Bouncing Back

When Fnatic won the Summer split, I found myself in fulfilling a role that could do anything, as a substitute.

Maybe that’s overstating it. That’s what I was aiming for anyway, and I felt like I fulfilled that.

I played two positions: Filling in for sOAZ in the top lane when necessary, and playing a lot in the bot lane instead of Rekkles when the meta changed.

At the end of the split, in the playoffs, we lost almost every single game that I played in. But when sOAZ played instead of me, they won.

I think that was probably the lowest I have felt on this team.

As a person, I hit my lowest low in the 2018 summer split after the finals.

I felt like a liability for my team, and even solo queue wasn’t going well. It was a very frustrating period, and there were a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head the entire time.

The biggest of all those questions was my role at the World Championships.

Did I have the ability to know two roles and that many champions? I was playing mages, AD Carries, bruisers, and tanks on the run-in to the tournament. I had to be ready to play almost anything against the best players in the world.

It’s not as simple as just having a wide champion pool. The champions weren’t really the problem – it was the roles. I don’t think a lot of people understand how difficult it is to even be remotely competitive at two different roles at that level.

In the end, I think I stretched myself too thin. The team wanted me to be ready to step in when necessary, and I tried, but the extra pressure I was putting on myself didn’t help at all.

I wasn’t as good as I could be, as I needed to be, or as I wanted to be.

The situation was definitely leading to another low point for me. Not being as prepared as I wanted to be left me feeling less valuable to the team, which brought me down further.

Coincidentally, around that time, I met Lena.

She didn’t know that I was a professional player. She knew that esports was a thing but really didn’t care who I played for or what my achievements were. She just played League of Legends. She’s actually pretty good, usually somewhere between Grandmaster and Diamond I or II.

Even when Fnatic travelled away to Bootcamp for Worlds, she was part of my day-to-day life.

Every player has bad days or poor scrim performances when you’re bootcamping. Thankfully, she was there to cheer me up when it happened to me.

My family is very supportive too, but having Lena is different. Having someone who plays the game and understands it at a high level, but also respects that opinions might be different – it’s priceless.

There were even times where she said something like “Why don’t you pick this champion and try X, Y, Z” and then I do try that in solo queue or scrims, and it works. I guess she knows my ability very well!

But of course, it’s not just the League of Legends part.

We get along very well. I can be who I want to be with her, and it gives me a chance to not think about my performance or whether I’m ready enough.

Without the support of Lena, I would have had a much harder time bouncing back for the 2019 Summer split.

We did have some problems moving to Berlin together this year. Finding the right place in Berlin is hell.

Who knew it could be so difficult to find a place in the capital city that allows people to stream?

The whole thing was actually quite a weight on my shoulders for the Spring split. She moved into a country where she couldn’t speak the language, didn’t have any friends, and I couldn’t even get her decent internet to pass the time with streaming.

The whole process was a big burden for us, and it was something we had to overcome together.

I still have a lot to learn. As much as I want to be Superman – with perfection in my personal and professional life – that is an unrealistic goal.

But I’m constantly working to try and be the best I can be in both environments.

In my professional life, I now only have to focus on mastering one role – the top lane – as the main starting player on Fnatic.

The last split was not acceptable for any of us.

At one point we were discussing bringing in an in-house substitute for the top lane, but we didn’t find anyone suitable for it – but I did give the team my full support for that.

If we find an insane rookie in the top lane that we can take as a seventh man, he’s welcome to join us. If someone can show me how to play the game better and carry us, he’s welcome.

Why would I deny the opportunity of improving? Sure, I wouldn’t get this many stage games, but my pride doesn’t lie in playing all stage games.

In Spring I played every stage game, but that doesn’t mean I feel good about the Spring split when I think back to it.

I feel that I have actually been doing much better this split, but as always there is room for improvement.

There is much more of a team feeling here and the coaching and management staff are doing a great job at bringing the best out of us.

Everyone on the team understands my mindset now. I just want to be a consistent and positive contributor to my team.

I am confident that I will perform; I won’t let my teammates down, I won’t let Lena down – and I won’t let myself down.

Image Credit: Riot Games

Adel Chouadria assisted in the creation of this article.

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