Diving In

I’d like to give a shoutout to my friends from school.

We all started gaming together; It goes a long way back, like 9 or 10 years ago, all the way back to elementary school.

All of us were geeks growing up. Some of us played some sports too, but once the evening came around, it was all about video games.

Firstly, there was Call of Duty II back in 2007, which lasted for a few years. In 2009, one of my friends did suggest League of Legends, but it was still in beta and looked very different to what we were all used to.

By 2011, Call of Duty II was dying, and League of Legends came up again.

“Why not” we thought.

Some of us played more than others, but in general we all really pushed each other to improve as much as we could. By 2014, many of us were competing in online and local LAN tournaments.

The biggest problem I had was that I wasn’t entirely comfortable in the competitive environment back then. Basically, I had “ranked anxiety” or “ladder anxiety”

It turns out that the competition in our friendship group was the only thing that overcame that anxiety, because when my friend challenged me to see who could finish higher on the ladder, I had to dive in.

I went from Silver in Season One to high Platinum in Season Two. There was no Master tier or Challenger back then, so it was actually a pretty good finish for me.

Season Three was when the group started to fall apart. We moved to high school and people found new interests. It’s a natural thing to happen and I’m sure it’s happened to many of you, but eventually, I was the only one left playing the game.

We still catch up, so it’s not like the friendships ended, but we’re all on very different paths now. I’m a professional League of Legends player, and most of them have jobs or are studying in College.

But no matter what they’re doing, they still support me, and I can’t thank them enough for it.

It was then they quit that I decided to commit myself in solo queue. By the end of the season, I was in the new Challenger tier.

That success made me realize that I actually had a good understanding of the game – that I possibly had real talent.

That was probably the start of my competitive career…though I was a mid laner back then!

Even though I was trying to make a career out of it, the teams I played with still were not competing in Europe. Mainly, we just stuck to local events in Croatia.

In fact, a player I faced very often was PerkZ! He wasn’t the player that we can all see today, but he was obviously good back then. Facing him was…interesting, to say the least.

Eventually, the time came when my parents wanted to make sure I wasn’t ignoring my studies. I wasn’t a bad student, in fact I was pretty good, but there was still some pressure to be as good as I could possibly be.

In 2015, I took a year away from competing so that I could complete the first year of college. I didn’t stop playing, but I wasn’t competing. It was only after I completed that first year that I decided to freeze my course to compete.

I simply loved the game too much.

I’m not sure if I would have ever forgiven myself had I not tried to make a career out of it.

Upon my return, I found that the Croatian scene had basically collapsed. To find any sort of high-level competition, I had to look abroad.

Some guys I had played with formed a team for the Serbian leagues, but there was a catch.

The only roles they needed to fill was jungle and top lane.

As it was the only option available to me at the time, and I was already playing a solo lane, I decided then and there to switch to top lane.

I had to learn quickly to make sure I kept up to speed with the other top laners in the scene. Throughout 2016 and 2017  I wasn’t a very good player, but I spent a lot of time studying other players and committed to mastering the role.

After two years of developing in the Balkan region, Riot Games removed the Challenger Series and brought in EU Masters. It was a huge motivation boost to all of us.

My team, KlikTech, made it all the way to the main event as underdogs, and it was a great experience. I think all of us had offers after the event.

After an unsuccessful trial with Movistar Riders, I eventually settled with Dragons E.C, but at the same time, G2 Esports signed me as a substitute. They brought me on to sub for them if they made it to worlds, and I think it was a nice gesture from PerkZ.

In fact, it’s maybe one of the biggest reason that I’m in the LEC now.

Seeing the whole Worlds journey, the way they work and communicate, their commitment, and their work ethic – all of that expanded my horizons.

I would never consider myself a grinder, even though I put as much time as possible into practice. I would rather watch the game or do something else, instead of playing solo queue mindlessly – as long as I learn something.

It’s not just grinding; it’s also about knowing what I am doing, and why I am doing that. That’s why watching G2 at work was so important.

I was able to watch Wunder do his thing. This was a guy I followed before joining G2 at Worlds and a fantastic top lane player.

It was important because I saw his progression. When he was a rookie, he didn’t play that well; but looking at his growth made me appreciate him as a player.

I also saw him communicate, work, and play the game. Any top laner with pro aspirations could admire that. He’s probably the best top laner that Western League of Legends has ever seen, and I have a lot of respect for him.

The lessons inspired me.

When the offseason and team tryouts came, I gave them my all.

I engaged in them, and those watching me realized that my communication skills were really good. I was hoping for academy teams to notice me, and that’s what happened.

I didn’t expect to be picked up in the LEC, although I considered myself on equal ground with some of the players in there.

It’s hard to get your name in there as a non-LEC player. By the end of the tryout period, I received two offers from LEC academy teams, and I chose SK Gaming.

I saw SK’s idea – developing new players and offering them growth opportunities – and I chose that naturally. I wanted to see how it went. It felt more natural to go there because I wanted to show what I could do.

After a season spent in the German scene, I showed enough to SK to earn my place in the LEC.

But I’m not quite satisfied with my play. I look at my laning phase, and I see that I’m making micro mistakes that I usually wouldn’t. At least, I’m slowly improving.

Even though there are a few things to fix, I don’t feel too much pressure.

I’ll give myself time to grow, and improve one step at a time.

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