Froggen’s journey back to relevance and his expectations with Golden Guardians

The star mid laner is poised to take his team back to the playoffs and maybe even to Worlds.

Photo via Riot Games

In 2017, Henrik “Froggen” Hansen hit the gym.

He’d just missed the playoffs for two years in a row, a series of failures that he wasn’t used to. He needed a change and found it not in how he played the game, but in his lifestyle.

“It started in 2016 in the Summer Split for me when there was a really really rough split for my team and Echo Fox,” Froggen told Dot Esports. “I started going to the gym, got into it, put a lot of work toward my mental health and my body. Back then, I lived such an unhealthy life. I actually don’t know—at some points, I’m like, ‘I probably shouldn’t even have survived living like that.’”

In the old days of competitive League, most players were living on their own for the first time and had no idea how to take care of their physical health. Former TSM jungler Brian “TheOddOne” Wylie famously (or infamously) only ate microwave dinners and only drank soda or Arizona iced tea. 

While most players weren’t as bad as TheOddOne, Froggen admits that his eating habits were also problematic.

“I’m really picky, especially back then, so we would travel all the time for all the different tournaments and if there’s food I don’t like or something, I literally just won’t eat,” Froggen said. “All I do is sit in front of my PC, I don’t try to do any kind of exercise at all. At some point in 2014 or 2015, I blacked out at some point because I didn’t eat as well.”

A consistent gym routine was something new for Froggen and a chance to reinvent himself. Now, the workouts he puts in physically are reminiscent of how he tackles League. He’s always been strict on himself when he’s practicing the game and has upheld a personal training schedule for years. Combined, the two have helped him bounce back from his poor performances in the past and he’s ready to step up as one of the main carries for a Golden Guardians squad looking to defend their playoff hopes.

The fall from grace

Photo via Riot Games

The struggles began for Froggen in 2015. In 2012, he was on top of the world. Surrounded by dominant players, Froggen and his CLG.EU squad ran roughshod over their competition. At the season two World Championships, the team reached the semifinal round before falling to eventual runner-up Azubu Frost. 

The team looked poised to continue its dominance, especially with the creation of the EU LCS in season three.

In the LCS, however, Froggen ran into new obstacles. Despite strong performances from their mid laner, CLG.EU, now known as Evil Geniuses, only managed to place third for two splits, prompting Froggen to look for a new home where he could work his magic. For a time, it seemed like he found it with Alliance. Froggen showed out in 2014 en route to his first LCS trophy, but his team crashed out of the World Championships in the group stage, marking yet another disappointment.

The 2015 Spring Split was even worse for the team, now rebranded to Elements. They didn’t even make the playoffs, instead landing in seventh. Froggen was the only player to stick with the organization and it seemed like a new beginning was on the horizon. But then the Summer Split was more of the same and Froggen left the squad after placing seventh yet again.

Greener pastures lured Froggen across the Atlantic to the newly-created Echo Fox in North America. Visa issues held the team back early and Echo Fox never managed to recover, finishing in seventh. The hope was that with more stability, the team could be one of the strongest in the league, but the team finished dead last in the summer.

That’s when Froggen started hitting the gym.

Striking gold 

Photo via Riot Games

After leaving Echo Fox, Froggen felt like he still had more to prove. He signed a contract to play for Golden Guardians in NA and joined a roster of players that had been let go from their past teams. Top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell, jungler Juan “Contractz” Arturo Garcia, and Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung all had something to prove to their former squads.

But the 2019 Spring Split didn’t go the way they hoped. The team couldn’t get results on stage, picking up only four wins in their first five weeks of play, and it was looking like they’d miss playoffs for the third split in a row. For Froggen, that would mean missing the cutoff for the fifth consecutive time.

“We had a lot of players that were kicked off or left their team, and GGS kind of picked up all the scraps,” Froggen said. “That’s what people like to say. Everyone really wants to prove themselves and I think that led to us being very very intense in Spring Split and that’s why I think we saw a lot of struggles on stage.”

In the final few weeks, the team pulled it together and squeaked into the playoffs as the fifth seed with a 9-9 record, losing a tiebreaker to FlyQuest that would have earned them fourth in the regular season. In a close series, the team was once again defeated by FlyQuest and were bounced in the quarterfinal round. 

During the offseason, Froggen had a lot of time to reflect on what went wrong. He pointed to communication issues being a large culprit in the team’s inability to succeed.

“Even just talking out problems with each other I think is super important, and obviously we’re now in our 20s so it’s not something we’re supposed to be good at,” Froggen said. “We’re teammates and we have to take care of each other.”

He acknowledges that while some players enjoy being left alone, it’s still vital that everyone knows they can turn to their teammates if they need anything.

“And obviously some people like to be to themselves, but it’s important that everybody feels like they’re a part of the team, so regardless of how good everyone is and that kind of stuff we have to act like a team,” Froggen said.

Photo via Riot Games

Despite crashing out of the quarterfinals, even making the playoffs was a leap forward for the Golden Guardians, an organization that finished dead last in its first two splits. In a league that features more parity than ever, the Guardians have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs again in the summer, and even making it to Worlds.

Froggen is happy with his situation now. The Golden Guardians staff has been accommodating and they’re always there if he needs their help with anything. Now, having been “put in a good spot to succeed,” it’s up to him and the rest of the roster to step it up this summer.

“We had big problems translating this to stage play, and that’s something we have to work on still and that’s something we have been working on,” Froggen said. “If all 10 players want to grind, play League, do their very best to become better players for the next two months, then I think we can go far. If not everybody is invested into it and they’re looking at next year or have different goals in mind, or different focus, I don’t think we can get far.”

The Golden Guardians roared to life in the Summer Split, racing out to a 3-1 record early on, even taking down powerhouses like Cloud9 along the way. They’ve run into a series of roadblocks in recent weeks, but they’re still poised to make the playoffs once again, which would keep their dreams of making Worlds alive. While pundits may have started writing the team off, Froggen and crew fiercely believe that they can make it.

Froggen has always believed in his League skills. When combined with his strict gym regiment, the two have helped mold him into the consistent player he is today.

“I don’t think I’m good at a lot of things because literally my entire life I spent playing League of Legends, so there’s a lot of skills that I don’t have,” Froggen said. “What I know I do have is League of Legends, and I know I’m good at it.”

He adds: “I don’t really have doubts in what I’m doing because that is my entire life.”