The first game we played against cloud nine was my first week in the LCS. I was completely new to the studio / lan experience, playing with my teammates and was still a little shaken by the whole experience. Despite all of this, this was probably the best game I have ever played competitively
This was, from a completely unbiased perspective, my peak performance against the best team in North America at the time. Also, I was uninfluenced by the environment of the team, coming into the game with the best attitude I would have all split and I was not worried about the performance of my teammates. I simply focused on my capability to assist my team in winning the game and the results followed. It is weird looking backing on the game now as it is clear even from that game that individuals were struggling and getting outplayed around the map. Although at the time, for that game specifically, I never even considered that my teammates were having issues because of how we won the game. I just assumed we outplayed them as a team. Even looking back at the VOD now I can’t help but ask myself, if I hadn’t played that game perfectly and drew so much attention bot lane for my team would we still have won the game? This is never the feeling you want to have when you’re on a team; you always want to make sure if someone on your team has a bad game that your teammates or yourself, will pick up your slack and keep you on the right track. Of course, this is a pitfall of winning, you don’t consider the serious problems within a team until you begin losing consistently and by then it becomes a matter of how quickly you can actually identify and fix those problems before it is too late.
Over the next two months the two most important desires in my heart: to win and to play competitive League of Legends, would slowly rot away as I was further exposed to playing in the XDG environment. There’s no point in getting into specifics as it will create a witch hunt towards certain individuals on the team, so I will just say the major problems as generally as possible.
- First, there was animosity between certain individuals of the team and even between some players and management. This was expressed mostly with constant bickering between members over miniscule errors in scrims or otherwise and even came out sometimes on stage when we were in the studio as pointless arguments. Basically, we were not playing or attempting to win as a team.
- Second, certain individuals on the team simply were nowhere near as hungry to win as they were when they were known as Vulcun. There were so many ways this was shown to me when I played with them, and even having not been a part of the team before February, I could tell that they were no longer as they once were. Scrimming became a chore and at times it felt like no one at all was hungry to win. Some players were way more interested in their girlfriends than their job. An incident I specifically became very frustrated about was when there was more emotion put into a discussion about who was allowed to have their girlfriends over at the gaming house than why we were losing.
- Third, and this stems from the second point, there was pretty horrible mismanagement of the team. This is also related to an overarching issue with the infrastructure of North American e-sports as a whole, but in reality the owner of the team should have been more involved with his assets. Problems within North American teams are not identified and solved as quickly as within other regions because a lot of owners are comfortable continuing with a “working” formula, and own teams as an entertaining business venture and would rather try to repair broken assets of a team instead of replacing them. But what happens when that asset stops working for them completely or putting in any effort to improve and the owner isn’t even aware of it? This is how uninvolved the owner of the team was unfortunately. In Korea for example, these “assets” or “players” would be removed almost immediately and replaced but this is a much more complicated problem in North America because of lack of infrastructure of our amateur scene, and lack of talent as a result.
I want to say that I am being as honest as possible, and despite the fact that I could feel my yearning to win slowly leaving me; I still loved all of the guys on my team like brothers. I still miss my fast food runs with Mancloud and our manager Julian, I miss ridiculing Benny for being like a grandfather always awake before anyone in the morning with his slippers and sweatpants on. I miss my Frozen singing sessions with Zuna in the studio and at the gaming house. I also miss Ken’s Korean Pop in the house, and I miss Xmithie’s Lee Sin. I miss all the guys and wish them the best of luck in whatever they continue to do in life. I am privileged to have met everyone involved with the team in the short time I was with the organization, and truly thankful for the opportunity and exposure that it granted me. But, the reality of the situation is that these were the major problems with the team and they were not being fixed whether or not I was a part of the team.
The events leading up to relegations were some of the hardest losses I’ve had to accept, but truly helped me grow as a player. Had we won a couple more games, beat EG a couple more times, or had some players just picked up their game even slightly, we could have very possibly retained our LCS spot against one of the amateur teams besides LMQ. But in the end, it simply was not meant to be. All I will say about the series against LMQ is that it was pretty much decided before it began and once the first game was lost LMQ had secured their victory. Everything leading up to our series against LMQ created the very likely probability that we would lose the series and there is not much more to say about it.