English version of the LoL ex-pro Konstantinos "FORG1VEN" Tzortziou interview given for Sport Klub during the Esports Balkan League first season LAN finals in Belgrade.
FORG1VEN visited Serbia for the first time in December as a part of the Greek casting crew during the EBL finals. He found some time to answer on some of our questions regarding his career and plans for the upcoming year.
Sport Klub: Hello FORG1VEN, we are honored to have you here in Belgrade for the Esports Balkan League LAN finals, tell us your impressions on EBL so far, do you think that League is going in the right direction?
FORG1VEN: I didn’t know that much about EBL before deciding to come to Belgrade, I was in contact with one of the organizers, they told me that if I wanted, I could come with the Greek casters, and I thought – why not? This was a unique opportunity to visit Serbia, and that was the right time to do it, considering that I don’t play anymore. I liked the crowd and the venue, I think this was really a good start, and it is now up to the organizers to develop it even further in the future.
Sport Klub: While watching playoffs, was there any player who showed LCS potential? Maybe someone from the winning team KlikTech, or anyone else?
FORG1VEN: Every player who has enough skill can develop into LCS material, but there’s way more to that than just their skill. You need the right mindset, attitude and mentality, and there were a couple players who showed that they have what it takes, for example KlikTech top laner Sacre and mid laner Milica. They showed that they can compete on a semi-pro level, and it’s now up to them to try and get even further. There were many bad players throughout LCS history, so new players shouldn’t be afraid of competition, they should just show what they know, when the right moment comes.
Sport Klub: Do you think that the new European competition which Riot is to organize this year will help upcoming talents from the Regional leagues show what they are capable of, and is it going to be their window to getting into the EU LCS?
FORG1VEN: I think that new competition is a step in the right direction. I think that the EU Challenger Series was never taken that seriously, and that Riot didn’t care that much about it, and neither did the players. Regional league champions fighting in one competition would help a lot of teams play against other teams they would never meet in tournaments, and that would help them improve further. I hope that Riot will manage to create something which would be a unique opportunity for many players across Europe, who don’t play in the LCS leagues.
Sport Klub: Now when we mentioned LCS, can you reveal to us why did you not accept any of the offers that you got during the transfer period?
FORG1VEN: When I played in Worlds 2016, I kinda already knew that I was done with the game. I would love to compete, but I just do not enjoy game itself that much anymore, and I do not want to ruin my health because of it. A big part of why I feel so tired are the organizations and players who I played with in the past. It feels really bad when you always try to win and you give your best, and then there’s always someone holding you up. There are a lot of unknown stories, and things that fans don’t know, for example, how Jankos ruined our playoff hopes, and after the 2016 Worlds, I just wanted to go to NA LCS and change the environment, especially considering the fact that I really didn’t like living in Germany. I had offers from various teams, such as Team Liquid, Phoenix1, and FlyQuest, but those were the teams that were at the bottom of the table, and I didn’t want to go just for the money, I wanted to fight for the title. I had offers this year too, from a lot of EU LCS teams, even some from NA, but I didn’t see myself in those teams, and in their bot lanes.
Sport Klub: You told us that you’re more than five years in the esports industry. Where do you see yourself in the next five years, still in esports, or something else?
FORG1VEN: I love to cast, in Greek obviously, because my English accent is strong, so I might focus on that path. Many people told me that I could be a coach or a team manager because of my game knowledge, but I don’t see myself in that. I want to be player or a caster, and considering the fact that playing is not that healthy for me right now, I would love to stay in Greece and work there, and contribute to developing esports in my home country. Obviously, I miss the EU LCS, I miss high level competition, but I don’t want to return just because I’m FORG1VEN, and because of what I was. I survived so many things in those past few years, and I have been through so much, and I was still recognized as one of the best players in Europe. I wasn’t even the slightest of reasons to why my teams historically wouldn’t come to grand finals. I couldn’t control players like Jankos, I couldn’t control players who slump in playoffs so hard. We had tried much stuff, but in the end we were losing way too often 3-2, over and over again, I couldn’t go through that anymore. In the end I felt psychological pain after every loss. I put my mind and heart in games, but with no rewards, and I couldn’t take it anymore, I needed to protect myself. That is why I will carefully choose what I am going to do in the future.
Sport Klub: What was your biggest regret in your career as a pro player? Is there anything that you would change if you could?
FORG1VEN: I would maybe try to persuade Gambit to let me go to play for CLG when I got the offer from them, but I just signed a contract with Gambit, so in the end I’ve decided not to do that. If things went differently, I could have easily ended up in NA LCS. Other than that, there’s not much I would change, maybe the fact that I didn’t have that many teams and teammates who were supporting my passion to win and be the best. I should have maybe held back my feelings a bit more, but if I hadn’t been saying what I really thought, no one would have heard me. Sometimes other players thought that I was being open with criticism towards them in order to hurt them, but actually I was just doing that to help them improve. That was the price that I had to pay in order to help my teams get better. There is a reason why all of the supports I played with kept improving while they were playing with me. And there is a reason why teams were falling apart when I would leave. There always has to be some „bad guy“ and someone who will take the blame, even if it wasn’t really like that. In a way, Reddit bullying played a part in my retirement, not the major one, but it sure made a difference. It’s not easy when you give your best, but you end up getting equally blamed as those in your team who tried way less than you.
Sport Klub: What do you think about the NA > EU banter at the moment? Do you think that the NA LCS players are working harder right now, and if so, do you think that money is their main motivation?
FORG1VEN: Organizations in Europe are more unstable, that is one of the main reasons. For example, if you are in the 6th/7th team in the EU LCS, and someone from the NA LCS approaches and invites you in their team, you will go, because there is nothing for you in Europe. There’s no stability unless you win, that is my opinion after playing for so many years.
Sport Klub: Do you think that the EU LCS players’ skill level is lower now, than a few seasons ago when you were still playing?
FORG1VEN: Not only in Europe, I think it’s somewhat like that in NA too. In Europe, a lot of players nowadays focus only to enter in the LCS, and that’s where their journey ends. They only start thinking about paychecks, and how to meet girls, they want to live the teenage pro dream, and that comes at the expense of others, players who still want to win.
Sport Klub: Do you think franchising of the NA LCS will make a difference in the play style of the teams that end up at the bottom of the table at the end of the season, considering that they can’t drop out of the league anymore?
FORG1VEN: If new teams end up in last places at the start of new season that is going to be ok, at least for some time, because they have a lot to catch up. But if other teams do not show maximum effort, that might bite them hard later on. If they are ok with just being in the league, they will never be able to grab good players who want to win, who want to do something and make their legacy in LoL esports.
Sport Klub: We know that you were good in many esports games, not only in League of Legends. If you didn’t become a LoL pro, which game would you end up competing in?
FORG1VEN: Either CS:GO or Heros of the Storm. I was really good at them, but when I played them I was already too invested in League. One thing that LoL esports has as a big advantage is that it’s not important where you come from, and whether your country is good at the game. If you prove yourself in SoloQ, you will be noticed by everyone, you will make contacts and you will end up somewhere.
Sport Klub: What do you think is the main reason that you were able to play different games at an almost pro level? Is it because you are a competitive player whatever you play, or is it because of your gaming skills?
FORG1VEN: I think it’s a combination of my mindset, determination and skill level. I just never want to lose in any aspect of my life, and I always try to find the best way to win. Other than that, I have passion while playing games which motives me to always give my best.
Sport Klub: That sure sounds like a winning combination for successes in esports. One last question, what final advice would you give to the young players in Balkan, what they should focus on in order to become professional eSports players one day, and maybe follow your footsteps in the EU LCS?
FORG1VEN: I think that targeting the EU LCS right from the start is not a reasonable expectation. You should always try to become a better player by yourself, in order to avoid becoming deadweight in your team. You need to work on your skill, and do your best not to be a mediocre player. Also, it’s important to learn how to cope with loss, and to decide at one point, whether you are really able to get there, or would you just waste your time and the best years of your life by pursuing a pro career.
Interview edited and proofread by Jovana Grmovšek