Team Liquid's Samson "Lourlo" Jackson has already seen the highs and the lows of LCS competition. But the enthusiastic top laner, who got an offer from Liquid at the age of 17, started his journey in Antioch, IL.
Lourlo has both an older and younger brother. It was his older brother Max — now a competitive SMITE player using the handle Aror — that brought gaming into his world.
"I think he got introduced from my cousin, who played a lot. And then I kind of just followed in his footsteps after he started playing, I thought it was really interesting. I remember like, laying on a desk, watching him play in our computer room back when I was like six or seven. And then it kind of just grew on me," Lourlo said. "Like, 'Hm, this looks pretty fun and interesting, I'll give it a go myself.' And then I started playing, and I've loved games ever since."
Gaming would quickly bring him the in-game name that he uses to this day: his first World of Warcraft character was a male Dwarf Hunter named Lourlo.
Beyond WoW, Lourlo also spent time playing Diablo, Hearthstone and TERA. He even played other MOBAs like Heroes of Newerth and Dota. But once his brother started playing League of Legends, he found his preferred outlet for competition.
"Yeah, that's just the first time I ever played a MOBA game that I really enjoyed, and I just always wanted to be better than him at the game, so I got really motivated from that, and I just kept playing. And that started around age 13."
While Lourlo said that he always felt a step ahead of his friends and brothers at games, that excellence wasn't ultimately rewarded until he received an offer from Storm, a Challenger Series squad that featured former Vulcun mid laner Zachary "mandatorycloud" Allan Hoschar.
"Then I played Challenger with him, and I was doing super well in scrims, I was pretty much winning lane every game and just snowballing the games through that," Lourlo explained. "And yeah, after that, I knew I could be a really good player and I just put in day after day, and so much effort. And I think that's why I'm here now."
While Lourlo was showing that he had what it took to compete at the highest levels of League of Legends, he ran into something that many prospective players face: having to convince his parents that a career in esports was a good idea.
Besides his brothers, his family didn't initially support his pro gaming career, and a lot of other family members were confused about how exactly he was spending his time. His parents, both doctors, expected a lot from him in school. Eventually, once Lourlo received an offer from Counter Logic Gaming's challenger team CLG Black, things started looking up, and his mother has since become one of his biggest fans.
"But I think after I showed results, and I started getting offers like the first offer from CLG Black that I got, and just started slowly grinding to get something more... then I think my parents started supporting me, the rest of the family started supporting me, and then that's when it actually took off."
And his brother has carved out a competitive career of his own in the SMITE scene. Though the two talk about their experiences or compare team communication techniques, Lourlo said, the season can be a pretty busy time for both players.
In his four splits as a starter in the NA LCS, Lourlo has played in a variety of team environments. The 2017 spring split nearly saw the team relegated, but Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng's last-minute addition to the squad saw the storied Liquid organization avoid that fate.
Still, the team has had highs as well, and Lourlo names the 2016 summer playoffs series against CLG as his favorite.
"Even though we lost, I haven't felt that much emotion in a game. It was so fun, because it was my rookie split, and we were one game away from finals. It was a pretty crazy experience for me, I'll probably never forget that day. We were so close to winning that game, too. It's just like a really big highlight of my career."
For a player that has expressed his own determination for self-improvement, and with potentially plenty of time left in the NA LCS, the choice of a near loss as his favorite LCS moment seems oddly fitting.
Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.