Literally no one watching could have ever imagined that a single game in the solo queue could be this intense. Or nerve-wracking. But they all sat at the edge of their seats with spasms of unease following every heartbeat as they watched CN•HOOK2 try to bait out the Red Team from their base by rushing Baron. And when they saw the Red Team rushing out of their base, hooked on CN•HOOK2 gambit, the uneasy beating of their hearts turned into palpitations.
The tension was thick. For the viewers. For the players in the game. Everyone involved across geographic and digital boundaries, united by this one moment in this one game, held their breaths. Time itself slowed down, with every frame and every second dragging on for an eternity.
24 minutes and 30 seconds on the game timer, with 7 minutes and 30 seconds until the deadline for the Korean ladder. Blue Team’s relentless assault on Baron Nashor was starting to work. The monster’s health had fallen below 30%, and it looked as if they would succeed in taking it down. Meanwhile, the Red Team was rushing through the top half of their jungle in a desperate attempt to reach the Baron Pit before the monster fell.
24 minutes and 40 seconds on the game timer, with 7 minutes and 20 seconds until the deadline for the Korean ladder. Red Team’s Champions had made it all the way to the River, and they were closing in on the Baron Pit. Both Red and Blue Team were locked in a desperate race against each other and time. The Blue Team’s attacks continued to whittle away at what little remained of Baron Nashor’s health. But the real question was if Red Team would get to the Baron Pit in time to stop Blue Team from bringing the Baron down.
24 minutes and 45 seconds on the game timer, with 7 minutes and 15 seconds until the deadline for the Korean ladder. Red Team’s Gragas led the charge towards the Baron Pit. When he got close enough, he sent a barrel rolling forward to the Baron Pit. When it got close enough to Blue Team, he exploded it with another cast of Barrel Roll. Janna was right behind Gragas, and she followed up on the barrel with a Howling Gale! The rest of the Red Team was grouped up behind and around Janna.
When Gragas’ barrel rolled into their vision, all five members of Blue Team immediately ceased their assault on Baron Nashor. They managed to back away right before the barrel exploded, avoiding all damage from it. Then they split apart and Janna’s Howling Gale passed through the gaps in their ranks.
Sejuani charged out of the Baron Pit first with Arctic Assault and Flashed mid-charge. When she came out of the Flash, she was right in the middle of the Red Team! She collided with three of their Champions and knocked them up into the air!
Yasuo followed Sejuani out of the Baron Pit, and immediately dashed over to Gragas with Sweeping Blade. As he landed, his blade pierced into Gragas with a Steel Tempest! Winds coiled and roiled along the length of the blade as this second Steel Tempest landed on Gragas. The first stack of Steel Tempest was built up right before Red Team arrived at the Baron Pit, when Yasuo used the skill on Baron Nashor.
Gragas attempted to retaliate and hold Yasuo and Sejuani back. But before he could, he was hooked by a Death Sentence from Thresh. The Red Team was now completely exposed!
Yasuo rushed past the hooked Gragas and right into the heart of the Red Team. But just as he got there, he was enveloped in mottled yellow light as he Flashed forward right into the Red Team’s backline. When he arrived, he dashed to Jinx with Sweeping Blade. But mid-dash, Yasuo used Steel Tempest. The dash turned into a whirl of steel and wind, one that sent a point blank whirlwind at both Jinx and Janna. The whirlwind made contact and knocked both Champions up into the air!
Now that Janna and Jinx were up in the air, Yasuo could unleash his ultimate—Last Breath! He blinked over to the knocked up champions as they hurtled through the air and unleashed a flurry of slashes on both of them! Then he knocked them back down to the ground with a final downward slash, and landed gracefully beside them. A quick succession of auto attacks sliced through both Jinx and Janna’s throats. The wandering samurai took a brief second to appreciate the mournful flute-like noise as the last of the wind in their lungs escaped through the cuts he had made.
As the Announcer’s voice rang out, Yasuo’s moment of quiet contemplation ended. He readied his blade once more and dashed at Gragas with a Sweeping Blade. A quick combination of slashes and thrusts granted Gragas a quick and merciful death.
Now that Gragas was down, Yasuo’s blade hungered for the blood of Zed. He looked for the ninja that had become his rival for much of the game, and found him far away. When the battle started, Zed immediately rushed Blue Team’s backline and went for Tristana with single-minded determination. It was obvious that Tristana escaping his claws earlier had enraged him. Zed Flashed right into Tristana and unleashed a lightning fast combination of all his skills, followed by an Ignite. It was more than the poor squishy Tristana could handle, and she blasted off into the afterlife.
Yasuo and Zed glared at each other, across the battlefield littered with bodies and attacks flying back and forth that the river had become. But Yasuo had already cut down three of the Red Team’s Champions, while Zed had only managed to take out Tristana from the Blue Team. Zed understood that he was hopelessly outnumbered, and that he had no hope of winning this team fight. With one last look filled with pure murder at Yasuo, Zed disappeared into the Red Team’s Jungle.
Yasuo hesitated for a brief moment as he decided if he would chase Zed into the jungle or not. And then Lulu intervened by casting Wide Growth on him. Yasuo grew in size and gained bonus health. That snapped Yasuo out of any thoughts of a reckless chase, and he turned his attention to the final enemy Champion from the Red Team left on the field. Rumble.
All the fury Yasuo felt about Zed slipping through his fingers was unleashed on the hapless Rumble. He did not last long before slipping into the sweet embrace of death.
CN•HOOK2’s gambit had completely paid off! This team fight at the Baron Pit was an overwhelming victory for the Blue Team at 4-1. But far more important, the Red Team’s base was now exposed. Zed alone could not defend the entire base.
The Blue Team abandoned their attempt to bring Baron Nashor down and immediately pushed down the Mid lane into Red Team’s base. They destroyed both the Inhibitor Tower and the Inhibitor in the Mid lane, which let super minions spawn in that lane. Defending would now become significantly harder for the Red Team. Then the Blue Team ran over to the Top lane and destroyed the Inhibitor tower in that lane!
27 minutes on the game timer, with 5 minutes left until the deadline for the Korean ladder. After destroying the Inhibitor Tower in the Top Lane, the Blue Team rolled back down to the Baron Pit in a serious attempt to bring Baron Nashor down. This time they were successful. With the Baron Buff secured, the Blue Team decided to make one final push into the Red Team’s base.
Enough time had elapsed for all of the Red Team’s Champions to respawn, and another team fight broke out. This one went along the same lines as the team fight in the Baron Pit. Except the Blue Team managed to take out all five Champions on the Red Team in a 5-1 trade.
28 minutes on the game timer, with 4 minutes left until the deadline for the Korean ladder. Led by Yasuo, the Champions from Blue Team had destroyed the Red Team’s Inhibitor in the Top lane. Waves of minions led by a super minion were now streaming into the Red Team’s base from two lanes! The Blue Team had then managed to take out two of the Red Team’s Nexus Towers!
29 minutes on the game timer, with 3 minutes left until the deadline for the Korean ladder. The Blue Team destroyed the Red Team’s Nexus!
Lin Feng looked at the time as the victory crest floated up on his screen. Three minutes left! I did it! I finished the game in time! I kept my promise to One, and that’s all that matters right now…
Lin Feng didn’t need to check the Korean Challenger ladder to know that he’d accomplished the goal that he’d set out for tonight. Besides, he couldn’t even if he wanted to make sure. The second the game ended, all of Lin Feng’s strength and energy vanished completely. He slumped back in his chair, exhausted and utterly spent. But his face was locked into a satisfied smirk as his eyes closed.
Before An Xin could even start to congratulate him on his victory, Lin Feng passed out in his seat. She looked at him with a gentle smile and pride in her eyes. Then she got up and walked over to him. An Xin ruffled his hair and softly spoke into his ear, “Good job. Now sleep. You deserve to rest. You worked hard, Lin Feng. You don’t know this, but One is going to be happy and proud when he hears about this. I’m happy too. I haven’t seen you like this in a long time…”
Seoul, Korea. The Warriors Gaming House. Orion’s head hung low as the red Defeat crest hung over his screen. As he contemplated the loss, his expression was inscrutable.
I… lost. Obviously, it’s impossible for anyone to win every game in solo queue at the Challenger level. Especially on the Korean server. But… I completely lost when it came to the 1v1 in the Mid lane. CN•HOOK2 completely outplayed and defeated me.
Orion took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. By the time it ended, he was calm. Orion was a King and one of the top Korean players. A single loss in a solo queue game was not enough to make him tear his hair out and throw a fit. It stung, that was for sure. But it wasn’t enough to shake his confidence.
With a cooler head, Orion replayed the previous game in his head and paused on pivotal moments as he studied CN•HOOK2. Hm… this could be a problem. CN•HOOK2 probably isn’t an LPL player right now because I’ve never seen or heard of anyone that plays like him. But he’s definitely got more than enough skill to match up with China’s best Midlaners right now. He’s also raw and unpolished… definitely not a professional player. Yet.
CN•HOOK2. I’ll remember him. If he enters the professional scene, then the OGN is going to have a truly formidable opponent to contend with. I lost today. But I know that I’m going to see him on a real stage one day. When that day comes, I’m going to be ready! I’m not going to hold back at all! CN•HOOK2 I’m going to take this win back from you when it matters more!
This wasn’t just empty bluster in an attempt to console himself. The truth was that Orion had not gone all out in this game. As a King, one who was ranked just below Moon and Rake, Orion was a significantly more dangerous opponent than he had let on during this game.