Unicorns of Love's Kikis is here to have fun | LoL Esports
Unicorns of Love's Kikis is here to have fun
One thing is immediately clear when you talk with Mateusz "Kikis" Szkudlarek: he loves to play League of Legends. And although he's only recently stepped to the forefront of the LCS scene as jungler for Unicorns of Love, he's been playing professionally since Season 1!
We sat down for a quick chat with the best-dressed unicorn to talk about his incredible journey.
Love of the Game
"To be honest, I just love the game and everything around it," Kikis says. "I never get bored of it. I always find something new to play. The game is changing constantly, and I strive to be the best."
That love for LoL is what got him started back in 2009, before EU servers even existed. Kikis got his first big break playing in 1v1 and 5v5 tournaments with his fellow Polish players, and got picked up by Gameburg Team, the biggest Polish team at the time.
At the 2011 World Cyber Games in South Korea, Kikis took 2nd place with that team, beating old-school superstars like Yoon "MakNooN" Ha-woon, George "HotshotGG" Georgallidis, Brian "TheOddOne" Wyllie, Shan "Chaox" Huang, and Michael "BigFatLP" Tang. In the end, Gameburg Team only lost to the temporary all-star roster of Chicks Dig ELO: Marcus "Dyrus" Hill, Brandon "Saintvicious" DiMarco, Andy "Reginald" Dinh, Steve "Chauster" Chau, and Alex "Xpecial" Chu.
It's weird to think of Kikis as an old timer like the rest of those now-retirees, because he's so new to the LCS. But he's been in the scene -- as a fanboy and player -- since the beginning.
"Playing in Season 1 was a blast," Kikis says. "I went from being a casual gamer watching popular streamers and dreaming of being like them, to competing with them in tournaments in less than a year! I'm a big HotshotGG fanboy and it was really exciting for me to get to play against him in WCG 2011."
Finding the Unicorn
But desire alone won't get you into the LCS -- we've seen that proven time and time again in the Challenger scene. And Kikis was no exception. It took years of effort and hard work for him to find his way in.
"Love is never enough," Kikis explains. "There has to be actual effort. A crucial part of my success is my work ethic and approach to the game. I will never stop trying until I show a good performance at Worlds, at the very least."
Part of the hard work early on for Kikis was just finding new teams to play with. There are 20 different teams listed on his wiki page, and each of the 19 teams before he caught his unicorn taught him something new.
"The main reason that I was on so many teams," Kikis explains, "is that I always strived to be better and to achieve more. I was slowly climbing through teams by practicing and improving. I met a lot of people and, because I'm a versatile and open player, it wasn't hard to adjust to different team environments."
But two years into his grind of trying to get into the LCS and failing, Kikis hit a point where he realized all the work he had been doing still wasn't enough. It was time to find out if he had a real chance of ever playing at an LCS level -- and face the consequences of the outcome, no matter what it was.
So Kikis donned his self-carry pants and strutted onto the Rift. For three months, he played League 14 hours every day. He practiced with his team whenever they were available, and spammed Solo Queue whenever they weren't.
It was a brutal schedule with long hours, but he was encouraged by the results he saw. He improved dramatically and began to get respect from other players in the Challenger League.
Over time, Kikis got to know the players on Unicorns of Love very well at events around the world. So when UoL needed to replace their jungler, Kikis was the most obvious candidate.
From the very beginning, Kikis loved the team's atmosphere and has fun playing with all of them -- an important aspect that keeps morale up even when they aren't winning.
"The team atmosphere on UOL, compared to most of the teams I've been on is truly amazing," Kikis says. "We very rarely get into arguments or get mad at each other, because everyone knows that everyone here wants to win and we treat ourselves with respect. We are friends and we trust each other."
Looking to Learn
Even more important than his experiences in League, however, are the things he's learned about himself as a person and about life along the way.
"I went from living with my mom and brother to living with six men playing League as a job," Kikis explains. "There are a lot of emotions involved with playing and interacting with my teammates and coach everyday. And everyday, I'm learning new ways to express myself properly."
Maturity has had to be hard-won by LCS players who enter the scene early and run into personality conflicts on teams. But Kikis is dedicated to making sure he continues to develop into a positive force on and off the Rift.
"My goals are pretty simple," Kikis explains. "In the near future, I want to become the best player I can be and try my hardest to achieve something. And, for life, I want to get healthy and fit, so I can feel and look good."
But we think Kikis is already looking pretty good with all of his fancy scarves. We simply couldn't pass up the opportunity to ask him about the famous accessory that he wears on the LCS stage every week. What's the deal with all those scarves?
"It's really cold there," Kikis says, "and I really enjoy wearing scarves. They're comfortable and look nice... But I'm not a scarf addict! I only wear them when it's cold outside and I'm going out."
Addict or not, Kikis is looking to potentially branch out soon. After 7 years of scarves (his first was a black scarf borrowed for a performance with his dance group), he's considering an alternative.
"I've always wanted to get a bandana..." he muses.
Whatever fancy face accessories Kikis is wearing this weekend, you can watch him and the Unicorns of Love face off against Origen and H2K in some epic matches of the EU LCS.
Josh Augustine's favorite champion would be Vi if she had a scarf, he's never enjoyed a Darius, and he will always go for the kill, even when he knows he shouldn't. He currently works as a game designer on EverQuest Next at Daybreak Games. He’d love to talk with you on Twitter.