One of the longest-tenured and most traveled players in LCS history, OpTic Gaming’s jungler William “Meteos” Hartman brings a wealth of experience and a long list of accolades to any organisation. First entering the LCS as a member of the famed Cloud 9 squad that won a championship in their inaugural Split, Meteos has led his teams to multiple appearances at the World Championships. We caught up with him for a few moments at the 2019 League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split Finals.
You’re one of the most journeyed players here. Not only have you been in the LCS for a long time, but you’ve also been with a few different organisations from 100 Thieves to Phoenix 1, and Cloud9. Now you’re with OpTic Gaming: does it feel like home?
Well, I don’t know if I consider it home because I’ve only been there for a few months at this point, but I do enjoy it. The staff and other players are pretty nice and it’s generally a pretty fun atmosphere. It’s pretty good.
OpTic Gaming has been around in the esports scene for a long time now, what separates them from some of the other organisations that you’ve been with?
Well this was the first one for me that had a really big office space, and so the physical environment is a lot different. It’s good though, we’ve got this huge office where there’s a kitchen and area we eat, and down the hall there’s ten PCs set up for solo queue. So LCS is on one half of the room, Academy is on the other half. And so we can talk to other people while we’re playing, and hang out. It’s really casual. Then if you keep going down the office there’s some side rooms that we use for scrimming. There’s the Academy scrim room, the LCS scrim room,, and the review room. So, I really like the structure. It helps separate your mindset for different things. You go in the scrim room and you’re going to be scrimming. You go in a practice area, and it’s more laid back. So, I think that’s probably my favourite part of being on OpTic so far.
Being a player who has been around for a while now in the LCS, you naturally step into a leadership position when you join any organisation. Is there a moment in your career where you felt that transition to a leadership role started happening, or did you come in as a leader?
That’s a good question. I guess on C9 when Hai first stepped down was the first time where a lot more responsibility fell on me. It was OK, but it was kind of a hard situation with Hai not being there because we were so used to playing with him.
I don’t know, I usually don’t think about it too much in terms of being “the leader”. I basically just try to do what I’m supposed to do and lead by example, if that makes sense. I’m always trying to make sure I’m in good shape for scrims. So many players will just show up for the morning set of scrims dead tired and play completely terrible. I’m just trying to tell people, “you need to eat breakfast”, “you need to get coffee”, “do what you have to do so you can actually play”. So I guess leadership in that aspect.
I understand the game pretty well just because I’ve been playing so long, and it’s the thing that I put almost all of my time and energy into. I think I have a lot of experience and I can help that way. But generally, just try to do my part to be a positive contribution to the team. This season, I’ve been trying to have less of a hands on approach because I think on C9 and 100T both it would be the case where if I thought my teammate was doing the wrong thing I would take it upon myself to try and fix that. Tell them, “what you’re doing is bad, you need to do this instead”. Even if it’s helpful, as far as team progress goes it can hurt my relationship with that player. So, I think on OpTic I’ve been trying a lot more working with what other people are doing. Trying to be more flexible and not create friction.
Looking at the game itself, has it changed for you over the years from when you first joined the league? Either the gameplay itself, or how you look at the game and how you approach the game?
I would say both for sure, the gameplay and how I look at the game has changed pretty drastically. We’ve got patches rolling out every two weeks, some are big and some are small. There’s usually a pretty big pre-season patch, so I’ve had to re-learn the jungle about ten different times because they keep reworking it. There’s always new and unfair champions coming out that you have to learn how to deal with. The game has definitely changed a lot and I’ve just always been trying to learn more. Whenever I feel like I’m just not learning, I try to get a fresh perspective somehow. I’ll go and watch new streamers I haven’t seen before, watch interviews from other players in top regions. I’m always watching VODs from other regions.
I’ve even learned some things from playing other MOBAs, I played Heroes of the Storm for a bit. Whenever you mention Heroes of the Storm to a League player, people are just like “eww”. But, the game actually has really cool heroes in it. The gameplay aspects, there’s no farming in it, but getting HP trades in that game is really valuable. That’s something that I was able to see clearly in Heroes of the Storm and when I went back to playing League. As an example, something that happened in the last year, say one teams pushing mid and the others defending. The defending team will be like, “can we hold this tower”, and if the not they won’t even try. But, a better way that I look at it nowadays is they’re going to get the turret, but while they’re hitting the turret we are hitting them so they can’t fight us afterwards and we will get pressure back. You trade that turret for map pressure through HP advantage. I’m always looking for new concepts and strategies, tactics to add to my game.
Looking back to when you first joined Cloud9, what’s the biggest difference you see in yourself between then and today’s OpTic Gaming Meteos?
I think I’ve changed a lot, trying to grow as a person. I remember back in the beginning of Cloud 9 I would get really upset when we lost. We won a lot, but the losses would bother me so much and it really got to me. Now, I feel a lot more accepting of it. It happens, sometimes you lose. That’s probably a big one. I don’t have a ton of specific things, I guess it’s just a matter of trying to improve or whether it’s being a better teammate, someone my teammates enjoy being around. I don’t ever want to be in a situation where even if I’m a good player if my teammates don’t like playing with me, then what’s the point. So, trying to be a better teammate and better player. I think I’ve changed a lot, but I don’t know if there is any specific massive epiphanies I’ve had, but incremental over time.
You’ve also had a lot of experience playing in academy before and you also get to see the Optic Academy team all the time. Do you feel like the academy system sets up players for success in the LCS?
I think that it’s a really good way to get your foot in the door. What I’ve noticed with some academy teams and through stuff that I’ve heard is because it’s such a new thing and it’s just ten teams, a lot of the coaches that come into the academy teams, you might not even be learning the right thing from your coaches.
If you look at a team like Cloud9, thats a team where the LCS team and the academy team are very close. They share a lot of there methods and stuff like that, and they’re obviously just a good team. Almost all the rookies you’ve seen in Cloud have been very successful because they have the right teacher. Imagine if you took one of those players and you put them into X academy team where their coach doesn’t really care. He’s just sort of there for the paycheck. He repeats things he’s heard on web series and stuff. He’s listened to LCK casters and he’s repeating that. “We’ve gotta be proactive guys”, and all these really vague things that to the uninformed might sound right, but when you actually break down at a high level this guy is full of hot air and he has no idea what he’s talking about.
Being a new player, especially with the academy system, you’re in no position to challenge that so you just have to go with it. I’ve seen a lot of players that never really get the opportunity to play because they’re put in these environments where they’re either listening to a coach who’s probably leading them astray or you don’t listen to the coach and you get a reputation for being hard to work with. I do think that the academy system is beneficial. It’s nice to be able to get some competitive experience, work for playoffs and that kind of thing. I just hope the coaches and the system keeps improving so that when the players come in they don’t learn the wrong stuff.
Meteos now looks to the Summer Split and how he can push OpTic Gaming into the playoff position that has eluded them for the last two years.