With i46 just around the corner, we've decided to catch up with our two UK beasts, Nick "Ziktomini" Copello and Vaidas "Fargo" Radavicius, right before heading off to one of Europe's most prestigious gaming festivals. In this interview, our members share their views on the competition present this weekend, as well as their respective mind-sets going into the event.
How are you guys feeling less than 12 hours prior to the biggest UK gaming festival? I'd assume pretty excited to attend your first event in a while!
Fargo: I'm feeling quite well. I always seem do well at i-Series some reason. Gonna meet my friends again, so it should be fun.
Ziktomini: I'm looking forward to it. It's been about 6 weeks since I've played at an event and hopefully I can do as well as last time.
(To Ziktomini) So the organizers of the event decided to run two simultaneous tournaments, the WCG qualifiers and the main i-46 tourney itself. Do you feel prepared to compete in two separate brackets at the same time in only a span of three days? We've seen a similar scenario at events like MLG Anaheim, with nothing but unpleasant feedback coming out of the participants.
Ziktomini: I am happy about it to be honest. The reason being I get more chance to avoid Protoss players and also purely the fact that I have a chance in another tournament if I fail in the other is something I like.
Don't you deem it a little bit overwhelming?
Ziktomini: Not at all.
Now you both have been away from an offline setting for quite a while. In fact, your last appearances were made during the WCS circuit. How do you think this period of “lurking in the shadows ” served you?
Fargo: I haven't practice as much as I would like to, but we will see how it goes.
Ziktomini: I don't think it will have any major effect going into the tournament. I have pretty much just been practising since WCS. However, I wouldn't say the amount of practice I have gained from not travelling around will affect my skill. Also similar to Fargo I feel good at LAN events, I think the nerves make me play better while for some people they play worse.
Speaking of practice; even though you didn't get to polish your plays the way you'd wished to it still makes a remarkable quantity of hours put into the game. However do you judge the amount sufficing to reflect great performances or you still hope to get the event delayed for a few weeks?
Fargo during his game against BlinG at the main stage of i45.
Ziktomini: I feel my performance will depend mostly on the opponents I am given, not on the practise. I think if I'm given Protoss I will have a very hard time winning but otherwise I think I am in an decent position
Fargo: Well, even if it would been delayed, I don't think it would help. Yes, practice gives you perfect builds, good timings and everything else, so I just tried to play as much as I could in the last few days, and will play more at LAN to make sure I play my best.
Now, the real question, how do you feel going into this event in terms of confidence?
Ziktomini: Honestly I'm not feeling very confident, I have been losing to Protoss so much in the last few days and there are a fair few toss players going to the event, enough that I am likely to have to play at least one of them anyway.
Fargo: Even when I went at last i-Series events, I didn't expected to take top 2, just like now. I haven't practised as much as I wanted, so I would still be happy with a top 3 finish. This time it will be even harder, because UK players got much better, so I would be really happy to stand on the podium, but as I said, will do my best.
Ziktomini: In terms of my goals for the tournament I would like to win either the WCG qualifier or the i46 tournament but I'm not very confident for the reasons I previously stated.
How do you think this edition stacks up in terms of competition?
Ziktomini: There is pretty good competition, pretty much all of the UK players and also some people coming from the rest of Europe, for example Harstem among some other names I hear.
And you, Fargo, having attended various tours of this particular event, how do you see this challenge? Also, are you excited to compete for yet another time in an i-Series instalment or does it become kind of repetitive after so many years
Fargo: This one will be the hardest one from all i-Series events for sure. As I said UK players are getting better and better. The main faces of the country is not only Demuslim like it used to be, but also Zikto, JonnyRecco, and Ourk if he manages to do as well as on ladder. So it will be really hard.
I'm not the biggest fan of i-Series actually. Prizes aren't good enough, rules are terrible also, many people mixed up in every gaming section, etc. But I'm still happy to attend this event, because there no other options. Don't get me wrong, I'm still always looking forward go to i-Series, mostly to meet friends.
Any particular way you guys plan to overcome your concerns? I don't think you will just randomly drop the towel once you see a Protoss in the bracket, Nick.
Fargo: Well, just as Nick is having insane problems vs tosses, I'm having a hard time against Zerg. I been struggling for 1 year now I think. But finally I'm going in the right direction to improve this match up.
Ziktomini: At LANs I often play styles that I gave up long ago, so I will just do whatever I think gives me the most chance of winning.
Now, Fargo, it's been two times in a row that you've grabbed a runner-up spot at this particular event. Do you think this is finally the one moment when you're going to break the curse?
Fargo: I think I could if Zergs in the UK wouldn't get better so fast. Now at least 3 really good Zergs in UK and more coming up, makes me really scared. So I could dream about this, but it will be too hard I think.
Zikto, do you believe you can defend the title of UK's finest player that you claimed after your victory at the WCS nationals?
Ziktomini: I think I have a chance but I wouldn't say it's huge.
This brings us to a rather controversial subject. How do you guys approach the thought of possibly having to eliminate each other? In the most optimal case, both of you would qualify to the grand finals - then what?
Ziktomini: Not to be bad mannered towards Fargo, but his worst match up is TvZ and my best is ZvT. I think I would have the advantage if we went up against each other. He knows the stuff I dislike in the match up though so he could catch me off guard perhaps.
Fargo: If it would be in the finals, it would be super nice, but I doubt it. There will be loser brackets also, so at least better not go get each other there. It should be fun game if we meet up in any case.
Ziktomini: It's unavoidable, of course we would rather play as late into the tournament as possible, but both of us will put 100% effort in I think, just because we're teammates we wont go easy
And you Fargo, can you spot any weakness in Zikto's play?
Ziktomini: You really think he's going to reveal them in here?
Fargo: Every player has his weaknesses, but I still think I would play my standard game, that’s it. But I heard Nick loves being 2raxed, so I'm definitely going to make sure I don't do it under any circumstance!
What's your realistic prediction of the unfolding of this weekend? Who do you think is going to win, surprise, deceive? No need to be modest here.
Ziktomini: I don't think there will be a surprise whoever wins. I'm not sure of the players coming from Europe but in terms of winners I think it's between the two of us, Ourk, Jonny and Bling
Fargo: I think BlinG will be the favourite once again. He's been doing very well for long time now, but Jonny and Zikto have really decent chances to win vs him. I'm quite confident vs him too, but not as confident when I face Zergs. Ourk maybe should surprise a little bit, because he keeps changing races and now it's the first time he will play Zerg at LAN
Ziktomini analyzing his opponent at WCS UK
This is going to be Fargo's first event under Western Wolves' banner, and the second one for you Zikto. Are you guys looking forward to represent the blue shirt for the first time or once again?
Ziktomini: Yes for sure, looking forward to having the shirt this time too!
Fargo: Yes I do, Western Wolves are a very nice team, so I will try my best not just for my self do to well, but for the team also.
You've mentioned the youngster from Dignitas, JonnyRecco, a few times during this interview. Now the Scotsman talent has extremely inconsistent performances - one day he defeats NaNiwa 3-1 in TSL but the next one he fails to get past the group stages at LAN. Do you think this will finally be his offline breakthrough moment, or his age and inexperience still affect haunts him?
Fargo: He did very well at WCS taking third place at his second LAN event. He's still very young but I think he's getting used to play well at LAN events, so this time he should feel even more confident.
Ziktomini: He said before that he doesn't feels nerves so I don't think that affects him massively. With more experience he will improve further but he is overall very solid, maybe too solid in some ways even.
Any words you want to tell each other before starting your journey?
Fargo: Let's have fun and enjoy our time at the event.
Ziktomini: Yeah as always - GL&HF and don't rage too hard at LAN.
Thank you for your time gentlemen and I wish the best of luck to both of you. Any final shoutouts you'd like to make?
Ziktomini: Thanks a lot for everyone supporting me, I'll make sure to not disappoint this weekend! Follow me @Ziktomini on Twitter.
Fargo: Thanks to the team and our sponsors for sending me here.