Chapter 464 – An Unexpected Opportunity!

Qian Lu let out a content sigh as he bid another group of customers goodbye. The NetCow Cafe had started to empty out, now that the first day of the Battle Bonanza had come to an end. The reason for Qian Lu’s contentment was that the NetCow Cafe had a very good day. Specifically, the customers in the NetCow Cafe had a good day. That made all the difference to Qian Lu. He was a shrewd businessman, but he had too much heart to truly be a ruthless businessman. As much as he wanted to make money, he wanted his customers to enjoy their stay at the NetCow Cafe more. That’s what brought him the most joy about today. His customers got to watch many exciting plays, they cheered louder and celebrated more with every victory, and they even got to 1v1 against the players on the NetCow Cafe team! Qian Lu heard several groups of customers talking about how the trip to the NetCow Cafe today was definitely worth it.

Qian Lu started tidying up here and there, smiling to himself some more. He’d even heard that all of the customers were even planning on coming again tomorrow, and that they were ready for the excitement to continue! He’d decided at that moment that all of the money he’d spent recruiting Lin Feng and the Gang was more than worth it. Customers and excitement are the lifeblood of an internet cafe! These high schoolers are exactly what the NetCow Cafe needs to really get pumping. As long as this place is lively, more customers will come here. That will pull even more people, turning into a positive feedback loop. I’M GOING TO BE RICH! This isn’t the Battle Bonanaza. Oh-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho no! This is just a bonanza for old Qian Lu! Especially those 1v1s… perhaps that could be the specialty… no! NO! It’ll be the NetCow Cafe’s ultimate move! I’ll have the edge over all the other rival internet cafe’s in the area! Oh-hohohoho-hohoho-hohohoo! It’s a double bonanza for old Qian Lu! 

Lin Feng and the Gang, now the established Team NetCow Cafe, started to pack their bags up to leave, since the tournament day had ended. And also because they were tired. They had spent the entire day playing game after game. While it was true that most of the opponents they faced were weak and didn’t push any of them to go all out, it was still a lot of games. And each one, no matter how easy, took a mental and physical toll. It didn’t help that the 1v1s continued in between tournament matches, which meant that Lin Feng and the Gang had not taken a break since the tournament started earlier that afternoon. It would be abnormal if they weren’t tired after all that.

It was feeling the toll of all that gaming that made Zeng Rui and Zhang Hao stare at Lin Feng. Several times. They understood how they felt right now. And they had not forgotten about the night that Lin Feng played game after game to climb the Korean Challenger Ladder right after they won the Collegiate Cup. Because of how they felt right at that moment, they gained a much deeper understanding of the exhaustion and mental fatigue that Lin Feng endured on that night. 

“You can’t tell most of the time, but he really is amazing…” Zhang Hao muttered. 

Zeng Rui didn’t respond and only shook his head. 

Completely unaware of what his two team members were thinking, Lin Feng had snuck over to Tang Bingyao’s side and asked, “Hey, Tang Tang! You got two of those scraps of paper that my new friends gave me, right?”

“Huh?” Tang Bingyao said, tilting her head. “What slips?” 

“Ya know…! The little pieces of paper with… well, uhm. The ones with the phone numbers and summoner tags from the girls! Come on! I know you know what I’m talking about!”

“Oh…!” Tang Bingyao replied. Should I give them back? I don’t want to! I’m going to keep them. Mhm! It might be a little daring… but I don’t care! An Xin is in on this too! Then she shook her head. “No idea! Haven’t seen them at all!”

Lin Feng scratched his head. “What… why? I wasn’t going to add any of them really! I just want them as proof. I can’t tell Ouyang and the other guys that girls gave me their numbers without proof. They’ll never believe me!”

Tang Bingyao stared. Lin Feng withered a little, but she continued to stare. Then she stuck out her tongue and said, “No way! Go ask BunBun!”

“Huh? BunBun?”  Lin Feng considered the idea of asking An Xin.

As if summoned by her name, An Xin looked over at Lin Feng with a smile that scared nightmares. “Hm? Did you want to ask me something, Lin Feng?” 

“…. No, nothing.” Lin Feng quickly replied.

A short while later, Lin Feng arrived back at his apartment. In a rare moment of togetherness, he’d managed to remember bringing his house keys with him as he left that morning. He didn’t need to knock on the door until Su Xue decided to let him in. He opened the door, took off his shoes and walked into the living room. It was empty. So he decided to go see if Su Xue was in her room. He stomped over and opened the door while yelling, “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyy! I’m home!” 

Su Xue was at her desk, streaming while holding half a watermelon in her hands. She was watching a livestream of a League tournament and commentating on it. She turned around when she heard Lin Feng’s voice and said, “Oh! You’re back! Come watch this LSPL stream with me and the viewers!”

Lin Feng looked at the melon in Su Xue’s hand and said, “I wanna eat some watermelon too!”

Su Xue rolled her eyes. “The other half is in the fridge. Run to the kitchen and get it yourself.”

Lin Feng ran out. A few moments later, he barrelled back into Su Xue’s room with the other half of the watermelon and a spoon. He settled in next to Su Xue and started shoveling a big spoonful of watermelon into his mouth. Then he looked at the stream. “LSPL? Whoplayin?”  

Su Xue looked at him and scowled. “Can’t you eat more gracefully? Watch me.” She daintily scooped up some watermelon and ate it. “Oh, right. LSPL. The game is Deep Abyss against GG. They only just started.”

“Deep Abyss? GG?” Lin Feng realized that he’d never heard of these teams before. 

The current competitive League scene in China featured far more teams than most people realized. Everyone knew about the most famous teams, the ones in the LPL. That went double for the teams at the very top of the LPL. But all teams in the LPL were considered Tier 1. 

Below the LPL was the LSPL. All teams in the LSPL are considered Tier 2 teams, and there are a total of 18 teams. But for most people, the only teams worth knowing about were the Top 8 LSPL. Everything below that line was relegated to obscurity. Because there were very few people who followed absolutely every single game of competitive League of Legends. Only the most dazzling of LSPL teams, the ones that had a shot at one day breaking through into the LPL, entered the public consciousness. Or teams that had famous players. But the two teams playing right now, Deep Abyss and GG, belonged to neither category. 

“Deep Abyss went 11th and GG placed 14th in the last LSPL season,” Su Xue said, understanding Lin Feng’s confusion. She’d done some research into the competitive scene earlier, and was using this as an opportunity to put it to good use. “Neither team has any player of any real renown either. The only one that kinda qualifies… I’d say maybe GG’s Support—Red Breeze. He used to be pretty well known on the Ionia Server. Peaked somewhere in the 30s on the Challenger Ladder. He also did some streams for a while and picked up some fans. ” 

Su Xue looked at the other team, then continued, “As for Deep Abyss, well, there’s nothing to really talk about. At least I’ve never heard the names of any of their players before.”

“Oh gee whiz! Wow! You’re a real encyclopedia here. If you had brown hair, you could be Encyclopedia Brown!” Lin Feng said, surprised. “When did you start doing so much research into the LSPL?”

Su Xue was taken aback. Then she immediately went on the attack, “What? I’m not allowed to learn stuff now? Just because I didn’t do well in school doesn’t mean I don’t want to learn anything! I’m serious about this streaming stuff. I’m a professional streamer now!” Su Xue huffed as she finished her rant. Then she calmed down and fixed her hair before explaining. “Remember that contract I signed with Huya? They reached out to me a couple of days ago and said I should watch a few LSPL games, do some research. Because… because… there’sachanceImightbecastingafewgamesthereinthefut—”

The chat exploded before Su Xue could finish mumbling out the rest of her words. 

we’re gonna be on top!
damn… i never thought that feeder caitlyn I was watching 2 months ago would suddenly become  a professional caster. I feel so proud! It’s like watching a stupid puppy learn how to walk for the first time! Or you know, like in those American movies where you’re rooting for the idiot!  think I’m gonna cry!
tell us the deetz! When you starting!?

Su Xue finally realized what was going on in chat and waved her hands. “Enough enough! This isn’t even a sure thing! I was just saying it might happen. Don’t celebrate too early! AND DEFINITELY DON’T SPREAD IT AROUND!”

Chapter 463-Falling Scraps and Shattered Hearts!

The players from Sacred Scar Cafe’s team shuffled out of the NetCow Cafe, disappointed and dejected from their defeat. Before all of them even stepped out though, Lin Feng started tearing into the take out and setting up the plates. Everyone else, still on the stage, watched as he feverishly unpacked everything from the takeout packages. They’d gotten so used to this that it no longer affected them. The rest of the NetCow Cafe team got down from the stage and joined Lin Feng. They sat down and started eating their dinner. Once they finished, they went right back up on stage and resumed the 1v1 matches against the customers.

T’was now evening, the period during which the NetCow Cafe grew the most packed and busy. And this evening, it was bustling on another level thanks to the Battle Bonanza and the 1v1s. Qian Lu fluttered about and basked in how busy his internet cafe had become. The sheer influx of customers brought some small comfort to his heart, and reassured him that the money he’d spent today had not gone to waste. People were happy, money was flowing, and the vice around Qian Lu’s heart relaxed. Just a little. 

Time passed, and the Battle Bonanza hit another slow phase. No teams showed up to challenge the NetCow Cafe after the last three teams that had come together. The team continued to play 1v1s against the customers to pass the time. Then, at 8PM, two internet cafe teams showed up. The challenge was issued, and the matches were played. There was nothing surprising or interesting about them. Lin Feng and the others loaded in, and proceeded to methodically and ruthlessly eliminate both teams. There was no fanfare or fuss from the team as they swept away both challenges 2-0. But the NetCow Regulars were another story entirely. With every victory, they found new wellsprings of energy to cheer even louder for their team! 

Every single team that had come to challenge the NetCow Cafe thus far had left with their heads hung low and the taste of bitter defeat. None of the teams that had come in so far had recognized Lin Feng and the others. They had no idea who they were up against. Every single team that had challenged Lin Feng and the others left wondering how and why a group of high schoolers were so insanely good at League. And deeper than that, they wondered why a group that was so close to the level of a professional team was participating in a local internet cafe tournament.

The minutes ticked away, all the way to 9:30 PM. That was the official end-time for the first day of the Battle Bonanza. No more challengers would be arriving at the NetCow Cafe. Lin Feng and the others had ended the first day with a record that would go on to shock every other internet cafe competing in this tournament. The NetCow Cafe was currently sitting on 7 successful defenses and not a single loss. But there was another layer on top of this. NetCow Cafe’s team achieved a clean sweep in every best of three series they played. In other words, the NetCow Cafe’s win rate in the tournament so far was a perfect 100%. 

It didn’t take long for the NetCow Regulars and the other customers who had stayed at the internet cafe until the end of the tournament day to figure this out, and they erupted into cheering! It was such a glorious record. So much so that everyone inside the cafe was convinced they had the number 1 spot in the tournament without even bothering to look at how the other teams did. As far as they reckoned, there was no need to check. A more perfect win streak was simply not possible! And so, they continued to cheer and applaud even harder. 

Even old Qian Lu was grinning from ear to ear, and he joined in on some of the celebrating. Even his miserly heart was not immune to something this joyful. What really excited Qian Lu was the momentum. Just from this one day, he could see them charging ahead. Attaining the Immovable Mt. Tai prize was no longer a dream, it was now their destination! The whirlwind nature of it all was enough to let Qian Lu forget himself for a little bit. But then he composed himself. He was, of course, the owner of the internet cafe and the one sponsoring the team. He couldn’t simply believe that his team was the best in the tournament like the customers. Qian Lu knew he had to do his due diligence, and carry out his responsibilities as team owner! He walked up onto the stage and pulled up the webpage for the Battle Bonanza tournament. 

All of the statistics for the tournament were aggregated in real time as teams called in to register wins or losses. Since the record for each best of three series was reported by two parties, it was easy to validate. All of this information was published on a leaderboard webpage, allowing for anyone interested to see how teams were doing. Now, at the end of the first day of the tournament, it was easy to see which teams fared poorly and which teams had potential. The real time aggregation and leaderboard page was created in an effort to motivate teams that had fallen behind and push teams who were ahead to greater heights. It also added another layer of strategy and depth to the tournament as a whole. 

Qian Lu brought the leaderboard page up on the large LCD screen above the stage, and a lull fell over the entire internet cafe as every single person scanned the page. Then, all at once, an audible gasp rolled through the building. The NetCow Cafe stood at the very top of the leaderboard for the Immovable Mt. Tai prize with their 7-0 record!

“Hahaha! Fucking nice!”
“We’re number one! We’re number one! We’re number one!”
“Freaking awesome! We’re freaking unstoppable!”

That was it. That was all the customers at the NetCow Cafe needed to put them over the moon, and completely in love with the team that was representing them. They’d already started developing an attachment to Lin Feng and the others, completely getting over their initial shock that everyone on stage was a high schooler. 

Many of the male customers were already starting to revere Tang Bingyao and An Xin as their goddesses. Not only were they beautiful, but they were also unbelievably good at the game. They were unicorns! The gamer girl goddesses that only appeared in the dreams of the most deluded Huya viewers!

But in a surprise twist, it wasn’t only the girls who had a fanbase building in the customers. Some of the people who’d come to the NetCow Cafe today were female. They stepped in to play some League, but they were completely entranced by the tournament and the 1v1s. Then something else distracted them. Lin Feng. Quite a few of the women in the audience started gazing at Lin Feng with starry doe eyes. 

“If you look closely, he’s kind of hot… I bet he’s a Challenger too!”
“That hair… I kind of want to ruffle it.”
“His smile is so cute too!” 

Some of the girls that Lin Feng managed to draw into his orbit were quite attractive themselves. And a few of them summoned the courage to walk up to Lin Feng and talk to him. They asked him to add them as friends on League. And a few others who had blushing red cheeks handed him little pieces of paper with their phone numbers and League IDs. 

Lin Feng, with his usual cluelessness, accepted every slip of paper from every girl. He didn’t even think it was that big of a deal. In his head, he was wondering if he had enough room on his Friend’s List for all of these new friends. Then, An Xin popped up behind him with a frightening smile on her face. “Oh, wow. Look at that. You even got some numbers… eh?” She glared at the papers, and then at Lin Feng for the briefest of seconds. Then she reached out and said, “How about letting me take a look at those?” It sounded like a request, and it was phrased as a question. But it was neither. 

Lin Feng looked over at her and laughed, “Haha! It seems like I’m pretty popular!” Then he noticed the look in An Xin’s eyes and the laughter stopped. He handed over all the slips of paper to An Xin saying, “Here, take a look for yourself.” 

An Xin snatched the numbers and summoner tags out of Lin Feng’s hand. She rifled through a few and then passed them onto Tang Bingyao. “Tang Tang, you should take a look at these too.”

Tang Bingyao wasn’t paying attention to what was going on until An Xin called her over and held some of the scraps of paper out. Tang Bingyao took two and looked them over. She saw the phone numbers, the Summoner Tags and the cute little hearts and smiley faces. She furrowed her brow and frowned. 

“Are you guys done yet? You’ve been staring at those for a while. You guys know any of these people? Anyways, if you’re done then give them back to me,” Lin Feng said.

An Xin hid the scraps of paper behind her back. She smiled and said, “What’s with the rush? How about this…? Lin Feng, you’re scatterbrained. An idiot. If you had these, you’d probably lose them in the next 15 minutes. So how about Tang Tang and I help you out this time? We’ll keep them safe for you.”

“Mhm!” Tang Bingyao exclaimed with a vigorous nod. Then she stuffed the two scraps in her hand deep into her back pocket. 

Lin Feng scratched his head. “Oh… Well… Yeah… I guess you’re right. Okay, yeah, this is fine too. I’ll get them from you guys later on. I hope there’s enough room on my Friend’s list for all of these guys!” 

Zhang Hao and Zeng Rui simultaneously facepalmed. 

“I can’t tell if he’s serious….”
“Does he really think he’s getting those back?”

Off on the side and in his own world, Qian Lu could do nothing to wipe the wide smile plastered on his face. Never in his wildest dreams did he think that his NetCow Cafe would do this well! Whatever expectations he had when he first signed up for the Battle Bonanza had all been smashed and exceeded. He looked up at the words ‘NetCow Cafe’ sitting in first place again, just to convince himself it was true. Then he glanced at the team in second place. They had lost two games already, and their record was 6-2. The difference in win ratio was huge here. NetCow Cafe had a 100% win rate, and the second place team had a 75%. 

But Qian Lu wasn’t the only one staring at the statistics and the leaderboards. Zeng Rui was studying them too. But he wasn’t concerned with the Immovable Mt. Tai leaderboard, the one that the NetCow Cafe was on. Zeng Rui’s attention was on the Conquerer leaderboard, and specifically on the first place team there. That team currently had a record of 9-0. That meant that their win rate was also 100%. But they had played and won two more matches than the NetCow Cafe. 

Zhang Hao noticed Zeng Rui glaring intensely, and followed the gaze. The second Zhang Hao realized what Zeng Rui was looking at, his eyes went wide. “Holy shit! They’re even better than us!? They seriously won 9 games in a row today!?”

Zeng Rui nodded gravely. “Yes. Yes indeed. It looks like there are some strong teams in this tournament after all. Let’s not get careless.” He then looked at the name beside the record and committed it to memory—Room Temp Netclub.

Chapter 462 – Another Strong Team!

It took the players and the owner from the third team a minute to figure it out. But they eventually did, and collectively frowned. They were annoyed now. Especially because they had more than enough reason to back the pride they had in their strength. They were from the Sacred Star Cafe, and their triumphs on the first day of the Battle Bonanza placed them at the head of the pack. They fought hard and proved that they unquestionably belonged at the top. This was the sixth internet cafe that Sacred Star Cafe had come to challenge today. In the last five challenges, Sacred Star Cafe’s team had won four. They only had one loss to their name. And now they were being looked down upon by a high schooler!

The entire team exchanged looks that said the same thing. That they would not stand for this humiliation! “We were even being nice, offering to let them eat their dinner first… Fine, if that’s how they want it, let’s start! What do you say, Boss?” one of the players muttered. 

Sacred Star Cafe’s owner turned to his players and said, “Don’t hold back. I want you to go all out right from the start!” His lips curved into a cruel smile as he added, “They want to eat dinner soon, right? So let’s be nice and help ‘em get this over with quickly!”

While Sacred Star team’s made up their minds to pummel the NetCow Cafe, Lin Feng and the others were also talking strategy for the upcoming match. It was also oddly similar to the one that the Sacred Star team just had. 

“Yeah! Let’s get this over with quickly!” Lin Feng exclaimed as he pumped his fist into the air.

“Mhm!” Tang bingyao nodded.

It was clear that both teams wanted to finish the match quickly. But they wanted a quick finish for very different reasons. Sacred Star wanted to teach a lesson and soothe their damaged pride, while NetCow Cafe simply wanted to finish quickly so they could eat dinners while it was still hot. This match was one where two truly profound ideologies clashed against each other to determine an answer to a question that has plagued humanity. 

“Sounds good to me! Alrighty then. If we’re going to do this, then we need to play seriously…” An Xin smiled gently after she spoke. But there was a frightening pressure and caged ferocity behind her words. In the previous matches they played today, the NetCow Cafe team had not been playing seriously at all. They swapped roles and played odd team compositions. Partially to make the matches more fair, and partially for their own development and practice. But that was done for now. Playing seriously meant that they would be running real team compositions and everyone would be back in their regular role. That meant that Lin Feng would be back on Mid. 

In other words, the fate of Sacred Star Cafe was sealed.

There was nothing more to be said. Both teams got up on the stage and readied themselves up. The next best-of-three in the Battle Bonanza had started!

The first game ran for a whooping 31 minutes. This was longer than any game that the NetCow Cafe team had played against a challenging team. But that wasn’t to say that the game went well for Sacred Star. It was clear that they were indeed better than the others that had come to the NetCow Cafe before. That’s why they didn’t collapse before 20 minutes like the others. But they couldn’t hold on forever. Despite their best attempts, they lost two inhibitors and were eventually aced by the NetCow Cafe. Their inhibitor exploded shortly after. 

Sacred Star’s team did not take the defeat well. All of their expressions turned dark, and they spoke in tense but hushed whispers. It wasn’t clear exactly what was being said, but the gist was clear. The NetCow Cafe’s team was significantly more powerful than they expected. It was clear to them now that they weren’t being looked down on or underestimated. NetCow Cafe’s team was dimensions ahead of them in terms of strength!

They didn’t have too much time to brood or wallow. The second game started up mere minutes after the first one ended. This was the deciding match, and Sacred Star made it clear that they were not going to go down lightly. They no longer underestimated the NetCow Cafe’s team. This was evident from how targeted and calculated their bans were during champion select. And it was even more so seen once they got onto the rift. Sacred Star’s team was playing more seriously than they had in the previous game. They were pushing themselves to their limits with the hope of going beyond! 

Once the game actually started though, it was starting to look like all of that effort would be for nothing. It’d been 15 minutes since the second game started,  and the flow of the game was looking eerily similar to that of the first game. NetCow Cafe was already ahead of Sacred Scar by 3,500 gold. 

Qian Lu had already chalked this game up as a win in his mind. But he still watched out of interest, because Sacred Star was a team of significantly higher caliber than the ones that came before. Then the doors of the NetCow Cafe opened again. Qian Lu’s heart dropped at the thought of another team coming in to lose, and more money flying out of his account. But it started beating again when he saw that it was a delivery boy carrying large bags of food. The takeout he’d ordered for the team had arrived. Qian Lu walked over to take the food from the delivery boy. 

Lin Fen also glanced when the doors opened and noticed the delivery boy. His eyes glistened and he smiled, “Eh? The food’s here! Alright then! Let’s end this quickly! My stomach’s growling cause I’m a hungry bear!”

Sacred Star Cafe’s team had no idea what just happened. But out of nowhere, they started to feel even more pressure bearing down on them from the NetCow Cafe team. Especially from the Annie in the Mid lane. She was already oppressive, but now it was amped up to an entirely different level. The aggression was palpable in the lane. The poor boys from Sacred Star had no idea that the root of all their misery was the arrival of a delivery man with takeout food. 

The game clock now had 17 minutes on it. The second Dragon was about to spawn, and both teams hovered around the Dragon Pit. They were setting down wards and feeling each other out for an opening. Lin Feng’s Annie managed to circle around the Dragon Pit and then around Sacred Star Cafe’s team. Then, without them noticing her at all, she decided to engage with a sudden Flash! Just as she materialized, she summoned Tibbers, her gigantic manslaying teddy bear, and landed a two-champion stun on the opposing bot lane duo. Before they could react or move again, Annie followed up with her full damage combo and instantly took out Jinx. The enemy AD-Carry was down and out before the team fight even started in earnest! The rest of NetCow Cafe’s team also engaged. In the end, that team fight went to the NetCow Cafe’s team. They had taken out 3 of Sacred Star’s champions and lost none of their own. 

Things just went even further downhill for the Sacred Star team from that point on. When the game hit 20 minutes, NetCow Cafe was ahead by 6,000 gold. There was nothing Sacred Star could do other than helplessly run into the mill of death that the NetCow Cafe team had become. They realized that 5 minutes later, and unanimously voted to surrender. The game lasted 25 minutes, and NetCow Cafe was the winner!

As the victory crest floated up on the large screen above the stage, the customers in the internet cafe erupted into cheers again. 

“It’s another clean sweep too! We haven’t lost once!”

The NetCow Cafe’s team was less concerned about celebrating the victory and more concerned with celebrating the arrival of their dinner. Right after the match ended, Lin Feng and the others rushed down the stage to pick up their food. 

“Time to eat! Time to eat!”
“Nice! It’s still hot!” 

The Sacred Star Cafe’s team was still up on the stage. They had complicated expressions on their faces. They were sad that they lost, yes. But they were also aware of how much better than them the NetCow Cafe’s team was. 

“Shit… we lost.”
“Man, that was so one-sided, I don’t even feel bad.”
“Yeah, no way we had a chance.” 

During the two games, Sacred Star’s team realized that their opponent was in a completely different class. There was simply nothing they could do against the NetCow Cafe. There was no way to push past a wall that loomed so high. Compounding this was that the players from Sacred Star had gotten a sense that the NetCow Cafe’s team was still holding back. That alone was enough to make their hearts skip a beat. The players from the Sacred Star Cafe glanced at each other and bitterly smiled. No words needed to be said. They were all thinking the same thing. The Battle Bonanza was full of hidden dragons and crouching tigers. 

The truly mindblowing part about this whole thing was that this wasn’t even the first time that the Sacred Star’s team had run into an opponent in a different league today. Before they came over to the NetCow Cafe, they ran into another team that was also absurdly strong. 

It does need to be clarified that the Sacred Star Cafe’s team definitely ranked among the top contenders in the Battle Bonanza. Their record before arriving at the NetCow Cafe was 4-1. Their first loss of the day was against Inky Cafe’s team. That internet cafe’s team was more or less at the same level as Sacred Star’s. Perhaps even slightly better. Sacred Star had given it their all, but were still defeated 2-1 by the Inky Cafe. 

But it wasn’t the Inky Cafe’s team that Sacred Star was thinking about. The Inky Cafe had just been where they had run into that terrifying team. Right after Inky Cafe’s match with Sacred Star ended, another team had come in to challenge them. It was this team that Sacred Star was thinking about. They watched as the team they just lost against was utterly crushed 2-0 by this mysterious team. It wasn’t a beatdown. Because to call it a beatdown would be an understatement. Inky Cafe was paper that was blown away by this team. Watching those games left a deep impression on the players from Sacred Star. And now, the NetCow Cafe left a similar impression upon them. 

Sacred Star Cafe’s team knew they had lost and there was nothing they could do. But now they were all wondering what would happen if that mysterious team that had crushed Inky Cafe came to challenge the NetCow Cafe. How explosive would it be when those two teams faced off against each other? Who would win? 

Chapter 461 – Don’t Sweat It!

Both the entrance and the atrium of the NetCow Cafe became packed and cramped when three different internet cafe teams arrived at the same time. Two camps were created, the customers around the stage and the challengers at the entrance. The customers stared at all the teams that had arrived, astonished. The entire situation was a bit like waiting for a bus. One could spend ages waiting for a bus to arrive at the bus stop. But when the bus finally did arrive, there would be two more right behind it. And the customers weren’t the only ones surprised. The three teams from various internet cafes also looked at each other, surprised. None of them expected this situation. Or that they would even meet up during their challenge circuits. 

Despite the awkward situation that had presented itself, rational heads prevailed and some sort of order was established. The third internet cafe team that arrived had a discussion amongst themselves. Then their owner walked over to Qian Lu and informed him that they would return after challenging another internet cafe that was nearby. Then they left. 

As for the second team to walk through the door, they were on the fence about what to do. 

“I mean, we’re second…”
“Yeah, but who knows how long the best of three will take…? Maybe even an hour and a half?”
“It is getting late too. Maybe we should grab dinner and come back?”

While they talked this out, the first internet cafe team to arrive got up on the stage. So did the NetCow Cafe’s team. They were getting ready to start the best-of-three. When Lin Feng saw the second team about to leave, he waved to them and shouted, “Hey, don’t leave! We’ll finish real quickly! You can go for dinner after our match. There’s still time!”

The second net cafe team’s players looked at him, dumbfounded. Meanwhile, the expressions of the players from the first team immediately turned sour.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Big words for a pipsqueak…”

The owner of the first team was also unhappy. He turned to Qian Lu and frowned. “Hey, teach those kids of yours some manners. There’s a limit to how disrespectful they can get!” 

Qian Lu feigned an apologetic expression and awkwardly laughed. “Haha, yeah yeah… Sorry about that. You know how the kids are these days.” 

After seeing this exchange, the customers couldn’t help but roll their eyes and comment in hushed tones to each other.

“What a two-faced bastard…”
“That’s just cruel… oh man, I can already see that guy’s face two games from now…”
“Poor bastards! They don’t even know what’s coming!”

The customers and the NetCow Regulars were starting to understand Lin Feng, and where he was coming from. They knew that he wasn’t just boasting or trying to play mental games with the other team. NetCow Cafe’s team was more than capable of steamrolling through these opponents. Some of the customers who didn’t get a chance to participate in the 1v1s stood up and started cheering. 

“Woooo! Go Lin Feng!”
“End it in 20!”
“We’re waiting for you to 1v1 us again!”
“Go! Go! Go!”

Soon, the best-of-three series started. The first team of challengers on the stage were already angry. They had understood exactly how little Lin Feng thought about them, and they were burning up to show him that he was wrong. More than that, they were raring to go so they could teach Lin Feng and all his friends a lesson.

The second internet cafe team that arrived decided that they would stay and watch the game. Lin Feng’s confidence made them curious. They wanted to stay and observe the game so they could determine how strong the NetCow Cafe’s team was for themselves.

The decision to stay was the smartest one that the team from the second internet cafe to arrive made. They quickly realized that the NetCow Cafe’s team wasn’t just strong. They were absurdly, insanely strong. The internet cafe team that went first had no chance at all. They were easily steamrolled, and utterly beaten two games in a row. And just to change things up, possibly even the playing field, Lin Feng and An Xin had swapped roles for the second game. It didn’t make a difference at all. The second game was just as much of a curb-stomp as the first one. 

With the first best-of-three now over, the customers in the NetCow Cafe erupted into wave after wave of clapping and cheering. Everyone’s palms had turned red and started to sting from all the clapping. But they had much to celebrate. Their team had now defended their turf three times in a row! From the start of the tournament this afternoon until now, the NetCow Cafe team had defeated every single challenger that had come through the door! 

Making the whole thing even sweeter was that the NetCow Cafe team had defeated every team that came up against them in 2-0 clean sweeps. The cherry was the defeated look worn by the first team up on the stage, and the shock and terror in the eyes of the second team waiting on the sidelines. The NetCow Regulars felt pride surge up in their hearts as they realized that their internet cafe was indeed the strongest one!

The first team shuffled off the stage after being utterly destroyed and terrorized. As they left, the second team slowly walked up onto the stage. The nervousness and caution was evident on their faces. The match they had just watched, where the NetCow Cafe team faced the first team to arrive, had wiped away all of their confidence. But they still had enough courage left to play, and some semblance of a plan. Once they got up on the stage and both teams entered Champion Select, the second team of challengers immediately banned all five of the champions that the NetCow Cafe team used in the last match. 

The customers below the stage clicked their tongues.

“They’re target banning?”
“Hah, as if that’ll work!”
“If the 1v1s from before taught us anything, it’s that those kids have insane champion pools!!”
“There’s no use trying to ban them out!” 

At this moment, Qian Lu was hardly paying attention to the match. It was because he knew the result was already decided, and that his humble little business would be losing another ¥500.  “Hah… What’s the point? If they win, they win. I’d be surprised if they lost a single game at all…” Qian Lu muttered to himself.

Qian Lu was not a prophet, but he could read enough of the future to figure out the outcome of the game. The second best-of-three concluded in less than an hour. The NetCow Cafe team notched yet another flawless victory on their belts after defeating the second team 2-0.

The NetCow Cafe was currently 4-0 in the Battle Bonanza. Out of the three internet cafe teams that had come to challenge them, two had been swiftly put down. The third team, who had left to challenge another nearby internet cafe, had yet to return. But it was starting to get late.

After waiting around for the third team of challengers for a bit longer, Lin Feng and the others started getting hungry. Qian Lu approached the group and suggested, “How about we take a break for dinner? I’ll order some take-out. It seems like that team earlier won’t be back for a while.”

Qian Lu’s proposal was met with Lin Feng’s enthusiastic approval. The rest of the team also didn’t have any objections. So, Qian Lu pulled out his cell phone and ordered some take-out, and requested that it be delivered to the NetCow Cafe. Just as Qian Lu finished the order and started putting down his phone, the third team of challengers returned. They had just won a best-of-three against a different internet cafe that was nearby.

After walking in the door, they were dumbfounded.

“What’s going on?”
“Weren’t there two teams before us?”
“Did they finish both matches in under two hours?”
“No way, right? That’s way too fast.”

Lin Feng and the others were also surprised. Before they even had a chance to eat their dinner, the opponents from earlier had returned. This was really some bad timing. 

Qian Lu walked over and explained the situation to the owner of the third net cafe team. Then, the owner nodded and said, ‘Don’t worry. That’s fine. You guys can eat your dinner first. We can wait.”

Even so, it would still take a while before the delivery driver arrived. Then, there would be the time spent eating on top of that. It wouldn’t really be proper to make the opponent wait this long.

Lin Feng raised his hand and said, “It’s okay! We can play a match real quick right now and eat later!” 

The players and the owner from the third net cafe team politely declined.

“No no no, take your time. You can eat.”
“If we start playing now, your food will get cold by the time we finish.”

Lin Feng smiled at them and said, ‘Don’t sweat it guys! Trust! There’s still 40 minutes before the delivery driver arrives. We’ll have just enough time for two games!”

Just enough time…?
Is he serious? 

The players and owner from the third team looked at each other with stunned expressions. They could not figure out how to react. The kid in front of them was being friendly and cheerful, but there was something about his words that indicated to them that they were being looked down upon!

Chapter 460 – More and More Noisy

The challenge series of 1v1 duels continued on at the NetCow Cafe. Tang Bingyao was the only one taking on challenges at the time. She easily defeated every single challenger she faced, and remained undefeated. But Tang Bingyao’s focus wasn’t only on winning. She was aware that this entire thing was meant for the entertainment of the NetCow Regulars. If she really wanted to dominate them, she could have just stuck to playing Draven. There was no doubt that she would keep winning if she did that. But it would get dull fast, and the customers would lose interest. 

That’s why Tang Bingyao kept changing up the champion she was playing. It made the 1v1s considerably less boring, because every game was fresh. More importantly though, it would ignite the competitive spirit of the customers even more, and entice even more people to go up and prove their worth. Because that was really the important thing here for Tang Bingyao. More customers coming up to challenge her meant more money in her pocket. When it came down to making money, Tang Bingyao was just as savvy as Qian Lu. Her focus was on the path that she calculated would make her the most profit. 

And in the spirit of that, Tang Bingyao realized that she’d been playing for a while now. She knew that the customers would get bored if there was only one person from the NetCow Team available for a challenge. Especially given that she was currently undefeated. So after a final 1v1, Tang Bingyao decided to excuse herself and tagged An Xin to swap places with her. 

“My turn?” An Xin asked, pointing to herself. Then she smiled. “I’m the jungler though, and there’s really no such thing as a jungle 1v1. What should we do? I suppose I’ll just play mid instead. Are you guys okay with that?”

The customers below the stage broke out into a frenzy, eager to agree to any request from the beautiful An Xin. With one swap, everyone’s enthusiasm for the 1v1s shot up to astronomical heights again. It had started to dim with every game that Tang Bingyao won. The fighting spirit of the NetCow Regulars cooled down when they figured out how outclassed they were against Tang Bingyao. But now, with An Xin taking the hot seat, all of that reversed itself. Especially because many of the customers who wanted to fight didn’t main the Ad-Carry role. They were content to try their luck against Tang Bingyao, but it didn’t matter if they won or lost. 

With An Xin, things were different. It was a 1v1 in the Mid lane, and An Xin was a Jungle main. The NetCow Regulars started to believe they actually had a chance of beating her! 

Unfortunately for the customers of the NetCow Cafe, they were being far too optimistic with their thinking. An Xin swapped seats with Tang Bingyao, but nothing else changed as far as the outcome of the 1v1s was concerned. She got up onto the stage and won her first duel in five minutes. Then she won her second game in six minutes. Her third game only lasted four minutes, also ending in defeat for the customer who challenged her. 

An Xin’s playstyle was very different from the aggressive one that Tang Bingyao favored. An Xin was much more controlled and reserved. The impression she gave off was that the entire lane was her domain, and anyone who trespassed would be quickly put down. And that they were, as An Xin continued Tang Bingyao’s undefeated win streak. She easily stomped on every challenger that stepped up to face her with a smile on her face. An Xin’s performance and game presence left the customers watching mind-blown. 

“Isn’t she supposed to be a Jungle main!? Why is she this good at mid?”
“She’s got an insane champion pool!”
“Sweet mama…” 

Qian Lu was equally shell-shocked. But for very different reasons. He looked like he was on the verge of tears as he watched the 1v1s play out. The entire situation was completely out of hand, and well beyond what he expected. 

“H-how many wins in a row do they already ha-…?”  Qian Lu muttered. “And I have to pay ¥30 for each one…”

But deep within his heart, he was conflicted. One part of him was happy that the team he hired to represent the NetCow Cafe was strong enough to put on a good show. The other part of him was bitter as money flew out of his pocket every few minutes.

“P-please… please, I beg you, just lose a couple of games!” Qian Lu begged at the stage.

The atmosphere inside the NetCow Cafe started getting more and more rowdy as the internet cafe grew packed with customers. So many people were going up to challenge the NetCow Team to a 1v1, and that increased the excitement for everyone. And with all the noise and cheering, customers from outside were being drawn in. When they saw how much fun everyone was having, they also decided to participate in the 1v1s. That was the one thing that soothed Qian Lu’s heart, and mollified his miserly nature somewhat. It was clear that he wasn’t losing out on this deal with Lin Feng and the Gang. 

After An Xin played and won her sixth challenge, she decided it was time to swap out.

“Oh! It’s finally my turn?” Lin Feng said excitedly as he got ready to walk up onto the stage. He’d been sitting on the sidelines for a while now, and he was itching to play. But just as Lin Feng started to climb up and passed An Xin on her way down, the doors to the NetCow Cafe opened. A team from another internet cafe had finally appeared to challenge them!

“Eh? Another challenger? Now?” Lin Feng remarked with a tinge of regret. “Bad timing! They could’ve come a little bit later…”

The customer who was about to face Lin Feng was also disappointed. He grumbled. “Man, this sucks. They didn’t come when we wanted them to. Now that we’re starting to have fun, that’s when they decide they need to show up and ruin things!”

The reaction was a surprising one for the players and the owner of the challenging internet cafe team. Instead of the excitement and tension they were expecting, they were being treated as a nuisance the minute they arrived. 

Lin Feng turned to the disappointed NetCow Regular and comforted him. “It’s fine! It’s fiiiiiiiine! We can 1v1 later. Dontcha worry, we’ll beat these guys real quick!”

When the rest of the NetCow Cafe heard these words, the sheer boldness and confidence sent them into an uproar. They’d already seen how amazing Lin Feng and the others on the NetCow team were in the games from earlier. They had no reason to doubt Lin Feng’s confidence, or his declaration that it would be over soon.

However, the players and owner from the internet cafe team that had just walked in the door became extremely displeased.

“What the hell does that mean?”
“Is that kid looking down on us?”
“Fucking hell… they probably haven’t heard about how we whooped that last cafe’s ass!”
“Fine, let’s teach these brats a lesson!”
“NetCow? More like NetCowshit!” 

Before long, the two teams got up on stage and the best-of-three series started. And ended 50 minutes later, with the NetCow Cafe seizing two quick wins. The NetCow Regulars made the walls vibrate with their cheering. They weren’t just celebrating a win. Nor were they celebrating a quick and resounding victory. They were cheering because their internet cafe had now successfully defended themselves against challengers twice! But it didn’t hurt at all that this match was as much of a one-sided beatdown as the one against the Moonlight Cafe had been. 

Amidst all that cheering, the players and owner from the internet cafe that challenged the NetCow Cafe rushed out with pale expressions. There was nothing they could say to salvage the situation after losing so badly. And when the customers saw the challengers rush out, they broke into another round of loud cheering and clapping. 

Lin Feng turned to the customer from earlier and said, “See! Didn’t I tell you we’d beat them quick? Now come on! We can play our 1v1!” 

Soon enough, it was 5PM. Evening had just started, and business at the NetCow Cafe was booming. The entire place was packed, and the atmosphere was almost comparable to how it got during Worlds. The smile on Qian Lu’s face grew wider and wider with every customer that walked in. He knew that the spike in business was partially due to the Battle Bonanza. But it was more directly related to the 1v1s that Lin Feng and the Gang were playing against customers. The cheering and noise would draw people in through the doors, and then pull them in towards the middle of the lounge where the stage was. They would see all the fun people were having fighting against the NetCow Team, and want to join in themselves. There were currently more challenges from customers than when they started. 

But the Battle Bonanza was still happening, and the number of challenging teams appearing at the NetCow Cafe also increased. In a complete reversal of the situation from earlier, three different internet cafes all arrived at the same time to challenge the NetCow Cafe!

Chapter 459 – Raking in the Money

The first thing that needed to be said was that this wasn’t Tang Bingyao’s first, second, or even third time making money with League of Legends. She’d been boosting accounts for a while now. Tang Bingyao had even charged Lin Feng a challenge fee when the two first met at the NetCow Cafe when the school year started. This was essentially the same thing, which is why the idea came so naturally to her. Nothing about making money from playing League games was foreign or unheard of to Tang Bingyao.

“You want us to collect a challenge fee?” Lin Feng asked while rubbing his chin. His body language made it clear that he didn’t like the idea. “I don’t know… yeah, no. Okay. That doesn’t sound good to me at all. Everyone here today, they came to cheer us on. Asking them to pay us a challenge fee to 1v1 them just feels too scummy.”

An Xin frowned at Lin Feng and rolled her eyes. “Idiot! We’re not asking the internet cafe customers to pay us. What we’re going to do, obviously, is we go to the owner of the business. Isn’t that right, Boss Qian?” She turned to face Qian Lu with a faint smile.

“Eh!?” Qian Lu’s eyes went wide. 

“Yup! Yup! That’s it exactly, An Xin!” Tang Bingyao said, nodding in agreement.

An Xin looked straight at Qian Lu and continued, “I don’t remember anything about 1v1ing any customers in our contract. But since we are being compensated for our matches here in this tournament, its only fair that we get compensated for any other games we play as part of that, right? That’s only fair. Don’t you think so, Boss Qian? That’s only fair. Right, Boss Qian?” An Xin  looked at Qian Lu, the same smile still on her face as she emphasized the last sentence. 

“Oh no! She’s doing that scary thing again…!” Lin Feng muttered under his breath as he felt shivers run down his spine. 

Qian Lu gulped. The corners of his lips quivered slightly as he slowly pulled them into a forced smile. “C-collecting a fee..? W-well, about that.”  He rubbed his palms on his pants, but he could do nothing about the beads of cold sweat running down his forehead. “You know, we’re only a small business here. So, paying you a fee for 1v1s is a little…”

“Ah, is that so? That’s too bad. Then, let’s forget about it.” An Xin smiled. She turned to Tang Bingyao and asked, “Isn’t that right, Tang Tang?”

Tang Bingyao nodded earnestly.

Qian Lu’s smile was frozen on his face, despite the twinge of pain that flickered in his eyes. After a brief struggle in his mind between saving money and potential profits, he gnashed his jaw and asked, “How much do you want?”

An Xin smiled. “I’ll let Tang Tang deal with that.”

Tang Bingyao thought for a moment, then raised three fingers. “That’s how much I want a game.”

Qian Lu breathed a sigh of relief. ¥30 a game? That doesn’t sound too bad. 

“Wow, Tang Tang! That means if you do 1000 1v1s, you’ll get ¥300,000!” Lin Feng exclaimed, then slapped Tang Bingyao on the shoulder and continued, “You’re gonna be rich!”

“En!” Tang Bingyao’s eyes sparkled. 

“….” Qian Lu’s mouth gaped.

“…” Zhang Hao was speechless.

Zeng Rui’s eyelids twitched, as he turned his face away. But his thoughts were clearly evident on his face. He just didn’t want to be associated with the morons. The childish morons.

It didn’t really need stating, but all of the discussion between Qian Lu and the team was held in private. But Qian Lu quickly drafted an amendment to the contract for the 1v1s, and it was signed. Once that was done, Qian Lu headed up onto the stage and announced that the NetCow Cafe team would be accepting 1v1 challenge matches. It was an unexpected turn of events that stunned the customers of the internet cafe when they first heard it. 

“Against the NetCow Cafe team…?”

But once they figured out what was going on, the entire internet cafe erupted into cheers! There wasn’t a single customer who wasn’t excited to play against the team representing their internet cafe. It wasn’t every day that regular players like them could test their skills in duels against top players. And the cherry on top was that two of the players were super cute. Almost in unison, every customer decided that there was nothing more to think about or consider. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them, and they were not planning on missing out. Qian Lu was swarmed by a mob of overexcited customers. 

“Boss, Boss, me first!”
“No me! No me! Me first!”
“I’m Platinum 1! It’ll be a more entertaining match if I play. Let me go up first!”
“Dumbass? Platinum 1? Really!? Fuck you mate, I’m Diamond in the Demcia server!”
“Bro, who the fuck cares. That’s basically Ionia Bronze!  At least get to Challenger there first!”

The 1v1s hadn’t even started, but the customers of the internet cafe already started fighting over who would get to play first. After a great deal of effort and shouting, Qian Lu finally managed to calm them down. Then he announced that the order of the 1v1 duels would be decided through drawing lots. As for who would be playing against the customers from the NetCow Cafe team, Tang Bingyao was the obvious choice. 

“Oh, Tang Tang is going first?” Qian Lu’s eyes lit up. “Then that means we’ll be doing ad-carry 1v1s first. Let’s welcome the first challenger!” 

There was only one reason that Qian Lu agreed to pay the fee for the 1v1 duels. He’d seen and understood how popular An Xin and Tang Bingyao were among the customers. As he calculated it, the sheer amount of goodwill, advertising, and attention he’d get from all this would end up being more than worth the expense! That reasoning held up right until the 1v1s started. From that point on, Qian Lu would come to regret this decision. 

Once everything was decided and everyone got ready, the first 1v1 started. Tang Bingyao picked and locked in her signature champion with zero hesitation. Draven, the Executioner! The choice prompted a wave of gasps from the audience. Her challenger was a long time customer of the NetCow Cafe, and ranked Platinum. He decided to play Lucian. With both champions locked in, the players loaded into the game. 

3 minutes later, the 1v1 ended.

《First Blood!》

The announcer’s voice rang out across Summoner’s Rift, shaking the hearts of all the audience members.

“Ww-what the hell was th… is that it!”
“Fuck! I can’t even take a shit that fast!”

The player who had thought he was lucky to pull the first challenge against Tang Bingyao also had a dazed expression on his face. He didn’t get up from his seat for several long minutes after the 1v1 ended. Mere moments ago, he’d been confident that he could play well enough to impress Tang Bingyao a little. Then the game started, and he was dead before he even realized what was happening. He was completely powerless against Tang Bingyao! The whole thing played out so differently from the scenarios he’d gone through in his head.

Tang Bingyao, on the other hand, was cool as a cucumber. Right after securing an easy win in the first 1v1, she looked down from the stage and asked, “Alright! Who’s next?” 

Another customer stepped up from the crowd and raised his hand. “Umm, that would be me.”

Tang Bingyao’s eyes lit up. “Good. Let’s go! Mhm!” She was more than happy to play, and as quickly as they could get up on stage. Right now, every customer was a walking bag of cash to Tang Bingyao. Every takedown was ¥30 in her pocket!

The second 1v1 began without much fanfare. Then five minutes later, it ended. Tang Bingyao had switched to Lucian for this game, and her opponent decided on a Sivir. It was yet another easy first blood for Tang Bingyao. 

Tang Bingyao now had 2 wins in a row under her belt. Then it quickly turned into 3 wins in a row. Followed by 4 wins in a row. Before anyone could blink it was 5 wins. Tang Bingyao was mowing through the challengers in record speed!

Below the stage, the NetCow Regulars roared and cheered, amazed at Tang Bingyao’s skill. Meanwhile, Qian Lu was trembling. The blood drained from his face slowly. As Tang Bingyao notched victory after victory, he realized that he’d made a mistake. A grave mistake. The initial plan was for Tang Bingyao to boost the enthusiasm of the crowd, show them a good time while the Battle Bonanza continued. She was doing exactly that. But she was doing it so quickly, and Qian Lu started to tally how much money he was losing. He was hemorrhaging cash with every challenger! 

Lin Feng and the rest of the Gang also watched Tang Bingyao’s 1v1 carefully. 

Zhang Hao sighed. “Wow, Tang Tang’s managed to improve her mechanics even more. She’s getting so much better every time I see her play!”

An Xin chuckled. “Yup. Tang Tang’s hit some rapid improvement.”

After watching Tang Bingyao beat another customer, Zhang Hao swallowed his saliva. “At this rate, she’s going to be as good as a pro player.”

Zeng Rui shook his head. “No, she’s still got a ways to for that. Tang Tang’s mechanics are great. But she’s got a lot of progress to make in other aspects of the game.”

An Xin nodded with a smile. “It’s fine. All of that will come in time. What she needs the most right now is experience.”

Lin Feng waved his hand. “That’s no problem! We’ve got plenty of time! We can just take it easy!”

After hearing Lin Feng’s words, An Xin’s eyes flickered with a trace of gloom. She lowered her head and thought, Take it easy, huh? I wonder if I can afford that luxury…

Chapter 458 – Satisfying the Customers

Lin Feng and the Gang had managed to deal with the Moonlight Cafe, successfully defending the NetCow Cafe. Then they decided to continue on with more practice games while waiting for the next challenger to come in. But all the patrons at the NetCow Cafe were now fired up, and the excitement was palpable in the air. Even though Lin Feng and the gang were only crushing random players in what they considered to be practice games, the entire crowd pushed closer to the stage to watch and continued to cheer just as loudly as they had during the match with the Moonlight Cafe. 

All of the regulars at the NetCow Cafe now understood that Lin Feng and the gang were god-tier players! There was no longer any doubt in their skills, especially not after how cleanly they stomped on the challenging team from Moonlight Cafe. That was the moment that public sentiment at the NetCow Cafe completely turned. Before, the NetCow regulars had some lingering doubts about their team. It was entirely plausible that the practice game was staged to build up hype, and that their team was playing against low ELO players on the other team. But when Lin Feng and the Gang destroyed the Moonlight Cafe’s team, those doubts were washed away. 

But the victory wasn’t even the sweetest part of the whole thing for the NetCow regulars. Nor was it the best part. The thing that allowed Lin Feng and the Gang to win the hearts of everyone who visited the NetCow cafe, the real best part, was what happened after the match ended. The look of embarrassment and baby-rage on the faces of both the players from the Moonlight Cafe and the Owner was the cherry on the sundae that had been that match. The NetCow regulars savored that look, and its taste was made even sweeter by how cocky they’d been before the match kicked off. All in all, the day started out great for the NetCow regulars. Their cafe had won, and that victory was a truly sweet one! 

This was a big moment for the patrons of the NetCow Cafe. They were not playing up on the stage themselves, but they were being represented by Lin Feng and the Gang. Their honor was on the line with every challenge, and the Gang was fighting for their honor! And with that line of reasoning came a slow rumbling, a thought that gained momentum through the minds and hearts of the NetCow regulars. That thought was that it was a pity that the NetCow Cafe decided to go for the Immovable Mt. Tai prize. Now that they’d recognized how powerful Lin Feng and the Gang were, they decided that it was quite possible for them to win the Conqueror prize. Easily. Just the thought of that got their blood pumping even more! But they knew, unfortunately, that such a thing was not meant to be. They were more than fine with winning the Immovable Mt. Tai prize, which they considered theirs already.

In some ways, this was better. At least, that’s what the NetCow Cafe regulars told themselves. There was real weight behind that argument too, because of one simple fact. If the NetCow Cafe’s team decided to go for the Conqueror Prize, they’d be running around challenging other internet cafes. The NetCow regulars wouldn’t all be able to follow their team and watch the matches. Some internet cafes were far away, and other customers had transportation issues. Besides, it was much more comfortable and enjoyable to stay at their regular spot and watch other teams getting wrecked. 

“Hey, how come the next Challenger still isn’t here?”
“Yeah, it’s been like 20 minutes already. You’d think they’d be here by now.”
“Come on! I’m tired of waiting!”

The waiting was getting to the NetCow regulars, and they were starting to get a little stir crazy. The first best-of-three against a challenger was exciting and entertaining, but it ended a bit too quickly. Now that their bloodlust was up, they needed to see more challengers getting stomped on to satisfy their cravings!

While the NetCow regulars hyped each other up and whipped themselves into a frenzy for the next challenger, Lin Feng and the Gang calmly finished the practice game they were playing. It was yet another easy victory, a game that ended in 22 minutes as the opposing team forfeited after realizing how outclassed and outgunned they were. But there was no sign of another challenger walking through the doors of the NetCow Cafe. 

Lin Feng scratched his head as he watched the door. “Well… I guess we just continue practicing?”

Zeng Rui nodded. “Yup, let’s keep going.”

And so, Lin Feng and the Gang continued onto another practice game. Which, predictably, led to another victory. But the doors of the internet cafe remained shut, and there was no sign of any challenger coming in. It had already been an hour since the end of the best-of-three series against the Moonlight Cafe, and the NetCow regulars were starting to get antsy. But not more than Lin Feng, who was getting tired of all the random practice games. 

“What’s going on? Why isn’t anyone coming to challenge us? Didn’t Ol’Qian say there were a lot of internet cafes participating in this tournament?” Lin Feng asked, confused.

“Maybe Moonlight Cafe said something about how strong we were after we beat them? The other internet cafes heard about it, and now they’re too scared to challenge us?” Zhang Hao guessed.

Zeng Rui shook his head. “Not possible. Anyone aiming for the Conqueror prize has to challenge every internet cafe that is defending. They cannot skip us, that just isn’t an option.”

“Then… let’s just chalk it up to the randomness of fate, or the luck of the draw,” An Xin concluded. “I’m guessing the other net cafes are challenging the places closest to them first. Once they finish up those games, they should be heading over to our side.”

An Xin’s assumption was, for all intents and purposes, a reasonable one. There was no other viable explanation for what they were currently experiencing, and it meant that there was nothing that Lin Feng and the Gang could do other than continuing on with more practice games. Playing practice game after practice game against random enemy teams was dull, but it was something that Team Shanghai did for months on end. They were more than used to it, and it didn’t make much of a difference to them. But the same could not be said for the NetCow regulars. They came into the NetCow Cafe expecting exciting games against challengers, and all they’d seen was one curbstomp against the Moonlight Cafe. Now, they were starting to complain. 

“It’s been an hour already… how much longer are we gonna wait for?”
“How the hell is this tournament even organized? It doesn’t make sense.”
“Don’t tell me we’re gonna be waiting the whole day without another match?”

Qian Lu grimaced as the complaints from the customers of his internet cafe reached his ears. It was evident from his expression that he was not happy with the state of things at all. The way the Battle Bonanza was organized started to annoy him too, simply because the entire format was too open and easily allowed for situations like the one happening in the NetCow Cafe. And the annoyances didn’t stop with the current problem. The other side of the coin was one that could prove to be equally irritating, when multiple challengers appeared at the same time. But despite all these reservations and irritations, there was nothing that Qian Lu could do about it for now. The only way out of the Battle Bonanza was through it, and he’d have to deal with every situation as it popped up. 

That said, Qian Lu had a responsibility to his customers as the owner of the NetCow Cafe. He needed to make sure that his paying customers were not dissatisfied, or they wouldn’t come back. He looked around the room as the wheels in his head spun into action, trying to come up with a solution for the problems created by the Battle Bonanza. Then, a few seconds later, his eyes lit up. Qian Lu had an epiphany, a brain blast, and figured out a way to make his customers happy again. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Lin Feng and the Gang had just finished the practice game they were playing. 

Qian Lu approached them up on the stage. “You’ve won another game! Good! Good! It warms my heart to see how hard all of you are working!”

Lin Feng looked at Qian Lu and asked, “Hey, Boss Qian! When are we gonna get another challenger? Waiting around like this is pretty boring.”

Zhang Hao decided to chime in also, “Yeah. It’s no biggie if we’re bored, but the customers… they’re starting to get really bored and impatient. You can’t just leave them waiting around forever like this.”

Qian Lu nodded. “Right! Right! Right! You’re 100% right! But… sadly, there’s nothing I can do about it. I have no control over when the other internet cafes will come to challenge us. But…” He looked over the team and smiled. “I’ve come up with the perfect solution. It’s just like you guys said, we can’t keep the customers waiting around all day, right? Well here’s the plan…”  Then, he explained his idea to Lin Feng and the Gang.

“1v1s?” Zhang Hao said, surprised.

Lin Feng rubbed his chin. Then, his eyes lit up. “That doesn’t sound like a bad idea! I’m in!”

Qian Lu’s plan was simple. Since there was nothing he could do about the other internet cafes, he’d get the customers involved in all the fun. The best way to do that was having them test their skills against the members of Team NetCow in a series of 1v1 duels. Lin Feng and the others had already proven themselves in the last match, so there was no doubt about their skills. And this was something that provided real value and excitement to the customers. For them, it was the chance to compete against a famous athlete or superstar, and show what they were made of on the Rift. Qian Lu was quite proud of himself for coming up with an idea this good. But he also had another ace up his sleeve. 

“An Xin! Tang Bingyao! The two of you definitely picked up a lot of fans with your amazing skills and gameplay in the last match,” Qian Lu said as he looked at the two girls. “If you give the customers a chance to go up against you in a 1v1, I’m sure it’ll make their day! They’ll love it!”

An Xin’s lips curved into a faint smile. “Oh? You’ve put some thought into this, haven’t you Qian Lu?”

Qian Lu smiled. “Of course! This is all for the sake of our business! We have to keep the customers happy, after all.”

Then, An Xin turned to Tang Bingyao and asked, “Tang Tang, what are your thoughts?”

Tang Bingyao tilted her head, then asked, “Are we getting paid? If we’re 1v1ing people, we should at least collect a fee.”

“Huh?” Qian Lu was stumped. “C-collect… a… fee…?”

Chapter 457 – End of the First Challenge

A thick silence blanketed the NetCow Cafe. No one made a peep. It was so quiet that the customers could hear the whistling from someone’s breathing. They were all too busy staring at the LCD screens, too shocked to speak. Or cheer. Or even question what happened as the Victory crest floated over Moonlight Cafe’s ruined Nexus. But without a word spoken, everyone had the same thought. Th-they won! NetCow Cafe’s team won! They beat Moonlight Cafe’s team in a best-of-three in under an hour! 

Qian Lu was just as surprised. He was more than confident in Lin Feng’s team, but the victory happening that quickly was outside of his expectations too. He stood there with his mouth completely open, alternating between staring at the LCD screens and at the team he hired. The sight was almost comical, because of the dazed look on his chubby face. Qian Lu was a calculating individual and shrewd businessman, but this was still well beyond anything he could’ve predicted. Even with all he knew about how strong Lin Feng and the others were, and even if he’d watched them practice with his own eyes for the last few days. It was still shocking to see how easily and quickly they’d defended the NetCow Cafe from the Moonlight Cafe’s challenge. 

The reaction was no different on the stage. Moonlight NetCafe’s entire team sat petrified in their seats with pale faces. They were so shocked by what just went down that they had no concept of how to process it properly, or understand what to think about the whole ordeal. They had lost, that much was clear. But it wasn’t just that they had lost. They’d been completely and utterly crushed. 

The opponent they’d just gone up against, the NetCow Cafe’s team, was so unbelievably strong that they had no chance to fight back at all. They were utterly helpless! There was nothing they could do, no way to prepare for the tidal wave that just crashed into them. Before they could even strategize properly and mount a counter-offensive, they were swept away by the frightening strength of NetCow Cafe’s team. It was beyond belief how badly the games had gone for them. They’d lost all three lanes in both games, and NetCow’s Jungler had managed to shut down any attempt at a comeback. That wasn’t even the worst of it. The team fights were another level of tragedy, where they got instantly stomped on. The only thing that was clear about both games was that there was nothing they could do. 

The Midlaner on Moonlight Cafe’s team was the most level-headed and analytical out of all of them. But right now, he was slumped back in his seat. His face was lifeless, but the disbelief was clear in his eyes. The games had gone particularly bad for him, because he was also the best player on the team. He was currently ranked at Master on the Zuan server. Despite this, his lane was the one that lost the fastest in both games. 

The lane situation was especially bad for him in the second game. His Yasuo was up against NetCow’s Fizz. Things turned south within minutes, when NetCow’s Jungler game in to gank him. After that, his lane completely collapsed and he ended up being solo-killed twice by Fizz. There was simply no way for him to come back or defend his lane.

As he sat there, ruminating on what happened, he thought about what happened when he first walked in and saw NetCow Cafe’s team playing their warm-up game. He’d initially assumed that NetCow Cafe’s team was playing a weak opponent, one who completely gave up and became helpless to fight back after only falling behind a little bit. Because of that, he’d also assumed that the opposing team was only ranked Gold or Platinum. That was the only thing that made sense to him. But now, after playing against NetCow Cafe’s team, he’d realized something. Up against their team, he played just as badly as the supposed noobs he saw during that practice game. Moonlight Cafe’s Midlaner had figured out one thing. It wasn’t that the players from earlier were bad at all. It was just that NetCow Cafe’s team was too strong! 

With the best-of-three series done and over with, the first victory went to NetCow Cafe. And it was a flawless victory. Qian Lu was the first to snap back to reality and fight back against the gravity pulling his knees to the ground. The corners of his mouth turned up into a smug grin, and he immediately turned around to shake the hand of the Moonlight Cafe’s owner. “Oh-hohohoho-hahahaaha! That was spectacular, wasn’t it? Thank you so much for going easy on us. Your team, they’re pretty good too! Oh-hohohoho-haha! It’s just… well, ah… what a shame they lost so quickly, right? But hey, there’s no reason to give up, right? The Battle Bonanza has only just started, right? Do your best!” 

Qian Lu’s tone was polite, but the words were sugarcoated sharp needles that plunged deep into the Moonlight Cafe’s owner’s soul. According to the rules of the Battle Bonanza, each participant could only challenge another internet cafe to a single match. That meant that since the Moonlight Cafe lost to the NetCow Cafe, those results were set in stone. There was no way for the Moonlight Cafe to challenge the NetCow Cafe again and reclaim their honor. 

The face of Moonlight Cafe’s owner flushed red. He  looked up at his players up on the stage and hollered, “What the hell are you guys still sitting there for!? The match is over, let’s leave! Don’t tell me you’re waiting for them to give us drinks and snacks!?”

The Moonlight Cafe’s players got up from their seats and descended from the stage with downcast eyes and shame on their faces. They said nothing to anyone else or each other as they quickly followed the Moonlight Cafe’s owner out of the NetCow Cafe. 

Even after they left, the atmosphere in the NetCow Cafe remained heavy and silent. Until Lin Feng, still up on the stage, scratched his head and said, “Wow! Those guys kinda sucked. They folded like a bad hand before I got warmed up and started to really hit my groove.”

Tang Bingyao nodded in agreement. “Mhm! They were about the same as the team we played before in the warm-up game.” 

Indeed, this was also the feeling that all the spectators around the stage got too.  That best of three series just now was no different from the warm-up games that Lin Feng and the others played before. Just another one-sided beatdown from the NetCow Cafe team. 

Previously the spectators believed Lin Feng and the others were only picking on noobs to make themselves look good to the crowd. But now, they realized that the ‘noobs’ from the warm-up game were actually high Diamond players. If that was the case, the real question was where Lin Feng and the rest of the team ranked. Finally, the people in the audience recovered from their shock and started staring at NetCow Cafe’s players with heated gazes. Their passion had been ignited!

“The girls were awesome too! That Jungle was something else!”
“That Immovable Mt. Tai prize is as good as ours!”

Lin Feng and the others on the team were much less excited. They lounged around on the stage, still very relaxed. The truth was that the level of opponent that was found in the Moonlight Cafe’s team didn’t mean much to them at all. It wasn’t really a challenge, nor was it any different from their usual practice games. Actually. There was one significant difference. Lin Feng and the rest of the gang had made ¥500 for playing this best-of-three series. And that was enough to make Tang Bingyao’s eyes sparkle. “One more match, and we’ll have ¥1000!”

Lin Feng’s mind was in a different place. “Guys! Where should we eat tonight to celebrate? Wait! First! What kind of food do we want to eat to celebrate? That’s what we need to be thinking about right now.”

Zhang Hao was still riding high from being able to stomp on his lane opponent, and his face was flushed with excitement. “If the other internet cafe teams are as weak as these guys, we’re going to have that Immovable Mt. Tai prize for sure!” 

Zeng Rui massaged his temples, then gave everyone a stern look to silence them. “Don’t start celebrating just yet! That was only our first opponent. We have no idea who is going to walk through that door next, or when a team that’s actually good is going to come at us. Let’s just keep practicing.”

An Xin nodded in agreement with Zeng Rui’s plan. “Yup. Zeng Rui is right. Let’s get into another practice game before the next challenger comes. This was an easy first win for us, but let’s not forget that this tournament isn’t like any of the others we’ve been in. Challengers are going to come in the whole day, and we need to keep our guard up before we end up losing to someone out of carelessness!”

Chapter 455 – Dawn of the First Challenge

The clock ticked closer and close to 12PM, the official start time for the Battle Bonanza. But Zeng Rui was fairly confident that no challengers would approach the NetCow cafe right when things started, so Team Shanghai decided to jump into a practice game rather than sit around waiting. The idea of practice wasn’t inherently repugnant to the team, and even Lin Feng was on board. He smiled at all of them and exclaimed, “Yeah! Let’s practice, guys! Think of it as practice for when we all go pro!”  

Zeng Rui stared at Lin Feng, his face completely expressionless. Lin Feng’s been talking about going pro a lot lately… Hm. Hm. Hm. He’s been hinting and pushing for all of us to go in every other conversation. But the thundering dumbass never bothered to ask if everyone here wanted to go pro… 

The decision to transition into the professional scene was simple for some of the players on Team Shanghai, but more complicated for others. When it came to Zhang Hao, he was perfectly content playing in low level amateur tournaments and enjoying his high school days. He had no aspirations of becoming a professional player or making League of Legends his life. He was more than aware that he was simply not good enough to jump into the next level of play. It was simple enough for him, which is why he either ignored Lin Feng or cheered Lin Feng on. 

When it came to Zeng Rui, that’s where things took a turn for the complicated. Zeng Rui was a talented player, one who definitely had the potential to go professional. Even the Shanghai Esports Association had their eye on him. Many of his friends, classmates, and fellow club members in Shanghai High School believed that he would eventually jump on over to the professional scene. But he always remained quiet and pensive whenever Lin Feng brought up the idea of all of them going pro together. Zeng Rui never said anything or tried to shut Lin Feng down. He just remained quiet and lost in his own thoughts. From his demeanor, it was clear that Zeng Rui had some reservations about going professional in his heart. But he wasn’t ready to start talking about them with the others. Zeng Rui was frozen in the limbo of hesitation. 

Tang Bingyao was a combination of simple and complicated. She hadn’t given much thought to going pro, nor had she paid attention to what Lin Feng was saying about going pro. Her mind was entirely preoccupied with the potential profits from the Battle Bonanza. That was why she didn’t even mind practicing. All that mattered was the numbers. Every match is a best of three series, and each win is ¥500. So that means two wins are ¥1000, three wins are ¥1500, ten wins are ¥5000! AND ONE HUNDRED WINS ARE ¥50,000!  In her delight to watch the numbers grow in her mind, Tang Bingyao forgot that there were only so many matches to be played. She didn’t even care, she was too caught up in the windfall of finance that could be. 

As Team Shanghai prepared to jump into a practice game, Qian Lu stood next to the stage with a satisfied smile plastered across his face. After watching them demolish the Lads, Qian Lu was more than confident in the skills that Team Shanghai possessed. And he knew that once all of the customers in the NetCow Cafe saw the team play, they would feel exactly as he did. There was nothing but profit to be gained from this practice game, and Qian Lu’s heart quivered in anticipation as Lin Feng and the others queued up for a ranked game. He even turned on all of the LCD screens above the stage, so that everyone spectating could get a better view of Team Shanghai in action. 

But Qian Lu’s stance that action speaks louder than words was not enough for some of the customers of the NetCow Cafe. When Lin Feng and the others entered into Champion Select, they inched over to Qian Lu and started bombarding him with whispered questions. 

“Ol’ Qian, where did you find these guys?”
“Are they good enough? This is our pride on the line too!”
“Why are all of them high schoolers? And they’ve even got two girls!”
“Those two girls are pretty cute though. Hey, I’m like your best customer, right? How about helping me out a little and introducing me to them later on?”

Qian Lu ignored the customer who asked the last question completely. And the serene smile on his face never wavered. Instead of reassuring the customers, all it did was increase the tension. But he still refused to answer any of their specific concerns. All he said to them was, “Don’t worry, you’ll find out on your own. Just watch them practice, and every question you have will be answered! Just trust me, you’ll know exactly how good they are after you watch!” 

The customers only grew more curious. But since Qian Lu was remaining tight lipped, they could only turn their attention back to the LCD Screen.

“Hey, does anybody know what rank they’re playing in?”
“Not. A. Clue.”

Over on the stage, Lin Feng and the rest of the gang had jumped into their first game. They were completely relaxed and unphased by anything going on around them. The whispers and doubts of the crowd didn’t even reach their ears. Nothing about this caused them any stress or anxiety, because this practice game was no different than what they usually did. Or what they’d been doing for months now. Over the last few days, the members of Team Shanghai had more or less returned to the state they were in during the Collegiate Cup. This ranked game was a cakewalk for them.

3 minutes from the start of the game: Lin Feng picked up first blood.
4 minutes from the start of the game: An Xin roamed over to the Top lane and helped Zhang Hao pick up a kill on the opposing champion.
5 minutes from the start of the game: Zeng Rui and Tang Bingyao initiated a fight in the Bot lane that ended with them killing the opposing Support. Team Shanghai was winning in all three lanes and starting to snowball hard.
10 minutes from the start of the game: the score was 11-3 in Team Shanghai’s favor.
15 minutes from the start of the game: Team Shanghai was more than 6,000 gold ahead.
18 minutes from the start of the game: All of the opposing team’s Towers in the Mid lane were destroyed, and Team Shanghai also took out the Inhibitor. Super Minions started flooding down the Mid lane into the opposing team’s base.
21 minutes from the start of the game: The opposing team surrendered. 

 The customers in the cafe were all dumbstruck as the victory crest floated up over the opposing team’s ruined nexus.

“T-they won already?”
“How was that a practice game!?”
“That was way too fast!”
“Damn, they actually seem really decent!”
“They were like 20 kills ahead of the enemy team, right?”
“Their teamwork was pretty good too!”
“Yeah, mid had some great mechanics!”
“Why did it feel like a complete pubstomp?”
“Yeah! What rank was that game anyway? Bronze? Silver?”
“Bronze? Silver? No way right…”

Despite all the speculation, no one in the NetCow Cafe knew what rank the game that Team Shanghai played was in. On the one hand, it really made no sense for the internet cafe to be represented by players in Gold who could only stomp on Bronzies. But on the other hand, Team Shanghai had won that game far too easily. To the viewers, it looked like they were smurfing on noobs to make themselves look good. But there was no way for either side to be sure. And deep in their hearts, they all wanted to believe in Team Shanghai. They wanted to believe that these high schoolers were really that good, so they could watch the slaughter that ensued when the teams from other internet cafes walked in to challenge them. 

After that last practice game ended, Lin Feng and the others were more than ready to go again. The game didn’t push them at all, it barely even counted as a warmup. The average rank of the players in the previous game was Diamond 3. Decent enough, but nowhere near good enough to pose a real threat to Lin Feng and the gang.  

Lin Feng stretched in his chair and glanced at the clock. 20 minutes past noon! It’s been 20 minutes since the Battle Bonanza started and there are no challengers here yet! This is so boring. I don’t want to sit here and do nothing, what’s the point in that? Did Ol’ Qian put us up on this stage just to watch the door? Nah, it’s time to do something! With that thought, Lin Feng got up from his chair and looked at all his teammates. Then he said, “How about another one?” 

Tang Bingyao tilted her head and asked, “Mhm… What if we get a challenger soon?”

Lin Feng laughed. “Good point. Okay! That just means we’ll have to win our game even faster!”

No one else cared enough to argue with Lin Feng, and they really did have nothing to do. So Team Shanghai started up another ranked game. One that went even more smoothly than the last one did. 10 minutes after the game started, the opposing team had completely lost in two lanes. But then, events took a surprising turn. 

13 minutes into the game, a group of people walked into the NetCow Cafe. Their entrance roused up all of the customers watching Team Shanghai practice, and sent electricity through the air. This group of strangers was known to a few of the customers. 

“I know them!”
“I think the guy at the front is their owner?”
“They’re here! They’re here!”
“It’s our first challenger!”

Qian Lu’s eyes flickered with a sharp light. He walked over and greeted these new guests with a smile.

“Boss Liu, welcome welcome!”

Boss Liu and his team walked over. He greeted Qian Lu back with a polite smile. The two exchanged some more small talk, but their words were laced with all sorts of biting remarks. 

“Boss Qian, our two internet cafes have always been neighbors. Regardless of the result of the match, I hope we can still remain good friends.”

“Hahaha! Liu, my ol’ pal, what are you talking about?? Of course that’s a given! Friendship comes first, competition second! Are you guys doing your first challenge?”

“Oh, nonono. We came over from another net cafe. Haha! Our luck’s been pretty good today. We’ve already gotten our first win.”

“Oh-hoh-ho? A win already! Congratulations!”

“Hahah! Thank you, thank you! I hope we can keep up this streak.”

“Hahahahahaha, you sure are optimistic. But this is still a competition. It’s hard to say who’ll win or lose in the end.”

“Hah, I couldn’t have said it better myself. We’ll only know once we play.”

“That’s right. That’s right. Nothing has been decided yet.”

As the two owners conversed, the air around them crackled with sparks. The fake smiles on their faces also turned increasingly menacing. 

One team was after The Conqueror prize, and the other was after the Immovable Mt. Tai prize. One was a challenger, and the other was the defender. Anyone that wanted to get far in this tournament would have to step over the corpses of their opponents.

At this moment, Boss Liu looked over at the stage and noticed Lin Feng and the others. He raised an eyebrow. “Hey, Boss Liu. That’s the team you recruited? They look a little wet behind the ears.”

Qian Lu narrowed his eyes, his lips curving into a faint smile. “Wet behind the ears? Oh, I don’t know about that. How about you face them and then tell me how wet behind the ears they are, yes?”

Chapter 454 – The Calm Before the Bonanza!

The former Team Shanghai had defeated the Lads, and proved exactly how capable they were to Qian Lu. Once that was done, they all left for their respective homes for the night. The next day, all of them met up at the NetCow Cafe and started preparing themselves inside their usual private room. Today was the first day of the Battle Bonanza, and every match from here on out counted. The Battle Bonanza tournament officially started at noon. Teams aiming for the Conqueror prize would set out to challenge other internet cafe teams, and the teams aiming for the Immovable Mt. Tai prize would stand guard on their home turf awaiting these challengers.

It was only 11:30 AM, relatively early for a normal day at an internet cafe. But the lobby of Qian Lu’s branch of the NetCow Cafe was already packed with customers. And there were even more sitting down at computers, but not playing any games. Everyone’s attention was focused on the center of the room, and hushed and tense whispers carried through the entire internet cafe. Literally none of the customers at the NetCow Cafe today came to play games. They were all here to witness the start of the Battle Bonanza. More than that, they wanted to see how the internet cafe’s team performed. As regular patrons of this branch of the NetCow Cafe, their pride was on the line too. 

“It’s about to start soon, right? It’s gotta start soon!”
“It’s already 11:30, there’s only 30 minutes before the first challenger walks in here.”
“Oh shit! Where’s our team?”
“Yeah! I don’t see them either.”
“They should be here already…”
“Listen listen listen! I got a buddy, he hangs out at the Wyvern NetCafe next door. He was telling me that they signed up for this tournament too, but I think they’re aiming for the Conqueror prize. Those guys are probably going to come challenge us!”
“Shit, real talk? You know how good their team is?”
“I heard a few things. Their team is made up of Diamond 2 players, and they’ve got one who is even a Master!”
“Hot-diggity-damn! A Master? Well, that’s shit luck… that’s kinda strong.”
“Foshizzle my rizzle. My buddy, he was going on and on about how the Wyvern NetCafe’s team is going to walk in here and stomp all over our asses. He even said they’re going to make us their bitchnochizzles!”
“Dude… your friend sounds like a raging asshole. You need to make better friends, no lie. Not only does he sound like an ass, he’s way too cocky about a match he’s not even playing in!”
“I know right! He pissed me off too. Whatever. The only thing I can do is hope that our team does really well… But I’d REALLY like it if they taught those Wyvern bastards a lesson so I can rub my friend’s face in it.”
“Yeah, fuck that dude. He’s a douche.”
“He’s hardstuck in Bronze too!”
“Lol! Lol! Lol!”
“I don’t know why I’m friends with him, he thinks he’s gangster because he has some rap music on his Microsoft Zune.”
“Wtf is a Zune?”
“Sssssshhhh! No one cares about your friend or his Zune!”
“Yeah. Who asked?”  

The customers continued to talk amongst themselves, riling each other up more and more while building up hype for the first challenger to walk through the doors of the NetCow Cafe. All while watching the center of the cafe. 

“I’m guessing that’s where the match is going to take place?”
“You’re a regular genius! What was your first clue? The stage?”
“Hey guys! We got a real Sherlock Holmes here! He’s cracked the case!”
“You bringing those skills over to the army, Captain Obvious?”
“Man’s gonna tell us next that the switch turns the lights and screens on.”
“Nah mate. Ol’ Qian set that stage up because Psy’s gonna come here and dance to Gangnam style for us.”
“What. A. Moron!” 

As far as this whole Battle Bonanza thing went, Qian Lu was all-in. He’d spared no expense in setting things up for the event despite the tight deadline. The stage that he set up in the center of his internet cafe was nothing short of magnificent. It was raised, and two rows of computers sat in the middle of the stage. They were separated by custom ordered sanded glass dividers, and the floor of the stage was fitted with LED tiles that he’d gotten preprogrammed with specific light patterns that corresponded to events in the game. Above the stage, Qian Lu had rented four giant LCD screens that faced all four sides of the internet cafe. Every customer had a clear view of the game, regardless of where they were in the NetCow Cafe. As for the actual computers, Qian Lu had gotten 10 that were as cutting edge as humanly possible. Even the peripherals were all professional gaming-grade. There was nothing that would inhibit either team from playing to the best of their abilities at this branch of the NetCow Cafe, and Qian Lu was proud of that fact. 

“Damn. Ol’ Qian really went all out this time, huh?”
“He really did. I can’t believe he set up a professional tournament stage in the middle of an internet cafe.”
“Probs more than worth it though.”
“Damn straight. People will come in here just to watch teams play on a stage like this.”
“Yeah, especially if our team does really well!”
“Ol’ Qian’s going to bring in way more than he invested into this, that’s for sure!” 

Then, all of a sudden, a wave of silence rolled through the internet cafe. All conversations about challengers, the stage, and speculation about the tournament completely ceased. 

‘They’re here! They’re here!”
“Our team is here!”
“They’ve come out!”

When Lin Feng and the rest of Team Shanghai walked out of their private room and stepped up onto the stage in the center of the internet cafe, all eyes were glued on them. No customer, besides the Lads, had seen the team that would be representing their internet cafe before now. There was a few seconds of silence as everyone took in the sight of Team Shanghai, and then pandemonium erupted from the crowd of customers. The mood had shifted from excitement and curiosity to shock and disbelief.

“T-this, this is our team…?”
“No freaking way.”
“They’re just high schoolers!”
“GG boys. We’ve lost.”
“Shit! They even have two girls on their team!”

The initial shock came from how young everyone on Team Shanghai was, but the disbelief came from the fact that An Xin and Tang Bingyao, two girls, were on the team. That disbelief came from two very different lines of thought though. One side was captivated by the beauty of the two girls, while the other one was mindblown that Qian Lu would hire a team with girls on it to represent their internet cafe. 

“They’re so pretty!”
“Both are hotties for sure!”
“Perfect 10s!”
“I mean, if the tournament was best on looks, we’d definitely win right!?”
“Focus, morons! Does anyone even know if these girls are good?”
“Looking hot ain’t gonna win us matches. All the other net cafes are gonna come correct. They’re not going to throw weak teams at us.”
“Exactly! What was Ol’ Qian even thinking when he recruited a bunch of high schoolers? Those two girls, can they even play?” 

There were more than a few female gamers at the NetCow Cafe. When they heard all the doubts about An Xin and Tang Bingyao, every single one of them was pissed off.

“The fuck are you on about, twinkledick?”
“What? You think they can’t be good just because they’re girls?”
“If you’re such hot shit because you got a pecker that people need a magnifying glass to see, why aren’t you up on that stage?”
“80% of you are hardstuck at Bronze and Silver, but you’re all god gamers because you’re guys?”
“Sit the fuck down, you’re just embarrassing yourselves.”
“Eat shit and die, virgin!” 

After another minute of insults and fighting the good fight against misogyny in gaming, all the girls started cheering in support of Tang Bingyao and An Xin.

“Do your best, you got this girls!”
“Girls get it done!”
“We believe in you!”
“Ignore the idiots!”

“Oh, it’s pretty packed today!” Lin Feng remarked in high spirits. He sat down in front of his computer and looked around the lobby. 

An Xin turned to Zeng Rui. “What’s the time, Zeng Zeng?”

Zeng Rui checked his watch and replied, “15 minutes until 12.”

“And the tournament starts at 12. Do you think we’ll get a challenger right away?”

Zeng Rui shook his head.  “Can’t say for sure. This tournament is different from others. There’s no fixed schedule for matches, and challengers get to pick who they want to face at any time. It’s possible no one will turn up. There’s also logistics to consider. It’ll take time for people to get from their internet cafe to ours.”

“This sucks! The only thing we can do right now is sit around and wait…” Lin Feng chimed in with a sigh. “Ya know what? Man! If Ol’ Qian thought ahead a bit more and signed us up for the Conqueror prize instead, we wouldn’t have to sit around waiting. We could go out and smash other teams. That’d be so much more fun!”

Zeng Rui massaged his temples. Thundering dumbass. Then he said, “It’s fine. We’re okay. Let’s just keep waiting. We can get some practice games in while we wait.”