Is Shernfire Feeling The Pressure?

I sat down with Team Liquid’s Shernfire to discuss his entry into the LCS, filling in for Broxah and the challenges he has faced so far.

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Interview with Shernfire

Shernfire met me in the LCS press room last Sunday after his  victory against FlyQuest. Shernfire is new to the LCS and his high energy is felt throughout the whole interview.

Being a fellow Australian, I understand the struggles of the 15 hour flight and the jet lag that comes with it. 

Me: “Are you feeling any less tired after the week 1 jet lag?
Shernfire: “Not really (we both laugh), I just don’t have an off button at the moment. It was the jet lag week 1, but now it’s like holy sh*t this is really happening, I’m playing with these players…this is what I’ve always wanted.”  

He speaks with the excitement of a new LCS player, but his body language is fairly relaxed.  

Me: “Do you feel pressure playing in the LCS, or is it more surreal?” 
Shernfire: “Definitely surreal, I’m just focusing on having an off button. I’m trying to do other stuff like Jujitsu for example, just so League isn’t my whole life. Currently it is which is awesome, but I don’t think it’s healthy for a pro player long term.”

Similar to other pro-athletes I’ve spoken to, Shernfire struggles between balancing the determination for perfection and trying to avoid burning out.

Me: “What have you learned from the LCS so far?”
Shernfire: “It’s sort of been a blur, but I reckon the biggest thing is that everyone bullies me because I say ‘you reckon’.” (We burst into laughter – this is a super common thing Aussies get called out for saying in the USA.) “Besides that, realizing that everyone is just human. I think we naturally look up to LCS players and have a certain image of them, but in the end they are all just people.”

Me: “Where do you currently rate yourself among LCS Junglers?”
Shernfire: “Well… this current Meta has become such a team game. Laning phase is over in 8 minutes, so you only get the first two clears to play your role. Previously, I felt that Santorin is the best Jungler in the LCS. I didn’t feel like I outplayed him today, but winning the game felt really good.”

I should have known from experience that Aussies tend to look down on bragging, so Shernfire avoiding to rate himself came at no surprise. 

Me: “How is the chemistry with your teammates?”
Shernfire: “It’s a growing process. They are all in the later stage of their LoL careers, and I’m kind of just beginning. I mean I’ve been playing competitive since I was 17, but most of our players have been playing for much longer. I’m like ‘oh cool gaming house’ and they have settled down into their life a bit more. So it’s hard, but I’m putting in the effort and just trying my best to perform.”

The next question has been at the forefront of people’s minds, especially with the recent news of Broxah’s visa being approved.

Me: “Do you feel the pressure of filling in for Broxah?”
Shernfire: “It’s not so much the pressure from the people around me, it’s the comments I read and the messages I get.”

The mood of the interview dampens slightly, clearly this is something that affects him.

Me: “Do you get a lot of negative Twitter DM’s?”
Shernfire: “Of course, but the goal for me is to not read them. It’s just frustrating when you see a (negative Reddit) top comment, not because it’s harsh, but because it’s going to influence neutral people’s opinions. Yeah, that’s the hard part and I just need to learn not to read. My ultimate goal as I grow as a person is to not need anyone else’s validation, just my own. I mean, when I was bullied at school I could stand up for myself, but when it’s online, standing up for yourself just makes it worse.”

We chatted a bit longer about Reddit, the fans and the difficulties before I decided it was time to lighten the mood.

Me: “Which Jungle Champion do you feel is the strongest right now?”
Shernfire: “I think I’m a bit of a trend setter for sure, most people play tanky Javan IV, but higher damage is so strong.”

Me: “Let’s wrap it up, do you have any last words for the community?”
Shernfire: “I’m proud of the OCE players, everyone’s playing really well. I’ve been following everyone (the Aussies) that are over here playing LCS or Academy. I’m happy and I hope we are inspiring the next generation of Australian esports talent. It’s been my dream since I was 17 to play in NA, and I hope we make the path easier for the next kid that wants to compete overseas.”

We chatted a bit more about Australia and the challenges that come with living in LA before parting ways.

Shernfire is on Team Liquid’s roster for this weekend, but there is some uncertainty around his position now that Brroxah’s visa has been approved.

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