The Taste of Competition

Kevin Wu
My journey towards the LCS started at the very beginning, at the very bottom; before Season One of competitive League of Legends had been announced, at a time when I wasn’t very good at the game at all.

By the end of my first year of casual play, I had reached no higher than what would be Gold Elo in today’s ranking system. Once Season Two began, however, I quickly climbed the ladder all the way to around 2500 Elo – shamelessly one-tricking Rengar – giving me my first taste of what it was like to play against professional players like Doublelift, Dyrus and Pobelter.

Playing with and against people who were making a living from League of Legends gave the game an added level of excitement, I wasn’t sure if grinding the Solo Queue ladder was ever going to get me anywhere, but by that point, I was already hooked. There were no grand aspirations, just a drive to win against the best, again and again.

During Season 6, I got my first taste of ‘competitive’ play when a friend asked me to play with him in a nearby LAN. After consecutive seasons playing at the top of the ladder, I was pretty confident in my abilities; I thought the LAN was going to be a free win for us.

What I didn’t appreciate was that OmarGod was also attending the tournament with his school team, so instead, we were handed a free loss and our event was cut short – thanks for that Omar – for future events, I made sure he was on my side of the rift.

Playing together, we placed third at LAN ETS and were then crowned victors at Dreamhack Montreal. Claiming first place at a prestigious tournament was an amazing feeling, giving me a renewed drive to compete at the highest level.

It’s a rite of passage that’s relatable to every and any player trying to enter the competitive scene: balancing school and League of Legends at the same time, validating the decision to your parents.

I probably would’ve stopped chasing League of Legends after Season Six if it wasn’t for Scouting Grounds that year. My parents had difficulty understanding that I was trying to play video games professionally, even though they’ve softened since, given the scene’s significant growth in the past year, I still don’t think they really agree with my decisions.

When Scouting Grounds was announced, I quickly realised that it would be my best shot at breaking into the professional scene. I dedicated myself to climbing the ladder and by the time the date arrived, I was the highest ranking top laner attending the event.

It was a fulfilling experience. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of good and aspiring players who all shared the same passion for the game. Unlike the confidence I’d had at LANs, I battled with my nerves during Scouting Grounds, worried perhaps that I wasn’t as developed as other the players, but those doubts soon faded as my team progressed to the finals.

Tony Gray, the head coach of Counter Logic Gaming, later told me that he knew the winners of Dreamhack Montreal were attending Scouting Grounds but that he didn’t really know anything about us. It was therefore due to the Scouting Grounds that I got noticed by CLG and I’m so thankful for that.

With the help of CLG, I think I’ve come a long way in developing as a player. I learn something new every day and there’s really no end in sight for how much I can improve. If you want to get better, you can always find things that you can improve upon and strive for greater heights.

CLG has a family-like atmosphere to it. Everyone is supportive of each other and there’s a strong mindset to help build your teammates up that really helps bond the team together. It really feels like I can treat the gaming house as home from home, instead of a workplace, but I guess when you love video games and you’re doing it for a living, then it never really feels like work!

Heading into the North American Challenger Series last season with a team of five inexperienced rookies was, admittedly, a little rough, but we knew what we were getting into. We wanted to get experience playing in the competitive scene and look for ways to improve as a team.

As a team, we were able to get through some tough times last year. We knew that our record wasn’t great, but we never stopped giving our best to improve. As five inexperienced rookies, there were definitely things we were doing that a veteran would have highlighted as a flaw immediately.

Temporarily parting with OmarGod – who was called up to the main roster – left a hole in our team. We had worked really hard for the first split trying to build team synergy, but it kind of fell apart after that point.

I was excited for us to reunite as a five-man squad after a long break at the start of this season. I don’t think anyone was really satisfied with how the 2017 season ended, so now we want to bounce back hard.

I’m as motivated as I ever was to become better than I was the day before and after we recently secured our victory of the split, I’m confident that it’ll be the first of many.

This year will be about slowly building better habits. Once you notice bad habits and start to actively work on them, over time, amending them will just become a part of your usual play and it slowly moulds you into a stronger player.

I hope to keep improving both as a player and as a person throughout 2018. I have no doubt that I’ll be able to achieve great heights with CLG and, as long as I keep working hard, I’ll be able to reach the NA LCS one day.

Image Credit: CLG & Lolesports

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