Scouting Grounds pressure heats up for Team Mountain

Scouting Grounds gives potential League of Legends pros a chance to see what it's like to make esports a career. Friday, the remaining teams will compete on the main stage at the LCS Arena (pictured). Riot Games

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Inside the heart of Riot Games' campus, Team Mountain fell 0-2 to Team Infernal (supported by Echo Fox) to begin the League of Legends Scouting Grounds round-robin group stage Wednesday night. The team, which had excelled in scrimmages before the event, felt the difference between playing comfortably in a team house to the pressure of playing an official match. Infernal Fox deployed an unexpected top lane Nasus strategy in both games, catching the Immortals-backed squad off-guard and accomplishing a sweep to put it atop the standings heading into Day 2 of the competition.

Scouting Grounds Standings (After Day 1)
1. Team Infernal (Echo Fox): 1-0 (2-0)
2. Team Cloud (Counter Logic Gaming): 1-0 (2-1)
3. Team Ocean (Team Liquid): 0-1 (1-2)
4. Team Mountain (Immortals): 0-1 (0-2)

Following the loss, ESPN.com spoke to the team about its thoughts on the first day's action, what it needs to improve upon to make it to Friday's final, and the best moments so far in Scouting Grounds.

"Of course there is more pressure [in an official game.] If you make a mistake in scrims it's whatever -- you can move on and fix it," said Shynon, 21, the team's vocal shotcaller from the AD carry position from Houston. "For me personally, I didn't feel the pressure as much. The main difference is that you're never sure what the other team is going to bring out, if they have a pocket pick or anything and needing to adjust on the fly."

"I didn't play as well in the first game because I had jitters," said Team Mountain's first-round draft pick (No. 3 overall), 18-year-old Tuesday from Quebec, holding down the starting mid lane position. "I kind of did feel the pressure. I didn't play up to my standards."

On what they learned from Day 1 of the competition, BmxSpecks, 20, from Toronto, said it didn't matter how well they did in scrimmages and that performance on the main stage is a different beast entirely. "You can't put a label of 'best team' just based off scrim results," he said. "And we learned that obviously pretty well today. We just need to work from the ground up and erase that mentality [we're the best] and act like everybody is even, which everyone is."

"I need to talk more," said the team's top laner and youngest member, Bobjenkins, 17, from New Jersey. "In-game I was really quiet, because I didn't like the certain matchup I had. It's really annoying to play against [Nasus]. It's very suffocating, and you have to hope to get an early-game lead to shut the enemy top laner down before he gets too tanky. Also, I need to look around at the map more."

Although the competition is cutthroat with two of the teams seeing their journey end Thursday following the culmination of the group stage, Scouting Grounds is also about getting the chance to peer into the world of pro-gaming. The main takeaway is they're experiencing the life of a pro-gamer and having the opportunity to play on a real team; they're learning to communicate and confide, qualities they need to become a better overall player. In short: it's an experience of a lifetime for the 20 amateurs invited.

"I've liked every moment of it," said Tuesday. "The one that stood out is when Bjergsen visited the Immortals house. I was fanboying so hard over him. He's been my idol and role model for the past two years, so that was super cool."

On the topic of whether any of them had improved, every player nodded in agreement that they already felt like a better player after being in the Immortals house and practicing endlessly for two days.

"Oh yeah, definitely," Shynon said. "I've never really been coached by a professional or an LCS coach before -- I've had analysts or coaches in lower [league] teams help me out -- and I think Hermes has really developed and helped me into a better player who just has an infinitely better understanding of the game."

"I've learned a lot more about macro and really how to abuse lanes when summoner spells are burned," BmxSpecks said. "A lot of time in solo queue you see someone burn their summoner spell and say you'll maybe go visit that later on, but really punishing the [lack of] summoner spell and taking another objective as a team -- my macro has definitely improved a lot."

Each of the five Team Mountain players gave a shout out to the professional player that has inspired them the most to reach this point.

"I want to be more like Impact," Bob said. "During scrims, I was like solo killing everyone [like Impact] but I feel like he knows a lot more about the game. He can transition [those kills] to midgame and late game. Me, right now, all I do is add pressure by strictly 1-v-1'ing, and sometimes I'll teamfight. Hopefully I can learn more from Impact ... and how he impacts the game."

"Reignover," answered BmxSpecks, smiling because he is practicing at Reignover's desk in the Immortals team house. "He's a very calculated player with really good macro, and I also like how he comes off really humble. There are other junglers in the NA scene that are really cocky and outspoken -- which isn't necessarily a bad thing -- but I just really attract to the whole humble player who lets his play speak than the shit talk."

"How did it feel playing in his seat?" he was asked.

"It felt pretty good, but kind of bad after the Nidalee performances in scrims," BmxSpecks said.

"It's pretty clear already -- my favorite player, by far, is Bjergsen," said Tuesday. "I think it's unbelievable that he's been atop of the game for three years now, and he keeps going strong. I really aspire to be the leader he is on TSM and keep up the same mechanical level of play. Overall, he is humble for how good he is, and I really respect that."

"The player I aspire to just be and idolize is ROX Tigers' PraY," Shynon said. "PraY is one of the longest standing veterans in the scene. He's been playing at the top level since like [2011], and so his knowledge of the game is immaculate. Especially in a meta where flashy AD carry plays isn't so prevalent, PraY finds a way to make highlight reels, and overall he's just really consistent, too."

"Aphromoo is my top one," said Winter, 19, the team's support and the third Canadian on the roster. "He does a lot of [big] plays [while] micromanaging everyone, and he's pretty cool, too. I'm talking to him everyday, almost, and he's really great."

By the time the interview finished at 9 p.m. in Santa Monica, the day was winding down for most of the city. But Team Mountain returned to their practice room inside the LCS studios, having scheduled scrimmages with Team Infernal, the team that had just defeated them an hour earlier.