Learning to Lead

I have been an in-game leader for as long as I can remember. I am not sure whether it was my personality, or if it was just the easiest way for me to win but it just happened naturally.

I grew up in Ohio, playing League of Legends for fun. In truth, I fell behind at school because of the bad gaming habits and the bad sleeping habits that I developed.

I kept levelling up and was promoted to Challenger for the first time when I was 15 years old, but outside of the game, I hadn’t really grown up at all.

I did not intend on playing professionally and it wasn’t something I was actively aiming towards, yet I found myself on what would go on to be the very first iteration of Cloud9 Academy alongside Licorice, Deftly, Damonte and Grig.

Playing with that team, I remember there was a month where we went undefeated in our scrims, not dropping even a single game. We were scrimming against other lower-level teams but, despite our strength, we could not officially enter the Challenger scene since C9 already had a Challenger team.

Despite that barrier, we kept playing, still going 6-0 in our scrims every day.

In hindsight, I can say we learned absolutely nothing about how to play as a team. At least we had a lot of fun doing it.

About two months after we had started playing together and just as it appeared that there was a vacant spot for us in the Challenger Series, we were told that Riot had put a ruling in place that prevented an organization from having another Challenger team immediately after a previous roster had been promoted.

Upon hearing this, Jack shut down Cloud9’s involvement in the Challenger scene. Licorice, Deftly and I were sold to eUnited, whilst Damonte and Grig went to Delta Fox.

At eUnited, I actually started to develop a deeper understanding of the game.

The thing I improved most upon during my time with eUnited was an understanding of where exactly I was supposed to be as a support during various points in the game.

It was something GBM, in particular, was very picky about. If he felt that I was in the wrong spot, he would always be sure to highlight it in the next VoD review because he always felt that support was one of the most important roles for the success of a team.

GBM felt that, as a support, you always have to be in the right place at the right time or your team would not be able to really push their advantage.

I’m grateful to him to this day because that lesson was probably one of the most important things I have learned in my career – it was the single biggest factor in my improvement.

eUnited ended up being denied a franchise spot in the NA LCS. It didn’t really change things for me since I’d been told that, even if they had been accepted, I was not part of their future plans.

I was looking for a team in either the LCS or the Academy league, and I was fortunate to end up with opportunities in both.

I chose Cloud9 Academy because, despite having a lot of options, it was a move of comfort for me given that I already had experience playing for the organization.

My decision ended up paying off immediately. Cloud9 gave me the opportunity to lead and let me have a lot of control in choosing the rest of the roster for Cloud9 Academy. I knew they already had Goldenglue, who is really good, and I was excited about playing with Wiggily as the jungler.

I saw the potential in Cloud9 Academy right away.

At first, the organization was not looking to prioritize a strong academy team, but after some discussions with Jack, they realized it was not a bad idea after all. They gave me a lot of say in which players to sign and to this day, I’m pretty happy with my choices.

Everybody on Cloud9 has helped me in some specific way.

Keith taught me a lot in that first split I played with him, particularly about laning and how to push our lane and our leads.

I learned a lot watching Smoothie and he would give me invaluable advice that has helped me to become a far better player.

And, of course, Reapered’s influence can’t be understated.

I have the confidence to facilitate things a lot in our team nowadays, but of course, there are still times when I am incorrect.

It is nice to have experienced players like Sneaky and Jensen to ground me during those times when my inexperience shows. Similarly, Licorice has had a head start on learning about LCS level macro in the past year.

There’s a great dynamic in the team. I feel like I have a lot of room to make mistakes, which is really important, as it’s something I have struggled to accept throughout my career as I’ve tried to establish myself as a leader.

I’m grateful to be a part of Cloud9. They have taken the time to not only help the team improve but to also focus specifically on the rookies in the squad.

I appreciate the sacrifice they made earlier this year.

They could have gone a completely different route by putting other veterans in but instead, they chose to rebuild from the ground up with two rookies and I do not think any other organization in the NA LCS would have taken that approach.

It’s my goal to be able to repay that faith and to lead this team well. I want to be known as a good teammate that maintains strong communication and keeps everyone on the same page by clearly defining our goals as a team.

I want to become a leader for Cloud9 for the foreseeable future.

Image Credit: Riot Games

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