Good Enough by Liquid`Jensen

November 20 2018
Good Enough

By Nicolaj Jensen

Right after the loss, I didn’t feel a thing. I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t numb. The regret didn’t flood in until we were headed back to the hotel. This was our best chance of going the distance, potentially even winning the whole thing, and this realization was devastating. The Summoner’s Cup was within reach, and I couldn’t avoid thinking that we just weren’t good enough. That it just wasn’t meant to be.

I can’t deny that I blamed myself. When you play the same champion three games in a row and lose every time, it sucks that much more. My mind was filled with “I could have done this better” and “I could have changed champions”, but there was also the sobering thought that Fnatic was just better and deserved to go to the finals. Even if I had made a bigger impact, perhaps the score would have been the same — there was no point in thinking about the what ifs. Even though we tried our hardest it just seemed like it wasn’t enough, and there was this itching feeling that I needed a change.

I went back to our hotel after the series filled with these thoughts. That evening, I went to dinner with some of my teammates — which would be my last dinner with them — but it was still difficult to talk about the loss, at least for me. I try to distract myself and not to think about it too much, to resist those feelings of sadness and self pity. Yet it’s impossible when you’re stuck in a hotel room by yourself with nothing to do. I was just waiting for the time to pass by so that I could fly home.

It was a quiet flight back to Denmark. I tried to watch the finals from home, but I couldn’t really get into it. Watching a series that you were so close to being a part of can be a little depressing. I wanted to watch it, but at the same time I didn’t, so I just watched a few moments here and there. The wound was still fresh, but the temptation to pick at it was too strong.

Looking back, it’s clear to me that Fnatic really was the better team. It was tough to accept but you have to be honest with yourself if you want to move forward. When I say that “we never really stood a chance”, it isn’t rooted in self doubt, but a realization of where and how we fell short. Heading into Worlds, I don’t think anyone expected us to make semis, and the result itself has to be considered a success — especially with NA’s history at the tournament. But when you’re in the game, you get 3-0’d, and you get knocked out just like that, you can’t really look at it from a detached perspective. Instead, it feels like you got that far for nothing.

All that scratching left a mark. I’m not really sad about the loss. Not anymore. Now I’m just hungry, because I realized that winning Worlds is attainable. Knowing that makes me want it more. I asked myself, “What should I do now? Will we have a chance in the future? Or should I try something different?”

After things settled down, I talked to Jack about the team and our future. There were some things that I wanted to change and some issues within the team I wanted to remedy. I have to admit that, in a way, it was a bit unreasonable of me to make those demands, since Cloud 9 was undergoing a cultural shift that I didn’t entirely believe in. All these things had been on my mind since we lost in the Summer Split finals. I have never won an NA LCS title, and that loss affected me more than I expected. I can’t even remember how many finals I’ve been to at this point, but it’s been too many without winning. I felt like I was stagnating, running in place. Even though we achieved an historic feat at Worlds, it only solidified Cloud 9’s decision to head in a direction that didn’t agree with mine. It just made sense for me to look elsewhere and the solution became obvious: for me to really thrive, I needed a change in environment.

When I informed Jack of my desire to move, he received me with full support. Since I was still under contract he had no obligation to help me, but I think it was clear that a change would be beneficial for everyone involved. Team Liquid was the first — and only — team that he reached out to, knowing that this move would make the most sense for me and for Cloud 9. We’ve all seen how trading to a rival can be complicated, but Jack gave his blessing and things went smoothly.

From there everything happened so fast. Jack made the call and told me that Team Liquid was interested, and that my contract could be transferred immediately. I was a bit surprised and couldn’t stop myself from blurting out, “Wait wait wait hold up. I need to talk to someone first before I commit!” That’s when Jack brought Steve into the call. We talked a little bit about each other, about Team Liquid as a whole, about the organization, and about what the team stands for. Once we came to an agreement, the deal was done. Just like that.

I am now joining the team that dominated the NA LCS in 2018. Although I still have an incredible amount to learn about the team and the org, to say that it looks promising is an understatement. While macro is always something you can learn, individual play is not. This is a team with strong players at every position, who on paper should be the best team in North America. They’ve proven as much domestically. This is also a group of veterans, which means the level of responsibility is very different from a team of rookies. You are expected to take care of yourself and possess full agency over your decisions, which is a culture that I feel more comfortable with. This independence will allow me to express myself in a way that I believe will maximize my skills. Finally, my new teammates all have strong individual voices, and share a stronger voice as a team. I believe that being outspoken and critical about one’s self and one’s team is something that’s important for continued success. These were all things that I felt were lacking on Cloud 9, and were the reasons why Team Liquid was my first and only choice.

Once my new teammates and I get on the same page and learn to play together, this should be the most successful roster that I’ve ever played on. First, we have to continue our hold on the region. This is a team that has won two splits in a row, and I think it’s fair to expect Team Liquid to defend those titles. At this point in my career, an NA LCS title is something that I know I am lacking, and it’s strong motivation for me during the domestic season. After that, the next step is to perform well internationally. I want to go to MSI and have a really good showing. 2018 has proven that anything is possible and the gap is smaller than it has ever been. Playing internationally is very different from playing in NA, and it’s both fascinating and perplexing. I have a history of performing well on the international stage, and my experience will complement the team’s existing strengths through this different perspective. And then, hopefully onto Worlds.

This, more or less, is my long term plan. Win LCS and take Team Liquid — and North America — to another level internationally. If I’m unable to do either of these things, then I will consider it a failure on my part. I didn’t ask for this change to be comfortable, or to make things easier for me. I wanted this change because the expectations that I have for myself are high, perhaps even unreasonable. Yet I know that I am good enough; that this team is good enough. I’ve scratched the itch and it’s left a mark. Now, it’s time to leave mine.