Hampus ”sprattel” Abrahamsson is in the center of another historical step for esports, as he is one of five players to represent FC Schalke 04:s blue colors on the Rift for the first time.
The classical football club follows in the footsteps of Turkish Besiktas to start their own eSports section. However, it seems the magnitude has not quite sunk in for the Swedish star.
– In ten years when I’ve got a normal job, I’ll probably look back and realize that what I’ve done is amazing and an incredibly powerful thing.
FC Schalke 04, the classical German football club, is yet another club from ”meat sports” to enter the digital world. The move is symbolic for the immense growth of eSports and its continued prosperity.
The German team recently bought Elements spot in League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), the top league in Europe, and along with it followed the team’s former players. This mean we’ll get to see the Swedish support star, Hampus ”sprattel” Abrahamsson, represent Schalkes classic blue jerseys.
The Swede’s interest for computer games began early. However, just like for many other youngsters, football and hockey received it’s fair share of time.
For a long while, Sprattel was a high rated Heroes of Newerth player, a game that back then quickly shrunk in popularity. And as the Swede saw his League of Legends idols compete on stage in Los Angeles’s giant arena, Staple Center, he decided to step over to Riot:s hugely successful game for a chance to become a pro.
– I was very interested to get into the competition and I myself believed I was pretty good. That’s pretty much why I switched over to LoL, because I felt that I could become really good at this and try the life of a professional gamer.
”My family thinks this is so fucking cool”
Ahead of the summer split of 2015, Sprattel was recruited to Elements and entered the highest European LOL league for the first time. The pressure, stress and jitters were at first an obstacle to overcome – but today it seems to be a thing of the past.
– I don’t really think about it much. It was more last summer, playing in LCS for the first time. Back then it felt huge. I was shaky during the first phone calls and nervous knowing what was about to happened. Ahead of this season however, it’s just ”back to business”:
Times change to say the least. The star looks back at a time where his parents used to only allow an hour of computer time each day. Today however, they’ve drastically changes their views on esports.
– My family thinks it’s so fucking cool that I’m going to play in Schalke, Sprattels says and continues:
– They say I probably don’t realize how big this is, that I’ll probably be able to see it in a couple of years think: ”Jesus christ, I’ve actually done this”.
So what do you think, do you realize how big this is?
– Yes and no, the Swede says laughing.
– I think it’s different for my family, this is a completely different world for them. They don’t quite know how everything works, it’s all so new. But I guess I would have to agree, in ten years when I have a normal job, I’ll probably look back and realize that what I’ve done is amazing and an incredibly powerful thing.
”Everyone in LCS have been scammed, or knows someone that has”
Schalke entering League of Legends could be seen as a symbolic move, and proof for how much esports have grown. Sprattel thinks he hasn’t been in the game long enough to truly experience the biggest changes, but says he can see the bar being raised every single day. However, it’s the increased public interest that he notices the most.
– People talk more about esports. I can read about it in the news papers, or sometimes my parents show me that they’re debating esports somewhere. Somehow it feels like a subject being discussed more and people generally talk about it more.
– In the future this sport will reach a very high standard and everyone will think: ”It’s not just computer games, it’s something bigger”.
Sprattel’s happiness over the sports development is obvious. However, the scene is still young and even though it’s come a long way, the crooks still seem to linger around every corner.
– In the past when I competed in tournaments, I’d always have to worry about if I would actually receive the prize money or not. I think that’s the current biggest problem for new and unestablished players. It seems to happened a lot in the challenger series, some shady dude throws out some numbers and says they’re going to get salary. And when they eventually can’t pay it all just becomes chaos. I get tired just thinking about it.
– It’s dissapearing more and more tough, you worry less about it. The bar is being raised to a level where you don’t have to think about it, but of course there’ll always be assholes out there looking to score a quick buck.
Fortunately, Sprattel himself has not been affected. However, when asked if he knows anyone that has, the answer is quick:
– Without even thinking, I’d say yes right away. Everyone in LCS have been scammed, or knows someone that has. I can’t think of anyone specific right now, they’re too many to say one in particular. Unfortunately a lot of shit happens. I could pick any name, they’ve all experienced it.
Now it seems the star have ended up in safe hands and the future is looking bright. To him it seems unrealistic that something similar could happened in Schalke.
– We attended the press conference and visited them in Germany, just to meet and get to know everyone. They’re obviously a huge club, but they’re also new to this. They learn from us and we learn from them. We were well taken care of and it’s really obvious when you meet them that they’ve been doing this for a long time now. Everything is handled so professionally, they’ve got good intentions for us players and the sport.
”Felt good to prove people wrong”
Ahead of the 2016 spring split, Sprattel’s team Elements didn’t exactly have the fans on their side. On the forums many thought the squad were about to hit rock bottom and place last in the league. Internally however, the players felt confident that they weren’t going to risk relegation. As the split came to a close, they ended up seventh.
– In the end I’m pretty satisfied and it felt good to prove people wrong. There weren’t many percent of Reddit who thought we’d place better than 10.
Now the Swede’s third split in LCS is coming up. On the 2nd of June the summer split is set to start, and for the first time Schalkes blue colors will be represented.
– We’re aiming for playoffs, that’s the ultimate goal. Where exactly we place is less important as long as we get to playoffs, because anything can happened there. We saw Fnatic this spring, who placed sixth, and still knocked out Team Vitality. You get three weeks to just practice small details and study your opponents. We’re definitely going to try to reach playoffs, anything else would be a defeat.
Other than the players now competing under Schalkes banner, another change have happened since the spring. The team’s former mid player, Jérémy ”Eika” Valdenaire, has been let go. Instead the former Unicorns of Love player, Swedish Hampus ”Fox” Myhre, joined the ranks.
– I think we all felt it wasn’t really working. We reached a level where we could beat all teams below us, but it wasn’t enough.
– We lacked that little extra needed to beat the better teams. Eika didn’t fit in very well as a player, however on a personal level it was just fine. We have synergi issues and felt we wanted to change the mid lane for someone like Fox. Also, he had a pretty good season with Unicorns of Love and we all just feel he’s the better player individually.
”The whole CS:GO community seems really, really cool”
As a game nerd in Sweden, it’s hard to avoid Counter-Strike. It’s been no different for Sprattel.
Even though his day to day life in most aspects is dominated by LOL, the Swede still tries to keep up with the CS scene and follows it’s major tournaments with excitement. In some regards, he even thinks the professional gamers in CS:GO have it better than himself and his League of Legends colleges.
– I kind of feel the grass is always greener on the other side. The whole CS community seems really, really cool and it must be nice not having to live in Berlin. I mean, it takes quite some energy to move down and live here at least three months per season.
– The CS:GO players get to travel a lot more and compete at different events, and in between they can go back home and spend time with their family and friends. That’s what I think is better in the CS scene.
However, after all it’s all about the competition, regardless of the game. And the League of Legends pros obviously have their own perks.
– I doubt the CS players have as stable salaries as us. They depend a lot more on the prize money and I think in that way they’re a bit more pressured. If we place seventh in LCS, we still get decent money. However, if you come in seventh in the CS tournaments, the prize money often isn’t all that high. So in that aspect it’s a bit more unstable, but at the same time they get to travel and visit new countries every month. It’s two completely different worlds and I guess it depends on what you prefer. With that said, I’ve got absolutely nothing bad to say about LCS. It’s a great league and Riot are doing a very good job.