Flashwolves are Forever.
“Angels are like Diamonds. They can’t be made. You have to find them. Each one is unique.”
A diamond has been seen as one of the most beautiful jewels in all of history and yet to make such a precious stone it must be forged under immense pressure. I do feel that the diamond metaphor is beaten to death, however, like a diamond, the legacy of the Flashwolves will be forever.
As the 2020 LPL Gauntlet comes to a close and the 4th seed is locked in, 3 brothers stand together representing this region that they now call home. These 3 however, used to live together in another place, the LMS. A region that housed the three areas of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. Ha ‘Kramer’ Jong-Hun, Hung ‘Karsa’ Hao-Hsuan & Hu ‘SwordArt’ Shuo-Chieh. All graduates of the infamous Flashwolves of the LMS.
A Tragic Homecoming into Departure.
Kramer is the least recognizable from the Flashwolves as he missed out on that 2016 MSI performance but he was there in 2015, apart of the group that had a fruitful group stage at Worlds, who sadly fell to Origen. Kramer would leave FW to go home to Korea, but it wouldn’t be until 2018 that he got to taste the international competition again. In the time between after leaving the LMS, he would find himself on CJ Entus while sharing time with a young rookie ADC, named Ghost. During this year in 2016, CJ Entus would hit average levels in spring followed by a complete disaster in Summer, falling all the way down to the promotion tournament where they would sadly fall to ESC Ever and a now-familiar face in LokeN. Kramer & Ghost’s performances did not change anything for the team as the core was youthful. With rookies, Haru & BDD trying to gain experience while performing well, with some veteran voices who attempted to help in the Summer. Shy replacing Untara partnering with Madlife. It just wasn’t enough, but Kramer would dust himself off and join a new team in the Afreeca Freecs. Joining after the ‘Cinderella Season’ for the Freecs it was obvious what the intent of this new roster was, to make worlds. Coming so close, being one game away from reaching the gauntlet final but falling to Samsung Galaxy, the eventual world champions. The following season the Freecs would make worlds led by their rookie top laner Kiin. Kramer would find himself splitting time with Aiming in the season, however, at the world championship Kramer would find himself as the starter. Playing all of Afreeca’s games in their maiden voyage on the Worlds stage. Sadly it wouldn’t end like their Cinderella season in LCK back in 2016 and Kramer would leave to join LGD in the LPL.
A Golden Path, Built upon Gravel.
The next to leave the brotherhood was Karsa. Joining Flashwolves in 2015 after appearing in LNL Summer 2014 for Machi 17, Karsa would join two people from his school, Hu ‘SwordArt’ Shuo-Chieh & Huang ‘Maple’ Yi-Tang. The trio would go on to form the base for the Flashwolves that sit in our memories. We know how the story of the Wolves went in 2015, followed by that 2016 display. Flashwolves would win the Spring season behind Karsa, Maple & SwordArt’s play heading to MSI. Facing the current World Champions, SKT T1. It was there they began to stamp their marks on everyone, taking both games from SKT in groups but sadly falling to CLG in the Semifinals. Yet, it was here, people began to take notice and it would be at worlds with all eyes on them Karsa would shine. Consistently, he would get his team incredible advantages, with huge leads pre-20 minutes but sadly it would be here as well they would fall once again. Finishing the group stage with a 2–4 record in last place. The Flashwolves everyone hoped for fell, but Karsa’s ability was now known by all. Again the following year the Flashwolves shocked the world by dumping TSM out of MSI by a tiebreaker but when Worlds came around they fell apart to a 1–5 record. Sadly, that would be the end of Karsa’s time on Flashwolves but this would where he could announce his claim on the world, with speculation over where he would plant his flag and call home a few teams were tossed around. TSM was assumed to be a favoured destination of Karsa’s but he chose to settle with Royal Never Give Up.
RNG had just arrived from a very good season, but one that just was missing something. Spring finals they fell to Team WE 0–3, Summer finals they were reversed swept by EDG 2–3 but at worlds, they showed dominance. Leading their group with a 5–1 record before falling to SKT T1 3–2 in the semifinal. With Karsa arriving there was going to be questions over him & Liu ‘MLXG’ Shi-Yu. Both were seen as similar in play-style, highly aggressive looking to snowball so from the outside looking in this move looked weird. In Spring 2018, they shared time with Karsa getting the majority of playtime but MLXG would play every game in playoffs other than one. Leading RNG to the LPL Spring title, followed up by getting the lions share of games at MSI but it would be Karsa who sat on the stage for the final. Bringing international glory to RNG, to his teammates. This final would stake Karsa as the starter for RNG for the rest of the season again splitting some time with MLXG but he would be the one to play the most and secure the second title in a row putting RNG as favourites for the world championship, stepping one step closer to the golden road. Now all Karsa had to do was something he had struggled to do prior, show out at worlds. Yet, sadly we know how this story ends. RNG fell, Karsa fell to G2 Esports 2 to 3. At worlds 2019, Karsa would find himself sitting quietly again, failing to make it out of groups. Another year, another sad ending.
One Last Chance.
SwordArt’s journey was less of heartbreak and more of wanting. Following his brothers’ departure from the team, SwordArt stayed on, to try one last time. With Coach Steak also departing the Flashwolves signed a bunch of new players, one being ShiauC a support. To many, this could be a sign of preparing for life without SwordArt and they wouldn’t be wrong. The new-look Wolves again dominated the LMS, taking the Spring championship and again heading to MSI, their fabled playground. It would be here the imagination of world would be ignited again, FW would do like always and take 2 games from the Korean team in groups, but against the Chinese representative, against Karsa they would go even 1–1. Tied for first place both on a 7–3 record the Wolves would have to face RNG again and sadly fell to second followed by failing to overcome Kingzone and being dumped out of MSI. The Flashwolves again couldn’t translate their success in groups to knockouts. Like every year prior, SwordArt would dust himself off and head back home to dominate again with Maple, both finishing 1st & 2nd in MVP voting, again winning the Summer championship and heading to worlds. One last chance, to show out. This chance came down to their final day, 3–2 facing Phong Vu Buffalo, a win and you’re out of groups. Yet like the rest of this tragic tale, SwordArt’s last chance on FW ended in pain. Leading to a tiebreaker vs G2, in a chance that would have seen SwordArt & Maple face their brother Karsa at Worlds but this story doesn’t have a bright ending. They failed.
And with that, the Flashwolves we loved had all moved on, SwordArt & Maple to Suning, Karsa to RNG, Kramer to LGD.
But there was a time they did meet, before Worlds. Rift Rivals 2018, the trio would face off the Flashwolves beat RNG in the opening game of the event. Taking their record to 2–2 for the year. Sadly, Kramer didn’t get to face the Wolves until Worlds where he’d go 1–1, but he got to face off against Karsa, losing twice. One was the final game of the event, Game 5, LPL vs LCK.
The story of the Flashwolves will always be remembered, for the games, they won against the odds, for their playstyle and just for being themselves. Yes, we never got to see them go far at MSI or Worlds but does that matter anymore?
With worlds looming, they are together again, under a different banner but unified by the blood of the wolves.
Thank you for reading, if you get this far!
I know this is a little different from my last piece Boys from Pingxiang as it has more history and telling the players full story. I hope you enjoyed it! This piece took a lot longer to write than the prior, I hope to finish another one before groups begins! Again thank you so much for the support on the last piece and just reading this one!
Again all credit of photos to the original takers and owners, if you see your photo here and wish to be credited please message me on twitter @eryslife