Renegades is facing relegation, which can be scary for any player. Teams in the past have disbanded after relegation, and some players retire. Alberto “Crumbz” Rengifo is a veteran League of Legends player and was candid when talking about his team’s struggles and also what led to a turn around.
Entering tomorrow’s North American League Championship Series promotion tournament in eighth place, Renegades isn’t out of relegation danger, but it’s in the best spot. Renegades is also perhaps the hottest team, having won five of its final six regular season matches to climb out of last place.
Now with an almost entirely new roster, Crumbz looks as this as an opportunity to start over.
“We could use that opportunity to try again with a completely new outlook on the game,
Crumbz said. “So instead of continuing to try with something we knew didn’t work before, let’s try something new. Let’s try making this new lineup work, and that’s the biggest turnaround.”
Renegades has changed the way it practices now, scrimming almost the entire day, every day. Crumbz told us that they wake up at noon, scrim and review all the way until 11 p.m.
Sometimes, he said, they only have 10 minutes to eat at their desk for each meal.
Crumbz said that this season he has been trying to change everything. In the past, Crumbz has focused on improving his play directly, but he wants to change things up. He said that he has been trying to improve his overall lifestyle, making sure his eating, sleeping, and exercising patterns are all healthy.
“While I’ve been around for a couple years, I haven’t had much success. It’s been just getting by,” Crumbz said. “Tackling myself as a person first before looking at the game is a much more effective way of improving.”
After a slow start, the new outlook has yielded some success. Besides the new practice regimen, however, Renegades has gone through a drastic roster change since the start of the split.
Earlier in the season, Renegades’ original starting support, Maria “Remi” Creveling, stepped down and was replaced with Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent. Remi was a known Challenger support player, known for her Thresh (nick-named Madwife after Madlife). While there was some promise early in the season when Freeze and Remi were able to hard carry from the bot lane, Renegades realized it couldn’t bank on that happening every time, especially with Remi’s limited champion pool and the fact that Freeze was carrying on Kalista, a champ that quickly became almost 100 percent picked or banned in professional play.
On top of that, Remi had expressed doubts of her being interested in playing in the LCS for a long time, explaining that she suffers from extreme anxiety and stress when playing on stage. It seemed obvious that the departure was going be mutually beneficial for both parties, and that the mechanically strong Hakuho was going to be a much better investment for Renegades.
The transition happened quick. Remi stepped down at the start of the weekend; Hakuho was in Los Angeles by the weekend.
“I actually got thrown into it really fast,” Hakuho said. “I had two days, and then we were playing. I came into it knowing that I had to adapt really fast to get used to it.”
The transition wasn’t the easiest, especially since the synergy with his AD Carry, Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek didn’t come right away.
“We’re both mechanically strong, so it worked out for laning,” Hakuho said. “The issue was sometimes we’d try to have different ideas, and we wouldn’t follow up with each other. But it’s gotten better.”
Top lane has changed a lot throughout the season as well. Renegades started with Oleksii “RF Legendary” Kuziuta coming from the Challenger scene. Because of the unsuccessful start Renegades had, the team roster started to change, especially since there wasn’t any success even after Remi’s departure. RF Legendary started to share time with top lane substitute, Cuong “Flaresz” Ta. The team was still having no success even after the top lane change. Things needed to change drastically, and it did.
The next big change to the roster was before Week 8 in a trade with Team Dragon Knights. The top lane combination of Oleksii “RF Legendary” Kuziuta and Cuong “Flaresz” Ta just wasn’t working, even after the support change. So Renegades acquired top laner Shin “Seraph” Woo-yeong and mid laner Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo from TDK for Flaresz, RF Legendary, and Alexey “Alex Ich” Ichetovkin.
Seraph had previously subbed for Renegades in Week 7, successfully winning against Team Dignitas. Crumbs said there is no coincidence that the huge improvement came at the same time as the acquisition of Ninja and Seraph.
“I think Seraph brings a lot to the table, for sure. His English isn’t perfect, it’s very easy to understand. Even in normal situations, maybe there’s one word a week he won’t understand. He’s a very smart player. I think it’s not just him, though. Ninja has a really good game sense. Those two kind of separates the game from us in two factions.”
So Renegades enters the promotion tournament with more confidence than probably any of the teams it might face. Crumbz and the rest of the squad seem eager to get another shot at the LCS in the summer split to prove they can be as good — or better — than many expected going into the season.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games.