Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with Echo Fox’s Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham during Week 6 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series.
Andrew Kim: There’s a lot of attention on you specifically coming in as the more aggressive and very talented junglers in the beginning of the split. A lot of people are still holding you at a higher esteem because of that fact, with more fans expecting you to bounce back and do better each game. Has that attention affect you in a positive or negative way?
Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham: I made the mistake of reading Reddit for a while. I definitely was reading Reddit for the first four weeks and after the TSM series, it wasn’t even me. My team played very well and I don’t think I was in any way shape or form the MVP of that series or the best player, but everyone’s saying stuff like “Akaadian is a god,” or something like that. Eventually I think reading Reddit comments or reading a ton of fan comments etc., one, they are uneducated about the game what is actually happening. Like, if you were smart about the game, you would know that even though I had a 13-kill game or something, I didn’t carry the game at all, even though I can look like it on the scoreboard. Basically after we lost to EnVyUs and Immortals in Week 5 and we went on the break, I talked to (William “Meteos” Hartman) for a bit, and he just told me to stop reading Reddit, basically. I mean, I know he’s already said it before, but I actually just decided to take it into consideration. That probably affected me a lot. I know people were disappointed with my Week 5 play, but I think I’m harder on myself than fans are, honestly. I expect myself to play better than most people expect me to play, so in terms of how hard I try, it’s always me motivating myself and necessarily just fans. I don’t rely on that or anything.
AK: You also sound sick. Have you been fighting it for a while?
MH: Yeah, I’ve been down with, I’ve never had the actual flu before. I’ve always just had the stomach flu when I was little, so on Wednesday I had a high fever, I had a headache for four days, cough, sore throat, extreme tiredness, so we had to cancel some scrims. Even when I did scrim with the team, I wasn’t really all there, and I’m still not really all there but at least I was able to, I played better than two weeks ago. Personally, I think my personal performance was much better than two weeks ago even though I was sick, so I guess I’ll take it.
AK: You’ve been recently making vlogs talking about what’s going on behind the scenes. What compelled you to start this vlog series?
MH: I can’t really explain it. I just kinda really liked talking to people on the internet and rambling on about my life and stuff. I don’t really know why. It’s just something I’ve enjoyed doing even since three years ago, which I think was my first vlog. I just decided going to the LCS that it would be good to vlog a lot, and that would help people get to know me as a person. I think a lot of LCS players don’t necessarily take advantage of the publicity it can give you, and I want to make something of myself through doing this. So I felt like vlogging or just doing a bunch of stuff like that would be helpful, so that’s the main reason why I’m doing it. But also just that there’s transparency to know, the fans of Echo Fox specifically, to know what we’re doing and how I’m feeling.
AK: Do you also spend time when you’re not practicing watching VODs of other regions?
MH: Yeah. I watch both LCK and Europe right now. I think Europe has some pretty good junglers right now to watch, and they generally don’t play just clown fiesta. They play slower, but at least there’s macro involved so you can learn something from watching Europe, and LCK is just good. I think that’s about all I watch.
AK: Is there a particular player that you play more attention to from another region?
MH: I think (Kim “Trick” Gang-yun) is really good. (Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski)’s early pathing is really good as well. So you can take some stuff. I know everyone says that I’m the first blood king and shit, and probably kinda ironic that I’m watching Jankos too, but, he has some strong early pathing, and he generally plays really well so I watch those two guys. And then in Korea I actually think (Han “Peanut” Wang-ho) is in a slump right now, so prefer watching mostly just (Go “Score” Dong-bin) when i’m paying attention to just jungle. But usually when I’m watching Korean games I’m paying more attention to what they’re doing as a team and what they play the game because it’s really methodical and they play more to their champions and how their comp is supposed to play out, play the map correctly as opposed to our region. We just fight sometimes regardless of competition.
AK: Do you have an opinion about who the most underrated player might be?
MH: It would have to be someone from the bottom teams to be underrated because if you’re on a top team people automatically think you’re good regardless of how you’re actually playing. I don’t know if people underrate him but (Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo) is really good. That’s probably who I’d say. I don’t know if he’s underrated or if people think he’s good or not but I think he’s pretty good.
AK: Echo Fox right now is already doing better than last split record wise, at least, and with plenty of time left for you guys to make it to the playoffs, I want to ask if you have any prediction where Echo Fox might land at the end of the spring split?
MH: I think we will land between fifth and seventh. That seems reasonable to me. Honestly as long as we keep our work ethic and practice from week to week, we should see more consistent results. I think fifth to seventh is a good general prediction right now. I can’t really give a single one because there’s a lot of time left.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Slingshot