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ANX Smurf on Sticking Together: 'It Should Be OK'

After a heartbreaking 3-0 series, Wildcard firebrands Albus NoX Luma were eliminated from the Worlds Championship. ANX had won the hearts of League fans with their historic run through Groups, achieving the feat of being the first Wildcard team to make it out of the Group stages and move on to the quarterfinals. After going toe-to-toe with the ROX Tigers and consoling G2 Esports, ANX had become the fan favorite in the tournament. Throughout the games, the crowd chanted Albus Nox to spur the Russians on. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough, and ANX went down in a devastating series. Red Bull eSports managed to catch up with Dmitrii "Smurf" Ivanov after the loss to discuss Wildcard teams, improving for next year and work ethic. It was a difficult night for you — coming out of a series like this, where do you have to improve? What are the lessons you’re going to take away?

Smurf: There were a lot of errors to improve on in this series, and we’ll be seeing how to correct them. I think also something that should be taken into account is the fact that we were playing on the last day, which gives our opponents an advantage because they’re more experienced and have had more time to adapt to the tournament than us.

What are the next steps for you after this? As a Wildcard team, how do you go about building on this success and continuing to improve to compete on this level again?

Going forward I think what we’ll be aiming for is international competition. This year, our goal was mostly to get to Worlds. As we arrived here and we succeeded in the Group stage, we realized that wasn’t our ceiling, and we could push forward, do better and set a new set of goals to be a dominant team.

I think a lot of people are asking after ANX did so well, are you representative of the overall quality of Wildcard teams, or teams in the CIS regions? Are there other teams on your level who could be playing with LCS teams?

Regarding other Wildcard teams, I don’t think the difference is that big. The difference with our team is bigger imagination to achieve more, to be victorious. Our success during this Worlds can probably be contributed to the fact that we weren’t trying to adapt to the default method, but we were trying to play our game. That’s probably the difference between us and INTZ.

After a night like tonight, I’m curious. Speaking emotionally, from the heart, do you leave disappointed in how things turned out, or are you proud of what you accomplished?

It’s the weirdest week, in a way. We’re proud of the accomplishments we made. We played against stronger teams, and if we played well, that would be enough. But since we went 3-0, it’s not that sweet.

Once you guys are done with this trip and you're back home, what's the plan? Does practice start immediately? Are you taking a vacation? Are you guys staying together?

We’ll be tired after this Worlds, for us it was a longer road for anyone else at this tournament. There was our regional championship, then Wildcard, then we came here. So we need to spend some time resting, reenergizing and it’s hard to say what exactly will happen to the team, but I think this Worlds shows that we’re good playing as a team so it should be OK.

Is it hard for a team like you to work hard and improve to an elite level because there's so little international competition? Is it difficult for non-LCS players to work hard and achieve success?

I don’t think it’s a big deal that has a huge effect on us. I think the main reason we’re starting to lose is that the teams here are starting to adapt to our playstyle and the mistakes we’re making to exploit them. For us the lack of international competition didn’t cause a big issue.

Now that Albus NoX Luma have been eliminated, the team plans to enjoy a vacation before heading to Russia for some solo queue practice. The team may have been previously unknown, but if the chants from the crowd was any indication, they may have earned a fanbase that will stay loyal throughout the challenges to come.

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