LIDER on talent in EU, his journey to the LEC and the viability of Assassins in Pro Play

Following Misfits Gaming’s match against Rogue Esports in Week 5 of the 2019 Summer Split, we sat down with LIDER to discuss his path to the LEC, his experience as a rookie, as well as his uniquely aggressive playstyle.

Congratulations on your first victory in the LEC against Rogue Esports. Now the game certainly looked shaky at certain points; how confident were you that you’d win, given the clownfiesta that the game became, not to mention the gold and tower deficit you were in?

We were very confident. We were not over our heads. We’ve played this team before [Rogue and Misfits are both currently fielding rosters akin to the organizations’ academy teams in the last split] in EU Masters, and that was an even bigger fiesta than this game. We had no reason to be afraid at all, also just because of how well everything went. We had better scaling of course, especially with our botlane, Sona and Tahm are both turboscaling champions, and Jax did very well in lane even though his early game matchup was very poor. So that’s already a win it itself. We knew that even if we fell behind, we’d simply outscale them and it’d be fine, and even when the game turned into a fiesta, it was a controlled fiesta where the fights happened on our terms. But yeah, honestly, we were very confident we’d win, also just because we had to, because if there was any a time to win it is now.

Yesterday your fellow Norwegian midlaner Nukeduck praised you for having a unique and aggressive playstyle, and today you then pulled out the Qiyana, who has now been available in pro play for two weeks, and who is also a champion somewhat similar to many of your other signature picks – namely champions like Yasuo or Akali. How do you think that Qiyana is as a champ, and how well do you reckon she’ll fare in the Pro scene?

She’s a beast in Solo Queue, her laning isn’t the best though, and you need jungle help, and in the LEC that’s a bit different because you have to think a lot more about jungle presence, but she can win almost every lane because of her very high burst, and she is also very good at setting up ganks and punishing greed. Me, as a player, I tend to notice when players are greeding, so I just utilize these assassin kits to the fullest, so that’s why I play them much more than control mages, as rather than playing perfectly by the book, I can play outside of it. No matter if in the LEC or in EU Masters, there’s one rule which applies everywhere; if you’re better, you win.

You say that it’s not an issue if you are better. Now though, you’re in a league with virtual superstars, do you nonetheless reckon that you are indeed better than them and that you can maintain this playstyle?

I think I am better than certain players in some areas. When compared overall to other mids in the LEC, I would say that I am maybe in the top 4.

Having played matches in the LEC a couple of times by now, what do you reckon that the biggest difference between playing in regional leagues and in the LEC is?

The main difference is the macro. People play the map much better, punish mistakes harder and try to not be punished themselves either. There are less openings for making big plays. I think when it comes skill-levels, mechanically, and in lane, a lot of players in the bottom-to-mid tier of the LEC are not better than players in EU Masters.

So is that to understand that there’s a lot of talent in the ERL which could easily be in LEC?

First of all, I think “Talent” is an absurd term, because it’s so hard to evaluate, and I don’t know how you’d see it. The only way to really show it is by doing something unique, something that hasn’t been done before. Now obviously if you’re always consistently good, then you’re also talented, but it’s tougher to tell because the skill-ceiling is nonetheless lower in EU Masters than in the LEC.

You’ve had quite the journey through various ERLs before finally arriving here at the LEC; how’s that been?

Well I went from a SoloQ player to playing with teams for fun, and I think I played well, and then I just wanted to travel to another country to experience some new things, so I got in the UK League because Misfits needed a new midlaner, but sadly I can’t play in EU Masters because I was in the Nordic league, but I continued with Misfits because I got a decent offer, and then it just went well from there.

How come you wanted to get away from the Nordic league?

It’s not necessarily that I wanted to get away from the Nordic league, I just wanted to get with better players on my level. Most players from the Nordics are already in other leagues, so the talent pool in the Nordic ERLs is quite limited. The French and Spanish leagues are also by far the best right now, with a lot of good players, so if you want to really improve, that’s the place to be. It is definitely an advantage to be playing in the bigger leagues though, but I think it comes down to discipline. The best way to improve is to get beaten up by better players and then learn from it. Losing is learning in the end, so the more you lose, the better you become.

Some years ago, Romain [then manager of the EULCS team Unicorns of Love] said in a very popular interview that to go pro, it was important not to be a onetrick – nonetheless, you’re here now, and you started as a Yasuo onetrick yourself. Do you reckon that said rule doesn’t apply any more or were you simply an exception?

I completely disagree with that rule. IF you onetrick a champion, it becomes muscle memory, and that means that rather than having to focus on learning mechanics for lots of champions, and you can focus on map play. What is the best map play here, how can you most easily push an advantage, and you can come up with more unique ideas. Every type of onetrick has a certain playstyle, Talon players have one, Riven another. These players master their playstyle and champion and learn good Macro instead, and once they have good macro down, they can start widening their champion pool.

Multiple other midlaners in the LEC have expressed the opinion that mechanical aptitude on specific champions in the midlane is less important, because, as you say, map play and flexibility has become so important, both macro-wise and between lanes.

I think because of the Meta right now, it is kind of true. Matchups and counter picks are so important, and if you just know how to play a champion in one particular matchup, then you’re set. Swapping around then allows you to turn bad matchups into decent or even favourable matchups. You have a win condition in that the flex always provides one good lane matchup. Personally, I consider myself more of a laner than a midlaner per se, also just because laning phase is so short, and so soon as you hit mid to late-game it doesn’t really matter where you spent the first minutes of the game.

Do you think you have an advantage due to the flexibility that you have, both in comparison to players in the LEC who might be less flexible, but also upcoming Solo Queue talent?

It all comes down to the individual player. You can learn it in Solo queue as well, you just need to have the motivation, and then grind grind grind. Not necessarily different roles, but different champions so that you can learn the matchup. See if you can go different lanes at times.

Any last words to the Misfits fans?

We will make the playoffs. Even though it might seem unrealistic, I believe that we can do it with this roster.

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