The Winter Collegiate Cup Quarterfinals drew to a close. The fans turned off their streams, left the message boards and went home from the stadium. But they wouldn’t be bored waiting for the Semifinals to start, because there was always more League of Legends to go around. More specifically, the 2016 LPL Spring Split had started. The best teams in China were playing against each other again on a weekly basis, constantly adapting to the latest patch. And there was something even more exciting going on beyond just that. Something that was drawing far more discussion among the fans. The return of AyDeeCee to Team Rapids.
There were online forums dedicated to Shi Hang, where his fans gathered and discussed their love for their idol.
「IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII HES BACKKKKKK」
「I still can’t believe it… He’s really back. AyDeeCee is back!」
「Best player China ever had! We’re going to return to our Season 1 prime!」
「ITS BETTER THAN HAVIN A WET DREAM!!!!」
「I’m so excited to see how good he is these days!」
「Ppl laughed at me for my AyDeeCee bodypollw but Ialwysa knew!」
「Go watch the highlights from the East China Regionals! He subbed in a game there!」
But not everyone was happy with AyDeeCee’s return. There were those who were jealous of his skill and envied all the attention he was getting. And then there were those who were upset that AyDeeCee was stealing the limelight from their favourite Midlaners.
「bet ye its just publicity stunt」
「HE COULD BE MY FUCKIN GRANPA!!!!」
「We should send a cane to the LPL. Give it as a welcome back present! HARHARHAR」
「He was a great player back in the day. Now prolly he sucks donkey balls」
「Cant wait to see him get FUCKING REKT111111」
From there it devolved into a pointless argument that went on for days. Some people grabbed large buckets of popcorn and an ice-cold beer to enjoy the drama, while others furiously typed on their keyboards.
「Lolololol, noobs thinking hermes is good BEST JOKE OF 2016!!!」
「whose got the popcorn? i need moaaarrrrrr」
「Let’s be real here, guys. Daybreak Hermes is a good Midlaner. But that’s just it. He good, not great.」
「Moon and Phoenix are great. Rake is God. Hermes is the court jester!!!!」
「LMAO BEST DRAMA EVVAAAHHHHHH :pepe_laugh:」
「hermes < diamond < real pros」
「aydeecee <<<<<<< hermessss!!!!!!」
「I”LL FUCKING FIGHT YOU! I LIVE ON 742 EVERGREEN TERRACE! COME FIGHT ME!」
「lol, can you believe that ^^^^^^ guy? XD」
The HermBuds were up in arms. They were furious and livid that people dared to besmirch the name of their general. Their emperor.
「THATS TOTALLY DIFFERENT YOU CANT COMPARE HERMES WITH RAKE」
「Did you not watch Worlds? Hermes beat an emperor!!! He’s got the skill!」
「hes right up there with moon and phoenix!!!!!」
「FUCKING BOOMERS GETTING ALL SMUG just accept that aydeecee sucks babyballs!」
「King Hermes will soon be crowned EMPEROR HERMES!!!」
「THIS IS HIS YEAR!」
「EMPEROR HERMES! EMPEROR HERMES!」
There was a small group of fans reading the online forums who’d been following the League scene from the beginning, way back during Season 1. They vividly remembered how it was back then.
「kids talking big… back in season 1 at the height of China’s League presence, there was no Hermes」
「^that. And AyDeeCee wasn’t the best Midlaner either. He was second best」
「you kids dont know because of how hard the Chinese Esports Association tried to erase the past, but…」
「But we had an emperor. We had a guy who could beat Phoenix and who could fight Rake」
「Remember the name. Maple. He is the best. THeres no on else but him. HE GOATCHAMP」
「Man what I’d give to see him play again… that dude was something else. The way he just won…」
「Getting goosebumps just thinking about him! MAPLE IS MY HERO!」
There was a second post that started garnering more and more attention. It was a post detailing the Chinese players on the Korean Challenger ladder. The rivalry between South Korea and China was intense. So much so that the Korean Challenger ladder had turned into a battleground; one that had to be conquered by the Chinese players. But no Chinese player had managed to do that yet. No one had even come close. In fact, most of the players from China who made it to Challenger on the Korean server were fighting desperately to hold on to their rank and not slip back to Master.
Fans argued that if their personal heroes from the LPL were to play on the Korean server, they could make it to the Top 10 in Challenger. But professional players generally didn’t have the spare time to worry about their rank in solo queue, especially not on a server with high latency. And so the great shame had persisted for years, with no one looking like they might break it. Until now. The CN•HOOK2 account was climbing up the ladder and quickly approaching the Top 10.
「CNHOOK THE HERO WE DESEERRVVEEEEE」
「did you see him play that viktor the other day? my god hes good!」
「I wonder who he is…」
「has to be like hermes, right? Yeah, has to be.」
「He went from 250 to 30 WITHIN A MONTH!!!!!!! HOW!?!??!?!??!?!」
「You know what that means, right? RIGHT RIHGIHTIHRIHIHGITIHITHIHANHAIHAHH!H!!」
「HES GONNA CLIMB TO THE TOP!!!!」
「HES GONNA BEAT RAKE!!!!!」
「HES GONNA BRING PRIDE TO OUR NATION!!!!!」
「HES GONNA GET FACES FOR US ALLL!!!!!!」
「LONG LIVE THE HOOK2!!!!!!」
Season 5 had officially ended and Season 6 had started in most regards. But the ranked ladders hadn’t reset yet. The Korean ladder would reset at the end of the week, giving CN•HOOK2 a few more days to make it to the top. It was that time pressure that made it so much more exciting to the Chinese League of Legends fans. They clicked on the refresh button with sweaty palms and were scouring the internet for livestreams, desperate to witness how high CN•HOOK2 would climb before the ladder reset.
「How far do you think he can go?」
「NO WAY DOWNER! TOP 10 AT THE LEAST!!!!!」
「getting a bit ahead of yourself there… top 30 is already hella impressive」
「but just imagine… top 5! OR TOP 3! UP THERE WITH RAKE! OMGOMGOGMOGM!!!」
「guysguysguys, shut up for a second. Listen. We need to find out who he is! Where are the detectives!?!?」
「whoever he is, he’s gonna make the koreans maaaaaad」
「its gonna be soooooo good to laugh at the koreans after he hits the top 3!!!!」
「yeah yeah. But WHO IS HE!?!?!?!?」
「HE”S OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR! HE”S WHAT WE DESERVE!!! A TRUE HERO!!!」