When I first installed League of Legends, the thought of being paid to play it professionally never crossed my mind.
It was a long journey to get to where I am: Representing Schalke 04 in the LEC.
I always felt like I was pretty good at the game once I got the hang of it, and I had no problems going into ranked when I reached level 30.
My professional aspirations started to appear right around the time I got to Master tier, and shortly after, Challenger.
Once it became my goal, I was pretty willing to do anything to make it as a competitive player.
From 2016 to 2018, I played in Germany, Turkey, Germany again, France, and Turkey again. If one team didn’t work out, I didn’t want to take a break, I just wanted to find the next team that had potential.
There was definitely a learning process that had to happen, and with each team, I got a little bit more experience and understanding.
Acting in a team setting, talking to teammates outside of the game, receiving and giving criticism, confidence, communication, and even simple things like performing at my best – I learned all of that during my League career, not before.
It wasn’t all fun-and-games. There were times in those early stages where I didn’t have a good relationship with some of my teammates, or maybe I could have done more to try and build an even better working relationship.
But I still learned something from those situations. Now, I found my fundamentals, and it’s all working.
In those two years, when the LEC was still just the EU LCS, I didn’t really understand what it took to play at that level.
As much as I thought I was talented enough to be there, I didn’t actually work hard enough to prove that – and I didn’t focus on the right things to work on a lot of the time.
After I realized that it was up to me to progress in the way that I wanted to, I realized that it wasn’t as hard as I was making it. For the most part, my growth as a player was up to me, not another player or a coach. I had to be the one to set and meet the goals.
The one exception to that and a player that genuinely did help me quite a bit was Broken Blade.
We first met at Mysterious Monkeys in 2016 but didn’t play together after that until 2018 with Royal Bandits in Turkey.
Together, we won Rift Rivals and finished the TCL regular season in first place. Things were looking up, but unfortunately, we failed to make it to Worlds, despite getting very close.
During the time we spent together as teammates, I realized that he really improved because he worked very hard and put a lot of effort in the right places when playing the game.
After taking note of his process, I played a lot more solo queue than I had before. Just by doing that, I improved as a player. It was nice to be beside him in the beginning and to start pushing ourselves upwards together.
It certainly paid off. Broken Blade is in the U.S with TSM, and I’m in the LEC with Schalke 04.
Even though I didn’t really know what to expect when joining, I was happy when I arrived in Schalke 04. The thought of proving myself to four other players that I didn’t really know was daunting, but also an exciting challenge. My expectations were limited, and I just wanted to make sure I gave it my best.
We connected with each other quite quickly. As a team, we’ve never had a problem when talking about the game and how to improve.
That atmosphere definitely helped me become more comfortable with my new surroundings. Unfortunately, at the end of the Spring Split we missed out on playoffs, and I started to question myself.
“What if I’m not as good as I thought I was?”
“What if Schalke 04 don’t want me anymore?”
Trick joined the lineup in the off-season and changed my mindset for the better.
He’s a player with a lot of experience and knowledge – both in-game and out. He knows how to get players working as a team, and on an individual level, he helped me gain my confidence back. He and PerkZ had worked very well together, and he wanted the same for us as a duo.
Together we focused on getting my game knowledge and awareness to a much higher level. How to make calls from mid lane, when to call for jungle help, how to predict what the opposition will try to do…things like that.
Once you learn things like that, it helps in all other aspects of your play as well. I have a much better judgement of when to play aggressive and when to hold back, for example.
I was always confident when I played in amateur leagues, and I don’t choke on stage, but at a higher level of play, I did sometimes feel “lost” in the game.
Thanks to Trick, this is a problem that has mostly gone away now.
If I took things a little more seriously from the get-go, then maybe I could have fixed that sooner, but that’s just part of growing up as a player.
I have progressed a lot since the amateur league days. I think the key has been opening myself up to trying out things that maybe worried me before, and being accepting to failure. I did, and maybe still do, fear failure, but now I know that it’s something that has to happen if you want to learn and improve.
I guess the thought process is: If I never try new things, or defend my ideas in discussions, then I will simply never progress.
For my whole life, I have been introverted and shy.
Slowly but surely, I’m opening up.
Image Credit: Riot Games
Adel Chouadria assisted in the creation of this article.