Skyrocketing to the International Stage
The defending champions hoist the Summoner’s Cup to the roaring cheers of thousands while millions more around the world watch online, commencing the 2016 League of Legends World Championship. In the background, eclipsed by the presence of the tournament favorites, stands Chres “Sencux” Laursen of Splyce. Next to the competition, he’s a novice on the international stage, but most underdogs are.
In professional League of Legends (LoL), players are eligible to compete when they turn 17 years old, but Sencux took his first steps into the realm of the pros when he was only 14. He didn’t break any rules, the Danish wonderboy just couldn’t be asked to wait three more years, so he joined the amatuer league.
While the League Championship Series (LCS) has an age restriction, the amateur Challenger Series doesn’t — anyone can play. Young, new players often join the competitive LoL scene through challenger teams, either to fight tooth and nail for a spot previously held by a pro team, or to simply showcase their talent in the hopes that a team takes notice. Many players enter with a dream to play in the LCS, and even to make it to the World Championship, but few make it that far.
“I come from a very competitive environment. I want to try and be the best and I want to improve myself, it’s a personal goal.” - Sencux
Video Credit: Splyce
During his time with Team Dignitas EU in the Challenger Series, Sencux’s skill overwhelmed his opponents. He had an obvious mastery of his role in the mid lane, even to the point where he felt comfortable being the first person in the world to play a new champion on the competitive stage — and dominating his opponents with it.
Though the team was primed to enter the LCS through the spring split playoffs, both Sencux and his teammate Martin “Wunderwear” Hansen were 16. Rather than continue with substitutes, the difficult decision was made to forfeit Team Dignitas’ playoff spot and look to the summer when the two young players were LCS eligible. Undeterred, Sencux buckled down, making noticeable improvements in his statistics that would eventually earn Team Dignitas EU (now Splyce) a coveted spot in the LCS ranks.
“He looks young but he’s very, very mature for his age. He understands a situation, understands what he needs to do and doesn’t hesitate to do it because of his good work ethic.” - Coach Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi
Leading up to his professional debut, Sencux was highly touted as a rookie to watch, but he wasn’t the only one. As fiercely as he had performed in the Challenger Series, fellow rookie Luka “PerkZ” Perković of Gamers2 (now G2 Esports) surpassed Sencux in KDA (Kill/Death/Assist ratio) and GPM (Gold Per Minute) by a wide margin in some cases. Perhaps a little too overconfident in his abilities, Sencux struggled in his transition into the EU LCS while PerkZ made it look easy.
G2 ended the split in first place at 15-3, while Splyce finished 5-13 and was forced to play in the summer relegation tournament. As quickly as he had entered the LCS, Sencux had to turn around and defend his right to stay. After a back and forth series that went all the way to the end of a best-of-five, Splyce protected their LCS spot, but the experience humbled Sencux’s perspective.
“I would play a bit more scared in the spring split so in the offseason I started playing twelve hours every day and really grinding hard for the summer split. I feel like I finally started moving up and improved my stage performance.” - Sencux
Photo Credit: CORSAIR
Like his eligibility setback in the Challenger Series, Sencux took his shortcomings as an incentive to push the limits of his abilities. By the end of the summer split, he had nearly doubled his KDA, and while the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, Sencux’s renewed performance significantly contributed to Splyce’s second place finish in the EU LCS and an invitation to the 2016 World Championship in America.
Splyce did what very few teams have ever done; fought for their lives to stay in the LCS, then in the next split, came back all the way to become a David up against a menacing group of Goliaths at Worlds.
“He never took a single break, he just kept practicing, practicing, practicing. When he came into the next split it showed because he was massacring almost everyone in the mid lane.” - YamatoCannon
A recurring theme in his career, Sencux squared off against new, daunting opponents; Splyce’s group alone was nicknamed “the group of death.” Including the Americans Team SoloMid (TSM), Samsung Galaxy of Korea, and the Chinese powerhouse Royal Never Give Up (RNG), the third seed from Europe was up against titans by comparison.
Splyce won one of their six games at Worlds, and while Sencux was well aware he might lose, he made sure his opponents bled in the process. The European midlaner alone took home 44 kills, 16 deaths and 50 assists (44/16/50), most notably baring his teeth against his Danish counterpart TSM Bjergsen in the midlane and again in an unexpected trouncing of RNG where he walked away unscathed with 0 deaths.
Only 18 years old and still relatively new to the life of a pro gamer, Sencux has established his career from nothing, fought to keep it and then competed on the highest level of play possible, all within a single year — not counting the years of competitive play before he became eligible. At face value, many see a young, unseasoned player; but in truth he’s levelheaded beyond his years, and has a gift for the game that looks like it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“Looking at his growth as a player on the eSports side, he’s amazing. A person with his work ethic has a long and healthy career, you can see some of that diamond in the rough shining through.” - YamatoCannon
Though some European fans may be discouraged by Splyce’s overall record at Worlds, the young players took leaps and bounds forwards in their careers. An overconfident player may have taken the results to heart, but Sencux used the opportunity to learn from different styles of play as a springboard for the next season of play in 2017. Based on how he’s handled adversity in the past, we can expect to see a terrifying new presence in the mid lane come Season 7.
Find out what it takes to be a pro gamer.
Photo Credit: Riot Games