To the Next Level: Jensen Comes Worlds Ready

February 06 2019


Before his career even began, Jensen was a renowned talent. He was a walking highlight reel from the start of his days as a solo queue star and a big part of the first wave of talent that helped make “EU mids, man” a thing.

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You’re known as a pretty punishing midlaner to play against. You get a lead and use it well. At Worlds, NA fans got to see you take your game to the next level and one-shot opponents. How did you first start to build your style and how do you hone and improve on it?

Jensen: The most rewarding feeling is when you destroy the opponent you’re playing against, right? It will always feel better winning when you’re making the difference and showing it to the person you’re playing against. [...] It’s a more rewarding feeling if you win by putting your opponent into the ground.


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Jensen didn’t stagnate either, he grew his talent until he was routinely showing that he could compete at a top level. At this point, most fans and analysts expect that Jensen will make it to Worlds and go toe to toe with a premier mid laner before he comes home to NA. It’s basically an annual occurrence. In Season 6 he solo killed Crown, in Season 7 he had no trouble against Scout, and in Season 8 he solo killed Crown again, just to prove it wasn’t a fluke.

Jensen obviously brings a lot of talent to Team Liquid, but talent only scratches the surface. Coming to Team Liquid, Jensen brings an experience, endurance, and versatility of styles few players can match.

Experience and Endurance



Jensen’s experience as a competitor started 6 years ago in 2013 when he played in a team alongside Nukeduck and YamatoCannon. Their team was making a strong push to qualify for the European LCS when they had to disband due to a Riot ban on Jensen and other teammates for DDOS and general in-game toxicity.

While lots of players take a ban as a reason to keep raging or quit altogether, Jensen had more endurance. He stayed in the professional League scene as an unofficial coach for SK Gaming in 2014 and reformed to the point where any talk of toxicity is old news and his current and past teammates only have positive things to say about his attitude. CoreJJ said it best, “The most good [best] thing is he’s nice. […] Playing with him is fun.”

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What do you think Jensen adds to the team?

CoreJJ: The most good [best] thing is he is nice. Playing with him is fun. This [is] like [a] long marathon, [a] long journey so we need fun.


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That positive attitude and endurance would be important during Jensen’s big debut in the NA LCS as Cloud9’s mid laner.

Cloud9 brought Jensen in to replace Hai. Hai was a strong mid laner in his own right, but wrist issues had slowed him down in a league where the competition in the mid lane was only getting stiffer. Jensen rode into NA on a wave of hype, coming in to improve an already strong team. League fans were jumping at the chance to see the return of the Incarnati0n of legends and montages.

The reality was trickier. Hai was key to C9’s system and the team faltered without him. Without his shotcalling and vocal leadership, the new C9 team was not sure how to play the macro game. Adding to the difficulty, the meta at the time didn’t favor the assassins Jensen built his highlight reels on.

Jensen debuted with the pressure that comes from heavy expectation, from an unfavorable meta, and from replacing a favorite player on a marquee team. In an interview with Azael, Jensen admitted that, “it was extremely rough” and that he was, “considering stepping down.” It would have been hard to blame him. That kind of pressure causes plenty of players to fold, but Jensen didn’t.

The Cloud9 team that faltered initially made a miraculous run through the Gauntlet (NALCS Regionals) to secure the last spot for Worlds. From there, this kind of storyline would become a regular part of Jensen’s history and through that history, Jensen would prove that he had one of the strongest mentalities in professional League of Legends.

Jensen would lead Cloud9 down two more successful Gauntlet runs in 2016 and 2017 and in 2018 he would help his team rally from 10th place to 2nd place. Alongside his teammates, he’d regularly exit the Groups Stage of Worlds as a heavy underdog. While that tilt-proof mentality belongs to C9, it also belongs to Jensen, who has been one of the main players in the team for the last few years.

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What do you think matters most for a team trying to improve?

Jensen: When the atmosphere is really bad and you’re losing a lot and everyone is being really upset about it, I think you progress really slow. [...] It’s just important that you realize you are playing to learn so even though you might lose a bit you have to keep a good mindset and attitude towards the game.


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Jensen and Cloud9 would make it to two NALCS Finals and to every Worlds after 2015. Taking SK Gaming into account, Jensen helped a team qualify for Worlds every year since 2014. This was in face of personal challenges, as both his team and the meta would change in ways that called for heavy adaptation.

Jensen’s versatility is a big part of his success and his strength.

Versatility



In the mid lane there may be no word more important.

For mid lane, change is the routine. In Season 3, assassins and strong carries were the power picks. In Season 7 ardent censer became the power spike item to fight on and mid laners needed to play mages that could shield and zone for their AD carries. Seasons 8 and 9 have seen tanks like Urgot and Sion come to mid lane, as well as squishy assassins like Leblanc, poke champions like Zoe and Jayce, bruisers like Irelia, and even AD carries like Lucian and Kai’Sa. Being one of the best mid laners in a region means being versatile.

Jensen is only getting more and more versatile as time goes on. Though Jensen became famous on assassins like Zed, Fizz, and Ekko he has destroyed the competition with high dps mages like Azir and Ryze and more supportive picks like Orianna and Zilean.

Like a lot of players, Jensen started his career with a smaller champion pool but unlike most, he learned how to excel when playing whatever his team needed. Need a team fighting utility mage? Jensen can do that. Need a split-pushing assassin? Jensen can do that. Need a carry? Jensen can definitely do that. Jensen might’ve started his career using assassins, but he’s found success using whatever the meta dictated.

The versatility, the experience, the endurance, the ability to adapt and grow all make Jensen a player that can help Team Liquid reach the next level.

Taking Team Liquid — and North America — to another level



With NA LCS titles secured, Team Liquid has already reached a level of domestic dominance. The next step is international, and there are few better players for it than Jensen.

Jensen is one of NA’s most successful players internationally. This is a player who has yet to miss Worlds when on a team and made it farther into the Worlds bracket than any other NA player. With his versatility and level-headedness, it’s no wonder how he got there.

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Most top players are looking to go to international tournaments and win it all. How do you bring Team Liquid closer to that shared goal? What do you see yourself as adding to the team that makes it even stronger than before?

Jensen: I think I’m super smart about the game and how mid lane should function as a role in general. I think the biggest thing is when you play these international tournaments against the best players in the world is that you have to minimize the mistakes you make, and I think I’m the mid laner that makes the least amount of mistakes — from NA at the very least!


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Worlds is all about adaptation. Taking place over a few weeks and in several stages, teams have the time to get reads on each other and adjust game plans. Players have the time to develop pocket picks and hidden counters. The meta itself can change shape, pushing some teams ahead and leaving others adrift. Jensen is adept at adapting, having done it across his career.

Worlds and other international tournaments can be a pressure point for players too. WIth their whole region watching and rooting for them to upset the best in the world, League of Legends becomes more challenging and daunting than ever. Jensen has the international experience crucial to keeping cool and minimizing mistakes.

Skill, Experience, endurance, and versatility aren’t all that Jensen brings to Team Liquid. He also brings the ambition.

“This, more or less, is my long term plan,” he wrote for our website. “Win LCS and take Team Liquid — and North America — to another level internationally.”




Writer // Austin Ryan


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