Hans sama is more than just a flash in the pan.
While his debut year on Misfits Gaming may have been a firework show, there were those who thought the AD carry’s flame had died out after two unsuccessful years in the LEC. The decline of the once-great Misfits roster began in 2018 and continued into a disappointing 2019. The team that had once taken Faker’s SKT to a five-game series was no longer. Hans sama was living on borrowed time and doubters were rife as to whether he could live up to the height of his debut.
And in 2020, he proved that he could. Hans sama made his first Worlds appearance since 2017 and earned a first-place finish in the summer season.
But just appearing at Worlds isn’t enough for Hans sama and the rest of Rogue. The team is “optimistic about the next season and excited about it,” he told Dot Esports.
“I think it’s really important to have the team being on the same page all the time when the offseason begins,” Hans sama said. “It’s more exciting that way.”
And Rogue have a lot to be excited about. After almost beating G2 in the LEC playoffs a few short months ago, the European standings look wide open heading into 2021.
In the LEC, you’re only as good as the last player you beat. This is especially true in the bot lane with the incredibly talented array of European AD carries. From the entrance of young challengers like Carzzy to the veterans of the league in Rekkles and Upset, Hans sama has had to face off against some of the strongest duos in the world to make his mark.
He’s unphased by the talent in front of him in 2021, though. “The bot lane right now is actually less scary than last year, mainly because back then I didn’t feel strong enough to beat every single player,” Hans sama said.
This confidence and feeling of strength marks a resurgence for a player who was, at the time of his professional debut, one of the most exciting talents in League. His two unsuccessful years on Misfits—years he himself describes as “the least successful for me in my career”—have shaped him into a different player than the underperforming ADC of 2018. He’s even a different player than the reckless yet mechanically gifted upstart who took Faker’s SKT to five games at the 2017 World Championship.
It’s fair to say that a replica of that incredible Worlds performance is still a way off for this iteration of Rogue. But it’s closer now than ever with Rogue’s rookie project finally beginning to bear fruit. The team finished first in the LEC’s regular season last summer, earning their first Worlds spot since the organization’s entry into European League. Rogue was on the cusp of a success story three years in the making until a nightmare group stage drawing saw their dreams go down in flames.
As the LEC’s third seed at Worlds, Rogue were drawn into a group against Top Esports and DAMWON Gaming, two of the strongest tournament favorites. With only two teams making it out of each group, the sentiment around the League community was that Rogue had taken a bullet for the rest of Europe’s hopefuls and that they’d have to be content with a valiant fight for third place against PSG Talon. But even third place was out of their reach. After a surprising loss to the PCS representative, Rogue ended the tournament in the group stage with a 1-5 record.
Their Worlds appearance may have lacked some of the glory of the infamous Misfits run, but every organization needs to start somewhere. And this roster is looking for a redemption arc in 2021.
Hans sama is one of the few ADCs to remain with their 2020 roster for this season. The LEC saw one of the most turbulent offseasons for the bottom lane role at the end of 2020, including Rekkles joining G2 and the noted absence of Crownshot from any starting roster. For Hans sama, the decision to stay came down to one simple fact: He “saw the potential to create history” in Europe. For Hans, 2020 was “a really good year for improvement,” and he foresees this momentum expanding into 2021.
“Having a year like that, going to Worlds and performing better than I had before, makes me feel like 2020 has been a wonderful year for me,” he said. This positivity is striking. And compared to Rogue’s infamous two-year slump, their appearance at Worlds marks a turning point for a roster that many had written off from ever achieving their full potential.
Last year helped to nurture a different player than the hyper-aggressive, tunnel-visioned Hans sama who made his debut on the European stage in 2016 on Misfits Gaming. Finally, he feels that he can bring “a kind of leadership that I couldn’t bring before” and that he has “improved a lot as a person and a player—I can give a lot to the team compared even to my performance in 2017.”
This leadership will be crucial to Rogue because, for the first time since his Misfits days, Hans sama will be playing alongside a rookie support with Trymbi joining the roster from AGO Rogue. The duo has been playing together both in scrims and duo queue during the preseason and they already appear to be hitting it off just fine.
“I think he’s really talented, and as someone that has a lot of experience, I’m going to do my best to let him know what needs to be done to improve,” Hans sama said. He added that there are certain elements of high-level gameplay that “only experienced players can know.”
Riot’s removal of duo queue in season 11 has somewhat impeded their practice, however, since duoing with a new support offers a “really good way to improve” for new bottom lane pairings.
In terms of playstyle, Trymbi is far removed from Hans sama’s 2020 laning partner, Vander. The most obvious difference comes in their champion pools. Vander favors tankier, peel-focused champions like Nautilus and Braum, while Trymbi looks to pick for engage and roaming potential with Rakan, Leona, and Bard. In-game, Trymbi “plays off his instincts,” according to Hans, whereas Vander was much more focused on “setting up strategies and playing more communicatively.” This playstyle didn’t require “the best out of our mechanics” for Rogue’s bot lane and Hans sama will need to brush up on his Draven ax-catching skills if he’s going to match Trymbi step-for-step in tempo.
There was a time when Hans sama looked as though he’d become a thing of the past, overtaken by the onslaught of talent in Europe’s bot lanes. That’s old history now, though, and Hans sama isn’t afraid to take on whatever the LEC throws at him in 2021.
The 2021 LEC Spring Split begins on Jan. 22 with Rogue squaring off against Excel at 1pm CT.
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