“I think one of the reasons our team didn’t do well last summer was because of me.” Royal Never Give Up’s mid laner, Li “Xiaohu” Yuan Hao has used past disappointments as motivation in 2017.
Xiaohu grimaces, gritting his teeth after another hard-fought game. He methodically wraps a cord around his headphones, emotionless and expressionless as he completes a task he has done a thousand times before.
Only this isn’t just another adventure on the rift like the countless ones before it. Xiaohu has just qualified for the next split of the LPL, securing his spot in the Spring Split. Yet, in
Yet, even in victory he looks solemn. There is no jubilance among the team; there are no exuberant expressions of elation through joyous hugs or leaps into the air. They know that this is not the end of the road for them.
In his rookie season, Xiaohu was the future of China. Flocked by Korean stars and drained of national talent, scouts turned to Xiaohu to restore China to their pedestal.
A young mid laner, void of competitive experience but full of talent, Xiaohu needed to be the next Chinese star, to keep his region’s hopes alive.
During his rookie season, however, was strewn with speedbumps and pitfalls, as he unsuccessfully tried to live up to the stars of LPL past.
The split ended with a disappointing finish. Royal Never Give Up, the continuation one of the LPL’s most historic teams, once again faced relegation.
They eventually fought their way through, but not before two five-game series that took their strength to the limits.
Next season, RNG finally gave into the hype of Korean imports, acquiring former Samsung White world champions Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong and Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok.
At last, the famous Chinese outfit began to find consistent success. Throughout the year, they successfully topped their group multiple times, and once more found the consistency of their predecessors.
The addition of Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao only contributed to their newfound triumph. The world-famous Chinese legend proved just as much of a star on Royal as he had on any other team, dominating the bot lane and tearing his lane opponents to shreds. Royal Never Give Up was an all-star team.
Sadly, not all good things can last. The Korean portion of the team broke up last November after a quarter-finals exit at the World Championship.
Yet, in every loss, dawns a new chapter. As their Korean stars ran away to pursue their own endeavours, a new light appeared on RNG.
After two years of hard work, Xiaohu finally emerged from the shadows. his breathtaking performances earned him MVP in both the Spring and Summer splits.
It was as if he had birthed a fire inside him, a fire which drove him to become the best player in all of China. Suddenly, he surpassed Song “Rookie” Eui-jin, Lee “Scout” Ye-chan and all the other Korean midlaners who seemed previously unbeatable in China.
Xiaohu is now the star of the LPL. Since the Summer split, he has taken over his team, as the new grand champion of Royal Never Give Up.
Uzi, the veteran AD carry – whose stardom outshined all others in the entire history of the league – has now been overtaken by his fellow teammate.
Xiaohu is the new champion of the Chinese rift, and his stats are there to prove it. Uzi has given up an immense amount of resources in order to feed the new Chinese prodigy.
As Xiaohu’s stardom grows, word has spread to other regions. The mid laner’s dominance in his homeland, crushing his Chinese foes, has resulted in an appreciation for his talents and abilities.
Riot Games analysts ranked him as the fifth best player ahead of the 2017 World Championship. There is a sudden weight of pressure on Xiaohu’s shoulders.
His fans revere him as a star, but also expect great things from him. They love him as a god of the game but base their loyalty only on his continued success.
Today, Xiaohu carries the weight of his region as he competes on the World Championship stage; he has taken over the reputation of the best-known player in the region, becoming China’s greatest star seemingly overnight.
As Uzi winds down his career, after several years in the spotlight, Xiaohu rises as the LPL’s new hope. Can he step into the World Championship spotlight with confidence and vigour?
The story of the World Championship’s first week has been cause for Royal Never Give Up optimism, Xiaohu’s potential greatness still lies in wait.