Player interview and spotlight: Santorin
Photo by flickr.lolesports
Many players in competitive eSports can be described as having a rollercoaster of a career. One of the prime examples of that is Lucas “Santorin” Larsen, a player who started on a low incline, peaked high when he joined Team SoloMid as their new jungler, then saw a hard drop with a few ups and downs. Santorin, like any other player, saw much scrutiny for his play, especially when he became a part of TSM. Despite this, he has continued to push on as a figure many players aspire to emulate. Today will give us an inside look at how Santorin himself feels about his career as a pro gamer thus far. His motivation, his achievements, his experiences, and his plans for the future will all be explained by the man himself.
Come and get to know the player known as Santorin.
Tim: How did you get into League of Legends and competitive eSports?
Santorin: I had been playing a lot of World of Warcraft and Counterstrike, and I was not too much into changing the games I play, but my best friend one day came up and said that he had found this awesome game that he had been playing for a while, and he really wanted me to play it with him, so I started playing it and from that day League of Legends has been the game I have been playing the most.
I came into the competitive scene through solo queue. I slowly got a good reputation in solo queue and I made friends from all over Europe. I played on full Polish lineups, full Russian lineups, full Danish lineups, and I got more and more stage experience and more seen/known, and eventually I was picked up by Coast because I had shown that I can play well and [be] consistent on other teams and I could be a good pickup.
Tim: What motivates you as a player?
Santorin: The main thing that motivates me as a player is the competition. I am a very competitive person who always tries his hardest to win and I won’t stop fighting until I have obtained my goals. I also get motivated by my friends and family because they believe in me and I don’t want to ‘let them down,’ even though I know that they are happy as long as I am happy.
Tim: In the many teams you have competed in, which of them was your favorite to perform with?
Santorin: I have to pick TSM as my favorite team that I have performed with, mainly because we achieved a lot. We won IEM Katowice, won NALCS spring split, and went to Worlds. The reason why it was my favorite team is because it is the only LCS team I have ever been on and I got to play against some of the best players in the world and I also got to play with some really good people on TSM.
Tim: What are the differences in competing in Europe and North America?
Santorin: It’s actually very difficult for me to find the differences in the two regions. I feel like the European scene and the American scene are getting more and more similar, but America obviously has a bigger viewership and because of the larger viewer base that also attracts more investors that leads to overall greater infrastructure and more money put into the scene.
In terms of play, I feel like there are a slightly better macro play in the American scene in the overall picture, but if you look into the best teams in each region, it seems pretty similar and I feel like Europe has a slight edge in terms of mechanics.
Tim: What are the differences in competing in the LCS and the Challenger Series?
Santorin: There are a lot of differences from competing in the LCS and the CS. First of all, competing in the challenger series is obviously competing at a lower level. Because you are competing at a lower level, there are not many sponsors looking into the teams, not many viewers who want to watch, and less investment put into the scene compared to the LCS. They are slowly catching up with that and there are put more and more investments into the scene, but it’s still not at the same level as in the LCS.
Also, in terms of infrastructure, you rarely see a challenger team with a really good coaching staff (coaches and analysts) and in the challenger scene you also rarely get scrims with teams from the LCS, which means you are most of the time always catching up on a meta by watching the LCS and seeing how they are doing things with certain champions. Obviously the LCS teams would prefer to get the best scrims possible and that’s why it’s difficult for challenger teams to get quality practice. Some people might think that the biggest difference between a LCS team and a CS team would be mechanics and how well you play champions, but it actually mainly comes down to shot calling and knowledge, knowing what to do in each situation and having a clear and solid game plan leading into every game. That is mainly caused because most of the good coaches are all on the LCS teams and it’s hard to find good coaches who can teach people how to play the game properly.
Also, being able to play against the LCS teams who know how to take advantage of your misplays is a huge benefit because the challenger teams won’t be able to take the same leads through your misplays and might even let you get away with it completely for free. If a team gets away with it for free, the team will most likely consider it a good play, and if you go into a match against a LCS team and they suddenly take advantage of your misplay that you consider a good play, then you will fall far behind and could be a game deciding play.
Tim: What is your personal biggest achievement as a player?
Santorin: My personal biggest achievement is going from being a solo queue player to getting on a challenger team and then getting into arguably the strongest team in America at that time and also getting rookie of the split within 1 year.
Tim: As a young player, what is the biggest way that competing in eSports changes you?
Santorin: I have become more mature, better at handling difficult situations, better at taking criticism, a lot better at talking in front of a camera, big improvements in my English, and the one that I put the most weight on is me appreciating things more, not taking things for granted. It also gave me a lot of life experience, having to change teams and moving to different countries all at a younger age.
Tim: Do you have any advice to young players who hope to compete in League of Legends one day?
Santorin: My main advice for every player is not prioritizing League of Legends over in real life stuff until you have a legit chance of making it. Still put school before anything and keep it that way until you have an offer to play for a team, and when that offer arises, you have to evaluate your options and make the decision that looks the most appealing for you, not only because of you being ‘a pro’ is cool, but because this is actually what you want to do and you are ready to work hard and go through a lot of ups and downs.
Also, if you get the offer, make sure to take a gap year so you can always come back to school the year later in case things don’t work out the way you expected it to in your professional career (I did the exact same thing, no reason to put too much at risk). Also, if you are going to play for a team, make sure that you are comfortable with the contract you’ve been given and that you are ready to go out in the big world and live without your parents by your side supporting you and potentially being away from them for half a year to a year.
But overall, I think if the chance arises and you have a legit offer from a team, you should take the shot if you and your family are comfortable with it. It’s a chance that only a few people are given, and in the worst case scenario, you can always head back to school the year after, so you are not going to lose a lot in the bigger picture.
Tim: If you did not get into League of Legends, what do you think you would be doing today?
Santorin: If I were not a League of Legends player, I would be graduating from high school this summer 2016 and looking to start studying at a university. I was studying mathematics and physics at my high school and I would probably look to be studying computer science or something similar at the university.
Tim: What are your current plans for the remainder of season 6? Are there any particular teams you are interested in joining?
Santorin: As of now, I am a free agent and I am mainly putting my time into streaming and continue to get better at the game. I am looking to join a team this summer and I want to compete in the LCS, but it all depends on offers. In terms of what teams I want to join, I don’t think there is any particular team that I would prefer to join, I think it all depends on the offers that arise and I will take whatever offer suits me and my career the best.
Tim: What is one thing you wish to improve on?
Santorin: If there was one thing that I wanted to improve on, it would be being a leader and a shot caller. When I joined Huma I had to take on that role and it was completely new to me. I feel like I came into situations I hadn’t been in before and it made me a better leader and shot caller, but I still have a lot to learn and I can hopefully keep improving so whatever team I join, I can always become the leader and shot caller if a team lacks one since it’s very important to have a leader/shot caller on each team.
Tim: What is the ultimate goal you want to achieve in professional League of Legends?
Santorin: My ultimate goal is to leave behind a good reputation. I want to be known and remembered in a good way in the scene, and I want to look back at my career and be happy with what I have achieved. I am a guy that considers studying very important and I want to make sure that I feel good about what I have been doing, instead of having studied and I feel like I have already achieved that, but I can hopefully make it even better than I have already.
It has been a bumpy road for Santorin, but it looks like he is far from done showing the League of Legends scene what he is made of. It is in his hands to improve as a player and prove he has what it takes to make it in such a competitive environment. Be sure to keep an eye out this summer to see how Santorin’s story progresses.