Chasing the dream: Carbon's struggle

By Amelia Savery

If there is such a thing as being a veteran in a professional competitive scene that is so young, Tim ‘Carbon’ Wendel would fit the bill. When this is put to him, he chuckles at the suggestion, and says “Yeah, I suppose so,” as if he doesn’t really buy it. The talented, well-spoken Jungler of Legacy eSports has been around the traps for a long time.

League of Legends has been part of Carbon's life since 2010. During that time he has transitioned from stuffing around with his mates, to representing Oceania at Gamescom, playing in front of thousands in Cologne, Germany. Carbon is driven by a fierce competitiveness - that’s a given - but his story is littered with moments of doubt.

The spark that made Carbon

Carbon spent his early childhood in country South Australia before moving to Victoria at the start of primary school. “I was an athletic kid, very into sports,” he explains. “I enjoyed reading - I was a bit of a bookworm.” Video games were never far away of course, but he was yet to find his urge to master them. “I had an N64 growing up, and I used to play MS-DOS games on the old computer, but I’d get bored after a little bit.”

His first step away from casual gaming came in 2003, in the form of a strategy game called Impossible Creatures. “I played that for a long-ass time,” he admits. “I got pretty good. That game gave me the competitive drive to want to be the best.” Although the spark had been ignited, no game would hold Carbon’s attention for very long.  “Every time I’d find a new game, I’d try to be the best again. Eventually I’d get bored and move onto something else.”

The balance of life, love and league

Carbon was heavily into StarCraft 2 in 2010, and had dabbled in MOBA mods within it. During Season 1, Carbon’s friends had all moved on to League of Legends. Seeing the similarity between LoL and the mod he enjoyed so much, Carbon jumped in. “For the longest time I played with my friends, and they were really bad. I was the only one interested in getting good. I would grind solo queue while they would all play normals.”

The hard work began paying off. After a steady climb, Carbon reached Diamond I in Season 3. “I started popping into pros. I was getting LCS players in my solo queue games. I was like, holy moly. I was totally starstruck. I’d have Dyrus in my game and I’d be like, oh, my god! That was kind of the first moment where I felt, you know, maybe there’s something in this.” 

Carbon earned his degree in Health Science last year while working on the side. “I’ve had a few different jobs, but the last three years I’ve been teaching swimming part-time while I was at university.” The mix between League and other life obligations played on him constantly. “Before every major tournament, I told my team I was going to quit,” he says. “The first time I ever played competitive was before Autumn. We were scrimming all the time, training all the time, and I didn’t realise that was how hard I would have to work. I had university, I was working five days a week, I had a girlfriend - I was a busy guy. All of a sudden, League of Legends was demanding all of my time.”

Balancing his life was difficult in the lead-up to the Autumn Regionals - the first major tournament for OCE in 2014. Carbon’s team came equal 3rd - not bad, not great - but it was the experience itself which left an impression on him.  “We lost, but I was hooked after that. The feeling, being at the tournament, the whole weekend,” he explains excitedly, “it really woke something up in me and I was so driven to perform after that.”

 Winter comes

After Autumn’s result, Carbon and his team trained hard, but he still remained skeptical of their ability. “We weren’t really expecting to beat Chiefs, who were Team Immunity at the time,” Carbon says, “and I was like, if we lose, I’m going to quit, because I’ve graduated university. But then we won. And I was like...well, f***!” He laughs loudly at the memory, and it’s hard not to laugh with him and share in his bewilderment.

The win in Winter saw his team travel to Germany to compete in the Wildcard Tournament for a shot at qualifying for Worlds, which Carbon says is the best thing that has ever happened to him in LoL. “It was incredible, even though we lost. I even got to see my family from Holland - my parents are immigrants.”

Competing on the world stage sealed the deal. “That’s really what sold me on LoL. I took time off from work to go, and to be honest, I’ve kind of never gone back. I still work a little bit, not nearly as much as I was, but the whole experience, I’m just...I’m super driven to go back. I only work if I need to make ends meet. Otherwise, I spend my time playing LoL. I want to go to Worlds.”

 

New year, new leagues

When discussing the new tiered competitive system of the OPL, Carbon excitedly explains how great it is for the development of local talent. “There are way more teams in the scene, and way more teams looking for practice. Last year, we had major issues finding scrims - almost no team would scrim us. A lot of teams, if they lose a few games, or lose even one game, it would kill their mentality and they wouldn’t want to play anymore. But now, because there’s so much more on the line, people play more often. The standard of practice has gone up. Plus, we get to play every week!”

When Carbon speaks of the future and his dedication to League of Legends, you believe him. His excitement and determination is palpable. Oceania is lucky to have him, and to have kept him.

He will continue to train hard, occasionally teaching people to swim. Which is acceptable - we do live on an island, after all. And, if he has his way, we’ll see him at Worlds.

 

OPL continues Mondays and Thursdays from 6PM AEDT at www.twitch.tv/riotgamesoceania

 

Amelia Savery is a contributing writer. You can follow her on Twitter here.

 

 

 


4 years ago


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