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Photos of Adam from Fnatic's 2021 League of Legends team before heading to Worlds.
NEWS

Fnatic's Adam - Maturing Beyond His Years

Oct 082021

Any young rookie would have plenty of reasons for ego and immaturity. And at 19 years old, Adam "Adam" Maanane is one of the youngest players at Worlds - in his rookie year qualifying for an event that many veterans will never reach. He even reached that peak by picking a pub-stomp champion and solo-killing one of the most accomplished top lane veterans in a make-or-break best of 5 against a legacy team with an all-time roster. If you're reading this and didn't understand what that last sentence meant: it means he's a badass; he’s the LEC’s rookie of the year and he has a fast-building fanbase.

 

Adam would have plenty of excuses for ego and immaturity...if he needed them. But he just doesn’t need to have much of either in the first place.

"I don’t think that I was confident enough when I joined Fnatic about my individual level compared to other LEC top laners."

In your intro video for Fnatic, you said you never expected to win LFL or win EU Masters. Did you expect to come so close to winning the LEC in your first split?

Definitely not. I didn’t even expect to make playoffs, to be honest. Of course, everything that has happened since playoffs was unexpected for me. Every victory that we were getting in playoffs was like an insane bonus that I was hoping [for] maybe internally.

I think I didn’t expect to make playoffs because - first of all - I don’t think that I was confident enough when I joined Fnatic about my individual level compared to other LEC top laners. Especially when you also add the fact that Bwipo role-swapped to jungler. That’s a really new synergy that you have to create as a team - a 19-year-old who will do his first split in the LEC and a role swap in the jungle

For me, the split was like a transition split. I would be able to get knowledge and improve a lot this split so we can look for results next year.

You’ve talked about nerves and getting used to them. Do you feel that you’ll need any time to adjust at Worlds?

I think that this won’t be the same type of pressure because the top laners that I will be facing might be at a completely new level for me. I think that maybe I will get destroyed one or two times, really hard.

Maybe I will choose to get destroyed [sacrifice the lane] - like, okay this guy is just better. Maybe I will feel some kind of pressure to not get destroyed, you know because the world is watching me. But it’s fine, I guess I have to go through this because maybe I’m not ready for the Nuguri, Khan stuff. [...] I might need some games, it depends on how I handle the pressure. We shall see, we shall see.

You didn’t watch very much competitive league, you just liked the game naturally?

I can basically say that I have never watched competitive games.

I’ve never been like, ‘oh wait there’s Fnatic vs. G2, I need to watch it!’ Like, really. Really really. Usually, I just play solo-queue and if I’m dead I can watch 10 seconds of the game.

Since you don’t watch very [many] competitive games, how did you know that your level was not LEC level when you were entering [Fnatic]?

I think that [after this split] I’m just a better player in every aspect of the game.

It’s the fact that I’ve been playing regularly against LEC top laners and also in ERL [European Regional Leagues] there’s not like a really good laner. [...] It’s really when I joined LEC that I realized what was my biggest weaknesses and what I had to do to improve.

 

 

 

 

Adam’s prowess in part comes from a workman’s understanding of what professional League of Legends is. For this French teenager, there was no period where he gazed starry-eyed at pro-level play, eagerly awaiting his shot. There was no moment where he was a fan and not a player. 

In that way, Adam speaks like many veterans. He tries to strip away the show around the game and to focus only on what happens within it. Part of this veteran mentality comes from the curious Fnatic squad that Adam has joined.

Adam was in just the right place at just the right time with Fnatic’s new operation, where Bwipo and Hyllisang would dictate pace and Upset or Nisqy would carry. He fit perfectly with Bwipo, a role-swapped jungle who could intuit the needs of top lane and coach him on the isolate lane’s microgame.

 

The environment hardly meant that Adam could coast - but it did mean he could learn even faster and without the pressure of heavy communication or hard carrying. He could pick up veteran traits firsthand from some of EU’s most storied players and an insane amount of stage experience from one of the most legendary losers bracket runs in LEC-history.

 

"I think that if you want to improve, you need to be better at the game but you need to be a better teammate too."

How do you personally view criticism and praise [from fans and analysts]? Does it impact your mentality at all - negatively or positively?

I don’t care at all about what people think about me. Only what I think about me matters to me. Of course I will always be receptive if someone had like, a really productive critique to tell me. [...] I can’t always be right about how I view myself as a player and how I view my level as a player. Because like, I’m not delusional, I know that I’m not playing perfectly. [...]

[But] I’m not disturbed by if people talk bullshit about me, talk trash. They can think that but I’m going to Iceland, so why would I mind? Just leave me alone, no? I’m going to see Faker! So why would I mind? [Chuckles]

You’ve sort of switched between strong side and weak side. Was that a tough adjustment as a rookie?

No, of course not. This is not something that should be hard to handle for you as a top laner, especially at my level. When you arrive at my level of knowledge and gameplay, you just don’t care at all.

You just have to know how to play in both strong side and weak side. If you don’t know how to play both of these styles, then you don’t have anything to do in the LEC because the enemy team will exploit you easily and the top side will be a big weakness that cannot be fixed. So no, I just play what is the best for the win.

So in your mind, this is just the basics of the job.

Mhm, definitely.

In another interview, you mentioned wanted to face Xioahu and Nuguri the most. What about those two top laners stand out to you?

Honestly, I don’t even know what to expect when I will be facing them. Every time I hear people say who is the best top laner, they say, ‘Oh Xiaohu, Nuguri, Khan…’ So I’m like, okay then I want to face them.

I’m really the guy that doesn’t know anything but he just wants to face the best. For me, Nuguri and Khan, I cannot be the best if I do not face them. [...] I don’t know how to touch them [if] I never face them.

As a rookie, replacing a top laner who had been to Worlds Finals, was having Bwipo on the team helpful at all? Did he help you learn the role better?

He definitely did. [...] At the beginning at least, when I joined Fnatic, he was already here to point out my biggest mistakes and to give me some really micro tips - wave management and stuff - for my lane. Which could be really game-changing for me at least.

Do you think Bwipo being a former top laner, that makes him easier to work with now that he’s a jungler?

I think that it helps but it doesn’t have to be necessarily the case. Even though he used to be a top laner and I’m a top laner now, sometimes we realize - him and I - that we have a completely different vision of how we see top lane. That’s why it doesn’t have to be the case.

But of course [...] he just [sub]consciously knows, at some points in the game, what I’m supposed to need. In terms of communication, there’s a lot of stuff that I don’t really need to say, because he knows it. In-game it helps a lot.

Do you think that that helped you grow? The fact that you don’t have to communicate as much?

Yeah of course, because I really had to focus on one side, which was my gameplay in laning phase and 1v1. I really needed to improve when I joined in Fnatic because I knew that I didn’t have the level for LEC when I joined [...].

If I really needed to focus on communication [as well], I think I wouldn’t have the level that I have today.

Do you feel like playing all those best-of-5’s in playoffs helped you and the team grow a lot?

Well, I assume it did a lot because this was a complete new split, right!?

We played 18 games in the regular split and I think we just played 22 games in the whole playoffs. So we actually played 40 games in the whole split and I think that, for a team that just played together for only 3-4 months, this was the best, right?

Especially when we qualified for Worlds. What can we expect more?

Do you feel, through this playoff run and this split, is this the most that you’ve learned in your time in professional League of Legends?

Definitely. The amount of things that I’ve been learning the entire split, thanks to [coach] Yamato and every one of my teammates, is really huge.

I also learned to be a good teammate. I learned some human values that are really important, you know? I’ve been growing as a human too. This is a really important part, the fact that I’m not only evolving as a player but as a human too.

I think that if you want to improve, you need to be better at the game but you need to be a better teammate too. You cannot only be a better teammate and you cannot only be a better player.

Aside from winning, what gives you the best feeling when playing League of Legends?

Making my family and girlfriend proud of me.

 

 

 

 

For Adam, the learning so far has paid off. He’s gone a great deal farther than he was expected to for his first split. He’s obtained the most solo kills and the highest first blood percentage of top laners in the LEC. Through it all, he’s earned himself the rookie of the year award for 2021.

 

It’s an impressive record that makes him a very talked-about player, but not a very distracted one. As ever, Adam’s focus remains on growth. Adam’s focus remains on reaching for the top and on taking beatings until he gets there.

 

At 19-years-old, in his first split and first Worlds, his fate is anyone’s guess. But it’s hard to imagine he won’t be a fixture in EU for years to come. This is a player who keeps maturing beyond the years he actually has.

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