At first glance, the promotion of TSM Academy AD carry Lawrence “Lost” Sze Yuy Hui to the organization’s LCS roster looks underwhelming, especially after the retirement of franchise legend Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng.
However, Lost is not some young gun getting a shot out of nowhere as it may seem. He has held his own in the LCS before, and after a year on TSM Academy, is ready to step into the spotlight on a completely re-tooled roster for the defending North American champion.
Lost’s career has been a long, winding road with trials and tribulations that have prepared him for what is his biggest career opportunity yet. Before the end of 2020, Inven Global’s Nick Geracie spoke to Lost to look back on the past few years of his career, his growth on TSM Academy, his promotion to LCS, and what type of legacy he wants to create as a member of TSM.
Lost boys of Echo Fox
After being signed to FOX Academy for the 2018 LCS Academy League season, Lost got his chance to debut in the LCS after Echo Fox’s mid-summer acquisition of support Andy “Smoothie” Ta from Cloud9. FOX qualified for the post-season but TSM ended their season with a pair of punches — first via elimination in the quarterfinals, and again in the 2018 NA Regional Final.
Lost found himself on FOX Academy once again in 2019, but an ownership debacle led to Echo Fox selling its spot in the LCS. As a result, Lost and the rest of the players under contract with the organization became free agents at a very odd time.
"We were homeless, quite frankly."
"Very few players get put into free agency early,” said Lost. “It's only happened a handful of times… For a lot of people, that would be a good thing. You get more time to talk to teams etc., whereas other people would see it as two months of missed pay.”
Lost’s situation was far more complicated: “For me, I saw it as 'Oh, crap. If I'm not under contract, what happens to see my visa?’”
Oceania residents no longer take up an import slot as of November 2020, but before that, Lost was a bonafide import whether he was in Academy or LCS. Not only did that limit his options in free agency, but it also meant that if he wasn’t under contract, he would not be able to legally remain in the United States.
Unfortunately, teams weren’t exactly looking to switch things up at the time. The 2019 LCS Summer Playoffs were about to begin, and the gap took its toll on Lost and his FOX Academy mid laner David "Yusui" Bloomquist and jungler James “Panda” Ding.
“We were homeless, quite frankly,” Lost stated bluntly.
Fortunately for the former FOX players, Riot Games was aware of their plight and helped the trio get an apartment in downtown Los Angeles. “As a player, you don't want to be doing nothing for two months, especially if you're teamless,” Lost explained. “You want to be climbing solo queue, putting yourself on the radar and making sure you're around."
"We didn't want to go home and make it so we'd have no opportunities in the off-season."
Riot Games also provided Lost and co with a room at the LCS studio to play and practice. "For a month and a half, Yusui, Panda and I would take the Metro from downtown LA for 45 minutes in the morning, and then we'd take it back if we didn't Uber back at night… we'd spend the whole day at the studio just grinding,” Lost said.
The routine wore down Lost over time, especially given the fact that his future was not at all defined despite his daily efforts to improve. “For a month and a half to spend hella money just to stay out in LA in a home that's not yours after such a turbulent split… it takes its toll.”
Eventually, Lost’s visa expired in the off-season, and he returned home to New Zealand to field offers from teams. He wouldn’t be home long. In less than a month, Lost was on a plane back to Los Angeles to take part in an off-season bootcamp run by TSM.
Lost did not enter TSM’s bootcamp brimming with confidence having not played League of Legends for nearly a month.
“I played less than 20 games across the week,” Lost recalled, but to his fortune, the AD Carry pool at the bootcamp was smaller than other roles and upon impressing, just like that, his signature was on a TSM contract. Lost was to be Academy’s starting ADC for the 2020 season.
Despite not winning a title in 2020, TSM Academy was one of the most competitive teams of the circuit. A top 4 finish in the Spring Playoffs and 2nd in the Summer Playoffs spelled a good year for TSM.A.
"I had a complete blast playing with my team in 2020," Lost said through laughter. "It was so much fun. I really enjoyed practice most days because my team was a bunch of goofballs and really wonderful to be around.”
When TSM replaced Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup with Doublelift before the 2020 LCS Summer Split, it was hard to see a future where Lost would start in the LCS for TSM.
TSM Academy’s players and infrastructure were superior to what Lost was used to on FOX Academy, and the AD Carry credits his development throughout his time on TSM Academy primarily to head of player development and TSMA head coach Zhang “Peter Zhang” Yi, as well as support Erik “Treatz” Wessén’s ability to bring less experienced players up to speed with the veterans on the team.
"Treatz in particular was very welcoming to me at TSM Academy. He's probably one of my all-time favorites - if not my all-time favorite - player to play with,” Lost said of his former duo partner, who will start for SK Gaming in 2021. “I hope he does really well in the League of Legends European Championship. I’ll miss him."
In addition to the goings-on within TSM Academy, Lost and Treatz also had their fair share of 2v2 sparring with the bot lane duo of TSM’s LCS roster. Following the 2v2s, Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang would discuss champion picks and bot lane concepts. Lost and Treatz were arguably the strongest bot lane duo in the LCS Academy League in 2020, and TSM’s infrastructure, talent, and opportunity to learn from Doublelift were integral parts in Lost’s development throughout the season.
Promotion to LCS
One could argue that Lost had been LCS ready long before 2021. While Echo Fox fell short of qualifying for the World Championship in 2018, Lost’s play as a rookie thrown into a mid-split shakeup was quite impressive. However, when TSM replaced Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup with Doublelift before the 2020 LCS Summer Split, it was hard to see a future where Lost would start in the LCS for TSM. That was until Doublelift’s sudden and unexpected retirement.
“I didn't expect him to retire whatsoever,” Lost said. “The reason being that he said himself on stream that he did not plan on retiring."
Doublelift’s departure was certainly unorthodox, and the complications surrounding the signing of support Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Chieh only made things murkier, but regardless of the organizational circumstance, Lost did not consider the starting spot as automatically his. However, with his succession of Doublelift, Lost comes into the role cognizant of the ADC’s legacy in the LCS and TSM as an org.
"Whether they say it or not, the reasons why a lot of people play are because of Doublelift’s influence"
"Doublelift is so inspirational as a player. There's so much to learn from his legacy, and not just what he's accomplished in the game,” Lost explained. “Look at the **** that's gone down in his personal life that he's made public."
"Whether they say it or not, the reasons why a lot of people play are because of Doublelift’s influence because he's such a great player.”
After speaking to Doublelift before the end of the year, Lost is confident that the storied veteran has gone out on his own terms.
"Peter's not the type of person that would let something happen in his life that he didn't want to happen,” Lost said when speaking of Doublelift’s retirement. "He wished me good luck upon entering the LCS roster, and I wished him well for the future."
It’s hard to imagine a better endorsement for an AD Carry than Doublelift’s blessing, but Lost is his own player looking to form his own legacy, and not just mimic what Doublelift left behind.
"I don't think I'm someone who is carrying a torch,” Lost explained. "Doublelift and I are very different players, and we have different outlooks on what we want from esports. He is very beloved by the fans, but I don't feel like he's passing on a torch for me to carry."
"Peter is amazing and inspirational in so many of his own rights. He deserves that respect, attention, and all that love because he's an amazing person and he's accomplished so many things. I'm just trying to start writing my chapter in my book, and hopefully, making it so I can do good things both for my team and my personal improvement."
"Lost. TSM Lost."
Ahead of the 2021 season, Lost faces the biggest opportunity of his life. Throughout his career, the young AD carry has never competed on what one would consider a big stage in the way he has imagined it since the start of his career.
"As a teenager, how amazing is it to look at your screen and see tens of thousands of people in a crowd with blurring lights watching you play a video game,” Lost said, pausing as if processing his own words. “...That's so sick."
"Being able to play and perform in front of that many people is exhilarating. So few people can experience that. That's what I really want."
TSM may not have the best results internationally from a historical perspective, but to have any results at all, one has to get to the international stage first. Worlds is the yardstick by which LoL success is measured, and while Lost has his sights set on it, he’s chasing the moment as much as the accomplishment itself.
“Being able to play and perform in front of that many people is exhilarating. So few people can experience that. That's what I really want. I want to have the experience of playing on a very big stage to feel the energy and pressure of it… those are feelings you're going to remember for the rest of your life."
Filling the shoes of Doublelift is certainly a tall task, but Lost is approaching the 2021 season with a fresh mindset and determined to write his own story, regardless of who or what has come before him. On TSM, Lost is poised to reach new career heights and has a chance to establish himself as one of the defining presences in a new era of LCS competition.
All images by: Riot Games
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