Getting solo-killed by Fudge—and consequently becoming the victim of the first death of the 2023 LCS Spring Split—was not a part of the plan that Milan “Tenacity” Oleksij had for his debut on the main stage. He’d spent the entirety of his young professional career competing against some of the best professional League of Legends players, yet the nerves were still there, leading to a shakiness that left his mind blank, almost completely on autopilot.
But these nerves didn’t stem from the jump to the LCS as a rookie, even when he was doing so alongside some of the greatest players in the history of the region. Rather, Tenacity worried about fully using this opportunity to redeem himself after watching from the sidelines all of last year while someone else held the spot that he was told he’d get a chance at.
Tenacity spent the last three years under the 100 Thieves umbrella competing in both the amateur and Academy scenes, headlining nearly every tournament he competed in—even retaining the interest of fans for his accomplishments off-stage. Yet that entire time, he knew he was prepared for the LCS, feeling that he’d simply continue to “steamroll” the Academy scene if he remained there.
Now, one year after his expected LCS debut, the 19-year-old top laner has officially joined a newly revamped 100 Thieves roster. And he’s used the first three weeks of the 2023 Spring Split to make it clear to both the rest of the competition and fans that missing out on the LCS last year has only fueled his drive for success further.
A change of plans
Early last year, 100T opted for a subtle shake-up to its roster by adding Tenacity to the team as a substitute for Ssumday—though the team only ever used him once, before the Spring Split even officially began. Tenacity told Dot Esports this decision took a huge toll on him mentally and made him question the future of his professional career with the organization.
“For a while after [the Lock In], I got kind of depressed, which is kind of the worst thing that can happen,” Tenacity said. “Honestly, the entire time I thought I deserved to be [on the main roster].”
This placed the top laner back on the 100T Academy roster where, instead of continuing to be hard on himself for the change, he used the opportunity to prove to himself how good he was. He noted his specific Academy run last summer allowed him to bounce back and locate “the motivation to be the best” he felt he had completely lost only a few months prior—ultimately leading to a second-place regular season finish and a top-four placing in the Summer Proving Grounds.
Heading into the most recent offseason, Tenacity expected to be in talks with various LCS teams thanks to his Academy Summer Split performance, marking the beginning of a journey back to a spot he never truly had the chance to perform in.
Familiar faces and an important decision
For that comeback to begin, Tenacity needed to find a team. As a return to the 100T main roster was not cemented, the top laner fielded all available options. Tenacity confirmed to Dot Esports that, for a while, he was deep in negotiations with Evil Geniuses for a spot on its 2023 LCS Spring Split roster, which would’ve made him a part of the next generation of rookies the team would once more aim to turn into immediate stars.
But the top laner wanted to keep all of his options open as long as he could. Throughout the offseason, Tenacity closely watched the developments being made to the 100T roster for the upcoming split. The changes were immense: the return of the GOAT-ed Bjergsen and Doublelift duo, another promising year for Tenacity’s good friend in Closer, and a player he got to know very well as a part of 100T Academy last year, Busio. When looking at this roster, Tenacity was certain that he would find great success with 100T once more as the final piece of the puzzle.
“I wanted to join the roster that would be best for me, and the one that wanted to win the most—and at the time, I knew it was 100 Thieves,” Tenacity said. “I think everyone’s work ethic on the team is fucking insane. They are truly dedicated to winning, and the sacrifice they show is just, unreal. It’s an environment I love playing in.”
The top laner said the pressure expected to accompany any player joining a roster with not one but two of the greatest North American League players of all time did not bother him even a little. Instead, the pressure he put on himself to succeed vastly overshadowed any other external factors, even motivating him to show Bjergsen and Doublelift why so many fans had been anticipating his debut for years.
“Obviously it’s great getting to play with the GOATs of NA, like I can definitely see how they won so many times, now knowing their personalities,” Tenacity said. “But I don’t think it pressured me at all. I’m good at pressuring myself, if that makes sense.”
An immediate impact, but still room for growth
Following his long-awaited official debut, Tenacity has successfully captured the attention of fans who weren’t already familiar with his potential prior to debuting in the LCS. The rookie top laner has held his own against formidable LCS veterans like Licorice and Summit, while also further bolstering his following through his unexplainable antics with good friend and fellow top laner, Fudge.
But Tenacity does not yet feel that he’s fully overcome the nerves of being on the LCS stage. In last week’s loss against FlyQuest, despite opening opportunities for 100T to flourish thanks to his Fiora, he explained that a shakiness stemming from adrenaline held him back from truly putting on what he felt was a good performance and that he hopes more practice can allow him to be more comfortable.
“It’s a muscle you have to train,” Tenacity said. “I’m not going to be too worried about it with the future, but I think today’s loss is gonna help me a lot, growing as a player and recognizing those nerves. Especially since I solo-killed Impact today.”
100T currently sit in a tie for second place within the region, sporting a 4-2 record as the halfway point of the Spring Split draws near. For the remainder of the split, Tenacity is set on improving his positioning and ensuring leads like he had in the game against FlyQuest result in guaranteed victories for him and his team.
Yet beyond that, the rookie top laner has his eyes set far into the future, remaining adamant about one thing and one thing only: “I wanna win it all.”