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The man, the mithy, the ex-Lemondog

The story of mithy's career as a top European Support and a dissection of his strengths and weaknesses.

"Courage is a mean with regard to fear and confidence."

-Aristotle

Alfonso 'mithy' Aguirre Rodriguez is the Support player for Ninjas in Pyjamas and plays in the European Challenger Series with the team. Due to competing at that level, his name is almost never included in discussions of who the best Support player in Europe is. Those outside of the LCS (League Championship Series) are typically out of sight and out of mind, in contrast to the names and faces fans see on the LCS streams every week. Yet, it was only eight months ago that mithy's addition to Lemondogs was a key factor in the team steadily rising to the top of the LCS European standings for the Summer split.

Lemondogs finished the split in first after the league table portion and second after the playoffs, qualifying to represent Europe for the World Championship. mithy was widely considered to be one of the best Support players in Europe, if not the best. As his teams fortunes have risen and fallen, so has mithy's individual stock as a professional player. This is the story of a Spaniard who overcame difficult initial circumstances, starting out in an obscure game, from an obscure part of the world and with a terrible internet connection, to rise to the pinnacle of his position in European League of Legends, the biggest esports game in the continent.

Using insights from team-mates of mithy, past and present, as well as the man's own words, I'll dissect his career, skillset and mentality.

Heir of a most difficult bloodline

In 2011, mithy's entrance in the esports world was noticed by scarcely anyone. Bloodline Champions was about as obscure a competitive esports title as one could find in that time, the game, designed as an esports equivalent to the popular World of WarCraft PvP Arena, was having enough difficulty in simply differentiating itself from the many Dota clones which surrounded it at the time. As an esports title it did little to register on the radar of casual esports fans and was a tiny world of its own.

mithy appeared on the scene attending Dreamhack Summer as a substitute player, getting to meet Noonia and MegaZero and ultimately finishing in sixth place overall. Noonia had been an IEM champion in World of WarCraft and MegaZero would later go on to be an LCS NA player in LoL. Proving himself a skilled player online should have been incredibly difficult for mithy, as he lived in the Canary Islands, where the internet connections were exceptionally poor. About the best the Spaniard could hope for in online play was 120 ping to the nearest servers.

Yet in the months leading up to Dreamhack Winter he had already begun to establish himself as one of the best in the game. When Dreamhack arrived that year, he this time finished the tournament atop the podium. His x6tence team, also featuring Verosk and Chipshajen, won out over a 4Kings team everyone in the audience hoped would win. mithy made his name playing one of the most difficult classes: Spearmaster. So difficult was the class to master and perform with, that barely any other competitive players could be seen playing it at the top level. mithy not only mastered this class, he would soon be called the best or one of the top two to ever play it competitively.

"mithy is a Dreamhack champion. He attained the pinnacle of the Bloodline Champions competitive scene whilst playing the most demanding class, Spearmaster, in the most technically demanding 3-man composition, Spearmaster-Igniter-Alchemist (similar to rogue-mage-priest in WoW arena). Not only did his class, melee DPS, demand perfect execution and game sense, his team-mates, Verosk and Chipshajen, playing ranged DPS and healer, were seen as the best in their roles at the time. The team was the perfect trio of killers, and they dominated the competitive scene in the months leading up to Dreamhack.

mithy's competition for the title of top Spearmaster in the world, Jackazzm, relied solely on brute force and unrelenting pressure to net kills, his team-mates an afterthought, there to support him. mithy, however, was an artist, and showed the other side of the class, relying instead on his unparalleled ability to set up combos for his teammates to build on for maximum and devastating damage. mithy was so dominant in his role as play-maker, he operated in a sphere void of opponents, for if he closed that gap, and got in amongst them, the results were catastrophic for the enemy team. It was something to behold!

mithy in his own right could be brutal, a relentless force capable of dispatching opponents single-handed, but his true strengths lay in his ability to sense the flow of the game and set up kills for his teammates. He reigned supreme in the arena, and in the end, I think he deserves that title. He was a fucking monster."

-Semmler, commentator for Bloodline Champions (2014)

Taking the easy route

"I wanted to actually play Dota2, since BLC was like "the skilled game", so I wanted to go to Dota once BLC was dying, but I didn't get a beta key back then. So I decided to play League, you know. I just asked myself 'Ok, what's the easiest role to go pro at?', so I just played Support and back then it was Support."

-mithy on how he came to play LoL (OnGamers, 2014)

When the Bloodline Champions servers were moved to Sweden, it meant mithy's already poor ping went up from 120 to around 180. Looking for a new game to play, as BLC's time was fading, the Spaniard initially wanted to get involved with Dota2, seen as the more "skilled" game. Due to being unable to obtain a beta key, he instead began playing League of Legends on January 1st 2012. Picking the Support role, due to thinking it would be the easiest to become a professional at, he began what would eventually become his LoL career.

In early June, mithy formed GIANTS! with BarbeQ, Carbono, neptuNo and Qyivo. He would last less than two whole months before being replaced in a line-up rehaul. The Support player cited differences with the new AD Carry, who was the new leader, over how to play the botlane, as his reasoning for not being a part of the new line-up. Playing a role in deciding and directing the play of the AD Carry would become a theme in mithy's career and development later on.

"I left because the AD Carry wasn't good enough and I couldn't be bothered playing. They then created a new team and the leader was another AD Carry, who had a bad reputation in the Spanish scene. When I duo-queued with him I saw he was a poor player and told him what to do. He thought he knew how to play and was very experienced, but he didn't and he couldn't handle me telling him how to play, so he didn't pick me up for the new line-up. It was a short experience, but it convinced me not to play in a Spanish team."

-mithy, on why he departed from GIANTS! in early August of 2012 (2013)

Going to Great Britain

In September, mithy moved to Newcastle, a city in the North East of England, to attend University. This would be the first time the former GIANTS! player had been able to play with a good ping to the server, so he was finally able to accomplish a high ELO score on the LoL solo queue. He also had more free time, allowing to play more and invest more time, where his poor internet had often kept him from playing much back in the Canary Islands.

On the 21st of April 2013, mithy joined Wizards e-Sports Club, another Spanish line-up. The team had qualified through the Amateur circuit to earn a shot in the final of the Challenger portion, where eight Amateur teams battled each other, with the winners of each match-up earning a shot at one of the relegated LCS teams for an LCS Summer spot. mithy's Wizards team faced the ALTERNATE of Creaton and Araneae. Wizards won the first game in a 45 minute stomp that saw them 17:4 in kills as a team, with mithy's Lulu finishing 2/0/9 for the game. The next game was the opposite for both, as ALTERNATE smashed the game hard and mithy's Lulu suffered numerous deaths.

In the deciding game, mithy's Elise barely had any impact on the game at all, his team finally losing out what had been a close game for most of its 46 minutes. ALTERNATE went on to face GIANTS! in the next round and qualified for LCS Summer in a narrow 3:2 series win. mithy had missed out on both the opportunity to qualify for LCS and gain a little revenge on the GIANTS! team he had once been a part of, the previous year. The team was released from Wizards less than a week later.

"I think our form was pretty good actually and we thought we were quite good but ATN was obviously better. We were inexperienced, picked wrong and then the delay hurt us more than them, I think."

-mithy, on his team's Challenger series playoff against ALTERNATE (2013)

Titans of the amateur scene

In the same month as the LCS Challenger series and being released from Wizards, May of 2013, mithy joined up with Heimerdinger's Colossi. The team's line-up was packed with known talent: extinkt had been the star mid laner of the Curse.EU line-up that had beaten Moscow Five in an offline Bo3 series at Tales of the Lane in late 2012; Malunoo had also featured in that Curse.EU team and most recently been the Jungler of DragonBorns in LCS Spring. Freeze was an up and coming AD Carry and YamatoCannon had been around the competitive scene for more than two years.

mithy's new team would go on to become a dominant force in the amateur circuit. They won four straight weeks of the EUW Challenger Series and also the SCAN & NVIDIA EUW Invitational. At Dreamhack Summer they were forced to use Swedish Top laner Jwaow as a stand-in for AD Carry Freeze, making it to the semi-final and losing out to Rekkles' Copenhagen Wolves team.

"We did do very well versus other botlanes, with both wizards and heimerdingers, but when we played with heimerdingers LCS was in a break, so we didn't play pro teams, only amateurs and we did beat them convincingly, but they were just amateurs. I think our botlane was very strong. We were mechanically stronger than every other amateur botlane and we just dominated most of our games. We also played very aggressively."

-mithy, on his botlane partnership with Freeze in Heimerdinger's Colossi (2013)

A key component of the team's online success had been the new botlane partnership of Freeze and mithy. mithy synergised well with the Czech AD Carry and they were able to dominate their opposition in the amateur scene. With the team disbanding a week after Dreamhack Summer and Freeze joining NiP as the starting AD Carry the next day, it's easy to see how the play of the botlane had attracted the attention of the professional players in LCS, with the AD Carry typically being the focal point of the kudos in such a situation. extinkt was also recruited to NiP on the same day.

"To be fair, I am not sure. I think we were very strong but there were three months between that moment and the qualifier"

-mithy, on whether Heimerdinger's Colossi would have qualified for the next LCS season, if they had stuck together (2013)

To this day fans speculate on whether that team could have qualified for the next LCS season and been of significance, some citing them as one of the "lost opportunities" of the European scene, especially in light of the impact extinkt, Freeze and mithy had on LCS teams that Summer.

A brief Summer rebellion

Two days after Heimerdinger's Colossi disbanded, mithy formed a new line-up at aAa (against All authority) along with YamatoCannon. Also of note on the team was Amazing, the German Jungler who has since gone on to brief fame in this Spring's LCS split. Over the Summer break mithy left England and went back to his home in the Canary Islands. After a couple of weeks there, he received an offer to join LCS team Lemondogs, replacing Support wewillfailer. Stuck at home, with a very poor ping and few opportunities to make it into any other teams, mithy immediately accepted the offer.

On the fourth of July it was announced that Lemondogs would replace Belgian Support wewillfailer with mithy. Where most new players are expected to adapt to their team and learn the ropes, while the others tell them how they will play now, mithy's role would somewhat different from the start.

Becoming a Lemondog

When mithy joined up with the Lemondogs the team were sat at a 4:6 (40%) record in the LCS EU Summer split standings, tied for fourth place with four other teams. Three weeks of the split had been played and 35% of the games had already been played. mithy's addition saw the team finish all six of the remaining weeks with winning records, even going 4:1 in the super week to close out the regular portion of the split. The team's record over those six weeks was 14:4 (77.78%) and they were ranked in first place for the final three weeks of the split. With an 18:10 overall record, Lemondogs went into the playoffs as the number one seeded team.

"We expected mithy to be better [than wewillfailer], because I'd known him already for some time online and from Dreamhack too. He has like very very great mechanics for being a Support, I think he has the best mechanics of any Support in EU. That was what I expected him to bring, but also he came with great leadership too, so he was just a perfect player to get into our team

[...]

Also, what we asked mithy to do when we got him in the team was [teach] Tabzz more about bot lane, because earlier would lose most of our bot lanes. But now Tabzz is learning from mithy, and mithy is really strict with tabzz, so he learns fast, they have become a really good bot lane."

-nukeduck, then mid laner of Lemondogs, on mithy's addition to the team during LCS Summer (Team Acer, 2013)

A key component of this turnaround was the improvement of the botlane of the team. mithy's addition saw him tasked with helping Tabzz, who had been a talented mid laner in previous seasons and had now switched to the AD Carry position, learn how to play the lane effectively against the best botlanes in Europe.

"Yes, I did teach [Tabzz]. Not to play AD Carry, just to lane. He had to learn everything, he was really bad. It was actually disgusting to see how bad he was. He had to learn what items to build, how to control the waves and then how to build synergy with me. He knew how to trade, for the most part, but he needed to learn how to be more aggressive when he had an advantage.

He is the smartest AD Carry I have ever played with and I'm a player that needs a lot of practise to be good, where he doesn't. By the end of my time with Lemondogs, it was Tabzz who controlled the lane, not me anymore, and it was a great feeling to have the AD Carry telling me what to do, instead of the other way around, because I actually agreed with his decisions."

-mithy, on his role in teaching Tabzz the lane in Lemondogs (2013)

This success of this mentorship in the botlane can be seen in the increase turnaround in results the team had, with Tabzz being considered one of the strongest AD Carries in Europe by the end of the split.

"[mithy] didn't teach me, that is much over-exaggerated, but he was definitely much stronger than [my] previous Supports in lane, so he did have a big influence on my laning strength. Playing with mithy was basically a compromise, we both had to adapt to each other."

-Tabzz, then AD Carry of Lemondogs, on mithy's influence on his laning (2013)

In the playoffs, Lemondogs were able to defeat Gambit, once Europe's best team and runners-up of the previous split, albeit with a change at the Support position. In the final the team were expected by many to at least give fnatic a close run for the top prize, if not actually beat them. Instead, the team were defeat 3:1 by the reigning LCS champions, with rumours surfacing later of some of the Lemondogs players having been out partying the night before the final, knowing they'd already qualified for the Season 3 World Championship after securing a top two finish.

"I always respected like all the pro players, since I'd never been a pro. When I played in amateur teams, like Heimerdinger's Colossi, every game I knew I was making a lot of mistakes and I was very hard on myself. Even Heimerdinger's were like 'What the hell? You're being so hard on yourself', but I knew I was failing so hard. When I got approached to join Lemondogs I was like 'Man, I'm not good enough. I have no experience. You want me to play against pro players when I have no experience'. Once I joined LCS I just realised everyone was trash, it was just like that, everyone was bad.

In this period everyone was insanely bad. Of course, if one player is good, in that period, and the other players are worse, all of those worse players will learn from that player. There was a point where probably everyone in LCS became better than me. It's not to sound cocky, it's just how the game works. If right now some Challenger player who is a god at support gets into a good team and everyone plays against that guy, everyone will get as good as him, or close to him or better than him."

-mithy, mithy on his initial mentality joining Lemondogs (OnGamers, 2014)

mithy's role in the team's Summer split success extended beyond his lane also. Star Mid laner nukeduck would say that mithy was the player making most of the standard calls for the team.

"I joined Lemondogs just to make it to Season 4. Sixth was my aim. Try and do a good job in playoffs and don't fall into relegation, those were my expectations.

[...]

Now I'm going to Los Angeles."

-mithy, on his expectations upon joining Lemondogs, after finding out he had qualified for the S3WC (Team Acer, 2013)

In line with the team's frivolous approach to the final of LCS Summer, there is debate among the players as to whether or not they were all entirely dedicated to practice in the time leading up to the World Championship. Some of the players expressed the feeling that they had already accomplished their goals in simply reaching the tournament atop the seasonal circuit, so their motivation dropped off in the weeks leading up to it.

Disappointment in California

"I'm a player that needs a lot of practise to be good [...] and when we got to Worlds we lacked good practise and strategies etc. so when we were there I sucked."

-mithy, on his problems at the S3WC (2013)

"Lemondogs' motivation was really high, we bootcamped at a LAN center for 2 weeks and played day and night. Our lack of performance wasn't because of lack of preparation or motivation. Worlds was played on a patch that didn't favour us or the playstyle we easily dominated LCS with, so we were kind of lost. It's our fault for not properly adapting, obviously, but at the time we didn't know how to."

-Tabzz, AD Carry of Lemondogs, on the team's problems at Worlds (2013)

Despite Lemondogs failing to progress from Group A, going 3:5 in games, mithy did attract a little shine as a result of a solo queue encounter with a famous name. Locodoco is a legendary name in the Korean and Western League of Legends scenes, having been a founding member of Frost, the most successful team in Korean LoL history at that point in time, and playing in top NA teams like TSM and CLG. Locodoco was also well known as a "Support builder", due to having played with numerous Supports who had gone on to great success and become known as top players at the position in South Korea. Locodoco was in the USA with Quantic, a team of Koreans looking to work their way through the NA amateur scene and earn an LCS spot the next season.

After Locodoco played a game in solo queue with mithy, with the Spaniard dominating on Blitzcrank, he tweeted out his surprise at how strong the player's Support play on the champion had been. Initially only mentioning that the player had been a Support from the Worlds competition, Locodoco clarified, the following day, that he was referring to mithy, Support of Lemondogs.

"met a #worlds support in na solo q , small world~ . his blitz was fucking insane

[...]

the amazing blitz i met in solo q was mithy btw, LD has a uncharacteristically strong bottom for a europeean team"

-Locodoco's tweets about his game with mithy in solo queue (2013)

This tweet, from such a notable figure in the community, helped continue some of the hype surrounding the Lemondogs botlane, even if their team had not performed particularly well in the tournament itself. mithy actually cites the reason behind his success in that single game as one of the reasons he was unsuccessful in the actual tournament.

"The reason I played so bad at Worlds and at the end of LCS, was that every time I got the chance to play solo queue [...] what I was doing was just playing the champion that I felt was my favourite, which was Blitzcrank. Blitzcrank was my favourite champion, so I had so many games on Blitzcrank, it was like free ELO when I played Blitzcrank. Then when I went to NA and we got these smurf accounts I got in a game with Loco and [...] I owned it 1v9."

-mithy, on Locodoco's comments (OnGamers, 2014)

The pack breaks up

"Our problem in Lemondogs, and the reason we split up, was that we were just a bunch of kids. The oldest was 18 or 20, but but we didn't have a clear manager or father that would tell us off etc. Someone we could talk to when we had a problem, someone that could tell us to STFU and practise or would force us to sleep or to do sport or anything. We did whatever the fuck we wanted and we weren't mature enough."

-mithy, on Lemondogs' problems and eventual break-up (2013)

On the third of November it was officially announced that mithy, nukeduck and zorzero were leaving Lemondogs to join Ninjas in Pyjamas, reuniting mithy with Freeze in the botlane. The jungler was hyrqBot, who had garnered much acclaim during his two splits of play in SK Gaming. Expectations were high for this new line-up, with some expecting them to be contenders for the next LCS split title. Towards the end of November they attended the Amateur tournament portion of IEM Cologne, due to NiP having been relegated and needing to fight in the Promotion series to get back into LCS. After beating top amateur team TCM in three games, NiP fell in a 0:2 sweep to Copenhagen Wolves.

The biggest shock of this result was not merely the highly touted new NiP line-up failing to win an amateur tournament, but that their opponents had just lost their two best players, star AD Carry Rekkles and star Jungler Shook. Many wondered what this result meant for the future of NiP, but most still assumed they would overcome these teething problems and re-qualify for the next LCS season.

Picking the wrong opponent

For the LCS Promotion series they needed to win to re-qualify, NiP, as the number one seed, had the choice of which opponent they wanted to face to decide their LCS fate. Picking Copenhagen Wolves was not considered, in light of the result in Cologne, so that left Supa Hot Crew (SHC) and Kiedys Mialem Team (KMT). Of the two, most expected NiP to choose the former, but instead they picked the Poles of KMT. The series turned out to be one of the most shocking upsets in LCS qualification history, as KMT not only won but did so in emphatic fashion, sweeping the series 3:0.

"I thought we would win but I knew it wasn't as easy as my team thought it would be. It turned out to be that their team was the most reaady out of the three. They played insanely well and both out-picked and out-played us, strategy-wise. They didn't really out-play us in lane."

-mithy, on NiP's Promotion series vs. KMT (2013)

Failure to qualify meant mithy had to seriously consider his future as a LoL player, as not making it into LCS meant not moving to Germany to live in a team house there and thus moving back to the Canary Islands. Facing the possibility of having to compete in the EU Challenger Series online with NiP, mithy did not want to play on 120 ping, so he publicly expressed that he was considering retirement outright.

"That's the end of a very fun phase for me as a pro player, I enjoyed it very much! Thanks to everyone that supported me.

[...]

Yes, I'm thinking of retiring. In spain, with 120 ping, I won't be able to play coke league. I don't have options to choose from."

-mithy, tweeting after NiP's failure to qualify for LCS Spring 2014 (Twitter, 2013)

Having failed to qualify for LCS, with a team assembled at considerable expense, NiP was then embroiled in a complicated political drama surrounding whether or not they attempted to purchase the Lemondogs spot, which was already qualified for the next season thanks to the efforts of the three who had departed to NiP. In the end nothing came of this, but Lemondogs did not file their paperwork for the next season in time, which left the LCS short a team. The official decision was that the three teams teams who had lost in the Promotion series would battle for the final spot, leaving open the door for mithy and NiP to potentially qualify still.

On January the 11th of 2014, less than four weeks after the Promotion series, the qualifier was set to be held. NiP's top laner zorozero found himself unable to download the tournament client in time for NiP to compete in the qualifier, so they were automatically eliminated and SHC played MYM for the final spot. The door had now firmly closed on mithy's LCS chances for the Spring split, ignoring the possibility of an existing LCS team signing him. Retirement looked to be a very real possibility for the man from the Canary Islands.

Battling through the amateur scene, again

Instead of retiring, mithy found himself able to move to the NiP gaming house, located outside of Stockholm. From here, as one would expect from living in Sweden, he was able to compete in the online Challenger Series with more than acceptable ping. NiP quickly began fixing their problems and looked dominant in their first two tournaments, winning EUW Challenger Series #18 without a game loss and the FACEIT Challenger Invitational with only one game loss.

In the EU Challenger Series #1, NiP looked strong up until the final, played offline. Without a jungler, as their replacement for hyrqBot, who had retired after the Promotion series, had proven unable to play, NiP lost 0:2 to Cloud 9 Europe. mithy's NiP continues to play the Challenger Series circuit and he awaits a chance to qualify for LCS Summer.

mithy the player

With the history of mithy's career behind us, it is now possible to fill in some of the shading by looking at his skills and mentality for the game.

"I think all around mithy's the best Support in Europe. He pretty much has the whole package: he can make plays, MadLife style; he also has an insanely strong laning phase, he's so hard to beat in lane; he has the game knowledge, he's a very smart player, he thinks of runes, I've had, I don't know, countless hours discussing runes with him."

-Deficio, then Support player of NiP, speaking about mithy around the time of the S3WC (Team Acer, 2013)

The master trader in the lane

"[mithy's] probably the hardest Support to lane against, because he's so damn good at trading. He will just instantly punish you if you just make one mistake in the lane. Let's say he's playing Thresh, if you make one mistake he's going to hook you, cc you and pretty much just kill you instantly. He's really strong in the lane, that's what he's good at.

[...]

I admire mithy for his laning phase, especially the fact that he can do pretty much for two people, and he can get away with it"

-Deficio, then Support player of NiP, speaking about mithy's trading and laning (Team Acer, 2013)

The first place to start when discussing mithy's skillset is his laning phase. mithy's strength during the LCS Summer split is often cited as being his strong understanding of when and how to trade with the opposing players in the botlane, allowing him to harass and zone them off, so his AD Carry can farm while they lose CS, as well as knowing when to go all-in for a kill with his partner.

"He really likes to engage in mind-games and is not afraid to push his limits, that would be the best part about him. His laning is very strong because of this. He really likes doing flashy stuff and outplaying people, that's why he was so good at bloodline champions as well."

-Tabzz, mithy's botlane partner in Lemondogs, speaking after joining Alliance (2013)

As Deficio notes, mithy's mechanics played a role in his strength in the laning phase and trading, not merely his intuitive understanding of when to attack. mithy himself denies having any special skill in the area of mechanics, but former Bloodline Champions player and WoW pro Noonia thinks otherwise.

"[mithy] lived in the Canary Islands, so his ping was always like 100-130. This might not sound like a lot in league or other games but BLC was crazy fast - so he basically had to be twice as fast.

[...]

mithy had very good mechanics, not the greatest, but the beauty of seeing him play was more that he just KNEW how to mess you up. His level of mindgames were insane. When you played against him you had to play completely differently. It's harder to apply to league. I think mithy's laning phase is top notch, but he is the #1 player to get caught warding after laning phase."

-Noonia, former BLC player and WoW pro, on mithy (2013)

mithy is a player who will often downplay his own performance or deny being particularly skilled in any area, but even he will admit he was at the top in Europe as far as trading in the lane went during Lemondog's LCS Summer run.

"I think when I joined Lemondogs [...] in the middle of my LCS period, I'm sure I was [the best at knowing when to trade in the laning phase], no matter if anyone says anything against it.

[...]

The champions helped, because they were all poke champions. They were like Sona, Zyra, Fiddle, back then. So it was easier to trade, right now it's harder. Thresh was also very strong back then."

-mithy, on being the best at trading in the laning phase (OnGamers, 2014)

Practicing for perfection

"I think all around mithy's the best Support in Europe. He pretty much has the whole package: he can make plays, MadLife style; he also has an insanely strong laning phase, he's so hard to beat in lane; he has the game knowledge, he's a very smart player, he thinks of runes, I've had, I don't know, countless hours discussing runes with him."

-Deficio, then Support of NiP, on mithy as a Support (Team Acer, 2013)

A key factor in mithy being so good at trading in the laning phase, as he himself outlined early, is that he must play a large amount of games on his champions, so he knows exactly what he can do with them and their strengths and weaknesses.

"If I play one champion a lot, I will get very good at it.

[...]

I had maybe 200 games on Sona, or more even, and I had a lot of games on Thresh too. I had been spamming Fiddlesticks lately, I was confident on the champions I played, I was insanely confident on them. That was just it, I was confident on them and then I could do whatever I wanted in lane."

-mithy, on champion pool during LCS Summer (OnGamers, 2014)

Intuitive understanding, smarts and passing the benefits on to his lane partners

"mithy is a theorycrafter like barely anyone else I've met, super dedicated to the game he plays and, yeah, very methodical, I'd say."

-Noonia, former BLC player and WoW pro, on mithy (2013)

Bundled in with mithy's laning and trading is his smarts for the game and intuitive understanding of when to do something and when not to. During the laning phase this has made him a very strong player, particularly during the Lemondogs days. Something key about these strengths is that they have allowed mithy to repeatedly train his AD Carry partners to play in a manner in which they can make up of his talents. mithy has a set philosophy on how the botlane should be played and enforces this onto his AD Carries, trusting that he has identified the right approach.

"He's more or less the brain of Tabzz as well, in the laning phase, he's controlling everything"

-Deficio, then Support of NiP, on mithy leading the Lemondogs botlane (Team Acer, 2013)

All of mithy's botlanes change their style to fit him, ending up with them playing a different style to the one they may have displayed with former lane partners. This is particularly noticable in the change Tabzz underwent as Lemondogs rose through LCS Summer, and can also be seen in the difference between how Freeze played with Deficio and now mithy again.

"He was bad as fuck. When I joined NiP he was insanely bad, but he was really motivated to learn and that was all I wanted. I thought this aggressive style was trash too, so I told him 'I'm not gonna play like that'. Whenever he tried to explain something I just told him 'No, that's bad, we do it like this'. I think right now it's working quite well, but yeah, we had really bad periods.

[...]

That playstyle he had with Deficio was garbage. They were good, but it's a punishable playing style, it's just no brain, it's just bad, it's bad, it's bad bad bad."

-mithy, on partnering with Freeze again in the botlane, when he moved to NiP (OnGamers, 2014)

Problems with mental fortitude

"I think his only real weakness is that he tends to choke when it comes to big matches - he seems scared of taking responsibility or making big plays that he constantly does in practice and he gets super frustrated when he loses. I can't count the times he told me he would retire from a game - only to come back stronger 1 month afterwards

[...]

I think he has the deep desire to be perfect. He always says he dislikes fame but that's a crazy lie. He wants to be recognized as the best and puts so much pressure on himself that he can't deliver. I think he tries to think of every possibility and all the options so he loses focus on the now, so he gets caught a lot. Maybe he gets lost in his calculations, because league just has too many possible outcomes and factors. I think he is thinking so much during the time he goes warding etc. that he just goes one step too far and gets caught. I mean he is literally the most caught player in the LCS, i think. There is no game where mithy doesn't have the highest deathcount on him."

-Noonia, former BLC player and WoW pro, on mithy (2013)

Asking past team-mates and other players about mithy's weaknesses, many immediately identified his getting caught after the laning phase and his tendency to choke in big offline games. A look at some of Lemondogs' World Championship games and NiP's Promotion series certainly give credence to those opinions.

"He's top 3 in terms of laning strengths, but he's not that great at controlling vision and avoiding getting caught. I might even call him the best laner in EU as support, only nyph and yellowstar come close. From my experience he does [choke], his play in LCS was always great but when we played big tournaments like playoffs and worlds, he had the tendency to make more mistakes. It might be because he's not in that comfort zone that allows him to engage in those mind-games and he generally played more cautious. He also has very big respect for koreans and good players, which might be why he gets nervous."

-Tabzz, mithy's former Lemondogs botlane partner (2013)

mithy himself seems back-and-forth on whether he chokes or not.

"I think I have developed into a smarter player and the reason I get caught lately is not because I'm dumb. I know the risks I'm taking but I'm just annoyed and can't keep calm, so I take them anyway. As an example, the first game vs KMT I was playing very well and I felt it on myself but I somehow couldn't figure out how my team was losing and there was no one calling out what to do next, so the game was stalled out because we had no plan, so I was annoyed and just tried to play with them by throwing Qs at them and got caught.

It wasn't that I was nervous and choked, it was that I was annoyed and didn't think of the consequences. Maybe that's the way I choke, I really dont know but I hope it fixes itself somehow. I don't think my mechanics are good, I think my lane understanding is good, but yeah I probably choke. I don't really know what it is but something is really not working out. I think I need someone that really leads in a team for me to work fine because I feel that if I try to both make stuff happen and think for myself I just overload and fail at both.

Whatever, it is something needs to change and I do agree with the comments from other people. I know I am smart enough to be the best, I just need to work harder than I ever have before and hopefully the break I'm taking now (after playing for 12 hours a day for 1 week before it) helps me with that, or leads me to the end of my pro career. Who knows? Time will tell."

-mithy, on his strengths and weaknesses, shortly after NiP's failure to qualify for LCS Spring (2013)

Creating that comfort zone

`It seems clear that a component of mithy's problems with getting caught comes from mithy being put into situations where he does not feel comfortable. In the laning phase he understands all the variables in play, including how his trained AD Carry will play, and thus he is free to use his intellect and scheming to gain advantages on his enemies. When the game expands outside of the lane, suddenly the variables increase almost exponentially, to the extent that his perfectionist approach can cause a case of "paralysis by analysis", where he is too overloaded with information to quickly and effectively decide upon a good solution, which may not be perfect.

Another factor which plays into mithy's comfort is clearly his confidence level. In terms of champions this manifests in his feeling he needs to have put many games of solo queue practice in on a champion to be truly comfortable on it. His overall confidence can waver from game to game and month to month. Sometimes he will feel in the peak of his powers, other times he doesn't even consider himself a top Support player. Even if he knows the importance of confidence, he doesn't always know how to get himself into a place, mentally, where he can be confident.

"You have to have that mentality, and maybe fans think it's a bad mentality [...] to say that everyone [else] is bad, it's good, because when you play you're playing confidently and you're confident in yourself. You're still respecting your opponent, but you're confident in your own play. So you're going to play better if you think you're good than if you think the other guy is better than you.

[...]

For me it's different, like right now I'm feeling confident of myself but I don't think that I'm the best or anything else, maybe I should, but it's just me. I just can't change how I am, I wish I could, because it would help me a lot, but right now, I don't know, I just can't."

-mithy, on the mentality of thinking you're better than your opponent and his struggles to always think that way (OnGamers, 2014)

When all of his strengths and weaknesses are combined, mithy the overall player is someone who is capable of contending for the position of Europe's best Support player. Certainly his skills in adapting his AD Carries to his style of play mean that he has the potential to be part of Europe's strongest botlane. His strengths mean his teams have a strong basis from which to build their mid and late game, but then his weaknesses mean that they may lose the game there if he is put under significant pressure or pushed out of his comfort zone of champions.

In his big offline games mithy has only really shined in LoL in the Gambit series in the LCS Summer playoffs, elsewhere he has suffered from performance issues and often been unable to reach the standard he has set for himself online and in regular season games, which are less meaningful. If this area cannot be overcome and put behind him entirely, then he will struggle to reach the top of the game at his role. If he can make headway in these areas, the potential is there for a player from the Canary Islands to be the best Support in Europe.

The path to success or failure exists in mithy's mind, for now. Which direction will he head down? Only he can decide.

"An exceptionally talented support, very focused and dedicated. Online, probably the strongest opponent I've ever faced. Sadly, very nervous offline."

-nRated, Support player of SK Gaming, on mithy (2013)

Photo credits: Lemondogs, Riot Games, NiP Gaming