EU can't. First of all it's Santa Monica, second it's stream exposure, and third the general culture is more drawn to stardom than in EU. Again, it comes in that you may be a national hero – I'm nationally pretty known, people know me, but internationally I just have 130k followers, which compared to the average NA pro that's having the success that I'm having is pretty low.
We're going a little long so we've gotta move on, but that was really interesting actually. To move towards the end, we're in the preseason. I'm sure you played mostly on 5.21 to get ready for IEM, but what are your thoughts on the way jungle has changed for this split?
I actually had to play a lot on the new patch because not many teams were available to scrim – Fnatic jumped out, so we only had UoL – one scrim on Saturday. But the new patch is extremely unbalanced and it rewards snowballing way too much. Especially the Rift Herald coming in with the AD item changes is too damn strong. A top laner, as soon as he's ahead he wins the game. I think that's something that you don't want to have in a game that should cater to every lane. That's why they implemented the Rift Herald, but it actually makes it so that the top lane is just gonna be really strong.
Top lane was already strong in Season 5, towards the end; and now I was talking to Zion – er, Darshan now – and he was saying that you pick Jax, you buy Rageblade, and you just win the game.
Yeah. And I don't know where the balancing is coming from. For me, it's sad to see that I feel like the pros are not really implemented in the changes, and I try to be part of it. I was not excluded, but I was unheard.
So you tried to communicate with the Riot balance team during the offseason?
It was like...last season, when I decided to work with the Riot development team, I actually went to NA again after leaving TSM for a couple of days and me, Dexter, and a couple of others decided to address certain issues that we may see with the Season 5 patch at that point. On my Facebook page I wrote down a whole novel basically about why I think, for example, that Cinderhulk is a bad item change. And it took them ages – first of all I don't think I was responded to, and second it took them ages to actually address the issue with that. Basically, at Worlds, the meta was different. At that point it was Runeglaive being strong, and then Warrior enchant Lee Sin being strong, and Cinderhulk was actually secondary at that point but it was only after the safety of Cinderhulk was taken away by not allowing the late game scaling to come in that much.
It's just...I would love to see pro players being able to be more involved and being able to be more involved in decisionmaking when it comes to balance changes, but I also understand the business side of things where catering to the mass audience is obviously the better step for a multimillion firm, or multibillion probably by this point, in Riot Games.
If you had the designers sitting right here, in bullet points what are the things that you'd tell them are the most critical before Season 6 starts?
AP items are too expensive, AD items are too cheap, and the Rift Herald just enhances snowball in a meta where it's not fun anymore, and furthermore the minion changes that are supposed to come in are doing that same thing where games are not going to be strategic – it's just going to be First Blood, and after First Blood the game is over.
We've gone on for fifteen minutes now so I've gotta wrap this up, but going forward into Season 6: I know that Origen already has a lot of fans, and you're looking really strong so you might've even gotten some new ones here in NA. Do you have any words for these fans?
We had a lot of support in NA, with all the people staying to get autographs from us. I'm really happy to see so much support, especially for an organization that's only been around for one year, so thanks for that and hopefully you guys keep supporting us come next split.