Aphromoo: Recreating Rush Hour

For the first time in a long time, 100T's Aphromoo has the chance to create the most dominant bot lane in North America. He owes that to former SKT marksman Bang.

Image courtesy of Riot Games.

When Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black joined Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng on Counter Logic Gaming, it was instantly clear there was something special about this duo. They took on TSM’s veteran Chaox/Xpecial bot lane for their first game of the 2013 NA LCS Spring Split—a trial by fire for Aphromoo, who had just role swapped from ADC to support. He passed that trial with flying colors, outmuscling the enemy duo and scoring a convincing victory against CLG’s biggest rival. 

The two kept the momentum going, establishing themselves as the #1 bot lane in North America and earning the self-proclaimed nickname “Rush Hour”. They were so in sync, it felt like one person controlling both champions. The synergy that united them in game spread to things outside of it. Aphromoo and Doublelift weren’t just colleagues. They were friends that engaged in light-hearted banter and always had each other’s back on the Rift, and it’s this dynamic that made them the most beloved bot lane in the region. It was the definition of lightning in a bottle.

Until it suddenly wasn’t. 

The end of 2015 saw Aphromoo going to CLG’s management and issuing an ultimatum: it’s either him or Doublelift. CLG chose him. With Doublelift gone, Aphromoo teamed up with a complete newcomer in Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes. He was confident there would be a moment when his new ADC surpassed his previous lane partner. 

Yet, that moment never came. 

It didn’t come with Stixxay, it didn’t come with Cody Sun, and it certainly didn’t come with Rikara. There were only so many world-class ADCs in North America, and finding a worthy lane partner for Aphromoo seemed all but impossible. 

There was also a shift in the perfection of Aphromoo himself. As the glory days of Rush Hour grew more and more distant, Aphromoo gradually lost his stranglehold on the bot lane. He still had the brains and the brawn to take over the game from the least influential position in League of Legends, but there was an alarming inconsistency to his play. And for every two games Aphromoo carried, there would be a game where he mispositioned, misread the situation or misplayed a key skirmish.  

His name was still up there, sure. But the title of the #1 support in the NA LCS no longer belonged to him.

Of course, it’s hard to put all the blame on him. The bot lane has always been more than the sum of its parts, and if your lane partner isn’t up to par, even the strongest player in the world can struggle to make his presence known.

Enter SK Telecom T1 marksman Bae "Bang" Jun-sik. 

Much like Aphromoo, Bang is a champion that’s recently fallen out of favor. He’s also experienced similar issues: a faltering team, shaky lane partners, and a shift in community’s perception. Still, when SKT T1 benched their ace—Faker—in favor of Pirean and playing towards bot side, Bang stepped up to the plate and carried. And even though SKT T1 didn’t pull through that split, Bang did everything in his power to fight this fate. 

Even his relationship with his lane partner Lee "Wolf" Jae-wan draws parallels with that of Doublelift’s and Aphromoo’s. Their friendship began long before they became professional League of Legends players, and—barring a single split where they briefly started for different teams—they’ve been inseparable, establishing themselves as the most iconic Korean bot lane. Now that they've gone separate ways, Bang will have a chance to recreate this sense of camaraderie and mutual respect in North America.

The question remains, of course, whether this is enough capture the magic of Rush Hour. Bang’s skill set differs from that of Doublelift’s. Where the latter prioritizes aggression and lane dominance, the former values consistency and teamfighting presence. 

That said, it’s hard to tell Bang’s natural playstyle. For better or worse, his image was sculpted by playing on the same team with Faker, and when you’re fighting shoulder to shoulder with the best player League of Legends player in the world, there’s only so much you can do to stand out. 

Now, the spotlight will be on Bang.

The 2019 NA LCS season will be his opportunity to prove his worth as a carry player, so even though Rush Hour might be long in the past, perhaps Bang and Aphromoo can create something even greater. And perhaps it’s this momentum, that of two former champions working towards the same goal, that will raise them back to the top.

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Daniil Volkov

I craft League of Legends narratives and cover LCK, NA & EU LCS.