On June 2nd of this year, gaming legend and esports pioneer Shane “Rapha” Hendrixson informed the world of the unfortunate and unexpected passing of his wife Tori “llamachomper” Hendrixson. Few can imagine the pain and struggle that Hendrixson had to go through. A consistent top performer in the Quake Pro League, many in the community thought that they had seen the end of Rapha’s stage 4 dominance; many would opt out of competition in the face of such a solemn personal matter.
That is where Rapha is different. After taking a few needed weeks off from any QPL competition or streaming activities, Rapha started making up games. For all the games he had missed, he would play his opponents off-stream, as allowed by the QPL. He didn’t lose a single match. After dominating in the first part of the season, Rapha continued his reign as NA’s finest, losing only one map from the beginning of stage 4.
Quakecon at Home was announced later that month and Rapha’s eyes were primed on the task in front of him. He started streaming again. He seemed more practiced than usual, his gameplay a step above the already-inhuman skill seen from him. If the community was witnessing anything, it was the rise of the indisputably greatest Quake player on Earth. His run did not slow down when the weekend of the world championships rolled around.
The weekend of Quakecon started off simple for Rapha as he accepted a first round bye through his number one seeding. Soon, things heated up, and he cleanly took 4 maps in a row off of both the Australian prodigy Zenaku and the American King of defensive play Dooi. Those two wins put Rapha squarely in the championship bracket for day 2, in which he only dropped one map to the young powerhouse from Italy, Venguer. Launching himself with all the momentum of a speeding train into the finals, Rapha would face the Hungarian mastermind Raisy.
Being that he won the winners finals against Venguer, Rapha would go into the Grand Finals with a one map advantage. Most thought that Raisy would surely take one or maybe even two maps off of the legendary Quake player, but that wasn’t the case at all. Rapha put on a clinic, showing that he could overwhelm his opponent with ease, while also letting everyone know that this was his crown. He took all three maps and secured the title of Quake World Champion in the most dominant fashion anyone has ever seen.
In a post-win interview with DJWheat, Rapha said with tears welling in his eyes that it was “obviously really bittersweet for me. But I just want to thank id Software and Bethesda for giving me a chance to play the best FPS game of all time.” He also commented on his phenomenal performance, “There was no way I was going to lose today, I wasn’t letting it happen.” Through all the trials Rapha had faced throughout the weekend, nothing could compare to the amount of mental fortitude he needed to have to make sure he was in the right mindstate after the passing of his wife.
The performance Rapha put on for the world to see was not only a showcase of skill, but also of spiritual growth. Rapha also thanked those who supported him, “I wanted to thank all the love and support from the community, my friends and my family…it has helped me so much.” There are few individuals in the industry of gaming and more specifically, esports, that stand out as people who should be looked up to. Rapha is one of those people. The amount of professionalism that Rapha emulates in the midst of tragedy is nothing but inspirational, which is why he has always been looked up to by the esports community, and for good reason. If there’s any takeaway from this last weekend, hopefully it’s that this community will immortalize Rapha in esports history, giving back to him after he’s given so much to the game.