Caps: "It feels good to be back."


Though the last few months have been difficult for Rasmus "caPs" Winther, the star mid laner remains laser-focused. Despite last year's failure to qualify for Worlds, caPs remains optimistic, holding G2 Esports' new roster in high regard. Inven Global had the chance to speak with caPs, to discuss his game philosophy, thoughts on G2, and his plans for the future. 


I wanted to flesh out a point you recently brought up regarding your performance. When someone asked about it, you stated that you’ve always had strong beliefs on how to get the best performance out of yourself. What are some of those beliefs?


They're changing over time. Last year, I also had a series on how I can get the best performance out of myself. I don't know if I really want to go into too much detail, honestly but basically, last year, I didn't listen to myself enough. I was very much trying to get an optimal schedule, trying to optimize everywhere. I listened to other people a lot, but not so much to myself.


Other years, I valued my opinion the highest in terms of what I need to do to be at my best. After Season 10 Worlds, my confidence went down to the point that I felt like a lot had to change about my performance. I felt like maybe I was trolling myself by just not doing everything optimally. 


So, I tried to get a lot of information from various people, and they would tell me what sorts of good habits to get. And I did all these habits. And it just went… as poorly as it could go, right? And I think it kind of snowballed as well.  I would do these habits and I would do poorly, and my confidence would go even lower, so I would listen even less to myself.


As I've mentioned before, in the past I've had very strong beliefs of what I need to succeed. And now I've kind of gone back to that. Obviously, I'm not too happy with my performance yet so far in LEC. But considering COVID — I was literally playing with a fever the first game off stage — I think we're doing fine. And scrims are going really well. I just have to get a bigger sample size of the games, because the first few games were kind of unfortunate, I think.


"I don' think my stage performance has been insane, but I'm feeling a lot more confident. It feels good to be back."


Are most of your teams' early struggles because of the players getting sick, or were there other issues?


I think the main issues, honestly, were just COVID. We were doing really well in the offseason but then right before the split's first week started, we had two people test positive. And over the weekend, the rest of the team tested positive. Which meant that people were playing sick.


While I think we were mainly fine through the week after, we still had COVID the whole week. The scrims were kind of troll, because we were playing from our rooms and we weren't feeling too well throughout the games. That just kind of slammed our performance. But now that we're playing together...we're not on our A-game, that's not there yet. But we are playing well and I think it's showing. [...]


I think confidence is a huge thing, especially in esports, at least for me. I've always been very confident in myself. I've mentioned it before, but some people might say I'm delusional when I say like, "I want to win Worlds". Especially in Season 7 before we won MSI and we went to Worlds Finals: even my teammates thought that was probably a bit delusional. But I'm very confident in myself and my teammates, and I think we... I just don't see why we shouldn't be able to do it. And I think that confidence was lagging last year. The fact that maybe my teammates also had their own issues made it so that we just completely underperformed. 


But I had a long offseason for better or worse, and I reflected on my performance, my life — what I actually wanted to do in life and esports. And I was in a really good spot right before the season started. Then obviously COVID happened and it kind of shook everything: from my confidence to my mood, everything. But now I feel like I'm back and I feel like I'm in a good mental space. [...]



It's interesting to hear how self-reflective you were during the offseason. What conclusions did you come to?


I want to win Worlds. That's the one thing that I have always wanted and why I became a pro. But I learned other things beyond that. Winning Worlds is great and all, and it's a great goal to have, but it's very... it's very far away. And it doesn't necessarily help me that much right now. So I think a lot of the thoughts that I had were just how I get there. [...]


Some years, I just never really had downtime and it feels like it's a lot. But then, when I just have this long offseason, I realize that it's not that it's a lot of work. It's just what I love — there's nothing else I would want to do. I obviously value spending time with my family but while I have these skills, I want to make it to Worlds, I want to make All-Stars, I want to grind, and I want to showcase how good I can be. [...] I really enjoy having a team that I trust and that I spend all day bantering with or figuring out drafts and talking about League of Legends. And I love being on the road. I'm not a big fan of traveling, but I like the idea of traveling to other countries to actually meet fans and go to these crazy venues. 


"I could barely see a few weeks forward. I was thinking about just quitting League. I was thinking about the fact that I wasn't good enough because I did as poorly as I did."


Are you returning to the old Caps in a way, or is it something completely new?


 I think it's something new. You can never really go back. It's more similar to what I was in Season 10 and Season 9. I obviously haven't figured out exactly everything about how I want to play. And it's not even so much about how I want to play either. It's more about what I do outside the game. But every year I've changed a decent bit. I have new theories of what I need to do — both in-game and out of game. 


Season 11 was just a completely fresh start. I've always had things I've done that I have liked and things that I haven't. Every year, I've tried to improve what I didn't like, I tried to test new things. But in Season 11, I just started on a fresh slate. I reset the formula — I just removed everything that I knew, and I tried something else. Because I felt like what I was doing was not good enough. I think I did better in the past years. In didn't do well in Season 7.  In Season 8, suddenly we actually win LEC and we go to MSI and World finals. Then Season 9, we win MSI, we win both LEC Splits and we get to the finals again at Worlds. 


[Since Season 7], I've always had this mental thing of, "Sure, I haven't won Worlds yet. But every year I get better and I get closer to it", which was a powerful mental weapon. I've always liked having high confidence. And I think when I lost that, my confidence shattered. And I didn't have a really reliable thing anymore. 


So I thought that I just had to change everything. And I did. And I had horrible results. But one, I didn't want to give up on the things that I was trying. And two, it's harder to realize things during a season than after the season. Some of the things I liked to do felt good but the results were just not there. But so far, it's going so much better. I don' think my stage performance has been insane, but I'm feeling a lot more confident. It feels good to be back.



With that point of the mental weapon you used in mind, what was it like last season not qualifying for Worlds? How did it compare with the past? What was the process of overcoming that?


It was hard [laughs]. It was probably one of the hardest few weeks in my life, honestly. I was honestly just staying in my room all day, doing literally nothing. It just didn't feel real. Part of me wanted to grind still, part of me wanted to go think about the meta. I was mentally kind of preparing for our semifinal but there was no semifinal to prepare for. I think that there was a lot of roster talk going on around as well because everyone wanted to figure out what they were going to do next year. But for me, I think it was just really hard. I didn't really have the mental space to think about the future. I could barely see a few weeks forward. 


I was thinking about just quitting League. I was thinking about the fact that I wasn't good enough because I did as poorly as I did, and we did as poorly as we did. But I guess everything heals with time. It's the magic word. And I had a lot of time, fortunately. And I had a lot of people that supported me. I got to spend some time home with family. I was still a bit worried but I think our tryouts went really well, and I was really happy with the boot camp we did. It was nice to meet new people. I definitely needed the change in environment. [...]


Recently, you changed stylized your name to caPs, apparently to earn back the right to your original name. Where do these motivational ideas — like this and shaving your head — come from?


I don't actually know how it happens. But I guess everyone has like — I don't remember how many — but everyone says that you have like so many thoughts going through your head every day. And some just stick. So I guess those stuck and maybe other things stuck too. I like to just have some fun for comfort. You can kind of call it like a soft reset. Something is different, right? Because I always like to start on a clean slate, I guess. Forgive my past ints. 


All images via: Riot Games

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