The Smile After Sacrifice

Ross Lupino

I’ve had dreams of being a pro gamer from a young age and after climbing the ranks in League, I realized I had a legitimate opportunity to seize that dream.

Video games have always been a passion of mine. Fundamentally, I am an intense competitor who enjoys the nuances of elite performance. Going pro has been the perfect platform to channel that energy.

I was first introduced to League of Legends towards the end of season one where I initially played Twisted Treeline with two friends from World of Warcraft arenas. They taught me the basics of the game.

I became an AD carry main because I’ve always loved to kite around and do lots of damage from afar. In Warcraft 3 and Starcraft, I loved to stutter-step with groups of ranged units. Even in FPS games, sniping is my preference.

When I first became high elo in solo queue it was exciting to see the top-level players on the rift first-hand, but after a while, it loses its glamour because not many of them try hard in solo queue. They are still great examples to learn from and test your skills against, however.

I started in Season 3 as a casual Gold player and set my mind on improving. The World Championship was in North America that year and by the end of the season, I had reached Diamond 1, giving me the chance to play solo queue with the best players internationally.

It wasn’t until 2017 that I decided to fully commit to pursuing an esports career and I realised that to pursue my ambition, I had to make sacrifices.

I stopped hanging out with a lot of my friends and devoted myself to a healthier lifestyle to play at peak performance.

School used to occupy a lot of my time and attention; my grades initially dipped as I attempted to balance academic and esports pursuits simultaneously.

After two years of college, I realised that taking a break would be a necessary sacrifice with the time commitment required and my goal within reach.

Now I have the means to wholeheartedly focus on my esports ambitions.

I was ecstatic to be invited to Scouting Grounds. I remember anxiously counting down the days as I prepared to travel to the event.

My initial Scouting Grounds experience was very pleasant. Riot was very generous with their accommodation and made us comfortable with their introduction and campus tour. It was cool to meet the people that I always see in solo queue.

My perspective on fellow competitors shifted over the course of the week. During the drafting process, I viewed friendly competitors as rivals, except for my team.

I was determined to do the best I could to win our matches versus the other teams. After the conclusion of the competition, my perspective shifted towards seeing everyone as friends and wishing the best for them.

Of all the players at Scouting Grounds, the player that stood out to me the most was League. He is strong mechanically and strikingly smart about the game – he seemed to always get advantages for his team.

Similarly, while playing alongside Ablazeolive, he also stood out to me. Through all our games he had a positive attitude and you can tell he is hungry to win and improve.

It was a surreal feeling having had been a Team Liquid fan and then being drafted by them.

In general, I try to avoid recognizing external validation and am only satisfied when I know inside that I did the best I could, but this was an exception.

Being selected as 5th pick out of all the good players at the event served as an affirmation that my hard work was being acknowledged.

In 2018, I hope to be at the top of the solo queue ladder and practising with an academy team. If I learn even half as much in 2018 as I did in 2017, I will be in a good spot.

Scouting Grounds changed my perception of a pro career by making it more tangible and granting valuable insights. It confirmed to me that I will thrive in the intense competition of a pro lifestyle.

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