By Eugene “Pobelter” Park of Evil Geniuses
I first heard of League of Legends back in 2009 through a MapleStory auction forum called “Basilmarket.” I was just a bored kid in middle school about to enter the 8th grade, and didn’t desire anything else than to play video games all day. I ended up applying for the closed beta and was accepted around the end of July, 2009. I can actually still remember my first game of League of Legends: I went Fiddlesticks top lane and stacked Amplification Tomes.
I was really bad at the game for a while, and when the ranked system came out, I maintained my Elo at about 1400 for a long time. I believe that this was around the time that CLG and TSM had their origins. Throughout the beginning of Season 1 I played a lot of Janna, Ashe, and Tristana, but when I started to play AP Sion I ended up climbing the ranks quite a bit, and eventually had my first encounter with a pro player in solo queue: Elementz. At this time, CLG was the best team in the world, and I was just some lowly scrub, so I was really nervous to be playing against him. I ended up killing him in lane and actually screenshotted the death announcement because I was so proud.
Beating Elementz in lane and climbing up the rankings a ton had convinced me that I was actually good at the game, and that notion was quashed quite hard just a few games later when I laned against bigfatjiji. I got absolutely crushed, and had never played against someone who was just so much better than me. This really motivated me to try my hardest to become as good as he was, and so I started to develop my champion pool and started learning a lot of other mid lane champions besides Sion.
At this point, which was around the end of Season 1 or beginning of Season 2, I was asked by LiQuiD112 to join Curse, which was at the time a sponsorless team by the name of ‘xxx’. The meta was starting to be fleshed out after the Season 1 finals at Dreamhack, so I was forced to move from mid to top lane because I was the only one on the team that was capable of playing Jax, Gangplank, Vladimir, and some other champions at a competitive level. Curse ended up competing at most of the live events of Season 2, but I was unable to attend many of them because of my age. As such, I was restricted from every IEM event besides New York (IPL3), and was eventually benched from the team due to my age – preventing me from participating in the LCS that would be introduced the following season. I was quite disappointed by this: I had been with the team since the very beginning and wouldn’t even be able to play the season finals to completion. It had been a series of promises which had been broken to me: LiQuiD had told me I would certainly be playing with the team through the entire season because of my contributions to the team. That later became a promise that I would be playing through at least MLG Anaheim and GESL near the end of the year, because the team was gunning to pick up either a Lilac from Korea or Westrice, and wanted to get practice with them for Season 3. That promise too was broken, and I was removed from the main roster a few days before MLG Anaheim.
Eventually, I did end up playing for Curse again after I was benched at the MLG Summer Arena in New York. I was subbing for Westrice, and we ended up taking a game off Azubu Blaze, who was one of the best teams in the world at the time, so that made me really happy. Curse actually offered me a spot to rejoin at this time, but I declined because I was on my own team, Meat Playground, at the time, and we were looking pretty good in online tournaments and scrims. I think that the ADC of the team, LightSludge was exceptionally talented and if he had continued to play, he would be one of the top players in North America today. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to translate our online success into LAN success, and ended up pretty much getting crushed at every tournament and were unable to qualify for the Season 2 finals. Probably the crowning achievements of Meat Playground were that we beat iG on the NA server to qualify for IPL5, and then we almost took a game off Moscow 5 at the event. LightSludge and I were unable to continue playing on the team in their effort to qualify for the Season 3 LCS because we were both underage, so we were replaced/quit and the team ended up not qualifying.
From this point, I ended up bouncing from amateur team to amateur team. The most prominent one was Curse Academy, in which I played with IWDominate, Altec, Rhux, and several support players. This roster had the same problems that plagued Meat Playground; we were never able to translate online success into winning LANs. There were two specific events that led to the downfall of this team: at the IPL “make-up” event that Riot hosted, we were 1:1 with Cloud 9 and were winning the third game by a huge amount. And then, we threw hard – or rather, I threw hard, by making a series of really bad calls. This had a hugely negative impact on my confidence at LAN which I was finally starting to build up, so I pretty much avoided making any calls whatsoever from that point. At MLG Dallas which we expected to win, we lost 0-2 the first round, and were eliminated. IWDominate became extremely discouraged and ended up quitting the team, and after a short while, the team sort of dissolved. Here, there were even more disappointing managerial circumstances though: because of the failures of the Curse Academy team at LAN, I was tasked with reworking the team’s roster. Just a day after I was told this, I was informed that Curse would instead be picking up an entirely different team as its Academy team, and also became aware that LiQuiD had been looking to replace me anyways.
I remained pretty much teamless for a while, playing with an amateur team called Infinite Odds for a short time before leaving them. As the end of Season 3 neared, I reached out to some LCS teams who were in need of players, but none was interested in picking me up because of my time commitments to school. There was a brief glimmer of hope with Curse, which seemed willing to work around my school schedule, but that went away rather quickly. Disappointed, I came to the conclusion that it probably wasn’t a reality that I would ever compete in the LCS besides as a substitute until I graduated. Yet I ended up being contacted by Evil Geniuses, and from there qualified with my team into the LCS from relegations. Currently, our place in the standings is not the greatest, but I firmly believe that we will be in the LCS next split, and hope to compete at Worlds.
In retrospect, I’ve been extremely lucky in becoming good enough at the game to be professional. For every player that you see who makes it into the LCS, there are quite a few others who have dropped out or quit their jobs to try and qualify, only to fail. From qualifying into LCS, there are also many players who can only keep up at a top level for one split or season and end up fading into obscurity with nothing to fall back onto. Overall, I’m extremely fortunate to have had the experiences of competing, making friends from all over the world, and succeeding at doing what I love.