In the sports scene, a curse isn’t easily dispelled. One of the most famous is the Curse of the Bambino, originating from when the Boston Red Sox traded their franchise star Babe Ruth to their rival, the New York Yankees. Boston wasn’t able to win a championship for 86 years afterwards. Another is the Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx; athletes who have appeared on the Sports Illustrated cover have tended to suffer injuries or lose important games shortly after appearing on the cover. There’s also the strange history of Arsenal FC’s No.9: the performance of the players who have worn that no.9 shirt for the team has been significantly worse than expected. These curses are hard to ignore. While they may just be a series of unfortunate and recurring events, there are times when they seem too consistent to be mere coincidence.
This is also true in the esports scene. C9 is often the last hope of NA, but always fails to reach the semi finals every year, and Ko “Score” Dong-bin always stops at second place whenever he gets a chance to win a championship. Even Uzi, who is called the best ADC in the world, has been the runner-up for Worlds twice and finished second in the LPL three straight in a row; he was finally able to win the championship last spring.
However, the player who has the worst curse in international competitions is Kingzone DragonX’s ADC, Kim “PraY” Jong-in. The team that defeats PraY’s team in major international knockout tournaments becomes the champion; it’s the king-maker curse.
This curse goes way back to 2012, near the beginning of League of Legends esports. During October of 2012, Worlds was held, with Azubu Frost and NaJin Sword participating from Korea. At that time, PraY played for NaJin. They advanced to the bracket stage with three wins, finishing first in their group. However, they lost to the Taipei Assassins (TPA) at the quarterfinals 2-0. Until then, TPA wasn’t classified as a ‘strong’ team, but they defeated Moscow Five (whose roster joined Gambit Gaming afterwards) and Azubu Frost to win the championship.
PraY’s peculiar curse continued even after he changed teams. In 2015, PraY joined the HUYA Tigers (Which was renamed to GE Tigers – KOO Tigers – ROX Tigers – Hanwha Life Esports). They were able to reach the finals at Worlds, but lost to SKT T1 1-3 and failed to win the championship.
In Worlds 2016, they passed the group stage without much trouble, and defeated Edward Gaming in the quarter finals 3-1. However, they again met SKT T1, only to lose 2-3. SKT defeated PraY again and won the championship that year.
In 2017, PraY moved to Longzhu Gaming. They won the LCK Summer Split Championship after defeating SKT. In the following group stage of Worlds 2017, Longzhu went 6-0 and delivered dominating performance. Many predicted that they would win Worlds instead of SKT T1 and Samsung Galaxy, whose performance wasn’t as good as before. However, in the match against Samsung Galaxy in the quarter finals, they were shut out 0-3. Samsung Galaxy went on to defeat Team WE (3-1) and SKT T1 (3-0), claiming the Summoner’s Cup for the first time in three years.
Because of this ‘curse’, many fans wondered if PraY would actually be able to win any international competitions. Although he passed the group stage in this year’s MSI, he’ll be playing against the Flash Wolves who have always been very strong against PraY’s team in the past.
PraY lost to the Flash Wolves in the group stage of Worlds 2015 twice and lost all matches against them this year in MSI as well. To PraY, overcoming the Flash Wolves and getting over his ‘king-making curse’ will be the biggest priority in the upcoming knockout stage.
The Flash Wolves have been strong in Bo1 games, but they often become rather very weak in Bo3 or Bo5 matches. Also, Kingzone showed a glimpse of their dominating performance after starting Cuzz instead of Peanut in their jungle. Things may change starting from the knockout stage.
The knockout stage will be starting after three days of rest. Will PraY be able to overcome his curse and win an international championship? This may be an interesting point to focus on in the upcoming Knockout Stage of the 2018 MSI.
■ MSI 2018 Knockout Stage Schedule
Game 1: Royal Never Give Up vs Fnatic (12:00 May 18, 2018 CEST)
Game 2: Kingzone DragonX vs Flash Wolves (12:00 May 19, 2018 CEST)