After his impressive performance in the Fall Split, Jeroen “Xaliea” Klaver has returned to the SPL spotlight and shined brighter than he ever has before. Since joining Obey, he’s smashed through every opponent in his way, claiming their lives and blue buffs. I was able to chat with the pain train in the solo lane for a bit about his origins as a solo laner and his feelings about the current state of his role.
What got you interested in playing solo?
“I used to play the game when there was no solo lane because it simply wasn’t possible to jungle. I just played side lane carry which usually ended in me playing assassins. Once the jungle got introduced, the mid laner of the team I was in wanted to jungle, so I switched to mid since quite liked playing mages and I LOVED Ra back then.
I only played mid for a week or two before we wanted to switch it up again and I kinda just got put solo. I quickly realised it was actually quite fun. It was also the role that had the most things to try out, and I loved experimenting with different builds, gods, and even starts. Now I never play anything else.”
When you first got into competitive, did you have any role models?
“I can’t really say I had any specific role model. Sure, there were pro players in games like League of Legends that I could look at and think, ‘Wow, that’s cool, I wanna do that too,’ but that’s about as far as that went. I also joined Smite while it was still in its infancy, so you can imagine how far along the eSports scene was. There wasn’t anyone to be a role model.”
Is there anyone you look up to now?
“It’d have to be the Smite savant, CaptainTwig. I can’t keep my eyes off of him. He plays with unparalleled elegance and poise. Before I even know what has happened, he’s ganked my lane, given me a kill, three buffs, and a foot massage. He makes it look like he’s just playing a game.”
What do you like most about solo?
“I like how every game feels different, more so than in any other role. There’s so many gods to try out and then so many things to try on those gods, like build-wise and whether you start jungle or lane. Every matchup makes it different as well, making me change what ability I level and so on. I realize that other roles have some level of this too, but I think solo is like that most of all. I just love the variety, really.
It’s been better in the past, but even now there’s still some really interesting niche picks that work amazingly. But the role of playing frontline is fun for me too. I can just dive the backline like a maniac and kill everyone in my way like a walking bringer of death. It doesn’t matter how much damage the enemy ADC does or how big his damage numbers are. Numbers aren’t gonna matter when I’m coming for them.”
Is there anything about yourself that makes you feel like you belong in solo?
“I like soloing people... but I also don’t like getting soloed... so I don’t know, really.”
How did you come to join up with Obey?
“After getting kicked off Eanix, I figured I’d take the split off, reinvigorate myself, and wait ‘til the final split. Roster changes were bound to happen before then. Nonetheless, by the time the split ended, the rosterpocalypse was a lot less extreme than expected. I didn’t get any really interesting offers for quite a while until eventually a few of the Obey boys sent me a message telling me about the ManiaKK situation and that they’d like to try me out. After a week or two of trying out, they chose me for one reason or another and the rest is history.”
What was it like re-adjusting to competitive Smite after taking some time off?
“I was surprised how easy it was, actually. I thought I’d be a bit rough at the start with my comms and rotations, but it actually seemed like they were better than before. I don’t really know why that’s the case. Maybe I really did need a break of sorts or maybe the team made it easier for me to talk up more, but it went really well.”
You certainly showed that you’re back and ready for action! Speaking of, how do you think the split went?
“Another thing that went better than expected. I never saw us doing poorly, but I don’t think I could’ve imagined us having this much of a flawless split (Elevate doesn’t count). I’ve never been a part of a team that can consistently perform so well, and it makes things a lot less stressful. I don’t have to worry much about winning or losing, because we’re obviously going to win. Well it’s either that or PrettyPriMe’s personality just giving off an aura of chill.”
Is there anything you, personally, or your team as a whole need to work on before Super Regionals?
“There’s always things to work on. Games can always be cleaner. One thing we can work on is making our comms slightly less chaotic in big teamfights. There is such a thing as talking too much, although by now we’ve pretty much worked on everything we wanted to work on already and I think we’re 100% ready for Super Regionals.”
I totally agree! So let’s talk more about solo as a role. What kinds of players make the best solo laners?
“In general, I’d say aggressive players would make the best solo laners. It is usually the role of the solo to be the front liner and get in the face of the enemies to either kill them or just be a big nuisance. Nonetheless, there is also room for more passive players to shine in solo by just playing more late game characters. Get through the early game and then outperform the enemy solo laner in the late game. Either way, you are gonna need someone who isn’t scared to go in when it matters, but I do believe there is a place for different players with different mentalities in solo.”
If you had to boil solo down to three words, what would they be and why?
“Buffs, Jungler, and Sadness when you don’t have either.”
What’s the most common mistake you see solo laners make in ranked and/or competitive?
“Outside of mechanical mistakes, I often see solo laners not take full advantage of pressure by rotating or taking my jungle. I understand being scared of getting ganked, but there is such a thing as playing too safe. The other end of the spectrum is a bit more rare, but I see plenty of that too: people invading when my jungler is clearly rotating or even when I can defend it all by myself.
Usually it’s people not taking advantage of the pressure they have and just sitting in lane, staring at me, while there’s stuff to be done. You want a good median. Take small risks when it’s appropriate or necessary, but don’t do crazy stuff and throw a lead. Even pro players don’t do it perfectly, but those are the things you need to learn as a solo laner: when to be passive and when to go in.”
What do you think are the best ways for solo laners to learn?
“I don’t have much to say other than the useless tip to just play more. You can learn some tricks and get some help with matchups you’re having trouble with by watching streams and other videos, but the vast majority of the time, you’re just gonna learn by playing the game yourself. Push yourself by playing ranked or joining some kind of casually competitive league and actively try to learn from your mistakes and you’ll grow as a player.”
Do you have any shoutouts you’d like to make?
Written by Lermy