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Player Spotlight: SaltySimon

                                                                    Player Spotlight: SaltySimon by @CasterBoulevard

 

We’re just about to the end of March, which means it’s about to be April, which means very soon we’ll be celebrating 2 years since the release of Legends of Runeterra. Now that's a pretty long time no matter how you slice it, and as someone who’s been here since the beginning, it’s been a pleasure to both watch and be a part of the growth and maturing of the competitive scene. In celebration of this I want to highlight a player that I think has grown immensely both as a person and a player in that time frame: the EMEA Magic Misadventure Seasonal Champion, SaltySimon.

There’s really no sugar coating it - my first impression of Simon was not a good one. Back when Duels of Runeterra was the big thing and I was casting EU more than AM, Simon was the first player to rage quit while we were watching their stream. It was an awkward moment for young Boulevard, and something that stuck in the back of my mind every time we would spectate Simon for as long as we were using streams to do so. I cataloged him away in the back of my mind as a salty aggro player who I should only spectate as a last resort, lest I get left hanging again. While players are of course free to surrender whenever they want and drop, I haven't seen Simon do it since that initial incident. These days he’s more preoccupied playing hopscotch on the thin line that exists between confidence and arrogance - and don’t get me wrong, I’m here for it. It’s no secret that there’s a large number of personalities in the scene that identify as “educational while being entertaining”, and Simon is a breath of fresh air within the mix. If you ask him a question you’re going to get a flat, straightforward answer as he sees it without any chance of over clarification. 

This confidence or arrogance (depends on each specific instance it seems) naturally extended into Simon's play, allowing him to be one of the few players that doesn’t come to my mind with a ‘signature deck’, and instead freely flows between whatever decks he feels are strongest on the day. He trusts his own opinions and experiences, allowing him to be flexible in the types of archetypes he runs in a way that's very reminiscent of XxWhatAmIxX. Even just looking at Simon’s performances in 2022 he’s displayed incredible range; he kicked off the year with a 2nd place finish at a Mastering Runeterra qualifier with Spiders, Lulu/Jinx, and AK Absolver before turning around a week later and winning the next one with Darkness, Sentinel Control, and Feel the Rush. After a 2nd place finish, some players may try to run the same thing back again or switch to a more ‘fun’ lineup as they’d qualified for the main event already, but Simon coldly abandoned his decks that didn’t get the job done in favor of a totally different lineup. It’s one of my favorite things about him - he leaves emotion out of the lineup process. I’ve run into many players who get caught up on a deck they really want to bring, overthinking lineup cohesion, or sticking to a certain gimmick, pitfalls I would not expect to find Simon getting caught up in. He would go on to refine his lineup during some iterations of Fight Night: Legends (winning one in the process) before settling into the Top 32 of the Magic Misadventure Seasonal with AK Go Hard, Bandle Tree, and Sivir/Akshan Noxus Overwhelm. He was likely the only player to consider that combination of decks let alone bring it, and his confidence in his choices paid off in the biggest way. Simon’s Seasonal win felt like a long time coming as he’s been one of the most consistent grinders in the scene since the beginning. 

While there’s no denying his skill in Legends of Runeterra, I understand that the SaltySimons and the Mr eMOEtionals are not everyone’s cup of tea. Writing about these players can be challenging as some statements can be seen as positive by someone and negative by someone else, so I want to be clear that my stance is that I enjoy watching Simon perform. Without Seasonal broadcasts to build the hype we’re going to be looking to Twitter smack talk more often in the future, and characters like Simon are fun to watch whether you’re rooting for them to back up that talk or hoping to see them fall flat because of it. Wherever you’ve decided he lands on your personal hero/villain line, however, there’s no denying that he’s one of the best players in EMEA.

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