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Alex_Ich: from Go4LoL to world champions
We've started the interview at 3:35 p.m. The last reply came about 2:00 a.m. Perhaps, this is my longest edition of an interview for the entire 12 years of my presence in eSports. I hope it's been worth it. The captain of the best team in Europe and, perhaps, in the world, Alexey "Aelx_Ich" Ichetovkin will tell you about the beginning of his gaming career, explains Darien being kicked, counts his Facebook fans and asks for wishes from Brandon Beck.

Hi, Alexey. Thanks for the time you're going to dedicate to this interview. Break the rumours and tell us whether you guys are practising altogether at the training base or separately from each other in your homes?

All the M5.BenQ roster is now at our training base, where we're preparing really hard for the European qualifier in Cologne.

You have had a really intense schedule with many online matches, two local tourneys for the last two months. How do you relax from all of these?

I'm going out with my girlfriend, watching movies and getting enough of good sleep.

Who is Alexey Ichetovkin outside of eSports? Is he studying, working, etc? Or is it all about LoL only?

You always have to sacrifice something for the eSports. After the IEM Global Challenge in Kiev I've decided to quit my job to focus entirely on League of Legends. All of my free time goes to my girlfriend.

What was your job, by the way? And how could you quit it?

I was a junior programmer at an investment bank of UBS. Before my departure I was going to get a promotion, but finally decided that competitive gaming was more important and promising to me at that moment.

Have you considered LoL as a serious source of your income just when you were starting off? Or was it more like a hobby to you?

To be honest, I was never sure about LoL becoming my main source of income, but I couldn't call it a hobby either. I had a attitude and goals about the game in the beginning. After all, I was playing for one of the European top teams just a couple of moths later.

What did your path look like? How did you make it from an unknown player to the captain of the best world and European team (according to IEM)? How many teams did you have to go through? How hard was it to gather an exclusively Russian squad?

It certainly wasn't an easy path. I have played for several European teams. I played for team Dimegio for quite a while alongside with Araneae, Rashasii, and somebody else. We have won several ESL titles with that roster (Go4LoL). Some time later I left for the Russian team, because I wanted to play with the Russians only. I can recall some epic matches with Darien after which he had been kicked from the team. The latest edition of our roster featured me, Darien Zulin, Irugat, and Genja. After a little while it became clear that something had to be changed, but no one was willing to change anything so I left the team right before the Kiev's qualifier to join the ranks of FlashInTheNight's squad who failed really hard their qualifier matches.

I then offered Darien and Genja to put together some new roster, and they accepted my offer. So, we called Pepper and his friend who is now known to you as Diamondprox. He was playing Udyr and Trundle only at that point. We managed to claim our 3rd place at the qualification. The whole world has heard about us right after.

You may click the photos to view the larger ones

Which ones of your ex-teammates have achieved anything worth mentioning at LoL after your departure?

Araneae is now playing for SK-Gaming, who managed to get the 3rd place in Poland. The rest are either forgotten or didn't achieve anything big.

What did the IEM Kiev trip mean to you?

It meant that we had the opportunity to get good sponsorship and prove Russian players to be the best at this game.

You won your slot under the EMPIRE clan tag. How did they treat you and was the transition to M5 smooth enough?

Our salary in EMPIRE was small, something around $100, plus free devices. They treated us like "well, at least we have some LoL-squad". Nothing too special. I was the only one have signed a real contract with the organization which was bought out by M5 for some amount of money. We didn't regret the transition.

Your victory in Kiev has momentarily moved you from the status of some random team to the Olympus of the world scene. Have you noticed any considerable growth of attention and your fan base on Facebook and VKontakte?

Well, yeah, pretty much. My Facebook page right now has 3666 "likes" while I'm not really spending time on it. The attention has grown, and that's quite obvious. Regular interviews, asking to add as a friend and such. It's natural to observe these things as the Russian team who performed on the stage for its first time defeated all the remaining teams from the USA and Europe. I mean not just defeated, but really crushed them without any chance. I would like to express my gratitude to Maxim "nirvana_sf" Zalilov who had been helping us out in Kiev by arranging our practising conditions the best way possible.

Massage? (after IEM World Championship finals)

The tournament in Kiev was your first big event. It's really an exciting event in a life of any sportsman. Tell the truth, were you nervous before the matches or the whole atmosphere of the event didn't affect you that much?

Not really. It may sound surprising but we didn't shake or anything like that at all. There was some innate confidence. It was coming from Darien, I guess. It was the confidence in that we would take the first place no matter what. Just like he said, crush them without a chance.

It's true that you looked more like machines in the game. How about the real life? Does Darien's magic work here? Do you quarrel and argue a lot?

Yeah, we do all that: argue, quarrel, laugh, etc. Just like any normal human beings.

You have crushed your opponents in Kiev and Hanover with your aggressive play style forcing them to fight for every corner of the map. How come you woke up with such a strategy? Did it come from the analysis of your opponents' play or was it just the sum of your own players' individual styles?

Last option seems to fit. We know that the best way to defend is to attack, so we exploit it as much as possible.

The audience has noticed at some point that you were paying more attention to a usual farming than to a consistent aggression. What was the reason for it?

Meta has changed and there was no such confidence that we could keep on doing it. Our enemies started to use wards more often. We stopped using ClairVoyance. Actually, a lot of things have changed but nevertheless we adjusted to the current state of the game and used it to our advantage.

There were a lot of comments about DH Summer and banning Anivia against You  have done it only at the end, which didn't seem to help you. Was it some kind of trolling or what?

The third match at IEM World Championship in Hanover and the second game in Poland at European Challenge Circuit explain everything. There was something more to it than just Anivia.

IEM Global Challenge Kiev (zero emotions, killing machine)

Can you describe the Polish ECC? I've heard that it was quite hot on the stage, and that the audience didn't really like you.

All in all, the setup was better than we expected it to be. Comparing to Dreamhack Summer 2012, it's like heaven and earth. Despite this fact, there were some weather-related issues - it was really hot, the computers didn't start at once. Darien had his sound off. Everything else was just fine. We didn't feel any hostility from the public.

Except for Kiev trip, you had to travel abroad three times. Have you ever get the chance for sightseeing? If so - what can you remember the most? Or was it more like hotel -> event -> hotel?

We were hanging out a little bit. I can recall the time we spent in Hanover when we were staying at some small village. It was really hard to find just anybody on the streets. There were also only few grocery stores, while one could meet just about 10 hairdresser's along the way. As I mentioned before, it was really hot in Poland, plus we went in the wrong direction which resulted in us having very little time to do any sightseeing. We have visited old town in Sweden, it's beautiful. I'm not that fond of this kind of sightseeing but just couldn't abandon my teammates.

You had 21 champion in your pool in Poland. It's more than the majority of the teams had, but less than SK and had. Does the size of the pool affect the game pretty much with an opportunity to ban only 3 heroes? Do you think it would be reasonable to increase the number of bans per team? 

Bans are always an arguable aspect. There are two options of how to ban: you either ban heroes of your opponents or you ban heroes which don't suit our play style. We regularly switch between these options. Increase bans per team? Well, in this case I would prefer to alter the system. On the other hand, I don't like the system being used in DotA either. It's hard to tell what is the most right way to do it. Anyway, I think 4 or 5 bans would per team would be better, than it is now.

Do you follow the tournaments with the Asians on the participants list? Was there anything that bothered you or unpleasantly surprised you in any way in their game?

I do follow their games. Their level is pretty high, but I still consider, for example, to be stronger than the Koreans. Asians have a good understanding of the game and they evolve rapidly, but there's no need to be afraid of anyone.

Imagine you've bought a bottle of water, and the Gin named Brandon Beck suddenly appears. He goes: "Alexey, what should I change, add or remove from League of Legends? Tell me, I will obey!" In other words, what 3 changes would you have made if you had such opportunity?

I would have switched spirits and golems, then I would've decreased somehow the influence of Baron Nashor and the dragons on the game flow. Perhaps, I would have added some bans, as I mentioned before.

How do people close to you treat your passion? Did they change their minds after this game started to pay the bills for you?

They were strictly against it at first, than didn't pay much attention, and now are really supportive, of course.

Could you give some advice to those new to the game, and tell some of your secrets to success?

I would say you really need to be hard working and dedicated. Try to stay united, all 5 of you, and not kick each other from the team after a couple of weeks.

Mysterious guy on the left. Who it might be?

Many of team's photos produce questions like "Who's that guy with the glasses right next to them?" Which role does play Groove in the team and what does he do for the players?

"The guy with the glasses" is our manager and a friend. He helps us psychologically and gives us the moral boost. He also gives us advice and follows our game. He helps us with visas and travelling. Long story short, he is the one, without whom everything just wouldn't havehappened (smiles).

Describe your teammates with one word.

Genja - reticent, Diamondprox - smart, Gosu Pepper - aggressive, Darien - crushing ("into salad").
Favourite hero: Diana
Most difficult hero to stay on a line against: Morgana
Favourite "salad": Darien's
Favourite book: Hobbit
Favourite movie: Equilibrium
Favourite band: Vanessa Mae
Favourite PC game (besides LoL): SC2

Thanks for your time, Alexey. Any closing shout-outs?

I would like to thank BenQ, MSI, Moscow Five for supporting us. I would also express my gratitude to my parents and girlfriend for all the help and support. Last but not least - thank you, all M5 fans.
12.08.2012 21:11:39
Alex Ich #1 !!!
12.08.2012 21:45:55
It remains to hire Deman as a commentator for all games Moscow 5, and the site would be ideal. :D
12.08.2012 22:31:17
Is he a moscowfive fan? Why Deman?
12.08.2012 23:08:53
Just i love this caster and his emotional comments, and yeah, he love m5.
13.08.2012 00:12:51
13.08.2012 00:19:55
and Deman loves m5!!!
13.08.2012 09:35:46
Frankly I've never heard that Deman openly declared his love to m5...
But when he casts matches with our team, fortune is on our side.
Also in my humble opinion Deman is the most talanted and the most pleasant to listen commentator. Not like some other boring, retarded or inadequate russian casters. That's it.
13.08.2012 14:36:16
I see, I like him too. Shame it won't happen though.
15.08.2012 15:32:49
пиши на англоязычной версии сайта по русски, будь плохим парнем