t's been a long time, hasn't it?”

“You're right!”

“I heard he enlisted, and it must be true.
It's been over three months, right?”

“Yeah, that’s about right.”

When the gamers crowded around the monitor and noisily chatted among themselves, the team director walked over to them while tilting his head.
“Hey? What's going on here?”

“Director, the No.1 Ranker is back.”

“Mm? Ranked No.1, is it? That's not that special, though?”

“No, Director.
This guy is definitely special.”

“Huh?” The director craned his neck and looked over the crowd to confirm the ID.
“Hang on a minute.
Isn't that the ID of that dude who dominated the number one spot? Didn't someone say that's a pro gamer’s alt account?”

“No, Director.
He's not a pro.”

“You sure?”

“Yes, Director.
I mean, most pros should be busy with their matches during the broadcasts, aren't they?”

“Uh, I guess?”

“So, most pro alt accounts wouldn't log in during tournament opening ceremonies or media days.
You know, when all the pros must participate.
But this guy? He logs in those days as well.
No doubt he's an amateur.”

“Seriously?” The director of Sneak Fox, Bak Wu-Seong, stared at the monitor, his expression unreadable.
“Hmm. Ask him for a match.”

“He doesn't really accept matches with strangers, though.”

“I get it, so ask him already.”

“Understood.” The gamer occupying the booth clicked on the ID of the mysterious ranker and sent a match request.
“This guy often doesn’t accept custom matches, though…”

For some reason, though, KILLYM agreed to a custom match today.


“That's a surprise.”

“If he's out on military leave, then maybe he's trying to get his instincts back? If so, it makes sense he'd say yes.
I mean, if he joins a ranked match with his rusty skills, his rating will only go down, right?”

The ranker 'KILLYM' was seen as a mainstay—a force of nature—by other pro gamers.
This mysterious person had always been ranked number one.
He was an existence who had always occupied the spot at the top of the ranks as if 'No.1' was his middle name! Naturally, pro gamers started excluding KILLYM from their discussions and considered the second place as the real number one spot in the rankings.

Some people opined that the top pro gamers could potentially snatch away the No.1 spot if they played seriously.
However, such pro gamers obviously couldn’t give their all in 'regular' ranked matches when they were already focusing on winning tournaments and helping their teammates get better in the practice rooms.
That was why the No.1 ranked player in Battlenet had always been KILLYM.

After not logging in for the past few months, though, everyone had started treating KILLYM as just another human being.
Naturally, the No.1 spot was soon taken over by other players.

“It hasn't been that long since Killiberation started, yet he's sneakily making his way back?”

“Yeah, you're right.
I guess the Killoccupation Era will begin soon.”

“What are you two even on about?” The director tilted his head in confusion after failing to understand the slang of these cool kids.

Do I have to convert it into dad jokes for our director?'

The pro gamers seriously pondered that question as the match got underway.
Everyone quietly watched the unfolding match on the monitor, and as the climax approached, they began to mumble one by one.

“He's gotten a lot worse.”

“Looks like he hasn't played a single match in the last few months.
He isn’t as good as using the meta to his favor as before.”

“Still, looks like his sharpness hasn't gone away.
His senses aren't completely dead at all.”

When he gets used to this meta, his reign of terror will begin again, that's for sure. Ah, wait.
He's supposedly on leave, right? Then Killiberation will last for another two years.”

Bak Wu-Seong stared at the monitor with a grave expression.

'How should I interpret this?'

Losing a match against a pro gamer was nothing to be ashamed about.
What made the director uncertain was that the match itself was pretty high-level.
An amateur competing against a pro could win or lose depending on the circumstances, which wasn't all that surprising.
However, if a pro decided to play seriously, the match would inevitably become quite one-sided.

Since the director was watching, the pro wouldn't have taken it easy this time.
Unsurprisingly, the mysterious ranker lost, but his performance throughout the match itself was still very good.
That could mean this KILLYM's skill rivaled that of a pro gamer.

Bak Wu-Seong narrowed his eyes.
“So, this guy hasn't been playing for the past three months or so?”

“Yes, Director.
He hasn't logged in at all.”

“Maybe, he was raising an alt account?”

“He wouldn't have used that build, then.
I mean, that was trending at the beginning of the year, you know?”

“Hmm…” Bak Wu-Seong nodded.
Three months of downtime, yet he could still compete against an active pro gamer on equal footing? “This guy sounds like a real deal, then? Is there a way to contact him?”

“He doesn't respond to messages, Director.
He ignores DMs as well.”

I heard that other teams tried to scout him before.
However, he doesn't seem interested at all, Director.”

“Really?” Bak Wu-Seong licked his lips ruefully.

“Besides, Director.
He's supposed to be serving in the army right now.
Even if you want to scout him, you'll have to wait a year and a half.”

“Ah, that's right…” Bak Wu-Seong heard that and finally gave up on the idea.
“Still, no one knows what will happen in the future.
So, send him a DM, at least.
Get close to him if you can, too.”

“Yes, Director.”

“Maaan, what a waste,” Bak Wu-Seong muttered while turning around to leave.
Even then, he couldn't help but glance at the monitor several times.
However, he knew that a man must know when to give up.


“Mm…” Kang Jin-Ho stared at his monitor and fell deep into his thoughts.

'I lost.'

He wouldn't have lost to that opponent in the past.
Indeed, it wouldn't even be a match, yet the three months of absence had left too much of an impact.

'This is the story with me, so…'

He wasn't being arrogant here when he thought that his physical body was different from everyone else.
Considering that, his skill should deteriorate far slower than others even if he hadn't played a single game in three months.
However, he still lost to an opponent he should have won against quite easily in the past.

In that case, what about Park Yu-Min? Apparently, he hadn't been inside his team's practice room in over a month.

'I need to hurry and get him back in the scene.'

Kang Jin-Ho thought that Park Yu-Min's career could be irreparably harmed by delaying things any further.
While mulling over a way forward, he requested a rematch.

'That's that, but this…!'

Getting worked up after losing couldn't be helped, as Kang Jin-Ho was still a human being.
His hand gripped the mouse even tighter.
He started playing just to pass the time, but his competitive streak was ignited by how things had turned out.

Some people might dismiss this whole thing as just a computer game, but Kang Jin-Ho didn't care.
There was no such thing as 'going easy' for a man who didn't take losing too kindly.

“I can simply regain what I lost.”

Of course, he was talking about his gaming skills.

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