Shoes To Fill

I’ve grown a lot as a player, but I’m still perceived as the same kid I was on Team SoloMid.

I’ve always been kind of upset that I joined TSM so early in my career – I don’t think I was ready; I didn’t have enough experience and I was playing alongside legends.

I was 17 years old.

On TSM, I had some great individual performances, but I had no idea how to contribute to our team’s identity or macro strategy. I had a lot of trouble communicating and pathing; I was only good at outplaying the other junglers mechanically.

Aside from that, I admit, my teammates kind of had to carry me.

I wish the NA Academy League was around back then. It would have been great for me to see an experienced jungler play the role competitively. I could have listened to what he said and how he played and built myself up to become the jungler that TSM needed.

I wasn’t ready for the job and I was really bad at taking criticism. I think I got over-defensive because everyone on the team was better than me.

I’m certainly happy I got to play for TSM because it gave me exposure. However, it’s a double-edged sword, because when people think of me, they think of TSM in the 2015 NA LCS Summer Split.

Because of the carry jungler meta in the Spring split with TSM, I did quite well. However, the meta switched to engage tanks in the summer, like Gragas.

I’ll be honest, I had no idea how to fucking engage on Gragas.

I was really scared of going in first, and I had never been in a leading role of any kind before. I was used to playing carries and assassins, so it was really hard for me to help the team, adjust and fulfil my role.

I felt really bad that summer because I genuinely felt like I wasn’t good enough to help my team win. That’s the worst feeling ever.

After I left TSM, I received offers from a few different teams. I had decided to join a team, but it fell through at the last minute.

There wasn’t a lot of options left for me, but Huma, an EU Challenger team, was still in my back pocket. All of the other teams that I was speaking with had found junglers, as they thought I had already been signed, so that’s where I ended up.

It wasn’t the best situation for me, but that’s how it worked out. Huma ended up actually doing pretty well. We were getting scrims against all of the good EU LCS teams, and we were doing really well in the EU Challenger Series.

On Huma, I was the primary shotcaller and carry; I had the team play around me a lot. We played the way I wanted to play, not because it was always the right way, but because if we played around me, we would win.

It was good for me to play on a team that was less experienced than me so I could develop my leadership skills.

My mid-split trade from Huma was a mutual decision between myself and the organization. I don’t want to go into details too much, but it seemed like they didn’t have the finances to support the team. It would be basically playing for free and potentially getting money in the future.

I decided it would be better for me to join Ember through a buyout from Huma. Ember would have to pay Huma, so then Huma would have some money to help the rest of the team.

It was a good option both for me and the team at the time, though, for the record, I actually really enjoyed playing for Huma. We were a pretty good team and I think we could have qualified for EU LCS if things had played out differently.

I joined Ember right before the NA Challenger Playoffs, so I only had a week to practice with the team. It felt like I was just put in to fill a missing piece of a puzzle.

Contractz was the jungler before me, so I just tried to fill his shoes. In truth, they weren’t really the shoes I wanted to wear, because I’d become used to doing more for my team than just playing jungle.

However, Ember already had two big voices on the team, so I didn’t have any shotcalling powers.

I was more of a filler position, and it felt like I wasn’t as big a part of the team as I wanted to be. I didn’t have much time to put my thought into it, and there wasn’t enough time for me to do anything to change the identity of the team.

We were eliminated almost instantly and it felt like a big hit for my career prospects.

I signed with NRG Esports for the 2016 NA LCS Summer Split.

Joining NRG ended up being a chance for me to show what I was capable of.

At first, I expected OhQ to do really well because I was familiar with him from the previous split in the NA Challenger Series. He was on Team Dragon Knights, and he was smashing everybody. I was really excited to have him as a teammate, and GBM had just come off a fantastic debut split in the NA LCS.

I had some really good carries, but as time went by, they weren’t really stepping up. I’ll admit, I expect a lot out of my teammates.

My eyes were set on playoffs right from the start, but after a few weeks, I realized there were problems.

OhQ couldn’t talk to the team in the way he probably needed to due to the language barrier and I honestly don’t know what happened with GBM. I think he still did well in some games, but he lacked the consistency he had shown in the spring.

I had to find a way to prove myself.

If my other teammates aren’t stepping up, then it’s on me to rise to the challenge. I got to play a lot of carries and engage champions and I felt like I had a big hand in our team’s success. I was leading the team. I don’t think that was the plan originally, but that’s how it turned out.

I genuinely liked being on NRG. It wasn’t anything official, but there was an interesting conversation we had right before the relegation tournament. I was playing really well, and NRG expressed an interest in building around me heading into the future if we could retain our NA LCS spot.

I thought we had a good chance against Echo Fox going into the final relegation match, but we got smashed.

So I had to move on again. Just like that.

For all of 2017, I was on Gold Coin United. I was again put in a leadership position, and I felt that I performed pretty consistently. We had a lot of talent on our roster but ended up falling just short when it really mattered.

On FlyQuest, I don’t mind saying that I’m not the leader because we don’t really have one outright ‘leader’; everyone is good at making decisions mutually.

Frankly, I don’t think that you can have just one leader at the highest level of competitive play anymore. One person isn’t going to be right every time.

It’s been really nice for me because I don’t feel like the weight is just on my shoulders to set the game plan. My teammates will call me away from bad ideas and follow up on my good ones.

I’ve been so excited this entire split because I feel like I’m finally getting a second chance at the opportunity I squandered on TSM.

I’m really lucky that I got the opportunity to play with FlyQuest. My time on TSM ruined my reputation because I genuinely wasn’t ready, and I think that hurt my career for years.

It was hard for me to find a team where I was capable of doing it, but now that I’m on FlyQuest, I finally have the opportunity to prove myself.

Image Credit: Riot Games

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