It’s June of 2021. You’re (responsibly) at a watch party for the Legends of Runeterra seasonal tournament, a game that you just picked up a few months ago. During some filler, you hear the casters mention the name of a player you don’t recognize and a few of your friends start cheering. Not wanting to be left out of the loop, you ask, “who is Winding God?”. Your friends simply state that they’re a player from ‘back in the day’. You ask if they were a content creator or streamer, and your friends tell you no. You ask if they won a seasonal and are informed that Winding God stopped playing before seasonal tournaments existed. The broadcast goes to a break and as you’re wandering aimlessly around the kitchen looking for something to snack on, your mind settles on a question. How did players make a name for themselves back in the day? When casters place a player you’ve never heard of on the top 5 of their power rankings, what did they do to earn such a spot? Seasonals are a relatively new addition to Runeterra and the first World Championship hasn’t even happened yet, so what was the prestigious title up for grabs prior to Monuments of Power?
Enter Duels of Runeterra.
The premier grassroot tournament for most of 2020 was a key piece in putting the legends in...you get it. But it wasn’t as simple as winning one DoR. After all, everyone around at the time remembers Winding Gods' impressive back to back to back wins in Duels of Runeterra 7, 8 and 9. But can anyone name any of the winners of DoR EU 7, 8 or 9? No, one win just doesn’t cut it when you’re trying to make a name for yourself. So right after this legendary spree ended and it was still fresh in everyone's minds, why did Duels of Runeterra 11 champion Random7HS stick out so much?
If you remember watching the Empires of the Ascended seasonal, you may have heard the phrase “best Deep player in the world” thrown around a lot when referring to Random7HS, and I’m not inclined to disagree. A lot of Random’s success has been determined by the viability of Deep, but calling him a one trick would certainly be disingenuous. His initial DoR win was taken with Deep, Karma/Ezreal, and Overwhelm. While Karma/Ezreal didn’t raise any eyebrows, the rest of the lineup wasn’t what we were used to seeing at the time. Nab was widely considered one of the best decks, but rather than play it, Random identified it as a way for him to go deeper faster in his opponents hands. Then came Duels of Runeterra 14, where we learned that Random is not a one trick. He’s a TWO trick! After losing game 5 of the finals to a top deck elusive, many people were looking at Random’s lineup in disbelief that he had made it all the way to a 2nd place finish. Random was back on a Karma deck, though this time it was the hard control Spooky Karma. For those of you who weren’t around before seasonals, we didn’t have the Riot lock format that exists as the standard now. Back then, we weren’t allowed any overlap of regions between our decks, meaning that Spooky Karma meant Random couldn’t play any other Shadow Isle deck. To circumnavigate this, Random busted out his latest creation, and carved out a name for himself with his turbo Deep Piltover & Zaun Twisted Fate/Nautilus deck. While it never gained a lot of traction, Random really solidified himself as someone who knew Deep inside and out well enough to play the deck without Shadow Isle, a feat we will likely never see repeated. From there Random remained a consistent name in top cuts but never made it back to the finals until qualifying for worlds at the Empires of the Ascended seasonal, again with Deep.
Despite the success, Random still sees himself as a mostly for-fun kind of player. He’s never taken to streaming, never signed with a team (though he does do a lot of testing with the Wobbly Wombats), and doesn’t seem to have let the success affect him. He still plans to compete in the remaining seasonal tournaments and while normally I would have to ask whether he’s playing to win or playing for fun, for Random, the answer is the same. This ensures that he’ll keep in top form (at least on Deep) going into the round of 64, which should strike fear into the hearts of all competitors as the chances of Deep getting nerfed before worlds is pretty close to 0. If you’re looking for a pet deck loving, anti-meta savant, be sure to cheer for Random7HS (we’re still trying to gently bully him into being Random7LoR, to no avail) at this upcoming World Championship.