Finn: “I Just Want To Get To America And Start Practicing”
Rogue entered the 2020 World Championship as underdogs in a difficult group, potentially capable of causing some upsets. After crumbling in the group stage against the champions Damwon Gaming and China’s second seed JD Gaming, top laner Finn “Finn” Wiestål was at the center of criticism surrounding Rogue’s play at the tournament.
Heading into 2021, Finn’s preparing to open a new chapter in his career and take the first step in his quest to prove himself by moving to North America to join CLG. Shortly after his team announcement, we spoke with Finn about what led him to make this decision.
Hotspawn: You said in an earlier interview with us that your goal was to make it back to Words with Rogue. Things changed and now you’re coming to NA. What influenced your decision?
Finn: So Rogue was pretty transparent that they didn’t wanna continue with me and I accepted that decision. I was already looking at my options then and all of the possible routes I could go. For me, I really like what CLG is trying to create this year. Coming into this year, I wanted an environment that made it possible for teammates to believe in each other, play for the long run, and always play with the purpose of improving in mind.
I felt towards the end of Rogue, we became enemies on the same team and it really halted our growth, especially during the bootcamp in Shanghai. I could see that it was something that was really holding us back from getting the results we wanted and the results that I think we could have achieved that year. Looking forward, I was coming into the offseason with the mindset that I wanted to end up on a team where I could see us going far. Maybe we won’t have the fastest start, but I want to be a complete team by the end of Summer. Going into Worlds, I want to use the time there to become an even greater team and be able to make a deeper run. I felt like if I go into a similar situation as last year, I don’t think I’d improve as fast as I want to and I don’t think the team would improve as much as I would prefer it to.
I’m very happy with the five people on this team
Hotspawn: Well obviously CLG is coming off a rough year as a bottom team in the LCS, so for you to speak so confidently about reaching Worlds with them tells me you really bought into their vision for this year. What about your talks with CLG convinced you it was the right fit?
Finn: CLG came to me with an open mind and they were very willing to let me include myself and what I thought was good for the team. They gave me a lot of room to explain my thought process and my vision and they were very easy to work with from the get go. I think there’s agreement between the roster and we all have similar intentions. Obviously they picked up Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen alongside me, and from talking to him a lot, we’re in very similar spots, albeit on different sides of the planet. We were going through similar struggles. Not only Broxah, but Jason “WildTurtle” Tran as well felt the same kind of frustration that I felt last year. To me, it’s only natural that after a year like that you’d want to go even further and fill the holes that you felt that you had. I’m very happy with the five people on this team, including the coach Galen “Moon” Moon. I’m incredibly happy with the roster that was put together and I can really see this team surprising a lot of people. Maybe not in the first week, but we’re gonna be coming in and picking up victory after victory and eventually people are gonna realize that we’re a really strong team. Right now, I’m just really impatient because I’m stuck here in Sweden and I just wanna get to America and start practicing with my teammates and getting to know them better and starting that ramp up as soon as possible.
Hotspawn: I love the confidence. You said you’ve spoken with Broxah, and I’m sure it’s easier since you’re both in Europe at the moment, but have you gotten a chance to chat with your other teammates as much?
Finn: I’ve played quite a bit with Broxah already duo queuing. Talking to him, not just about the game, but about our years and our experiences. I really like his vision and his mindset so with him I already feel really comfortable.
I don’t expect myself to get good results without working my ass off
I’ve spoken a bit with the other players as well like Andy “Smoothie” Ta, Turtle, and Eugene “Pobelter” Park, although not a lot yet. Our time zones don’t add up so our interaction is a bit limited. I played some chess with Eugene, for example, but that’s about it. I’m really excited to get to work with them.
Hotspawn: So last question on your new transition. Was making this decision scary at all for you? Of course COVID makes logistics difficult, but you’re also leaving behind fans and opening yourself to a lot of criticism with the stigma about EU players going to NA to take it easy.
Finn: During the offseason time I had a lot of different options, and with that comes a lot of doubts in yourself. I went to CLG because my stomach told me that they would be the best option, and now looking back, maybe three weeks after I signed with them, I feel like I definitely made the right choice and I’m very happy.
About the stigma. I think that no matter what team you’re on in whatever region, what you achieve will be the result of what you decide to do with what you’re given. I’m sure there are some people who come to NA with the mindset that they’re gonna take it a bit easier and enjoy the vibe. Or they feel like they’re gonna go there and expect themselves to perform well anyway. I never really expect myself to perform well [laughs]. I don’t know if you can call it a lack of confidence or just realism, but I don’t expect myself to get good results without working my ass off. With how I played in Europe, I wasn’t very happy with how I performed by the end of the year. So my goal in going to NA will be to try even harder, and hopefully by setting an example I can get my teammates behind me in that.
In the end, the only one who can control how I play is me
Hotspawn: Now in NA, top lane has always been a criticized role because not many teams can play around it well. What are your thoughts on why that may be and do you think you have a slight edge coming from EU in that regard?
Finn: I think playing around top is very complicated, and that’s why Western teams, including EU teams, aren’t the greatest at it. Now obviously I’ve been scrimming Asian teams for a long while and I can see what they’re doing very well and the mistakes they’re making. From my point of view, if you play for top, you can’t expect the top laner to 1v9 and carry the game like maybe a mid-jungle duo would. You need to be realistic and especially the top laner needs to be realistic. I think where the problem comes in: most top laners expect to split push or carry every teamfight. But if your team has been putting resources top and the enemy team hasn’t, you bet your ass that the enemy bot lane will be stronger than your botlane. It’s up to you to make sure that you can overrun that advantage that the enemy has acquired and it puts a lot of responsibility on you to transition your lead to your team.
As a top laner you’re very split off from the map and there’s only so much you can do even if you’re the greatest top laner. You’re only one guy on a big map, so you need to communicate with your team, you need to include them in every play, you need to tell them what to do and you need to be very vocal about what you need from them so you can make them succeed. I think this is what a lot of top laners lack, because they see themselves as they carry. This kind of playstyle and mindset is what I think is really keeping them down or to the next level. That’s why the best carry tops like Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon and Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran aren’t playing stuff like Irelia or Fiora. They are sometimes, but they mostly play stuff like Renekton, Kennen, stuff that’s gonna help your team take good fights. They’re not gonna be the ones doing all the killing, but they put themselves in a good position so they can help their team get back into the game.
Hotspawn: Do you think the new young talent coming to NA will bring a new mindset to help fix up some of those issues?
Finn: Well, it’s certainly possible, but it’s also possible that it won’t happen. I don’t really put that much time into thinking about whether they’ll step up or if I will be the one to realize things myself. In the end, the only one who can control how I play is me. I can’t expect people to come in and play well and learn from them; I need to be the one that takes initiative if I actually want my team to do well. I think it should be expected from me.
Hotspawn: To wrap up, you emphasized that this CLG team will perform well even if you take a while to ramp up. With that in mind, how would you define success for your first split with CLG in NA?
Finn: A successful split for me would be us winning everything. We’d win Spring, Summer, go to Worlds as first seed, and give a performance that we can be happy with. I don’t think winning NA is out of the question at all. For me, it’s a very realistic goal and that’s what I’ll be working towards.