Cloud9’s Darshan spoke to in LCS Lock In Week 2, reflecting on the tournament so far, his time in Academy the last few years, and his mindset.

With a few players from Cloud9's starting LCS roster stranded in Korea, big changes had to be made for LCS Lock In. C9 can field only the players at their disposal, meaning a few call-ups had to be made. Darshan "Darshan" Upadhyaya was one of those players.

Darshan has been around a long time - since as far back as 2012. Formerly known as ZionSpartan, he was a key player in the early North American LoL scene. For the last few years, he's been in Academy, where he's consistently been one of the division's best top laners. He's also become a sort of elder statesman of the LCS. He's president of the player's union and has helped a ton of young talent pass through the ranks in Academy.

Darshan spoke with following Cloud9's loss to 100 Thieves in the Lock-In group stage.

Playing in Lock In

Darshan began by giving his thoughts on the loss to 100 Thieves. "I still need to go back and look through what happened in the game, but I think our comp wasn't the best. I think we didn't have the best tools to deal with what they drafted, which made the game hard. And then I think that, even though we had some good plays in the game, when it came down to the teamfights, we just lost."

Following this match, Cloud9 would match up against CLG in the quarterfinals, defeating them 2-1. They've progressed to the Lock In semifinals, where they play Evil Geniuses this Saturday.

Q. What has the experience been like around Cloud9 the last few weeks? When did you know that you'd be stepping in for Lock In?

"I mean, I think visa things are kind of hard to plan around, in terms of, you don't know exactly if things are going to go according to plan, and things didn't go according to plan. So I think in late December, that's what I knew that I was going to get a chance to play in Lock In, and it was exciting to be able to play in LCS again.

"I think it's been a good learning experience. Even though I've been playing the game for so long, I feel like putting yourself in environments where you challenge yourself to learn more and be better is really important for your growth. And so, it's definitely different than Academy, but I feel like it's just another day playing the game I love playing. So in that sense, it doesn't feel that much different."

[Lock In is] definitely different than Academy, but I feel like it's just another day playing the game I love playing.

Darshan "Darshan" Upadhyaya

Darshan's view on his career

Discussing his time in Academy, Darshan rejected the notion that he was helping young players get better. There was some of that, he agreed, but the young guns were teaching him as well.

"I wouldn't call myself a leader or anything, but I definitely think that I've helped some players develop and grow. It's been nice to work with some of the teammates I've had, and not only help them but get to know them better. I feel like people paint it out that, 'oh, I'm a longtime veteran, so I'm developing these players', and sure, there's some aspect of that, but I don't think it's as cut and dry as that. I think I learned a good amount from playing with them as well."

Finally, the question was asked - would Darshan be satisfied finishing out his career in Academy, helping budding stars shine? The veteran responded with a thoughtful, passionate answer. Of course, he'd love to be back in LCS - but it's so much more than just that.

2019 <a href="">Spring Split was the last</a> time Darshan was a starter in the LCS. (RIOT GAMES/Tina Jo)
2019 Spring Split was the last time Darshan was a starter in the LCS. (RIOT GAMES/Tina Jo)

"I think the goal is to play in LCS, but I think that the most important thing is to just be honest with your day-to-day experience. I think almost every Academy player, if you asked them, 'Hey, would you want to play in LCS again?' They're gonna say 'Yes, I'd love to play in LCS again.' And so I think that would be my answer.

"But I think it's not just about saying in Academy or moving up to LCS. It's more so about, are you genuinely improving at the game? Are you genuinely challenging the mistakes that you're making and the bad habits that you have, and are you trying to be a better player and a better teammate and a better person? I think that everyone's at a different point in their life where they're able to honestly reflect and assess that. And so I think it's just been a journey of me being able to be more honest with myself and other people so that I can be better. And I think, the more honest I can be with myself, the more that I will improve and have a chance at coming back to LCS."

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