Here, we continue the series on LEC’s controversial star Konstantinos-Napoleon “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou. If you want to hear how it all began, check out the first part here. For now, we continue from where we left off – Forg1ven had broken up with Gambit.
H2K and back again
Forg1ven was back in the EU LCS in the next split, this time on H2K. There, he once again showed his bot-lane chops, helping carry the team to second place in the regular split and winning an IEM Season 10 World Championship semifinal.
It was also there where one of the big ticking bomb of his career would first appear: by Greek law, Forg1ven was required to go to the military for nine months. He got a deferment and played for H2K in the playoffs but the team stumbled in the semifinals, losing a five-game series to Fnatic.
Predictably, Forg1ven would start the summer split on another team – Origen. However, the team was in a death spiral of leaving players, poor management and internal politics. After several bad games, the Greek AD Carry left the team, citing a breach of trust with management and intending to retire from League or switch to Overwatch.
However, with the playoffs looming, fortune smiled: his former team, H2K, lost their AD Carry, Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek. Forg1ven played out the end of the season and the playoffs, helping H2K net a seed at Worlds.
It was the Greek’s first World Championship, and he was determined to make it count. H2K drew a difficult group, featuring China’s top team EDG, Taiwan’s AHQ eSports club and Brazil’s INTZ. Many expected H2K to be fighting for the second place in that group, but after a great second week, they caught up with EDG and beat them in tiebreaker. For Forg1ven, the chance to prove himself against a player like EDG’s Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu made this victory all the sweeter.
H2K breezed through the quarterfinals, dismantling unexpected opponent and crowd favorite Albus Nox Luna, before falling to Samsung Galaxy in the semifinals. It was still a remarkable achievement, one that a European team would not exceed until 2019 and it marked the peak of Forg1ven’s career.
The long fall
Yet, despite ending 2016 on a high note, Forg1ven spent the next three years away from the pro scene. After about a year on amateur teams, he joined Origen briefly for their 2018 Spring EU Masters run and, while the team had a shaky start, won the event with them. Soon afterward, he took time off to do his military service and while it ended in the spring of 2019, he could not find a team for the summer split.
It came as a surprise to many that FC Schalke 04 recruited the Greek as their AD Carry for the 2020 Spring split. There had been few cases of a player returning after such a long period outside the premier leagues. Besides, Forg1ven’s teams issues made fans wary and in the three years while he was gone, the pro scene had changed. Many new AD carries had come eager to leave their mark. Many fans considered this a very risky move – and sadly, they were proven right.
Despite rumored good performance in the scrims, on stage Schalke started racking loss after loss. While those in the first week looked close, a stomp by the hands of Fnatic in Week 2 saw the team become directionless and lost. Initiative was at a new-time low, there were misplays across all lanes and no coordination.
The team changed junglers but when the losses continued, they announced that they were bringing in their substitute AD Carry, Nihat “Innaxe” Aliev. Forg1ven was being benched – and he made it worse.
To say that the community did not take it well would be an understatement. Forg1ven was roundly condemned, even by people who had traditionally defended him like Dunkan “Thooorin” Shields. What is worse, the Tweet aged like fine milk.
You see, Schalke actually picked up an unexpected, but quite deserved, win. It was against no less a team than G2 Esports in their second game with Forg1ven’s replacement, Innaxe. They followed that win with a win against Team Vitality a week later. Without him, Schalke simply played better.
Where to now?
While his career has been as storied as it has controversial, in all likelihood we will not see Forg1ven back in the professional scene. He was already seen as a fairly old and fairly unreliable player. It was telling that he never stayed in any professional team longer than one split.
More worryingly, his short stint in Schalke and his sudden departure showed two things: first, he was no longer a dominant in-lane AD carry, and second, his time in the military apparently did not resolve his personality issues.
You can draw your own conclusions: after their Week 4 win, Schalke’s Reddit spokesperson praised Innaxe on his communication and positive behavior – likely in a subdued dig at his predecessor. Innaxe himself took a jab at Forg1ven, copying his typical “shh” gesture as he high-fived the fans.
So what caused Forg1ven’s rise and fall? Surely not lack of raw ability – multiple players on the team and outside it have attested that he still had the necessary skills. Yes, he did not shine on stage, but an AD carry is reliant on his team. There have been plenty of other such examples, such as Steven “Hans sama” Liv’s disastrous 2019.
A much bigger problem was Forg1ven’s apparent negativity and tendency to give up on his teammates. When the team is going well, he’s a good, if demanding, player. But when things are going south, he seems to quickly lose motivation and patience with them – and so far, no one has found a way to help him regain it. Schalke praising Innaxe’s motivation and positivity after his first win speaks loads.
What is even more shocking for a pro player was him giving up on a team mid-split. This is in contrast to another famous AD carry – Yiliang “Peter" “Doublelift” Peng. Doublelift is a player infamous for talking smack in the early scene – he’s had issues with teammates multiple times but was committed to winning.
Likewise, many had compared Forg1ven to his teammate in Origen, Paul “sOAZ” Boyer as a problem player. Yet, the Frenchman, though at times considered a prima donna, has a long and decorated history of coming around in clutch moments and putting the team on his back. SOAZ is not a quitter – and now, this is a label Forg1ven will find hard to shake.
Perhaps this is not farewell. Perhaps somehow, Forg1ven will be back – ideally in form, to write a few more chapters in the tome that is his career. It would indeed make for an impressive story. It would, however, be rather unlikely.
Call it a goodbye, then. Goodbye and thanks for all the memes.