Fans yell wildly as girls swoon to the unveiling of NaJin e-mFire. Cheers erupted for Duke, last split's regular season MVP, as he took the stage while women screamed for the duo of Watch and Ohq. An organization that has sent a team to the past three World Championships, NaJin have one of Korea's largest and loudest fan bases and after a rocky start to 2015, they were back with the full support of their rabid fans.
All of those loud cheers died out as the camera swung to the opponent's side of the stage. Clad in plain white dress shirts with a generic, placeholder-looking logo hanging above them, Anarchy were ready to make their debut in Champions Korea. An amateur team with no coach, analyst, team house or cool uniforms to show off sponsorships, they were alone. Anarchy are an amateur team who fought through the Champions Qualifiers and barely made it into the premiere Korean tournament. They were embarrassed by Longzhu IM before narrowly getting by fellow amateur squad Winners in the final match of the promotional tournament.
At the center of Anarchy is Son "Mickey" Young-min, a prized solo queue phenom whose Korean professional debut came after a stint in China. One of the most exciting Challenger-level players over the past few years, the assassin-favoring rookie took a different path to the world of pros than his predecessors. Often touted as one of the rising mid-laners that would eventually breakthrough into Champions, Mickey went the route that many other Korean players would take months later: China. He signed with Team WE and went to their Academy team where he played in various tournaments. Mickey returned to Korea before the Champions Qualifiers to join Anarchy along with Lira, another Korean player who left to play in China's secondary leagues with OMG's B-team.
The match between Anarchy and NaJin was supposed to be a litmus test for the latter of the two teams. It was less about if NaJin would win and more about how they would win. Would Ohq go off and grab a Pentakill on one of his hyper carries? Would Duke stomp all over the amateur team and immediately make a case for back-to-back MVP titles? Maybe this game would see Ggoong, a former top level Korean mid-laner who fell off in the first half of 2015, return to form and pick up an easy win against the unpolished amateur squad.
Game 1, while not outright disrespectful, saw NaJin put on a playful performance against their supposedly weaker opponents. Ohq locked in Vayne, and NaJin's wild gunman lived up to his loose, almost overly cocky style. Simply put, he knew that he was a mechanically better player than his opponents and was shoving it in their faces. A pick that has fallen out of flavor across the international scene, the Vayne pick was NaJin making a statement: they didn't see themselves at the same level as Anarchy. While the pick didn't work out as planned and Anarchy gave the veterans a run for the money, Ohq and NaJin still pulled out the first map victory. Anarchy knew how to create team fights and make individual plays — all six players on the roster are proficient solo players — but their timing, vision, and cohesion were off, and NaJin took advantage of their superior objective control to get to the ultimate fifth dragon buff and take the first map.
When the camera gazed upon NaJin after the first game, they didn't seem worried that an amateur team gave them a run for their money. They were jovial, smiling and laughing at the fact they almost gave up a map win to a team they were expected to crush. The NaJin fans were happy, getting to see Ohq on a highlight reel champion, and the 2-0, while not guaranteed, was definitely in their future.
While NaJin's level of play stayed the same throughout the next two games, Anarchy mixed it up. In Game 2, they threw NaJin a curveball by bringing out Lira's Evelynn,. The jungle pick ripped NJE apart as Anarchy played a more together, solid game around objectives. They took that game in 43 minutes. Lira finished 7-3-7 on Evelynn, and while his score wasn't as pretty on paper, Mickey's positioning on Ahri played a key role in the win Anarchy's first ever professional victory.
The final game was what people believed Mickey could be if he ever transitioned from an amateur to a pro before he moved to China. After having it banned out in the first two games, Mickey's signature Zed was left open due to Lira's Evelynn shaking things up. Instead trying to play safe against a champion that has gone tit-for-tat with the likes of Faker and Apdo in solo queue, NaJin, like they did in the first game, played with a false sense of confidence. Ggoong, faced with the proposition of going against Mickey's Zed, locked in LeBlanc, wanting to prove that he could take down the rookie and establish himself as the superior assassin mid-laner.
Ggoong's choice to take Mickey head on was the end of the line for NaJin. Their haughtiness got the better of them as Mickey's solo kill on Ggoong's Ahri in the game's first 10 minutes set in motion a massive snowball effect. Mickey controlled the game from that point forward and picked up a few more kills in the laning phase and assassinated NaJin players in the jungle if they ever overstepped their boundaries. He split pushed, grouped when needed, and was able to pick the target Anarchy needed to delete in team fights to get ahead and grab objectives. It was one of the best Zed games ever played in Champions history, the player that once went under the ID "MickeyGod" had made a name for himself in the Korean professional scene by burying Ggoong under his unrelenting pressure.
The win didn't magically convert the crowd into Anarchy supporters. The once jolly and excited NaJin fans were now shell shocked, and the bare side of Anarchy's fan section had to be filled by the team's own players as Mickey was interviewed for his two MVP game winning performances on Ahri and Zed. Mickey, relieved and overjoyed with his win, gave excited answers in his interview, saying that while beating CJ Entus in their next game would be tough, he and his ragtag band of teammates with their generic logo and plain white shirts would do their best to pull off another stunning upset.
While not sponsored like Champions' other new team, SBENU Sonicboom, the team name Anarchy fits the personality of Mickey's team perfectly. Their style, while showing improvements as the games went along, is still chaotic. The team still needed to rely on their individual skills to make plays and get ahead of a more prepared and experienced team. They don't have a lot of fans, yet, and they were expected to be stepping stones for the bigger teams in the league.
No coach. No analysts. No team house. No fans. Just five friends, playing lawless League of Legends, hoping for the best and having the time of their lives. Mickey, at the center of it all, will lead this anarchic group of players into many more battles, ranging from ones where they will now be expected to do well, and games like against reigning champions SK Telecom T1 where Mickey will have to stand toe-to-toe with Faker for the first time outside of solo queue.
Mickey took a different road than a lot of touted prospects before him. He's gone from solo queue to China and now back to Korea with an eccentric, everyone-has-a-sponsor-but-us team. What's next for Anarchy is anyone's guess at this point. Sponsorship? Maybe. More upsets? Could happen. A total and complete collapse without a team house and coaching staff? Definitely possible. But whatever the outcome, Mickey will be the ace that Anarchy needs, laughing in the center of his group of misfit friends, their team not needing a swarm of fans to have fun playing League of Legends.
Tyler "Fionn" Erzberger is a staff writer for The Score eSports who covers the North American LCS and Korea's Champions.