For the first time in NLC history, the crown did not go to an academy team.
Tricked Esport have had a stellar summer and with sizzling form, they have secured their first ever NLC title to their name, defeating Fnatic Rising 3-2 in a stunning reverse sweep. Their next leg of the journey? EU Masters 2021 summer Main Event!
Before they head off to play against the strongest teams from the European Regional Leagues (ERLs), Tricked jungler Christian "Taxer" Vendelbo Bylling Jensen speaks to us about winning the NLC and his expectations going into EU Masters.
Thank you for accepting this interview and congratulations once more on winning the NLC 2021 Summer Season! Tell us how you are feeling after winning the NLC, especially in a reverse sweep against Fnatic Rising.
Taxer: It feels amazing to win! It’s a bit more special for me since I have placed second and third in the NLC and UKLC many times. Collecting this win against an academy team no less in a reverse sweep feels incredible. I don't think it could be any better.
With that being said I do think our performance in the final was bad and not good enough for EU Masters, so we’ve got a lot to work on.
Going into the finals, did you guys see yourselves as the favourites against Fnatic? What kind of preparations did the team make?
Taxer: Going into the finals I think we did see ourselves as the favourites, but we also knew it would not be an easy series. We worked hard to prepare by watching their games, analysing their gameplay and figuring out how to win against them. We also worked on fixing a lot of our own problems.
When Tricked were down 0-2, what kind of adjustments did the team make other than draft? Were you worried at that point?
Taxer: Going into the last game we all believed we could and should win, because we completely griefed Game 1 and 2. We didn't feel like we lost those games to them, it felt more like we lost them to ourselves.
We were all worried and confused as to why we were playing so badly, but we all believed that we could win if we just played to our full potential. We had a good talk about the things we were doing wrong and how to change it going into the next games, and it worked.
During Game 5, there were some discussions on social media about Tricked’s pick and bans, specifically picking Trundle over Xin Zhao, who was open at the time. Talk to us a little bit about the decision making process there.
Taxer: I don't want to go too much into specifics, because there are many factors in this decision, the flexibility and adaptability of Trundle being some of them. I also happen to be very comfortable playing Trundle.
This NLC season has certainly been an odd one, and one for the history books, in terms of how close the season was and how the academy teams did not dominate. How do you look back and reflect on NLC 2021 summer? Has the NLC gotten more competitive overall?
Taxer: I think the gap between the academy teams and the non-academy teams are getting closer in the NLC, and that makes the league more competitive and balanced. I will also say that it was really unexpected that it went like it did for BT Excel, especially after they got second place at the EU Masters last spring.
Overall, I'm just really happy that we performed better than both of the academy teams in the NLC this summer.
Moving to the European Masters, this is the first time this Tricked Roster makes it to this tournament. What are your personal goals and expectations for the EU Masters 2021 summer?
Taxer: I have been to EU Masters many times and the furthest I have managed to get is the quarter-finals, and I have been knocked out of quarters four times now. My goal and expectation remains the same regardless of my team: I want to win it all and make the NLC proud!
I’m guessing since your old teammate Raymond "kaSing" Tsang has made EU Masters, he’ll be someone you’re looking forward to facing? What other teams or players would you like to meet?
Taxer: It’s always fun to match up against previous teammates or good friends, but I don't really think about players. I am looking forward to playing against the best teams in Europe outside of LEC. Karmine Corp won the last EU Masters, so they are the team I'm looking forward to playing against the most.
Nikolaj "DenVoksne" Meilby mentioned that he believes the gap isn’t that large as some people believe between top teams. What do you make of the strength of the NLC in comparison to other top ERLs this summer?
Taxer: Honestly, I think there is a gap especially after the performance in the NLC finals. We are working as hard as possible to close that gap and if we continue to improve, then the NLC can match up against any team in EU Masters.
Before we end, the NLC fans are once more riding the hype train that BT Excel started for the region. Do you have any words of confidence to get the fans hyped up for the NLC teams at EU Masters?
Taxer: Last spring, BT Excel made NLC proud as a region. This summer, Tricked will work as hard as possible to do the same!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Taxer: Thanks to everyone supporting me throughout my career so far. I love what I am doing and I am working as hard as I can to make it to the LEC!
The EU Masters Play-Ins Knockouts starts tomorrow, so keep an eye out for Fnatic Rising as they look to qualify for the Main Event and join Tricked Esport.