In this job, six years is a pretty long time.
Some would say that staying near the top level of League of Legends for that long would require a lot of competitive drive. It’s true, it does take a lot of that. I always want to win, to prove that I am good enough – or at least, better than other players.
But there’s a lot more to it than that.
Over the last six years, I’ve had to learn many lessons and figure out what was important and worth my attention, and what wasn’t.
The lifestyle of a professional League of Legends player isn’t an issue for me, but I know that it is for some. There are countless players that used to compete but have since retired.
It was much easier to be a pro back then. Players didn’t need to put in as much effort as they do now, and the particular skill set required was different too.
Some people weren’t ever made for it, but either got lucky or just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Eventually, when the scene evolved, they were left behind or replaced by hungrier players.
On the other hand, it is still important to enjoy playing the game.
If you don’t enjoy it, you burn out. It happens all the time. Some people just want to return to living a pretty normal life. Some end up working around the industry, and others go into streaming so they can set their own hours and work to their own targets.
The game changes a lot, and it can be hard to repeatedly have to re-learn lots of things that you had previously mastered. Personally, I enjoy the variety. It means that my job doesn’t become stale, and I don’t have to practice and play the same champions for two or three months at a time.
2018 Spring Split is a good example of when that can get you down. I had to play Tahm Kench and Braum over and over again. It really did make me start to dislike the game entirely.
In order to get through those phases, and to make sure I continued enjoying the game at the top level, I also learned to spend more time focusing on myself. No matter the team environment, the problems, whatever, I could remain positive and try to find solutions.
A positive attitude doesn’t mean staying quiet and saying nothing when there are problems. You have to actively look to solve the issues while making sure that you yourself don’t get too frustrated.
If the atmosphere within the team is so toxic that I can’t do much about it, I can still keep a positive mindset and wait it out until the split is over. Players that drag their teammates down will usually struggle to find teams anyway, so it doesn’t happen as much nowadays.
There’s usually always something to work on. I have learned a lot in the last six years, but even now there are new situations and surprises thrown at me from time-to-time.
Another strange part of the job is that your fortunes can change quite rapidly, and sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it.
In 2016, I went to Worlds Semi-Finals with H2K Gaming. Since then I haven’t been back, but almost made it three times with Team ROCCAT and Schalke 04. With the latter, we even almost won the 2018 Summer Split.
And despite all of that, I’ve never won a final at the top level.
Twice now, I have spent time outside of the LEC/LCS because I chose to follow offers that I preferred over having a status as a top pro. In 2017, that was with Schalke 04, and most recently, when I joined Rogue’s Polish academy lineup.
Returning to the Polish scene was quite a surprise for me. The changes between now and when I started my career in 2013 are huge. Back then, the majority of teams were just playing for fun, with only one or two having some sort of salary.
Things are a lot more professional now. Much more structured. Riot Games are involved and it’s a completely different scene. The Ultraliga even has a very similar format to the LEC now.
Of course, I and many of the other old-school players have changed as well. After five years, Woolite and I have a completely new dynamic. We both grew up a bit and developed as human beings.
Spending four years apart and then teaming up together again is a pretty unique story for League of Legends esports. It’s the kind of thing that happens all the time in traditional sports, and the older this scene gets, the more it will happen here. But up until recently, when players leave or get replaced at the top level, they rarely come back.
So it’s great that Woolite and I can play together again at this level. He started by splitting time with HeaQ but then earned the starting spot for himself.
Of course, we’re not the only ones to play on the main team from the academy – Finn, Inspired, and Larssen are too. We made sure not to put too much pressure on ourselves, just that playoffs would be nice…and it is nice to get there!
I still want to win a big final, but I’m comfortable with just doing what I can and seeing if that chance does come.
When I was on Schalke 04, we set our sights on a deep playoff run before the season had even started. After falling short of that target, I realized that focusing on the work ahead, rather than specific objectives, could be better for me.
Not everything is in my control, so I should put my energy into the things I can control.
Image Credit: Riot Games
Adel Chouadria assisted in the creation of this article