Matthew 'xMatty' Coombs is one of the UK's rising stars in League of Legends.
The 19-year-old ADC player for academy side Fnatic Rising is making a name for himself, most recently putting in a perfect 10/0/7 performance in week 2 of the UKLC.
But how far can he go? What's it been like going from Digital Warfare to the French scene, other orgs and now Fnatic? Could he play in the LEC in the future? What's his bot-lane partnership like with Prosfair? We ask all these questions and more in this interview.
Please tell us about your background and what are you like as a person.
Growing up, I lived with my mum and younger sister. My life was fairly normal for the first 18 years, just going to school, playing sports and video games. I’m grateful to my mum that she let me pursue a career in esports, even if she was reluctant at first.
Nevertheless, after A-Levels I was allowed to take a gap year to see how far I could go and so far it’s worked out.
If I had to describe myself as a person it would be hard-working but also laid back. I tend to put my energy into tasks but in a fairly stress-free way. I always feel like this is good as it allows me to stay focused on what matters.
How did you get into League of Legends? Please tell us about your competitive history.
I got into League through my school classmates back in Season 3.
Playing back then was insanely fun. I always remember looking to see which champs were on free rotation that week and being hyped to get home and try them out with my mates.
My passion for the game continued to grow throughout the seasons, along with my rank. By season 6 I reached Master tier for the first time, at which point I remember being approached by Digital Warfare to play for them in the UK Masters qualifiers.
Although we didn’t make it in, this was my first opportunity to showcase myself as a player and I ended up being picked up by Singularity for the 2017 Summer UK Premiership.
Following this split, I played one more split in the UK with Wind and Rain before joining Gentside in the French scene in May 2018. I’d put down this time in the French scene as the main growth point for myself as a player, being able to prove myself in a strong region as well as having a good performance in EU Masters, narrowly losing out to Mad Lions 2-1 in the quarter finals.
After our performance I was approached by Fnatic about the opportunity to join their Fnatic Rising academy team, which leads me to where I am now.
"Knowing that there’s the chance to play in LEC is obviously insane, however right now I’m more focused on self-improvement. I think it’s important to not focus too much on the goal of getting into LEC, but more the process of reaching that level."
As you say, you've played for a number of teams before Fnatic. Can you reflect on your time with them? What was it like going from playing there to where you are now?
Playing back then was very different to now. When I joined Digital Warfare I didn’t even know there was a competitive league scene outside of LCS. I’d say back then I had no expectations and really enjoyed playing with my teammates seeing what we could try to achieve.
However, with every team since, the pressure and expectation to perform better has increased. This doesn’t mean I enjoy the game less - I still love playing the game - it's just the stakes are a lot higher than they used to be.
What's it been like so far playing for Fnatic Rising?
Playing for Fnatic Rising so far has been an honour. It’s great to be able to play with a team who all strive to reach the same high level together, under an organisation as prestigious as Fnatic.
Although it’s only been a short time so far, I’m sure it will be rewarding in the long run. I’m also really looking forward to moving into a gaming house as it’s always sounded exciting and it’s not something I have experienced yet.
There were some rumours last week that Rekkles may have played in the UKLC. What's it like being part of the academy side and knowing there is a chance to play in the LEC potentially in the future?
Being part of an academy side is great and knowing that there’s the chance to play in LEC is obviously insane, however right now I’m more focused on self-improvement. I think it’s important to not focus too much on the goal of getting into LEC, but more the process of reaching that level.
I’m just going to keep focusing on my own play and if the opportunity to sub in ever comes, then I’ll grab it.
"So far me and Prosfair are getting on decently, but there’s for sure a lot of room to improve and get better as a duo."
What are your aims and ambitions in League?
When it comes to aims/ambitions in League I would say that my aim is to improve as much as I can, and become the best version of myself possible in game.
If I’m able to keep improving then reaching LEC level should be possible, it’s just about how much effort I put in.
How would you rate your performances in the UKLC so far?
So far it’s been a mixed bag. We are two weeks into regular split and I’d say I’ve already had defining high and low points. Focusing specifically on the two games we played vs. Excel academy, it felt like I was a large part in why we lost the first week after getting hooked by Mystiques, and won the second week where I had a strong Ezreal game.
I’d say that I’ve for sure shown promising things it’s just about getting more wins under the belt and showing that I can be a consistent player.
What are your initial thoughts on the competition in the UKLC?
So far, I think the teams that have showed the most ability to contest us are Excel and Diabolus. I’m sure they will keep performing well, so we need to keep training hard to get ahead of the curve.
The other teams we have played are Darkspawn, Enclave and MnM. Out of these Darkspawn felt a bit stronger than I was expecting and MnM a bit weaker. However, it’s only the start of the competition and I’m sure every team will improve a large amount over the course of the split.
"With each team I've played for, the pressure and expectation to perform better has increased. This doesn’t mean I enjoy the game less - I still love playing the game - it's just the stakes are a lot higher than they used to be."
You seem to have good synergy with Prosfair. How important is that and how would you describe your partnership with him?
Synergy is a large part of what makes a botlane good. Being able to make plays on the same page and execute together is what turns a mediocre lane into a strong one. So far me and Prosfair are getting on decently, but there’s for sure a lot of room to improve and get better as a duo.
I get along well with Prosfair outside of game, it’s a question of making sure we push each other forwards and work out any problems we face together.
Where do you see yourself in one year, and maybe three years' time? Where would you like to be?
Where I see myself is a hard one to answer. I could say that in one year I want to be in LEC and in three years' time lifting the World Championship trophy, but the truth is I haven’t visualised where I want to be much.
For now I’d say the goal is getting into LEC - whether it takes one or three years - and for me to be satisfied with myself I have to put in the effort first and see where it leads.
What are your thoughts on the current League meta?
Right now I’m enjoying the meta a lot. Being able to play ADCs with the new crit items, along with playing a variety of mages in bot lane, leads to a lot of diversity with every game being interesting.
So far I’ve shown Yasuo in UKLC and hopefully I get to show some more spicy champs!
Thanks for your time xMatty and best of luck with Fnatic.