Xpecial: “Every single day I wake up and I can’t ever accept not working hard. I can’t disappoint all of these fans. I have to work hard so I deserve this life.”

After finishing the first day of Rift Rivals with one loss and one win against Fnatic and the Unicorns of Love respectively, we talked to now Phoenix1-Support Xpecial about his career so far, his experience with fresh Rookie MikeYeung and his relationship to his fans. Enjoy!

You’ve been a professional League of Legends player for a long time now. All things considered, you’re probably the LCS player with the longest active career at this point? (This is inaccurate as sOAZ has been the longest active player in LCS so far)

Yeah, together with Doublelift I think, he’s been playing for a long time as well. But I’m older than him so I get first dibs (laughs). Honestly, I don’t see an ending to this in sight, but I know it can go away at any point, so I work hard so no matter what happens I feel like I did my best and I have no regrets about it. To this day, I still learn a lot. I think my experience has put me into this position but I have to work hard to stay where I am.

You’ve been on a few teams now and recently joined P1. How did you enjoy your time so far?

I actually haven’t been on that many teams (laughs). It just seems that way because two of them underwent a name change. In total, I’ve been playing for four teams over the course of almost seven years now – that’s not too bad I’d say? P1 has been really good to me, even though it was an odd situation to get into the team. They were tenth place, I just got benched at Dignitas. But I really like that Arrow is a really experienced player and I’m able to talk to him a lot. Even though we disagree sometimes it still works out fine.

Ryu is really great as well and totally different in-game than he seems to the outside. In the series against UoL he went “I want this and this” and is really decisive. And you don’t want to mess with him so you better do what he says! (laughs) He’s a mafia-boss-type of guy in-game (laughs)

Otherwise you’ll get “the look”!

Oh, you’ll get more than just the look, you’ll get chills!

At least you’re not sitting next to him?

Yeah, I try not to look in his general direction when that happens (laughs)

Given that you’re reached a relatively high age for an LCS player, do you sometimes worry that there’s going to be the time where you won’t be able to keep up anymore? Even with extensive Macro knowledge.

Yeah, definitely. I don’t think there has ever been a split where I went like “Oh wow, I can take a break for a little bit and be okay”. Each time I finish a split I think to myself that I need to keep working hard, keep working harder or else I won’t be able to keep on playing. And even though I could probably go into coaching or casting or whatnot, I still enjoy playing the game. I still have a passion for the game which is why I still play. A lot of players lose this passion. For me, I just love competitiveness and love the game in general.

You never know what’s going to happen 100% and I’ve been through situations that sucked, where I didn’t get the outcome I wanted to. So I’ve thought a lot about this. That said, I think it’s hard, very hard to come back if I do decide to quit as a pro player.

There only have been very few players who did that, FORG1VEN comes to mind as one of them.

Yeah, some players do manage to take a break and still come back, Doublelift did it as well. But I think it gets a lot harder the older you get. I don’t really want to stop unless I personally decide to stop.

Ever since you and MikeYeung joined the team, P1 have looked a lot stronger. Do you have hope for making it to playoffs and Worlds again, despite the rough start to the split?

Yeah, playoffs and Worlds has definitely been the goal, given the great last split. Mike and I brought a lot of motivation to the team and we’ll work hard to show our best. Mike works extremely hard and it’s super motivating for me to see a Rookie putting in that kind of work. Despite our losses so far, he never gave up. That’s a quality you’d expect from a veteran that I see in a Rookie. That is really impressive.

That is really impressive indeed and his performance today has been very promising for sure.

Yeah, even in the game we lost he played really well. He’s a very good player, very confident. He obviously makes mistakes too, but despite that, he’s still confident afterwards. That’s something you’d like to see from someone who’s been playing for years, the ability to not tilt, to always look for a play and to not be scared to mess up.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?

Yeah! So a lot of people in the community say that “this guy has been playing for so long, he’s done” and for me I see that as a challenge. I don’t want to be the kind of guy who sees something and goes “that can’t be done”. I rather want to be a person that sees something that supposedly can’t be done and work towards solving it. I’m the longest active player in NA, so until I stop I keep setting and breaking that record until I want to stop. It’s my choice and I want to keep improving and show that, as long as I keep working hard, I can push me and my team and do well. I enjoy the stage, the community, the crowd and the energy that comes with it.

A huge thank you to all the people coming out to support us, even those that watch from home. I have to thank them for my seven year long career and I haven’t forgotten that. Every single day I wake up and I can’t ever accept not working hard. I can’t disappoint all of these fans. I have to work hard so I deserve this life. The fans deserve that I work hard and I want to show them that I deserve to be here.

Thank you very much for your time!

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Darius Matuschak

Darius is an esports journalist trying to nurture esports culture whenever possible. He got into esports while finishing his Bachelor in Journalism, and has been a regular EU LCS attendee since January 2017.

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