July 18th, 2012
Author: Harry Cook
A little chat with NAVi's League of Legends support player SAND about how things have been since joining Team Natus Vincere.
I was able to catch up with Philipp 'SAND' Bennek. He is 24 years old and the support player for Team Natus Vincere.
NaVi has not so long ago picked up your team to play under their name. How does it feel to have such a big name as NaVi backing you?
SAND: It’s obviously a great chance and honour to play for such a famous and successful organisation as Natus Vincere. So far, we work perfect together and I hope we can pay them back with some great results in the future.
Has this allowed your team to do more than they were previously able to do?
SAND: Obviously, it makes it easier to attend offline events, but the biggest opportunity it gave us was to play in the next OGN's "The Champions" in Korea starting this July.
We see many players making their living out of gaming with 8k viewers etc. Is this possible for you as well or do you rely on tournament money?
SAND: Unfortunately, I don’t make enough money with eSports at the moment. This is obviously something I aim for, but first of all we need to stabilize as a team and achieve something (for example a good result in the just mentioned tournament in Korea). That would be a good start, but even after gaining some fame it’s still a lot of work to keep some thousand viewers entertained and interested.
Do you think that the support champions are picked falsely when maybe a bruiser could do a similar job and hold up better in the late game?
SAND: Not at all, I saw so many teams try to pick some "kill lane" for bot, which maybe even starts kinda successful, but in the end a good support champ is pretty much always more useful, because the later in the game the more important the AD/sup combo becomes for the team.
Is support a role that always interested you or is it something you “settled” with?
SAND: It’s obviously a role that seems to be not so interesting or even boring now and then. But it’s nothing I "settled" with, I more or less grew into it and in competitive matches it’s not boring at all. Even in solo queue, you can have a lot of influence if you play your role right or you start some roaming now and then to help you’re other lanes.
What is your favourite support and why?
Being as you are a team that has not been seen so much on stream in scrims, do you feel you have something up your sleeve for Season 2?
SAND: I don’t think that we have been seen less on streams than other teams. And no we don’t have some magic tricks in our sleeves, but we don’t really need that. We have 5 great players; all we need to do is to train so hard that our great performances become our regular performances.
What do you think it is that really makes the top teams stand out from the rest in certain tournaments e.g. M5 at Kiev?
SAND: For M5, it was the moment of surprise and a couple of good ideas. In general, I would say it’s a combination 5 great players which communicate great in game (preferably because they are 5 good friends outside the game as well) and are able to regularly show their great potential.
Do you guys work well to improve your mistakes or do you not make them very often?
SAND: Yes, I think we all mention out the mistakes of the teammates very often, which helps is to improve faster. In general I consider myself to be very self aware of my mistakes, but I have certain habits that are hard to change for me.
Is there any special tactics that you like to use that are out of the ordinary of other supports?
SAND: Not so much in competitive gaming but in solo queue, I like to roam a lot with Alistar/Nautilus support, that’s usually a lot of fun, and a way for a support player to have a lot of impact on the game.
What do you think is the strong point about NaVi that sometimes gives you the edge over other teams?
SAND: The way we work on mistakes and bad habits helps us to improve a lot. Also, I think we have simply 5 great players, everything else is just a question of training and work.
League of Legends sadly won’t be around forever, is there other games you would look into playing professionally after?
SAND: Nah, I don’t think so. At 24, I am already one of the oldest, after LoL it will definitely be time to either finish my studies or go for a "real" job.
Thanks for this interview SAND, I hope that you guys have a great run and bag some tournaments. Is there any shoutouts that you wish to do?
SAND: Thank you as well. Shoutout to our sponsors Alienware, Steelseries, Antec, Kingston, to all NaVi fans and supporters, we are lucky to have you and to Riot and the LoL community, you are awesome!