After the results of CN•HOOK2’s 13th game came out, the players on the forums erupted into another wave of cheers. He’d managed to win five games in a row after hitting a bit of a rough patch! And he was single-digits away from becoming Rank 5 on the Korean Challenger Ladder!
The best part of the night was that CN•HOOK2 still had a little over a half hour before the server shut down and the ranked ladder was reset. That was enough time for one more game. If CN•HOOK2 managed to play and win that game before the server slammed shut, he’d end his run firmly in the Top 5 Challengers on the Korean Server!
The millions of League of Legends fans across China sat at the very edges of the seats with trembling thighs. The finish line was right in front of their eyes! The light at the end of the very dark tunnel that this gauntlet had become. CN•HOOK2 would smash through the kimchi ceiling for all of China!
More importantly, everyone invested in CN•HOOK2’s climb felt an incredible weight lift up off their shoulders when CN•HOOK2 didn’t have to play against Moon in his last game. It was terrifying good luck. Because the Moon Emperor was a truly daunting opponent. Despite the fact that everyone in China wanted to be the wind at CN•HOOK2’s back and not the spit in his face, no one believed that he could stand a chance against the Moon Emperor. As long as CN•HOOK2 didn’t have to play Moon in his final game of the night, he’d break into the Top 5 and smash the Korean Gauntlet.
But just as the League fans across China relaxed and celebrated, the lightning of misfortune struck and travelled leagues through copper wires damn near instantaneously. Just as CN•HOOK2’s last game finished, the Moon Emperor’s game also ended.
Moon played Talon in the Mid lane. 20 minutes after the start of that game, he’d gotten 8 kills without being killed in return. Legendary. By the 28th minute, he’d carried his team to victory. And now he was back in the queue, looking for another game to play. At the same exact time that CN•HOOK2 was looking for his final game of the night.
Moon, or the Moon Emperor, was just as well known as Rake was among the Chinese League of Legends Community. He was Korea’s second Emperor, and had demolished more than enough LPL teams on the World Stage. Even Daybreak Hermes, who’d gone up against and beaten Moon before, had lost to him more often than he’d won. Moon was the lowest ranked Emperor, but that didn’t mean much at all. He was still one of the best Midlaners in the whole world and a truly strong player whose name struck fear in the hearts of many.
Right now, CN•HOOK2 had achieved deity-status. Countless Chinese League players, streamers, and fans worshipped him and believed in the miracle that he was currently accomplishing. But despite that reverence and worship, even they didn’t believe that CN•HOOK2 could triumph against Moon. There were Gods above gods, after all. The best case scenario here, the one that they all hoped and prayed and wished would happen, was if CN•HOOK2 didn’t face the Moon Emperor at all.
Just like any large internet-based community, people wasted no time at all typing out walls of text in forum threads stating their opinions and armchair analysis of the situation.
“Moon is about to start his next match. Hook2 should wait a bit, then start queuing up after Moon gets in a game.
“I concur, this would be the smartest move to ensure that he gets into the Top 5!”
“What if Moon Emperor ALSO WAITS?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!”
“Good idea! That way, he won’t have to face that monster! We should tell Lightless so he can send CN•HOOK2 a message and tell him to wait”
“+1 to that! It’s objectively the smartest choice.”
“If 1000 ppl like dis comment CN•HOOK2 won’t face the Moon Emperor!”
“^ this wannabe tryin to farm internet points at a time like this smh smh smhsmh”
“You guys think Moon knows who CN•HOOK2 is?????????????????”
“Is there a chance that CN•HOOK2 can win against Moon?”
“Not a chance in hell!”
“Not worth the risk!”
“Is there a chance your daddy wasn’t a retard?”
“Smh I feel bad for ur parents having such a stupid child. Should’ve gone to see the herbalist so they could have aborted you as a fetus!”
In Dark Glory’s Gaming House, Lightles Hearts watched the conversation unfold both in his chat and on the forums. He silently contemplated the issue in his own mind. The Moon Emperor… Man, these guys have no idea what they’re talking about. If CN•HOOK2 queues up a little later just to avoid getting matched up against Moon, that’s such a bitch move! There’s no way THAT GUY would do that. Just waiting five minutes in these final few minutes is acknowledging the superiority of Moon as a player and CN•HOOK2 admitting that he’s the weaker player on his own. Without a fight! What a stupid, stupid, stupid thing to do! Even if CN•HOOK2 gets into the Top 5 that way, it’ll always be with an asterix…
Before Lightless could finish his thoughts and organize them so he could convey them to his viewers, a similar view started sparking its way through his chat. Apparently, his viewers had gotten there on their own, just as he did.
「What, fuck off! That’s the coward’s way out!」
「Yeah! This is why you losers will never get girls!」
「lol, so if Moon is online, does that mean Hook2 has to wait until Moon is in a game to start queuing up every time?」
「how’s that any different from admitting that you’re shit!」
「What if Moon wants to snipe him? Does that mean Hook2 just won’t play?」
「That’s way too humiliating!」
「You guys this my boi Hook2 scared of Moon? Or Rake?」
「Even if he loses to Moon, he’ll still walk away with his head held high!!!!!!!!」
「You wantto bring shame to this miracle like you brought shame to your family????」
「Do u stp wanking bcuz ur scared ur daddy might wake up to piss and see your catepiller dick???!!!」
However, this newly formed faction of viewers who believed in honorable play and the better sentiment immediately received fierce pushback from the viewers who believed that making decisions logically was better.
「Are you all idiots? This is called being smart.」
「Get fucking real. Do you know who Moon is!? HES AN EMPEROR!」
「did anybody say anything abotu doing this every game. Hook2 is only one game away from hitting Rnank 5. If he bumps into Moon, he’s screwed!」
「If hook2 loses and fails to get into the top 5, that means all his hard work tongith went to waste!」
「would you guys be okay with that?」
「If he juswaits 2 mins, we’ll have Top 5! Moon can’t do anything!」
「Who knows when a chance like this will come around again? We gotta be smart about this and make it happen while the sun is out!」
The two factions warred endlessly in the chat, both sides picking up more and more steam as viewers swayed to one side of the fence or the other. Neither camp was willing to back down.
Until Lightless Heart spoke up.
“What’s the point of all of this? What do you guys think? Why do you think Hook2’s working so hard to climb tonight, playing right up until the server shuts down? You think it’s about a number? Top 5? Top 8? Top 10? This ain’t about reaching some arbitrary rank or number! It’s never been about that! All of that is completely meaningless! This is to prove that a Chinese player can also play with the best in the world! It’s to show everyone that our style of League of Legends is just as good! Now, you’re talking about Hook2 avoiding a fight with Moon? Just to reach Rank 5? You’ve got your priorities mixed up, and you don’t even understand why Hook2 is out there fighting to get you guys!”
In an instant, the stream chat became quiet.
Lightless’ gaze flickered with a complicated expression as he looked at CN•HOOK2’s name on his screen. None of this matters anyway. He’s not looking at us or letting us weigh in on this decision. Nah, nah. The only thing that matters here is the choice he’s going to make…
CN•HOOK2 still showed up as ‘Online’ on Lightless’ friends list. For the time being, it didn’t show any signs of changing. And countless League fans across China watched that indicator along with Lightless, anxiously waiting to see what decision CN•HOOK2 would make. Would he cower or would he face the Moon Emperor head-on?
Back at the hotel room in Beijing, An Xin checked the forums on her phone again and turned to Lin Feng, her eyes twinkling and a faint smile in the corner of her lips. “Moon just finished his game too. Looks like he’s about to queue up for another match. Do you want to wait?”
She asked the question that everyone watching CN•HOOK2’s climb across China kept asking online and in their minds. It wasn’t really her question though. Truth be told, An Xin already knew the answer without even asking.
“Wait? For what?” Lin Feng asked, puzzled. “We’re running out of time! There’s no point in wasting more just to get out of a game with Moon. I’ll play who I gotta play, and I’ll face them with everything I got. It doesn’t matter who they are anyway, I just need to win!” He appeared completely unconcerned as he moved his mouse and clicked resolutely to start queuing up for another game.
A few seconds later, Lin Feng found a match and entered Champion Select. This was the 14th game of the night, his final and most important one. The finale for CN•HOOK2’s climb on the Korean Server!
The summoner names of the ten players on the two teams appeared on the left and right sides of the screen, and Lin Feng scanned through them quickly. Moon’s name wasn’t on his team. Then he looked at the opposing team, and his eyes stopped when he read the name of the player in fourth pick.
“I didn’t think I’d see him tonight…”