Lin Feng forgot about the breakfast on the table and the food in his bowl. He looked at Su Xue and asked, “What happened? What are you looking at?” Then he raced around the table before she could answer him and looked over her shoulder at the phone. An Xin ran around the other side of the table and leaned over Su Xue’s shoulder. They both read the headline out loud. “LEGACY OF RAKE: The guest presenter at the Finals of this year’s League of Legends World Championships is Lee Dojae!” Lin Feng and An Xin reacted exactly like Su Xue, gasping in surprise. Then Lin Feng grabbed the phone from Su Xue’s hands and hit the refresh button. The message was still the same. Lee Dojae was going to be the guest presenter at the League of Legends World Finals later that day!
The Finals for the League of Legends World Championships would start at 11 P.M. in Shanghai. The battle between North America’s Season and South Korea’s SSK. This was the game that literally everyone across the world wanted to watch, the game they’d been anticipating since the start of the World Championships. Two of the best players in the world on opposite sides of the rift. The North Americans had Autumn, a legendary Support player, while the South Koreans had Rake, the single best Midlaner in all of League of Legends. There were eight other players on the rift, each among the best in their respective roles. Team Season was unofficially dubbed the Korean Killers, while SSK hadn’t lost a single game yet in this year’s Worlds. Fans on either side of this epic matchup had so many reasons to be confident that their team would be the one to claim ultimate victory.
Beyond the excitement for the matchup itself, there was also the curious decision that the organizers had made to invite Lee Dojae as the guest presenter. This raised flags and questions in the minds of many people, who wondered why he was the guest presenter for this year. In the last few years, the guest presenter was either the President or Vice President of the World Esports Association. That wasn’t the case this year. Lee Dojae was an esports Hall of Famer. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind, Lee Dojae had been a massive influence on the entire esports scene. He well deserved his place in the Hall of Fame. He enjoyed the bragging rights that came with being a Hall of Famer, and like the other six people in the esports Hall of Fame, he functioned as a lifetime honorary advisor for the World Esports Association. He held quite a lot of sway over the most important governing body in the world of esports.
But that didn’t explain why the World Esports Association would ignore convention and invite Lee Dojae to be a guest presenter at the World Finals. Everyone who noticed that Lee Dojae was presenting this year, all of them wondered if the organizers knew something they didn’t. The question at the heart of it all was if there was some special meaning behind Lee Dojae showing up. In an unexpected twist, the Internet unanimously agreed that there was something suspicious, and that it meant the organizers of the World Finals believed that SSK would win the tournament. That was the only explanation that made any sense to them.
Lee Dojae was a player who made a name for himself in DotA. He quickly became one of the best players in the world and led a team that competed for the big prizes. Team SSK. Lee Dojae, whose online handle had also been Rake, had led his team to the point where they dominated the DotA scene. There was only one other team that could really compete with them, and eventually also beat them. They were second best. But that was then and this was now. Lee Dojae handed over the captaincy to Han Seho, who took the name and the team. He led SSK to become the uncontested number one in League of Legends. Lee Dojae treated Han Seho like he would his own son. He gave his name and his team away. And now he was going to be a guest presenter at the World Finals. It smelled fishy. Very, very fishy.
The South Koreans, of course, didn’t care one bit what everyone else thought. They were happy. More than that, they were proud. Lee Dojae and Han Seho were two of the biggest names in esports around the world. Both of them hailed from South Korea, and both of them would stand on the stage tonight. One would be the guest presenter at the awards ceremony, while the other would come and accept the trophy. That was how the SSK fans saw it, anyways. They were more than happy to agree with all of the people talking about how SSK was going to win the Season 5 World Championships for League of Legends. While also conveniently ignoring any accusations or concerns about the Finals being fixed. They were just happy to confidently believe that Rake was going to get a hat trick! Their Rake was going to win three World Championships in a row!
High School 13’s esports team had decided to meet up at the NetCow Cafe in the afternoon. There was still some time until the Finals of the Shanghai 16 School Tournament were starting, and they needed every second to get some more practice in. But rather than getting straight to their training, they started talking about Lee Dojae and how the World Esports Association was clearly picking sides. No one could comprehend why the governing body of world esports would show such disrespect to Season, who were still very much in the race to win Worlds. Lin Feng listened to the others talking, but didn’t participate himself. He stood off to the side, stewing, annoyed and upset that Lee Dojae would present the trophy.
“What in the world possessed the World Esports Association to do this?”
“I don’t know… I can’t believe it… Lee Dojae? What the fuck!”
“Right? That’s like saying to everyone that the match is fixed! This is stupid!”
“FUCK! I feel bad for Season. This is so unprofessional… FUCK!”
“This reflects very poorly on the World Esports Association and the integrity of the tournament.”
“They even called the article ‘Legacy of Rake’… This is just… I don’t even know what to say!”
“Cringe! That’s what you wanna say, bro. Mega ultra super cringe! Fucking posers…”
An Xin let everyone get what they had to say out of their system. She stepped forward, hushing everyone, and said, “They can pretend all they want, Lee Dojae was never more than second best. Legacy of Rake my ass.” She smiled and watched for the reactions of her team members. They nodded, agreeing with her. Good. She clapped her hands and changed the subject, “Alright. Enough distractions. We have a finals to play tonight and we’re nowhere near ready for it! It’s time to practice!”
Everyone nodded and moved to their position. The substitutes gathered around one screen, so that they could spectate the match, while the players on the team sat down behind their computers. From left to right it was Chen Ze, Liu Yue, Lin Feng, Tang Bingyao, and Wei Dong. It was the same seating arrangement that was used at the big tournaments, so that the viewers could easily recognize which player played what role. Wei Dong glanced over at Tang Bingyao. She had big, dark bags under her eyes and she looked an absolute mess. He turned to her and asked, “Hey, you ok? You look like you haven’t slept in days! Are you that nervous for tonight? Don’t worry, with An Xin here, we can win this! She’ll probably even let you take a nap. Just go and ask her. I’m sure you’ll play better after a power nap.”
Tang Bingyao shot up straight in her chair and turned to Wei Dong, her eyes wide open. She stared at him for a second, then fervently shook her head, and said, “Uhm, no. I-i’m fine. Don’t worry about me…” I stayed up late last night watching a stream… And then I couldn’t fall asleep anymore…
It was 12:30 P.M. in Berlin, Germany. The League of Legends World Finals would start in another four and a half hours. The organizers were running around the Mercedes-Benz Arena, the location of the World Finals, working very hard to get everything ready in time. But not everyone was all that busy. Lee Dojae had gathered a group of reporters around him and was answering their questions. He knew what they were going to ask him, and he’d worked on his answers the night before. So when they asked about his thoughts on SSK and if they could win the Finals today, he confidently replied, “SSK is in the best form of their lives. They’re going to show the world something very special tonight. I think this will be a night no one will ever forget!”
The reporters had many more questions they wanted to ask Lee Dojae, and he entertained them. He gave them the kinds of answers they could easily transition into headlines that would get a ton of clicks. Lee Dojae was loving every second of this interview. These reporters were here for him! He kept talking with them until all their questions were answered, and only then retreated backstage. There, he was stopped by an old teammate who said, “I caught a bit of that interview. Those were some strong words, eh?”
Lee Dojae shrugged and replied, “Just stating the facts. SSK will win tonight. No one can stop them.”
“Haha! That’s such a ‘you’ thing to say,” Lee Dojae’s old teammate laughed, patting his friend’s shoulder. Then he added, “But I don’t disagree.”
Season was a strong team who’d performed especially well against teams from South Korea. But just being a strong team wasn’t nearly enough to beat SSK in their current form. Lee Dojae and his old teammate were both convinced that it didn’t matter what Season brought to the table, SSK would clinch the victory tonight. SSK had seen a transformation after Han Seho took the captaincy from Lee Dojae. There was no other team in the world that could threaten SSK’s hegemony. They were internationally renowned and were hard on their way to becoming the symbol of the South Korean esports scene. If they weren’t already. Season was only a guest at their show. Lee Dojae didn’t care one bit for Autumn. This time, SSK was ranked number one. Everyone else was irrelevant.
Lee Dojae’s expression suddenly became hard. Han Seho will succeed where we failed. SSK will finally be invincible! One and his old team can’t do a damn thing about it! They’re the past. My team and I are on top now! He gritted his teeth and clenched his fist. He’d wanted to become the best player in the world and win all the big tournaments. But there was a Chinese team, led by the illustrious One, who’d beaten them again and again. Lee Dojae never made it higher than second best. Everytime it looked like he was about to make that final step, One would show up out of nowhere and knock him back down. I’m not going to be second-best anymore! He showed his teeth. You retired so long ago, One. You’re probably old and gray now. But look at me! My name is still the biggest in the scene. Rake will be eternal! And SSK has a great leader in Rake! I’m still winning trophies, while you’re rotting away somewhere! Take that! Ha! SSK will remain the best and there’s nothing you can do about it. You belong in the past. Poser.