Ryo ‘apaMEN’ Odagiri, the legend of the LJL ( League of Legends Japan League), was brought back from retirement sand into the spotlight due to a crisis faced by the team he represented, DetonatioN FocusMe. Although he couldn’t clinch a victory for what is arguably the most iconic Japanese team, he left a heartfelt message for his young son as he retired from the tournament.
This year hasn't been easy for DetonatioN FocusMe. Despite its domestic success in the LJL, it faced severe criticism following an incident involving the team’s coaching staff, owner, and its previous top laner. An incident that involved Haruki ‘tol2’ Shibata.
The team was dealt a further blow when Shunsuke ‘Evi’ Murase left, leaving a gaping hole in DetonatioN's top lane. It was then that apaMEN, a revered LJL player, rose from retirement. Advancing into his first international tournament at 31, he stepped in as the new top laner and instantly became the focus of the competition.
Unfortunately, apaMEN’s international debut did not turn out as hoped, and he could not secure a triumph. However, no setback could dampen his spirit. An emotional apaMEN got hearts racing with a deeply touching message to his infant son, nicknamed 'Mo', in a farewell interview before making his exit from Worlds 2023.
A Heartfelt Gesture that Won Over League Fans
After being eliminated from Worlds 2023, apaMEN gave an interview to MHN, a South Korean publication. The disappointment that ensued was apparent, as DetonatioN FocusMe did not win a single round during the whole event.
This was particularly disheartening for the fans, considering the organization has a past of providing shocking upsets and high-adrenaline matches. Worse still, apaMEN was hardest on himself. An emotional photograph of apaMEN with his teammates on DFM was taken by renowned photographer Colin Young-Wolff.
Despite the downcast atmosphere, an attempt was made by the interviewer Lee Sol to switch the conversation and lighten up apaMEN’s mood, but without much success. However, when asked if he would like to pass on a message to his son, there was a noticeable shift in his demeanor.
The message apaMEN gave to his son, translated by Jesports Hub, was deeply moving:
“Son, I don’t know what kind of job you’ll have in the future… But I hope you understand one thing. The results might not have been great, but dad really stepped onto a big stage and fought with all his might.”
“It was like a moment of life and death, just like a person on an airplane flying in the dark without any sight. But dad didn’t give up. He poured everything into it and wanted to tell everyone that he faced that moment without shame.”
“Whether you’ll walk the path of esports like dad or choose a different one, I don’t know. But son, I hope you’ll never give up on what you want to do after seeing dad’s efforts and determination today. I love you.”
The aging players becoming parents of their own only goes to show how the industry has grown. apaMEN’s parting words received a wave of support from League fans.
Despite the lack of awareness of apaMEN outside hardcore LJL followers, apaMEN's farewell message not only magnified his influence but also sparked a flood of admiration from League fans, even if he wasn’t able to win the tournament as he would have liked.