FunPlus Phoenix jungler Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang has always been meant to shine as a League of Legends superstar.
He was just 13 years old when he achieved Diamond 1 in the Chinese super server, and he only decided to become a pro-player when he could witness his idol, Ming “Clearlove” Kai, win the 2015 Mid Season Invitational.
Only two years later, being 15 years old, Tian joined Young Miracles as the substitute of Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning.
When Ning decided to leave the team to join Invictus Gaming, Tian had his first chance to play as the main jungler for Young Miracles, but we had to wait a bit longer to see him as an LPL player.
Liu “PDD” Mou was the person who first noticed Tian, the one who decided to bring him to Young Miracles and the one who would push Tian to the stars when he introduced the young jungler to Suning in 2018.
Being there, Tian struggled a lot to compete with his teammate and colleague in the jungle Yang “H4cker Zhi-Hao, and maybe that is the reason why Tian left the team at the end of the season to join his current team: FunPlus Phoenix.
2019 was the year, the moment to shine and achieve the unachievable. If you put together an 18-year-old brilliant talent with one of the best players in LPL history, you get the best cocktail to success.
That’s what happened in FunPlus Phoenix, where the legendary mid-laner Kim “DoinB” Tae-sang influenced and tutored Tian, and helped him to form great chemistry with the rest of the team.
This chemistry was so good that FunPlus crowned themselves Champions of the LPL 2019 Summer Split and qualified to Worlds as the first seed of the Chinese league.
Despite FunPlus struggled a little bit all along the group stage, they managed to destroy every team in the knockout stage, being able to win legendary teams like Fnatic and former World Champions Invictus Gaming.
Then, they went to the Final and crushed the best team in Europe’s history 3:0. Tian became World Champion after only 3 years as a pro-player, in his second year as an LPL participant and in his first year with FunPlus Phoenix.
And he did it with absolutely brilliant performances. Some of us will remember his Lee Sin plays forever, and we can be sure that some of his enemies back then will never be able to forget it.
Actually, he was chosen as the MVP of the final…
But his history didn’t stop there. Though this year there are some LPL teams that seem stronger, FunPlus Phoenix got the third position in LPL Spring Split and the second position in the Mid-Season Cup.
Now, we have a new award to add to Tian’s record: the “2020 Future Innovator of APEC Voices of the Future“, and it is important to notice that he is the only professional esports player that has ever been chosen as a “Future Innovator”.
The APEC VOF Future Innovator Program is a key international talent development program of APEC Voices of the Future (a youth program under Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), which aims to select youth representatives with vision, abilities and outstanding achievements to attend the APEC Summit and the Asia-Pacific Youth Innovation Summit to utter the voice of China and demonstrate the wisdom of Chinese youths to the world.
The Program selects outstanding youth representatives from fields of business innovation, philanthropy, and cultural communication, who will be eligible to attend the APEC International Youth Camp and APEC Leaders’ Week series together with economic and political leaders from the Asia-Pacific region. They will also receive interviews and coverage from People’s Daily, Xinhua News, CCTV, CNTV, and other media authorities.
Tian has been selected as one of the first group of Future Innovator and the representative of the esports industry in this program.
As we see in this interview, Tian shows himself happy for being selected, and also gives as a message about his success: “Hard work and persistence are very important. Although the outcome may not always be ideal, the process is what really matters”.
A new award comes for the World Champion, but he is not yet satisfied. He also talks about his intentions to work for a new year of achievements with FunPlus Phoenix, he hopes they can have a good result this year as well, better to be as good as last year.
He is still very young. What else will we win? Where is the limit? We will have to keep watching if we want to know.