The League of Legends professional gaming team T1 is one of the world's most awarded ever. They were one of the highest-earning e-sports teams in 2020, and in 2013, they won the LoL World Championship for the first time, beating the Chinese team Royal Club for the $1 million prize. They earned the title again in 2015, and the following year, they continued their winning streak, becoming the only LoL team to win the championship three times. They're hoping 2021 is the year they take the crown again, so they commissioned a few celebrity heavyweights to make them a theme song. Here's why EXO's BAEKHYUN, CHANGMO, and Raiden's "Runner" is the perfect pump-up anthem to help them do it.
The track, which is about declaring yourself a winner, includes uplifting lyrics like, "I'm the legend of the street" and "I always burst out of victory like champagne." DJ and producer Raiden tells Elite Daily he imagined the T1 players as the reigning team again to get inspiration for the song's general sound and vibe.
"I knew grunge rock being one of my personal favorite music styles would translate the mystical yet empowering image of LoL and T1," he says. T1's star player Faker, who's known as the "Michael Jordan" of e-sports, influenced the idea behind the song as well. "Faker is a living legend that we all respect. All gamers around the world are looking at T1 for their irreplaceable history, and I was so thrilled to translate that into music," Raiden says. "T1, therefore, has a story that no other team can tell."
Raiden first pitched the song to rapper and producer CHANGMO (who he previously worked with on their May 2020 single, "Yours") after realizing how music in the gaming world was developing its own identity, and CHANGMO had also noticed. "E-sports is a very significant part of our entertainment scene. We grew up watching pro-leagues and at the time, there was a major discrepancy between recognizing and understanding e-sports and gaming as a professional sports league, but we are making history now," CHANGMO says. "E-sports teams, professionals, and the public are now pioneers in creating a new culture movement. I made this song wanting to pay tribute to this movement. We are embracing this cool and new-school industry form of art and culture."
After Raiden and CHANGMO linked up, they asked BAEKHYUN, a member of the legendary K-Pop group EXO, to join them. He was more than thrilled to take part. "Ever since making my solo comeback last year, I have been interested in strengthening my position as a solo artist, and with this collaboration, I was able to do exactly that," BAEKHYUN says. "As a gamer, I am a huge fan of T1 and LoL, so I was very excited for the opportunity to work with CHANGMO and Raiden on 'Runner.' T1 and Faker are some of the best in e-sports history."
Besides rock, "Runner" includes elements of EDM and trap. BAEKHYUN says the trio's different talents helped make this mix of genres work. "I listened to the song and felt that although we come from different musical backgrounds, it would create an interesting sound," he says. Even though he was happy to represent T1, BAEKHYUN admits he felt pressure doing their theme song justice. "I wanted to make sure that we did not disappoint [T1] or let them and our audience down," he explains.
In the end, he had nothing to worry about because "Runner" was an instant success. Since its release on Feb. 1, the song has achieved nearly 1.5 million views on YouTube, 650,000 streams on Spotify, and received praise from countless fans around the world for its powerful sound and inspiring lyrics. Most important of all? "Runner" got T1's seal of approval.
"When I heard the song for the first time, I thought it was already an existing popular tune. I really liked the meaning of the lyrics and it’s great that ‘Runner’ is our team’s theme song. This music is so timeless. I will probably listen to it forever," T1 member Cuzz says of the track. Meanwhile, his teammate Ellim says, "It was an amazing experience to meet them in person and create something together."
Watch BAEKHYUN, CHANGMO, Raiden, and T1 behind the scenes of the "Runner" music video, below.
Now that they've collaborated on a song together, all that's left for BAEKHYUN, CHANGMO, and Raiden is to attend one of T1's competitions in person. "I cannot wait until we can watch their pro-league open up to the public and cheer for T1," Raiden says. "I hope that T1 always remembers that we, as their fans, always have their backs."