After years in regional leagues, Kristian “TynX” Hansen was finally on the LEC stage in 2021. “It feels so damn good to be here,” he said in an interview at the start of the season. He wants to prove himself in the European League of Legends, play long. But the dream quickly bursts.
For the e-sportsman, the LEC was over after just one season. After being kicked out, he felt terrible. And he’s not alone in that.
Young talents usually work for years to get one of the 50 places in the LEC teams. There they have the opportunity to compete with the best, to improve themselves – and the chance to qualify for the World Cup.
But for many newcomers, the dream of the LEC ends after just one season. One of them is TynX.
The 23-year-old Dane had the typical career of a so-called rookie: He attracted attention with his performance at the European tournament European Masters in 2020 and was acquired by the German organization SK Gaming for the LEC in early 2021.
Rookies in the LEC: Unexpected expulsion
“I knew the SK coach, we had worked together before,” says TynX in an interview with the German Press Agency. SK brought four new players on board at the end of 2020. That seemed to work: the team made it to the playoffs, finishing sixth.
Despite the comparatively good result, TynX was released by SK after one season. “It was quite a shock,” he says. “Especially because we had done better than expected.” The explanation for the expulsion was very vague.
After being praised for his development after the playoffs, after four days of training for the next season, he was told that it wasn’t working after all. “I didn’t have the mental attitude to question the decision, so the conversation ended quickly.”
TynX mainly criticizes the management. “Normally you should give your players a reasonable window of opportunity to find something else.” For him, however, it was communicated too late to find an alternative for the summer. “It ruined a whole season for me.”
SK: TynX didn’t adapt fast enough
TynX has not adapted quickly enough to the changing game, says Alexander Mueller, Managing Director at SK.
Unfortunately, his performance declined over the course of the season. That was also very clearly discussed with him. He got homework for the break: “He should work relatively hard on his game so as not to lose touch,” says Müller. “But unfortunately his style of play was still not up to par with the competition after the break.”
A dynamic developed in the team that the management could not stop. “The entire team made it clear relatively quickly that they wanted a different solution. And we then openly communicated to them that the journey to the Summer Split as a starter would not continue,” says Müller.
A change between spring and summer is anything but ideal for the organization. “You really want to prevent that,” he says. The fact that TynX could not switch to another top team was due to their performance.
Rookie management in the LEC “not good”
Several LEC players have fared like TynX in the past. Paweł “Woolite” Pruski had already played in the previous league of the LEC, the EU LCS, in 2014. However, when he made it back to the LEC in the summer of 2019, he too was replaced after a split.
“It was a tough time for me. I had no motivation,” says the 26-year-old Pole in an interview with dpa about leaving the LEC team Rogue. “I was at home for two weeks and did nothing but think about the fact that I just got into the LEC and now I have to start all over again.”
Again and again teams fail to integrate newcomers. This is often not due to the players, but also to the structures. “It seems like every other rookie who joins a team breaks up,” says TynX. “That’s sad to see.”
So did German Steven “Reeker” Chen, who had to leave MAD Lions after one season. Here, Till Werdermann, MAD’s Director of Team Operations, admitted in an interview with “Inven Global” that it was less due to a “wrong” player and more to the wrong handling of the team by the coaching staff.
One of the biggest problems for TynX and Woolite: expectations. “The teams aren’t very good at dealing with youngsters,” says Woolite. They wanted results fast but had no patience. The risk with young players is there, but the teams assume that it will work anyway. “It hurts the rookies a lot in the long run,” says Woolite.
Rookies in the LEC: organizational responsibilities
In an interview with Dot Esports, longtime LEC player Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu from Rogue also expressed concerns. Instead of giving the young talents time to develop, teams keep changing players and then expect different results – which ultimately has a negative effect on the quality of the league.
“It’s an insane mental strain on the players,” Woolite said. “You constantly get the feeling that if you slack off a bit, you can always be replaced.”
As a result, many players overexert themselves and are then already burned out when it counts. “In League of Legends you can just disappear in a moment if you don’t adjust,” says Woolite.
Return to the LEC with hurdles
The re-entry into the LEC is often difficult for the young players, they have to prove themselves all over again. “In the past, the success rate wasn’t very high,” says TynX, assessing the chance of a return.
This is also due to the fact that the dropped players have a bad reputation. Teams would then prefer to use a new player with no LEC experience. “It’s extremely difficult to get noticed again,” says Woolite.
Meanwhile, both players have found places in the regional leagues. Woolite has been signed with Misfits Premier in the French league since late 2020. TynX has been playing with the MAD Lions youth team in Spain since May. His goals wouldn’t have changed after the end in the LEC: “It would still be pretty cool to take part in a world championship.”
Because even if the regional leagues are becoming increasingly professional and attractive, in the end the ultimate goal, especially for the young players, always remains: the LEC and the chance of an international stage at the World Cup. And TynX is sure of one thing: “If you’re a good player, you’ll make it back.”