Greece recalled one of the best athletes in his sport for military service. Here’s his backstory

The League of Legends career of Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou-Napoleon, which has been marred with close calls and reversals of fortunes at inopportune times, was just dealt another blow.

After H2K’s win against Fnatic in Thursday’s European League of Legends Championship Series, FORG1VEN said in an on-stage interview that he’s been called to serve his home country, Greece, in mandatory conscription for nine months starting in March. If that holds true, he will not be able to finish the spring split with H2K and will not be able to play in LCS until next year.

The news is equally unexpected and heartbreaking. FORG1VEN’s passion for League of Legends is evident in every appearance, feature, and interview in the past few years. And for all the shit he has gone through, for all the work he has put into his craft, it’s all been taken away by powers beyond his control.

It’s as if the circumstances of his competitive career have been reflected into his personal life. He first came into the EU LCS with Copenhagen Wolves. Despite his evident talent, the sixth place team went out in the quarterfinals, suffered community backlash for reports of being “toxic” and received a fine from Riot Games.

Finding the right home

Leaving Copenhagen Wolves, FORG1VEN searched for a team he thought could contend to be the best in Europe. He appeared on “Summoning Insight,” in which he revealed a lot of his inner-workings. For his surly and self-motivated personality, the defeatist outlook of CW was not enough for him. But, rather than leave immediately for other offers, he waited until his contract expired as to respect the agreement he had.

When prompted to discuss his ideal play style, he explained, “I believe I always have the power to alter games by myself but with the help of my team. It was part of my ego and it is part of my psychology and my mindset. If you go into a game and you believe ‘Oh this guy is way better than me and I maybe lose and I should play more careful,’ you’re done.”

His motto could be summed up as “Do whatever it takes to win and honor all agreements.”

Shortly after the episode, FORG1VEN joined SK Gaming in November of 2014. Initially, it seemed that FORG1VEN  had found what he was looking for. SK Gaming was undefeated through the first four weeks of last year’s spring split, and FORG1VEN  was putting out extraordinary numbers. When asked on the broadcast whether or not he and Christoph “nRated” Seitz were the best bot lane in Europe, he famously answered, “By Far.”

But then playoffs came. Top-seeded SK Gaming collapsed, losing to Unicorns of Love 3-2 in an ugly series. FORG1VEN left shortly after, upset with his teammates’ work ethic and the results.

FORG1VEN went to Gambit Gaming the next split and once again made the playoffs. Looking like a contender, FORG1VEN’s chances were dashed when he was levied a ban by Riot Games that prevented him from playing.

A new hope sullied

This year was supposed to be different. He joined H2K, the team that took third place from him last spring. The team already had finished within the top three last year and improved its roster across three positions by acquiring FORG1VEN, Oskar “VandeR” Bogdan and  Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski. It endured weeks of play without starting mid later Yoo “Ryu” Sang-ook, holding onto a tie for first place.

FORG1VEN finally had the team around him that could win the LCS and give him a shot for a deep run into the world championship this year.

That hope could very well have just been taken away. Instead of fulfilling his dreams, FORG1VEN now faces nine months of military service.

First his teams, then Riot Games, and now his own government have denied him. Every time things were finally supposed to go his way external factors obstructed him, as if some cosmic power found sick joy in torturing him.

Is there a chance that the Greek government could postpone FORG1VEN’ service? It’s unlikely. (And FORG1VEN posted to Facebook Thursday afternoon revealing there doesn’t appear to be a solution). Most of the reduced tours only get the service down to three months, which is effectively a full season of LCS, so that is not ideal, either.

Permanent deferment is reserved to individuals with severe health problems or who are the sole providers for their families. There seems to be no precedent for a case like his.

With current information, the only faint hope is that pressure from social media can persuade the Greek government to delay his service. Through respectful, polite, and well said appeals, the community could put enough pressure for someone in the government to take action. Or perhaps there are people who know how to postpone the service requirement: there are clauses of buying out of conscription if someone is above the age of 35, so there has to be a precedence of people serving conscription at that age.

While it may change nothing, silence guarantees FORG1VEN departs.

What does it mean for the future?

At the age of 23 — 24 this July — having to take a year off without having the ability to practice can destroy his talent or make him irrelevant as further imports or new talent arrive. The metagame could also transform so much that he can’t adapt after being away. FORG1VEN’s career is at risk of ending prematurely.

With his mindset, he’ll fight to come back. But how well would it work?

FORG1VEN’s story was of a man in a nihilistic world trying to win; a portrait painted of a man who was given less than he deserved. The happy ending we hoped isn’t here– not yet. For now, good luck, Konstantinos Tzortziou-Napoleon, and know that you are always FORG1VEN.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games.

Freelance writer for Slingshot, Liquid Legends, and DraftKings.

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