One of my close friends was a professional athlete. He hasn’t competed in five years and is, by all accounts, retired. I rarely see him anymore, but the few times I have visited in the past five years, there are still trappings of his career — tucked away in corners of the apartment, shoved behind his brother’s discarded motorcycle in the garage, photographs in his father’s living room.
He began when he was three, coaxed and coached by his father. He retired at 25, already older than his more successful counterparts.
Perhaps this is why, for me personally, Yuri!!! On Ice is a story about time, and has been since I first saw the series’ ending sequence — a series of instagram posts that only linger for a few seconds before scrolling down to the next.
I began watching Yuri!!! On Ice in a hotel room in Oakland, California during a month-long business trip covering the 2016 League of Legends World Championship. Perhaps that’s why Viktor Nikiforov’s phone case of his own outfit caught my attention — I had seen a similar occurance in professional LoL. SK Telecom T1 superstar Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, the best player to ever have played the game, also owns a phone case of his own likeness*.
Both Viktor and Faker are superstars beyond comparison in their respective fields, despite the former’s existence as a fictional character. Faker is an intelligent, courteous, and confident young man who would never say or do anything that would affect anyone’s perception of the SK Telecom T1 brand. All of his social media is handled by his organization, and he eschews having his own Twitter account — fellow teammates Bae “Bang” Jun-sik and Lee “Wolf” Jae-hwan both partake in Twitter, especially the latter. Faker is still in the prime of his career, on the cusp of winning a third World Championship title. By contrast, Viktor is eccentric, whimsical, and expressive above all else.