The waters of the Ionia server ran deep. Those murky depths were where the Diamond 1 and Master players gathered. But one could never know exactly what kind of monster they’d run into fishing in those waters deep. There were a lot of professional players, streamers, and famous gaming content creators at this level, waiting for the chance to finally step up to Challenger. The truth was that they weren’t hard stuck at this depth because they weren’t good enough to become Challengers. That was the furthest thing from the truth. These were the best players in all of China, some of them were even among the best players in the world.
But League of Legends was a game built around teamwork. Especially at this level. Sometimes, a game would be lost because one player on the team was having an off day, and that was enough for the opposing team to gain an advantage and snowball. Most of these players had hit the peak of individual ability in the game, so their advancement to the top of the Master rank was based more on how well they managed to synergize into a team with four other people. Some days, they’d get lucky and find the perfect team. Other days, not so much.
But climbing up to the top of Master wasn’t the only obstacle in the path to becoming a Challenger. There was a fixed number of players who could get to Challenger. In order for a player to move up from Master to Challenger, one of the current Challengers had to be forcefully thrown back down into Master. The battle never ended for those in the Master and Challenger rank. They had to fight constantly to get up to Challenger, and then keep fighting to keep their place. A single moment of weakness and all of the silent monsters hidden in the depths of the Ionia server would come out to feast.
Beyond the hurdles, there was a more practical reason why most of the professional players never bothered to hit Challenger or retain their spot once they hit it for the first time. They rarely had the time to sit around and play in solo queue. Their focus was on winning tournaments, and to do that they needed to constantly play together with their team. Playing alone in the Challenger pool would actually be detrimental to them. Their focus was on practicing as a team and scrimming against other professional teams. It built team synergy, one of the most important aspects in tournaments. Between that and all the time they spent travelling across the world to attend tournaments, they just didn’t have the time to worry about their solo queue rank.
On the rare occasion when a professional player did show up in solo queue, the entire server would start bubbling as the monsters swarmed around. Especially if the professional player belonged to a team that was playing in the LPL. Streamers would spectate the game and provide play-by-play commentary to their viewers. Fans would debate and cheer across chats and social media would end up flooded with memes and clips from the game.
That was the situation that Su Xue’s stream was in right now. The people watching the stream had completely lost their minds! The name of the player who had fifth pick! It was one of the most recognizable names in all of China! Everyone knew it! HoG Nightsong. Snowfall Nightsong. The ad-carry for Hand of God and one of the top three ad-carries in all of China!
The viewers spammed the chat in their excitement. They weren’t reading what other people were saying or responding to them. They barely knew what they were typing. This was literally the most exciting thing that could happen while watching a stream, and it was happening to them! Nightsong was their idol! Watching him play in solo queue was a dream come true! And now they’d get to see him play on the same game as the streamer they were watching, on the same team! And to think that only a minute ago they were complaining that Lin Feng hadn’t queued up with a professional player yet. The gods had heard them!
But under the waves of excitement was also a weak undercurrent. One that started gaining traction as the initial hype and shock of seeing Nightsong’s name in the champion select faded and chat regained some composure. More than a few viewers didn’t buy that this Nightsong was the real Nightsong.
「isnt nightsong supposed to be in london right now? why isnt he scrimming with his team?」
「right! this cant be him right???? is that a troll pretending to be nightsong??? it cant be nightsong??????」
「Idiots! Didn’t I just tell you! Their scrims don’t start for another two days! Go read HoG’s announcement!」
「OMG! Wiatwaitwaitwitawatiwait! LOOK AT THIRD PICK!」
「Look at third pick!」
「ITS HIM!!! LOOK!!!」
「who is that?」
The summoner name of the player at third pick was ‘OldWorn’.1The original name “久了就旧了” is a play on words in Chinese using different characters that sound similar. It translates to, “if it’s old, it’s worn”. The viewers of the stream felt like they’d heard this name before, but they couldn’t place where. It looked so familiar. The answer was on the tip of their tongue. Then it hit them.
「Isn’t that the name of Star Emperor’s smurf?」
「YEP! that’s the friggin star emperor!!!1!!」
There were players who had second accounts in lower ranks where they would occasionally play on. Smurf accounts. Different players had them for different reasons. But most top and professional players had them for the same reason. There were only so many players in Challenger. This meant that the queue times could get really long, and really boring. If they played on their smurfs, which were ranked just below Challenger, they could quickly get into a game and start having fun!
OldWorn. Star Emperor. They were just different names for one person. The player at third pick in champion select on Lin Feng’s team was Daybreak Hermes! The Daybreak Hermes. The famous midlaner of Hand of God. One of the Seven Kings. And the King who had gone toe-to-toe with an Emperor in the Season 5 Mid-Season Invitational and emerged victorious!
Two famous professional players in the same game! On the same team! ON THE SAME TEAM AS THEIR STREAMER! The people watching the stream were beyond shocked, beyond starstruck. This was the day they finally achieved Nirvana. Chat was completely still. Snowfall Nightsong. Daybreak Hermes. Not one, but two. Daybreak Hermes, Snowfall Nightsong and… Lin Feng? Two of their idols duo queueing together! They would get to see the game firsthand! Chat stirred to life again. But no words. It was walls of exclamation marks and emotes.
While the people watching the stream were losing their minds and changing their shorts from the excitement of finding out two of their idols were in the same game as their streamer, Lin Feng had been lost in his own little world and didn’t notice the hullabaloo. He was trying to figure out what champion he wanted to play. Once he sorted that out in his head, he looked over at chat and noticed that something had happened. Exclamation marks. Emotes. There were a few messages every now and then, but they scrolled up so fast that he couldn’t read a word of them. After this happened 30 times in the last 10 seconds, he started putting the pieces together. They’re super excited about the guys in third pick and fifth pick? Hm… He looked at the summoner names in champion select and then exclaimed, “Oh wow! How awesome is this, guys? Did you notice? Oh… right. You guys already did. YEAH! This is going to be really fun! Hermes and Nightsong! This should be a pretty cool game!”
The players started picking their champions. Lin Feng was fourth pick on the Blue team. First pick locked in a Top lane champion. The Red team could now choose their first and second champion, and then the second and third pick on Blue team could go. Second pick locked in a Jungler. The players who had first and second pick on the Blue team had both decided not to choose Mid or Ad-carry as their roles out of respect. Those two roles were reserved for Hermes and Nightsong! Sadly, this meant that the only role left for Lin Feng was Support.
Lin Feng scratched his hair, a little unhappy. “Man… I really really don’t wanna play support…”
「Don’t whine and just support!」
「are you dumb!? you dont fight them for their roles!! they be legends!!!!」
「Nightsong and Star Emperor are probably trying to warm up for the tournament! Give them their roles!」
「yeah! YOU better not tilt our players right before worlds starts!!!」
OldWorn, better known as the Star Emperor or Hermes, locked in the champion Veigar. He was going mid. It was starting to look like Lin Feng would have to end up being a Support in this game. But then Nightsong typed a message in the champion select chat.
HoG Nightsong:「Fourth, can you adc? If you can’t support, I’ll do it.」
Water Wraith:「Yes yes! I can adc. I’m really good at ADC!」
Nightsong asking Lin Feng to play ad-carry was a twist that no one watching the stream saw coming. They literally could not believe that a professional ad-carry player, one of the best in China, would willingly give up his role to some unknown player. And that he was willing to add wonder on top of a miracle by offering to play support for that unknown player who would be the ad-carry. But that wasn’t even the thing that blew their minds. Not even close. The most spectacular, unbelievable, astonishing, mind-blowing thing to happen in the last five minutes was Lin Feng’s reply.
「HOLY SHIT DUDE!!! you’re my heroo!!!!」
「the fuck… first he sulks that Nightsong probably wants to play ad-carry, and then when Nightsong let’s him play ad-carry, he starts bragging like he IS nightsong……….」
「thicccest skin on all of huya!!!!11」
「how does he walk around with balls that heavy and made of steel?」
「Nah, thickest skin in all of China!」
「Dis fuck aksually tell Nightsong that hes good at adc? how/////」
The newer viewers had completely lost it. Since they didn’t know Lin Feng, this was to be expected. But even the long-time viewers felt like they’d just been suckerpunched by Lin Feng’s ego. They knew he was good at League of Legends. They even knew that he was a good ad-carry. They also knew that there wasn’t a single player in all of Gold and Platinum who could beat him. But no one had ever seen him play a game in an ELO this high before. But whatever happened in the game, Lin Feng had done something today that was worth bragging about. He made Nightsong give him ad-carry!
Lin Feng ignored whatever was happening in chat. He needed to focus on champion select. More specifically, he wanted to see which champion Nightsong was going to use. He waited and watched, thinking the whole time. Nightsong locked in Blitzcrank. Lin Feng considered his options for a moment. He needed to make sure the champion he picked had great synergy with Blitzcrank and was a champion he enjoyed playing. He looked around the list of ad-carry champions, thinking. Then he picked Vayne and locked in.
Lin Feng decided to go with Vayne after putting some thought into how the game would be played and how he could work best with Nightsong’s Blitzcrank. But he’d also done something that once again blew the minds of the people watching the stream. See, Lin Feng had not only taken Nightsong’s role in the game. In his typical unintentional and oblivious fashion, he also picked Nightsong’s signature champion.
《Welcome to Summoner’s Rift!》
While the other players were busy buying their starting items and walking to their lanes, Lin Feng looked at the stream. The number of viewers had plateaued at 1,500. Until he ended up in a game with Nightsong and Hermes. That’s when the viewer count started skyrocketing. Right now, there were more than 3,000 viewers! And it was still going up! He looked over his shoulder at the peacefully asleep Su Xue. If she were awake right now, he knew that she’d probably be losing her mind. He grinned as he pictured her jumping up and down in joy. This game was like winning the lottery for her. Her stream hit a new viewer count record every few seconds. Some of them would come back tomorrow and eventually become regulars. This game had made her viral!
The insane number of viewers flooding into Su Xue’s stream wasn’t unprecedented or unexpected. In a certain light, it made complete sense. Nightsong and Daybreak Hermes rarely ever played solo queue. Nor did they show up in a game together very often. But the timing made this particular occasion all the more special. Worlds was right around the corner! This happening right now, there was a one in a million chance! No! A one in trillion chance! The odds of this happening were so astronomically low that there was a higher probability of the viewers meeting a kpop idol who would agree to date them. There was only one stream to watch tonight, and that was Su Xue’s. They couldn’t spectate the game from Nightsong’s or Hermes’ perspective, but they could still see them play!
Lin Feng didn’t care about the viewers flooding in or their excitement beyond the joy it would bring Su Xue. His attention was on the game in front of him. He looked at his Vayne and balled his fist. No matter what, he had to do well in this game! He still remembered his very first game with Tang Bingyao at the NetCow Cafe. The game where she picked Draven and he took over from her because she was losing to a Vayne. First Tyrant. That was the summoner name of the guy who played that Vayne. Lin Feng remembered it well. That game had ignited his desire to relearn the champion. Every game he played with Vayne since then, he’d been comparing himself with First Tyrant’s Vayne. And now that he’d shaken off the rust, he was confident he could now go toe-to-toe with First Tyrant’s Vayne in lane. But Lin Feng didn’t know that First Tyrant was HoG Nightsong’s smurf account!
On the other side of the world, Nightsong sat in a 5 star hotel in London, equally unaware that the player behind the name Water Wraith was the same one who’d given him so much trouble with a Draven. The Draven who had forced him to go all out in what he thought was a casual game. The Draven he almost lost his lane to. The Draven who had sent chills down his spine. If the game hadn’t been cut short by another player’s angry girlfriend, Nightsong knew there was a chance he might have lost to that Draven.
Call it a fluke, a crazy coincidence, or fate, but these two players were now on the same team and paired together as the bottom lane duo. They had never played together before. Neither of them knew they’d even played against each other. But their synergy was on point.. It was more than good. It was perfect! They danced and moved like they’d been married for 40 years and could read each other’s thoughts!
3 minutes into the game, a silver bolt from Lin Feng’s whizzed through the air and took down a low health minion. Nightsong’s Blitzcrank timed his Rocket Grab perfectly to the instant that the minion died. Blitzcrank’s right hand flew over the freshly dead minion’s corpse and grabbed the Ashe.
Lin Feng had targeted the Ashe behind the minion before the attack from his Vayne had landed on the minion. He knew Nightsong’s Blitzcrank was going to follow up with the grab. The second the Ashe was pulled forward, Vayne shot another bolt at the Ashe and then tumbled forward to cleanly dodge an Aqua Prison from the Nami. Lin Feng followed up with Condemn. Vayne pulled the heavy crossbow on her back out. A giant bolt flew out and pierced the Ashe through her chest and sent her flying backwards towards a nearby wall, pinning her to it.
“Awesome! That was so clean! I played that perfectly!” Lin Feng exclaimed.
Chat responded with emotes of rolling eyes. They heard Lin Feng praising himself instead of talking about what a great support Nightsong was.