Gwak "Bdd" Bo-seong, this is your tournament.
As the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational begins in Berlin, Germany, the mid laner for Kingzone DragonX, the expected winner of the tournament is on the cusp of something great. It's not like I haven't talked about Bdd before. Last year before the first final of his career against his idol Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, I wrote a mini-novel on his strenuous, winding journey that led him to that point.
Since then? Two domestic titles. Two regular-season MVP awards, which only three other players in the history of League Champions Korea have accomplished. In his two MVP-winning seasons, Bdd has 320 kills and an astonishing 521 assists to only 90 deaths. When it's come to efficiency and simply playing clean League of Legends, no one in the world has been on the level of Kingzone's conductor in the mid lane.
The one blemish on Bdd's record in the last year, though, shines the brightest. Even with his back-to-back MVPs and domestic trophies, international hardware trumps all. While Faker's six domestic championships are unmatched in South Korea, it's his three Summoner's Cups and two MSI trophies that set him apart from the other superstars in the game.
Bdd entered last year's Worlds with nothing but confidence behind him after his team became the first to ever beat SK Telecom T1 in a domestic final with 3-1 victory over SKT in the LCK Summer Split finals.
In crunch time, Bdd wilted, however, disappearing in the team's opening knockout round match against eventual tournament winner Samsung Galaxy. Bdd's smooth and efficient play was nowhere to be found, and the nerves that weren't present in South Korea were apparent to millions on the world stage. The team then known as Longzhu Gaming, the odds-on favorite to win the championship ,was sent home unceremoniously without picking up a single map victory in the knockout stage.
Bdd's season of excellence was all but forgotten, and eyes turned away from the budding ace.
Now, Bdd is at the same position he found himself in last year in China at the World Championships. Kingzone, an even better version of the Longzhu team that thwarted SKT last year, is not only expected to win MSI, but do it in a stylish fashion. Bdd returns as the league's MVP, this time not sharing co-honors with any other player, and has shed the image of the bright-eyed rookie prodigy that was given room to make mistakes. Unlike in 2017, another disappointing tournament, especially when Kingzone is the only South Korean team at the event, won't be overlooked.
In a recent interview with Inven Global, KT Rolster's promising rookie mid laner Son "Ucall" Woo-hyeon called Bdd the best mid laner in the LCK.
"He tends to play aggressively and does everything well, but his highest quality is his teamwork," Ucal said. "As for myself, although I think I got a lot better, I'm still lacking in terms of staying in rhythm with the team. As for the next best player, I'd choose myself. The only difference between Bdd and I is teamwork."
Back when he first began playing on an amateur-level, Bdd was known for his individual brilliance. Since joining Longzhu, his game has evolved in dramatic fashion, with Bdd's main strength not coming in the form of assassins or high-damage carries, but from his adept play on champions that can influence the other lanes on the map. His Galio is unmatched, and Bdd's other champions like Sion and Taliyah have made Kingzone near-unbeatable in the first half of the year.
Faker is still the best individual player in the world, and Royal Never Give Up's Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao might be the most mechanically gifted at MSI, but Bdd's long reach on Summoner's Rift makes him a special player even among the elite attending the Mid-Season Invitational.
"I want to win all of the League of Legends tournaments that currently exist," Bdd told me in an interview last year before the 2017 summer final against SKT. "My final goal is to retire as a player who will be remembered in this fashion: 'That player was really amazing. He was an awesome player.'"
People already remember Bdd as an awesome player. At MSI, if things go according to plan, the talk of him being a legendary player can rightfully begin.