The buzzword for European League of Legends in 2020 has been “rookies,” and the youth of the LEC’s representatives at the World Championship has circulated as a global talking point. Following the underperformance of MAD Lions, which brought a quick end to their Worlds campaign, the pressure of rookie representation fell on Rogue.
With three players new to the international stage, managing nerves has been a key factor for this team, and nobody realizes this more than coach Simon “fredy122” Payne. A relatively young coach himself, he has been the backbone of Rogue’s development over their two years in the LEC. Fredy122 is finally beginning to see the fruits of his labor, with Rogue going from last place to first in the regular split and a Worlds qualification over their two years in the league.
Coming off a spectacular victory against play-in heroes PSG Talon, Rogue have demonstrated a level of confidence in their gameplay that was, for many, somewhat unexpected. “I would definitely say the players were confident going on stage,” fredy122 said. “And we didn’t really do too much out of the ordinary in terms of our normal pre-game routines.”
These pre-game routines are, for many professionals, an essential part of match days. They serve as a way to focus before matches and dispel any lingering jitters—something especially relevant for Rogue’s young lineup, many of whom were heading into their first international game.
“We’ve been doing a lot of managing of the rookies before the game: making sure they sleep well, eat well,” fredy122 said. “These are the things we as coaching staff need to help them on.”
The rookies in question are Rogue’s top-side trio, none of whom have competed internationally before now. With MAD Lions showing just how quickly a rookie team can fall apart under the pressure of the international stage, the worry for Rogue was that the experience of veterans Hans Sama and Vander would be counteracted by the nerves of these newer players.
This rookie management mentioned by fredy122 appeared to have been effective at quelling any nerves, with Rogue’s on-stage confidence propelling them to a 10,000 gold lead at 23 minutes in one of the day’s most one-sided games. Top laner Finn Wiestål, considered by many to be the weak link of this team, silenced his doubters with a stunning 2/0/10 Malphite performance, losing farm in the early game only to bring his team to victory through masterful teamfight execution. One of the most exciting parts of Rogue’s win was not the victory itself, but the participation of the team’s younger players in earning it. Mid laner Emil “Larssen” Larsson was the focus of the game, with Rogue’s bot side repeatedly roaming up to help accrue a clear mid lane advantage against Park “Tank” Dan-won’s Orianna.