Perkz, arguably the best European League of Legends player of all time, had a tough time in 2021 with Cloud9—even leading to thoughts of retirement.

The talented squad that the North American organization put together on paper didn’t pan out as some may have thought and after just one year, the star mid laner is heading back to Europe to play for Vitality.

During 2020’s free agency period, Perkz had the biggest stock on the market. He was on his way out of G2 after spending five years there, helping the org win eight European championships, one Mid-Season Invitational, and to reach Worlds 2019’s grand final. Almost every League team in the West wanted to sign him and it was C9 who won the auction. The North Americans secured a two-year contract with the Croatian star and planned to dominate the regional scene.

But it didn’t work out as C9 and Perkz wanted. The team ran into problems from the beginning and finished the year with only the 2021 LCS Spring Split title, falling short of the expectations that many set for the squad. They earned a top-six finish at the Mid-Season Invitational, came in third in the LCS Summer Split playoffs, and fell flat to Gen.G in the quarterfinals of Worlds 2021.

“After the whole Zven benching fiasco in Cloud9, that was at the beginning of summer, already the year wasn’t really going how I would have liked to have gone,” Perkz said in an interview with Forbes. “And I started thinking about, potentially [retiring or returning to Europe] but it was just like, just thoughts. Because I know I have a two-year contract and the buy-out was big before, so the buy-out is probably gonna be big again. And it’s like, I don’t want to go back to EU for a mediocre team.”

The idea of hanging up his mouse and keyboard happened in 2020 as well, he said. Competing against the best all the time and dealing with the pressure to constantly win tournaments likely took a toll on Perkz.

Many thought the mid laner decided to part ways with C9 after the team’s performance at Worlds, but Perkz said he made his decision to return to Europe even before the most prestigious League tournament of the year. C9’s CEO Jack Etienne was aware of this as well, according to Perkz.

“So it’s not like the Worlds results [changed it],” Perkz said. “I don’t want it to be seen as a result-based thing, like ‘oh, we sucked at Worlds so I want to go back,’ it was more like I have made my choice before Worlds and given [C9] my choice. I will do my best and I will try my hardest anyway, to maybe even win. So that was how it went.”

Now that Perkz is back in Europe to play for Vitality in 2022, he’s no longer considering retiring. The Croatian wants to build a life in the continent and if he can manage everything, he expects to continue playing for a long time.

The roster Vitality has put together for next year has a real chance to win the LEC. Perkz, former Team Liquid top laner Alphari, and ex-MAD Lions bot laner Carzzy were signed to play with support Labrov and jungler Selfmade.

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