"Our only goal for now is to get into the LCS": An interview with Nikolay "zyzz" Nedyadko

Last week, SK Gaming’s sister team SK Gaming Prime won the fall season of the Black Monster Cup. With a 2-1 victory over Unicorns of Love, they not only earned the cup but also took home €7,500 right before leaving to Los Angeles to compete in the LCS relegation against Gambit Gaming. We spoke to AD carry Nikolay "zyzz" Nedyadko about the team’s latest achievements and what’s coming next for SK Gaming’s second League of Legends team.

ESL: Thank you for your time and congratulations on winning the Black Monster Cup Fall Season! How would you summarize the tournament? Were there any points where you thought it was lost?
Nikolay "zyzz" Nedyadko: I don’t think we played our best game but we still managed to win. The last game against Unicorns of Love was really intense - I really thought we would lose after we started giving them some free kills.

ESL: Besides you, NiP, Unicorns of Love and Reason Gaming, many more teams have tried to seize the Black Monster Cup. How important was this additional underlining of your spot within the Challenger circuit for you and your team?
zyzz: Winning important matches before playing the promotion helps us to be more confident in our own performance. Even though our games were a bit shaky, we could see that, when we stay focused on the matches, we can have some really strong games, and that’s what we need to bring against Gambit.

I don’t think the bottom teams in the LCS are any stronger than the top teams within the Challenger Series.

ESL: Both the semifinals as well as the third place decider and the grand final ended 2-1. What do you think this tells us about the strength of the Challenger scene?
zyzz: What’s funny is that we always drop the second game and manage to win 2-1 in almost every tournament. I don’t think the bottom teams in the LCS are any stronger than the top teams within the Challenger Series.

ESL: You are now going to Los Angeles to face Gambit in the LCS relegation. What do you expect to happen in your series against one of the biggest teams in League of Legends history?
zyzz: Gambit lost a lot of their old players. I honestly can’t tell what’s going to happen in the promotion match. I am confident in my own performance, but I don’t know how we are going to perform as a team.

ESL: SK’s manager Alex Müller has already said that your team would have to leave the organization if you qualified for the LCS. How would you feel if this happened?
zyzz: We expected it since we joined SK Gaming Prime - we knew the main SK Gaming team was not going to drop out of the LCS. We are thankful to SK for believing in us and supporting us. If we make it to the LCS, I’m sure SK would be proud and happy for us.

ESL: Making it to the LCS would also mean that you would leave the Challenger scene and its tournaments. Are there any teams you will miss playing against?
zyzz: Not really. We really want to compete against the best teams to improve ourselves. You don’t get to play competitive matches every week in the Challenger scene, so competing in the LCS would help any team willing to work get better than they were before, no doubt.

ESL: Riot has already announced that it will be increasing the number of teams playing in the LCS to ten. Do you think this will strengthen the EU and NA scene enough to step up to the level of the Koreans?
zyzz: I think it will not make the top LCS teams better, but the region overall for sure. There are a lot more players who are trying to get into the LCS right now, which will make the competition tougher for everyone.

ESL: Your sister team SK Gaming is going to Worlds. What advice do you have for them?
zyzz: Be confident, and practice A LOT!

ESL: Imagine the next year continues to go for you the way it is now ESL: how much would making it to Worlds mean to you?
zyzz: I never imagined myself playing at Worlds - that would be insane. But as I said, if any team is willing to get better, the LCS is the place to be. Our only goal for now is to get into the LCS. Making it to Worlds would be a huge step - it’s amazing just to think about it.

ESL: The last words are yours. Any shoutouts to your teammates or fans?
zyzz: Thank you for this interview. I want to thank SK Gaming and their sponsors for supporting us in the amateur scene knowing we might not be able to stick with them in the future. I also wanna thank all the people that support us and cheer for us during our games - it helps us a lot to try more and do better.

The next season of the Black Monster Cup is set to start after Worlds in October, and you can find more details, VODs of all the matches and information on the upcoming qualifiers on the Black Monster Cup homepage. You can also watch the best of five series between SK Gaming Prime and Gambit Gaming tonight at 19:00 CEST. Do you think SK Prime will be able to kick Gambit out of the LCS or will the Russians defend their spot to the last? Tell us in the comments below!

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