When you ask about 'the great EU Mid Laners,' those nostalgic will reminisce about names that have long left the continent, or aren't even playing anymore. You'll hear about Bjergsen, Froggen, Ocelote, xPeke and his famous backdoor. Newer fans will point to Caps, or his teammate Perkz.
But Emil "Larssen" Larsson won't rest until he is mentioned in the same breath as those legends' names. The Swede, who made his debut on the main stage last year for Rogue and still sports their jersey today, has set his eyes on becoming the absolute best Mid Laner. He joined Inven Global's Tom Matthiesen for a talk about the Mid Lane role, and how he became a player who stands his ground against those he once looked up to.
For this interview, I want to talk to you about Mid Laners, and EU Mid Laners specifically. First of all: where do you rank yourself among EU Mid Laners?
It's hard to say, but I'm definitely a top Mid Laner. I personally think I'm in the top 2, behind Perkz. For me, that's sure. I'm very confident that I'll also show the public that I'm a top 2 Mid Laner. I hope that by the end of the Summer Split I'm even better than Perkz. I don't think that's very unrealistic. I think Caps was so f***ing good, that it was hard to become the best Mid Laner. But I don't think Perkz is on Caps' level, so I definitely have a shot at becoming the best Mid Laner.
When you compare yourself to the other Mid Laners, what is it that pushes you into that top 2, you think?
I think I'm just good at everything. I think on stage I can play a bit more aggressively sometimes, so that's something I'm working on. I've been trying to play more aggressively this Split, but I can do better. Overall I'd say I'm just very good at everything, though. My team can always rely on me. I'll always be strong or I'll be the carry.
"I don't think there's a very big difference between Faker and a middle-tier LEC Mid Laner."
In the past, you've said you looked up to Perkz. Do you still do that now?
Not really. I don't look up to anyone, really. I still watch his Pro View and stuff like that to learn, obviously, but I don't look up to him. I can't respect anyone too much now that I'm here. I shouldn't over-respect anyone. I could get afraid in-game of playing against him or something like that. He's just another player, right? But he's very good, of course.
Are there any other Mid Laners in League of Legends you do look up to? Maybe Faker, Doinb...
Not really, no. I like watching Bdd play. He's very good, actually. In the end, they're all just another player though. Hopefully, I'll play them at Worlds at the end of the year. I don't think there's a very big difference between Faker and a middle-tier LEC Mid Laner. There's obviously a gap, but it's not a very big gap.
Every region has its own style. What do you think sets European Mid Laners apart from those in other regions?
I guess EU Mid Laners play a bit more aggressively than NA and Korea. China is obviously a very aggressive region, even though their games have been slower this year and they haven't played for a while now. It's also something that's a player-to-player case. Some can be very respectful of the enemy team—they won't go for the risky plays. Other Mid Laners are more aggressive and take risks.
Are there any Mid Laners in EU you particularly like or dislike playing against?
It was always fun to play against Caps. But I don't think about other players too much, you know? I focus on myself. Nametags off. It's just another team, just another player. I respect them all equally as much.
How was that in the past? Have you ever 'feared' facing someone?
When I was younger. I remember when I played Challenger Series 2017 when I was seventeen years old, and we scrimmed against EU LCS teams that had good Mid Laners, I respected the famous Mid Laners a lot. I've been playing League since I was about twelve. I always watched a lot of esports. I watched a lot of Faker, Bjergsen et cetera in Season 4 when I was about thirteen.
Back then I would fear players. I was also just insecure, I guess. Now I'm much more confident. I don't really fear them anymore. Until two years ago though, I would fear players for sure.
How did you become more confident? Was it a gradual process, or did you have some sort of epiphany that woke you up?
I've thought of myself as a top Mid Laner for more than a year now. I didn't play as confident in official matches though, even though I was better than most of them. But in the middle of the Summer Split, when we were not performing that well, I was thinking about how we could play better. I remember we had a nice game against Origen then. I realized: "F*** it, I need to play my style. I can't be afraid of making mistakes." I would say that in the middle of the last Split I realized that I need to play way more confident and go for the plays.
Honestly, I felt a bit bored playing on the stage. For the first half of the Split last year I was playing fine, but I wasn't doing much. That was a turning point for me. Before that, I played pretty scaredly on-stage, but after that, I realized that my own confidence was important. It's incredibly important to be confident.
"I honestly think that every top Mid Laner could switch to any role in the game and become a good player after a few months."
You mentioned Caps going to the bot lane already. In Korea, Chovy sometimes goes to the top lane. Do you think you could pull off something like that?
Yeah. I think Mid Laners are really talented in general. They are good at most things. I honestly think that every top Mid Laner could switch to any role in the game and become a good player after a few months. I don't know how long it takes to role-swap. Maybe one, two months? I think I could easily go to another role as well. But the mid lane is the most fun, for sure. I would probably get bored playing something else.
Sometimes in scrims—and especially last year—there is some swapping between mid and top. There were a lot of flex picks like Akali, Irelia, Renekton... So I would often play in the top lane. I always did really well in the top lane. It's pretty easy, I would say.
Looking ahead: You said you need to be more aggressive at times as a Mid Laner. Is that the final puzzle piece needed to make you a complete Mid Laner?
Well, I still haven't played in the LEC for a very long time. I still have a lot to learn in other areas. Communication, letting the team play around me... And even though my confidence is already much better, I think it's still an area where I can improve the most at the moment. I'm feeling really good on stage right now though. Keep working, that's what it's all about.
If we play well as a team, I'm going to play well too, right? If I want to look good, I need to focus on making sure that we are constantly improving as a team. That's a priority for me now.
Finally, is there anything you want to say to the Rogue fans who have been supporting you? They are some of the loudest fans in the studio audience, actually.
Oh really? *laughs* Sometimes I hear them, but most of the time I need to focus on the game. Anyway, we have high hopes for Rogue. We think we can play way better than we do now. We kind of struggle against the top three teams G2, Fnatic, and Origen. We just need to work on playing more confidently against them, and then we'll be really good. Thanks to all the fans for supporting us!
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.