"You have to prove yourself three times before the world knows who is the best."
Success is achieved under unique personal circumstances or, perhaps, even a bit of luck. The conditions you grew up in, the access to the information you have had, genetics, location, and parenting are often common denominators to society’s most successful individuals. In a conversation with Michael Winther, father of esports prodigy Rasmus “Caps” Winther, he explained the importance parenting plays in the development of esports' professionals and why his son sits upon the throne of League of Legends’ royalty.
Rasmus had a childhood almost too relatable to any of us gamers. Shelves lined with books and consoles, growing up watching his siblings play video games and experiencing the early online gaming days, he was, essentially, raised in the industry.
“Looking back at raising my first two sons, I remember them gathering with friends to play on the computer," Michael recalls.
"The “almost” lies in a very unusual circumstance for Rasmus: his brother was a professional Dota 2 player.
One of those two sons grew up to be Christoffer “Ryze” Winther, who entered the Dota 2 esports scene in 2012 and remained active until 2017. Michael remembers his son going to the U.S. over a decade ago and, because he needed a place to crash before he entered a big gaming event, he was able to stay with a friend he had made online. That moment was not only a memorable moment for Christoffer but introduced his father to the potential of the budding industry as well.
“It was then that I understood that online gaming was a little bigger than I thought. I didn’t see that there was a world behind the screen at first,” said Michael.
Michael remembers he had bought two personal Macintosh computers back in 1985. He challenged his children to play chess against him, which as gaming evolved, the family competition carried over to several other game titles. His eldest son, who is close to his forties now, also enjoyed gaming competitively. The first Counter-Strike was a popular title in his household, followed by Christoffer’s passion for Dota 2.
“I am positive that Christoffer introduced Rasmus to about 80% of what he knew of video games then. They are both very analytical, and growing up, Rasmus would look up to his brother as his teacher,” said Michael as memories of young Rasmus playing games at age six, or seven, sitting by his brother’s chair, came through his mind.
“As I was rearranging his things in Christoffer’s room, I found a Heroes of Might and Magic book of his, where they would color-code the abilities and stats champions had and I remembered back then they would discuss strategy. If you are learning and discussing game analysis when you are seven years old, the foundation is very strong. In some way, Caps went to a samurai school,” said Michael.
A father of four children, spanning two generations, Michael describes the world we live in now as chaotic, reminding us that we all stay indoors a lot more, which can have its perks for parenting.
“Right now we have a great opportunity for us ‘boomers,’ old noobs, to learn how the kids have adapted to have relationships online. Parents need to trust, relax and let their kids talk because this is the norm now, and the emotions exchanged online are deeper than you understand.”
Attending important events his son plays is just part of the “Caps' Dad” job. We discussed Worlds 2019, as I recall meeting Michael in the hallway, moments after his son’s team lost finals to FunPlus Phoenix. Caps has made it to the League of Legends Worlds Championship twice in his career and, while his father couldn't be more proud of his son, he knows he has a ways to go in the eyes of those forming the pantheon of League of Legends' greats.
“I told him you have to prove yourself three times before the world knows who is the best.”