As I sit down with Amazing to speak on his career, we agree to pen his “Not Quite Donezo Manifesto.” Of all the tribulations he’s seen in his five years of professional play, the change he wants to see most is honesty. The kind of openness that rarely surfaces until a player’s retirement confessional.
Amazing isn’t sure when his last day will come, but he always wants to speak as if it is at his door.
“I value honesty,” he tells me warmly. Then after a pause, and more distant, “A lot of things that happen within esports are being kept undercover.”
The Now: Saying Goodbye to Fnatic Academy
“The whole qualification phase actually made me shake on stage,” Amazing remembers his Challenger Series wins alongside his teammates, and the moment they won Fnatic Academy a spot in the EU LCS. “Seeing them smile, and just being excited about the game… it revived a hunger that I had lost.”
As he tells me this, Amazing is without that team. Fnatic Academy was purchased by Ninjas in Pyjamas, who has replaced the FNA Brotherhood with an entirely new roster.
“We died for this,” Coach Kubz recently said in defense of their now-disbanded “Brotherhood,” a concept Amazing finds campy, but uniting. When the team shared the stage together, especially at the Challenger finals, they shared an excitement he says is “almost always lost in League.”
But as Amazing explains to me, the Brotherhood’s loyalty played a part in its own fate. NiP offered three FNA players a spot on their Summer roster, but made the mistake of approaching each player individually.
“None of them knew about the offers to other people,” Amazing recalls, “so each one of them individually declined. Each one of them felt committed to the cause of the grand scheme of things.”
“There are not many teams that live and die together. The FNA Brotherhood was one of them.”
We pause at the weight of the memory, and Amazing is surprisingly calm.
“I don’t think we died for this,” he says finally. “We did our job, what was expected of us, and we have to move past that. We all realized that this was possible... It happened. What can we do? Move on and keep playing, if we choose to do so.”
He tells me this organization system is as fair as it could be. That they, as players, could have negotiated team-saving terms in their contracts, had they the foresight to do so. He says he would never have wanted to keep his teammates down, had they wanted to move on without him. He says many calm things, all so unlike his “salty” social media style.
The more we talk, the less confusing these two sides to Amazing become. He is trying to share moments with the world as they are. When they are frustrating, when they are calmly inevitable, and especially when they are difficult to face alone.
The Past: Esports and Honesty
“I have heard stories about the gaming houses,” Amazing says when I ask about his notoriously loose-lipped history. “I’ve seen things, too. I saw stacks of pizza boxes with rotten pizza at the bottom. Sushi being rotten in the drawers.”
He remembers his own experience on Origen, a “fiasco,” as he calls it, “where we don’t have internet in the gaming house, our power’s not paid, so suddenly a guy stands in our door and tells me he has to turn our power off.”
“In those kind of cases,” he says, baffled by the silence and rare, explosive Donezo Manifesto culture of esports, “how can I not communicate that to anyone?”
But there are reasons the Donezo Manifesto exists, reasons that paint pictures of fear as Amazing explains them to me. Some players hesitate to speak up against organizations that provided them jobs when no one else would. Others fear the judgement of their fans, of filing complaints to a world that largely sees their job as a blessing. Many can become overwhelmed by a team’s control of their living quarters, unable to space themselves from unhealthy situations.
"You can be completely fucked. You’re stuck in a contract, get no money, and can’t be sold."
In Europe specifically, where fewer players work with experienced agents, there are contractual relegations on the table for players who can’t get along with their organization.
“Quite frankly, we’re all bound by contracts,” Amazing tells me, “and in most cases those contracts can include scenarios in which you can be put in the sub position.” He reminds me that this means a drastic decrease in salary.
“If you haven’t worked with agents before or you weren’t cognizant of the fact that you should probably negotiate a proper buy-out, you can be fucked. Completely fucked. You’re stuck in a contract, get no money, and can’t be sold.”
“It’s extremely, extremely sad,” Amazing says, knowing these threats have, many times, proved greater than communication.
The Future: Changing for the Better
Both Amazing and I are slumped backwards in our chairs now. He’s begun coughing between answers, his voice giving out as the hour passes.
We find one last bout of energy in speaking on the future, of aspirations and improvements. The current state of the EU LCS, Amazing thinks, is well on its way to becoming a better home.
“Let’s put it this way,” he begins. “I'd say franchising in EU would be a huge mistake.”
Continuous filtering, he says, has been relegating poor organizations out of the LCS, slowly replacing them with high standard organizations that foster more consistent player performance.
As for Amazing, his legacy is still a bit too untold for comfort.
“Right now, if I look back on my career, I have a lot of what ifs, and I want to quiet those.” His mind races across moments of his past -- declined offers from prominent teams, salty outbursts on Twitter, and the fans who stayed despite them. He takes a moment to thank them. He takes another moment to envision multiple futures where he lives up to their support -- as a player, as a coach, as a manager.
“I put myself in this position where I have to perform. To make sure that the quality of living and playing within Europe, or any region that I would be joining into, is higher than it was before.”
Amazing endures one last cough. The sun is starting to set in Germany, and he’s been talking for too long.
“I don’t want to be a talker,” he ends with confidence. “I want to be someone who does something.”
Images via LoL Esports Flickr