In League Championship Series history, Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng sits atop the heap with eight LCS championships, two more than any other player. However, when it comes to going to the League of Legends World Championship, Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen has managed to qualify for Worlds eight straight years. He’s tied with Doublelift for most Worlds appearances among any player, but his streak of eight straight years is a record he alone holds.
Last year, it appeared his streak would end at seven when he wasn’t on a team in the spring. However, by summer, he had joined Cloud9, and once C9 caught fire in the LCS Championship, Jensen was well on his way to an eighth straight Worlds.
Jensen smiled when Nerd Street asked him about this accomplishment, at a loss for words at first about how to encapsulate this feat that clearly means a lot to him.
“It feels like something that’s become a part of my career -- like it’s something I have to do,” Jensen said. “And I think every single time I get to playoffs it’s like in the back of my head that I have to do it -- this is something I can’t miss out on because it’s become part of my legacy at this point.”
Legacy. That’s something that only the greats in any game or sport can even begin to think about. It takes time and greatness to build a legacy.
Few players have continued to play pro League of Legends in North America into their late 20s, much less at such a high level. It’s one of the reasons he’s such a unique player.
Jensen is one of a handful of remaining LCS pros who have been playing since 2015. Photo credit: Riot Games
At 28 years old, Jensen is among the oldest and more accomplished players in LCS history. Only three players are older than him entering the 2023 season and few have accomplished as much; among active players, Doublelift, Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg, Jeong "Impact" Eon-young and Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in come to mind.
“I think i have a really good understanding for how the game should be played in every way possible like what you want from your team comp your champion and on top of that just I guess having good mechanics,” Jensen said about why he’s been able to compete at such a high level in the LCS for so long. “So I think I don’t have downsides as a player and I’m very very consistent and I just feel like I can fit any role when it comes to playing the game, so I think I cover my teams’ weaknesses very well, so I think that’s what keeps me consistently on top.”
A new challenge for Jensen
Jensen arrived in North America from Europe in 2015 to play with Cloud9. He has spent most of his career with Cloud9, except for three seasons with Team Liquid from 2019 to 2021, and he has made it to Worlds every single year.
He said he’s grateful he has been able to make it to Worlds every year he’s played in North America and that it has been the most exciting part of his pro career.
Jensen was on "Team Boomer" during the 2023 Season Kickoff Event earlier this month. Photo credit: Riot Games
The outlook on his 2023 season, however, is a bit different from previous years. Dignitas don’t quite have the same championship pedigree that Team Liquid and Cloud9 have. Dig have not qualified for Worlds since 2012, so keeping his Worlds streak alive appears to be an even bigger challenge for Jensen this year.
“I think it would give me a lot of confidence and just make me believe that it doesn’t really matter what team or environment I’m in that I’ll always be able to do it,” Jensen said about what it would mean to go to Worlds with Dignitas. “So I think this year is really important for me.”
Dignitas have never won an LCS championship or even finished second, but their roster entering this season is full of veterans like Jensen who have plenty of championship and Worlds experience.
One of the reasons Jensen joined Dignitas is because of the opportunity to play with jungler Lucas "Santorin" Tao Kilmer Larsen, a fellow European import player who has mostly been playing in North America since 2014. The two previously played together in 2021 with Team Liquid.
“I think playing with Santorin was a big part to me,” he said. “Jungle is always the most important for mid laner so I felt very comfortable with the idea of that.”
Jensen and Santorin went to Worlds with Team Liquid in 2021. Photo credit: Riot Games
Jensen knows the team is an underdog heading into the season (I ranked Dig seventh out of the 10 LCS teams at the start of 2023). However, he thinks the roster has a lot of potential and that many of the players are being underrated. For example, he thinks İrfan Berk "Armut" Tükek, whom Dignitas signed as an import player from Europe this offseason, has been painted in an unfair light.
“I’ve played against him a couple times at Worlds and he’s definitely been a player that’s impressed me lots, and he’s getting a lot of flak from the community for really stupid reasons,” he said.
Read more: Who are the LCS import players in 2023?
Armut was a key member of MAD Lions the past two seasons and has gone to Worlds four straight years.
Whether Jensen, Santorin, Armut, Lee "IgNar" Dong-geun and Trevor "Spawn" Kerr-Taylor can carry Dignitas to their first Worlds appearance in over a decade is still a long way from being determined. There’s an entire season to be played, starting this week.
Dignitas will begin their 2023 spring split on Thursday, Jan. 26, against Counter Logic Gaming.
Lead photo credit: Riot Games