Three years ago, Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen's promising League of Legends career came to an abrupt halt. Going by the name Incarnati0n at the time, he had built up a reputation for being incredibly rude and flaming his team mates, contributing to the toxic community that's unfortunately associated with the game.
The ban came at a time where Riot, the company behind League of Legends, was cracking down hard on toxic behaviour among players in their professional esports league, and the penalty handed to Jensen was harsh: He was banned from professional League of Legends and the game in general. Forever.
"It was a weird situation", Jensen tells Gamereactor as we talk to him over Skype. "I had just dropped out of high school in order to play full time when I got banned, so the timing couldn't have been worse. I couldn't decide whether to go back to school or hope that I'd be unbanned. My parents were obviously pushing for me to go to school, as I basically spent a year and a half just sitting around at home not doing anything".
Though Jensen had been formally banned from the game he kept on playing under different names and smurf accounts. After nearly two and a half years out in the cold, during which he changed his attitude towards the game considerably, Riot lifted his ban in 2015, allowing Jensen to play professionally again. North American team Cloud9 where quick to pick him up, and he was back in the game for the 2015 summer split.
Jensen says he's done with taking out his frustrations about the game on team mates, and that's also part of the reason he ditched his old summoner name, Incarnati0n.
"My old name had a bad stigma to it," he says. "I didn't like it very much, and it sounded kinda forced. Everybody over here call me 'Jensen', and once I got used to that, I might as well use it as my in-game name, too."
Jensen started using the new name as the 2016 season began, and both him and Cloud9 have performed substantially better this year than in the previous split of the NA LCS. That has less to do with the name change and more to do with changes in the line-up, though. Star player Hai has moved to the support position, and the team has brought Korean reinforcements to the Jungler role by signing Rush.
"Our line-up with Rush is much more aggressive," Jensen says. "It's easier for me to play my own game with him, and the meta has probably shifted a bit".
Those changes let Jensen play his preferred champion types, assassins, instead of the control mages he mainly played during his first split with the team.
"At the time, I felt like the team didn't really know how to play with assassins. And so it was easier for me to just play control mages. We had the attitude that we'd be best off playing scaling champions, winning team fights, and trying to make it to late-game."
"Assassins are a better fit with the current meta. But the thing about this meta is that you can basically play any champion as long as you're good at them. Obviously some champions are better than others, but you can play pretty much anything as long as you're good at it."
2016 has been a good year for Cloud9 so far. They ended the '15 summer split at a disappointing 7th place, and finished second-to-last in their group at Worlds. By contrast, this split has seen them end the regular season in 3rd, and they'll face Team SoloMid in the first round of the playoffs. Jensen predicts a favorable outcome for that game.
"I think TSM haven't played very well this split, they've been very inconsistent. They've also shown that they can play, mostly they're just inconsistent. I think we'll beat the 3-1. I definitely feel we have a good shot at beating them, unless they really show up."
Currently, there are more Danish midlaners in the NA LCS than American ones, and TSM's Bjergsen is the other major red-white profile. So we have to ask: Who's the better Zed player, Bjergsen or Jensen?
"Haha, that's a good question. Neither of us have played a lot of Zed lately, so it's hard to say. But if we're talking season 4, I'd certainly pick me".
Cloud9 will play Team SoloMid in the quarter finals tomorrow at 20:00 BST / 21:00 CEST