A Long Time Coming

Those who followed my growth in the German scene would say that my arrival in the LEC in the 2019 summer split was a long time coming.

But all of this almost didn’t happen, had a friend not forced me away from playing first-person shooters to play League of Legends. He really had to convince me, because the game really didn’t look appealing to me at the time!

All it took was a couple of games on Annie and Blitzcrank to win me over. I ended buying every champion that I could just to try them all out as much as possible.

Back then I wasn’t looking at my rank very much, but it became apparent that I was pretty good when I became unable to queue up with my friends because of the rank difference.

I’m not proud of it, but I basically one-tricked my way to Master with Yasuo, so I had to start adding champions to my pool to improve as a player. It was Cassiopeia and Gangplank that allowed me to break into Challenger.

Getting a high rank in solo queue is great, but it didn’t take too long for me to want more from the game. Playing competitively was the next step, but I didn’t really know where to even start.

NA LCS caught my attention before EU did, actually. TSM was the team that I watched the most, and that was back when Regi and Dyrus were still active. I knew I wasn’t at their level yet, but they were very interesting to watch.

It wasn’t until All-Star 2014 that I realized I might have the capability of getting into professional play. Bjergsen was at the event, and I managed to solo-kill him during solo queue. As soon as it happened I just thought: “Oh, I’m actually not as bad as I think I am…maybe it’s time to see how far I can go”

Getting to the LEC has clearly been a very long journey, and I’m glad to have found a friend to take the journey with me.

Phrenic and I became fast friends through solo queue, and both of us wanted to join a team together. No one was taking us as a jungle-mid duo, so we formed our first competitive roster together. After we got the team going, ESC Gaming took the team in to compete in the German scene.

Our first ever split in competitive play was a success, and we reached the ESL Meisterschaft finals. It meant having our first on-stage experience at Gamescom, which was huge.

After that, it was clear that we would keep the duo together. We joined up with Iguana Esports alongside HeaQ and Kektz. It was then that people started to see us as the best jungle-mid duo in the ESLM. Everyone was playing so well that we ended up winning the whole split.

That result qualified us for the Challenger Series qualifier back when it existed, but it didn’t go as planned.

Unfortunately, we dropped the ball against the underdogs in our group. We managed to beat a team that eventually did qualify for the Challenger Series, but it wasn’t enough for us to progress.

After such a promising start to my career, it would have made sense to stay the course and bank on the fact that I would eventually make it into the big leagues, but for my parent’s sake, I had to stop.

They wanted me to finish high school, and I knew that it also made sense to do it. I had one year left, and I knew that League of Legends would still be there when I was done.

I finished Abitur and got back to the grind after one year. Mousesports was waiting for me and offered me a spot. I’m grateful for their faith in me when I returned, but unfortunately, the roster didn’t work out as intended.

The roster included Gistick and Conjo playing their first competitive season, Inspired still being very young, and myself coming back from a year-long break, and that combination meant that we failed to turn our scrim success into competitive results.

It wasn’t easy to face some of the community backlash surrounding my performance during that time. Going 1/7 on Malzahar in EU Master, for example, didn’t help me at all.

But it wasn’t all bad. During that time I worked hard to improve my communication and shot-calling. I was used to having more vocal teammates in previous teams, but in this case, I decided to step up and try to have a bigger voice. It was a good lesson to learn and has helped me ever since.

Still, I struggled to find a team after that. There was a negative connotation because of both mine and the team’s performance. Eventually, BIG took the chance on me, and I knew that if I played at my best we could become a top team in Germany.

Once again, I took over shot-calling in full, simply because we had four rookies on the team and Don Arts wasn’t as communicative in-game as he is these days. The atmosphere in the team allowed me to use my creativity in my calls.

Eventually we solidified ourselves as a top-four team in Germany, and I would consider that a success, honestly.

I think my success there helped me get the opportunity to play some in-house scrims with Brokenshard for SK Gaming, which is what eventually lead to me joining their LEC academy team. Once again, I was reunited with Phrenic.

It wasn’t an opportunity that I was going to let go by. All it took was one split for me to show how good I had become. We reached the Premier Tour finals, then the EU Masters finals.

When the time came for me to move up to the main team, I was ready.

Even when I fell behind in some games, it didn’t impact me too much. As long as I kept playing my style and did what I needed to do, it would work out. No opponent in the league scared me, and I knew that if the matchup made sense, then I could beat anyone.

We came painfully close to reaching the playoffs, but a loss to Team Vitality in the final game of the season put those hopes to bed. In reflection, the atmosphere in the team wasn’t great anyway, and performing in the playoffs would have been tough.

Going into the offseason we all knew that changes had to be made to improve.

Ultimately, we opted to bring in Trick and Limit in the Jungle and Support roles respectively. Roster changes rarely work immediately, and there was an adjustment period, but everyone could see that there was potential in the roster.

Defeats in scrims helped us identify our flaws, which were most individual rather than collective. It meant that we struggled to be the protagonist in our games, as we were already on the backfoot.

The big change was in the team atmosphere. Rather than being forced to withhold your opinions – or just being ignored – we were all able to talk with each other honestly. We went from pretending to be happy, to actually just being happy.

That happiness in a team cannot be underrated. G2 Esports highlights that better than anyone. Those guys all have fun playing together, and it helps them to stay relaxed and perform at a higher level.

That kind of atmosphere means that all of us are focused on being better teammates, rather than just trying to shine on our own. That much was obvious from the first game of the split. In the old SK, we might have tilted and lost, but with this roster, we held our nerve and came out on top.

It was a process, and that is something I’m very familiar with.

My entire career has been a long process. There are some players who can skip steps and reach the top very quickly – Nemesis, for one example – but that’s not me. I improved step-by-step.

My path to the LEC came at my own pace, and that’s important to me. There’s nothing wrong with skipping steps, but my gradual improvement has ensured that I keep working hard, even when things aren’t going my way.

When I first started on this path, I told myself: “Don’t be delusional. You are never as good as you can be. Start small, and learn from every single mistake that you make.”

That is my mantra. It’s not something that I will forget just because I’m in the LEC now. No matter what I achieve in my career, that will always be in the back of my mind.

Editors Note: This article was produced before the widespread outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent temporary suspension of the LEC.

Photo Credit: Riot Games

Adel Chouadria assisted with the creation of this article

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