The Spanish Mentality

The LVP SuperLiga Orange is a Spanish league, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a league for Spanish players. Right now, only eleven of the starting players in the league are Spanish and honestly, based on merit, that’s how it should be.

I think we’re quite fortunate to have the LVP Superliga here in Spain, it’s a good league. The quality of the imports we have competing here has made the league what it is. I’ve never understood people who try and argue that having a high number of imports is an issue.

As players, we should all want to have the highest possible level of competition in our regional leagues – if that means importing players who are motivated and talented then so be it; it’s what the league needs and those players deserve to be here.

If we want more Spanish representation in the LVP Superliga Orange then Spanish players need to up their game, if they can’t do it then they can’t play – it’s as simple as that. Before teams started looking to other European countries for talent and the league relied solely upon Spanish players, the league was nowhere near as strong as it is now. It all comes down to the ‘Spanish mentality’.

In my opinion, Spanish players have a bad mentality. It’s a mentality that I think separates us from other regions and other nationalities; it’s a mentality that often prevents our players from being able to compete at the highest level.

We’re too comfortable making excuses. It’s too easy to say – if you fail – that it wasn’t your fault: when you’re cut from your roster in favour of an import who puts in twice the hours that you do, when you’re kicked because you can’t show up on time to scrims. Only when Spanish players wake up and realize that their failure was a result of their lack of effort will we start to get somewhere.

The ‘professionalization’ of the LVP caught many Spanish players off-guard. Before all the infrastructure, sponsors and investors arrived, no one was taking the LVP seriously, for the majority of the Spanish players in the league, competitive League of Legends was a hobby, not a career.

I found that mentality to be very frustrating. Of course, there were some who realized that being an esports player is a job – you’re working hard at something, earning a salary and getting a ‘bonus’ when you win competitions – but most Spanish players didn’t grasp that concept. They’d walk into a gaming house, see five PC’s set up and still couldn’t appreciate that this was their ‘office’.

League of Legends is a team game. That means, no matter how dedicated you are, if there’s one guy on your roster who just isn’t putting in the effort, all of your hard work can easily be for nothing.

There was a period in my career where my team at the time was losing every single game. To try and improve, I decided to spend my time outside of scrims reviewing vods and playing solo queue. After a few hours grinding, I looked around to see what my teammates were doing to improve our chances for our next game: one was snoozing in his chair, another was watching an extended cut of a movie… moments like that made me wish I’d turned professional playing Starcraft.

The Spanish mentality created a vicious cycle of sorts. Fortunately, it’s dying off now, but two years ago, it was expected in the Spanish League of Legends scene that teams would kick the entirety of their roster every six months and you almost couldn’t blame them, considering the attitude that most of the Spanish players had.

The players argued that there was no point caring when they were only going to get kicked anyway and the teams argued that they wanted players with more professionalism and so the cycle continued until the league started to receive investment and teams could start looking outside of Spain for players.

I’ve been playing in Spain my entire career so, of course, I was caught up in that cycle. Every team I played for, every project I was a part of, it was always the same: ‘We want to win and build for the long-term.’ Then the team would lose a couple of games and the organization would start kicking people and making roster swaps; not exactly the long-term project that I had been promised. One mistake was all it took for everything to fall apart.

It became my motivation to find a team that was actually looking to work towards a long-term goal. That’s when Penguins showed up. Many people considered my decision to join Penguins to be quite random, since Penguins wasn’t a part of the Spanish league at the time, but was playing the qualifiers to enter the LVP. In that respect it was a step down for me, but it was a step down to build something more sustainable.

I’ll admit, I did have my doubts when I first started playing for Penguins, especially during the period when we were still playing in amateur tournaments. Importantly though, the Penguins organization never lied to me like the others did.

Sure enough, they told me that they wanted to qualify for the LVP and onto greater heights beyond that and throughout it all, they would look to keep the core of the roster together. It was a line I’d heard before, but Penguins was the first team that stayed true to its word.

Things were hard in the beginning, but gradually we improved as a team and established ourselves within the Spanish scene. Even after we enjoyed success, the organization resisted the temptation to overhaul the roster – I had found the stability I’d been looking for.

For the first time, I was part of a team that shared my ambitions and playing alongside players with the same mentality as myself; I’ve been with Penguins for two years now.

I believe that if you can build a roster with five players who are all determined to improve, given the chance, that team stands a real chance of achieving something great. I felt that Penguins understood that from the start, they’ll let you have your bad days and will try to help you rather than kicking you. It genuinely feels like I’m a part of a long-term project.

A sense of stability is really important in esports. To improve, you need to have firm ground beneath your feet, it’s difficult to commit yourself if you’re constantly worried that everything could crumble beneath you at any moment.

It’s been during my time with Penguins that the LVP Superliga Orange has changed for the better. I think the league organizers realized it wasn’t ok for teams to repeatedly, completely change their rosters two weeks into the split and so they introduced a series of rules to limit the number of changes teams could make during the season.

It had a really positive effect on the scene as a whole; the vicious cycle was broken. Every player realised that they needed to fight for their spot and start taking the competition seriously otherwise, teams would be completely justified in finding a replacement during the off-season.

I think it’s also part of the Spanish mindset to get comfortable with what you’ve got. Don’t get me wrong, the LVP SuperLiga Orange is great, but I’m hungry for more than that; I want to reach the highest level of competition and that’s not something I can do in Spain.

I’m hoping for a better future, for the Spanish league and also for Spanish players like myself. I feel like the LVP and teams like Penguins are giving us all the tools we need to achieve our goals now – support, a sense of stability and access to quality European competitions like the EU Masters. I just hope that I and other Spanish players can make the most of this opportunity.

Image Credit: LVP SuperLiga Orange

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