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A Letter to Fionn: An ode to one of League of Legends’ greatest writers

Oddball 2021-06-08 12:51:46
  Hey Fionn, We’ve only talked a few brief times, so writing this feels strange. Not that it’s uncomfortable—actually the opposite. It’s strange because it is comfortable. Even without much communication over the years, there’s still a feeling of kinship—as if I’m writing to an old friend.  That’s what I love about writing—that you can have a connection with someone you’ve never met. It doesn’t come easy though. A lot of writing can be as stale and lifeless as a dehydrated box of saltine crackers. To actually resonate with people requires talent, patience, and a whole lot of hard work.  That’s what I love about your writing.  I still regard it as one of the most impactful moments of my time in esports. It was Season 3. I was a dopey 13-year-old excited about the growing League of Legends scene. I had learned that Azubu Frost demolishing Team SoloMid wasn’t a one-time fluke. Every time the Koreans came over to North America, they’d kick our butts. I started staying up late to watch OGN Champions, and began reading up on the scene. I soon came across an article on teamliquid.net, curiously named “The Chobra Awards”. I was blown away, not only by the fact that TL had League of Legends content (this was back when the game was a dirty word, and the LoL-section on the site was banished next to the Football-section) but by how entertaining it was. I read a lot of League of Legends content before then, but nothing like this. TL’s coverage of OGN Champions Summer 2013 was different from everything else. There was so much heart in it. It had detailed-analysis, great storytelling, and so much wit. Sometimes I was more excited to read TL’s tournament coverage than the tournament itself! It showed me that esports writing could be fun. That was important. It wasn’t until you published “Boxing with God”, that I realized esports writing could be great.

Still waiting for that Part Two

To this day it stands as some of the best writing our industry has produced, and is a benchmark for other journalists to look to. The prose is beautifully written, it has a wonderful epic scale to it, you even did us the favor of choosing the most suave pictures of Faker possible.

Suave

 It’s the Faker of Faker pieces. Some would dismiss it for not providing much in-game analysis and for taking itself too seriously. To me, those are two of its biggest strengths.  There is plenty of room for content breaking down statistics and dissecting every point of gameplay to the bone. It’s important work, but it doesn’t always make for the most compelling stories. The way Boxing with God omits some of the finer details and tells the story implicitly not only makes it more accessible—it becomes more powerful I also love the serious approach you take to it. While a lot of your work can be fun and light-hearted, you tell this tale as if it’s the most important event on Earth. Some may point to this as a lack of self-awareness—that it's trying to make something more than it is. “Boxing with God” is really just someone losing a Zed matchup to a 17-year-old Korean nerd. When you cynically boil down stories, however, you can make almost anything not worth taking seriously. The Rumble in the Jungle is just an old man beating up an electric grill salesman. The Flu Game is just an asshole eating bad pizza and playing basketball while his tummy hurts. The Unkillable Demon King is just Lee Sang-hyeok.  Maybe it is hamming things up too much. But I don’t care. I’d rather read some head-in-the-clouds piece that feels like a grand fable than any standard news feature. You do that better than any other writer in this space. Reading Boxing with God for the first time—it struck a chord in me that you’ve strummed again and again since then.  And yeah, you might have written the same story of Faker a few too many times, but I get it. First of all, it’s a narrative that should be told repeatedly as it’s one of the most gripping and classic stories people coming into the scene will consume. And even though you rehashed certain points excessively, most of the time you did expand the story and came at it from unique angles—observing his return, his successors, and his relationship with his father. Your most recent piece tells a completely different story while still pertaining to the greatest player of all time. It reminds me of people complaining that Pusha T raps about cocaine too much, with him responding “I don’t care what they say. Listen, people can’t even talk to me about that anymore. That bothers me. Cuz I feel like if you say that, then you’re only listening at a surface level.” The last aspect I wanted to highlight is your honesty. Not only in the way you let your personality shine through in your style, but how you’re unafraid to proclaim your opinions on the game, and have been open about the more challenging aspects of your personal life. Hearing your story is inspiring to people like me; keep it up.  There’s lots of other points of praise I could offer you. How you’re always happy to promote and help upcoming creators, or how you have one of the best Twitter games in the space. I won’t do that here. I wanted to explain why your excellent hard work is an inspiration to other writers in the scene, myself included. Even if you stay true to your goal of only writing for a few more years, you’ve paid your dues to the industry many times over, and the body of work you’ll leave behind will not be forgotten. Just tone down the NA hype. Please. 
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