Interview: Ryan “Rydona” Dunkley

We find ourselves at the end of spring as summer slowly draws closer. With the NLC now concluded and the UKLC finished, the last event that heralds the end of spring is the UKLC relegations.

For the UKLC 2021 Summer Season, we welcome Lucent Esports and say welcome back to Bulldog Esports. How did Lucent make their promotion run here? Let’s find out.

Lucent vs Demise

Lucent had to defeat Demise’s academy team to win the UKEL, and standing in their way was Demise’s main team. This would be a fiercely contested series, with Lucent taking the first game after a gritty comeback despite being set behind in the early to mid game, but Demise biting back and securing Game 2 with a more measured performance.

Game 3 was a much closer contest between both teams but Lucent was the one who made the best use of their opportunities and closed it at 37 minutes, Lucent winning the series 2-1. This meant Lucent would meet either Bulldog or Viperio.

Lucent vs Bulldog

Lucent’s series against Bulldog, while not thoroughly as one-sided as the result suggests, was still probably the most surprising result of the tournament. In Game 1 Lucent found themselves in a familiar position on the backfoot but once more they held on and won the crucial teamfights in the late game. 

Game 2 saw Lucent ride that momentum and midlaner NiceGuyDom’s Kog’Maw was the highlight of the game, ending with a 11/3/8 score. Game 3 was do or die for Bulldog, and despite some stellar teamfighting and toplaner Hachi on his signature Aatrox, Lucent held on till the late game and scored an Ace while securing the Elder Drake, before completing a clean 3-0 sweep of Bulldog.

With Lucent Esports’ incredible run to to promotion, we spoke to Lucent’s manager Ryan “Rydona” Dunkley about their run, the state of competition between the UKEL and UKLC as well as Lucent’s goals as an organisation.

Congratulations on promoting into the UKLC for 2021 summer! How does it feel to promote with two straight victories against both UKLC teams and winning the UKEL too?

Rydona: It was my personal goal from the very beginning to claim the promotion spot and the guys have worked very hard to make sure it became a reality. We had huge respect for Demise and Bulldog going in as the UKLC representatives, and we prepared appropriately which I think showed. 

So overall, we are just happy that our goal was met and now the real challenge of maintaining solid UKLC finishes begins.

I understand this is in hindsight, but did you personally expect for Lucent to promote with a run of only dropping a single game to Demise?

Rydona: We were very confident coming in, and in our mind Demise were the ones we were worried about the most out of all. But at the end of the day, we knew where our strength lies in these best-of-3 and best-of-5 series as the players have had lots of practise in this format. It just goes to show that all our preparation and build up to the promotion series paid off.

It most certainly did. With Viperio making it all the way to the end and yourselves successfully moving up, what do you think of the overall level between the UKEL and the UKLC?

Rydona: I think that the gap is a lot closer than people think. For example, I'm sure a handful of the UKEL teams this split could have finished mid-table in the UKLC, and I really think UKLC teams should be looking to these lower leagues to bolster their own teams. 

Speaking of which, with Lucent having a large majority of the roster being from the UK & Ireland, what do you think of the British talent pool that’s often discussed on social media? Are there a lot of these players the UKLC should absolutely be signing to develop?

Rydona: 100% yes, there is a lot of talent in the UK if you know where to look and if some of these newer guys are given the chance, they can definitely challenge these already existing players in the scene for their spots on these higher teams. 

I feel like this was demonstrated this season in the UKEL with many newer players outclassing and dominating the league haven’t been given the chance. UK organisations need to be willing to take chances on these new players through either developmental help on the side or giving them a chance to prove themselves in trials.

Recently the Student Proving Grounds event announced 4 UKLC teams taking part in it. What are your thoughts on this initiative by the UKEL and UKLC, and would you like to see more organisations taking part in this next season?

Rydona: I think it's a great opportunity for those organisations to take advantage of the new talent coming up through the university scene. As I previously stated, I think there is a lot of talent in lower leagues, and it seems some organisations are becoming wise to that fact that pulling from lower leagues in order to bring new talent into the scene is a must. 

In addition, it's a great opportunity for some of these university students to make themselves known which, before events such as the Student Proving Grounds, was very difficult without prior connections. I think organisations should be as involved as possible with developing these new players if the scene is to prosper and develop.

I understand all the rosters are still being determined but now that you’re in the UKLC, which teams or even members of staff are you most excited to face?

Rydona: Well seeing as we don’t know who’s going to be playing in the league player wise...I’m quite looking forward to facing Kaya and Bulldog as he is also coming up from the UKEL after a successful split. It’s always nice to see new blood making its way into higher leagues. 

In terms of organisations, I’m excited to face the long standing UK names such as MNM Gaming, as they have been around for a very long time, and it would be nice to test ourselves against such a long standing organisation.

Before we end, Lucent Esports are quite a new name to the LoL scene. Tell us a bit about Lucent’s long term plans and goals that it’s set for itself to achieve?

Rydona: For the UKLC season, much like last season in the UKEL, we have set ourselves some specific goals that we are looking to achieve. But mostly for us, it's about putting together a competitive roster that can compete for playoffs. 

Also, we want to show that just because we are new into the scene this doesn’t mean we are to be taken lightly, and we have no intention of being complacent with our current achievements.

Anything else you’d like add?

Rydona: We are really looking forward to making ourselves known at a higher level and to show that we can compete with these staple UK powerhouse orgs that we all know and respect!

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