In most sports, players who play in a defensive position attract the least amount of attention from fans. The reason behind this is quite simple; unlike the attackers, defenders can’t actively showcase flashy plays. For example, if a football (soccer) team has a roster of ‘Lionel Messi’ and ‘Pelé’ as the attackers with ‘Johan Cruyff’ and ‘Diego Maradona’ as the midfielders, you will most likely have your eyes fixated on them instead of the defenders or the goalkeeper.
The same goes for ‘League of Legends’. In most games, fans tend to give their undivided attention to the players who harbor the potential to carry. While on the other hand, the players who’re in charge of supporting the growth of those carries attract the least amount of attention - unless of course they pull off a perfect teamfight engage. In actuality, they receive a lot more flak than praise from the fans, as they have to constantly risk their lives to maintain vision over their enemies.
Amongst those underappreciated players is a particular one that was rated as one of the worst. That player is the current starting support player for the world’s strongest team, ‘SKT T1’.
■ Wolf, who is constantly shadowed by others
Wolf is known by the fans as the “Most traditional support.”
As described by the fans, Wolf devotes all of his resources to Bang, his soul partner. And instead of leading the team with aggressive initiations, Wolf prefers to play safe from beginning to end. Starting from the laning phase, once Wolf manages to gain a lead, he takes full advantage of it by creating a perfect environment for Bang to thrive and grow.
Most popular support players tend to play champions that have “Hook” skills that can make flashy plays. Champions like Brand, Annie, and Sion have also gained lots of attention due to their simple yet destructive nature. Compared to that, Wolf’s style is quite the opposite.
If you look into the earlier parts of Wolf’s career, you will find his most played champions to be those who are great in initiating fights, like Leona and Blitzcrank. Even during these times, Wolf had great accuracy with those important skills, but he was never really noticed due to being overshadowed by an insanely popular support player, Madlife. The fact that Wolf played in an underperforming team, Najin Shield, didn’t help either.
Wolf left Najin Shield to briefly play for CTU. Then, in late 2013, he joined ‘SKT T1 S’, and yet Wolf’s popularity remained the same. On the sister team of ‘SKT T1 S’, there was a ‘World Champion’ support player by the name of ‘PoohMandu’. So in comparison, Wolf received little to no attention from the fans.
Even when looking outside of the SKT organization, there were players who constantly cast their shadows over Wolf. One example is Mata of SSW. In a team that consists of Marin, a player with a relatively small champion pool, H0r0, who was way too inconsistent in his plays, and Bang, who constantly threw games; Wolf wasn’t exactly on the best team. On the other hand, with superior shotcalling and roaming, Mata led SSW to the championships and even further to victory. If you compare the two support players at that time, Wolf was merely a firefly while Mata was like the sun.
However, Wolf wasn't completely ignored. He actually started garnering attention from fans as people started noticing his mechanical prowess in teamfights. So as the roster of the two SKT teams joined, the fans were curious to see how or if Wolf would synergize with Faker and Bengi.
■ Wolf's slump and his powerful teammates
During early 2015, Wolf fell into a slump.
His major weakness at the time was his lack of map awareness. Coupled with his slump affecting his skillshot accuracy, he started becoming the reason for his team's losses. As a result, Wolf started receiving criticism for his lack of impact in games played by SKT.
This became more noticeable during the MSI of 2015. Although SKT came in 2nd, the plays made by Wolf were more than disappointing for the fans. This was especially true during the finals because he constantly over extended and got caught out.
Although Wolf returned to his original form during the ‘2015 SBENU LOL Champions Korea Summer’, the performances from the players in his team: Marin, Faker, and Bang, kept the fans’ attention away from him.
And after the victory in the summer season, Wolf stated that he wanted to become the best support player in the world. From there, he received many various remarks. “He is a player that will always be overshadowed by Faker and Bang,” and “All he has to do is play at an average level then the rest of the team will carry him.”
Wolf delivered on his words by showing nothing less than stellar performance during Worlds. Clutch initiations when the team needed to fight and saving his teammates who were close to death; SKT ended up winning the tournament while only losing 1 game throughout the entire event.
A big part of Wolf’s dominating performance came from his laning phase. During the qualifiers for Worlds, his partner, Bang, had an incredible 71 KDA ratio. We can’t deny the fact that this number was achieved due to Wolf’s performance.
■ Despite the victory, Wolf stays underrated
Despite the fact that Wolf proved himself by taking the cup for both Worlds and the summer season of his local league, he was still belittled and underrated by many people, including the media.
Wolf was not counted in the list of the top 10 players from ESPN. Furthermore, he was also not included in Riot’s ‘The World’s Top 20’. During a postgame interview, Wolf mentioned, “I am a bit sad that I couldn’t make it into Riot’s top 20 list. I am actually very curious in seeing who’s doing better than me right now.” Wolf was very disappointed that he wasn’t mentioned.
For the entire duration of the ‘World Championships’, Wolf took on the role of looking out for his teammates. But despite the success he brought to his team, all the attention of the fans was given to Faker and Bengi, who were known to carry games on their own. Also, compared to the other support players like GorillA and CoreJJ, who are players that made many flashy plays on Miss Fortune and Zyra, Wolf was more of a traditional and "safe" support.
Wolf is a player that has played aggressively during the earlier parts of his career, but he changed his entire playstyle to establish a proper synergy with his team. But the sacrifices he made, of course, kept him out of the limelight as he wasn't considered to be a playmaker.
His sorrows continued on into All-Stars 2016. Although Wolf made a name for himself after his win in Worlds 2016, with the event's restriction of only allowing 2 players per team, Wolf had no chance to make his appearance in All-Stars. With Faker being in his team, Wolf’s chances were already lower than he would’ve liked. The huge fanbase behind Madlife also didn’t help Wolf. In that year, Wolf received only 4.8% of the vote for the event.
Did the vote ratio drop the confidence in Wolf? In an interview that took place near the end of the year, Wolf revealed that he was afraid that he might not receive anything at the ‘Korean e-Sports Awards’ that year. For many, it was very shocking to hear that from a world champion.
■ "Those who don't acknowledge me don't know much about League."
As a player, Wolf achieved 2 victories in Worlds. But despite such great accomplishments, the undervaluing of Wolf continued into the year 2017.
During the MSI of that year, ESPN published an article that rated players for each position. The Top, Jungle, Mid, and ADC of SKT were all rated as number 1. But for the number 1 support position, FW’s support, SwordArt, had the honor of taking that spot.
Not only did the fans feel sorry for Wolf, but the player himself showed a disappointed reaction towards it. In an interview done after SKT secured their qualification to the finals, Wolf commented, “Those who rate me as anything below the best don’t know much about League.”
Then, many fans from foreign communities started mentioning Wolf. “Playing on the best team doesn’t make you the best player,” and “You’re nothing without Bang and Faker,” are just a few of the examples.
People even thought that he was being overconfident, saying things such as, “It’s thanks to all the pressure your team is putting out that you are able to land those skillshots.”
In the finals against G2 Esports, Wolf proves his point
During the finals, Wolf’s Tahm Kench constantly saved his weakened teammates with ‘Devour’ and completely took control of the game with his ultimate, ‘Abyssal Voyage’. His performance on Zyra was also nothing short of amazing. While consistently harassing his opposing laners, Wolf maintained a high accuracy on his skillshots. Once again, he showed the fans why SKT’s botlane is rated as the best.
The biggest impact made by Wolf was showcased in the 3rd game of the series. With possibly the most beautiful initiation made by a player during the whole event, Wolf led the team to victory. The “Wolf only plays safely with tanky champions,” bias was completely disproven. Afterward, Wolf received MVP for the tournament, and successfully proved that those who undervalued him truly “don’t know much about League.”
■ “I actually dislike playing as a support.”
Although Wolf has proven time and time again that he is the best support player in the world, he has a side to him that really hates playing the role.
“Even in Solo Queue, I prefer playing DPS roles. In truth, I don’t like playing as a support. I always want to stand out.”
Wolf hit no.1 in the Korean Solo Queue ladder when he was in his first year of high school. For a player that has achieved such a feat, you would expect him to join the competitive scene in a role that has the potential to carry a game. But the reason why Wolf started his career as a support was due to some advice from his ex-teammate, ‘Vinylcat’. Due to insanely talented players such as Faker, Wolf was advised to go for a less competitive position.
Wolf’s desire to play in another role could be a possible driving force for Wolf to do his absolute best. Despite Wolf’s past comment, where he said “I only do my best for the paycheck,” his desire to do what he wants to do kept him working hard.
Out of all the players in SKT’s roster, the wittiest player is most likely Wolf. Although he has a much smaller number of viewers compared to Faker or Bang, the way Wolf entertains his viewers on his stream is certainly impressive.
You can see more of Wolf’s personality from the comments he makes on his teammates. To Faker, who is notorious for making lame jokes, Wolf said, “The garbage you call jokes, please stop saying them.” And when asked why he doesn’t follow Bang on Twitter, Wolf responded, “It’s a waste of time to go in there to click the mouse and follow.”
Of course, the comment made towards Bang is most likely a joke, as their synergy is not possible without a trusting relationship.
■ The Moon can’t shine on its own, yet it’s the brightest object up in the night sky
Wolf is currently sitting as the best along with his teammates. But during his earlier years, Wolf’s parents were actually against him on his choice of career. But now, it’s a different story, as Wolf commented, “My parents are prouder and happier about my success than I am.” Wolf further mentioned, “It really hurts me that my mom, who is suffering from a heart disease, avoids using my winnings for her hospital fees.”
Wolf is a reliable player that helped make SKT what it is today. And in the team, Wolf made himself a pillar, constantly keeping the team up by supporting from the behind. In the night sky where the Sun is nowhere to be found, the Moon shines the brightest.
“If ‘SKT T1’ is the Earth, I want to say that I am like the Moon. Of course, during the day, it is invisible due to the Sun. But it is still up there in the sky. Please think of me in that way.”
Hope you enjoyed our second installment of Legend History on Wolf. 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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