League of Legends is a reference game in esport! For a few weeks now, the best French teams have been competing in LFL. GO, Solary, Vitality Bee, LDLC…. Every week, we are entitled to the most beautiful show! At KYKLOS, we like to highlight the actors of the French esport scene. This week, we are honoured to publish our meeting with Jérémy “Eika” Valdenaire. Professional player and midlaner for LDLC! He agreed to answer our questions!
K: Hi Eika! Can you please introduce yourself?
Eika: My name is Jeremy Valdenaire, aka Eika! I am 22 years old and originally from Nancy, in the Eastern part of France! I’m midlanking on League of Legends for LDLC team! I joined this team more than a year ago.
K: How did you get into esport? Was that a goal you’ve had for a long time? Or did it come out of the blue?
E: I’ve always played video games! But I didn’t know esport at all at first. Neither League of Legends, by the way! One day my brother told me about the game and the competitions! So I looked at it a little more closely. I was interested and I immediately got hooked! But even when I started I never said to myself, “I’m going to work there!” It was after graduating from high school that the question arose. I played a lot and I had a good level! So I wondered why not try the adventure!
Besides, I had a friend, Cabochar, who was already in esport. I’ve known him for quite a while now, even before he was in LCS. His story inspired me and made me willing to be part of this environment too.
K: A beautiful inspiration! And before League of Legends, what were you playing? And have you always been a try harder?
E: Try hard the same way as I do on League of Legends, never. But I’ve always played! I played Dofus, Warcraft… And I started LoL in season 1 but I didn’t play in the rankings until season 3! And season 4 I passed Challenger for the first time.
K: And if we look back a little bit at your academic background: did you finish your studies? Or did you leave that out and put esport first?
E: Basically, my parents wanted me to go to the Baccalaureate anyway. That’s a good thing because it’s an important part of the life! And it allows you to already have your first academic background! So I was playing while I was going to class. It’s very important to get through at least this step!
K: But how old were you when you became a professional and made it your profession?
E: I have been a Challenger since season 4. So it was the year of my high school graduation!
When I got my Baccalaureate in Human Resources, I went to the public university. My parents gave me a year to break into esport. So university was the right place to always have the learning part and having the time to play. But I realized that it wasn’t compatible and I was playing a lot! I joined a team and qualified for the Challenger Series directly! So that’s where my career started! The team was the Gamers2, now better known as G2.
K: How does a young kid from Nancy, just 18 years old, get spotted and become the player he is today?
E: The most important thing to break through is to be spotted in the Ladder of the game. You have to play a lot to be at the top. But above all, and it is a must-have today, it is compulsory to have a good attitude. If you’re motivated, and you want to go pro, you can do it! It takes a lot of motivation but anything is possible! So I played a lot to be one of the best players, and that’s how my adventure started!
K: You started at Gamers2, and you also played in other great teams! Can you tell us more about it?
E: I was at Elements after Gamers2, and the team was bought by Schalke 04! I also played in Challenger Series with an Italian structure, Team 4G! I was also sub at Unicorns of Love. It was my first step into the professional world!
K: So you played at the top level right away!
E: Yes, absolutely! I was rookie with Perkz and so on… So I was immediately put in the big picture!
K: And how do you manage this moment, when you are no longer the “little” challenger player who plays from home, but that you become the representative of a team, who plays on stage? How are you handling this pressure?
E: Well, it’s simple, you can’t handle it (laughs)! I was very stressed and the team wasn’t helping us too much. It was very special! The club just wanted to stay in LCS to sell the slot the following year. So we knew it wasn’t going to last. Besides, I was very immature. Whether it’s in my behaviour, my decision-making… It wasn’t incredible for an introduction… I’m not saying I don’t want to go back, quite the contrary. But psychologically it was a very difficult time, which I handled very badly. I just wasn’t ready.
K: Does this experience serve you today?
E: Clearly! Mentally it wasn’t great as I explained. But I learned a lot about the game itself. Whether it’s in my decision-making, my vision of the game… I use it every day to get the best out of myself!
K: When you say “in my decision-making”: what is the difference between the Eika of that time and the Eika we know today? What has changed in your game?
E: I think a lot more before I make a decision. I’m very careful with the macro elements: where’s the opposing jungler? Can I attack my opponent? Is the vision good? Do I have relevant information for my teammates?
In my attitude too, I have evolved a lot! I’m not going to be negative anymore when the game doesn’t go as planned. I always try to be positive and find ways out that can benefit us! I think “team” and more “personal”. When you’re young, you’re a lot more skinny. You’ll overreact quickly! That’s why supervision is very important! Especially for your beginning.
K: It’s interesting what you’re saying here, since for some time now, you’ve been coached by YellowStar at LDLC. What does a coach, who has his track record and his history on the game, bring to your daily life?
E: I was the shot caller for the last two seasons! He helped me a lot with that! It is also about working methods. For example, I have post-it notes on my screen with small reminders to keep in mind all the information I need to communicate or something else. Now, with the arrival of Djoko and Steelback, I call less and can concentrate more on my game! I give the information that is relevant to help the team! But I’m much more focused on my own performance.
As in a sports team like football, he taught us to have a role that is complementary to the others! This allows us to be very well organized and to play well!
K: And you’ve always played mid?
E: Yes! I’ve always loved playing wizards! So it actually happened naturally! And it’s a lot of damage (laughs)!
K: You’ve been on the French scene for quite some time, and it’s evolved well! With the LoL Open Tour, the arrival of the LFL… What do you think of these evolutions?
E: The Open Tour was necessary. LANs are great! But the conditions were not optimal… And the scene needed structuring! It wasn’t stable, everyone could beat everyone, pros and amateurs were mixed sometimes!
And now with the LFL, we have a real championship! That’s really great! Besides, the audience is responding well! We have peaks of viewers that we didn’t have before and that’s important too!
K: What do you think of the global level of the teams present in LFL?
E: The level is really good! There is still a small gap between the top and bottom of the table! But it’s not a question of level, it’s more a question of preparation! We will see on the long term and on the season but for the moment it’s really interesting to play!
K: And were you surprised by the teams selected to play the LFL?
E: I didn’t know MCES, but it’s a new structure so it makes sense. But not overall I’m not surprised!
K: With LDLC, you are in a gaming house. Have you always been in a GH? And what do you think about that?
E: Yes, I have always been in a Gaming House!
The real advantage is that it’s very practical to train, review the games…
Afterwards being older, I think that sometimes it would be nice to have a little more privacy and especially a break. If you have your apartment, you go to work in the morning and go home in the evening! It allows you to feel a break! Now we’re constantly together! Which can sometimes create tensions because everyone has their own way of life!
After that it’s still a good thing overall and I have no problem with that!
K: And if we look back at the game, who is your favorite champion right now?
E: So for RIOT I said Azir. But I think it’s Diana. I love the champion!
K: What advice would you give to our readers so they can get better?
E: Not to be toxic. It’s really something important. It has a really negative impact on an entire team, even in soloQ.
More about the game, I would say respect the opposing Jungler. Don’t attack your opponent continuously! Play smart!
K: You talk a lot about attitude and toxicity. Could you tell us what you think a professional player is? Is he just a player who is very good at the game? Or is the human being just as important?
E: We live in community. Negativity does not bring anything good, when it comes to sports or esport. Always try to pull the others up! The agreement between the players is just as important as the level of play!
K: Right now, LDLC team is playing very well! And you had some great new players! How did their integration go?
E: It was very easy to fit with them. We played a lot with them upfront and it worked!
K: And what are the ambitions of a young 22-year-old player, who is playing at his best today? Is the LEC still an objective?
E: I am still attracted to the LEC! That’s the top level! But right now my short-term project is to win everything! LFL and the European Master!
Joining the LEC is very complicated if you don’t participate in the European Masters, which are very popular for the big teams! But we’re going to take the games one by one! But yes, the ambition is still there!
K: And do you sometimes think about your life after esport?
E: Sometimes, but I live from day to day. I like playing League of Legends, I’m young! I still have a lot of good years ahead of me!
K: And next to League of Legends, what are your activities to get you out of the game?
E: On this side, I’m not complicated! I go to the gym a lot, I’m passing my driving licence… I like music too! Singing and everything around this universe!
K: Eika in The Voice soon!
E: (Laughs) Yes, that’s right!
K: Do you have a message for the people who read us?
E: Thank you for following us and supporting LDLC! I hope you like the game we’re producing and that we’ll keep giving you the best show!
And thank you for the interview!