League of Legends esports is ruled by those that are calculated, ruthless and prepared to do whatever it takes to succeed. G2 is the epitome of this. Although the organisation has tried to move away from its villainous image, the cockiness and banter remains. For good reason: It makes for great entertainment, and even more amazing content. But while Caps likes to join in on the fun, he still remains a very different player at heart; a player that genuinely loves, and only cares for the game that is League of Legends. Caps, unlike other players, doesn’t strive for glory or fame, but simply to reach a higher understanding of the game itself. It’s this selfless attitude that we all could learn from.
When we think of great athletes, generally speaking, there are two different types of players that succeed and win it all. First, the tryhards. Kobe Bryant, known for his legendary work ethic and studying the referees in order to get away with fouls. Cristiano Ronaldo, who is taking 3AM ice baths to take his physical capabilities to a new level. We admire these players because they are very human; while they certainly are gifted as well, they seemingly trained harder than anyone else. Their success and ability becomes tangible, as it is the result of hard work – and anyone, regardless of the field they’re occupied with, can relate to this.
Then there are the “naturally gifted”. This group of people is best described by the character Sasaki Kojiro from the manga Vagabond – a talented, but mute samurai, who cares for little to no things besides fighting. Despite being a grown man, Kojiro is presented with a child-like personality: His mind is occupied only with the “Way of the Sword” – the philosophy of fighting being a natural extension of oneself, that it should be as intuitive as breathing. While other characters fight for honor, glory, or “becoming the strongest fighter under the heavens”, Kojiro acts. And even when he kills, he smiles. Because he can’t think of a greater joy than fighting.
It’s a level of childish innocence that is admirable, and, unlike the tryhards, seems untangible to most of us. A pure, untainted love for the fight, accompanied by a disregard for worldly possessions. And even though League of Legends isn’t a game of life and death, it’s this exact childish innocence that I see when looking at Caps.
After Rift Rivals 2018, Caps and the rest of the Fnatic squad arrived back in Berlin severely hungover. Not from partying, of course, the jetlag was simply too much to handle. The following weekend, Fnatic, Europe’s dominant team at the time, surprisingly went 1-1. A win against Roccat, but a loss against Splyce. Caps himself wasn’t able to sleep properly:
“I tried to go to bed at midnight, but lay awake for three hours. I then wanted to go to the office to train, but since no one else was awake, I couldn’t even play. So I was thinking about our Level 1 engages we played against Kingzone at MSI, and went through my Champion Matchups. At around 7AM, I finally was able to fall asleep.”
Around that time was the point I realised how special of a player Caps is. While most people, most players even would try to distract their mind with something besides “work”, Caps would go over the smallest of details so he wouldn’t make the same mistakes in the future. There are a lot of things an 18-year-old would occupy himself with at four in the morning; Netflix, Youtube, other video games maybe. But Caps doesn’t care about these things. Caps only concerns himself with getting better at the game – the thing he loves, the thing that brings him the most joy in life.
Caps doesn’t concern himself with his public image much either. While other players run around in Yeezys and Balenciagas, Caps infamously refused to replace his old, worn-out shoes for as long as possible. Even though he could most certainly afford it, he doesn’t care for luxury or leisure, because he has already found genuine happiness – so why care for possessions that will only bring temporary bliss?
Caps’ disregard for etiquette isn’t just limited to his choice of shoes however; it also applies to his attitude in-game. Despite having played hundreds of games less than veterans like Nukeduck, or Bjergsen, Caps has almost played the same number of unique champions – a whopping 52 different champions in 324 professional games. Meanwhile, Nukeduck is sitting at 55 unique champions in 365 games, Bjergsen at 56 champions in 596 games, and Jensen at 43 champions in 421 games – almost 100 games more than Caps, but 9 unique picks less.
Caps isn’t afraid to throw out a Wukong Mid or Talon when the situation calls for it. And even in dire Playoffs matches, like Fnatic’s Best-of-5 against Misfits in Summer 2018, a match that Misfits had a tight grasp on, Caps decided to go Vayne Mid.
“I trust you Caps.” said Rekkles. And rewarded for his trust he was. Despite having a lackluster laning phase, in the final and crucial teamfight, Caps deleted a fed 3/0/0, 300CS Hans Sama on Tristana, screaming “HOLY FUCK, I’M SMURFING!” and “HOLY POGGERS!!” while doing so. This play remains to be one of the most iconic ones in Europe’s history, and the video highlighting it has already reached more than 6.9 million views. What seemed like an absurd idea to most made complete sense to Caps, who had mastered the game on a different level than the rest. Because he cared, and thought, and played the game just that tiny bit more.
In our day-to-day lives, us “normal people” get frustrated a lot because we occupy ourselves with our mistakes and failures – with things that didn’t go to plan. We ponder on thoughts and ideas that might not even be relevant the next day. Caps, on the other hand, acts. He trains harder than anyone else, even at 4AM, and doesn’t let his mind get occupied by trivial thoughts. He lives and breathes League of Legends. So that when he does make important decisions, whether it’s in-game or out-of-game, he is correct almost all the time.
Only when we stop thinking and start acting, only then we can reach those things that we want to achieve. And if you can find something you love so much that it doesn’t even feel like work, but rather a natural extension of yourself, that’s when you can reach a level, that no one else has reached before.
In that sense, Caps is a role model for me. He is a reminder to not occupy myself with things that won’t matter anyway, and to focus only on the things that bring me true joy. Maybe he should be a role model for you as well. But even if you don’t see beauty in his approach to life, at least you too can watch him play, and be amazed when he windwalls another Orianna Ultimate within the fraction of a second, or pulls out a Vayne Mid in a crucial Playoffs match. Let’s all hope that Caps never loses his way of the sword.