The first seed from the Chinese LPL versus the first seed from the Korean LCK. It sounded like an exciting match when said like this. Until people looked at the lineups. Hand of God’s strongest player was Hermes. One of the Seven Kings. On the other side was SSK. Their team captain was none other than the God Emperor, Rake! The best player in the world. The one who never lost his lane. Then they also had a King on their roster. They were the World Champions. They were the team to beat. And HoG didn’t seem like they were the team to do that.
In the Mid-Season Invitational, HoG had beaten an Emperor team. They’d beaten a Korean team! This was something that until then had seemed impossible. No one could beat the Koreans! But that victory was against Fate. A strong team, yes. But they weren’t SSK. There was still a large chasm separating them from that height. The Moon Emperor had struggled hard together with his team to qualify for Worlds. Then there was SSK. The invincibles. Fate had only managed to beat them once this year and lost six times. It just went to show how big the difference between the two teams was.
From analysts to fans, from professional players to casual players, everyone knew who SSK were. Who Rake was. It didn’t matter how much Hermes improved, he wouldn’t be good enough to beat Rake. And the rest of his team wouldn’t win their lanes either. This would be a stomp. There was nothing HoG could do but extend the suffering. It was to the point that Chinese fans stopped paying attention to HoG and shifted to the KG versus Assassins game. KG might not be as good as HoG, but Assassins wasn’t as good as SSK either. KG versus Assassins looked like a matchup that could go either way. The all Chinese team actually had a shot to make it to the semifinals! This was the game they chose to place their hopes on!
Lin Feng had come home early from coaching High School 13’s esports team. He’d promised to watch Worlds together with Su Xue and her stream and give his insights on the games. So, after enjoying a quick dinner prepared by Su Xue, he followed her into her room and sat down at her desk. Then he waited for her to start up the stream, browsing his phone and looking at the matchups. The first game of interest for the Chinese fans was HoG versus SSK. Viewers were coming into the stream and were welcomed by Lin Feng’s analysis on the matchup, “Mhm. SSK is the better team. I don’t see how HoG is going to get anything from this matchup.”
It wasn’t a great first thing to hear on the stream. The viewers were hoping that they were little balls of negativity. They were hoping that their li’l bro would set them straight! To hear him agree with their own assessment felt like a low blow.
「damn… even lil bro thinks so too?」
「aghh, hog is screwed」
「MANN WHYYY i thought maybe you could convince me they had a chance……….」
「maybe ssk has an offday…… maybe…? I hope」
Su Xue listened to Lin Feng and read her stream chat. Everything was agreeing with him. She did too. So she gave her two cents on the matter, “I think so too. SSK has the Emperor and a King. What does HoG have? One King. That’s all. They really needed an Emperor if they wanted any chance of winning this.”
「fucking maid… who told her she could talk?」
「GO BACK TO THE KITCHEN!!!! IT”S WHERE YOU BELONG」
「look at this wannabe expert over here, thinking she can judge teams on some stupid ranking…..」
「I knew girls were stupid, but this…. Wtf… does she really think that’s the reason??????」
「JEEZ We got us a little miss small brain here…」
Su Xue stared at the chat, her eyes widening with every next message. Then she shouted, “Hey! Stop that! There’s no need to flame me so hard! What did I do? I was just giving my opinion…” It was her little show. Pretend to be upset. She wasn’t. Not really. She understood how her viewers were feeling. They were upset! Angry that the LPL’s best shot of making the finals was thrown against a brick wall and then down a well with spikes at the bottom! Hand of God was as good as eliminated with this draw! They wouldn’t even make the semi finals.
Just as everyone felt like they were stuck at the bottom of that well, Lin Feng threw them a rope. “Well, you know, it’s not lost yet. They still have to play. It’s really difficult to win, but that’s no reason to just give up! We should cheer them on and hope that they play the series of their lives!”
Nothing in life was set in stone. Life wasn’t that boring. Miracles did happen. And hard work was rewarded. Take KG. Everyone had written them off at the end of Week 1 of Worlds. They looked like they were in shambles and were a shadow of their former selves. But then something happened, something changed during their short break. And when they came out again, they looked like a team born anew. They fought, really fought for it and were rewarded with a spot in the quarter finals! Then there was also High School 13 making it through the first round of the qualifiers for the Shanghai 16 School Tournament, though the miracle there was mostly Lin Feng joining the team.
There was a simple lesson in all of this. One Lin Feng was living by every day while chasing for the title of best League of Legends player in the world. That was to never lose hope. To never give up. And to always keep striving for more! Miracles hadn’t left this world Not for Lin Feng, not for anyone. This wasn’t the time for the viewers to give up hope on HoG. If anything, this was when they had to support their team the most!
“Oh! It’s starting, it’s starting, guys! Let’s watch today’s game first! We’ll talk about the other games later!” Lin Feng exclaimed, excited! The first match in the quarter finals was Legend versus Warrior. It wouldn’t be until the weekend that Hand of God and KG had their games.
Friday morning, Lin Feng walked into the classroom and sat down next to Ouyang, who was already being his excited self despite the time of day. “Damn! Those four games last night were absolutely amazeballs! Did you guys see it? Did you feel it? I had goosebumps all over! That was so good!” He looked up at Lin Feng and nodded before turning back to Yang Fan. “Legend actually made it through to the semis! Did you see that coming? They beat the Koreans! They beat the Koreans! Holy, I never saw that coming. Did you? That was the best quarter finals so far!”
Yang Fan adjusted his glasses and started talking, “Ye–” but Ouyang wasn’t finished yet. He just continued rambling on, “Also, also, shut up for a minute. Let me talk. Also, that Phoenix! Did you see him play? I totally get why he’s an Emperor. He’s so good! That was like, he carried so hard those games! Even that game they lost, he was the best player in the game. The MVP in every game!”
“Mhm! Phoenix is really good!” Yang Fan blurted out. He didn’t even adjust his glasses. All he wanted was to finally get a few words in. “Yeah. Game 3. You know, the one they lost, his Orianna was still the best Champion. He dominated mid lane with her. Warriors Midlaner was pretty much taken out of the game. That’s the difference between an Emperor and any other player right there.”
Ouyang laughed and slapped Lin Feng on the back. “Point is, those were some awesome games to watch. Right, bro? I don’t care who wins. All I want are fun games. Plus, it’s always good news for us when a Korean team gets sent home.”
Yang Fan adjusted his glasses and reminded, “HoG still has to play SSK. We still have to have a team make it to the semis for this to be your so-called good news.”
“Dammit! You just had to do that, didn’t you? You just couldn’t let me be happy for a change. All I was happy about was that a Korean team lost. That should mean something, right? Korean teams are defeatable! HoG still has a chance! They can make it to the semis!”
“Heh.” Yang Fan chuckled and shook his head. “Who cares about Warrior or Fate? They’re nothing compared to SSK. If SSK loses, now that would be something to talk about.”
“Oh! Oh! Fate is playing tonight, right? They got Moon! That will be awesome to watch! I can’t wait!” Ouyang exclaimed, bouncing on his chair.
Yang Fan nodded and then turned to Lin Feng, “Fate will have a hard time, even with Moon. Right Lin Feng? What do you think?”
“H-huh?” Lin Feng mumbled, half asleep. He yawned and stretched out long, then rubbed his eyes. “Tonight’s games? Uhm… It’s going to be a difficult one for Fate, that’s for sure. Season is a really strong team.”
Season wasn’t just a strong team from North America. They were also the secret weapon against Korean teams. No one really understood why, but whenever Season played a Korean team, they seemed better. Stronger. More cohesive. They were even dubbed the Korean Killers! Their track record supported this, with 75% of their games against Korean teams ending in a victory. There was no other team in the world who could say the same!
The bell rang and the first period began. The three friends paid little attention to class, whispering amongst each other just enough to get on the teacher’s nerves, but not so much that they got sent to the principal’s office. The period bell rang again not much later, announcing the end of class. And a little later, the next one rang. This one had Ouyang a little worried. He turned to Lin Feng and asked, “Hey, bro. We were doing some sort of listening test for English today, right? And something with picture cards? I forgot. What was it? Wait. Oh shit! We need a pencil and eraser, right? Crap. I think I forgot mine!”
Lin Feng opened his drawer and rummaged through it. It was mostly clean and organized. Mostly. He took out a pencil case and checked its contents. Then he looked up with a wide grin and said, “Look! I brought mine!”
“Nice! I knew you would! That’s why I didn’t bring mine! It’s perfect teamwork! Just lend me yours in a bit!” Ouyang grinned, moving his chair right up to Lin Feng and looking over his friend’s shoulder. “Uh? Huh! Is that a picture? It is! Who’s that? Tell me who that is!”