Congrats to WangXian, AO3’s Most Popular Ship of 2020

Wangxian MDZS

Congratulations to WangXian from Mo Dao Zu Shi for being AO3’s most popular fic (by fics written) for the year 2020!

Mo Dao Zu Shi is a relative newcomer on the English language fan scene. While the original book was written in 2015 and the donghua began in 2018, it really didn’t start taking off in western fandom circles until the latter half of 2019, which is when it was first recommended to me.  Over the course of 2020, while many were under lockdown and looking for a new fandom and ship to keep them occupied, people began to discover WangXian largely thanks to social media chatter and the ship took off. 

Mo Dao Zu Shi is a Chinese danmei book that’s been adapted into a manhua (comic), donghua (cartoon), and live-action drama. The WangXian pairing features the two main characters, Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian, which is a delightfully canon same-sex pairing, albeit quite a slow-burn.  For many, Mo Dao Zu Shi has been a stepping stone into other danmei novels, including the other two books by author Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, and other works as well.  I expect us to start seeing other danmei ships on this list in the future, though maybe not quite as high at such a quick pace.

As a result of Mo Dao Zu Shi’s growing popularity, I expected WangXian to be in the top 100, but not exactly the top spot.  I’m incredibly pleased by this, but a bit surprised that it beat out so many juggernaut ships like Destiel, Ineffable Husbands, and all the most popular Boku no Hero Academia ships (BakuDeku, KiriBaku, TodoDeku).  This is an impressive showing for a blossoming fandom! The genre isn’t exactly new, but it’s certainly seen a surge in popularity in western fandom thanks to Mo Dao Zu Shi.  WangXian’s ranking on this list further solidifies just how much the story has had an impact.  I’ve often felt like this was perhaps an obscure fandom to be in, but clearly I’m wrong.  In the past year, we’ve exploded on the scene and knocked out long-standing ships from the top spot.  

Lots of my other ships have made the top 100, as well.  Special shout out to DaiHaru, which barely squeaked onto the list in the 100th spot, StormPilot at 86, Hannigram at 33, EraserMic at 19, and Stucky at 13.  Two of my big ships that didn’t make it are EraserMight (Eraserhead and All Might from Boku no Hero Academia) and HuaLian (Hua Cheng and Xie Lian from Tian Guan Ci Fu, another story by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu).  But that’s alright. I love these little fandom corners even if they are somewhat tiny.

The top 10 are as follows:

1 Lán Zhàn | Lán Wàngjī/Wèi Yīng | Wèi Wúxiàn 魔道祖师 – 墨香铜臭 | Módào Zǔshī – Mòxiāng Tóngxiù
2 Aziraphale/Crowley (Good Omens) Good Omens (TV)
3 Geralt z Rivii | Geralt of Rivia/Jaskier | Dandelion Wiedźmin | The Witcher
4 Rey/Ben Solo | Kylo Ren Star Wars Sequel Trilogy
5 Draco Malfoy/Harry Potter Harry Potter – J. K. Rowling
6 Bakugou Katsuki/Midoriya Izuku Boku no Hero Academia | My Hero Academia C
7 Bakugou Katsuki/Kirishima Eijirou Boku no Hero Academia | My Hero Academia
8 Castiel/Dean Winchester Supernatural
9 Peter Parker & Tony Stark Marvel Cinematic Universe
10 Jeon Jungkook/Kim Taehyung | V Bangtan Boys | BTS

Did your favorite ship make the list? Either way, give it some love in the comments!

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.


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