How Immortals Academy’s Concept found its passion

Making Waves is a weekly column series highlighting the top emerging League of Legends talent in North America.

For as long as he can remember, Immortals Academy jungler Michael “Concept” Su has said he’s always been able to excel at whatever he set his mind to.

The 22-year-old Chicago native was a brilliant student who poured his efforts into his schoolwork and eventually studied computer science at the University of Chicago. His hard work prepared him to be successful in whatever he decided to pursue, but despite graduating, he was never really passionate about any particular field or career path.

“I never really planned on becoming a software engineer,” Concept said. “I think for most of my life, until college, I kind of lived in the present, mostly following the responsibilities that were naturally given to me.”

Growing up in a fairly strict household, Concept was instilled in the importance of academic success from an early age. Through the stress of academics and extracurricular activities, League of Legends provided a much-needed escape. He loved the game and was improving at a rapid rate; it was a unique opportunity for him to invest time and energy in something he truly enjoyed.

Although he first hit Challenger at age 16, Concept said he never imagined he would play League of Legends professionally; it just wasn’t practical. Now, after competing as an amateur for a year, Concept finds himself in that same position with Immortals Academy, and he takes it as seriously as he was educated.

Become ‘Concept’

Growing up in a boring suburb, video game was pretty much the main way Concept spent his free time. He began playing League regularly in seventh grade after returning from vacation with his family to find that his friends had picked up the game while he was away.

That was back in Season 2. By the time Season 3 rolled around, Concept was already significantly better than his friends in the game. That year, he started trying his hand at rankings and peaked at Diamond 1 at the end of the season.

“I would say I’ve always been naturally good at the game,” Concept said. “It’s always been what I do for fun outside of socializing and my various school-related activities.”

From the start of his journey with the game, he loved playing top lane. Because he usually played fighter-type classes in other games, like Runescape, it was easy for him to gravitate towards the role filled with bruisers and juggernauts.

“What I like the most about the top lane is that I think it’s a really good balance of that 1v1 element of play,” Concept said. “I like that kind of style of being like a big dude running towards your opponents. In League of Legends, when you’ve mastered that style really well, it’s extremely oppressive.

Concept said he always enjoyed a style of play that frustrated his opponents, which is one of the reasons his favorite champion is Singed. He first hit Challenger in high school when he was 16 and continued to play League at a high level as a hobby throughout his school years until something happened. to click.

During her final year of college in 2020, Concept began to burn out from the monotony of preparing for job interviews and finding graduate internships. The league became more and more of a necessary distraction, and in turn it began to improve at a faster pace. He finished season 10 in the top 20 in the North American ladder, and for the first time Concept considered trying to turn pro.

“I struggled to do all the work prep work,” Concept said. “I had skills in League and a passion for it that I really didn’t feel like I could find at school. I think it all went well, because I was really happy the last year of working on League.

Once he decided to turn pro, Concept did what was necessary to make sure his parents would accept. Since he started playing in Season 2, the life of a League of Legends pro has become more lucrative. and more sustainable, with more opportunities than ever to compete at the highest level. His parents knew how good he was at the game, according to Concept, and after explaining to them the various possibilities and opportunities a successful professional career could open to him, he caught their attention.

“They felt that I didn’t have the same kind of drive and long-term ambition to pursue something, even though I was a naturally gifted student,” Concept said. “They could see that I had given it some thought, that there was potentially a career in this, and that it was something that was close to my heart, so they were both on board.”

He and his parents agreed that if he couldn’t find any opportunities after competing for a year in 2021, he would switch gears and put his computer science degree to good use. Now, after playing as an amateur for a year, he has just finished moving into a new apartment in Los Angeles after signing with Immortals for the 2022 season.

One step after another

It was easy for Concept to adjust to his new lifestyle as a pro due to the experience he gained from developing good habits and collaborating with others at school and playing with Revival and Area of ​​Effect Esports in 2021. He said he believes that a high level of emotional and social maturity was a necessary factor in becoming a great player and teammate.

“Understanding how to communicate with different types of people was something I thought I learned well throughout my school years,” Concept said. “When you turn professional, if you really want to optimize your performance in the game, you have to understand very well how to listen to your emotions and how to control them.”

His mindset is shared by his teammates at Immortals Academy, he said, and it has contributed to a positive culture based on respect and communication within the team. Playing with veterans like bot laner Noh “Arrow” Dong-hyeon and other experienced players, like mid laner Prodromos “Pretty” Kevezitidis, made it easier for him to find his footing as a new player.

“We have some very good veterans,” Concept said. “I think they’re really good at being on the same page in terms of what we’re trying to do as a team and trying to make sure we can all learn to play as a team together.”

Efforts to connect with his teammates and fellow Immortals members outside of the game have been equally important to Concept. In the short month he’s been in Los Angeles, he’s enjoyed hot pot with his coach and League Championship Series counterpart Mohamed “Revenge” Kaddoura, hit the gym with his Academy teammates and even had a small New Year’s gathering.

“After a whole year of COVID and crushing League and being on my own, I was happy with that,” Concept said. “I think I’m naturally very independent, but it was nice to be able to see more people and get to know my teammates and my coach and start to connect with other people in the organization.”

Concept’s first year at the Academy is already well underway. After two weeks of play, Immortals Academy remain undefeated with a 4-0 record. With the fruits of his labor already paying off in the best possible way, Concept remains focused on taking things day by day. Rather than fixating too much on the future, his goals are geared towards presenting himself as the best version of himself as a person, player, and teammate for Immortals Academy every day.

“Anyone in the Academy should want to go to the LCS, because that’s what the Academy is all about,” Concept said. “What I’m thinking is ‘how can I be the best team-mate I can be? How can I be someone my opponents hate to face?’… Maybe I won’t be a Faker, but as long as I pay attention to myself and I’m happy with the present, and I’m happy to work hard on the game and get better, so I think I’ll be happy with the results no matter where that ends up taking me.

Throughout his life, Concept said he has found nothing that excites him more than playing and competing in League of Legends. His inherent love for the game drives him to be very careful about how he approaches his growth. Now that he’s had the chance to live his new dream, he wants every second to count.

“I don’t like to think about things like, ‘what will my legacy be?’ I think it’s the result of what you’ve achieved,” Concept said. “I just want to be a teammate that my teammates like to play with.”