Post written by Peter “Yellowpete” Wüppen
Ever since my team and I arrived in the states, after declaring our intentions to stay here for the season, I have been asked frequently about how I perceived the move and what consequences it held for me. I want to share a handful of the experiences I’ve had within the few months that I have spent here and give a little bit of insight into what it meant for me personally to leave home so far behind.
First of all, I should probably mention that as an LCS player, most of my day is spent on activities that aren’t directly dependent on the country I stay in. Various mandatory tasks that I have to perform daily (scrimming, solo queue practice, streaming, etc) only require a place to live in and a stable internet connection, which I was provided with both in Cologne as well as now in Los Angeles. That doesn’t mean that nothing has changed, though – there are still a lot of small differences in my everyday life, and I’ll try to mention all that I think would be interesting.
Let’s start with the game itself – solo queue on the NA Server as compared to the EUW Server. Aside from the obvious fact that it has been a more stable experience (connection-wise), I have to say that I perceive the attitude of the average high-elo solo queue player to be vastly different. On EUW, I felt there was a high level of toxicity due to everyone trying extremely hard and being equally disappointed about poor play (be it from oneself or teammates). The situation was slowly improving with key players getting banned for their behavior, but I still felt that for any given game there would be a good chance people would start to argue or insult each other at some point. NA’s high-elo solo queue in comparison seems to be a more relaxed place. Players are obviously still giving their best performance and trying to win, but disappointment less frequently leads to destructive behavior or even personal insults. If arguments arise they may be equally unproductive but at least the focus is still on the game, not each others’ mothers. Overall, it is comparatively a much more relaxed environment.
In terms of scrims, teams seem to favor shorter time slots in NA. While it allows for more conversation about the games, it creates more delays and pauses.
But enough of the game! If I had to name the most significant change between this location and Cologne, it would probably be the weather. While it is typically anything but inviting to step outside during the winter months in Germany, here I can wake up to clear sky and warm temperatures pretty much every day. Going for a run in the Californian sun is truly a great way to start things off. Even the beach isn’t too far off to take a dip every now and then. It rocks! And if the summer months prove to be brutal, there will still be air conditioning almost everywhere. Ironically, the locals don’t seem to appreciate the blessing of great weather as much. I feel there are a shockingly low number of people walking or riding bikes in comparison to the vast amount of cars being driven everywhere. However, this may have to do with how far apart everything is in So Cal.
Second important aspect: food. While I can definitely attest to LA’s greater variety, I wouldn’t say the average quality is any better than what you typically get in Germany for your money, even if you ignore the abundance of different fast food establishments being scattered across the streets everywhere here. The service is typically good even though I can’t help but be annoyed at the waiter’s fake friendliness once in a while, which leads me to my probably biggest pet peeve about this area: tipping culture. I like the concept of doing a favor to people that go out of their way to make you have a good experience, but the fact that their regular wages apparently are too low to make a living without tips just makes things unnecessarily awkward and, of course, more expensive for the customer. In Germany, I would pretty much never have to feel badly about leaving a minimal tip or none at all, which makes it a genuine gesture of appreciation when I do. And while waiters aren’t as (seemingly) friendly on average as they are here, I have an easier time believing them when they actually are. And then there are other services like cab driving that I just don’t understand the point of tips for at all. The driver is literally just performing the service he is being paid for – but then expects an additional 15% in the end! Hair dressers etc., the list goes on. I’m not blaming the people that do the jobs for this because they don’t really have a choice in it. I just dislike the system in general.
End of the rant! Let’s get to some more personal things that might be relevant when switching continents for an extended period of time. Some people seem to be confused by the fact that I left my family and friends in Germany behind so easily. It is true that they are further away than usual, and if for example there were to be an emergency of some sort I couldn’t be with them as quickly as I used to when living in Cologne. However, I didn’t get to see them very often ever since we first left to Korea in summer 2012 anyways, so it’s not an entirely new situation by any means. The concept of distance doesn’t scare me a lot – I might live on the other side of the world, but in the end it is only a day of traveling away from anywhere I would ever need to go. The internet obviously also does its part in keeping me in the loop with what’s happening at home. I feel like I am not actually that far away.
In addition to that, everyone I have met here so far has welcomed us with open arms and made us feel at home – the fans, Rioters, other LCS players, etc. Combined with the fact that we now live in a more convenient place than last year and have everything we need taken care of, I would say that I’m actually enjoying my time here more than I was back in Cologne. I am looking forward to a great year!