Usually in sports, a star is born when an existing star is dethroned. For the one whose crown is taken, climbing back to reclaim the throne is one of the most difficult tasks that a player can attempt.
The same thing applies for professional gamers. Due to the increase in the number of new rising talents, the best have become threatened. Eventually, they are taken down, and most, if not all, collapse, walking down a path of shame until their retirement.
But on the other hand, there are some that constantly challenge to once again stand at the top. He was once called the best midlaner during his early years, and can still stand toe to toe against today’s new talents.
His name is ‘Ambition’, and this is his story.
▣ From 'Avalon' to 'League of Legends'
Before ‘League of Legends’ had its explosive growth in Korea, other games of the same genre were favored amongst Koreans.
‘DoTA’ and ‘Chaos’, user created maps of ‘Warcraft 3’, had the biggest player base at the time. Present day coach of SKT T1, ‘Kkoma’, ‘Marin’ of Afreeca Freecs, Immortal’s coach ‘SSong’, and ‘PoohMandu’, who has held the League of Legends World Championship trophy as both a player and a coach, were all avid players of these games.
As ‘Chaos’ constantly grew in popularity, many different titles that share the same style of gameplay were released: ‘Chaos Online’, a game developed based on the custom map of Warcraft 3, and ‘Avalon Online’, a game that was also developed with the same general idea.
Among all the newly released MOBA games, Avalon received the most attention. It also held multiple competitions and had a relatively large fanbase. Among the few players that won those competitions, ‘tprlakf’ became a professional player for League of Legends. He later came to be known as Ambition.
As Avalon started losing popularity, Ambition was introduced to a game released in North America called League of Legends. He started playing the game in February of 2011, and became famous under the username ‘tprlakf’. Later on, he formed a team called ‘ACE’ with Reapered, the present day coach of C9, and Rapidstar, a member of SKT T1’s coaching staff.
Due to the limitations of being an amateur team, ACE didn’t last long. However, they were successful in gaining the attention of MIG, who at the time was preparing to form a sister team. Along with ‘Jack Sparrowoo’ (Later known as ‘Captain Jack’), Ambition became a member of ‘MIG Blaze’.
▣ "He constantly dies to first blood, but how does he keep winning?"
During his amateur days, Ambition’s main role was actually jungler. Matter of fact, Helios, Reapered, and Lustboy were all junglers! The team was very unbalanced because of this, and Captain Jack was the only player on the team who was confident in going to the bot lane as an AD Carry.
After some twist and turns, the positions were decided for all the players. Reapered was sent top, Helios jungle, Lustboy support, and Ambition into the midlane. Due to the unfamiliarity of their respective roles, MIG Blaze started out rough; looking a lot weaker compared to their sister team, Frost. But their true potential was fully revealed during ‘Azubu the Champions Spring 2012’.
At the time, Ambition and RapidStar had contrasting playstyles. RapidStar had a considerably weaker laning phase compared to Ambition, a player who enjoyed establishing a large CS lead by completely smothering his opposing laner. Rather than establishing an advantage during the laning phase, RapidStar preferred roaming, creating opportunities for his team. Because of the difference in playstyle of the two, Blaze was praised as a very offensive team, while Frost was praised for being able to withstand such attacks.
Due to Ambition’s aggressive playstyle, his opposing teams always tried to hold him down by focusing on his lane. He was nicknamed “First Blood Ambition” as his enemies always had him as a first priority threat in the team. But despite constantly giving away first blood to his opposers, Ambition always had the lead in CS and levels in the midlane, which would lead him to eventually carry the games in the end.
Helios, however, had to sacrifice a few jungle creeps to Ambition in the process…
▣ Staying as the best midlaner in Korea
When talking about Ambition today, the first thing that comes to the mind of many is his game against ‘SKT T1 K’ on their debut game. The fans never anticipated that a newly formed team could take down Blaze, a team that had the ‘IEM Season VII World Championship’ title under their belt.
During ‘OLYMPUS Champions Spring 2013’, ‘SKT T1 K’ managed to take down Blaze very convincingly with a score of 2:0. The midlane, however, gained the most attention from the fans, as Ambition was completely crushed by a rookie by the name of ‘Faker’.
On that season, Blaze still came in second, not to mention Ambition’s strong showing during ‘ALL-STARS 2013’. But an uneasy shadow was steadily creeping up on Ambition and Blaze.
Following the summer season, the players of Blaze fell into a slump. As the meta shifted towards midlaners roaming to other lanes, Ambition’s playstyle of constant farming and outscaling in the midlane became a liability for Blaze. At the same time, fresh talents like Faker were constantly challenging him for the title of "Best midlaner."
Ambition lost many battles against rookie players like ‘Pawn’ and ‘Rookie’, leading him to lose his confidence. He tried widening his champion pool and altering his playstyle for the better of his team, but none of these changes were successful. In the end, Blaze couldn’t make it to the round of 16 during ‘HOT6 Champions Summer 2014’.
"At first, when our team was going against KT, I was laning against 'Rookie' and we won; which gave me a big confidence boost. But after that, we kept on losing and losing."
"Eventually, our slump carried over to our solo queue games and scrims. Because things weren't working out, I put down the position of midlaner."
"Even if somehow I overcame 'PawN' or 'Rookie', new players will join the league. I don't think I will be capable of consistently staying at their level."
- During an interview on Ambition's role swap.
▣ Switched back into the jungle
As Blaze was suffering from their slump, the policy that allowed only one team per organization was put into effect. The roster of Frost and Blaze was mixed, with ‘Swift’, ‘Daydream’, and a few others leaving the organization. During the whole process, fans received a rather shocking announcement; Ambition was moved from the midlane into the jungle.
Fans were concerned. In the past, there were players like ‘Lilac’ who showed poor performance due to the frequent swap in roles, and the same applied for ‘Ryu’ when he swapped roles from mid to jungle.
However, the fans were once again in shock. During the free season of the ‘2015 SBENU LOL Champions Korea Spring’, Ambition pulled off a successful debut game as a jungler against ‘IM’. Team ‘Frost’ was already known for their great team fights, but the macro management of the team, in general, gained much more improvement through the addition of Ambition.
Ambition’s playstyle as a midlaner carried on to the jungle. His picks revolved around champions that had fast clear speeds and/or scaled well into the late-game. His smite was also always on point when fighting for important objectives like Baron Nashor.
However, it wasn’t always fun and games for Frost and Ambition this time around.
As he continued to play as a jungler, his playstyle of farming and outscaling often left his laners vulnerable, causing his greedy plays to backfire. On top of all this, his team was having communication issues, causing his individual performance as well as his entire team’s to drop significantly.
On November 30th, 2015, Ambition’s contract with CJ ran out. He then received an offer from ‘Samsung Galaxy’.
The fans, however, were skeptical about Samsung’s decision. Doubting the skills of Ambition, many came to believe that Ambition would be more of a liability than an asset to the team. They believed he joined the team to be more of an advisor and coach because of his long history in the scene rather than being an actual starting player.
No one saw it coming; Ambition’s great comeback.
▣ 'Samsung Galaxy' equipped with a new "Brain" called Ambition
To start it off, Ambition sprouted new wings during his time on ‘Samsung Galaxy’.
Ambition’s reckless playstyle during his time on CJ became much more refined on this new team. His champion pool in the jungle also grew to be much larger than his former self. His shotcalling prowess, which was tempered over the long time he played as a pro, became an invaluable asset to the lineup of the new team, as Samsung lacked proper macro management and a set direction during their games.
However, the team didn’t come without flaws. As Ambition took the role of being the main shotcaller in the team, when Ambition performed poorly, this had a direct impact on the game itself. Especially against teams like ‘KT Rolster’, the fans witnessed Samsung collapsing powerlessly, unable to retaliate. This weakness is actually still present in the Samsung team today.
Not only did Ambition’s performance dramatically improve on this new team, he was finally able to compete in the ‘League of Legends World Championship’ after taking down ‘KT Rolster’ in the regional qualifiers. Although the team performed much better with the addition of Ambition, no one expected them to come out on top of the qualifiers. Even during the actual tournament itself, people scoffed at the possibility of the final matchup being Samsung and SKT, as they were only focused on the matchup between ‘ROX Tigers’ and SKT.
But in the finals, Samsung made the fans choke as they took SKT to game 5. Even though they lost and scored 2nd place, their performance made the fans think twice about their potential of being a top tier team, successfully engraving the team and the individual player’s names in their head.
It wasn’t just Ambition that improved; his leadership affected the other players on the team as well. ‘Cuvee’, who was a rookie player, became known as one of the best toplaners, whereas ‘Crown’ was praised for being able to stand toe-to-toe with Faker, even coming out on top in some cases. The addition of ‘Ruler’ into the roster was also paying off for the team, as his synergy with the team’s two supports, Wraith and CoreJJ, was top-notch.
During the first season of Ambition’s arrival, the team scored 6th in the regional league only to land 4th in the next one. During the last season, the ‘2017 LCK Spring Split’, Samsung managed to place 3rd. The fans started paying more attention to the team, as they constantly remain curious about how much Samsung has improved and how further they’ll continue to improve.
▣ The most intimidating man in LCK, but the gentlest to his woman
Due to his sharp characteristics, Ambition was a reliable source of spicy memes to the Korean community.
Although there were many that were used negatively in the past, the most popular one would be his infamous ‘Bat’. Many jokes run in the community regarding Ambition’s bat, with comments like: “He establishes military discipline within the gaming house with his baseball bat,” “If the team performs poorly or ignores his shotcalling, he smashes the bottoms of every player with his bat,” “He has a bat hidden somewhere in the team’s booth on stage.” These are just a few examples of the jokes.
When asking about Ambition, those who were acquainted with him as either fellow pro players or strangers all responded with, "He is hard to befriend due to his scary characteristics.” The fact that Ambition is the main source of discipline in the team may also contribute to their responses. Ambition himself has also commented, “I find no need to befriend a player from another team.” This shows how Ambition can be blunt and cold at times. This also stirs up difficulties for gaming reporters and journalists, as approaching him, much less befriending him, is a very hard task.
But Ambition also has a sweet side to him. Since 2013, Ambition’s romance with an LCK fan, ‘Meng Solji’, was a trending topic among the fans of the Korean community.
At first, people were concerned about the situation, as they worried Ambition’s level of performance would drop because of it. And in truth, Ambition’s relationship actually did factor in as a possibility for bad performance when Samsung did poorly.
But regardless of the whole situation, whenever Ambition was interviewed, he always mentioned his fiance, expressing his gratitude towards her for always supporting him. The adored girl also supported her counterpart by always cheering for him. Eventually, the fans started supporting their relationship as they truly saw the beauty in it. Their love for each other continued to grow, and eventually, Ambition got married to Solji in May of 2017.
There have been a few cases of married professional gamers in the esports scene, including: ‘Lim Yo Han’ and ‘Choi Yeon Sung’ of Starcraft, and ‘Jang Jae Ho’ of ‘Warcraft 3’. But in the case of the LCK, Ambition was the first. In physical sports, there were records of players actually performing better as they retain a healthy marriage; therefore Ambition garnered much attention from the fans. The longevity of the career of a professional gamer was and is always thought of as “Uncertain,” and “Unreliable.” The fans wonder if Ambition can disprove that belief.
▣ Like an aging wine
Five years passed since Ambition's debut.
Many if not all of the 1st generation professional players have either retired or moved onto being a coach or a director. But Ambition’s skills never deteriorated, which has him settled inside the League of Legends esports scene as an active player. It truly isn’t an exaggeration to say that Ambition is a veteran of the scene.
But it may come as a surprise to know that Ambition is still growing as a player. He was once rated as the best player during his time as a midlaner on Blaze, to be called the worst when he swapped to the jungle. Now, not only does his ambition and dedication affect himself as a player, it fuels the entire team for the better.
Just like how the best wine will become better with age, Ambition’s plays are becoming more stable and complete. His passion truly blazes within him and I believe that this is the reason why he is constantly challenging the newly rising stars, proving to the fans time and time again that he truly is one of the best that LCK can offer.
Hope you enjoyed our second installment of Legend History on Ambition. Please comment on which player you’d like see covered next and why. Your inputs will be greatly appreciated for the next piece.
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