After gradually getting more and more into Chinese dramas, I have been on a constant and desperate search to find more great shows. So today I want to introduce you to the Chinese drama The King's Avatar and why it is such a precious gem in the modern drama world.
The King's Avatar (全职高手) is a Chinese forty episodes long drama. Originally it comes from a web novel of the same name by author Hu Dielan. After the novel came the popular anime adaptation. The second season is airing in 2019. This live-action adaptation started airing on July 24th and will air its finale at the end of August. It stars Yang Yang (Love O2O, The Lost Tomb) as the main character, as well as a whole lot of side characters. Surprisingly all of them are interesting, although I will only mention the most important ones later on. It currently holds an over 8 rating on MDL.
The King's Avatar is set around the multiplayer online game Glory. A game that has such a huge fanbase and player count that it has turned into a lucrative e-sports industry branch. We meet YeXiu, currently the top player of Glory and captain of the professional e-sports team Excellent Era. Even though he is also called the "Glory Textbook" and one of the longest players of the game, he has never shown his face in public. Because of his age and his lack of raking in money for the team sponsors (since he cannot do advertising without his face being revealed), they decide to demote him to team coach and have someone else take over his position as captain and his Glory persona "Leaf of Autumn". Not ready to give up just yet, YeXiu decides to (temporarily) retire and start anew. By going across the street to a net café and playing Glory. There he makes new acquaintances and finds his future path ahead of him.
If you are watching the drama with subtitles, please note that I used the proper English names of the teams, as well as the Glory characters and not the romanized versions of the names.
YeXiu (叶修) - Lord Grim
YeXiu (Yang Yang) was at the top of Glory and highly respected in the professional e-sports industry until he got cut by his team. Not having any experience he starts working as a network manager at Chen Guo's café and starts anew with the character, Lord Grim, the player account of his former childhood friend. While in the beginning, he seems to be either cold or playful depending on who he is speaking with, and you soon realise that he does have some more in-depth thoughts and feelings. But even when faced with the betrayal of his team's manager or insults by jealous rivals, he stays calm and collected. Only when someone he cares for or considers a friend is threatened, he does everything he can to protect and help them, even if that sometimes means to hurt them more.
One thing I like about him very much is how even though he is their rival, he always treats other Glory players with respect and fairness, not changing his attitude whether they are a high-level player or not. You see his respect being returned when other professional players/rivals treat him well even if he is not the captain of the Excellent Era team anymore.
Chen Guo (陈果) - Chasing Haze
Chen Guo (Maggie Jiang) owns the Happy net café across the street from the Excellent Era headquarters. Of course, she is one of YeXiu's biggest fans, even though she has never seen his face. His retirement is a big shock for her. She starts as an open and outgoing character but soon shows a weaker side to herself. After meeting YeXiu, she starts to change and become stronger, becoming a good friend and something like a partner to him. She also seems to be the only one who can get him to do things and not just fall for his jokes and him sneaking away as he does with many others (although she often has to threaten or trick him into doing it which leads to some of the funniest scenes of the show).
Tang Rou (唐柔) - Soft Mist
Tang Rou (Daisy Li) is Chen Guo's best friend. They got to know each other after a (un)fortunate event and have stayed friends and each other's support ever since then. Tang Rou does not like to lose but accepts it as part of life's challenge to get better. This is a character trait you rarely see in drama characters or real people and I admire her for it. After YeXiu introduces her to Glory, she discovers a new world and starts getting interested in the game and e-sports. She is a very proud and self-confident character and her future changes dramatically after meeting YeXiu.
Su Mucheng ( 苏沐橙) - Dancing Rain
Su Mucheng (Lai Yu Meng) is YeXiu's childhood friend, and his new Glory character of Lord Grim was her brother's account. They grew up together and are very fond of each other. Throughout the series, you see Su Mucheng and YeXiu being there for each other in the good but also the bad times. Su Mucheng is also the first female Launcher in the professional league of Glory. After YeXiu leaves Excellent Era, she wants to follow him, but he convinces her to stay in the team and find her way. Still, she contacts him regularly and is also a part-time team player for him and his friends at the Happy net café.
Sun Xiang (孙翔) - Leaf of Autumn
Sun Xiang (Liang Yi Mu) is a promising rookie player in the professional field and the new captain of the Excellent Era team after YeXiu left. He is heavily criticised by fans, other players and his team for not being as good as his predecessor and not deserving the right to play "Leaf of Autumn", YeXiu's former account. His arrogance and need to prove himself often prevents him from achieving real success.
Chen Yehui (陈夜辉)
Chen Yehui (Hao Shuai) is a former championship player in the Excellent Era team. Ever since YeXiu cut him from the championship team and benched him, he has sworn himself to end YeXiu's Glory career for good, whatever means necessary.
The other supporting characters have an extensive range of characteristics and antics. It goes from the young rookie player lacking self-confidence and wanting to follow his dream to one of the best professional players whose primary weapon against his enemies is his unstoppable mouth. This drama also has a lot of hyperactive happy-go-lucky characters, professional players with too much arrogance and even features a cunning identical twin. There is someone for everyone. You also get your fair share of other professional teams and guilds. Every team has its little atmosphere and either a strange captain, vice-captain or both. All of them endearing, though.
The King's Avatar is set in two worlds. First, you see them in the real world, and then you see them playing Glory. I have seen the first season of the anime, so I highly doubted the special effects used for the game sequences would be great. I should not have done it. The game scenes are nicely done, the CGI for the characters are great, and it looks like such a good game, you are going to want to play it yourself. If you are a fan of the anime, be prepared though, the drama has a different atmosphere. It is much lighter and more playful than the anime.
The only bad thing about the series is mainly the lack of character development for our main character. It does not affect the series though, because seeing him, you always get the feeling he is already at that point in life everyone wants to be. He can be stern and serious like a grown-up should be but also playful and funny like a child. Don't people always say "you should never forget there is a child in every one of us"? Maybe that is why his character is the main reason this show takes you in and does not let you go.
The series offers something that many other shows fail to give you. Hope. Seriously, this series does have drama, sadness, joy, disgust and more, but you know everything is going to be alright if YeXiu is handling it. You want to see him save the day. That is why, if you ever want to watch something with a light heart but also experience some fantastic action scenes, funny conversations, witty comebacks and people making jokes about names, this is the perfect series.
This series offers an incredible visual experience, charismatic characters and funny jokes. It is the best all-around package. So, if you ever get tired of the same old dramatic family fights, love couples or historical stories of other dramas, come to the world of Glory and see for yourself, if you ever want to leave again.