By Aaron Gordon
Neil Hammad had to pause midway through his answer because the crowd was so loud.
He peered out over sold-out Madison Square Garden, bathed in red accent lighting as two League of Legends teams battled it out in the World Championship semifinals earlier this month. The crowd was bloodthirsty. They roared—louder than for a Rangers goal or Knicks dunk—as the ROX Tigers surrounded an SKT player and moved in for the kill. But it was not to be. The SKT player narrowly escaped for just a bit longer, and the decibels cranked up again.
In a sport where players rarely make it past their mid-20s and nearly everyone involved is under 30 years old, Hammad, at 27, is something of an elder statesman. More commonly known by his gamer tag Pr0lly, he is now the coach of the Berlin-based League of Legends team H2K, which would play in the other semifinal 24 hours later. For Hammad, in only his second season of coaching, it would be the biggest game of his life.
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