‘Solo Queue conqueror, competitive choker, mechanical maestro.’ Felix “MagiFelix” Boström is well versed with the League of Legends community’s habit of pinning certain tags on players. But can this be the season that he breaks free of his mental block and converts his ranked ladder reign into UKLC success?

I had the chance to speak to MagiFelix after the Swede had just finished a scrim block with his newest team, Fnatic. The storied organisation’s UK League Championship contingent had been hard at work preparing for the start of the split, with their game against DarkSpawn Gaming set to kick off the season on Wednesday. Just minutes earlier, the 9.3 patch notes had been released, and MagiFelix’s initial impression was centred around one champion in particular.

My first reaction is “What are they doing to Akali?” She’s not a champion anymore!” he exclaimed, incredulous.

“They’re removing stealth under towers, the healing from her Q, they’re nerfing everything. How… what… why…? She will probably be the lowest win rate champion in the game. She’s already at like… 45%. After this nerf, I don’t think she will be over 40%, it’ll be like 30-something.”

Of course, his mastery of highly nuanced midlane champions like Akali is exactly how MagiFelix has made a name for himself since he started his competitive career at the age of 15. He joined EURONICS Gaming while still at school, and with them he progressed to the final qualifiers for the EU Challenger Series in the summer of 2016, where they were defeated 3:1 by Misfits.

That was only the start of the journey for the young prodigy, however, as he would go on to make it all the way to the LCS promotion tournament with kaSing’s Red Bulls, before being denied a spot in top-tier European competition by Schalke. He followed that up with stints on Movistar Riders and YouthCrew Esports.

“In Movistar we had one office where we were practising, and we also had a couple of apartments where we were living,” MagiFelix explained, as he reflected on his time in Spain. “It was actually really sick, they had a really big space and we could do whatever we needed to do there, it was nice. Now, with Fnatic, I think it will be kind of similar—they’re planning on building an office space on the floor above the Fnatic head office and we’ll be practising there. There will also be a couple of apartments where we will be living, I think. I’m really excited to be moving there as soon as possible.”

With the apartments still being fixed up, MagiFelix has not made the move to British shores just yet, but his initial experiences with the Fnatic squad have looked promising.

“I feel like we all get along really well together, and I have some really nice teammates. Usually, we’re joking quite a bit on the TeamSpeak. It’s kinda sad because we cannot actually be together and practice, which would’ve been way better, but right now we have to make do with what we have and we’re just practising online at the moment.”

Many local fans will be eager to see MagiFelix perform in the UKLC, even if they haven’t been following his career. His reputation as a Solo Queue warrior precedes him, as he has consistently maintained multiple accounts in the upper echelons of the ranked ladder. Unfortunately, it comes tied with the notion that he has thus far been unable to live up to that potential in competitive play. It’s a stigma that MagiFelix is very much aware of and understands.

I think, so far, I have been playing way better in Solo Queue than I have in competitive, because of a couple of reasons. I feel like when I play competitive, I get way more nervous, and I don’t play as confidently as I usually do. That makes me not take the risks I need to, and it makes me play a lot worse in general. I feel like if I get past that, I will actually be able to show that I am a good player, and I think I am actually LEC level, once I can get past my mental problems.

“I do think the general assessment, that I’m better in Solo Queue, is probably true right now, but I’m really working to fix it.”

It’s not just the pressure of a live audience that causes concern, either.

“I feel like I have the same problems even if I am playing online, so it’s more related to the mental pressure I’m feeling. Because if I’m worried that the game is important and that we need to win, then I just feel really bad about making mistakes. So I try to avoid making the mistakes, and I play worse because of it.

“It’s kinda sad. But I feel like it’s the same for both live events and online play. So the stage doesn’t matter to me, it’s the stakes.”

With the UKLC—for the first split, at least—being held entirely online, the league will present the perfect opportunity for MagiFelix to improve his mental fortitude. In fact, he describes that task as his “number one goal” for the present, although it’s far from the only thing motivating him to perform in the competition.

“I’m looking forward to playing against Excel UK. I feel like they have good players in all their roles, individually, and if they can play well together as a team, I think they will be the second strongest team in the league, after us. I think Special, in the midlane, is actually the only midlaner in the league that I think can go even with me, or at least try to.”

Special’s battles against MagiFelix are sure to demand plenty of attention this season, with the pair being touted as two of the most talented prospects in the league. “I think I have played against him,” MagiFelix said. “When I played the tryouts for Movistar Riders, we had maybe five or ten games where I played against Special in the midlane. And I think I won most of the games. So that’s all the competitive experience I have against him, but I think also in Solo Queue, he has been pretty solid overall, so I think he’s not that bad.”

Outside of that match-up, the Fnatic line-up has also set out their collective aims for the season. “Our goal as a team is playing as smart as possible,” MagiFelix explained. “Not taking unnecessary risks. So I hope that we are able to show that, and actually play with really good macro and close out games against lesser teams cleanly, instead of going for the fifty-fifty clown fiestas, where everyone is hyped and the game ends up being decided on one single big teamfight.

“That’s not what we want to do as a team, we want to be calculated and clear in what our decisions are in-game. I think, if we’re able to do this, and be a smart team, then we want to go forward to the first EU Masters and we hope that we can at least win the second one. Those are our goals at the moment.”

Presence of mind and macro-game knowledge is something that MagiFelix considers a particular strength of Fnatic’s. “I feel like the only way we will actually struggle is if we disrespect our opponents, and play their game, if you know what I mean. We want to try and stay away from the random fighting that will probably happen, and try to keep the games clean, you know? Because if we play good macro, I don’t think that any of the teams in the UK league can actually match us, on the macro standings. All we need to do is make sure we play our own game.”

You can follow MagiFelix on his Twitter and Twitch, and you can catch him play in the UKLC when the new season kicks off on Wednesday, the 13th of February, at 6pm GMT. Fnatic will play in the first game of the season, as they take on newcomers DarkSpawn Gaming. Regular season games will take place every Wednesday and Thursday evening, so make sure you tune in to twitch.tv/lvpuk to catch all of the action!