3,505 days. That’s roughly 10 years. How many people would be able to dream the same thing for that long? Let alone not give up in the process and ultimately reach that goal?
For a very long time, the Summoner’s Cup almost felt like a mirage for Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu. However, that dream became a reality when he lifted the Summoner’s Cup and became a world champion. So many people doubted that he could pull off the miracle run in his seventh Worlds appearance, but in the end, Deft finally managed to climb to the top. Everyone chanted his name, and Deft shed tears in return.
And with it, Deft finally managed to complete ‘The Exodia’. From becoming champions in the LCK, the LPL, at MSI, to Worlds, this is the story of how Deft collected all the pieces of Exodia.
The beginning - 2014 Champions [LCK] Spring
His debut within the LCK was on April 3, 2013, back when the LCK was still known as ‘Champions’, under MVP Blue [which later became known as Samsung Galaxy Blue, or Samsung Blue for short], a team he first joined on Feb 19, 2013. At the time, he was known as the rookie with immense potential, but he could not tap into it in his debut year. Except for when he was on Ezreal.
However, having gained the knowledge and the experience of playing in the pro scene, he started to really showcase what he’s capable off a year later, in 2014 Champions Spring, On mechanic-heavy champions like Ezreal, Kog’Maw, Twitch and Lucian, he defeated CJ Entus Frost in the quarterfinals, his sister team, MVP Ozone [Samsung White], and Najin Shield in the finals, capturing his first domestic title.
Deft’s journey to the LPL - 2015 LPL Spring
After a successful 2014 season for both the Samsung teams, the infamous ‘LoL Exodus’ disassembled all the Samsung players. With his former teammate, PawN, he found his new home in the LPL, under EDG.
It only took two years for Deft to rise to the top of the Korean LoL pro scene; it did not take long for Deft to find his form in the LPL and rise to the top. After week 4 of the 2015 LPL Spring split, EDG held the #1 spot on the ladder. Not only did he defeat Imp in the finals that split, his infamous pentakill on Sivir was in game 5 of that series, capturing his first LPL title and becoming a ‘Royal Roader’ in the LPL.
Deft’s second international tournament - 2015 MSI
With his championship victory in 2015 LPL Spring split, Deft and EDG headed to participate in the Mid-Season Invitational that year, his second international tournament of his career.
EDG proved themselves that they were the top dogs in the LPL that year, so naturally, they were also the top contenders to win MSI. EDG proved themselves with actions over words. While they were in 2nd place during the group stages after losing to SKT T1, they got their revenge in the finals and took home the MSI trophy. On a champion that Deft later gained an insane win rate on, Jinx, Deft and EDG captured their first MSI title.
Deft’s second LPL title - 2016 LPL Summer
After finishing second place in the spring split that year, Deft meets his new teammates, Scout and Mouse, on EDG. This led to Deft’s second LPL title of his career.
At the time, Deft was tearing it up in solo queue, and this form also showed in his matches as well. It looked like his rise in form accelerated in the Spring split to hit its peak in the Summer split. Once EDG’s new top and mid finally got rid of the weaknesses that the team had, EDG looked unstoppable, which led to an undefeated split. It’s also worth noting that Deft’s performance that year also awarded him ‘Player of the Year’ in the LPL.
Deft’s return to the LCK - 2018 LCK Summer
In 2017, Deft returned to the LCK, under kt Rolster. Including Deft, the team was full of legendary names within the LCK, which led to many dubbing KT, ‘The Superteam’. However, LCK proved to be much tougher for Deft, ultimately failing to make it to Worlds and concluding his 2017 season.
During this time, many criticized him for having a weak mentality, because he seemed to underperform when it really mattered. This momentum carried over to 2018 Spring, where he proved himself to be the carry player during the regular split, but choke during the playoffs. However, he turned things around in the Summer split of that year, where he came back from Spring with an ironclad mentality, alongside his jaw-dropping ability to carry. Deft led his team to the finals that year, and managed to capture his second LCK title.
The final piece of Exodia - 2022 Worlds
When it came to performing at Worlds, Deft always had bad luck. He made six Worlds appearances since 2014, with his peak being making it to top 4 in his first Worlds appearances. Every time he made an appearance at Worlds, he got knocked out in the quarterfinals. It was almost like a jinx, because no matter how well or poorly he played, quarterfinals was the ceiling for Deft.
Many, including himself, said that 2022 can potentially be Deft’s last year of playing competitively, largely due to mandatory military service for Korean men. No one even expected DRX to make it to Worlds, but after pulling off some huge upsets in the regional qualifiers, Deft made his seventh Worlds appearance.
DRX was LCK’s #4 seed, so naturally, no one paid that much attention to them. Not only did anyone consider them to be championship contenders, many considered them to be a level lower than the other LCK teams at Worlds. Due to Deft’s underperformance in the Summer split, many questioned whether or not he’ll be able to compete against other international teams. Against all odds, however, Deft and DRX went from everyone doubting them to lifting the Summoner's Cup.
For Deft, it took 10 years to achieve his dream of becoming a world champion. He never gave up once in that process, and he finally crossed the finish line he wanted. Deft’s story had more anime plot armor than anime itself, and for LoL Esports fans, it will be one to tell for many years to come.
Striving for perfection to achieve excellence in esports