Immortals jungler Xerxe talks about his drive to continue improvement as a pro LoL player.
After a 1-2 week, the Immortals are now 15-18 on the season. With three weeks until the end of the 2021 LCS Summer Split, the Immortals will look forward to recapturing their week 1 spark. In this interview, we speak to Immortals’ jungler Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir to discuss week 5 for Immortals and how he is learning to adjust into a leadership role.
Congratulations on beating Dignitas today who are currently in 6th place. Talk to me about taking down a team you are very close in the standings?
IMT Xerxe: It does feel good that we finally managed to get our win against Dignitas because we actually have not won against them the entire year. At the same time, it does not feel that great because we lost to the team with Dardoch and I think he is one of the best junglers in the LCS. While I am happy that we won, I wish we won against the team with Dardoch.
When you play against them now, what are the differences you feel when they Dardoch vs Akaadian that you cannot get that full satisfaction in a win?
IMT Xerxe: They just look a lot stronger with Dardoch. I am not sure what it is, but I consider Dardoch to be one of the best junglers in the LCS. That definitely hurt their team, and now that he is not there, they lost a big piece to their lineup.
Instead of focusing on Dignitas, I do want to focus on Immortals. You guys are finding a way to translate to stage performance. Talk to me about the growth this split from your own standpoint, what do you feel lik e is happening to help this team progress?
IMT Xerxe: There is a lot to take into account for our own growth in Summer. I said in previous interviews that in Spring we did not even have a bootcamp prior to spring split. There was never any time to get to know each other inside and out of the game. In Summer, we did a lot of work on getting to know each other and hammering down on our in-game communication. That has helped us a lot because it translates into us trusting each other more on stage and in scrims.
We are able to be more direct with each other and give each other better constructive criticism and feedback. It will not always be perfect and it is still a work in progress. The losses against C9 and TSM were very disappointing. We know that we are capable of so much more and in those games, we did not show that. It is very disappointing to show that kind of play onstage. It was a rough week, but I am happy we got this win and start over.
Those games were supposed to show that we could compete with the top teams, but I know we are more capable of showing that. Luckily, we have more weeks where we can improve.
I want to talk about Guilhoto and Destiny. When building this lineup, he said you guys were the two people he targeted first. We hear about the jungle support being the basis of a good lineup. How important is a good jungle support duo?
IMT Xerxe: In our case, Destiny and I worked together in Origen so we have that existing synergy. We know each other very well and it makes it a lot easier instead of building a brand new lineup. Destiny and I are the people who need to step up when things are down. We keep a positive attitude to help people that are down. Our roles are not really related to being jungle support, but we both play a big role in helping our teammates.
What was the growth process like in entering a leadership role like this?
IMT Xerxe: Every year, I had to learn something new or something different from every team. Getting to know different people helps me understand people better. For me, when I worked with Odoamne, I was just 18 years old. He was the first Romanian in the LCS so I respected him. He was very direct and honest. Sometimes he was a bit too harsh, but it was a very good learning experience playing with him.
You were really young when you entered the scene, do you ever look back at your entire career and think about that?
IMT Xerxe: Sometimes I actually do. There are times I even consider myself a rookie, I do not feel like a veteran. It is good and bad. I am supposed to be a leader because I have the most experience. At the same time, I have the rookie mentality in the sense that I can always learn. I do not ever settle with myself or am I ever satisfied with my own growth. I am always open to feedback and constructive criticism. In that sense, I consider myself a rookie, but at the same time I am a leader.
Would you say you are a perfectionist?
IMT Xerxe: Somewhat, yes. It comes with both pros and cons. The pros are that I am always looking to improve. That is why I will be in the scene for a very long time. I like learning the game whenever it changes because I like to rediscover the game each time. I can be too harsh on myself at times. Even if I am playing at a top tier level, it doesn’t feel like I can be satisfied a lot of the time. I have come to realize that there is not one side to this. It will always have good and bad qualities, but you take it because it adds more to my life than take away.
When you are really low, how do you find confidence and positivity to lead a team?
IMT Xerxe: I usually put the team above my own needs because I know that if I just focus on myself, that can only work so far in a competitive environment. You can try to play and focus on yourself, but you are never going to get far with that mentality. It is more important to know that the team is on the same page. I need to make sure the atmosphere is good and everybody knows that I will be there when they need me.
What is the effect of being in a different region from your side? Does being away from home bother you?
IMT Xerxe: It affects me sometimes, but I have grown use to this type of lifestyle. When I was 16, I left home to play for Dark Passage. I do have weekly calls with my family so I do not get homesick which helps a lot.
Right now, I do not have the best balance because I am so focused on Immortals right now. I always have to keep a healthy balance because they mean a lot to me.
They are very understanding if I do not talk to them for sometime. They just want to know I am okay, I am eating and just having fun.
If somehow, they stumble upon this article, do you have any words you want to tell them?
IMT Xerxe: I just want them to know that even if I do not message all the time, I really do miss them a lot.
Photos courtesy of espat.ai.