The League of Legends Championship Series has nominated its three runner-up teams for the Worlds Championship. With the Summer Finals ahead, Team Liquid's Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen had a conversation with Lara Lunardi, reflecting on leaving the LEC, his year in the LCS, and the never-ending rivalry with G2 Esports.
I'd like to start by talking about you leaving Europe. I know you had a lot of difficulties going to the US — first the visa issues, then the COVID situation.
It is not a secret that my time playing in the LCS has been a bit of a roller-coaster. First, I had visa issues, and that hurt our performance in spring quite a lot since I wasn't able to practice. For a moment, sort of figured things out but then problems started rising again, we missed playoffs, COVID started happening...
Has it been worth it?
Regardless of everything, I'm still happy with the decision I made. I was trying to change things up, trying to experience joining a new team. Obviously, there have been difficult things for me, coming over here. Spring was difficult, dealing with the pandemic, dealing with the visa issues... But more than anything, it's been an exciting experience to come to a completely new team. I got out of my comfort zone in that sense. I think coming here has really helped me grow as a player due to the hardships, but also due to just being surrounded by so many new people.
Would you say you're welcoming of hardships then, since they make you grow?
[laughs] I wouldn't say I necessarily welcome hardships. I've been through some difficult ones in my career. But whenever you're in a difficult time, it's always hard to deal with it when you're in it, and it's hard to look at the positives, but what I've come to learn is that as long as you manage to keep your head up, keep working through — it's not fun, but once you're on the other side, you come out as a more experienced person. You've grown a lot and the next time a hardship comes, you're gonna be able to deal with it in a better way... or maybe it's not even that tough compared to what you already went through.
If I could choose, I'd like to avoid hardships [laughs] but at the same time, once they happen, it's all about trying to power through them.
Where do you find positivity?
It's hard for me to pinpoint a specific thing. When it comes to League and my career, I've always been very motivated and competitive, be someone people can look up to. Along with that, I'm the type of person who always tries his best to stand by his values. Those things combined give me the motivation the keep going and give the most out of myself.
Have you always been disciplined?
Yes, always. When I think where my discipline comes from, as I look back to moments in the past, I think about when I was in high school. When I was doing a group project, I was always the type of person that people really loved being in a group with, but also someone they'd sometimes find annoying. I was extremely try-hard.
While other groups were slacking or chilling, playing games, I was the guy to force my group to work with me. I wanted to learn, I wanted to get good grades, and I kind of forced the people around me to feel the same way. Because they knew if they didn't work as hard as I wanted them to, then I wasn't going to work with them again. [laughs]
Be honest: is that what you bring to a team in LoL? Do you also make them work really hard and if they don't you kind of.. discipline them, I guess? [laughs]
[laughs] I think it's fair to say that of the values I bring to a team, some of them are in-game-related but I also think others come from out of the game and what I bring as a person: discipline, willingness to learn, positivity. I think that's a really big part of it.
When I look at what makes a perfect player, I think it has to be a mix of everything. I am not saying I'm a perfect player by any means, but the perfect teammate for me would be something who brings a lot in-game, but then out of the game, he needs to have certain values.
What have you found at Team Liquid? Do you think there are ideal players?
I've been very pleasantly surprised by my Team Liquid teammates. All of them are just as eager to prove themselves and become the best versions of themselves, as I do. All of us work really hard toward the same goal. I can go to any of my four teammates and discuss anything with them and there won't be any hard feelings.
In that sense, I feel pretty lucky, and that's obviously a part of why I'm happy with the move I made. We are an actual team, we take care of each other, we help each other, and we try to combine our strengths and weaknesses to really become a unit.
"Me and Jankos were super big rivals my entire time at the LEC, as we were always fighting for the title of best jungler in the league. It was an interesting rivalry because we refused to lose to each other."
The news of you leaving Fnatic dropped last year around All-Star, if I remember correctly. I was talking to Bwipo about the changes that would be coming to the team and he spoke very highly of you. He said you had a great, positive impact on his career. Are you guys still in touch since you moved to NA?
Unfortunately, I haven't spoken to Bwipo in a while, which is kind of sad, because I really enjoyed playing with him and he's also a great teammate. There were periods last year when things were tough for the team and when I was sad, he'd be one of the first people to come and cheer me up and try to support me in a way. For that, I'm still thankful to him.
Have you been keeping up with Fnatic then? I've seen you tweet now and then.
I have been keeping an eye to the LEC, because even though I'm playing in a different league, I feel connected to the LEC. I know all the teams, all the players, the people working behind the scenes. It's pretty exciting to see how it's going.
Now, I've qualified for Worlds, Fnatic has qualified for Worlds and the potential to maybe go against them is something very interesting.
Interesting in what sense? Interest as in "scary"—
[laughs] It's kind of funny. Last week, I did a fan Q&A and one of the questions was whether I'd like to play against G2 or Fnatic the most at Worlds. I thought that question was super interesting, because I would like to play both, but for different reasons.
Obviously, G2 has been my rival ever since I joined Fnatic. They were our big rivals for three years. In 2017, they were better than us. In 2018, we improved and took them to game 5 twice, but unfortunately, they won both. So that was rather depressing. For that reason, it'd be really exciting to face G2.
As for Fnatic, it'd be going against my old org, my old teammates... [laughs] That's exciting, but for a whole different reason.
You get the man out of Fnatic, and the rivalry against G2 keeps going…
But despite G2 being our rivals for so long, I'd also be happy to see them do well. Me and Jankos were super big rivals my entire time at the LEC, as we were always fighting for the title of best jungler in the league. It was an interesting rivalry because we refused to lose to each other. Losing to G2 was the worst feeling, they hated losing us too, but at the same time, we had a lot of respect for each other.
All other regions flame NA for their play, how they approach the games, their meta... Now, that you have the inside perspective, what do you think of this criticism?
I think it's fair to say that the average level of play in LCS is lower than what I've been used to in the LEC. But at the same time, it's hard for me to judge exactly where the league stands before Worlds happens. A lot of people are expecting LEC to be a lot of stronger and get a lot farther in the tournament, while expecting us, TSM, and FlyQuest to not even advance from groups. But I still believe in our team. If everything comes together, we can make a difference at this tournament.
I'm excited to see where we stand against LEC and hopefully now I can be a part of a team that can prove all the haters wrong and show that NA teams can actually do really well at Worlds. At Team Liquid, we've been given so much — there's so much structure, so much work is being put in to ensure all us players are able to perform. Now, we just need to take advantage of those things.
And now looking at Worlds 2020, which team would you say looks best?
It's hard to judge which team exactly will be the favorite. A lot of people are looking at the LPL teams, some are looking at the likes of DRX or DAMWON from the LCK. People are looking at someone like G2 from Europe, and potentially even Fnatic now that they made a comeback.
There have been times in the past where coming into a tournament, people more or less knew who was going to win. Back in the day, Worlds would begin and people knew one of the Korean teams would win. That was literally the case. At my first Worlds in 2017, everyone knew a Korean team would win. But now, it feels it's pretty open. There are definitely several regions that can contest the trophy.
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