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Akaadian on LCS franchising and his pre-League of Legends career path

Akaadian said he wanted to be a history teacher before ending up as a professional League of Legends player for Echo Fox.
Akaadian (Matthew Higginbotham) said he wanted to be a history teacher before ending up as a professional League of Legends player for Echo Fox. Photo courtesy of Riot Games/Slingshot illustration.

Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with Echo Fox jungler Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham during the North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS) to talk about his friendship with Galen “Moon” Holgate, the viability of streaming and what he’d do if he wasn’t a professional League of Legends player.

Andrew Kim: First I have to congratulate you guys on the very successful start to the NA LCS. It seems like a lot of the community is finding your team’s early success to be quite surprising and I wanted to ask if you share that surprise?

Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham: No I don’t share surprise in it. The community’s perception of our team was just that “they can play a strong early game against almost every team in League, but they can’t close.” We just focused on what we needed to work on and I guess it worked. I was pretty happy with that it happened during LCS games (in Week 1), and it was comfortable.

AK: When it comes to your professional gaming life, at least according to social media, you’re kind of stuck to the hip with Moon from FlyQuest. How would you describe your friendship with him?

MH: I don’t know. I think it just came from we were both two young guys who were trying to work hard and make LCS a long time ago. You go back all the way to 2015, I met him at a LAN tournament. I think it was was UC Irvine actually, and I was playing top back then, but we’ve just known each other for a long time ,and he made LCS with NRG in the spring, and that’s when I came into the NA CS and we played each other in scrims a lot. The next summer when I moved onto my next Challenger team, he went to TLA, and then we both came back up to the LCS at the same time — well, he came back up. I went to LCS for the first time. We’re just around the same age. I think he’s funny, and I enjoy talking to him and spending time with him. It’s fun. I think that’s why. I think it’s also easier to have a friendship with someone who’s also playing because your schedule is so much different and crazier than a normal person’s. Your off days different, what you do is different, so it’s a lot easier to relate with somebody like that.

AK: I want to ask you about Echo Fox’s decision to scrim only their sister team as opposed to the LCS scrim block. As a player do you think this kind of secretive scrim block is going to be effective for you guys?

MH: I’m in the organization as a player. The team’s making its own team decision, so I just kind of have to roll with it. I just work my hardest every week, regardless of what the practice is, to play as well as I can and help the team improve as well as I can so when we come to the LCS we have a strong showing.

AK: 2018 will have a big change with franchising and no more relegation, replacing Challenger with Academy, etc. One of the things that a lot of fans are talking about is the removal of relegation. Some people are saying that it’s good, some people are saying that it’s bad, so where do you stand?

MH: Personally, I think it’s great and I was happy to hear that it was happening, and I think the fans are just drawing conclusions. If you’re really saying that nobody’s going to care or something like that, that’s completely untrue. As competitors everyone always wants to win, so I don’t think that will really affect anyone too much.

AK: One thing that’s tied to North American esports has to be streaming. If you ever had the chance to stop being a pro and be a full time streamer, what kind of conditions would have to be met?

MH: I think it’s not that simple. It’s not about the number of followers I get because I think most people can get by with streaming with lower numbers if they want to. I’m really a feel-oriented person, an emotion-oriented person, so if I’m happy with what I’m doing, then I will not want to change. If I feel like I wanted to stop one day and I was sure of this and it happened for months, maybe I would stop and maybe I would look for something else to do. Maybe I would stream. I don’t really know. It just depends on the situation, and it’s really case by case. I’m not as logical of a person. I always have done what feels good to me and then I work hard on whatever I decide to do. I just pick a path that I think I can join.

AK: Let’s say you achieved the highest of honors in League, like winning worlds, and you’re happy. If you were to look at something else to do because you reached the peak and you were OK with moving onto something else, what do you think you would do other than esports?

MH: I have said it a few times. Before this was a thing, before I was in LCS, when I was little, I wanted to be a history teacher, and I was thinking of being a lawyer, but going back to school is not very attractive to me. Especially with all the stories coming out, it seems that most colleges and people going to college aren’t in line with the way that I think, so I don’t think it’d be a good environment for me. I’ll think about it when it comes around. I don’t really look that far ahead.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/Slingshot illustration