North American Top Laner Samson "Lourlo" Jackson has joined Echo Fox for the 2019 LCS season. Lourlo debuted in the 2016 NA LCS Spring Split on Team Liquid. Lourlo spent the 2018 season as the Top Laner for Golden State Warriors LCS franchise Golden Guardians.
Nick Geracie sat down with the Echo Fox Top Laner a few weeks ahead of the 2019 LCS Spring Split to discuss his growth into a leader on Golden Guardians, his new team, and his personal goals for the new year.
Lourlo, congratulations on joining Echo Fox. How have you been enjoying your new home?
It's been a different experience, but overall I would say it's been a nice adjustment. Right now, I'm living in my own apartment and no longer in a team house. From an environment standpoint it's a little different for me to be commuting back and forth from the office every day, but overall I really enjoy my new home and my new teammates.
Echo Fox has an entirely new roster, and you are sharing the Top Lane position with Solo from Clutch Gaming. How have you guys been sharing the starting position?
As of now, we're sharing time in scrims 50/50, but I think as the weeks go on, we could see anything happen. As time goes on, we'll see who gels and communicates better with the team. It's hard to say as of now.
Teams are prioritizing roster depth in North America more than ever before. Have you and Solo been working on Top Lane match-ups, theory-crafting etc. together?
We haven't really gotten to do that yet. As of right now, we're just swapping rosters between LCS and Academy, but there hasn't been too much direct collaboration between us.
Fenix has been re-signed by Echo Fox in the Mid Lane, who is a former teammate of yours from your rookie year on Team Liquid. How has he changed as a player?
When I played with Fenix in 2016, he was a little more shy than he is now. He didn't say exactly what he wanted, but as he's matured he's become a lot more vocal and transparent with what he wants. He's grown a lot and is able to communicate what he wants in the game, and that's really important.
In your column with The Players' Lobby last summer, you talked about stepping into a leadership role and being more communicative. Do you feel that you were able to grow in the ways you wanted despite a rough year for Golden Guardians?
Yeah, I think I really learned a lot on Golden Guardians. I think I've matured way more in the past year than in my prior years of professional play. I learned a lot of lessons about how the team ran, and when things were going bad, people leaned towards me often to find solutions.
We didn't really have a solid support system within GGS. It was just us five players fending for ourselves mostly, with a few members of staff backing us. It was kind of eye-opening to me because I wasn't just trying to take care of myself, but also try to take care of the other four players as much as I could.
My whole mindset on how a team is run is completely different. I feel like it's really about trusting and caring for your teammates moreso than going there to "get the job done." Of course, being good individually matters, but having a bond with your teammates and having the same mindset; belief system; and goals is extremely important.
Overall, esports has been pretty immature with how players approach each other and how people react with inflated egos. I've been trying to bring more of a realistic and humanistic approach and try to help everyone realize while we may be from different places and have different personal aspirations, we are all working towards the same goal.
What about Echo Fox seemed like the correct next step for you in your career?
Coach Ssong, a reunion with Fenix, and the opportunity to play with Rush were three things that were appealing. Also, I feel like I have more I want to prove, and the opportunity to re-gel with an old teammate and grow through playing with new teammates that I respect will help me learn more than I did.
Whether I'm playing in LCS or Academy, I'm really just going to try and constantly improve myself and focus on honing the skills I developed in past years. I know there will always be an opportunity for me as long as I'm consistently improving myself on a daily basis and understanding what it means to be a great player in the long-term. That's my goal now.
You mentioned that players often defaulted to you in the absence of authority on Golden Guardians. What are your first impressions of Ssong as an authority figure and a leader?
It's still pretty early, but overall it's been a pretty good situation. I think as I get to know him I will build a stronger relationship with him, but as of right now, it is the early phases. We are still putting our feet in the water and figuring things out. Ssong has a very calming voice and a good understanding of how he wants things run, and I think those are both very important to running a successful team.
Do you have any goals you're setting personally for 2019?
Overall, I just want to continue to shape the qualities I've practiced in my past two years of playing. I'm going to keep focusing on myself and not tunnel on the other competition too much. I'm not caring about the variables or outliers and just trying to make sure I'm improving on a daily basis regardless of the situation.
If I can maintain that mindset, I won't get wrapped up in a single bad game and get complacent. On the flip-side, I won't get lost in confidence off of one good performance. Staying in a stable mindset and understanding that not every day is going to go my way is going be really important for me in 2019.
Have you found that the increased infrastructure in the franchised era of the LCS has helped players maintain that stability in the long-term context of their career?
Esports has definitely matured, but I really think we're still in the early ages, especially with so many new games coming in. We're only in the first year of Overwatch League, and even though League of Legends is established, we're only going into our second year of franchising in NA.
This is the first ever situation like this and it's hard to know what path is the right one. That's exciting, but also nerve-wracking. If my mindset and the infrastructure is strong, I think that regardless of backing or not, I'll be able to continue to progress going forward.
Thank you so much for the interview, Lourlo. Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans ahead of the 2019 LCS Spring Split?
I know it's been a shaky past two years, but to me, it hasn't felt that bad. I haven't been succeeding to the point where I wanted to originally be in my career, but I'm still happy with what I'm doing and enjoying the moments. Even if I'm playing Academy, regardless of where I am, I'm just going to keep improving on myself and stick around for a long time.
Thank you for everyone who has supported me. I hope I can keep saying in the way I want to and qualify for playoffs to see what I can accomplish.