So I wanted to share a bit of my story with League of Legends. I have been playing LoL since 2012, around that time a bunch of buddies from a school I had just moved to invited me to play with them because they needed a fifth in their party to play ADC.
Seven years later I still find joy playing this game. Its frustrating at times sure but LoL has taken me all over the world and introduced me to some of my very best friends. I still remember going to my first big tournament driving all the way from Sacramento to San Jose to see IEM 2014 in person. There was an electricity in the air of the arena when Kikis threw that first yellow card onto Bjergsen, I remember seeing the frustration on the 2014 TSM lineups face as they left the arena, I remember grabbing lunch after that set and seeing the squad walking down the street and even though at that time I was a devout CLG fan I said that I'd still root for them. I remember Bjergsen saying "I dont know why you would." obviously very disappointed with his play that day and after their win the next day I took a photo with him and I was shocked that he remembered and apologized.
This very first experience took me to see people I looked at as my heroes and made it so real for me. To this day I think this first experience with esports shaped the love that has grown with me over the years. I have never had an interest following traditional sports but here I am years later still a fan.
In late 2015 I moved to China and really grasped for the first time how global our game really is almost as soon as I got to my apartment I could see that there were PC cafes EVERYWHERE and EVERYONE was playing LoL. Instantly I was able to make connections and long time friends all without the language. We bonded over our mutual love for the game we shared names of champions in our languages and competed with each other to see who could get the highest rank.
A few months later I got to go to the largest tournament I've attended yet 2016's Shanghai MSI, a coworker and I traveled 15 hours by train to see our boys from NA, CLG, play. I still remember getting out of my seat and screaming at the top of my lungs when Stixxay got the quadra onto RNG. That moment was nuts and a little tense because only us and one other group of foreigners were cheering at this moment.
Later that year I went to Korea and made a very special stop in Seoul and made what I consider to be my favorite experience I've had with the league community. Going to the OGN studios and seeing the highest level of domestic play first hand. That studio was in a large skyscraper but it just felt so intimate. You would constantly bump into players and coaches in the hallways and elevators and the overall experience when I first arrived was so surreal. My friend from the US had come along with me to Korea and we both were big fans of Monte, Doa, and Papasmithy. But I was a bigger fan of the ROX tigers. I remember watching their top lane Smeb just smurf through everyone in the league at the time and he was far and away my favorite player.
At OGN they frequently would show foreigners signs on the broadcast and I got lucky enough that day and accidentally birthed the Smeb on my face meme that Phreak would go on to use in the Finals Broadcast and Monte would tweet out a lot that year.
After I moved back to the US many of my friends have moved all over the country or just have too hectic of schedules for us to hang out as often as we used to but whenever we can we hop in our discord and we spend time playing our game. Im just so grateful to have had these experiences and met everyone that I have that has shared this game and their time with me over the years. Its so surreal being able to be a part of this community and I just want to say to everyone,
This game means so much to me and I'm glad that so many people enjoy the game after all these years.
Keep grinding, GLHF
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