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The Road to Worlds: Henneky Player Profile

Dear reader, 

If you’ll indulge me, Boulevard, for a moment, I’d like to peel back the curtain a little on my Road to Worlds articles. When I highlight a player, I try to do 2 things. One is to give a little of the player’s history so anyone can learn about our community celebrities. The second is that I try to reduce the player down to a few digestible sentences so that anyone just getting into Runeterra when Worlds is happening can look back to find who to root for. Up until now, this has been very easy for me. This is because casters are usually the verbal history of a game for the first few years of its lifetime before the scene explodes enough to have a written one. It’s something I take pride in. But as I went to cover the world’s first double qualified player, Henneky, I ran into some conflicts when trying to reduce him down to be digestible for first time viewers.

On the one hand, Henneky is something of an “Everyman”. It’s easy for the average player to relate to his story. During the Monuments of Power power rankings, we learned that Henneky started ranked with two seasons of Iron before climbing to Platinum in the next two. This was before hitting Masters for the first time this season. Surely, many viewers at home can relate to struggling to climb the ranked ladder for one reason or another. It can really make someone inspired by Henneky not only finally pushing through into Masters after nearly a year, but topping the Monuments of Power Seasonal in the same breath. When the Seasonals were introduced, the format and marketing around them seemed to really perpetuate the idea and hope that anybody could top thanks to the single elimination format. During the 2 Seasonals using that format, Henneky managed to top 4 both times. In hindsight, this furthered his relatability. Because we didn’t know that the top 4 was the cutoff for Worlds qualification at the time, his finishes painted him as someone who had come up just short. There have been times in all our lives where we’ve come up just shy of something, and Hennkey’s back to back “failures” continues to endear us to him. 

While there was a lot of hype around Henneky heading into the Cosmic Creational Seasonal (having moved from #14 to #5 on the power rankings between the two) it was ultimately overshadowed by the victory of another back-to-back topper, MajjinBae. He even surpassed Henneky in the hype race (Majiin went from #21 to #3 on the power rankings). Even at the most recent Guardians of the Ancient Seasonal, Henneky continued to live in the shadow of Majiin (being #5 and #1 on the top 32 power rankings respectively). All the while though, it made us more empathetic to Hennkey. Majiin, Runeterra’s golden boy, constantly steals away the spotlight at the last second by just barely one upping our hero in the final hour. 

Now comes the conflict I mentioned earlier. I could embellish a little more on the above, and really drive home the relatable nature of Hennkey who is always chasing Majiin’s shadow. But while digging more and more into him, I learned of a totally different side - Henneky the Cryptid. 

Henneky, who after nearly a year of not achieving the rank of Master, tops the first two Seasonal tournaments. During the interviews of the Cosmic Creation Seasonal, players are asked about their competitive background. We learned Henneky said they “really don’t have much besides having played in a Pokemon Draft League”. Now I’m not an expert on the direct translations of accomplishments from game to game, but “I’ve played in a Pokemon Draft League” does not equal a back-to-back Seasonal top cut. “Surely” you say, “Hennkey had competed in grassroots Legends of Runeterra events that gained them the experience to outskill their opponents--Right?” While we don’t keep track of everyone who has ever played in an event, we do keep a pretty solid record of top cuts. So I can say with a degree of confidence that the Monuments of Power Seasonal was Henneky’s first top. He came out of absolutely NOWHERE to accomplish a historic task in being the first double qualified player, and joined the elite crew of 3-time toppers in the Americas. It’s worth noting that no one has topped all 4 Americas Seasonals, probably because Henneky failed to reach top 700 Masters in the Empires of the Ascended season and didn’t get to play. In his own words “For those of you wondering, I went 0-0 in yesterday's Seasonal. I couldn't break 100 LP to make cutoff. Worlds player btw”. This tweet was made just 5 days after the news of Worlds broke, meaning he didn’t take the season off because he knew he was qualified already. Normally this would have been the time to write off the first 2 Seasonals as a fluke - anyone was supposed to be able to top, and anyone did. He had a good run, and now we can forget about him until Worlds where we’ll place him in the bottom 10 of the power rankings.

Wrong again. After failing to break 100lp to qualify, Hennkey took the Guardians of the Ancient season by storm, finishing at rank 30 and conceding round 9 of the Seasonal with a 7-1 record. On top of that, he has had success with an unparalleled 12 decks. In Monuments of Power, he brought a triple Ionia lineup of Feel the Minah / Lee Sin / Shen/Fiora and stuck with that through swiss and top cut. For Cosmic Creation, after reaching the top 32 with TF/Fizz / Pirates / Draven/Ezreal, he swapped over to TF/Fizz / Nightfall / Discard and still ran it through to the top 4. In the most recent Seasonal, he topped with Rubin Pile / Dragons / Draven/Ezreal and switched over to TF/Fizz / Frostbite Midrange / Azir/Irelia in the top cut. 

And so Hennkey is a player I’m struggling to narrow down to a digestible few sentences. While there are certainly aspects of his career in Runeterra that make him relatable, there are just as many parts that are mysterious in nature. His first season hitting Masters was the first season with a Seasonal - was this motivation to try hard and improve, or was he sandbagging and only very casually playing in the beginning? His back-to-back top 4’s - was he stuck in Majiin’s shadow, or carefully plotting within it? He even managed to downplay his double qualification announcement by failing to qualify for the Seasonal 5 days later - a true struggle, or a calculated ruse to misdirect attention away from him? 

Whichever side of him appeals to you more, there is all the reason in the world to cheer for Henneky in the upcoming World Championship.

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