Push Yourself

Andrei Ruse
Some people may not know this, but I was already in the League of Legends scene in 2013.

As most people did, I was playing it when I started, but I took a break from it, going into university and trying out some other games.

At the time, the scene wasn’t as big as it is now, but I would have taken the same decision.

Taking that time to study was a good decision. I wasn’t mature enough to pursue a career properly, and going to university gave me another overview of life.

When I came back to it, I decided it would be best to use my knowledge more into the coaching side rather than being a player.

I learned a lot more about life in my two years in university than I would have if I stayed in esports.

There are some things you just don’t learn as a player in the esports scene. You have staff behind you that take care of most parts of your life so you can focus on the game. You don’t learn how to become self-aware and self-sufficient.

I’m very grateful for the lessons I got there, and I can implement them much better because I don’t have to focus on my life outside the game. No matter where I stand in life outside of gaming, I know I will be just fine.

After spending two years in university, I was so passionate about League of Legends that I decided to quit and commit fully on League of Legends and esports.

I could have just finished university, got myself a “normal” job, and then wondered for years about what could have been. I didn’t want to have any regrets.

Instead, I took the risk, and I felt I put the right pressure on myself to perform and get better at what I do.

I pretty much triggered my survival instinct on purpose. In this kind of way, I would have no other option than to succeed, so I went full-on and tried my best.

But I didn’t just become SK Gaming’s head coach overnight. Every story beginning has a follow-up, but every beginning has a story before it as well.

My beginning was in the Romanian National League. Organizations didn’t even exist yet in that scene, it was just friends teaming up and playing together.

One of the first to get involved, Nexus Gaming, was where I ended up. It was my first coaching experience. But it helped me get a good grasp of coaching, and I liked it more and more.

To improve, I checked out some of the bigger teams in esports, and teams in football and basketball, just to try and see what their coaches were doing to improve and help their teams.

But coaching, in general, isn’t a standard thing. There’s no set way of doing things. Everyone has their own way, and you sort of have to pick and choose certain aspects while also creating your own style.

My style leans more on having a good structure behind me and utilizing the same mindset I had when I was younger. For a while, I was a competitive Tennis player.

A lot of pro League of Legends players have never experienced what it’s like to have a proper coach. It’s a shame because something like that can really help a person grow as a competitor.

Personally, I was able to implement a lot of what my coaches had taught me.

It’s important, I think, to not insist that you have all the answers. Players are emotionally attached to some degree, and they’re biased towards some opinions, so it’s important to have someone’s outlook from outside.

I might not be right sometimes, but having different perspectives helps.

Maintaining a good relationship with the players is vital. They have to trust me naturally. If trust is lacking, nothing will fall into place the right way. 

You can’t expect someone to take your advice or give you their all when they don’t trust what you’re pushing on them.

I look into ways I can help them, what their needs are, how they think about things, and how I can work around their individual thought processes.

From there, it’s about goals. Obviously, the main goal is to help everyone as much as possible and get the team playing at their best, but there’s a lot of ways to go about this. For some players, you might have to start by setting small, easier targets. While others are capable of taking on bigger, more long-term goals.

I’m the type that works best by keeping things short-term. I rarely find myself looking very far into the future, but instead take things one step at a time. If I’m better than I was yesterday, I’m happy.

Achievements are another thing that I don’t like to put too much weight on.

Instead, I have a personal competition, with myself, to see how far I can push myself and how I can help people. At what point does my help stop? How much further can I push it?

That was my mindset when I joined SK Gaming Prime as their analyst – before SK Gaming joined the LEC. I was helping them in the German National League, and I thought it would be a good experience to learn inside an established organization.

When the LEC team was announced, the organization asked me to join the main team as an analyst.

Obviously, I took the opportunity because it would be good for my personal development. It would also align with my goals.

We wanted to build a rookie lineup where everyone would evolve with one another, and I was really interested in the project.

Then, when Brokenshard came into the main team, he moved me to the assistant coach position, then made me the on-stage coach for drafting purposes.

It wasn’t meant to happen so quickly, but I moved up to the head coach position when Brokenshard decided to move back to the academy team.

Although I wasn’t expecting it, or looking for it yet, I am grateful for the opportunity. It shows that after all this time I’m still heading in the right direction.

My advice to anyone reading this is to go after what interests you if you’re willing to put in the work.

It could be League, writing, photography, analysis – whatever. Someone has to do it, and it can be you, but it takes a lot of work. You really have to push for it, or get lucky…or both, sometimes.

At the same time, be open and honest with yourself along the way. That’s the best way to do it.

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