Success Doesn't Come Easy: Team 8's Maplestreet8 | LoL Esports
Success Doesn't Come Easy: Team 8's Maplestreet8
LCS pros are people too. They have hard days, make cringe-worthy mistakes, and sometimes piss people off. You know, just like the rest of us.
No one knows that better than Team 8's AD carry Ainslie "maplestreet8" Wyllie, who has battled rejection, depression, and anger issues on his way to his current success in the NA LCS. We sat down with Maplestreet8 to talk about his struggles and how they taught him how to be a better player -- and person.
Becoming a Pro
"Like a lot of things in life I kind of just drifted to it," Maplestreet8 says about becoming a pro gamer. After a childhood of ignoring schoolwork and playing video games, Maplestreet8 found himself with a degree in software development and little passion for his current life path. But then he watched an esports tournament that changed his life.
That fateful series was the unfortunate stomping of his big brother Brian "TheOddOne" Wyllie's team, Team SoloMid, at the 2012 MLG Summer Arena by the Korean team Azubu Blaze.
"After watching how the Korean team destroyed TSM, I was really inspired and wanted to play against the best in the world," Maplestreet8 recalls.
He'd gotten a laptop during college that had let him finally play LoL, which he'd heard about from his friends and brother for a while. He was instantly hooked, but even though he'd already spent a lot of his time practicing LoL,, he never thought he was trying to become a pro gamer. He didn't want a career. He just wanted to prove to the world that he was the best. Even better than the Koreans that had just kicked his big bro's butt.
The Stressful Struggle
Maplestreet8 tried to break into the scene by forming his own teams and subbing for other teams in Go4LoL leagues -- monthly online tournaments hosted by the ESL.
But he kept losing, and his teams often disbanded under the stress. This eventually led to one of his big regrets: his actions on a temporary little team called Tasty Pastries.
"I was very stressed because we could never win a Go4LoL tournament," Maplestreet8 explains. "I was extremely unhappy because I couldn't carry games and I ended up rage-quitting the team in a very rude way. They disbanded shortly later. I feel bad because they were a group of close friends who played for fun. But I was too competitive, and my lack of social experiences at the time made me an asshole who got too angry."
Karma caught up with Maplestreet8 on his next team, though. "Next I subbed for a different team," he explains. "I carried them to the finals of a Go4LoL tournament, but then I got subbed out and they lost."
Yet his play in that tournament caught the eye of another player, Daniel "Prophet" Fetterman. Prophet recruited Maplestreet8 to play on several other rosters with him, including a lineup with future LCSers Neil "Pr0lly" Hammad and Cristian "Cris" Rosales.
Maplestreet8 calls this his big break, but he still quit the team shortly after joining. He describes his departure as a "depressed-quit" after a teammate called him a one-trick pony and broke his confidence.
Out of Luck in the LCS
After that, Maplestreet8 quickly joined the team he would eventually enter the LCS with, Velocity Esports. Velocity won often in online scrims, but couldn't convert that success over to live stage tournaments.
Not that tournament losses were new to Maplestreet8, and he tried to overcome them the same way he had before: sheer force of will. He pushed harder, still striving to be the best -- no matter the cost. Velocity qualified for the NA LCS Promotion Tournament that summer, where they beat two other teams to earn their NA LCS spot in the 2013 Summer Split.
But they struggled mightily in the 2014 season, and Maplestreet8's anger issues reared their ugly head once more.
"I was a very quiet and angry person. I wasn't a supportive teammate," Maplestreet8 admits. "I kept a lot of anger inside of me, but, oddly enough, it was almost always anger at my own inability to carry games. In my head, I decided that without winning and League of Legends, my life would be entirely useless to the world."
"So I would hit myself," he says. "And even slam my mouse and keyboard on losses, which made the atmosphere on the team incredibly awkward."
The Low Point
It wasn't any easier outside the Rift.
"Reading social media was a bad idea," Maplestreet8 says. "It made me incredibly sad. People thought that I was a huge asshole or that I was ugly -- there was lots of mean shit out there."
That depression actually caused Maplestreet8 to stop eating for awhile. Instead, he says he played video games non-stop, and claims that "my desire to win kind of kept me alive… so I didn't have to think about my depression at my lowest moments."
Through these emotional struggles, Maplestreet8 grew -- both as a person and a player. During his nine weeks in the NA LCS, his skills and confidence increased rapidly and he began to believe that he could stand firm against every other bot lane in the LCS.
But when Velocity was relegated out of the NA LCS after amassing an bleak 5-23 record, Maplestreet8 was kicked off the team in November 2013.
Turning Around with Team 8
Maplestreet8 once again fell into anger and depression, but his competitive spirit never waned. He trained teamless for four months.
"I deserved to be kicked off Velocity," he admits. "Afterwards, I felt that I wasn't good enough to do anything in life. That was one of the lowest points of my life."
But Maplestreet8 was soon recruited by Team 8 -- a second-chance opportunity that he is exceptionally grateful for. Early on, despite the team rapidly improving, Maplestreet8 still butted heads with some of his teammates.
After one particularly nasty fight in early 2014, Maplestreet8 rage-quit and left Team 8, but was quickly asked to return by his teammates. Although they're good friends now, a year ago, they were definitely still learning how to work together.
Maplestreet8 and Team 8 saw frequent success as they came together as a team, and friends, during the 2014 NA Summer Challenger league. They eventually earned a spot in the current NA LCS season.
After struggling to find wins in the early weeks of this split, Team 8 has won seven of their last eight games and are looking more coordinated -- and cohesive -- than ever. Maplestreet8 in particular has stepped up and shown dominance in many of their recent wins.
Turning Over a New Maplestreet
But Maplestreet8 is determined to make sure that more than his win-loss record has changed from his time on previous teams.
"I'm definitely a better teammate now," he says. "I know that keeping a positive attitude is very important. Being angry and sad in front of my old teammates really hurt the atmosphere, which made the whole team worse off than if they had had a mechanically weaker ADC with a good attitude."
But that doesn't mean he's lost his competitive spirit.
"Every loss motivates me further," Maplestreet8 explains. "I understand that all of the effort that I put into the game before a loss was not enough -- and I need to do even more to win and become a world champion."
That's one thing that has never changed about Maplestreet8 along this whole journey: he still wants to be the best, and he'll do whatever it takes to achieve it.
"I'm super blessed to be in this position," he says. "So I have to give it my all and make my dream of becoming a world champion a reality. League saved my life and allowed me to get a new appreciation of life."
"Where do I go from here?" he ponders. "Wherever life takes me. Hopefully to Worlds, because I'm not quitting until I make it!"
Josh Augustine's favorite champion is Nunu, he's never enjoyed a Darius, and he will always go for the kill, even when he knows he shouldn't. He currently works as a game designer on EverQuest Next at Daybreak Games. He’d love to talk with you on Twitter.