No Room For Emotion

Fnatic is an emotional team; that much was made clear in China last year.

Having played in the Turkish Champions League, I thought I had experienced the full range of issues that can occur within professional League of Legends teams. When I joined Fnatic to play in the EU LCS, I imagined everything would be at a really high level, that it would be very professional, that emotional conflicts would be left at the door.

I’d held this image in my mind of the EU LCS, picturing everyone as top-level competitors where everyone is 100% on it. In reality, when I joined the EU LCS, I realized that, even within top organizations like Fnatic, there are a lot of reoccurring problems within team environments; there are a lot of things that could be done better, especially how we, as players, practice and treat one another.

I decided to talk about it with players from other teams and I soon realized that all the other top teams have, or have had, the same problems.

There are so many different words I could use to describe Worlds 2017, but I think “stressful” is probably the best fit. It was a really stressful experience, not just because we were 0-3 after the first week, but the whole ‘Worlds experience’.

Heading into the 2017 World Championship, we felt fairly confident that we were a better team than both Immortals and the Gigabyte Marines and that we would be able to secure second place in our group.

Obviously, the first week went about as poorly as it could have done. We got ‘cheesed’ in our first game against GAM, completely thrown by something we’d never seen before and then, against Immortals, we had basically won, but somehow we managed to throw the game… these things happen with best of ones.

As a rookie, experiencing my first World Championship, it was a really sad time. The emotion of the team came to a head and we had a lot of talks, there were a lot of things that we all wanted to be better but just weren’t.

When it was my turn to speak, I told my teammates that, in my opinion, the main problem with our team was that we were more caught up in our emotions than our actual gameplay. So long as we didn’t tilt or have any more internal problems – like players outright refusing to play certain champions – I was confident that we would be able to beat both Gigabyte Marines and Immortals; we just had to get on the same page.

It wasn’t perfect, we still played as an emotional team in Week 2 and we made a lot of errors that we wouldn’t usually do, but when you play six games in a row, it happens.

That legendary comeback was the most exciting and the most hyped thing that has ever happened to me – I’ve never experienced anything like it. Somehow, we were able to turn our luck around and win every game we needed to. We didn’t show the best version of ourselves, but fortunately, our opponents didn’t either.

Obviously, there were good things about Worlds – the tour organized by Riot was really nice, but I couldn’t enjoy it as much I would’ve liked because of how focused I was on the games ahead. Outside of that though, we barely left the hotel room.

I enjoyed playing my part in Fnatic’s ‘Legends in Action’, I’m not usually the guy who tweets the most or makes the most content for the fans – I’m not really ‘out there’ that much – so it was good that people could see a different side of me.

The internet is a bit different in China, some social media sites like Twitter are blocked, so we didn’t actually see the community feedback until after Worlds. Then, even some of the pro players came to me and said that the videos were really funny, in particular, the room tour. It was fun to make, so I had hoped that it would also be fun to watch; turns out it was.

Separating the emotional aspect of our game is something we’ve all been working very hard to address since Worlds.

It’s definitely been better this split, Joey has helped a lot. Everyone realized that whilst we won most of our games last year, we were not reliable and we hadn’t figured out a good way to practice.

When Joey came in, he brought a lot of the techniques he had picked up from G2 Esports, which he has now implemented with us. Since we now have the best things from G2 and the best things from the old Fnatic style, things are looking really good right now.

Obviously, we are not at the level we want to be yet and that’s another thing we can improve on. Come Spring Split Playoffs, I’m confident we will be really, really good; I’m hoping that we can enjoy another hype moment this year in Copenhagen.

Coming into this year, I wanted a lot of things to be different and, so far, it looks like everyone else at Fnatic wanted the same.

Image Credit: Riot Games

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