Lee Dojae had done something truly vile! He’d used the Worlds award ceremony to show his supremacy to the rest of the world! Countless stream chats lit up with angry messages and questions about why Riot Games had allowed this! But this was only a cover to hide their despair. SSK had defended their world title. Rake had won Worlds for a record breaking third time. And there wasn’t a single team in the world who looked capable of beating them.
「Fuck… It wasn’t even close at the end… 」
「SCREW THAT! FUCK THOSE STUPID COCKY ASSHATS!」
「how much did they pay riot for this stupid fucking show!>?!?!!」
「… ssk was the best. UCH i hate to admit it…. but they got this through their own hard work…」
「:CCCCC how we evah gonna win????????? iz hopeless guys :C just give up」
「Is there really no one who can beat them?」
Countless professional players all around the world were also upset. They cursed and shouted and flung their monitors out of the window. But their anger didn’t stem from Lee Dojae being an arrogant prick, though they all agreed that he was. Their anger was aimed at their inability to compete against SSK. They’d been practicing every day for years, yet they weren’t even good enough to stand on the same stage as SSK. As a professional, as someone who considered themself as one of the best in the world, this was incredibly difficult and painful to accept.
In Taipei, Taiwan. Read XIII was the Jungler for Assassins. He’d played in Season 5 Worlds and made it all the way to the quarterfinals, where he eventually lost to KG. But he’d put in a strong performance. His team had done well. And they were overall happy with the result. Tonight, that changed for him. He’d watched the Finals. More specifically, he’d been analyzing how Mafa played in the Jungle.
“FUCKING HELL!” Read XIII yelled as he threw his mouse across the room and shoved his keyboard off the desk. “How the hell am I supposed to compete against that? FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!” I’m a King, just like Mafa! I should be just as good as he is! He gritted his teeth and slammed his fists down on his desk. “FUCK!” He pulled at his hair as he looked back at the stream. It zoomed in on Mafa holding the Summoner’s Cup. “ARGHHHH!” He smashed his fist into the monitor, cracking the screen. How is he so much better than me? WE’RE BOTH KINGS—
Read XIII suddenly had a moment of clarity. The anger disappeared from his body as he collapsed in his chair. No. I’m no King. I’m a fucking nobody next to him! He looked around the room at the damages he’d caused. He sighed and said, “Fucking hell. I train every fucking day, ever since I lost to Eleven during the Season 1 World Championships! All to get revenge on him… And look where I’m now… What a joke. I’m competing against a guy playing in the LSPL. Maybe that’s where I went wrong. Maybe I’ve been focusing on the wrong person this whole time…”
IN London, England. Team Legend had watched the finals of the League of Legends Season 5 World Championships together in their gaming house. They’d started watching that night with a drink and some chips, just there to watch a good game. And that was how they still felt after the first two games. Both Season and SSK showed strong performances. Legend’s players pointed things out they noticed and chatted about aspects of the game that they should put more time and effort into. That could help them win next year.
But that all changed in Game 3. And then Game 4. SSK was so much better than Season that it wasn’t even funny anymore! It looked like professional players giving a masterclass to a group of high schoolers! The laughter and chatter died down. No one touched the chips or took a sip from their drinks. They just sat there, stunned.
Legend’s Jungler finally grabbed his beer and chugged it down. Then he slumped back in his gaming chair and said, “Don’t mind Rake. Even Mafa is so insanely good. It’s… I don’t know, guys. I have no clue how to get that good…”
No one said anything for the next couple of minutes, until Demon finally broke the silence. “It’s not just Mafa. Even their Toplaner… That guy’s awareness in teamfights is better than mine… He might actually be better than me.”
Phoenix shook his head and sighed. He took a sip of his beer and then said, “Their Midlaner and Jungler. Their Toplaner, Support and ad-carry… All five of them are phenomenal players. And they only get better when they play together. They’re the world champions for a reason. Even on our best day we can’t beat them. Rip.”
IN Shanghai, China. Hermes had joined Nightsong in the Hand of God headquarters right as Worlds was about to start. They’d watched the games together and were now watching the replay together. During the first two games, they felt optimism. SSK and Season both looked beatable. There were openings and opportunities that the two of them felt confident they could exploit. But then Game 3 started. The dread they felt while initially watching it returned.
Hermes leaned back in his chair and sighed loudly. “Crap, Nightsong. Crap, that’s how I feel.” He shook his head and looked back at the monitor. Then he continued, “I thought it was back when we watched it live. But it only looks worse on replay. They’re playing it perfectly. I don’t… I don’t know, man. They’re next level.”
Nightsong stood up from his gaming chair and started laughing. “We’re idiots. You know that, right? We actually thought we could compete against them! HA! WHAT A JOKE! You know it, Hermes. Screw SSK. We can’t even beat Season! We’re…” He gritted his teeth and felt his stomach contracting. We’re not even good enough to beat Season! I was right. We’re trash! TRASH! He snorted and then said, “It’s true. You know it, Hermes. I’m the best ad-carry in China. And you’re the best Midlaner…” He started laughing again, shaking his head, and continued, “You know what’s funny? Those guys, there, on screen? They probably think about us just like we think about high schoolers. FUCK MY FLACID DICK! WE’RE TRASH! TRASH!”
Hermes looked up at his friend. You’re right. He pursed his lips. Then he shook his head and said, “We’re David. Season is Goliath. And SSK is Kronos. Hahaha. Crap. Crap. Am I really saying this? Crap.” He took a long, deep breath, then continued, “What do we do now? Continue training like nothing happened? What do we even train? Mechanics? Strategy? Champion pools? Team synergy? Awareness? Or do we just replace our coach and blame it all on him?” He paused for a moment, then added in a quiet voice, “Or maybe we’re just not good enough…”
Nightsong let himself fall down in his gaming chair. We’re little kids next to SSK. We’re the little kids… He thought back to the Shanghai 16 School Tournament. Back to the kids he’d seen playing. They weren’t half bad. That Lulu was actually really goo— “TRASH! SHUT YOUR UGLY PIEHOLE!” You’re better than this. You’re better than some stupid high schooler! You’re going to lift yourself up and find a solution. That’s what you do! You get better in the face of challenges. You don’t give up like a pussy!
Hermes looked up at his friend, spooked by the sudden outburst. But then collapsed back in his gaming chair and looked at the stream, half hoping to see SSK losing. It was still Game 3. And SSK was still crushing Season. “Crap,” he mumbled.
“Hey, Hermes?” Nighsong asked, looking over at his friend. “What do you think? Will we get some new talent on the team? I really want to believe that we stand a chance. But… It’s just… Well, just look at the screen! How are we going to beat them? And if we don’t, then who? We’re the best dickslapping, tentacle-fucking badasses China has to offer! We’re all there is!” He shook his head and added, “I’d just like to see us win for once. It doesn’t even have to be me. Just a Chinese team is enough.”
Hermes watched the end of Game 3 in silence. Then he finally turned and looked Nightsong in the eyes. “We’ll win. And if we don’t, another Chinese team will. Someday.”
High School 13’s team exited the NetCow Cafe well after 1 A.M. The Finals of the League of Legends Season 5 World Championships had gone on for a little over two hours. They decided to have an afterparty at their favourite barbeque place around the corner before going home. It was the same place they always went to after a big win or a drink too many. The original plan was to go here to celebrate their victory at the Shanghai 16 School Tournament, but the World Finals had dampened their mood. It had once more shown just how big the gap was between them, the best high schoolers in Shanghai, and the professional scene.
Ouyang shook his head and grumbled, “I’d give up our win in the Shanghai 16 School Tournament for Season winning Worlds!”
Ren Rou rolled her eyes back and said, “If we’re going by that logic, I’d have rather given up our win for KG to win Worlds.”
Ouyang groaned and replied, “I don’t care who wins, just not SSK…”
Yang Fan adjusted his glasses and interjected, “It can’t be helped. SSK is the best team in the world right now. You saw it. Season just isn’t strong enough. And honestly, I don’t think there’s any team in the world who can really compete against SSK. We just have to learn to admit that.”
An Xin took a large gulp of her soda as she listened to Yang Fan’s analysis. She finally shook her head and said, “This really didn’t come as a surprise. We knew from the start that Season was most likely going to lose. SSK is the better overall team. They have five very strong players, each with deep champion pools.” She took another gulp of her soda and then continued, “Now look at Season. Yes, they have Autumn. But what else? Their other players are good, but not as good as the players from SSK. And their Toplaner and Jungler have relatively shallow champion pools on top of that. That just makes them easy targets. SSK knew exactly what they were going to be up against and could prepare for those specific scenarios.” She shrugged and added, “It was always going to be difficult for Season. SSK is just the better team.”
Yang Fan adjusted his glasses and said, “I agree. SSK was the better overall team.”
“This is mad,” Chen Ze said, lowering his head. “According to you, no one can beat SSK… They got the deepest champion pools, the best players, and the best coaching staff, and I don’t know what more! That’s mad, right? What are they? Some kind of superteam?”Lin Feng had been lost in his own little world ever since the World Finals began. He didn’t even really hear what his friends were talking about for most of the night. But when Chen Ze said the word “superteam”, he suddenly was back in the present. He looked over at his friend and mumbled quietly, “A superteam?” He smiled and nodded at himself. We had a superteam back in season 1. With me, Fatty, Eleven, those two in the bot lane… And An Xin as our coach. We should’ve been the best team in the world. We were! Worlds should’ve been ours! And we were still getting better so quickly… If we’d kept going, SSK wouldn’t have won tonight. I would’ve made sure of that!