RELATED – Dexerto LoL World’s 2016 Coverage Hub
There might not be another player quite like Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou in the entirety of the League of Legends professional scene.
One of the west’s greatest talents, FORG1VEN has never been one to conform. Both in and out of game the Greek AD Carry has always had a clear identity, but in his refusal to live by other people’s standards has repeatedly found himself missing out while lesser players collect greater achievements.
Now, H2k are the last remaining challenger to the dominance of Korea, and FORG1VEN has a chance to cement his place in history.
FORG1VEN’s talent should always have led to this moment. Long a star of his position, on skill alone he should have been destined to compete on League of Legends’ biggest stage. FORG1VEN’s road to World’s was anything but straightforward however and even now, as he prepares to fight for a spot in the finals of his first World Championship, his attendance almost didn’t happen.
Having helped them qualify, FORG1VEN’s LCS debut was with Copenhagen Wolves in spring of 2014. In his first season he quickly made a name for himself as one of the strongest AD Carries in the league, but the team around him couldn’t keep up. After placing 6th in their first season internal issues within the team lead to FORG1VEN’s removal from the starting roster. He would ultimately sit out the rest of Season 4.
Following a disappointing finish for SK Gaming at the Season 4 World Championship, the organisation would look to make changes and FORG1VEN was the player they would choose as their new star. At the start of the 2015 Spring split the move was paying off – in the first four weeks they were undefeated, and they ended the regular season with a 15-3 record.
The problem for SK was that during that time other teams figured out how to counter them – target FORG1VEN. When they played their semi-final against Unicorns of Love, there were two AD Carry bans in every game, with another often being picked away before SK could get a hold of a champion for FORG1VEN. Following a 3-2 defeat to UoL the same was true in SK’s third-place play-off, which they lost to H2k.
Often when a single player draws so much attention it leaves plenty of room for the rest of the team to carry, but in SK with FORG1VEN handicapped they were unable to live up to their promise as a championship team. Once again changes were made, and once again it was FORG1VEN on the way out.
It is rare that a player’s personality is so evident in their play. FORG1VEN has always prided himself on his talent and it shows in his style – favouring lane-winning champions that allow him to use that talent to outclass his direct opponent. To FORG1VEN, this is the way the game should be played, to the extent that he has been reluctant to play meta champions if they do not fit his view. It doesn’t matter to FORG1VEN if others are finding success in other ways – he lives or dies by his own game.
Content with nothing but excellence, FORG1VEN’s drive to be the best – or at least, the manner in which this sometimes manifests – has not always been entirely to his advantage. Too hard on team mates he deems slacking, angered by players who do not live up to his standards, FORG1VEN developed a reputation for “toxicity”.
During his 2015 Summer split this came back to bite him. Playing now with Gambit, the team had struggled for the early part of the split and were on the brink of potential relegation. FORG1VEN remained a target for pressure by their opponents and was even forced into a style uncharacteristic for him, finally forced to concede that the team might find more success focusing on other parts of the map that weren’t subject to so much attention.
As the end of the regular season approached they got it together, stringing together several wins to put them even within reach of the play-offs. The team needed a good final week, but then the news came – Riot released a competitive ruling against FORG1VEN. As punishment for toxicity in solo queue, he would be banned for four games. Without him Gambit lost both matches in their final week, ultimately tied with Elements in the standings but finishing below them in eighth due to their head-to-head record.
FORG1VEN has always had utmost confidence in himself, to an extent that many interpret as arrogance, but that split hurt him. He’d given his all for years and it was never enough. It didn’t seem to matter what he did, he couldn’t find the success he strove for, he was constantly criticised by fans and he was starting to wonder if it was all worth it.
In an interview with Duncan “Thorin” Shields as part of his “Reflections” series, FORG1VEN spoke of his frustrations, and the uncertainty over his future as a player. “I don’t think I will have another chance to play on a team like SK…I think I had my chance and that was it.”
He was wrong. Come Spring 2016, FORG1VEN would be playing under H2k, on one of the most individually talented teams in the league.
Much like with SK they started well, but this time their success came as no surprise. H2k were a powerhouse team, and for the first time in his career FORG1VEN had players around him that could not only facilitate his success, but also carry games themselves when it was asked of them.
Just when things were starting to look up for FORG1VEN, disaster seemed to strike again. Mid way through the 2016 Spring Split he received a letter – he was to do his nine months of army duty at the end of march. It would mean another year stolen from him as he’d miss the Spring play-offs, the entire Summer split and any chance of making World’s. You could hear the heartbreak in his voice as he gave a post-match interview on the day of the news – “it’s the second time that people take it away from me.”
Fortunately he would be spared from conscription and able to play out the rest of the year. This is the point in the story where FORG1VEN should have gone on to succeed. He’d been through the hardship, he’d come out on top and though it looked like it might be snatched away from him again he was going to be able to make it to the big game.
The fairy tale ending would have been a win for H2k in the Spring split. FORG1VEN finally wins a championship, lifts the trophy, fade to black. As it happens, that’s not how this movie ends.
Instead H2k lost in the semi-finals yet again and the team began to fracture. Once again, it was FORG1VEN who was the one on the chopping block, another instance of personality clashes despite his hard work and talent.
A move to Origen might have been the start of a new chapter for FORG1VEN, but again it wasn’t to be. The team was used to playing around a dominant bottom lane and were looking for a replacement for Zven and Mithy, but FORG1VEN’s time on the active roster lasted just a single week of EU LCS Summer before he was no longer playing with the team.
That might have been the end. Another year gone, another Summer Split missed, another World Championship without FORG1VEN in attendance. This time he was done. He couldn’t go through it all again, miss another split and start from scratch yet again in the new year. Surely, this was it for FORG1VEN.
It is only by chance that FORG1VEN was brought back from the brink of retirement. Freeze, fellow Copenhagen Wolves alumni and his replacement on H2k for the summer split, developed an injury – Tendonitis. When it began to bother him H2k brought FORG1VEN back onto the roster as a potential substitute should Freeze’s injury prevent him from playing, and in week nine of the regular season that possibility became a reality: FORG1VEN was back on the team.
Though the team didn’t have time to get used to playing with FORG1VEN again before the play-offs, they were able to overcome a struggling Fnatic to make it to the semi-finals. There, as is often the way for H2k, they were eliminated, missing out on a chance to play the final following a 3-2 loss to Splyce. Nevertheless, they were able to win their third place play-off against Unicorns of Love, which meant they’d done enough. For the first time in his career, FORG1VEN was going to the World Championship.
Given the time to become accustomed to playing with FORG1VEN again, H2k became the most successful European team at World’s. Not only the sole team from their region to survive the group stage, they did so in first place, made it to the semi-final and now prepare to face off against Samsung for a spot in the final.
People will point to their group draw as being easier than others. People will dismiss their quarter-final victory, having faced a Wild Card opponent in Albus Nox Luna. The fact is though that so far H2k have done everything required of them.
They topped their group ahead of China’s number one team Edward Gaming, and when they faced an “easy” match in the quarter-final they did their due diligence, not underestimating a team that had already beaten EU LCS champions G2, MSI finalists CLG and tournament favourites ROX Tigers in the group stage.
FORG1VEN has never been the darling of western fans. They labeled him “toxic”, they praised others for their achievements while pointing to his own lack of an LCS victory. Now, when all others have fallen, he stands as their final champion.
There are no excuses now. No external factors to stop him, and his team mates are in perhaps the best form of any he’s ever played with. There’s also nothing to lose. FORG1VEN has already matched the record of last year’s EULCS teams at World’s, and H2k are anticipated underdogs against Samsung Galaxy. By no means is he expected to win – but since when did FORG1VEN care about the expectations of others?
This is his moment. This is FORG1VEN’s chance, to do what no westerner has achieved since the rise of Korean teams in Season 3. To be remembered not as the most talented player to never win a domestic title, but a star in the greatest western achievement of the era – a finalist at the one tournament that really matters, the World Championship. It’ll take the performance of a lifetime for H2k, but if there’s one person that truly believes they can come out on top, you can bet it’s FORG1VEN himself.
RELATED – Dexerto LoL World’s 2016 Coverage Hub