Competition can be viewed in technicolor — smaller successes can be found in the dull tones of defeat and dark spots found in the vibrancy of victory. To those who subscribe to this ideology, no performance is totally one thing or another. Winning and losing are not separate phenomena, they feed off of each other on the never-ending road to perfection.
But competition can also be seen as monochromatic. Where the only two states you could possibly inhabit are victory or defeat. And if you’re not inhabiting one, you’re inhabiting the other. Call it nihilistic if you’d like but this ideology has a tendency to keep the players raised in it firmly grounded in reality. The truth of the matter is that at the end of the day there can only be one winner and if that’s not you, you’ve lost.
When it comes to competing in League of Legends, Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng’s viewpoint is as black and white as they come.
“You either win or you don’t.”
Anything less than first place is a defeat in Doublelift’s eyes. It doesn’t matter what records he sets, how proud he makes the community around him, or even where his legacy wraps up in the end. If it’s not first place, it’s not good enough. And, to him, it will always feel bad on some level to have not succeeded.
“Every loss feels s****y and I think the closer you get to winning the whole tournament, the losses just start to feel s****ier and s****ier. Because it becomes more and more reasonable that you could win the whole thing.”
But disappointment in a loss and recognition of one’s accomplishments are not mutually exclusive. While Doublelift views placing second at MSI as a loss, that doesn’t mean he is unaware of what impact Team Liquid’s success could have on his region, for instance.
“Me personally, whenever I watched other teams be successful, I wasn’t really happy for their success. I was more regretful that I wasn’t able to do that first. So, I think other teams are motivated a lot by this success because that’s just human nature.”
MSI wasn’t a win, but it wasn’t a waste of time either. There are things that players learn about themselves, their teams, and their opponents that cannot be replicated domestically. And Doublelift wants to drink up as much international experience afforded to him as possible — even at the cost of burnout.
“I personally feel pretty burnt-out, but I think the international experience is worth [it]. It’s just the price of experience. But it’s worth.”
Burnout and MSI aside, Doublelift’s goals haven’t changed much over the years. Being the best in the world is still his endgame, as is winning worlds. Sure, the 6 trophies he’s managed to snatch up along the way are nice. Like so many before him, however, Doublelift is still chasing his white whale. Confident he can catch it, the beast only a Worlds trophy would quell.
“Unless we massively f*** up we’re going to make Worlds 100%”
In the meantime, Doublelift is looking forward to playing the juicier rivalry games the LCS has to offer and contending in playoffs in a few months.
“The rivalries between the older, legacy teams that have been around for a really long time — there will always be people interested in those games. The stakes are always higher in those matches, and those teams are also a lot better so you’re going to be challenged a lot more, so it’s nice to have good competition [like that].”
Oh, and he promised a Vlad game. So, keep an eye out for that!