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Overwatch

Leaf’s Seismic Slam Into the Spotlight

leaf

Anyone who has had the privilege to work with Lucas “Leaf” Loison will say the same thing; he is the hardest working player on the competitive scene. The 23 year old DPS prodigy hails from the bordertown of Alsace and gained international attention during the 2019 OWWC. Though Team France’s initial 12 man roster included 7 damage dealers, Leaf edged out the competition to secure his starting spot, and it is easy to see why after his performance.

While his name may have been unknown to most, those familiar with the Tier 2 scene should recognize him from his time with well known powerhouse teams such as GamersOrigin, Eagle Gaming, and Team Gigantti. Despite his imposing stature, he stands over 6’3” tall, his friends describe the diligent pro as kind, albeit somewhat quiet, with an unmatched focus and drive.

A Leaf by Any Other Name

Just like any other pro player, Leaf goes by his gamertag more than his actual name. He laughs and says that ,“In esports I prefer that people call me Leaf. My real name is mostly used by family and close friends and it feels weird when used in ‘esports’ situations.” But he didn’t always technically go by “Leaf”.

“My first nickname came from a book I read when I was younger. It’s called ‘Deltora’s Quest’ and the main character’s name was Lief so I just took it.” The books by Emily Rodda were first released about 20 years ago, with the young, hot headed Lief as the main protagonist. Throughout the series, Lief grows stronger and more confident in himself, and learns to show more restraint and patience. Coincidentally enough, the character’s personal growth and Leaf’s development seem to mirror each other fairly well. He says it was only after European players continuously mispronounced “Lief” as “Leaf” that he decided to just go ahead and change it. 

Outside of the Game

leaf
Photo Courtesy of FEL

On match day Leaf is pretty much no nonsense, saying that “I like to stay in my bubble and visualize what I have to do and how we expect the game to go. I don’t like to listen to music or anything.” But while it seems like he never stops grinding the game, he does find time to enjoy the simpler things in life. He likes streaming a lot and has been playing through other games, such as Sonic Adventure 2, while queuing. Initially studying IT and programming, he says that he always wanted to make video games. However, he wasn’t always so eager and studying didn’t seem to agree with him. Otherwise, outside of gaming he says he appreciates spending time hanging out with his friends and his girlfriend.

In what seems to be a trend among pro gamers, he passes his time by watching anime. While what he watches depends on his mood, he is currently watching season 3 of My Hero Academia. As for a favorite anime he says it would have to either be Erased or Hunter x Hunter. But when asked which anime character he would choose to be, he has to consider for a moment. “That’s a question I’ve never really asked myself. I guess it would be either Killua (HxH) or Shoto Todoroki (MHA). I like the calm but overpowered attitude they both have.” Ironically enough, some would call Leaf “calm but overpowered” as well.

LoL and Shootmania Origins

Leaf first started to fall in love with esports as the popularity of League of Legends began to grow. He specifically credits Ogaming casting duo Chips & Noi for garnering his attention. But it wasn’t LoL that got him playing games competitively, it was Ubisoft’s first-person shooter, Shootmania Storm. Although Shootmania’s following dropped off quite rapidly within just two years of its release, it helped launch the esports careers of other well known French players such as Terence “SoOn” Tarlier, Benjamin “uNKOE” Chevasson, and Dylan “aKm” Bignet.

But Leaf wasn’t just a natural talent when he started to play FPS games and believes that persistence is key. He says that in Shootmania he started out casually, as it was the first PC FPS game he played, but that it took about 80 percent of his playing time just to get somewhat decent. He eventually found a team and was able to place in the Top 10 during a French LAN, but humbly adds, “considering the number of players in this game, it was pretty mediocre.” Although he feels that he didn’t achieve much during that time, he says, “the work I put [in] there helped me a lot when Overwatch came out.”

Platchat to T500

It’s hard to imagine that any player currently ranked in the Top 500 could have ever been slumming it in platinum, but Leaf recalls only placing around rank 60 during Season 1 of Overwatch. During the first season, rankings were out of 100, with 60 being equivalent to a high platinum or low diamond player. He says, “I ended [the] first season at 81, which was already something like Top 50.” 

Leaf is a strong proponent for hard work and dedication paying off. “I want people to realize that when I first started playing FPS games, like 6 and a half years ago, the truth is I was very bad at it. Just like a lot of people in esports when they started playing, everyone starts from the bottom. Everyone is pretty bad at the start. I had to work really hard to create a place for me as a player. A lot of people think that we have a natural talent, that we were born with it or something. But I truly believe that if you commit enough time to it, anyone can become a professional. But it takes time and work.”

Hardest Working Player

gamersorigin
Photo Courtesy of GamersOrigin

“He is the hardest working player I have had in my whole management career, of any game,” says Josselin “FAYAw” Deprez, a former manager for GamersOrigin and a caster for the Overwatch League’s French broadcast. He says that Leaf is a pretty simple guy. According to him, as long as Leaf has water with him on stage, it’ll be an easy win.

Former GamersOrigin teammate Benjamin “BenBest” Dieulafait describes Leaf as a bit reserved but also a fast learner. For him what makes Leaf stand apart from other players is his ability to pick up new heroes so quickly, “directly after their release.” He says, “We saw that with Doomfist in GamersOrigins and Brigitte in Eagle Gaming. Teams can build something around that if they don’t know what to expect with new heroes.” Clearly having a player able to not only flex to any hero, but master them as well, would be a huge asset to any team. He even spent some time filling in as an off tank for Eagle Gaming at one point.

Someone to Believe in Him

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Photo Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Leaf’s former Eagle Gaming Coach, Félix “Féfé” Münch, doesn’t just see him as a hardworking player but also, “probably one of the smartest players I [have] had to coach. He has a real understanding of the game, a good game sense.” 

The Toronto Defiant Head Coach speaks very highly of Leaf saying that he always thought he was an incredibly talented player, but could see that he had doubts about himself. “He had some trust issues and was unsure about his ability to perform at the highest level of competition.” But Féfé did what any coach would do and sat Leaf down for a heart to heart. “I explained [to] him that having doubts was a part of the process of improving and becoming a better player. Being able to question yourself is actually a strength in my opinion.”

Having someone on his side to believe in him may have been that little extra push that Leaf needed. “All it takes is one person that believes in you. I think Leaf needed someone that believed in him at that time and I’m happy I was able to be that guy.” But at the end of the day Féfé says, “overall everything he accomplished is only linked to his hard work every day.”

The feeling seems to be mutual as Leaf says he would still, “love to play for Toronto under Féfé and Lilbow’s coaching.” He describes Féfé as a compassionate coach who “cares a lot about people rather than just seeing them as players.” It was Féfé’s empathetic approach that helped shape Leaf into the player he is today. He says that he always felt comfortable talking about strategy or giving his input, without having to worry about Féfé forcing his way of thinking upon himself and his teammates. As a developing player, still learning to trust himself, this openness and trust was especially important. 

Eagle Gaming’s Deep Impact

eagle gaming
Photo Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Leaf does not hesitate to answer when asked which team has had the deepest impact on his career, “The team I enjoyed playing with the most is 100% Eagle Gaming! I made a lot of good friends there and our Contenders final in Paris against Angry Titans is one of the best memories of my career.” It was under Féfé’s tutelage at this time that Leaf and his team would master the GOATs composition fairly early on and dominate the European Contenders playoffs.

It was also at this time that he first played with David “Lilbow” Moschetto, who he characterizes as a really smart player that has also helped him improve a lot. Most recently playing alongside each other on Team Gigantti, Leaf says he is really looking forward to seeing Lilbow flourish as an assistant coach on Toronto Defiant. 

Support From the Start

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Photo Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

But the person he has perhaps spent the most time playing alongside is Paris Eternal flex support Damien “HyP” Souville. He says, “HyP has been there almost since the start and he [was] one of the first to believe in me (even before I did myself).” Starting together in GamersOrigin, the pair moved onto Eagle Gaming and reunited recently with Team France during OWWC. 

Speaking with HyP, it is evident that he has nothing but the highest regard for Leaf. “I’ve loved this guy since I started to work with him in GamersOrigin”, he says. He defines Leaf as a great player that never stops working, “he is always looking to improve, he is really hard on himself and always wants to be better than he is.” In the 3 years that they’ve worked together, HyP has definitely noticed improvements in Leaf, both in and out of the game, and says that he now exudes a confidence that he didn’t have before.  

A great player doesn’t always necessarily make a great teammate though. The league has been plagued by more than enough tales of phenomenal players who are completely toxic in-game. But HyP says that Leaf is the furthest thing from that. “He never tilts on his teammates or flames them. All of that makes him a great player and a great teammate.”

On the Rise

While still looking for a team, it is inherently clear that wherever he ends up, he will make an impact. His Twitter gained about 1800 followers during Blizzcon weekend alone and his Twitch channel has seen an increase of about 1500 followers since then. Even his average Twitch viewership has gone from a modest amount, around 100 average viewers per stream, to a steady 200-300 viewers per stream. A quick look into social media engagements during Blizzcon weekend show there were approximately 3000 tweets mentioning the Doomfist specialist. Of those, about half were specifically nominations for him to be the T-Mobile MVP.

Teams may be wrapping up their trials now, but Leaf would be the perfect addition for any of them. Who wouldn’t want a well rounded, flexible, and dedicated rising star to fill out their ranks? But perhaps HyP says it best, the reason teams and the community should be interested in Leaf is because quite frankly, “he is a lovely guy.”

 

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