My whole life, I’ve felt like my hands have been on my keyboard.
My fingers are at home when they rest above QWER.
It’s an extension of who I am.
But the moment last month I became world champion?
We became world champions?
My hands weren’t on my keyboard.
They were in the air.
I had given everything. I had left it all out on the rift. There were no more keys to press, things to say. And also, I was “dead.” The best moment of my life … and I saw it through a grey screen. I watched as my teammates finished off Damwon and destroyed their nexus in Game 5 of the world championship. My heart was in my throat in those final few moments. I don’t think I took a breath for at least a minute. It felt like forever. And it also felt like two seconds. All the times I’ve sieged a nexus … watched it explode … all the times I’ve seen VICTORY pop up on the screen — they didn’t prepare me for the feeling of being a world champion.
I mean … of all the millions and millions of people who play League of Legends, to be on the best team in the world?
How cool is that?
How can you be prepared for that?
And you know what I felt most in that moment? Happiness and pride.
After I died, right before we won, I raised my arms over my head. I saw my teammates — Viper, Scout, Jiejie and Flandre — and I was just … I was so proud of them. I’ve been on EDG for seven years. Seven. That’s a long time for anything in eSports. I thought back to winning MSI 2015 in Florida. I remember looking to my right and seeing Deft, PawN, Clearlove and Koro1. I thought about how far we’d come as an organization. I thought about all those who had worn the EDG jersey, about how much they had given.
And in a way, when I looked to my right in Iceland — as we won the game — it felt like we weren’t just winning for us. It was for every player who’d ever suited up for EDG. For every EDG fan. For everyone who’s had a hand in making this team so great. It just happened to be this group of players who finally got it done — who finally got us to the promised land. And we did not do it alone. I know that.
But I want to talk about this year’s team.
Because those four guys … they are my brothers for life.
I want to tell you about the world champions.
When the season started, I didn’t think we would ever get this far. I was excited about our lineup, for sure — but to be champs? I don’t know … maybe I’m scarred from all the close calls, the heartbreak. But when I started playing with Viper, he made me believe. It took us a bit of time to get to know each other, but once we got some games under our belt, I saw how incredible he is. He’s very open-minded when it comes to bot-lane matchups and how we need to play. Whatever champion we needed him to play, he could. And when he needed to carry on something like Aphelios … well, you know what he did. He’s one of the best ADCs in the world. No doubt.
He and Flandre joined around the same time last winter, and their additions gave us something we hadn’t really had before: the ability to play through all three lanes. Flandre is so funny, he always says, “O.K, guys, they have a very good top-laner … I think it’s going to be a top gap.” But then he just goes and carries the game. He’s hard on himself and he can make you forget that he’s actually just an insane player. He can match up with any top-laner in the world. Game 5 against Damwon is a great example. He has to blow flash against Khan early, playing Kennen into Graves — a tough lane — and he just grinds it out. That game could have been a top gap. It probably should have been. But Flandre survived it. I don’t know how many top-laners can do that.
Flandre, and his ability to be anything and everything in top lane, freed up Scout to be one of the best mid-laners in the world this year. He’s been with us since 2016, and he’s a great friend of mine. I have so much respect for the work he puts into the game. I’m not sure there are many pro players who want to win as badly as Scout. He treats the game very seriously, something that hasn’t changed at all since Day One. He doesn’t show much emotion. But when he got his hands on the Summoner’s Cup … I could see in his eyes how much it meant. I know a lot of people think of me, or Clearlove, when they think of EDG — but Scout is our engine. He’s a hero.
But in modern League, in this current meta, you can’t win without a world-class jungler. The role is too critical, it’s too hard to play. You need a star. Look at Damwon. Canyon isn’t just one of the best junglers — he’s one of the best players. Ever. And you know who beat him in Iceland? When it mattered the most? Jiejie. Although he’s the youngest of us five, the way he played at worlds … it was remarkable. He was so important to us. He’s pretty shy, pretty introverted. When he earned the starting spot before the year began, I could see he was nervous before matches. He didn’t say much, but I could tell. I would always do my best to help our team relax, to focus. But it’s not easy for a rookie jungler. Especially on a team like EDG. But after the summer playoffs, when Jiejie was benched once and came back, I think something changed in him. He leveled up in Iceland. Especially the way he played against Damwon. The way he went toe to toe with Canyon. His Viego, and our team-fight to get the dragon soul in Game 4 was incredible ... I will remember that for a long, long time.
Of all the millions and millions of people who play League of Legends, to be on the best team in the world? How cool is that?- Meiko
I think I’ve changed quite a bit, as well. A few years ago, I didn’t have enough energy to pay attention to anything other than my own plays, then slowly I had to take over more responsibilities as captain. I know my teammates rely on me and my instructions in-game, so I’ve just tried my best to multitask, and do whatever I can to make sure we play well together.
I think having some experienced players and some raw players, it all came together to help us break the curse of never having advanced past the quarterfinals. I would be lying if I said that our failures at previous worlds weren’t weighing on me. Even when we had success in the regular season, people would just say, “Time for EDG to go lose in quarters again,” or, “Worlds nerf coming for EDG now!” I try not to pay too much attention to what fans say, because people get emotional. But it can be hard to tune it out.
I take a lot of pride in my career.
League has been my life.
But losing to Fnatic in quarters in 2018 started a dark period for us. We missed worlds in ’19 and ’20 and I felt a bit … lost.
I may have doubted my own skills during that time.
I was practicing 15 hours a day. Doing everything I could to get better. But when the results don’t come? And people question how much you care about the game? To me, that is when my path to win this world championship truly began. I could have let it get to me. But I couldn’t shake this feeling.
This feeling that EDG deserved to be world champions.
That was my goal. And until that day came, I would always have the chips on my shoulder.
I never set out to hold the assists record, or play more than 800 pro matches. But those records are proof that I have tried my best.
Most important, I wanted to be world champion. I wanted us to be world champions.
I started on this path long ago. I convinced my parents to let me chase this dream. I risked a lot.
I couldn’t give up.
Every time I was tired, or my hands hurt, or I felt done — I pushed.
League, like any sport, you practice and practice and practice for that one moment — that one series.
And for me? That moment was the worlds quarterfinal this year against RNG.
Look, I’ve played a lot of games. I don’t get too nervous anymore.
But before that series?
I could feel the weight of it — what a win would mean … what a loss would mean.
We have a history with RNG, with the quarterfinals. And our goal before going to Iceland was to reach the semis. So this series meant so much to all of us. To all of our fans. I could tell in scrims that week how focused everyone was. We were giving it our best. It was the hurdle we had to clear. And it was the one this team was built for. It was a crazy series. Anytime you get to Game 5 you know it’s been a back and forth fight. I really remember Jiejie’s two Baron steals in Game 3 and how that just fired us up so much. Everyone played great and after we beat RNG it was like … this darkness — this weight — it was gone. It was just light now. It was just belief.
I knew we could be champions.
From our coaches, to our fans, to the five of us on the rift — the belief we had in one another had been justified. I knew what I had beside me going into battle. That’s why when we were down 2–1 to Damwon in the finals, there was no fear.
What is fear after you survive two lengthy BO5s? What is fear after you beat some of the top teams in the world along the way?
There was no fear.
Game 4 in the finals was incredible.
Game 5 was history.
We will always be a part of history.
That is ours, forever.
I take a lot of pride in my career. League has been my life.- Meiko
When it ended, and we got offstage, I checked my phone and saw everyone celebrating back in China. It was so, so amazing. People running through the streets with EDG flags … the screaming from the balconies … the pure happiness.
I think our win was a surprise.
And I think good surprises are beautiful. They are hard to come by these days, aren’t they? I could see how our win lifted the spirits of a whole country. For one night, everyone got to feel something real, something great. I know how many times we disappointed people, and that’s why winning this year was so special. Because we remember the lows. The sadness. But this time they got to see us accomplish something extraordinary. And it became our shared memory forever.
I know what League means to people in China. These last two years, with Covid, so many turned to eSports and gaming as a relief — as a way to find peace. I know it was like that for me, too. It was an escape. And during a hard time like this, if our win gave people a reason to cheer, to celebrate — if it truly made them happy.
Then that makes me happy, too.
I will remember our time in Iceland together for a long, long time. And when I think back on it, I will remember much more than just season 11.
I will think of our fans, our staff, our players.
The highs, the lows, the journey.
And I will know that it was all worth it.