‘How Pantheon saved my life’ – esports host Archarom on rebuilding and returning to the NLC after his toughest year

Alexandre ‘Archarom’ Maia is a Portuguese esports host, voice actor and caster that has just returned to host the Spring 2024 Northern League of Legends Championship (NLC), the EMEA Regional League for the UK, Ireland and Nordics, after being let go by the tournament’s previous organisers and an incredibly tough time personally.
What started out as a bit of a joke that he looks like LoL champion Pantheon, ended up rebuilding his character in a way that perhaps none could have envisaged. Archarom tells Dom Sacco how this character has gone on to shape – and save – his life.

Congrats on returning to the NLC, Archarom! How does it feel to be back?

It feels amazing. First of all, thank you so much for the opportunity to do this interview. The year gap I had, the workout arc, the training arc, it took a long time – but I’m really happy to be back.

What’s the meaning behind your name?

Archarom is based on an old game I played as a kid, called Sacrifice. The decisions you’d make would affect the story, it’s about gods and people that work for them, and the gods give them powers. The god of death had his own worker called Archerom or something like that.

When I was a kid, I was really sick. I wasn’t able to go outside of my house, or else I could actually die. I was held at the hospital for most of the time so I had a lot of surgeries, so I hit a mark with that character. Then in the middle of the game, the character ends up being an ass, and I was really disappointed. They justify his actions – his transitions from a good character to really bad – by the way life treated him. 

I was so mad with the idea, I said: ‘You know what, I’m going to adapt your name and prove that no matter where it comes from or the cards you were dealt, you can always be a nice person and fight for other people, even if people treat you really bad, it doesn’t matter – you can be a better person. 

So Archarom comes from the name of a character I fell in love with but turned out to be not the person I thought he was because of background issues. And I wanted to prove to you it was possible [to stay positive], that’s why Archarom is Archarom. 

‘People started telling me that I kind of resemble Pantheon, and I started playing him. And his quotes really hit the mark. Then I read his story. He died as a god but survived as a man. I read more and wanted to understand what my mountain is and how far I can get up it. So in 2023 I rebuilt my character, my body, spirit and mind.’


What have you been doing over the past year? 

So, when I was let go from the NLC at the end of 2022, I had to do a hard reset on my mental, because it was a rough year. I was supposed to get married and I turned single after a 15-year relationship, a few friends of mine died as well, I lost a job, I hit really hard depression. It was probably the hardest year I’ve had to deal with. 

I tried to end it all two times, and so I needed a hard reset. I came to Portugal to my house and tried to do my training arc, to understand who I am, what I can do and find out: what is my mountain? 

We always joke about the idea of [League of Legends character] Pantheon and me, because I really love Pantheon, but Pantheon actually saved my life while I was in Berlin. 

People started telling me that I kind of resemble Pantheon, and I started playing him. I was a Teemo main – I was a disgusting human being – but I started playing Pantheon. And the quotes he brings out when you play as him, they really hit the mark.

Then I read his story. He died as a god but survived as a man. I read more and wanted to understand what my mountain is and how far I can get up it. So in 2023 I rebuilt my character, my body, spirit and mind. I did a lot of CSGO and also transitioned to CS2 as a caster, I do a lot of FIFA and EA FC 24 as well, I’m a host and a voice actor as well, I’ve now been accepted by a lot of cities in Portugal to do communication with kids in schools talking about motivation, discipline and how to bounce back from a hard situation.

So I actively rebuilt myself. The Archarom people met person-wise in 2022 is still there, but it’s like a revamp, a 2.0 version. I’m glad to be back to work again on NLC.

Well I for one am glad you’re back and I’m sure everyone else that follows the NLC is. You’ve gone through some real hardships but there is real resilience there. I’m curious, do you include any Pantheon quotes in your talks?

I try to blend in a few of them to see if anyone plays League, but I’m really inspired by him and the things he says, like: “After every defeat, I ran around the mountain until even shame could not keep up.”

Those things are really important and I try to implement as much of that as I can. Pantheon is probably the most well-written character in League of Legends – I’m not dissing on other characters – but a man was able to sacrifice everything to meet the gods, turned into a god, get killed by the anti-god, and say: ‘You know what? I’m not done. I fight until the blood takes the spear from my grasp, until I can only crawl. And even then, you will not defeat me, even then, I will spit in your face.”

That resilience… you know, I don’t know who wrote that, but that speaks really highly to my spirit and I’m really glad the person who did Pantheon did Pantheon, because they saved my life.

[Archarom went into further detail off the record about how Pantheon saved his life, and we have not disclosed this publicly due to the sensitive nature of it and out of respect to him not talking about it on-record]

nlc talent 2022 group photo
Archarom speaks highly of the talent he worked with on the NLC in 2022

How did you go from Teemo to Pantheon?

My favourite movie of all time is 300 because of the Spartan thing. When I was a kid, I was watching that in class and my teacher told me it was based on a real-life story, and I thought: ‘No way.’

So I really studied Leonidas, and it’s a lot different from the movie, obviously, but there’s a lot of truth behind it. The way he got up one day, aged 50-something, that was your expiry date back then, and he just got up and said: ‘I know my sacrifice will lead every single Greek to fight for the country, so why not? My life is not that important, the most important thing is what I believe in.’

And as a man, to fight and die for something you love for is like a calling, to see how high you can go into a mountain.

And when I got into the NLC [broadcast line-up in 2022] it was [fellow caster] Troubleinc that said: ‘Oh my, you kind of resemble Pantheon’. 

And I said: ‘Why?’

She said: ‘Because you resemble Leonidas.’

And I thought, ‘wait!’ I was a fat Leonidas but I was still a Leonidas! And that hit me. I just started playing out of a joke, then I started watching [UK streamer] Spearshot, who plays a lot of Pantheon. I thought Pantheon sucked as a top-laner back in the day, but I saw Spearshot playing Pantheon non-stop, and he made it happen, and I’m like, that’s my life. I wasn’t supposed to be alive, when I did my first surgery, my doctor told me: ‘You have a 50% chance of survival’. 

And I asked him: ‘If I don’t do it now, how long will I have?’ 

And he said: ‘You have three months maximum to live.’

So I thought, you know what, I might as well do it.

“I was playing Defense of the Ancients on Warcraft 3 back in the day, a team did a tower dive on me and I survived. Someone in chat said: ‘You were supposed to be dead, but you did a really good job.’ And that hit me. I was supposed to be dead, but I’m not. That gave me strength, so I went into the surgery room and was like, I’m going to make it.”  


So when I see someone like Pantheon, Leonidas or Spearshot playing something that wasn’t supposed to happen – and you make it happen – you’re breaking the meta, you’re breaking everything. You’re saying: I understand your barriers, but I don’t live by them. That gave me the strength to play Pantheon. I sucked for a long time, I was playing top-lane and getting devastated, but I kept pushing it, I hit Diamond with no issues whatsoever as soon as I got a hold of the champion and I kept climbing. 

I wanted to know how high I could climb into the mountain in the game, then I realised, I don’t need to keep climbing the mountain in the game. Then I stopped. So I started running and building my physique. I thought, I don’t need to play Pantheon inside of the game, if I can be Pantheon outside of the game.

I have music that I listen to in my gym sessions, and it’s five minutes of quotes of Pantheon, the soldier who lived! That brings me beyond my limit, I’m telling you.

It’s a very inspiring story. How are you finding Pantheon today with the LoL Season 2024 changes?

I no longer play ranked, I’m diving back in because I want to study the map as much as I can, I want to feel it too, because I think as analysts and casters we need to feel the game before we start talking about it. 

I’ve tried Pantheon with the new items and builds and there’s a lot you can do with him – you can play as off-tank or assassin etc. You don’t have to use your ultimate to [gap close or run away], you can use your ultimate in the middle of a fight too, like if someone is engaging you, use the ultimate on their face and it does a lot of damage. So I believe he’s in a good spot, I’m not saying he can be meta meta, but in solo queue you can totally pull it off.

Now, back to the NLC. What can those in the Northern Europe community and fans of the NLC expect from the broadcast this split? Are there any surprises lined up or anything you can tell us about?

We have a really good team. I’m really happy we got Hiprain and Initialise back, I believe they’re a pinnacle of play-by-play casters, and even though we have a lot of other really good casters, having them back… you know they’ve got your back. I totally trust them.

In terms of content and ideas, I spoke with Initialise and production and I have a lot planned. Being a host, you have to take care of the desk, do the interviews, content and bring in ideas, but I always think desks could be so much more than they are right now. 

Nobody wants to watch a desk, if you go on a live broadcast, the chat says, ‘start the game, casters’, and why is that? I do believe they were looking into desks on esports from the traditional sports side, but people often forget that we are just kids playing video games. Even if they’re competitive, we want to have fun. So I want to understand storylines and stats, but I want to have fun at the end of the day as a viewer.

And as a host – and it’s why I’ve done things like play electric guitar at a Blast event – deep down I’m just a viewer who is blessed to be on stage. So I want to make sure that if I were the viewer, I would have fun. So I go into the depths of my mind to find new content ideas, and I do have a lot of things planned, I will devastate my desk with weird things and shenanigans. 

I also want to give a spotlight to the players, because at the end of the day, they’re what matters. I want to understand why a player plays and what it means to them, and their background and stories are. It’s not all about money, I want to know why you climb that mountain – tell me. 

When I was playing competitively back in season 1 and season 2, I played against Moscow 5 and all that, and I was actually a good player but then age kicked me in the ass (laughs). 

If I won, it didn’t matter if I was the sick kid, the religious kid, or what my skin colour was, what mattered was how I performed on Summoner’s Rift. There are barriers in traditional sports in terms of location and equipment and who you know, in esports if you have a PC and internet and are good, then show it. 

“I wanted to know how high I could climb the mountain in League of Legends, then I realised, I don’t need to keep climbing the mountain in the game. Then I stopped. So I started running and building my physique. I thought, I don’t need to play Pantheon inside of the game, if I can be Pantheon outside of the game.”


Would you say you have a good amount of freedom from Leagues.gg, the current license holder of the NLC?

We had a meeting, I presented my ideas and the producer was mostly open arms with me, saying I love this and I love that. Even on predictions I’ve brought in a new idea that’s going to devastate my analysts and talent, they’re going to be really mad but it’s going to be really fun. And that’s what I want. He loved the idea and so we’ll go for it, so I do believe we have a lot of freedom right now, on the desk.

NLC 2022 was a banger, everyone enjoyed it, and regardless of what was going on in the background, everyone put their hearts on the line to make it shine. If we can do it again, even without a studio, I think the NLC has a really good shot. 

When Pantheon was finally picked in the NLC and you broke Reddit with the clip of you, did you already have an idea as to what you’d say in advance, or was it completely natural and spontaneous? 

It was spontaneous but I believed Pantheon would be picked by Singularity the day before. Their support player [JeppeHou] told me to ‘get ready for tomorrow for a big surprise, a spear may appear’.

My mind was blown, and I brought a shirt and wrote his name on the shirt. I was ready, but then he didn’t pick it, and I was devastated. Apparently the coach didn’t allow him. 

So I gave up, but on that last day, Vanir player Quixeth picked Pantheon. And the reaction was all improvised.

Archarom’s reactin to Pantheon being picked in the NLC received 10,000 upvotes on the League of Legends subreddit

Now, things are very different to a year ago, when, by the decision of then NLC organiser Freaks 4U, the 2022 NLC casters were let go. It sounds like you were all blindsided, and let go without being told or even considered for 2023. That must have been frustrating. What are your thoughts on that, and now having a fresh start with Leagues.gg, the new license holder? 

Freaks 4U is a hard topic. I really believed we were trying to do something different and we truly believed we’d make a difference in League of Legends and everything was going smoothly. But that wasn’t the case, sadly. It is what it is, and there’s an NDA and all that, but we tried our best.

They took the floor beneath me and other people. I moved to Berlin, so that was my life and it was a complicated situation. 

With all those things being built up [in my life, that I mentioned earlier], on top of this, it was devastating. I think the team was amazing and we could have done so much more, if we were allowed to. There was a big war inside and I was trying to find the in-between but my mental was not there.

A lot of people told me things about Leagues.gg, but without hard evidence. I believe Leagues.gg is doing the best it can with what it has available. The production team is heavily hit and they want to make a better product and make it work. I want to believe, because League of Legends can be so much more in terms of broadcast, and I think they’re trying their best. So I believe in them so far. 

The NLC Spring 2024 rosters are being announced. Lionscreed are now in Division 1 and reportedly have Tempt on their roster. What are your views on the teams – any spicy predictions you have for the season ahead?

I’ve learnt my lesson on not building up the hype. I remember talking about Riddle and X7 being the best thing ever and then it being the worst! So I’ve learnt to keep my expectations low in the first few days in the season. 

I want to get a grasp of the floor, so I have zero expectations. 

Archarom, do you have any fond memories of your earlier times on the NLC? What a 2022 broadcast line-up we had, Guldborg, Trouble, Jamada, Hiprain, Initialise, Nymaera, Viperoon etc.

All of them. I lost all my friends back in the day and I lost everything. So the NLC talent team was all I had, and to be honest, they were more than I could ever hope for. Talking about D&D to Hiprain. I’m a fan of that blonde guy Gulborg a lot, we went out to a lot of lunches and dinners and walked through the woods and enjoyed life. Initialise is a weird guy and I love him, I remember playing Overcooked 2 with him and Nymaera and the social media manager Doku. 

Doku is one of the most chilled guys I’ve met but he was about to commit war crimes because of how we were playing. We couldn’t have laughed more. We went out for beers and did a lot of things.

One person I really love out of all of them is Troubleinc, she’s like a sister. She took me out to lunch, we went shopping, she’s really well spoken, she doesn’t take anything from anyone. She hated shopping with me because I’d encourage her to buy things she didn’t need.

And Jamada is my brother. I love all of them, but he’s my brother, he found out I have African blood (my mum is from Mozambique), they all supported me even when I was put in a hotel many miles away from the studio. 

When I tried to end it all, and I was able to look forward, I said, hey, at least I have this family. Eragon, Duckling, Solari, all these people. I can tell you, Dom, I’m revived after 2022 and when I went out with those guys, I thought, life is good with these people around. 

‘Deep down I’m just a viewer who is blessed to be on stage. I couldn’t care less about the spotlight – I just want to make sure people have fun. I also want to give a spotlight to the players, because at the end of the day, they’re what matters.  ‘


And this year, we have the likes of Foxdrop, Eragon, Veteran, Middlecott, Duckling, Roodood, as well as Hiprain and Initialise. What’s it like to be working with them, do you know many of them well and have you had lots of time to prepare for the upcoming season?

I have mainly worked with all of them except Foxdrop, and I believe Foxdrop is an amazing talent. I know all of them and I trust them. 

With all of those names, I feel at home, even though I’m not going to be working side-by-side with them [in person], I feel we have a really good talent line-up.

You’ll love Foxdrop and his sense of humour, I’m sure. You’re also listed as a voice actor. What kind of voice acting work have you done?

Anime in Portugal sucks. I wanted kids to have fun, so I looked at getting into a dubbing career. I did a workshop, got experience, dubbed Rick and Morty in Portuguese and did all the voices including the females, posted it on Facebook I got like 100,000 views in a week and people said: ‘Hey, cool, let’s do something!’

Then my Facebook got banned because you can’t upload entire episodes! But at least I got the gigs, I did anime and brought My Hero Academia to Portugal, the kids are loving it. When you hear kids saying they’d rather listen to it in Portuguese than Japanese, you know you did something good. 

In Counter-Strike, you opened the Blast Spring Final 2022 with an epic electric guitar solo on stage, performing the old Blast entrance theme! What was that like? I don’t know of any other esports broadcast talent that’s done that! 

I lived. It was the worst year but also the best year. It was improvised, it wasn’t planned. It was on Saturday, and on Friday I reached out to the team and said what if I played the theme on stage? I hadn’t played in seven years, but they told me to bring the guitar.

And on Saturday I get up, I did the remix and we did the rehearsals, even the theme was improvised. Some were saying this could be really good, some were saying but what if this happens, but the top dog said: ‘I don’t care, I want it!’

And we just did it, it was improvised, I was going up in the escalator and Karrigan was there, he was just like ‘wtf!’

I panicked, but as soon as I hit the stage, I was fine. The speech was improvised too, I dunno what I was saying – let’s bring in the Pantheon team again! And I knew everyone was having fun in that moment. I couldn’t care less about the spotlight – I just want to make sure people have fun. 

You were also wearing the flag of Portugal around you. Please tell us about your background, Archarom, whereabouts did you grow up in Portugal, and how did that shape who you are today? 

I was really sick as a kid, I couldn’t go to school and meet friends, so video games were my friends: Mario, Bomberman, Megaman. And cartoons and anime, Dragon Ball and all that.

So my background was rough and it was hard to readjust to society, because I was lacking a lot of social interactions and cues. Even nowadays I have issues with some things. Maybe that helped me because I have no barriers. 

My family didn’t have a lot, we were poor, and I had that situation with health and friends. The schools were not that good, I got beat up a lot, I got stabbed twice – I still have a scar on my eye, it shapes you. It’s through mud you can shape your body. 

I wouldn’t say no to any experience I had so far. If I went back to 2022 and was offered NLC, and someone said keep in mind if you accept it, you wouldn’t be able to go to the funeral of two of your friends because of the war, you will lose your wife, she’s gonna take the dog, you’ll lose your friends, it’ll be the worst year of your life and you’ll try and end it all with pills, I’d tell you Dom – I would accept it.

It’s not the victories that shape you, it’s the defeat. And I’ve gotta say, failure is the best flavour once you succeed. I would accept it. So my life was complicated, but I’m happy it was. It shaped me as a man. 

“In battle, we are reborn.”

You learned. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

The only thing I’d ask from everyone is patience [in terms of the NLC in 2024]. If you see anything you don’t like or wished it could be improved, reach out to us, don’t be shy. If you’re a viewer, you’re within your right to ask for something better. We have an obligation to make it better, we’re getting paid to do it, it’s not like I’m gonna do the minimum.

We’ve got to go above and beyond to make sure the content is good, regardless of the budget. If you accept the job, you should do it to your maximum. 

For the NLC, “let this day be legend”.

I hope so. 

The NLC Spring 2024 will kick off on Wednesday January 24th

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