How Madlife Reinvented the Support Role

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The first time I ever heard the name “Madlife” was during the League of Legends All Star Shanghai invitational in 2013. He was one of the five players on his team to be elected by his region’s playerbase to play in the tournament. Being from NA, I naturally cheered on the NA LCS All Star team and hoped for an improbable but possible tournament win. But there was one major roadblock in the way: the Korean LCK All Star Team.

At the time, I didn’t know much about the KR League of Legends scene other than the generalization that all of us in NA were familiar with: they were the best. Despite Azubu Frost’s loss to the Taiwanese cinderella story Taipei Assassins in the World Championship in the previous season, Korean League of Legends pros were still at the top of the food chain. So going into this match, I knew NA were the underdogs but this didn’t mean they were dead in the water. Where there was a will, there would be a way.

Unfortunately, I was very wrong. The Korean LCK All Stars swept the NA All Stars out of the tournament 2-0 in spectacular fashion. After watching both games, I became enamored with one player in particular. At a time where most League of Legends fans saw supports as little more than glorified warding bots, Madlife, the Korean LCK’s support player, was something else entirely. Much like the opponents Madlife faced while playing Thresh, he had me hooked.

There were plenty of pros that were excellent support players. But none of them at the time or previously had performed as the role of support with such showmanship as Madlife did. Flashy plays through predictions, mechanical outplays and of course, 1v1’ing as support all had contributed to the reputation that Madlife began to acquire. If anyone in-game had made an impressive play in the support role, other players wouldn’t just compliment that player in chat by saying “nice play.” There would always also be someone who would jokingly ask “madlife is that you?”

Madlife had a natural affinity for play-making supports. He first gained notoriety through his prolific play on Blitzcrank. Doa, a former broadcaster for the LCK, noted that “Madlife is the best Blitzcrank player in the world.” But as the rest of the world would soon discover, Blitzcrank only marked the beginning.

The release of Thresh changed the game meta entirely. In the case of Madlife, Thresh had been a vehicle in which his talents could be showcased to their greatest potential on a world stage. Riot couldn’t have tailormade a support more fitted to suiting Madlife’s style of play. Even other pro players, who were considered incredible Thresh players in their own right, were stunned by what Madlife was seemingly capable of on the champion.

The name “Madlife” quickly became synonymous with “godly.” Artist renditions of him as Jesus became incredibly popular. When he would walk out on stage for a pro match, the crowd would greet him by chanting, “Madlife is god.” The release of Thresh had changed the support role for the better and made player’s who were support players a spectacle to watch; Madlife being at the center of that spotlight.

I believe that it’s because of Madlife’s spectacular plays that we have come to known the support role for what it is today. At a point in League of Legends where there was no limit to the number of wards you could buy or place, a support’s job was one dimensional. With every match that he played, Madlife showed players around the world not what the support role was, but rather, what it could be. Support players began to realize that by performing a well-executed play against the enemy team instead of simply being a stepping stone on an ADC’s path to carrying, they could change the outcome of a game on their own.

To this date, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player have a greater impact in defining a position in League of Legends than Madlife has. While certain players have been trailblazers for some roles, I don’t think they hold a candle to Madlife and what he did for the support role. Although I, like many others, believe that Faker is the greatest League of Legends player of all time, he hasn’t reinvented the role of the mid lane to the same extent as Madlife had for the support role… and I don’t think anyone ever will. Madlife’s lasting legacy will not be only the wondrous plays that he produced but how those plays changed League of Legends for the better.

Listed below are my two favorite Madlife montages produced.

KnowOneWho’s Madlife Montage
N3tworkKitt3n’s Madlife Montage

Prior to discovering Madlife, support had been my least played role. After watching videos such as these, I was inspired to give support another try. It is now my most played and favorite role in League of Legends. I doubt the fact that Thresh is my most played champion and my admiration for Madlife are a coincidence.

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