2022 has been quiet for Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen, and deliberately so. After the conclusion of his time as a jungler for CLG in the LCS, the Dane decided to take a step back from competing in order to focus on himself. Ever since, Broxah has been streaming a lot of League of Legends, while also making guest appearances on the LEC broadcast.
But the competitive itch is still present.
During the second week of the 2022 LEC Summer Spit, Broxah spoke to Inven Global's Tom Matthiesen to talk about the break. He reflected on the challenges he faced during the pandemic and what led to him detaching from being a competitor for a while. He also looked ahead at returning to pro play, and what his return ideally would look like.
It's good to see you back on the broadcast, Broxah. You've been there a few times, dipping in and out, but you're mostly living the streamer life, tasting how it might be to live the "retired life" — how has it been?
Yeah so, this year I've decided to take a break from pro play. I'm not retired, just to make that clear. [Laughs] The last two years, being in NA with COVID and everything that was going on with the pandemic, got to me. It was a bit mentally taxing. So this year, I ended up taking Spring off, Summer off, to just take things slowly. I've moved back to Denmark, spent time with my girlfriend and my family, while still playing a lot of League of Legends.
It's a bit more of a chill year in some ways, but I've been enjoying it. I've re-joined Team Liquid, but as a streamer, and I'm very excited to be back with them. Now I also have the opportunity to come back to the LEC as a guest analyst and that's been a lot of fun as well.
"Both in sports and esports, you see people taking a step back for half a year or a year to recharge their batteries. When they come back, they're revitalized and they seem like a new person."
I think many people can relate to the struggles from the pandemic, but not many will have been stuck on another continent. Can you tell me a bit more about it?
First of all, I ended up having visa issues both years, which wasn't ideal. [Laughs] In 2020, when I finally arrived in LA, I was there for about a month before the pandemic came around and we had a big lockdown. I knew it would be difficult for me to be so far away because I'm very connected to my family, the people around me. I already had pre-planned flights for my girlfriend, for my family, and then everything kinda shut down and I was in a lockdown. Everything was just weird. Being so far away and being so disconnected from the people around me for so long was tough.
But I also realized I had been a pro player for five years, putting so much pressure on myself, in an environment where you don't really have the opportunity to have a life if you want to compete. It's just all about League of Legends. I enjoy it, but I've noticed, throughout the years, both in sports and esports, you see people taking a step back for half a year or a year to recharge their batteries.
When they come back, they're revitalized and they seem like a new person. Overall, I feel happy this year. I do miss competing, especially being back at the LEC studio and seeing everyone play. Often I wish I could be there as well, but we'll see what the future brings. I am looking to get back into playing again for sure.
I'll get into that later on, definitely. But talking about taking a step back: was there a point for you where it dawned on you that you had to take a break, or was it a gradual process?
Last year was my first time missing Worlds. That gave me a lot of time off because I came home really early. So I took a few months to just think and figure out everything that had happened in the past couple of years, and reflect a little. I ended up deciding for myself that, if there was a great project, a great opportunity, that I felt like I would fit in and enjoy, then I would go for it. But if the right project wasn't lined up, I would rather just take things slowly and take a break. Being a pro player can be taxing, it can be difficult at times. At this point, just to make sure that I don't burn myself out and get too drained, I decided I would be taking a step back, waiting for the right opportunity.
"I felt like, whenever I would open my social media accounts, whenever I would go on Reddit, I just got sad reading everything that was going on there."
You've been someone who has consistently tried to inject positive vibes into the scene, especially on platforms like Twitter. But I can imagine that, when life isn't going how you had planned it, it can be tough to retain that optimism and positivity.
It's no secret that in this space and on the internet in general, it's pretty easy to just start pointing fingers at each other. A lot of conversations tend to get a little negative. That has taken its toll on me at times as well. I felt like, whenever I would open my social media accounts, whenever I would go on Reddit, I just got sad reading everything that was going on there. Being someone who has been active with streaming, I couldn't avoid seeing all those comments. It got to me. At one point, I decided, "Ok, it sucks that this is how it is right now in the community. I'm not perfect by any means, but I want to at least try and do my best to bring some positivity out there, to shed a bit of light on what I consider to be the problem."
It's easier said than done. I also have times when playing League, or when something in life comes up, where I can get really sad, angry, and frustrated. But it's something I've been trying to be mindful of, something I want to work on. I think for everyone, no matter if you're a League player or whatever, being able to bounce back from something frustrating is really important.
Now, you already mentioned it, but you're still looking to get back to competing. I definitely get that it starts to tickle again when you're back in the studio here. [Laughs] But realistically, not many players get the best opportunities to hop back into, let's say LEC, after being gone for a year. How do you envision that return?
So, I have had opportunities to play in the LEC for both Spring and Summer, but I guess that it was nothing that felt right to me at that time. At least for now, I don't want to force it. Maybe going into next year I would be open-minded and play in a national league or play for an LCS or LEC team. But I think, more than anything, it doesn't necessarily have to be a team that goes to Worlds. It's about the project, the process, and having an organization come to me with all the values and goals that actually fit with my own. It's a big part of why I joined Team Liquid in this break. Sure, I only played with them for a year, but I just felt at home in the organization.
I think, when you're in a workplace where you feel connected to everything and everyone around you, that can really help you reach a whole new level. It was a bit unlucky that my time with Team Liquid was the first year with COVID. [Laughs] There were a lot of tough scenarios we had to go through as a result of that, but it still brought a lot of positivity as well.
"It doesn't necessarily have to be a team that goes to Worlds. It's about the project, the process, and having an organization come to me with all the values and goals that actually fit with my own."
It sounds like your goals have shifted, maybe as a result of taking that step back. I hear you say you don't necessarily have to go to Worlds with the team that you join.
Well, I've had a very fortunate start in my career, joining Fnatic and right away going to Worlds four times in a row. I've experienced almost everything you can experience as a League of Legends player, so I've been very lucky in that sense. At the same time, I'm always aware that, as an athlete, you go through ups and downs. An example in the League of Legends space that I always try to think of is Santorin, who is a friend of mine. He had a really great start at TSM, where he went to Worlds. Then he faced some challenges where he needed a year or two to come back, and now all of a sudden he's one of the best junglers in the West again
Both in sports and esports we're seeing so many examples like this where it's not all about the game and how you play in-game. It's about the structure you're in, the people you're working with. There are so many outside factors at play that can affect your gameplay. I think that's why it's so important that, once you realize you've gone through a lot of challenges, you realize to take a step back, work on it, and then you come back with full force.
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.