Rhee Solters: New Kiko on the Champion's Block
Dedicated to all the amazing, amazing SoLiDers, who make hours of playing fun! Major love! xoxo
When it was announced just two short weeks before the commencement of Altador Cup VI that Lamelle Turow would be leaving the reigning champions to join rival team Maraqua, the Deserters were put in a spin seeking a suitable replacement at seriously short notice. Many names were bandied about by Lost Desert supporters, many of whom disliked Turow, including a possible return of veteran Ruki defender, “Dirty” Navers, who was originally replaced by Turow following ACII.
Days later, it was announced by Desert insiders that the replacement for Kiko Lamelle Turow would be... ANOTHER Kiko – this time by the name Rhee Solters. Fan’s reactions to this news differed greatly. When I headed down to the SoLiD (Supporters of LD in Domination) Neoboard, supporter kimokiko said of the switch, “Well, Lame-lle was the most hated LD player just because of him being a Kiko. However, the vibrant colours from Rhee are quite intriguing, as well as her being actually desert coloured not just blue.” Another fan, alagfalaswen, offered an alternative view, stating “I really liked Lamelle - was really disappointed when he switched teams, actually. Still, Rhee isn't a bad player, and she's a Kiko, so my Kiko love is appeased.” A neutral take on the events was offered by my fellow Neopian Times reporter Hellehond, who says, “I think the main thing Lamelle had going against him was the fact he was replacing Dirty Navers. If Rhee had been to replace Vonde to make the team, I would absolutely loathe that Kiko!”
One thing that became clear during my visit to the SoLiD board was that nobody had a clue who Rhee Solters is. Where did she come from? How did she get here? Who found her? Was her signing just a way of trying to prevent making massive strategy changes across the board? It seemed clear to me that the only way to find any of this out was to go straight to the Kiko herself, and so I tracked her down to the Lost Desert team hotel here in Altador, just days after the beginning of the cup.
Chiakka: Rhee, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me today. Let’s get straight to it. Just twelve months ago, you were sat in the Colosseum watching your beloved Kiko Lake in ACV. Now, you’re in the starting line-up of the defending champions. That must be a fantastic feeling?
Rhee: No trouble at all – this is my first interview ever, you have an exclusive! (laughs) It’s honestly one of the strangest feelings ever. I go to the stadium every day and pass the fans queuing up for tickets, and it makes me realise more than ever what a crazy year it’s been. This time last year, Yooyuball was something that I played with my friends when school let out during the summer. Towards the end of the summer, after the cup ended, I was accepted into the Kiko Lake Yooyuball Summer camp after an open trial, and it kind of snowballed from there. I was signed onto the reserve roster for Kiko Lake, and I trained through the year on the lake. I never, ever expected to be playing in this year’s cup, though.
Chiakka: Wow, that’s quite a start to your career. So how did you come to sign for the Lost Desert?
Rhee: When Lamelle Turow left for Maraqua so suddenly, the team was very, very shocked, and it was a race against time to find a replacement. I’d played in a reserve training match the evening before against the Lost Desert, and Leera Heggle had been watching. That evening I received a Neomail asking me to come to a trial the next morning, where I competed against several other talented defenders, before finally being offered my spot on the team. From there I spent the afternoon getting to know the team.
Chiakka: And how did you find the rest of the team? Something that has often been commented on is the strong bond between forward pairing Vonde Cayle and Derbi Azar, and the leadership of Leera Heggle. Can you add anything to this? How have you linked up with fellow defender Luvea Trivon?
Rhee: (seeming genuinely happy and comfortable for the first time in the interview – before she had looked slightly nervous) the team welcomed me with open arms –I was very, very lucky with that. When I went to meet them, I was literally shaking; these were the guys I’d watched win the finals last year, and here I was being introduced as their newest team mate! But they put me at ease very quickly. Vonde and Derbi took me under their collective wing. Vonde is super energetic and enjoys having his bit of fun. He taught me the importance of never letting your guard down by telling me to go and ask Leera for a ‘long stand’. Derbi is always on hand when Vonde does things like that, she’s like an older sister to me. Those two get on great, but if Vonde starts getting a little too crazy, Derbi steps in. It’s no wonder they’re so strong on the field when they’re so close off it. Luvea is the quietest member of the team; he prefers to keep his head down and get on with things, but he’s so easy to play with. He remembers what it was like being the newest on the team, so he doesn’t try to make things more complicated than they need to be. Honestly, I love being a part of this team.
Chiakka: That’s fantastic; it’s good to know there’s such a good atmosphere on the team. We’re just a few games into the Cup and the Lost Desert have seen their form dip slightly compared to the strong showings of previous years (The team were eliminated in round 2 of 4 in ACI, found 5th place in ACII, moved up to third for both ACIII and ACVI before their Championship winning season last year). Are you worried about the possibility you’ve been hit by the much fabled ‘Winners Curse’?
Rhee: Well, I can honestly say I’ve never been a great believer in the ‘Winners Curse’. I don’t think the dip is at all unexpected; we’ve seen every winning team go through this in recent years, and some of them never recover to their former glory. But we will. This year, the team is rebuilding and pulling ourselves back together from last season, but we will do our fans proud, and next year, we will be back with vengeance. Watch this space.
Chiakka: Despite the anti-Kiko sentiment that seemed to be echoed around some fans, you’ve been a real hit this year. Having spoken to Lost Desert fans around the stadium, I’ve heard only positive things about you – for example, kissy_08 said earlier, “I was prepared to dislike Rhee, but I've grown very, very fond of that Kiko. Somehow she seems always to be there when there is a tight spot. She's way more useful than Lamelle ever was - at least to me.” How does it feel to hear that fan’s have taken to you like that?
Rhee: It’s a real confidence booster, let me tell you! Having the fans backing is so, so important to players. I was a little worried when I joined the team that I might not be very popular because I’d heard complaints about Lamelle. But it was totally unfounded fear, because I’ve been so accepted.
Chiakka: Well, Rhee, it’s been a pleasure to talk to you today, thank you for giving me the exclusive first interview with you! Good luck for the rest of the tournament! (:
Rhee: The pleasure’s all mine.
So, ladies and gents, there you have it. She was plucked from obscurity just weeks ago, and she’s living the dream with the reigning champions. She’s been accepted better than she ever dreamed by her teammates and the supporters, and more importantly, she’s here to stay. As the tournament progresses, it’s certainly going to be interesting to see if the high opinion that the Lost Desert fans seem to have of her can be maintained. Love her or loathe her, it seems she wasn’t just the easy fix to the loss of Lamelle Turow that some claimed.