Path To Pro: Paul "sOAZ" Boyer and the early days of professional LoL

by Josh Bury Apr 27 2017
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Flickr

Future generations of League of Legends players are unlikely to have the same path to the League Championship Series as Paul "sOAZ" Boyer.

Though now only 23 years old, sOAZ is considered a veteran in the League of Legends community, where retirements often come earlier than other esports.

The French top laner started off playing some Counter-Strike 1.6 and the original Defense of the Ancients on his PC. His tenure in DotA lasted "about six years," according to a 2012 interview with Team Dignitas. He played in Division 1 of the Argh League, a primarily-French DotA league.

In that same Dignitas interview, sOAZ said that he only played League casually until the ranked system was implemented, but eventually picked it up.

His career in LoL predates the LCS model. He joined against All authority in late 2010, where he played with Bora "YellOwStaR" Kim. While he had previously played the AP role, he moved to "solo top" before the Riot Season One Championship, held in Jönköping, Sweden in June 2011. His team would place second at that event behind a Fnatic roster that included Lauri "Cyanide" Happonen, Maciej "Shushei" Ratuszniak and Enrique "xPeke" Cedeño Martínez.

But Fnatic's 2012 roster was soAZ's ticket to the first European League Championship Series when it first began in Season 3.

Before the rise of Riot's LCS model, the idea of making a full-time living in League of Legends seemed like a low-percentage prospect. But once the company committed to building the league, sOAZ said, he began to see the possibilities.

"I never really thought about these things when I first started, I guess after LCS first started I could see that this was possible," he told theScore esports.

sOAZ's career shows that these things are, now, quite possible. He has made the EU LCS playoffs at least once in every calendar year of his career during the LCS era, and has attended seven of the region's nine playoff tournaments during that time, reaching at least the semifinals in every instance.

He has also twice been a part of Origen squads that earned spots in the EU LCS — first in the 2015 EU Challenger Series Spring Playoffs, where they placed first and auto-qualified for the LCS, and then again in 2016 when OG, facing relegation, defeated Misfits. He made a miracle run to the semifinals at Worlds with OG's 2015 roster.

When sOAZ made the move to League of Legends, he already had a substantial body of work in DotA behind him that he could point to as evidence of his success. That doesn't mean that he didn't have to prove himself in League, but it seems unlikely that aspiring future League pros will have over half a decade's experience in another game when they get scouted out of solo queue.

He said he couldn't think of anything that he'd change about his own ascent to the LCS. And to players who are thinking of walking their own path to pro, sOAZ told theScore that he hasn't changed his advice too much from that 2012 interview.

"Try hard, don't be toxic in your high elo games, and that's it."

Josh "Gauntlet' Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.