In-depth interview: Doxy on the UK scene, playing vs Likkrit, meeting SonaBoner on Gross Gore's stream & being a space nerd

doxy 1 1

In a new type of interview for Esports News UK, we ask people outside the UK scene for their thoughts on it, while profiling them as a person – not just a player – in a thorough Skype text chat interview.
First up is Rafael “Doxy” Adl Zarabi, top-laner for Virtus.Pro, winners of the League of Legends Continental League (LCL) in the Russian/CIS region. And of course, the other half of the ‘mum of the UK scene’, Rachel “SonaBoner” Dean.
 

Esports News UK: Can you start by introducing yourself please, can you tell us about your history in LoL and esports, how you got into it?

Doxy: Hey, my name is Rafael Adl Zarabi, I go under the nickname “Doxy” and I have played competitively for almost two years. I started back in summer 2015 where I got really high on the solo queue ladder. I was rank 34 I think at the time, I remember being right below Alphari who at the time was rank 33.
Back then everything was much more primitive I would say. There wasn’t that many big orgs and wildcard regions were kinda non-existent compared to today. where they are getting a lot of imports, including Koreans.
Anyways, I got added on the League client and asked to play on Carpe Diem who at the time were competing in Starladdertv which later on got acknowledged by Riot and is now called LCL.
I played the Summer Split there with nothing else on my mind than just getting people to know about me, just putting myself out there in the scene. And it was a good first step. After the split I left and played a little bit in DDH (Spanish league), but left already after a month or so.
 
 

“I think the UK scene needs more money. Whether it’s from help outside or if ESL themselves start emptying their pockets, the prize pool needs to increase. There needs to be a reason for better orgs to invest in it and there needs to be a reason for imports to want to play in it.”

 
 
In spring 2016 I joined Vega Squadron, but left after a few weeks to make a team for open qualifier. We had a good roster actually (Doxy, Xerxe, F1natyx, Gabano, AoD) and also had Moo (ex Gambit manager, Roccat analyst) and Leviathan (ex Gambit coach) helping us out. But we disbanded already after a month and when the open qualifier was near so I was teamless.
In summer 2016 I played for Navi in the LCL but lost 2-3 in the semifinals to Vega, whom the next day went on to getting themselves reverse sweeped by ANX, who then went to Worlds and managed to get out of groups.
In 2017 Virtus.Pro (VP) bought a slot in LCL and was invited to play a cup in Saint Petersburg. I got asked to join and I brought the jungler Sezzer with me for the cup. We lost to Vega in the semi-finals 2-0. That leads us to where I am now, I played with VP for the 2017 Spring Split of LCL and we won the split and headed to MSI in Sao Paulo, but had a poor performance there and didn’t make it out of groups.
 

Congrats on winning the LCL spring playoffs. When you look back on MSI 2017, was there anything you would have liked to have done differently? What did you learn from MSI?

When we won the LCL split I still could not believe that we were going to Brazil in MSI. Even a few weeks after it I was still saying “guyss we are going to Braziiiiiil” and literally could not believe it. I am really happy we made it, but for our performance and having represented the CIS region (who are used to M19 (former ANX) playing really well internationally, for that I am really ashamed of myself.
We could have practised more and prepared better for sure. For me individually, I am really ashamed of how I played at MSI. I am not sure what happened, I was not nervous, but something definitely happened and I was playing poorly on those days. For that I apologize to the whole region, but yeah it was nonetheless a good experience.
 
 

doxy 3Doxy with Virtus.Pro teammate and jungler Ilya “Kreox” Grom

 
 

Thanks for the thorough answers. Can I ask what’s it like playing in the LCL in the Russian/CIS region? How does this compare to other national leagues?

Np!
Now that everything in LCL is run through Riot, it looks much better and the region in itself has come a long way. It went from Summer 2015 when I was on Carpe Diem playing in front of a few hundred spectators run by Starladder, to Summer 2016 on Navi, but playing in front of almost 10,000 in a huge stadium ran by Riot.
It’s way more professional and organised and just everything in itself is a huge improvement. I see for example that Spanish league production-wise is doing quite good and they have quite a big audience, but I think if Riot started helping the national leagues out as they did with LCL, they would all grow.
It would attract more players, better imports, orgs would probably be more interested in investing and so on.
 
 

“I am a big space nerd. I am really interested in space and all the wonders and mysteries of it. Hopefully in my lifetime we will become an interplanetary civilization and space travel becomes a regular thing.”

 
 

Wow that’s amazing, do you think with Riot opening a new office in London this month, we could maybe see a similar thing happening in the UK over the next few years? At the moment the prize pools and viewer numbers are small compared to other national leagues.

I am not sure why they are opening a new office in London, but I did see the announcement, I also saw an article about Tottenham I think wanting to host esport events at their stadium.
I think everything is slowly getting better and in a few years we will see a similar thing happen to national leagues as it did for LCL, but it just seems to go at a really slow pace.
I think the UK scene needs help in attracting players to want to play in their league. The Spanish league has the same reward as the ESL UK & Ireland Prem for winning it, a CSQ slot right? But the Spanish LoL league numbers in terms of viewers and budget just seems to be so much more than in UK.
I heard that in the Spanish league the players are getting money for playing their official games, which is similar to the LCL for example. The players are earning money other than the money from their orgs and it attracts players.
You can tune in and see ex LCS players like Vardags and Rudy and Toaster playing there. So what I think the UK scene needs is more money basically. Whether it’s from help outside or if ESL themselves start emptying their pockets, the prize pool needs to increase.
There needs to be a reason for better orgs to invest in it, there needs to be a reason for imports to want to play in it, and then we will see change at a faster pace.
 

I completely agree mate, I’ve been saying for years the UK scene needs more money, hopefully Riot will make it happen.

On the LCL again, can I ask what are your views on Likkrit and his performance at Worlds last year, did it surprise you to see Albus Nox Luna beat the Rox Tigers? What’s it like playing in the same league as him, does it give you an extra incentive to try and qualify for Worlds?

Likkrit is a really nice guy to be around and he is pretty smart. When I saw how they played at Worlds I was really proud to have played in the same region as them and also beat them once in the regular season of 2016 when I was on NaVI.
It gave me a confidence and a motivation boost to try for MSI the next split, and so we did. Playing vs Likkrit in LCL is always a good experience because he will always try something or do stuff other players would not do and it makes the game more interesting, which makes it more enjoyable for the spectators.
I have not announced what I am gonna do for Summer Split yet but playing at Worlds definitely is a goal of mine.
 
 
doxy 2

“I am really ashamed of how I played at MSI. I am not sure what happened, I was not nervous, but I was playing poorly on those days. For that I apologize to the whole region.”

 
 

Are you happy with how Virtus.Pro have performed in the LCL since joining in December 2016? Can I also ask what are your other longer-term aims and ambitions as a player?

I joined LCL in spring with winning the split and going to MSI in mind, I promised myself that and anything else would have been a disappointment.
My long-term goal is to make it to Worlds, I also want to in the future to play in EU LCS.
 

A quick question next – do you know if there are any British players in the LCL, or any that played there?

No there isn’t. When I joined in Summer 2015 I was the only import in the whole region haha, but now for summer split there’s quite a lot. In summer there will be quite a few Danish people I heard.
 
 

“My long-term goal is to make it to Worlds, I also want to play in the EU LCS in the future.”

 
 

Tell us something about yourself not many people know…

I am a big space nerd. I am really interested in space and all the wonders and mysteries of it.
I also like to listen to jazz and classical music sometimes, it helps me relax.
 

My dad is really into space… I sometimes think what it would be like to live in a space age, like when Earth is gone and who knows, humans are just living up there in space or on other planets…

Yeah, I was born in the wrong time haha, hopefully in my lifetime we will become an interplanetary civilization and space travel becomes more of a regular thing.
 

I have to ask this question. You are Rachel “SonaBoner” Dean’s other half, aka ‘the mum of the UK scene’, catfish detective and winner of Esports News UK’s ‘don’t mess with me on social media award’. What do you think of her reputation in LoL/esports and how well-known she is?

Everybody in the scene does seem to know her which is really great. The scene itself seems like one big happy family.
She is also my ‘momager’ (my mom manager for those who didn’t get that), she helps me with things within my career and I love her even more for that. She is a very caring person.
 

How did you guys meet?

We actually met through Gross Gore! She was mod on his stream and I got to know her through Twitter and met for the first time in 2015 London for the quarter finals of the World Championship.
 
doxy sonaboner

“You can say Gross Gore definitely picked the Lucky Card for me ;)”

 

Oh, another couple that met on his stream! Here’s something I wrote about another couple who met on his stream and proposed at i-series recently.

Ah yeah Robynne and Scott. The first time me and Rachel met was their first time meeting as well. They are friends of ours! 😀
 

Amazing! Gross Gore the matchmaker, who would’ve thought?

You can say he definitely picked the Lucky Card for me 😉
 

What do you think of her League of Legends skills? Do you duo together?

Haha me and Rachel used to duo a lot in 2015 when we first started talking but we don’t anymore, we both get really frustrated and it’s not pretty sometimes so we both agreed to not play ranked with each other haha.
She doesn’t really play much anymore anyways. We do play Arams together once in a while which is nice 🙂
 

So, for this interview, I also asked Rachel to send in a question beforehand.

Here is her question: “Why do you have such a fat head?”

My head is fungus humongous because of all the knowledge it is filled with from the scrims, hours of solo queue and all the VoD review I do. Knowledge is power.
 
 

i59 winners lolDoxy (second from left) with Deadly (centre) and other Magistra players at i59

 
 

Good answer!

Next question: Have you played in the UK scene before at all? What are your thoughts on the UK scene and what can be done to improve it?

I played the BYOC at i59 under the Danish organization Magistra. We beat MnM in the finals and won it. I also went to i60 for a day and saw Syndicate there, that was cool.
As for how to improve it, as I said earlier, it should start with a greater budget. The scene atm just does not seem attractive for players nor for orgs and I think if ESL is not interested in establishing a better league, then someone from the outside, hopefully Riot, comes in.
 

Those are all my questions Rafael, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Alright, thanks for having me! And no, not really. Thanks for the interview!
 

Any time mate, it was my pleasure. Thanks a lot for your time!

Likewise 😀
 
doxy 4

 
Image sources: LoL Esports Flickr: 2017 MSI Play-In Day 4

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