Why Not?

I am baffled with how lucky I have been throughout my entire career.

At the age of 15, someone spotted me while I was playing solo queue.

Juves of Sin Gaming sent me a message out of the blue asking me if I was interested in becoming a professional player.

“Why not?”

What else do you say to that? I didn’t even know anything about him and I’m sure he had no idea who I was besides being a pretty good player. They needed a new AD Carry, and there I was.

There’s no crowd when you’re playing on the OPL Stage. My first competitive matches felt no different from playing those first scrims, to be honest.

I was just a kid in that first split. Playing competitively came with a big learning curve in terms of mentality and team dynamics.

It became clear that getting tilted or being negative after a loss has no value at all. If you can’t be a good teammate, then it’s very unlikely that you’ll ever succeed. I loved my team at the time, and we still keep in touch today. All of them taught me a lot that I’ve carried forward in my career.

Unfortunately, although I enjoyed playing on both Sin and Order, I started getting pretty demoralized for one key reason.

In the OCE scene, if you’re not first, you may as well be last.

Finishing in second place doesn’t earn you a spot at MSI or Worlds. If you don’t earn a spot at Worlds, there’s basically no way that you’ll get noticed by the rest of the world.

Every split, I watched the Dire Wolves travel the world as our representatives. They were an amazing team, but I always like – if I had the opportunity – I could do better. I just wanted the chance to prove that.

When I joined Bombers, everything just clicked immediately. Even though Balkhan couldn’t speak English when he came, he was a really good player. I didn’t mind helping him learn the language, and for a while we just communicated through pings anyway!

It worked, and we became a dominant force in the game together.

At Rift Rivals, we were just a rookie team enjoying the fact that we were playing an international tournament in Vietnam. Obviously, there was a little but of pressure, but no one expected to win and it was mostly just a lot of fun.

There was definitely a lot more pressure at MSI.

Though, like usual, I didn’t get nervous on stage, it manifested itself in different ways. The night before our first game, I probably slept for about three hours because I was just so excited and nervous to play.

As a team, we showed glimpses of what we could do, but in the end a lack of international experience and maybe some nerves creeping in meant that we didn’t do as well as we could have.gh

There was also a slight distraction because I knew I’d be joining GGS Academy before we even left for MSI. I told my teammates about the situation, though in hindsight, maybe I should have just let them focus on the tournament. They were supportive, and I appreciate that they didn’t hold anything against me, but I wonder if that brought the mood down a little at the time.

I was ecstatic to get the GGS offer, but it was sort of bittersweet. We had just won the split and I had a great friendship with my teammates at Bombers. It felt almost like a betrayal to leave them in the middle of the year. They reassured me that they didn’t care about that, they were just happy for me. I am really thankful for them.

For a lot of players in the OPL, North America is the end goal because the infrastructure and salaries are so much better here. You can’t really be a professional player in the long-term if you’re just playing in the OCE region.

If I ever wanted to continue playing the game for a long period of time, the move to NA was very needed.

At the start of my career in North America, I felt a little uneasy. A higher profile league comes with a couple of downsides, and one of those is more scrutiny on your performance. My performance wasn’t up to scratch in some of my first matches, and viewers jumped on that.

It was the first time in my career that I really felt consistent pressure, to be honest. It wasn’t a one-off like MSI – I had to perform every week.

In the end, I think it was mainly in my head. Putting too much thought into public opinion is a bad mindset that I’m still working on overcoming fully.

Thankfully, the organization put a lot of faith in me and trusted me to develop as a player within the team.

Everytime I think about where I am in my career, it feels almost overwhelmingly surreal. I worked hard for this, but it still gets me. I’m playing League of Legends professionally in one of the major regions. As one of the first OCE imports, too.

Everything is so much more grand here in America and I just love everything about it. The infrastructure, the food, the players, the backroom staff. It’s fantastic.

Although coming here meant that I would lose the opportunity to go to Worlds in the very near future, I knew that Inero was an amazing coach and that I would be able to learn so much from him, and the rest of the players and coaching staff.

I’m looking forward to continuing my development as a player with all of these guys.

I am extremely happy where I am at right now, but why not take it a little further?

It’s time to prove that I deserve this spot.

Image Credit: Riot Games

Sage Datuin assisted with the creation of this article

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