Past, Present and Future.
Today I am announcing my retirement from the OPL as a player (as some of you have already seen from the official Team announcement). I know this may come as a shock to most of you, but rest assured that the decision was meticulously thought out. I want to say that my sight for the future is hopeful and positive and that I will definitely still be actively involved in the scene. I want to explain how I come to this conclusion. To do that I want to start with our attendance at international events. This is important for a two key reasons. Firstly, I feel like the players have been rather quiet on their perspectives and I feel that the community deserves some insight and secondly the international experience has informed my future plans. So here are some brief thoughts before I discuss my future plans.
International events this year:
MSI was my first ever international event and I was extremely excited and confident in my team’s ability to do well. However we ended up going a disappointing 2-4 in our group, a group which we thought we could easily get out of. Were we overconfident and too cocky? Absolutely. I think the criticism we received was well deserved and we all used it to grow as players and people. That being said I think our result at MSI was more a reflection of our region as a whole, rather than us as a team. As a region with no access to scrims and solo queue from stronger neighbouring regions, MSI taught us that we had to come up with creative approaches to practice in order to improve at a faster rate than other regions, and the fact that we won our domestic finals so convincingly further solidified this reality.
The other issue that I want to bring to light was my individual problem that I faced at MSI. Between the long layovers and detours to the other side of the globe, our flight to Brazil took around 40 hours. At first, I didn’t feel the effects of such ridiculously long trip but on the second night I couldn’t sleep, and this carried on and snowballed for about a week until our first game day which I had a combined total of 6 hours of sleep in the past 3 days leading up to that day. At this point I was getting dizzy whenever I wasn’t lying down, but I decided to save my trip to the hospital until after the games.
My fatigue was worsening and I had to get our performance director – Jono, to ask Riot Brazil to find me a dark room, a blanket and some bean bags so that I could get a couple hours of sleep in before the game. I honestly thought I could have passed out on stage if not for his help so I am incredibly grateful for his help.
All in all, I’m not trying to excuse my performance at MSI, but rather provide some insight into why I couldn’t give it 100%, I still don’t think we were good enough to beat Supermassive even if I was healthy but I definitely would have had a better showing. Despite the disappointing result, we left Brazil humbled and prepared for split 2.
Next up was Rift Rivals. There really isn’t too much to say about to say about this one. After Gigabyte Marines had such a strong showing at MSI, we that they would be the strongest team there by a wide margin and that they would be an outlier. However, I did think between the combined strength of the 9 teams there, OCE was definitely the strongest region at the event and we would have defeated Japan in the finals if not for GAM reverse sweeping us in the king of the hill format. That was disappointing because we ended up being eliminated by a team rather than a region, which I would say negates to some extent the theme of the tournament. Format aside, the event was run extremely well and I felt a lot more connected to the country and its culture in comparison to Brazil where we rarely left the hotel. Although we finished last, we got to experience the skill ceiling that a wildcard team was able to achieve and this motivated us to improve our practice environment back in OCE. We worked something out between top OPL teams, and scrim schedules got changed in order to facilitate the best solo queue practice hours. I think the time between getting back from rift rivals and the OPL finals; OCE solo queue was at its peak in terms of queue times and quality.
Lastly, there was Worlds. Talking about Worlds still gets me emotional just because of how heartbreaking the result was. But anyway, heading into Worlds we had already experienced what it was like going into an international tournament being overconfident as well as going into one knowing we were clear underdogs. We also just came off a Korean boot camp which overall, I would consider a success since we had a solid record in scrims with teams from major regions and I got to play in extremely high MMR Korean solo queue games which were littered with pro players. With all this garnered experience, we expected to get out of groups quite handily.
I think this is the first time I’d say I actually under-performed. Previously, whenever I played poorly on stage it was because I was genuinely in poor form or just straight up bad at the time, and my performance was a direct indicator of how I was playing in scrims. But this was different, and to be honest I still haven’t completely pinpointed the cause – I was just making mistakes and missing calls that even in solo queue, there was no chance I’d be doing. I think I may have defaulted into a style where I was too scared to make plays and just waited for the opposition to crumble – similar to how some analysts assessed Bjergsen’s performance this Worlds, which I may have been subconsciously self-assured would work since it’s pretty much how we defeated Chiefs in the domestic finals, but even that doesn’t justify how uncharacteristic I played. It just hurts so much knowing that if I had played slightly better against C9, we would have been guaranteed to make it out of groups, but instead I ended up playing even worse against ONE; a team which, without a single doubt in my mind, I knew we were much better than.
After we were eliminated, the mood was crushing. I don’t remember a single word being spoken on the bus ride home. I didn’t feel like having dinner, but it was only after Chippys reminded me that it may be the last meal together as a team that I realised I should go (I thought Shern would leave), However even at the dinner table I don’t remember a word being spoken and I cried myself to sleep that night. Despite ending my run at Worlds on such a disheartening note, we had a couple days left in China before our flight back to Australia and I used these days to really think hard about what I wanted in the future, which leads me to the next section – The future.
When I think back to myself as a player over my career, I realised that I was too heavily invested in my own individual performance rather than how I could improve on interacting with my teammates in game. For example I’d feel more satisfied after a scrim if I won my lane/ played well and we lost, than if we won and I played poorly. This may sound like a selfish view, but it has made me realise that my true passion in the game is to perfect individual play. Throughout my recent years playing the game; whenever I’d misplay a matchup, get outplayed by someone or made costly mistakes, I’d always get a burning sensation of motivation, and hunger to improve my own play. Because of this, my countless hours of VOD study has been dedicated to perfecting lane matchups and individual play, which towers above the amount of time I’ve spent learning about macro and team play. As a result, I will be extending my mastery of individual play beyond mid lane and remain as a positional coach for Dire Wolves.
Since the oceanic e-sports scene has given me the opportunity to compete as a pro players these past few years, I am hoping to return the favour by giving new aspiring players the tools necessary to accomplish what I could not – being able to deliver a world class performance on the international stage.
In alignment with this vision, I will be building my own OCS team. Whether this will be in conjunction with Dire Wolves or independent I am currently not sure about. However what I am sure about is that I want to develop regional talent that deserve to play in the OPL and provide them with the right tools needed to succeed. So if you would like my help to get better and if you are interested in joining my new team please get in touch via DMs.
Lastly, want to leave some short messages to the individuals that have made my career as a player a memorable one as well as those who I may not have spoken much to in the past but still want to say give a shout-out to.
Chippys: My longest standing teammate. It has been both frustrating and fun playing with you. With the right mindset you can be one of the best top laners in the world.
Shern: Probably the hardest working player in the entire region. You have made me a better player and a better person; I know you will do the same for whoever takes my place.
Calvin: I respect you a lot as a teammate and player; I know how much it means to you to improve. You’ve changed a lot over the past years I’ve known you and I know you’re on the right track to reaching your goals.
Destiny: Sorry for meming you so much but I just couldn’t help it. You’re a great guy and as long as you don’t worry about what other think of you, you’ll find success.
Sybol: You’re the nicest human I’ve ever meet, probably too nice for your own good. You have a lot of potential as a player and I think as long as you play more of a leadership role, you’ll do better with whoever you play with in the future.
Rippii: I know how hard you work, and it’s astounding to me how much you have matured. I’m sure if you looked out for the players a bit more, they’ll do even better.
Curtis: One of the people who convinced me to continue playing and one of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with. I have full faith that you’ll continue to do great work.
Jack: You work too hard man, get some more sleep! Didn’t think it was previously possible to produce so much scouting information.
Jono: Sorry for causing you so much trouble and thanks for all the help, I’m honestly intimidated by how wise you are.
Jish: Thanks for convincing me to continue playing, I’m incredibly grateful for that and wouldn’t choose any different no matter how many times the same situation was played back.
Frank: My first team manager when I was still an amateur, thanks for bringing me into the scene when it was still in its infancy in Oceania and continue to do great things over at Chiefs.
Juves: You make the OPL so much more entertaining. Hope more players follow in your footsteps and create more banter/content so we can grow the region’s following!
Swip3rr: Titans never give up. To be honest I previously didn’t think it was possible for you to improve so much, keep it up. I need you to stay as Ryan’s rival so he can get better.
Raes: Stop complaining about inanimate objects and other things out of your control. You’re an incredibly talented player; it’s up to you to mould that talent.
Spookz: I’ve probably received the most combined ganks from you over the past couple years. I enjoy your humour and it was fun playing alongside you for a change at league of origin.
Lost: I think you’ve shown the highest skill ceiling out of all ADCs in the region. Really humble individual and I hope you can find a new home in NA to show what one of the best players in our region is capable of.
Raid: Nice broccoli head, take more responsibility and you’d be a better player, I know you have the potential.
Cuden: You’ve been a dear friend of mine for a long time. Stop wasting your time playing Garen and you could be one of the best supports.
Only: Second nicest person I know after Sybol, I was really impressed by how much you improved this year, keep at it.
Guts: Fix your mentality, just focus on yourself and you could be one of the best junglers this region has to offer.
Babip: Another young jungler that has shown immense potential, as long as you figure out your mistakes and get it down to a science, I’m sure you’ll find more consistency in your play.
Pabu: You have good mechanics but you’re dumb as bricks. I think if you took the game more seriously you’d be one of the best.
Guer4: Best upcoming top laner without a doubt, it’s a shame you’re so young. I encourage you to play more tanks so you can be a more complete player by the time you’re ready.
Last but not least, I want to give shout-outs to the mid laners of our region. Despite mid lane being the most stacked role in Oceania, I couldn’t deliver a performance to do you guys justice. Hope you all continue to improve and when the day comes, whoever it may be, show the world how strong our midlaners are.
Swiffer: Thanks for being my mentor and role model for all these years. I wouldn’t have become the player I did without playing against you so much. You’ve been so damn good for so long and I hope you continue to do so.
Ryoma: Best mechanical mid laner hands down. When I see how you react to losing, it reminds me of myself. I know you have so much passion for the game and I think you have the highest skill ceiling as long as you work on your holes as a player. I can’t wait to watch you grow.
Triple: I actually still don’t understand how you can be so good while playing so little, insane talent.
Claire: You impress me when your mentality is good. If you get that sorted, you would be an immensely better player, I have faith.
Looch: Stop being so greedy, remember its a 5v5 game and you'd be one of the greatest.
Shok: Most improved player in my books. I don’t know too much about you but from the outside it seems like you have a great mindset and attitude, keep it up.
Haeri: Another super impressive young mechanics kid. I have really high hopes for you in the future, just stop dying to ganks and you’ll be amazing.
Last message to the community:
I have loved all your support throughout my career and I would love to continue supporting you all as well.