“Ha! Great game! I played that perfectly!” Lin Feng leaned back in his chair and laughed. Another win. The third in a row. Each next one more dominating than the last. He didn’t care what his teammates did. They could feed to their heart’s content for all he cared! He’d carry them and win the game anyway! Though it had to be said these games were only in Gold ELO. The opponents weren’t his match on their best day and his worst. It gave him the chance to ease back into it and start finding his form again. He played in mid lane and picked Champions like Lulu, Twisted Fate, and Viktor who were strong in the current meta.
This was the first time in four years that Lin Feng played on his own account. He felt the added pressure. These games were on his name. He couldn’t hide behind different Summoner names anymore. Every move was truly his now. But that didn’t bother him in the game. Not really. He played like he always did, comfortable and confident. He overwhelmed his lane opponents and forced them to hide behind their towers. It was all they could do, or they’d feed him and make it even worse for themselves. However, hiding behind their towers was not the answer either. Lin Feng would simply go somewhere else. There were three lanes and a big jungle. There were five players on each team. He could go after whoever he liked. So he pushed out his lane and started roaming around the map, showing up just at the right moment wherever he went. This was something called Awareness. To know when and where to be and exert the greatest impact on a game. It was one of, if not the greatest divider between professional players and people climbing the ranked ladder.
Awareness was far more important than game mechanics. There were plenty of very strong mechanical players in Master and Challenger. They were a dime a dozen. Some random players were even better than professional players in this regard. But their mechanics had no purpose if they didn’t know when and where to apply it. The awareness to follow up. The awareness to navigate a chaotic teamfight. The awareness to play the whole map to their advantage. This was the skill of a professional player.
There was an element of talent to awareness. But most was borne from hard work. That was what Lin Feng was focusing on right now, and also the reason he chose to play on the Korean server rather than on the Ionia server. The best way to hone awareness was through teamplay, something that was simply far more prevalent on the Korean server. Even in lower ranked games in Gold, players were actively looking to work together to win the game. His plan was simple. He’d climb his way up the ladder, each rank becoming a little more difficult to win, to work on his awareness. Then, by the time he reached the top of Challenger, he might even get the chance to test his progress against him. Against the Sovereign.
From as early as Season 1, Rake was considered the best professional League of Legends player. He was the Midlaner for SSK and Lin Feng’s ultimate target. But Rake didn’t just stand at the top of the professional scene, he also stood at the top of the Korean ranked ladder. In fact, he had three accounts up there. One was in first place, one in fourth and the last in tenth. He had to play consistently to keep these ranks, so it wouldn’t be strange for Lin Feng to run into him down the line. Lin Feng would face Rake again. The same guy who had beaten him four years ago and had led to him quitting the game. But the past was the past. Lin Feng didn’t think about that anymore. He looked up ahead. At the challenge in front of him. A dream that seemed almost impossible. But it was exactly this apparent impossibility that motivated him to fight!
Lin Feng pursed his lips together and blew out the air from his mouth. He looked at the end game lobby screen. Gold 2, 85 lp. He’d gained 34 lp for this last win. One more and he would be in his promo series for Gold 1. Another step towards his goal. He closed his eyes and slowly breathed in and then back out again. Then he started smiling and set up straight again. He placed his right hand on the mouse and his left on the keyboard. “Just you wait! I’ll climb up to Challenger and beat you!”
Dirty clothes were strewn across the floor. Old Huang sat on a sweater in front of his computer. He had his League client open on the Korean server. His recording software was properly set up and he’d just tried a test run. Everything was good to go. He was on voice chat with Cup Noodles, the Master player he’d invited to help him make a video. “Yo, Cup, you ready?”
“Yup yup! All good to go on my end!” Cup Noodles replied.
“Awesome! Let’s make something great today. Give your best, ya hear?” Old Huang scrolled through the comments on his most recent video. The comments were all pointing in the same direction. His fans knew what they wanted. He knew what he had to create. “I want to see a Quadra or Penta! Nothing short of that! My viewers have been bitching about how lame my videos are. They wanna see something cool. You better show me something amazing! We gotta blow them outta the water! I wanna shut them up and get them off my ass!”
Cup Noodles queued up for a ranked game and chuckled. “Chill, man. I’m a Master. Did you forget? Ha. And you’re having me play in Gold. This is going to be too easy. Just watch. I’ll make the plays happen.” He was an ad-carry main. And a very good one at that. He’d hit Master on the Ionia server relying only on his own skills. Not to mention that it was generally a lot harder for Botlaners to climb up the ladder because of how much they had to rely on their fellow Botlaner. He was one of the best in his role.
Many players were stuck in Gold. The queue never took long to pop. Before he knew it, Cup Noodles entered Champion Select and called his role. No one argued. They let him have it. So he picked his ad-carry and didn’t pay much attention to the rest of Champion Select. It didn’t really matter to him. This was just a Gold game. Until they went into the loading screen. That was when he noticed the name of a player on the other team. “Huh. That’s funny. Look. That guy on the other team, he’s also Chinese!”
“What? Howdya know?” Old Huang asked, confused. He was making sure his recording software was working properly. That it was recording at the correct resolution. So he wasn’t paying attention to the game yet.
“Dude. How do I know? Look at his name… CN•Maple. It can’t get any more obvious than that,” Cup Noodles replied. He looked at the loading screen, at that specific summoner name, and sighed. “That name brings back memories. We had a pro back in Season 1 with that name. Maybe this one is a fan or something?”
Old Huang shrugged and focused back on his recording software. “Eh, never heard of him. Season 1 was too long ago. Those guys all retired pretty much. And like, why care about some random pro?” He started playing League of Legends in Season 3 and back then hadn’t bothered with the professional scene. Even the famous players from Season 4 were fuzzy in his mind. He only really knew what was going on since recently, because it could help him with his videos. But beyond that, he simply didn’t care about it.
Cup Noodles shook his head. “You don’t get it, man. He was China’s number one Mid! Everyone looked up to him. I only started playing at the end of the first season and even I became a huge fan. It’s a damn shame everybody forgot about him.”
Old Huang chuckled, uncaring. “Alright, I get it. I get it. You’re a hipster. You played League before it was cool. Quit ya braggin’. We’ve got a video to shoot here! Focus on getting me some content! I want that Quadra or Penta!”
Lin Feng sat in Champion Select and moved his mouse over several different Champions. Whenever he played with Su Xue or his friends from school, he’d choose whichever Champion he felt like playing. They were mostly assassins, because they suited the style he enjoyed to play the most. His godly LeBlanc was just one example. Or his Fizz in that duel against Zuo You’s friend. But these games today were not for fun. He was playing on the Korean server and on his own account to get better. To find his form back. So he played all kinds of different Champions. In this game, he chose to play one of the most reliable mid lane Champions out there. Orianna.
Blue Team versus Red Team
Top lane: Irelia versus Gnar
Jungle: Sejuani versus Rek’Sai
Mid lane: Orianna versus Ahri
AD-carry: Jinx versus Tristana
Support: Thresh versus Nami
Lin Feng looked at the portraits on the loading screen while waiting for the game to start. He noticed that the Tristana’s Summoner Name was Paomian. It read like pinyin. “Another Chinese player?” Lin Feng mumbled, scratching the back of his head. Then he shook his head and slapped his cheeks. “Ah, whatever. Doesn’t matter. I’ll just win and go on to the next game!”
Lin Feng followed behind his minions towards mid lane. His lane opponent was Ahri. A sexy fox spirit who held an advantage over his Orianna in the early game. This was in a large part due to Orb of Deception and Charm. The first skill allowed Ahri to send out her orb in a straight line in front of her and then pull it back, dealing magic damage on the way out and true damage on the way back. Charm was a little more devious. Ahri could blow a kiss and if it hit an enemy, they would fall under her charm, stopping their movement abilities and causing them to walk harmlessly towards her. Charmed Champions even took increased damage from Orb of Deception!
However, Ahri’s main abilities were skillshots. She had to hit them for them to deal any damage. So all Lin Feng had to do was dodge them and attack her with Orianna’s Ball and auto attacks. And that was what he did. The Ahri was only Gold, and played more than a little predictable. He sidestepped her attacks before she even used them and counterattacked when her skills were on cooldown. The game wasn’t even 4 minutes in, when he had her down to half health. She was hiding behind her outer tower and wasn’t getting any last hits on the minions.
Lin Feng sat up in his chair, surprised. First blood wasn’t his. He looked around the map and found where it’d happened. Bot lane. The Nami and Tristana stood over the dead corpse of the Jinx. His best guess was that the Jinx got caught in the Nami’s bubble and was killed. He nodded, his brows raised, and said, “Oh, that’s pretty good.”
Cup Noodles grinned. He’d just picked up a kill on the Jinx with his Tristana. It was an aggressive play, but he knew his limits. He’d played it perfectly. “Ha! See? I told you Gold was easy!”
“Never doubted you for a sec. That play was pretty nice. You just keep doing your best. Don’t forget to give me a Quadra or Penta!” Old Huang laughed. These first few minutes of gameplay looked promising.
“Just leave it to me! I’ll solo carry. Just watch!” Cup Noodles said. He then hit the TAB key and looked at the scoreboard. It looked a little different than he was hoping to see. “What in the world… Look at that! How is that Ori so far ahead of the Ahri in CS?”
Old Huang was spectating the game from Red team’s point of view. He moved to the mid lane and found the Ahri hiding behind her tower, desperate to get some last hits on the minions. “Oh, looks like she’s going to have to back. She’ll just die if–”
Old Huang didn’t get to finish his sentence. The Ahri walked forward instead of retreating, eager for that last hit. She threw out her Orb of Deception to try and get some gold. That was the cue for the Orianna. She flashed forward. Then commanded her Ball to Attack and then Dissonance! A pulse of energy spread out and struck the Ahri. She followed up by throwing a Fidget Spinner.
The Ahri was immobilized during her cast animation. She couldn’t do anything for a brief moment. Then she flashed away. Her health was low, but she wanted to make it out. She still had at least 10 health remaining. I’m out! But she wasn’t. As she flashed away, the Orianna had thrown one last Fidget Spinner. It flew through the air, following her through the Flash, and struck her.
《You have slain an enemy!》
Lin Feng smiled and gave himself a pat on the shoulder. “Mhm! Good job, me! Well done! Played that perfectly!”
Dancing With The Shanks
Dev Thought: Alright guys. Today’s thought was originally supposed to be about Modern Romance, dating apps, all that noise. The three of us were talking about it. Trying to figure out what we were going to write about. The conversation eventually turned to clubbing, and then dancing. I don’t know how to dance. Normally when I do end up at a club/party/wedding/event with dancing involved, I do the Hitch dance. It’s simple, easy to do, and I’m still moving and involved. That’s when Shanks hit us with a surprise. He told us how he used to breakdance. Just a random, offhand side comment. Sietse and I have never known that Shanks could dance. I’ll be honest with you guys, I absolutely did not believe him. So I made him turn his webcam on to show us his moves.
AND FOUND OUT THAT SHANKS COULD ACTUALLY DANCE! HE HAD THEM MOVES LIKE JAGGER! OH MY GOD!
I have literally never seen Shanks be that smooth in all the years that I’ve known him. Or that cool. It was like looking at a completely different person. When he started to move, all the years of crust, internet turdiness, sloth, and crystalized semen that slowed him down completely vanished. It was legit like that scene in Lord of the Rings when they pull WormTongue out of the King of Rohan. EXCEPT IT WAS IN REAL LIFE AND HAPPENING BEFORE MY EYES! In my head, I was actually thinking, “Annie are you watching? You’ve been hit by a Smooth Criminal!”
You know what? I’m not the right person to describe this. So without further ado, I’m going to hand it over to the Lord of the Dance, the Asian on Fleek St, the only translator I know who can do a headspin both with the verbs and his actual head, the Jester of Jiggle, the Whirling Weeb himself: LittleShanks. Or as the Toronto weebs he crushed in dance battles knew him: Li’l Shanksu Senpai
Shanks Thought: Okay, I wasn’t always a weeb. And No. People did not call me Li’l Shanksu Senpai. I had friends calling me Young Lad or B-Boy J Fire. Why? Because I was pretty damn fire on the dance floor. This was back when the whole breakdancing craze was sweeping through Toronto and I was pulled into it right at the beginning. Seeing all these people pull off these crazy flips with their hands and spinning on their head was the coolest thing ever, and I wanted to be like them.
So, I got a bunch of other kids in my school who were interested and started a breakdancing club. At first, we’d have to practice outside the basketball court with pieces of cardboard. It was actually pretty cool now that I think about it. Practice was from right after school at 3 pm to 5 pm. And we’d worked our asses off to get good. Then eventually, we found a teacher to be our supervisor and founded an actual official club. We held it in the gymnasium and borrowed the school’s boombox for the music. The club had over 30 students, but the main roster was eight boys and five girls. We’d perform dance routines every year at the talent show and host dance battles weekly. We were even going around battling other schools in competitions. It was fun.
Those days were the most active I’d ever been in my life and you had to be if you wanted to be good. So yeah, I was a B-Boy. I’d never bothered to mention it before because I thought everyone went through a B-Boy phase and knew how to dance. But I guess not, considering how surprised Sietse and Devshard were.
Actually, this clears up a lot of things with Sietse. He likes to have me on call sometimes to brag about something amazing he did that day. Stuff like hanging on a hold with only one finger or scaling a really hard climbing route that required him to hang upside down. But, there were two times that always stuck out in my mind. The first was when he told me he could do a crow stand and the second was that he could finally hold himself up for a few seconds in a handstand. And he was really amped up about the crow stand one too. He even sent me a video. Of course I was really happy for him, but I was also confused because I thought these were basic moves. Now it all makes sense.
Sietse Thought: Shanks left me speechless. Balance is hard. Dancing is hard. And he just did it on webcam like it was nothing. I don’t know what more to say. That was just awesome.