Akaadian: “If there’s some fat Twitter hate going on, I can just close the screen, I can close my eyes and it’s gone. It’s not like these people can affect me.”

Izento was able to catch up with Matt “Akaadian” Higginbotham about his game against Golden Guardians during Week 6 of the NA LCS. The main focus this time wasn’t necessarily the game itself, but about his recent vlog, the effects of social media and how it influences pro play.

What’s your take on the game against Golden Guardians?

        It feels like when I get on stage, our teamplay is just on a different level than theirs, so it was hard for them to beat us. When we played last week, it felt the same way. We were just too coordinated…and I don’t know if our players are just insanely good or what. We didn’t smash any lanes, we didn’t smash teamfights, we just had better understanding of wards and positioning, and also when we can and can’t fight around the map as a team. Everything that happened was pretty much a team play.

The game opened up with a three for three top lane which was completely telegraphed from them. They tried to go for it and went for it a little bit late, so we got two extra kills for free. They mispositioned in some fights and then after that, we had control the whole game and we were just waiting on them giving us a fight where we could stomp them with good positioning. They didn’t give it to us for a while but they were resilient and didn’t face check for vision. There are other teams that will kill themselves if you get vision control because they get nervous without vision. They did a good job of holding out, but overall the game was pretty fun though.

Last year I really got a kick out of out-jungling the opponent. If I got a ton of kills, it was really fun for me. I get a nice feeling from completely stomping the other team as a cohesive unit. If we all play better than them then it’s like “we did it”. That’s the shit that feels good.

Do you feel with having a superstar mid laner like PowerOfEvil, you’re comfortable playing more of a backseat role?

Actually, I’m not in a backseat role at all. I’m definitely the main person talking almost every game. I’m not going to say I’m “the shotcaller” because we all contribute but I do talk a lot about vision and what our overall plan should be for the game. PoE is very good and has a lot of brilliant ideas.

Froggen on the other hand, he makes everyone play around him and every game with him, his whole team will be playing around him and I don’t think PoE is one of those polarizing players. He’s just a good role-player, not in the sense that he’s only supporting the team but that he does his job, does a lot of damage and positions in teamfights well. He’s definitely different from what I’m used to in the past and I feel like I’ve had all sorts of mid laners in the past and PoE is extremely easy to work with.

Akaadian hugging with PowerOfEvil – Photograph taken by Riot Games

What are your thoughts on Dhokla fitting into the team so far?

I feel it was kind of random when we decided to bring Dhokla in. I knew Zig was doing poorly and it sucks to say because I like Zig as a person. He’s trying and it’s not like he isn’t putting in the effort as a competitor, he just wasn’t playing well for whatever reason.

The management looked at Academy stats and Dhokla was number one in almost everything so they told us Dhokla was coming in and I decided to watch some of their Academy games. He has good communication, offers a carry threat that, in my opinion, Zig just doesn’t have at the moment. I think he just lacks the knowledge to bring a carry threat to the team, not necessarily the mechanics. It’s been a struggle for us to play through the meta with a top laner that isn’t great at playing a carry style, like Huni for instance. This new roster change brings more options to the team and the game today against Golden Guardians, we did the same thing we did with Zig. He got cross-mapped and we essentially said “fuck you, we’re gonna go bot side. You can go down in cs but we’re going to make a counter-play” (laughs). We played like we normally do with Zig but the only difference was that he communicated better than Zig does and maybe his champion pool is better for what we needed him to do. I think he performed well in his first game and I’m proud of him.

You recently made a vlog talking about the value of social media and how you haven’t put a lot of emphasis on it recently. How have you handled social media during wins and during losses this season?

I think my mindset with social media has changed over time. When I was younger, I glorified all the LCS players. I really wanted that shit where Bjergsen was getting all the interviews and everyone was saying he was this insane player and I said to myself, I want that. I want to be that guy where everyone is excited to talk about and I think I got what I wanted. When I came into the LCS, I was literally that guy. I think it made me overconfident and I acted like I was god’s gift to the world. I was so talented and I thought I could sit back and destroy people in LCS and then the mid-season patch came through. After that, I didn’t have the same amount of effort that I was putting into my practice because I thought I was “the shit”.

I think over time I’ve begun to take the praise more in moderation. There are more factors into whether someone succeeds or doesn’t succeed. Teammates enable other teammates in how they play and what they sacrifice. Maybe I only did so well and had good stats was because Froggen was so dominant in the mid lane? Maybe Froggen was so dominant in his laning because Gate and I were so good at putting vision around mid? I always take what interviewers or fans say with a grain of salt because I think only the people that are actually inside the scene, that watch scrims and understand how it works, truly understand why someone is doing well. Over time, you can really see what someone is bringing to the team. I like talking to the fans but I’d rather talk to the fans and be more public with my true feelings, how my life is, how my teammates are as people, how it feels to work with them or even talking shit on other players or feeling bad about my play. I’m pretty comfortable with the emotional side of stuff.

Whenever you do get criticism, do you think it’s justified from the fans or Reddit? How do you feel about the way they go about giving criticism, because as you said, it’s the analysts that might be the only ones that truly know what’s going on. As far as fans though, what do you think the value is in terms of their criticism?

I think it’s cool that the fans get really into it. If you’ve ever been to a Superbowl party, all the people in there are talking about what the team should be doing and they think they know what’s going on. Do you really think any of the NFL players give a single care at all about what those fans are saying at all? No, not at all. I don’t put much value into what Reddit says because at the end of the day, nobody is really educated. Even the analysts that sit there and you’ve watched 400 games and never have been on the inside, I feel like it’s hard to have an idea on what’s it’s been like to have an actual idea of what’s happened inside the game. You understand what’s happening within the game but you cannot understand WHY things are happening and what players affect each other, so I just take all the other things with a grain of salt. While it’s kind of cool that everyone is saying that you’re good, it’s some recognition and if someone is saying you’re doing well, you probably have good stats and you’re winning and something is going well for you, but only you really know why your team is doing well.

Do you think that esports has a unique situation in that most of your interactions are online and that you may be over-immersed with your fanbase?

I think for me as a person, it’s important for me to get out into the actual world. This is not to disparage Twitter or any of those people, but so many of those people live their lives on the internet, and there’s just a lot of cool people to meet, lots of things to do that don’t involve the internet whatsoever. I think there’s a balance. If there’s some fat Twitter hate going on and I have 100 messages, I can just close the screen, I can close my eyes and it’s gone. It’s not like these people can affect me. I’ve had my criticism in the past and I’ve felt bad about it but at the same time, I wasn’t working hard enough to justify being mad about it. I wasn’t putting 100% of my effort to be reasonable about it. We are very immersed because everything is through Twitter and your entire personality is pretty much through Twitter and a lot of pros check Reddit to see what’s going on and I just think it’s important to just “do you”. Work on what’s going on with your team, hang out with your friends and respect the IRL aspect.

On the real, do you have any problems with the media themselves or journalists within the scene? Does that come as a positive or negative when it comes to the display of social media within the scene?

I think there’s too many boring interviews. There’s too many interviews that nobody cares about or wants to watch. The interviewer asks too many generic questions and the player gives really generic answers. You spend five minutes reading this and you’re just like “what did I really just read? I’ve already read this 100 times” (laughs). It’s just really boring in my opinion and that’s why this year, this is the first interview that I’ve done that’s not with Travis, and every time I do an interview, it’s just the same thing over and over again. Like, I don’t even care about the questions they’re asking me! They do the same shit! There’s definitely too many boring interviews but this is definitely not one by the way. This is one of the more entertaining interviews I’ve done.

You know the one’s where it’s like, “you guys haven’t been doing too well”, and the player just gives some answer like, “yeah, we’re just working hard on our synergy and it’s not going too well”. There’s a lot more that goes into a situation like that, but the player just doesn’t want to say anything more.

That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to avoid (laughs). Well, do you have anything that you want to say to the fans?

To the fans that have been posting #GreenWall on my Twitter and wishing us good luck, you guys are the true homies, I see you guys! I hope we’re on the up-n-up and it seems like we’re playing better as a team and can reach playoffs and make you guys proud.


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Izento is a journalist present at the NA LCS, armchair analyst and car enthusiast. As an avid Season 1 League of Legends player, he's since pursued his passion for esports through the power of writing.

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