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Dutch players reflect on home as the Finals near

When the EU LCS Spring Finals come to Rotterdam on April 16th - 17th, it will be the first time an official League of Legends competition has visited the Netherlands. The country has given the EU LCS a huge amount of great talent over the years, including some high profile players who are hoping to attend the finals in their home country. Among them are Fnatic's mid laner Fabian "Febiven" Diepstraten, along with G2's support player Glenn "Hybrid" Doornenbal, G2's head coach Joey "YoungBuck" Steltenpool and Ilyas "Shook" Hartsema.

Each of these players grew up in the Netherlands, where their love of video games (League of Legends in particular) went unhampered. "I think gaming is kind ofaccepted," Youngbuck says. "I think parents are really open minded - or at least mine were - and I think that's something that is true across the country. Parents are a lot more easy going than some other countries in Europe. So I guess I'm lucky on that front. My parents have always let me play video games since I was very young." Even on sunny days? "Oh, like 'it's hot outside, go out and play with your friends?' No. I mean, I did go to my friends, but we went to play video games."

Hybrid, on the other hand, grew up playing sports, but they took a back seat once he developed a love of video games. "I used to do sports in school, from when I was 14 til 17 or 18 and then I started playing and quit college to do games," he says. Hybrid had no intention of getting into games professionally, he just preferred playing games to college. Luckily this decision led him to his current life as a pro-gamer. A life his family are fully supportive of, especially now that he's in the big leagues and top of the standings heading into the Spring Playoffs. 

Hybrid concentrate playing

Hybrid focused on the game

As for Febiven, he found himself jumping from game to game to game as he was growing up. He even jumped away from League of Legends at one point, but he couldn't stay away for long. "After a while I stopped [playing League], but then I was watching the LCS and the big tournaments. Then I got motivation to play again," he says. It took Febiven years of training to become good enough to play professionally, but now he's celebrated as one of the best mid laners in Europe as well as being a 2015 Worlds  semi-finalist. Now Febiven will be playing to a home audience as he fights for third place alongside the rest of Fnatic at the EU LCS Spring Finals in Rotterdam. 

"It would be really great to be able to play in my home country," Febiven says. "If we get there, because we are not qualified yet, but if we were to get there it would be really nice. I know the crowd is going to be the majority of my country and I'm going to have so many fans coming there. My family and all my friends want to come. It's really cool to play in your own country. It'd be a huge memory for me that I played in Rotterdam with my team."

These sentiments are mirrored by both Hybrid and Youngbuck. All players are excited to play in their home country and see esports make such a big splash in their region. "I'm excited to play because it's my home country, you know?" Hybrid says. "I just want to look good for my fans and my family, because they will probably come and support me. I want to play good and hopefully we'll win!"

I want to play good and hopefully we'll win!


All three players are expecting people to come from far and wide for the Finals, too. "I'm curious how other people think of the Netherlands," Hybrid told us. "Rotterdam is a really nice city, so I look forward to it." But Rotterdam isn't the only recommended destination for fans attending the show. "I'm sure that people will also visit Amsterdam. It's like one hour or something, it's pretty close. They should check out the museums or something. Just enjoy the city, because Amsterdam's really nice."

Youngbuck agrees. "I would recommend walking around in Amsterdam, the shopping streets, the dam…" he says. "It's a pretty beautiful city and it has a really authentic look compared to Berlin or Paris or any other big city." His advice for newcomers to the country doesn't stop there, especially for the foodies among you. "The fried food, it's such a Dutch thing. We have the Bitterballen, Croquette, Frikandel... It's food you only have in the Netherlands and all in all I think our food is really good, compared to other countries. Even the little things, like the bread and cheese, everything just tastes better than in Germany or any other country I've been to."

So if fans can eat only one thing during their time in the Netherlands, what should it be? "I will keep it simple, go to a febo and get rundvleeskroket. It's cheap and delicious. It's like a sausage… ish. It's hard to explain." So it's like a sausage, but isn't a sausage. Or is it? You'll have to find out for yourselves when you get there. For more recommendations on the best and most traditional foods to eat in Rotterdam, you'll want to check out our recent article on the subject

The food isn't the only thing that Youngbuck enjoys whenever he returns home. He's been recognised on several different occasions by League fans. Something he clearly never gets tired of. "I think League of Legends is pretty popular in the Netherlands," he says. "I think a lot of younger people know it. I've had it a few times, people walk up to me and they're like "hey, are you that guy from Copenhagen Wolves?". So that's really fun. I get recognised by a lot of people around my age, so I reckon there are a lot of people who know about League of Legends."

Febiven is confident that the game is as popular as ever in his homeland. "I think League of Legends in the Netherlands is getting more popular every day," Febiven says. "I know that a lot of Dutch students and kids are playing the game." He reasons that this will only improve as larger tournaments are set up in the region. "I know they really want to start this. Begin from the bottom. They are making a tournament for students, so they can join a competition with a small prize pool and they want to really promote that. Maybe even send it out on the television. I think they're on the right track."

But League isn't the only thing gaining popularity in the Netherlands. Febiven himself is starting to become something of a celebrity himself. "I'm not that famous yet, but since my Dutch article got released I got so many requests from TV programs and interviews. I've already had people following me around and next week a famous program is coming to see me, so I'm going to get on the TV. It's really nice! They already want me on the radio all the time, too." What Febiven forgot to mention was his recent profile in the Dutch version of Vogue! But don't worry, he tweeted about it in case you missed it.

Febiven in the "Vogue"

Febiven in the "Vogue"

So with League gaining popularity and more local tournaments popping up, could we be seeing more Dutch players in the LCS? Febiven and Hybrid think there are some likely candidates already in the Challenger Series and climbing up solo queue. "Yeah, there are a few Dutch players," Hybrid explains. "CozQ was mid laner for Inspire. Even though they didn't qualify for the LCS, they lost their semi finals of the Challenger Series, I still think he's an LCS level mid laner. Also masterwork plays Support for Millenium and they lost as well, but I think as long as he keeps improving he can get into it too. I'm happy that there are a few Dutch players in the LCS now."

"There's one guy called Special, I can see that he's trying to become good." Febiven tells us. With a lot of time and practice, Febiven suggests he could be LCS material. But that time requirement could be a deal breaker, what with having to juggle school and family life, too. "His parents might not support it, so he needs to be lucky in some way, but he also has to work his hardest, because there's always someone better than you. You don't get recommended [to a team] if you're negative in solo queue. If you don't have a good reputation, someone's going to get chosen over you." Some sound advice for all aspiring pro players, there. It's not just how good you are at the game that matters, but how nice you are to play with (and against) in solo queue. 

We hope you're as excited as we are to explore Rotterdam and attend the EU LCS Finals. We can't wait to see you at the show!