In the LPL, imports are increasingly common. With a few notable exceptions, the majority of China’s elite outfits have at least two South Koreans on their starting rosters.
For much of the LPL’s history, the mid lane has been a game of imports; well-known Koreans such as Song “RooKie” Eui Jin and Heo “PawN” Won-seok have led the league in mid-lane prowess.
For this reason, it is no surprise that native Chinese talent is a luxury. Fans and teams alike cherish their Chinese stars, for their relative rarity and of course, their hometown hype.
Su “xiye” Han-Wei andSu “xiye” Han-Wei have broken the mould, showing China’s regional strength in all of its glory as two of the region’s most celebrated native players.
In Spring, the two national heroes met in the grand finals of the LPL as both players topped their groups, both in record and individual skill.
Not only were they the best mid laners in China, they were the two best players in the LPL outright. Xiaohu headed into the matchup looking to enact revenge on his rival for their 2-1 defeat in the regular season, whilst Xiye looked to return to the international stage at MSI, having not been to a global event in over a year.
The game was set to be one of the most epic battles in LPL history, with two historic franchises raising their dukes for the Spring split.
Unfortunately, the game didn’t live up to its purported hype. Team WE swept the series in a 3-0 stomp, dashing the hopes of fans looking for a classic set.
Xiaohu’s performance was valiant, particularly in game 3, but in the end, he was nothing compared to the superior team of WE.
On August 25th, a rematch took place, this time in the regional semi-finals and though the stage was smaller, the stakes were just as high.
The winner of the series guaranteed a spot at the 2017 World Championships, set to take place for the first time in front of a home crowd on hallowed turf.
For Xiye, the series was particularly important. In four seasons, the young mid had never made it to the World Championship, a monumental achievement for any player.
But this time, the battle was for more than a spot in an international event; the underlying narrative saw the mid lane crown up for grabs in the LPL.
All split, Xiaohu seemed just a few steps ahead of his fellow Chinese midlane star. However, Xiye’s remarkable consistency was undeniable, and some would argue that he received less help than his arch nemesis. The time was now to step up, and decide, once and for all, the best mid in the region.
The semi-final match between Team WE and Royal Never Give Up was a clinic on mid lane success. Xiye and Xiaohu accounted for each and every MVP in the long series, rising to the occasion when their team needed them most.
Every game, the two players would go back and forth, doing their best to stand out as the figureheads on their team. It all came down to decisive Game 5, a complete turnaround from the blowout snoozefest of the previous split.
In the final match between the two players, Xiaohu rose to a new level. His Corki spearheaded an incredible comeback, culminating in a quadra kill to win the game.
— lolesports (@lolesports) August 25, 2017
At the end of it all, the RNG man had put up nearly 100,000 points of damage, in one of the greatest showings of his career. There remained no question: Xiaohu had proven himself as the best mid laner in China.