A Different Path

how did I get into League of Legends?

It’s pretty funny actually. I used to be the guy who made fun of my brother for playing a game called “League of Legends”.

As a kid, football was pretty much my life. That’s where my competitive drive came from.

I’m pretty competitive with everything that I do, and it shows whenever I commit time to something: it’s rare that I don’t become at least good at something. Maybe I got that from my dad: he used to compete in football as well, and he used to be pretty good.

I was playing at a pretty high level, regional, in the Netherlands. I even had the opportunity to join the SC Cambuur, who were in the top Dutch football league at the time. But after training with them for a while, it just didn’t work out; I don’t think I was good enough. I kept playing in the regional team on a decently high level, close to being a professional prospect.

When I was 14, my brother started playing League of Legends.

Honestly, I thought the game looked like World of Warcraft or something, and I just started laughing, even mocking him.

After a little while, he got me to try the game. The very first games of League of Legends I played were 3v3 on Twisted Treeline. It didn’t take long before I was pretty much hooked.

I wasn’t even using a keyboard back then, that’s how new I was to MOBA style games like that. I clicked my spells for a long time until my friends taught me to play with QWER.

After learning to not do that, and discovering the power of a keyboard, I managed to get to level 30 and try ranked out.

My journey to professional play was similar to most others. I came from solo queue.

You grind to challenger, stay there, and hope that someone important notices that you are a decent player. That’s really all there is to it.

If you do get the chance to prove yourself in a team environment, you start scrimming with players and teams. In my case, someone from Giants Gaming gave me the chance, and I’ve been involved in competitive League of Legends ever since.

The decision to remain involved in gaming took my father by surprise. He always wanted me to play football.

He was quite upset when I told him that I was quitting my pursuit of that particular dream. Maybe he thought that I could have made it. Maybe he thought that he could have made more of his career, and so wanted to push my brother and me even harder to make sure we didn’t make the same mistake. To be honest, I don’t know for sure.

Once I started making actual money from the game, he understood a little better. Initially, he couldn’t really grasp the concept: “You’re going to be a professional video game player?”. It does sound strange to someone who never really played video games.

My career started off fairly well. I played with GIANTS Underdoges in Spain. They signed me as a midlane sub for their LCS lineup as well, but I didn’t have any interaction with the team.

Things started improving when I went to Fnatic and became their in-house substitute.

That was when I started to learn about how a professional team operates, and how a professional player conducts themselves. Seeing what goes on during gameday at the studio was an important experience for me.

Despite the experience, the fact that you’re not actually playing at that studio does eventually wear at you. You want to be patient and wait for an opportunity, but you start thinking: “What if that chance never arrives?”

Don’t get me wrong, I have fantastic memories from Fnatic. In 2017, I went to Worlds, which was one of the best experiences I’ve had in this industry. Not a lot of people get that opportunity, and I am thankful for it.

In 2018, I felt as though I was ready to take that step with Misfits Gaming. Unfortunately, the chance for me to get on stage didn’t come up. Initially, I wasn’t even their in-house sub, it was only when I won the ESL UK Premiership in Spring that they asked me to move in-house.

I ended up rejoining Misfits Academy when LIDER couldn’t play the UK Finals. They didn’t want to pick up a random player from the ladder, as that can obviously cause issues, and I didn’t want to them down. We used to play together, so it made sense. We won the final 3-2 against Diabolus, and I knew from that point that I wanted to take the next step in my career.

Excel contacted me, and it was an offer I knew I had to take. Yes, I would be starting in the regional leagues, but I knew I could compete with Exile for the LEC spot. It’s good to have a goal to work towards, and a teammate to compete against. It pushes me to be better, and prove how good I am.

Thankfully, my time as a substitute meant I wasn’t that nervous on stage. My family actually travelled to Berlin to watch my first game in the LEC, which was a nice confidence booster.

We didn’t come into this season with many expectations. Obviously, we would have liked to have done better as a team, but we knew that this was a long-term project. The organization management told us to manage our expectations and not get downhearted if results didn’t go our way.

To be honest, despite the rough start, we’ve actually fixed quite a few of our issues. Our performance towards the end of Spring was very different than at the start.

We have a lot of rookies. We were going to deal with having lower game knowledge than other teams, but my hopes are different for the summer split. I have high hopes. ever since we got a performance director, things have been getting better and better.

Playing in the LEC is a dream come true, no matter what the results. I do know that both myself and Excel will continue to improve with more time and experience at this level. And I’m setting my sights on the playoffs in Summer.

Image Credit: Riot Games

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