Markoon reflects on last LEC week, says SK played “pretty bad”
Feb 19, 2023
We spoke with SK Gaming’s Mark “Markoon” van Woensel following his side’s swift 2-0 win over Team Heretics in their LEC Winter matchup. The Dutch jungler discussed the victory and looked ahead to SK’s next series against Team Vitality with a chance to make it to the playoffs.
In this interview, Markoon gave his thoughts on his opposing junglers Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski and Zhou “Bo” Yang-Bo, including how he felt when handing the latter his first defeat in his career. We also spoke about season expectations and the strength of SK’s coaching staff.
WIN.GG: How does it feel to bounce back from last week’s defeat to beating Team Heretics today?
Markoon: It feels good. I think that last week we played pretty badly, so I really wanted to try and get clean games today against Heretics, who I consider a lesser team in the LEC. It would show our confidence in the best of threes.
I think we had decently clean games. There are still a lot of mistakes, especially in the early game, but overall I think it’s fine how we played.
Was there anything that you think went wrong last week, that was corrected against Heretics and made a difference?
I think that last week a lot of the things that we had practiced in the weeks before that, which made us good, we dropped those things a little bit – like basics. What we focused on this week was upping our focus on these basics again and making sure we’re up to date with tempo. We’re playing for macro and not for just kills – we just dropped out of focus a bit on those things.
We also had a really good meta-read in week two. We were first on the Elise, and we had a good read on bot lane, and I think on the third week, we were a bit more unsure of what was going on. I don’t think we were as comfortable in the drafts in week three as in week two.
How do you prepare against such a storied opposition jungler as Jankos? Would you plan games differently and have different expectations?
I don’t feel too much extra pressure playing against Jankos. His “veterancy” doesn’t mean too much to me because right now, I think he’s just an average jungler in the league, I don’t think he’s one of the better ones, so I didn’t really feel much coming into this best-of-three.
You’re up against Team Vitality next, and you were the first team to beat their jungler Bo so far in his career. Was there extra motivation to do that, given that there was so much hype around him?
It felt really good. I think I first-blooded him level three. To be honest, I’ve wanted to play against Bo since he came to Europe in the pre-season. When I was streaming, I’d get one message every thirty minutes asking how good Bo was. I really wanted to play against him and see how I matched up against him because he was very, very hyped coming into the league. Then when we beat them, it felt really good.
What’s the expectation for the best-of-three against Vitality, then?
For me, the hype around Bo is gone a little bit, I’m quite aware of what his skill is now, and I think he’s just a very solid, good jungler. I still don’t think he’s completely insane, so I’m just looking to go and play my own best League of Legends, and then I think we can beat them.
A win over Vitality would move SK Gaming into the playoffs. How far can you go?
I think we can win it all, but I think right now, we’re not at the level we need to be. We have been on a little bit of a rollercoaster in terms of skill. In week two, for example, we played really well, then in week three a little bit worse, and now we’re playing a bit better. So for me, it will just depend on how well we’re able to practice next week. If we win tomorrow [against Vitality] and then see if we’re going on the up, then I think we can beat any team.
There wasn’t much expectation for SK to do so well this split given that the roster is largely inexperienced at the LEC level. Did this cause a lack of outside pressure that helped the team’s success so far?
I think it helped us because there wasn’t any pressure. It’s just nice coming into the league and people expecting you to be the ninth, or tenth place, you’re out before playoffs, and it doesn’t matter. But even with that, we still had a lot of pressure on ourselves because I think we all believed that we could be a really good team after we practiced for one or two weeks. I think the pressure came more from us, so it didn’t matter too much.
You talked about taking on a leadership role during an interview with Em Dash Esports, and in your LEC Spotlight you mentioned your willingness to be direct and voice your opinions within the team. Do you feel that you’ve had to adjust your communication to become a leader, or has your communication style helped?
I’ve definitely had to adjust the way I behave around teammates for my entire career now, and it’s a learning curve. You come into a new gaming house in your first year, and you have no clue how to be a good teammate. I think each year I just learned a little bit. Now it’s the same, I just learned how to be a better teammate.
Also, my coach helps me with this, making sure that I’m not too argumentative and I don’t get too heated in arguments and this kind of stuff because I do like to give my opinion. I’m working on it, still, it’s an ongoing process and probably will be for the rest of my career.
Speaking of your coach, we feel that SK’s head coach Simon “Swiffer” Papamarkos has somewhat flown over the radar since he came to Europe. How much impact has he and his staff had on SK’s run so far this split?
It’s absolutely massive. My coaching staff is doing a very good job. I can see how people like him are underrated because, for me, it’s very hard to be able to judge coaches, and I can imagine that as a fan or an outside perspective, it’s even harder. Because, for me, I can’t even say how good a coach is if I haven’t worked with them or I’m not close with a lot of people that worked with them.
I think that my coaching staff this season is doing an absolutely good job. Swiffer is mainly making sure that the mental of the team stays good and that all of the problems get resolved as quickly as possible. The assistant coach OWN3R is doing a fantastic job making sure that our laning phases are as good as they can be – which I think has showed because my bot lane especially has been smurfing in lane for the full regular season.
You worked with Swiffer previously on BTXL in the NLC before you joined Excel’s main roster. Did you think at the time that he would make a good coach at this level?
Oh yeah, definitely. Working in BTXL, I would have loved to keep working with him when I went into LEC, which unfortunately didn’t happen. But I’m happy I get to work with him again now.
Thank you to Markoon for this interview with WIN.gg. You can find more interviews with esports pros here.