A Second Chance For a Name: H2K"e;s Ryu

Noogen 2015-09-29 06:22:33

There once was a man who could have made it to the top. Not the undisputed best, but this man was a part of a team so consistently strong at the time that if any side could beat them in Korea’s OGN, they would go on to win the whole thing almost too easily. That man was Yoo “Ryu” Sang-ook, of the 2013 KT Rolster Bullets.


In League of Legends esports, circuit points have long been a topic of interest in regards to teams qualifying for the Worlds Championship amongst fans. “Why isn’t Origen the second seed in Europe?” “Why did Najin Black Sword make it to Worlds in the 2013 season when they got knocked out of group stages in OGN for Spring AND Summer?”


This isn’t a critique of the circuit point system; that is an entirely different creature altogether when it comes to balancing the value of splits across a season. Despite that, the circuit point system in Korea unintentionally took Ryu’s image through the blender.


On August 31st, 2013 the KT Rolster Bullets went head to head against SKT T1 in the finals of OGN Summer. While this itself wasn’t the qualifier for the third and final seeded spot representing Korea, it was a momentous day regardless. The set went all the way to game five’s blind pick, and both Ryu and SKT’s Faker locked in Zed. This game went down as one of the most well known games in the entire history of League of Legends esports as Faker played a perfect duel against Ryu despite starting it at below half health.


Because only one of the KT Rolster Bullets and SKT T1 could make it to Worlds through the subsequent gauntlet, Korea wasn’t able to send two of their best teams to compete despite both being potential winners. OGN Caster MonteCristo said before they faced off at the gauntlet that whoever wins between the two of them and goes to Worlds will win the whole thing. At the end, SKT would go to Worlds and do just that.



Image Courtesy of OnGameNetwork


Now, where does Ryu come into this picture? It’s no surprise that players that are most well known to the general audience are the players who compete in the NA LCS, the EU LCS and the LPL and LCK players who went to an international championship. Due to this framework, Ryu’s first major appearance to the western fans was that very Zed duel with Faker that not only created and solidified the worldwide cult of Faker’s brilliance and dominance, it also gave the first impression of Ryu being crushed with the comical “Ryu-face” that’s followed him to this very day in his career.


That’s what he’s been reduced to. He is a joke to the community, even if they aren’t laughing at him directly and that’s the moment that his career boils down to. Even though Ryu and the KT Bullets went to IEM Katowice at the beginning of the 2014 Season and destroyed the entire competition against teams like C9, Gambit and Fnatic, no one really considered much of it since KTB weren’t even doing well in Korea at the time.


Their dominant victory was chalked up to the mindset that Korean teams were just infinitely better than the western teams since they had, to that point, been handing them loss after loss after loss with the exception of the likes of Gambit. So when Ryu ended up going to Europe, everyone called him a washed up player who after ended up not amounting to much in the promotion series when he competed with Millenium. Never mind the fact that he had just spent time in the jungle in one of KT’s roleswaps and he was adjusting back, and forget the fact that Koreans aren’t actually genetically superior at playing League of Legends than anyone else.



Image Courtesy of Riot Games


Despite any and all criticisms, Ryu and the rest of H2K qualified for worlds with smiles. Ryu is a talented mid laner, but one who doesn’t really fit into the top echelon anymore. The silver lining for the player is that being at Worlds in Group C this year provides him an opportunity to show the world properly what he’s capable of as a midlaner. Being put in the same group as both SKT and EDG make H2K’s chances for advancing out of the group stages nigh impossible.


Fortunately, this allows Ryu to once again go head to head against Faker as well as PawN from EDG. The same way Febiven made himself known playing against SKT at MSI, Ryu has a second chance to create moments in which people will say, “Did you see Ryu play against Faker and PawN at Worlds?” in a positive light. Ryu, throughout his entire career, has been a success, even if he never reached the very top; it’s a complete shame that his most notable career moment was being another victim of Faker. Now, he has a chance to set the record straight, so that people don’t remember him as a joke.


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