TSM Lost: “The power of friendship is really broken, honestly.”
“The first few weeks of LCS, I was a fish out of water.”
TSM isn’t an easy team to join. It comes with an extra layer of fan expectation, and for Lawrence “Lost” Hui, the unimaginable added pressure of replacing Doublelift.
“That’s not enough time to write me off,” he continued, “but it’s also not enough time to say okay, this guy is gonna be the best. He’s gonna be a complete replacement for Doublelift, who’s been playing in the LCS for years and been incredibly successful for years. It’s just unrealistic to expect from me. I would have loved to do that, but sometimes your best is just your best.”
It’s difficult not to compare Lost with his iconic predecessor, whose name is synonymous with North American League of Legends. There are few players with bigger shoes to fill. Many expect him to take up the mantle of the beloved Doublelift and lead TSM to its previous heights.
The popular narrative that surrounds Lost has been tied to Doublelift since the announcement that he’d fill the vacuum left behind by the NA titan. This lead to a lot of questions. Will he dominate the competition in the same way? Will he lead NA to international success? Expectations for him to perform at the same level aside, Doublelift was more than just a really, really good player— he was an icon. The very symbol of North American talent, and the standard-bearer for NA fans that hope to see their home region as something other than an international laughing stock.
NA is looking for its new Doublelift— and who better than his replacement on TSM? Expectations for Lost were astronomical headed into the Spring Split, most content revolving around the question of whether or not he’d be a suitable successor. Fans questioned his place on the roster, analysts compared him to his predecessor, and interviews peppered him with questions about what it’s like to take over for one of the NA GOATs.
But in reality, it’s hard to imagine someone more unlike Doublelift.
A New Zealand native, Lost competed in the OPL (now LCO) before coming to NA at the age of eighteen. He joined FOX Academy as their starting ADC alongside teammates Kieran “Allorim” Logue and Tanner Damonte, competed with the organization for two years, and was bumped up to the main roster on two separate occasions before he departed for TSM Academy.
“If you put side-by-side a festival circus show and us, I think there would be very little difference,” Lost said of his time on TSM Academy. “They’re quite synonymous. It was pretty hilarious— we would be getting absolutely exterminated in an official match. And if it’s the last five minutes of the game and the enemy team loses one teamfight you’re already know we’re chimping— we’re not chimping out in excitement, but we’re chimping out in like ‘wow, these guys are ass, and we’re ass too!’”
Lost cherished the experience, and compared it to childhood competitions alongside friends— still competitive, but rewarding in a more gratifying way. He didn’t compete to win just for the sake of a victory screen, but because he felt a connection with his teammates and wanted it for them as well.
“It feels like you’re in it together, whether you’re getting omega-owned or you’re smurfing. Through thick and thin. Having that feeling, and not going to practice and dreading it, and honestly really enjoying the time you have with your teammates. It was a really special experience for me.”
Lost spoke particularly fondly of his former support, Erik “Treatz” Wessén, who taught him how to be a good teammate, leadership skills, and how to have fun while playing to win. He also gave shoutouts to Peter Zhang, his head coach on TSM Academy, and Nicholas “Inero” Smith (now Golden Guardians’ head coach,) who brought Lost from the OPL to compete in NA for the first time on Echo Fox.
TSM Academy held onto Lost for almost exactly a year before he was called up to the main roster. With how the offseason ensued, he knew one way or another he’d be playing in the LCS come January. The unexpected part of the equation was Doublelift’s retirement and the announcement that SwordArt’s transfer didn’t fall through, both of which came late into the offseason.
Without much time to process the news, nerves set in. Not as a result of stage fright or overwhelming pressure, but because Lost didn’t consider himself a top four ADC player at the start of the split. He had a lot of room to grow, but didn’t give much thought to the surrounding circumstances and outside expectations.
Using Damwon KIA as an example, Lost expresses the importance of giving rookies and new players time to grow. “They’ve stuck with their core roster for the most part,” he said. “The org didn’t give up on their players in a year, or in two years. Even though they came in fourth or fifth. In NA that’s pretty common [laughs]. You should keep throwing rookies in the deep end, because it makes them learn the fastest.”
While Lost did reminisce over good times with former teammates, he tempered it with a strong, regimented work ethic. He never wants to be lazy or lax, and often speaks on how hard he and the rest of TSM work. With NA players unfairly derided by similar accusations on the regular, it’s easy to understand where he’s coming from.
But beyond his hard-edged wall of propriety exists a soft, earnest take on an aspect of esports not often discussed by pro players.
The Power of Friendship
“Holy crap, this is cringe as fuck, but the power of friendship is really broken, honestly.”
For the first time in our lengthy interview, Lawrence “Lost” Hui stumbled on a sentence, giving a cheerful, somewhat embarrassed laugh as he finished out the thought.
“It puts you through really hard situations because you guys know you’re in it together,” he continued. “You’re not struggling alone, you’re struggling as five. Because one person’s problems are the whole team’s problems, and when you feel like that it’s much easier, both on the upside and the downside.”
Expanding on his earlier thoughts on TSM Academy, he explained the difference between playing on a team of strangers versus people you’ve gotten to know in a deeper way. It’s more difficult than forming bonds in any other facet of life when you can pick and choose who you spend your time with. For professional League of Legends players, there isn’t much choice in the matter of who you spend eighty hours a week in close proximity with for months at a time.
On the topic of expectations for TSM next split he was extremely careful, amusingly hesitant to offer up any sort of hype-bait in the slightest.
“And who knows? Maybe we’ll end up being the most dominant team in Summer. Does that mean that before the split we’re gonna be like “yeah, we’re gonna be the best because we just are, bro!” [Laughs] I as a person follow very closely to logic, and that’s like the least logical thing I can say.”
Cautious with his words and extremely humble, it’s hard to imagine any sort of trash talk could ever escape him, let alone something on the level of “everyone else is trash.” Lost won’t ever be Doublelift, but that’s not a bad thing— he’s his own person, and will carve his own legacy in time. All the rest of us can do is sit back and enjoy watching it happen.