Unf0rgiven has big shoes to fill in MAD Lions. Things are going pretty well… or at least they do when opponent’s don’t pick Blitzcrank

It’s been a quick rise to the LCS for MAD Lion’s bot laner William “UNF0RGIVEN” Nieminen. Starting his competitive career in 2018, he’s seen himself rise through the ranks of amateur teams into Ultraliga, NCL, onto Academy teams, and now finally the LEC.

But despite joining arguably one of the most successful teams in the league (MAD Lions won both Spring and Summer playoffs in 2021, and headed to MSI and Worlds), success has been sporadic for Unf0rgiven and MAD Lions this year.

We spoke to Unf0rgiven in Week 2 of the LEC 2022 Spring Split, right after a disappointing defeat to Rogue on Friday, Jan 2nd. In that game, MAD Lions’ initially strong start was hampered by a frustrating Blitzcrank pick by Adrian “Trymbi” Trybus. However, Unf0rgiven was one of the bright sparks for MAD that game, going 6/3/4 on Jinx. After this performance we asked Unf0rgiven about his journey to the LEC.

UNF0RGIVEN on joining the LEC

Unf0rgiven was a bright spark for his team in a game that didn't go as planned (Image via Riot Games)
Unf0rgiven was a bright spark for his team in a game that didn't go as planned (Image via Riot Games)

You’ve played in Nordic Leagues, TES, Ultraliga, NCL, Strauss Prime League, It’s been a long journey to the LEC. Does it live up to the hype now you’re here?

Unf0rgiven: I mean, kind of. I don’t know. It’s kind of like playing in the LEC, I thought it would be way more high-level. I probably thought everyone in the LEC is the best player ever. Like, they play perfect. One or two years ago, that’s the way I thought everyone else is super, super good. Just plays perfect. But then I realise they all make mistakes as well. A lot of mistakes. 

Yeah, but one thing that is really insane is like the fan base in LEC. Compared to like, Prime League Strauss when a player. Like in Prime League, no one cared at all. And LEC is crazy.

One thing that maybe affects that feeling is the fact the LEC is online again this season? Is that a disappointment as someone coming into the league for the first time?

Unf0rgiven: I mean, I think it depends from person to person. Like, for me, I’m like, a bit happy. Because I think I would be nervous playing the first game on stage against good players because I’ve never been on stage before. For me it is kinda nice to start off online.

That’s really good to hear! We heard that one reason Vitality struggled last week was not being in the room together. How much does just being in the same room help, even if you’re playing remotely?

Unf0rgiven: Playing in the same room? Like I’m not sure if I think it’s actually helpful. I’m not sure. It’s nice to see all your teammates when you play! I guess that’s pretty much it.

It doesn’t affect communication?

Unf0rgiven: When you play at the office, it’s like more of a try-out vibe than if I play from like some other place. 

You’re coming into a team that’s a Worlds contender that’s had a lot of international success. Does that add a lot of responsibility to you and a lot of pressure?

Unf0rgiven: I don’t see that much pressure because I’m just trying my best. I don’t know, I don’t want to put pressure on myself for no reason at all. Because that will just make everything way harder. I’m just trying my best and if it works well, that’s good. If it doesn’t, then it sucks.

Blitzcrank versus MAD Lions

MAD Lions ran into trouble against Trymbi's Blitzcrank in Week 2 (Image via Riot Games)
MAD Lions ran into trouble against Trymbi's Blitzcrank in Week 2 (Image via Riot Games)

Midway through the interview, we asked Unf0rgiven about the picks that affected MAD Lions in the past few games. In particular, I had to ask Unf0rgiven about the Blitzcrank pick that had wrought havoc on his team last game. 

Trymbi picked up the Blitz, it’s not one that people pick as much in competitive, because it’s very all or nothing. How was playing against a Blitz in a competitive game? 

Unf0rgiven: "I hate that champion so much! It’s so useless and so broken at the same time. If you mess up in the game, it’s so broken because it can be anywhere and just hook you, and if you get hooked, you’re dead. And if you have control in the game, it’s kind of useless. We didn’t play that well today, so we didn’t have that much control. And then Blitzcrank is the most broken champ."

Do you think that comes from his roaming? Or is it more of his laning that’s the issue with that?

Unf0rgiven: "I mean, I think laning wise, it’s like fine, I think it was more like roaming. That was the issue this game. If you don’t have vision, and they can be like, he could be mid, he could be bot, maybe even top lane and we don’t know. So like we always have to respect it. If you don’t respect him, we might die."

Definitely. Jinx is getting a lot of play at the moment. How does the Jinx pick change the AD carry role in the meta? Do you feel like its power comes from mages being popular in support. Is it The Caitlyn permaban? Or is it something else?

Unf0rgiven: "I think with Jinx it’s like, it’s not too weak in early game, and it scales insanely well. And like if you get a kill, yeah, it’s like Katarina now you get a Pentakill pretty much. You get the bounty, you do so much damage. And the same with objectives. If you take an objective, you can just turn to the towers. You just do the objectives, pushing lanes, it’s like the perfect champion. And you can also have insane push in lane, putting up your rocket and hitting the wave. And also it’s kind of good with Thresh and Lulu which are kinda in right now."

Even with the loss today you’re at the top end of the table. Do you think this is where MAD lions is going to stay? Who do you think is going to be your biggest challenges coming up?

Unf0rgiven: "Yeah, I think we’re gonna stay at the top. I hope. At least we’re going to try and stay at top because why not? And I think the hardest team, or like the team that’s most scary is probably going to Fnatic."

Yeah, they look really strong! Thank you so much for speaking to me, and good luck with the rest of the split!

MAD Lions and Unf0rgiven will be back in action on Friday, January 27th against Excel. You can catch them live on the official LEC Twitch channel.