What does it take to go pro in League of Legends?

The Challenger Series is taken pretty seriously: this represents a huge opportunity.

No pain, no game

Of the 20 teams competing in the Challenger Series, only three can potentially make it to the LCS. Of those three, at least two will have to fight former pro teams. In that sense, going pro feels more like a ladder where each rung becomes progressively more difficult to reach.

Alberto ‘Crumbz’ Rengifo, former Jungler for the LCS Team Dignitas who now joins Remilia as Renegades’ experienced veteran, has received his fair share of criticism during his career. He fully understands the pressures of being put in the spotlight. As Renegades began to claw their way out of the depths of Challenger, a lot of the pressure that comes from being a pro was relieved by online play.

“The team felt like they knew what they were getting into,” Crumbz says. “No one was overly excited [to be a Challenger Team]. We just did our thing and kept improving. I think what led to this mentality is that because the games are played online up until the finals you don't get the feeling of much pressure on you.”

There’s something about getting a group of people that no one believes in and proving people wrong

Still, going pro means competing with the best, so you have to play and act like a pro team. Renegades played two or three scrim blocks every day, each encompassing a best of three or best of five format against pro, challenger, and even lesser teams. They practiced no less than an LCS team would—several hours a day, non-stop. “If you want to take the spot of an LCS team, you need to play the same or longer, because playing less or practicing on an easier schedule just isn't going to cut it,” Crumbz says.

With the skill gap between pros and the rest of us steadily increasing, it’s not enough to just be good, to grab talented players and throw them together under one banner. The best teams have structure, supporting staff, and of course, the funding to keep them. New players and teams usually do not, and since the bare minimum starts with a gaming house for the whole team to practice together, it’s tough to figure out where to start.

“We had a support staff a bit smaller than an LCS team but it's there now,” Crumbz says. “For the failures we have, we mediate any emotions through our coach who created a friendly environment between the players. We just put emotions aside and think of the game. That is enough.”

But when you want to win, and when one loss can end your entire journey, the pressure can sometimes get to you. “Frustration pretty much defined our practice leading up to the NACS Finals,” Remilia says. “There were internal issues and our team was generally playing poorly. There is nothing more frustrating than losing all of your practice games a week before your most important match.” Crumbz continues. “Playing the semi-finals was the exact same as staying up 24 hours before the ranked 5's ladder lock. Those prior games were not the best.”


Of the 16 teams that entered the Challenger Series, Renegades was one of two Challenger teams to make it into the LCS. Making it must be a relief, especially in a volatile circuit.

“The experience with Renegades really makes me feel like I am worth my weight,” Crumbz says, looking back at his years spent as a pro gamer. “I had to work and fight for what I wanted. As opposed to Dignitas, which I joined back when there was no competition, almost no one played so I was not challenged for the spot on DIG. It's just what I needed to keep going as a player.”

Remilia shares Crumbz' feelings. For her, it was a big win, especially after living on her own. Now she lives with her team. “There’s something about getting a group of people that no one believes in and proving people wrong, that's pretty inspiring,” she says. “The hard work going from nothing to LCS, all the laddering and matches, it's all enjoyable because you have people around you that you care about and want to succeed. The gaming house is my home now, my teammates are my family.”

When you finally do cross that finish line, Remilia says, the sense of accomplishment is unbelievable. “That feeling when you're about to win the last game of a best of five series, cementing your future for the next few months, that's a pretty nice payoff.”

Photo credit: Riot Games.

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