SZA once sang, “All the stars are closer,” and in her glorious brilliance, she was absolutely right. All-Stars comes to Las Vegas -- home to many things of note like the desert, tourist magnets, and Pete Rose sitting in a hat shop to sign things. And some other stuff I guess. Anyway, some of the biggest stars from esports join hands with influencers and streamers across the world for one of the biggest gatherings of League of Legends stars in history. It’s a collaboration as big as Kendrick Lamar and SZA! So I’ve collected some of their thoughts on not just All-Stars but the 2018 year as a whole. Here’s 10 thoughts going into the All-Star Event!
1. Imaqtpie on poker, making All-Stars, and negative reinforcement.
I was getting warmed up [in poker] with George Georgallidis the CLG dude [I don’t know why he phrased it like this], Kiwikid, and Shiphtur, and I absolutely destroyed them. Even though I’ve never played -- if that’s part of the interview, I want that to be the central focus that I absolutely smashed them.
I’m happy I can finally be a part of All-Stars because when I was playing, I was on Team Dignitas and that team --- no one on there is ever going to All-Stars. Except Scarra went one year for whatever fucking reason, but yeah, I’m excited to finally be at an All-Stars Event. Not exactly the way I’d hoped I’d be there, because I’m coming as a content creator, but it’s pretty exciting that Riot is getting everyone involved in growing the ecosystem. I mean, I’ll be honest -- they didn’t involve me in anything after I quit, and understandably I’m just a degenerate Twitch streamer and there’s no reason to, but it’s exciting to see all of this and be a part of it. So I’m happy.
I’m playing in the NA vs EU 5v5 game, and I’m pretty excited to see it -- I think we have Sneaky, Doublelift, and me. And I think Sneaky is going middle against Caps and I’m excited to just watch him just get [laughing] pounded by Caps. I hope that Caps shows no mercy to Sneaky.
I definitely think as a pro you have a lot more obligations and stuff. Like, for me, I’m going in here and if I just get absolutely blown out and stomped into the ground, [fans will be like], “Yeaaahhh QT -- do what you do best and feed it up brother,” but like, if Doublelift is playing AD and he gets stomped into the ground, it’ll be like, “Doublelift, you suck. What the fuck are you doing?” So I definitely have less obligation, which honestly kind of sucks because I want to be held to the same standard as the pro players, but it’s definitely understandable because they’re a lot better than me. Kind of. Not really. I love getting flamed. Some people need positive reinforcement. I need negative reinforcement. Like, “This guy fucking sucks. Garbage player. Garbage streamer. I hate this guy.” That kind of stuff I live for.
2. Faker on meeting Red Velvet, SKT, and ASE
Red Velvet is a very popular K-Pop group in Korea. Meeting them was a very new experience for me -- going in as a pro-gamer, I was very nervous and a little embarrassed to meet them like that. But coming out afterwards was very relaxing -- it was very exciting. I get asked this question a lot [about whether I’m more nervous to meet Red Velvet or before games] and definitely before playing I am more nervous.
For 2019, after what happened in 2018 for SKT -- we got a lot of learnings and will take that to 2019 to improve ourselves and to make sure we can put on a better performance for our fans. [In 2018], I definitely learned a lot about the importance of self-care -- just taking care of yourself is very important, and during tournaments I’ve learned to control my emotions and thoughts so I don’t get tilted as much.
I didn’t get to travel as much for international tournaments this year, so this is my opportunity to show all of my old fans, my international fans, and my new fans a good show and performance. I want to show them a happy Faker.
3. Rookie on the Post-Worlds dream and the task of looking forward
I’ve stepped out of it, but during the first two or three weeks -- every day I’ve woken up it still hadn’t sunk in that I won Worlds. After that, you start to wake up and realize, “Oh, I <i>am</i> someone who has won Worlds.” When I was walking in Korea, [only] some fans would come up to us. But when I was in China, there were way more fans coming up to me -- talking to me and recognizing me. That has made me very happy and realize how important it was -- how big of a thing it was to win Worlds. Especially in China.
[Next year], as a pro player, the goal is to look towards Worlds and work towards it. But, you know, at the same time -- [come] next year, we’re no longer World Champions anymore. We’re just the same as other teams working towards that cup. I really hope that next year we can still show everybody our strength and prove that we can make it to Worlds.
[For now], this is Las Vegas, so… I heard there are a lot of fun things to do here [laughs]. Me being here does mean that players have recognized my skill and acknowledge that I am good enough to be here, so I am really thankful for their support through all this time.
4. Jiizuke on new stardom and big memories
This year was one of my best experiences. It all started with joining the LCS, then going to Worlds. It was the biggest event in my life. Getting all the cheers from the Korean fans and Chinese fans after beating Gen.G and RNG was really a highlight of my life. It was really sad [though] that we didn’t make it out of Groups. After we lost to Cloud9, I actually burst out in tears. I couldn’t believe it… It was a bittersweet experience. Everything was going good -- I was so happy after every game. Then not making it and not being able to prove myself in a Best-of-5 was really bittersweet. [Even still], it feels like a dream right now -- it’s been my first year. At first, it was like, “Oh shit, I’m going to play on stage. So many people are going to watch me.”
[Since then], there are so many [memories from 2018], but if you ask me right away [which was my favorite], then the Fnatic 1v2 bot lane. It was my first real moment in my career where I felt like I’m actually good. Like I actually can do so much. After the game I felt so much love from my fans. I got I think 4,000 Twitter followers on one day.
5. Bebe on retirement and the future of the LMS
I’m one of the OGs, so I started playing early. Back then, all the competitions were in PC Bangs, right, and then they started growing. Then we played in stadiums like the Taipei Arena -- the stages got bigger and bigger. We’d never have dreamed of that when we first started.
[Being an influencer]... definitely it’s different from being a pro player. [As a pro], we had to practice every day and had strict hours. We almost had to sacrifice our social life, like it was basically non-existent. Once I got off of that, I tried to make up for the relationships. Like my girlfriend -- I just got married last week! So now she’s my wife -- I made that change and now I can maybe relax a bit. And on one hand, she likes the free time I have now, but she also liked watching me play.
[As for the future of the LMS], it’s a tough question. There’s a saying -- sometimes the lower you crouch, the higher you’ll jump. There’s a low point, but you’ll be able to bounce back. For example, we didn’t do too well at Worlds last year, but we were able to bounce back at MSI. So people had high expectations and then we didn’t do good at Worlds again this year. But sometimes when you have no expectations, you’re able to perform well. When you have too much expectations, then sometimes you don’t get there. So my suggestion to LMS teams is to stay level-headed and to approach the game as you always have and try your best. And historically, the LMS doesn’t have the amount of investment or skill compared to other major leagues, but we’ve always been able to show up and perform. So I still think we have a chance.
6. Rakin on Brazil and playing alongside the biggest stars
Always when we [CBLoL] go to an international event -- MSI or Worlds -- we [kind of hit a wall]. I think it might be some nervousness. Because I’m pretty sure the players in Brazil are really good -- they’re actually good players. It just has to click. Sooner or later, I’m pretty sure there will be a Brazilian team that will go out there and make it out of group stages and actually do really well at Worlds… I want to thank the BR fans because we wouldn’t be here without them. We have some of the most passionate fans in the whole world. That’s for sure. That passion is really easily transmitted to us -- we can feel it.
The main thing when I came here was I was excited to be next to all these talented players. Like the thing is, I’ll always watch VODs and look at what does this guy do, or this guy do, or how I can play like this guy. Constantly studying the way they play and now having a chance to play with them is a dream come true. [The main player to watch is] definitely Faker. It’s not about all that hype -- he was [just] the first player I saw playing live in Season 3 at the World Finals. That was what made me want to become a professional player, and Faker was the name of the game there. He was a monster, so I just kind of became a fan.
7. BrokenBlade on joining TSM and being among the All-Stars as part of the TCL
I always performed better in-game and also in school when I was under pressure. It was always like this. The pressure of TSM could do me well, but it’s also a risk to have so many fans -- if you’re underperforming, it could go bad. It depends on the person as well. I think I’m not the kind of person who gets affected too much. The support has been really great -- the warm welcome was really huge, and I’m really grateful for that. [So my favorite memory this year] is probably joining TSM. Because it’s a really huge step for me -- this is like the start of my career. I’m still really young and I look forward to doing it for a really long time, and I see a future in TSM.
[After this year], I was sure I was going to get offers from major regions -- I was really confident that I performed really well, and that I showed that I’m actually really good. [But] when TSM reached out to me, I really wondered [if it was real] because they have such a huge fan base and a top laner with a lot of experience with them. But I’m really thankful again -- I’m saying this a lot… When I got the message [from TSM], I ran to my brother and said, “Hey! TSM is reaching out to me,” and he said, “What!? Really?!” It was really funny.
[But for now at ASE], it’s great to see all the players who’ve accomplished a lot and have changed esports. I want to be such a person as well in the future. It’s really great to see them, and it motivates me to be that.
8. Watch on retirement, All-Stars, and faces
This was the first time I came and watched Worlds as a fan and not as a pro player or anything like that, and watching it -- it made me very happy to see how much a game I really enjoy and love has grown. Right now, League esports is just much bigger than it was [when I started]. There’s a lot of prep work that goes into it, and it’s just such a great thing to see.
All-Stars is a great place for gathering all the old and new faces. It’s great to have this interaction with them -- to see the new blood coming in and to see what they’ve brought to League. Definitely I want to see them grow and see how much effort they put in to show how much better they get.
[And] I just learned the saying “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” -- that's the kind of memory I want to make while I'm here.
9. Doublelift on talking to people
Some of the most striking [memories of the year] were times I caught Olleh on smoke breaks and we’d just talk about random stuff and he would open up a little bit about how he feels really pressured and how he can’t really play like himself. And it helps when I am patient with him and stuff, so I reflect a lot about those moments. I don’t know if they’re that fun or enjoyable, but I look back on those moments and I learn a lot about myself. Like -- the limits of my patience and how sometimes I can make people feel really bad. All I want is for us to win, but sometimes I just make people feel bad. So… yeah.
[As for ASE], I can already feel the energy [this year] is more chill. It’s a lot more… let’s just go out there and have fun matches and meet each other -- have fun and take pictures. I like this a lot more [than last year’s ASE]. I saw brTT and I touched his bicep and he’s buffer now than he used to be. I’ve been hanging out with Sneaky and Licorice -- just getting to know them. During the year, I never get to talk to other pros. I feel like people are different when you haven’t talked to them before. Like, maybe people have a perception that I’m a certain way, but this is the one time I can feel comfortable talking to other pros, where I’m not literally about to play them on stage.
10. Me on 2018
Finally, this is the section I’m writing mostly because Fireloli got stuck on a plane but also because two pro players (Kiin and Keane) basically stole my name and thus via reverse-transference property I am also a pro. But I’m also writing it because All-Stars is a celebration of all the people who worked hard to make League of Legends more than just a game -- even in spite of the things that might remind us that people are, well, people.
Most important to all of this is the fans -- these players wouldn’t have the same kind of platform without your support (except Rookie who can do everything and would be fine). Nor would the people working the events or the people writing the memes. May all of the stars win in their own way here in Vegas -- especially at the slot machines and the card tables. May the 1v1 tournament be a little more serious than we’re actually comfortable with. May tandem mode let you ship new pairings. May URF spawn a new Reddit thread asking for the mode back. And may the regional battles be well seasoned with salt.