Chapter 281 – Comparing Torches; Mine is Bigger!

The Korean ranked ladder was the most competitive one in League of Legends. Professional players from every region visited Korea just to have a shot at reaching Challenger on this server. And most of them failed. They got to Master and then found out why it was so difficult to get any higher. Pure, raw talent. There were so many outstanding players on the Korean server that the level of each game was far above the worldwide average. Even the Ionia server, the most competitive server in China, couldn’t come close in prestige to the Korean server. Yet One threw Lin Feng at it as if it were nothing.

Lin Feng still held his phone close to his ear, but he wasn’t talking or listening. His eyes were focused on his laptop and he was chewing on his lip. He wants me to hit Top 5 Challenger? Can I even do that? I know the rankings… Back in the day, yeah, but I’m not there yet. I’m not anywhere near to that point yet. Chinese professional players are better than I am right now. And most of them can’t even make it to Challenger on the Korean server! What am I going to do?

Chinese players challenged themselves to climb the Korean ranked ladder every season. They wanted to prove to their Korean rivals that there was some talent in China. That there was hope for China on the international stage. That the League of Legends world wasn’t centered around Korea! But they never got all that far. The Chinese players who reached all the way to Master were proud of themselves, and the couple who made it to Challenger were either professional players or players being scouted by professional teams. But none of them ever made that final step into the Top 10. It was just too difficult to beat the many talented players on the Korean server.

Top 5, Top 5… Collegiate Cup and Top 5… Where am I going to find the time to even do that? Can I even do that? But I told One… Lin Feng chewed on his lip, biting off a thin layer of skin. His stomach dropped and he grimaced. I wanted to take it one step at a time. Slowly make my way back to the top. But One’s right. I can’t do it like this. There’s no challenge for me here. The Collegiate Cup is just another tournament where I don’t really have to try. I can just… I can take it easy. It doesn’t matter if I screw up a bit, because I can just turn it around later… He scratched his forehead, tense. I can’t go on like this. I need to challenge myself sooner or later. One is right. I need to fight. And the Korean ladder is probably the best bet for that!

Something swirled in the pits of Lin Feng’s stomach. His heart started racing faster and faster, pounding against his ribs. He felt his face heat up. A real challenge! And One gave it to me. He trusts me. He believes I can do it! He believes I still have it! Lin Feng closed his eyes and tried to push the rush of adrenaline down. One trusts in me! I’ll repay him with results! Top 5 Challenger? Ok. Yes. I’ll do it! It’ll be hard. But I’ll do it! 

Lin Feng’s eyes shot open. A new fire burned in them. He tossed the Winter Collegiate Cup to the back of his mind. What am I getting all worked up about a university tournament? I made it all the way to the world finals! I need to remember why I’m even competing. To find good teammates and to start building a team! But it’s not to get back in form. I need to do something else for that. This might just be that something! The Korean ladder… He took a deep, long breath and closed his eyes again. Rake. Rake will be there. I’ll have to play against him if I want to make it to the top of Challenger. I’ll have to play against him… I’m not good enough yet… He chewed off a second bit of skin from his lips and then suddenly slammed his palm against his head. NO! I’ll face him! I’ll play against him, with him, whatever! It’s not a big tournament. It’s practice. I need to get better, and to do that I need to face better players. He nodded, confident, and said to One, “I can. And I will.”

“Good to hear,” One said, laughing. “Oh, right,” he added. “Do you have a Korean account?”

“Uhhh…” Lin Feng scratched the back of his head and grinned sheepishly. I was so caught up about beating Rake… My account isn’t Challenger yet. It’s going to be really hard just to get there. He said, “Well, I do. But it’s not in Challenger yet. I can get to the top of Master, but someone needs to lose their Challenger spot for me to take it…”

“Yeah, that won’t do. There isn’t enough time for that,” One agreed. He briefly paused and then said, “I’ll just give you my Challenger account.”

Give a Challenger account? The words went off like a bomb in Lin Feng’s mind. Give a Challenger account? GIVE? He muttered a few incoherent words, trying to make sense of it. A Challenger account is super expensive! It’s way better to just buy something in Plat for $5! How can he just borrow me a Challenger account? That’s insane! I don’t have that much mon

“Of course,” One interrupted Lin Feng’s thoughts. “If you fail to reach the Top 5, I’ll just take my account back. But how about this. If you do make it to the Top 5, the account is yours to keep.”

…my account. Lin Feng finally understood what One was implying. One has a Challenger account? Is he playing again? He actually made it to Challenger on the Korean server? How is he still that good!? He was so good at DotA, but that was DotA and this is League! How can he still be this good? He’s better than I am right now… He breathed unevenly and his head started swirling. “D-do you… Wait! DID YOU—”

“Alright, I’ve kept you up for too long. You’ll need every second you can get. I’ll send you the account information in a bit. Just gotta change the password around,” One said over the phone. “Oh, and kid, don’t let me down.”

Lin Feng nodded, too dazed to realise One couldn’t see his response. Oh, and kid, don’t let me down. Don’t let me down… Lin Feng’s hands were trembling. He’s passing his account on to me. His hard work. I have to pick up and carry on for him! One is giving me a real test! To prove to him that I’m good enough to pick up where he left! He balled his fist and grinned. I have the talent! He knows I do! But I have to move forward. I can’t stop taking the safe route. The Top 5 on the Korean server is just the first step. I’ll do it. For One. For myself. I’ll do it. He nodded to himself again and then said, his voice trembling, “I’ll do it. I mean, I won’t.”

One chuckled when he heard the response. Good. It sounds like he understands what this means. He’s going to have to try really hard, but he can do this. He just has to want it. Anyway, that settles that. He said, “Something else entirely, I heard BunBun moved to Shanghai? You two are on the same team then, I take it?”

“Yeah!” Lin Feng replied, rediscovering his usual grin. “We’re on the same team in the Collegiate Cup! She’s our coach and the Jungler! It’s amazing! Just like the old times! She’s a really good coach!”

“Huh? She’s jungling?” One asked in surprise. Did she jungle before? He shook his head and moved past it before Lin Feng could latch on. “Sounds like she’s still a great coach then! Hey, do me a favour. Tell her to give the missus a call. She’s been asking about BunBun a lot lately.”

“Five? You mean five? The missus is Five, right? Right?” Lin Feng exclaimed, excited. “How is Five? Are you two on your honeymoon right now? Is she having a good time? How is Five?”

“Hey! Her name isn’t Five!” One interrupted. He briefly paused to breathe and then complained, “That’s Mrs. One! We’re engaged now! Ha! If she hears you call her Five, she’ll give you a spanking! And a couple of jabs too!”

Lin Feng grinned and said, “Lies! She’d never do that! Five is way too nice for that! She’s the best! How is she doing? Did she ask about me too? What did she say when I won the Shanghai 16 School Tournament? Did you watch it with her?”

One listened to another minute of Lin Feng badgering him with questions before giving up. He shook his head and said, “You’re hopeless. You know what, I’m hanging up. Talk to you later.” He put the phone away from his ear and could still hear Lin Feng firing off questions. That kid. He shook his head and chuckled, ending the call. He’ll understand. One then leaned back on his sofa and looked at the television that was playing Lin Feng’s most recent game at the Winter Collegiate Cup. I wonder if he can do it. I hope he can. It’d be fun to see him up there with Rake again.

One closed his eyes and thought back to the Season 5 World Finals. Lee Dojae really went all out with that award ceremony. That was quite the thing. ‘Passing on the torch’, haha! I like it. It has a nice ring to it. Would be kind of cool if Lin Feng can help me do something like that. But… He chuckled and shook his head. That kid is still far away from getting there. But I’m in no rush. There’s still plenty of time to make that happen. I’ll pass my torch onto him eventually. I’m sure he’ll get there. And my torch is way bigger than Lee Dojae’s torch!

The next couple of minutes were spent laughing about Lee Dojae’s torch. But then One narrowed his eyes. Lin Feng needs time. He’s nowhere near ready to face Han Seho again. Rake… Lin Feng just isn’t there yet. And I wouldn’t mind letting him take his sweet time. It’s just… He took a deep breath and shook his head in annoyance. The Chinese esports circle isn’t going to be so patient. They’re going to find out soon enough that he’s back and then they’re going to push him. I just need to give Lin Feng a couple of pushes right now, so that when it comes to that, he’s ready. Besides, it’s not like a little bit of added pressure is bad for the kid.

One laughed as he remembered the excited tone in which Lin Feng told him about the Shanghai 16 School Tournament a while back. And how excited he now sounded about beating two university teams. He’s having a good time and slowly making his way back. That’s his way. We should respect that. But he’s also going out of his way to not really push himself. A university tournament? That’s just too easy for him. Top 5 on the Korean ladder. He can do it and it’ll also be an actual challenge. He might even start losing some games and remember what that’s like. And he’ll have to play with and against Rake. Against Rake… He nodded and mumbled, “That’ll be good for the kid.”

The television mounted on the wall in One’s living room played scenes of Lin Feng toying around with a random Midlaner. One shook his head and mumbled, “No challenge, no growth. He needs to put himself out there. Just not so much that he breaks again. I’ll have to make sure those esports guys don’t try and push him too hard.” He continued watching the screen that switched focus from Lin Feng to An Xin. One rubbed his chin and wondered, “That girl, did she always Jungle? I don’t recall her ever Jungling…”

Chapter 280 – Get off Your Lazy Ass!

The Beijing Esports Association had assembled a team of seven talented players for the Winter Collegiate Cup. None of these players needed any experience at the university level. They could skip straight to the LSPL! And that was precisely why the Beijing Esports Association had recruited them. Because only with a lineup like this could they clinch the Winter Collegiate Cup title and show to the Guangzhou and Shanghai Esports Associations that they were the strongest and most talented region in all of China!

Team Beijing had played a good number of games, including scrimmages against university teams and the first couple of games in the Winter Collegiate Cup. They won each of those games convincingly, quickly becoming a terrifying opponent for the other teams competing. But what really threw the teams in North China off was that Team Beijing was playing with their B lineup. Their two star players, the Midlaner and Toplaner, hadn’t played a single game yet! This was a tactic the Beijing Esports Association had come up with in preparation for the main tournament. No one would know just how good they were until it was already far too late to do anything about it!

The substitute Toplaner looked at Fan Yuan, the team’s manager, and shrugged. He glanced at his teammates and said, “I don’t know what you guys think, but…” He pointed at the replay they were watching on the projector. “That Toplaner is shit.” Why do I even need to spend time on this? I’m a Master in the Ionia server! And that Zhang Hao? Yeah, that dude is like Diamond… His Fiora sucked hard. Fucking waste of my time watching this!

Fan Yuan nodded and said, “Thanks for sharing your insights.” He then turned to the others and asked, “What about you guys? Anything to add to that?”

Team Beijing’s ad-carry stretched his back and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He yawned and said, “I don’t know. Those Botlaners are a terrible match. It doesn’t really matter how good they are individually, they can’t play together for shit. All I could see were the glaring mistakes they kept making because of communication issues. If they play like that? We don’t even have to try.”

Fan Yuan slapped the ruler in his palm. He took a deep breath, looking at each of the team members in turn. “Stop this. Sit up straight. Watch the footage.” He slapped the ruler behind him, where the beamer was projecting the replay of Team Shanghai’s game against the East China University of Science and Technology for a second time. “Look at what they’re doing right! We’re not going to underestimate them! We’re going to study them, and then when we play them, we’re going to tear them apart!” He narrowed his eyes and added, “Don’t forget. They beat Shanghai University of Finance 2-0 a while back. That’s a strong team.”

“The way I see it,” Team Beijing’s Support started. He pushed his glasses up the rim of his nose, irritated, and then looked straight at Fan Yuan. “The way I see it, Team Shanghai tricked them. Their Support is Zeng Rui, yeah? He’s a Challenger and I’m guessing the captain of the team. He has a decent idea about shotcalling. Not at all strange that they won against the Shanghai University of Finance. And that university team most likely underestimated Zeng Rui’s team as well. There really isn’t a whole lot to it. Zeng Rui used the little skill he has to trick Shanghai University of Finance. I don’t see why we need to spend time on this.” He chuckled and added, “Can’t wait to kick that noob’s fat ass though.”

Team Beijing’s ad-carry glanced at his Support, surprised. What’s got him all worked up? He never talks this much… And what the fuck was that laugh? But, hmm, a Challenger Support? Team Shanghai is better than I expected then. We shouldn’t underestimate any Challenger. Fan Yuan is right to tell us we need to prepare. He looked at his Support and asked, “Zhang Hongyi, how good do you realistically think he is? A Challenger is impressive. We can’t just push that aside.”

Zhang Hongyi turned his head to look at his ad-carry and snorted. How good? Not good enough to worry me! I would’ve also been Challenger by now if there isn’t a hard cap of 200 players! I’m at the top of Master! Screw that noob’s fat ass! He finally said, “Don’t worry about him. I got this.”

Team Beijing’s Jungler looked at his two Botlaners and said, “If Zhang Hongyi says so, let’s assume that he’s got it. He’s been playing a ton of duo queue at the top of Master, so he’ll have plenty of experience against Challengers. Let’s forget about that Support for now. What about that Midlaner? That guy actually looked good.”

The substitute Midlaner raised his eyebrows and moved his lips around. I’m a Master. He can’t be that much better than me… Right? Fuck me. He is. That dude played that far too well. He looked at the footage, which was still playing, and said, “He plays his lane really aggressively. I’m not sure I can beat him in the early game…”

“Doesn’t matter,” Yu Ping said. He sat at the back of the room, leaning back in his chair with his feet on the table. “I’ll play against him.”

Fan Yuan looked at Yu Ping, who was Team Beijing’s main Midlaner, and smiled. He looks confident. Good. We know how good our opponents are and he is still so confident. And no one knows a thing about Yu Ping! This plan is going to work out great! He nodded at Yu Ping and said, “Good. I’ll leave that to you then.”

Yu Ping snorted. He couldn’t be bothered to entertain Fan Yuan with a response. What a pathetic waste of time! Team Shanghai? Team Shangshit! I hope they get knocked out before we have to play them. Then I can focus on Team Guangzhou. On Goalie. His annoyed expression became a little bit tense. He narrowed his eyes and flexed his jaw. Goalie. Show me what a Rank 7 Korean Challenger is worth. I finally want to test my skills. Please make it fun. I don’t want to win this tournament without any challenge.

Team Guangzhou was going through a similar preparation as Team Beijing. They’d gathered at the Guangzhou Esports Association and were watching the replays from Team Shanghai. The two coaches paused the videos on the large LCD screen every now and then to point out a couple of things, but they otherwise watched the games in silence. And in boredom. They came to the same conclusion Team Beijing had. There was a lot lacking in the gameplay from Team Shanghai. The only person on the team that looked on top of their game was the Midlaner. But Team Guangzhou had Goalie in the mid lane.

One of the two coaches turned to look at Goalie. He was a small and thin youth with a sickly pale complexion. And his small, beady eyes were easy to miss. The coach asked, “What do you think about that Midlaner? Will he be a problem?”

The interpreter sitting next to Goalie translated the question to Korean. Goalie looked at the interpreter in confusion and then turned to the coach and raised an eyebrow. There was a spark in his eyes that was easy to miss due to how small they were. But the smirk on his lips said it all. He replied to the interpreter in Korean, though everyone could guess what he was about to say.

“He says,” the interpreter translated into Chinese. “That he won’t waste any more of his time on this Midlaner. This Lin Feng has no real skill. Goalie says he can beat him on his worst off day with three fingers in his nose.”

Goalie noticed how the interpreter raised three fingers and suddenly scrunched his nose. He moved his head back and forth and then raised his hand and placed it behind his back. Everyone could guess what he meant. He was saying that he only needed one hand to beat Lin Feng. He then said in broken Chinese, “Easy.”

Team Shanghai was making the most out of the little time they had to prepare for the next round of the Winter Collegiate Cup. They were still only a newly formed team and really needed every second they could get to work on their synergy and plan out strategies. This was further reinforced by the minor setback due to Zeng Rui and Zhang Hao changing their approach to the game. It made them better players, but it’d take time to adjust the team’s strategies and synergies to these changes. So they practiced every afternoon, meeting up at the cybercafe after school and only going home for dinner.

Lin Feng went through the motions. School in the morning, practice with Team Shanghai in the afternoon and walking home with Tang Bingyao around dinner time. Su Xue was waiting for him at home every night, dinner usually already on the table. They’d share a quick bite together, after which he went to his room to do his homework. The night ended with him joining Su Xue on her stream, playing a couple of games with her or her viewers.

Before Lin Feng could grow too comfortable in this rhythm, it was interrupted. He’d just finished his homework and was about to have fun with Su Xue on stream, when his phone started ringing. Who;s calling me this late at night? He reached for his phone and checked the caller ID. His eyes went wide in shock. He double-checked the caller ID, just to be sure. Then he smashed on the green phone icon and placed the phone next to his ear. “Sir!”

“SIR!” Lin Feng repeated a second later impatiently. He moved the phone from his ear again and checked to make sure the call was still connected. It was. He was on the phone with One, his mentor, the most famous player in world esports! There were many people out there trying to make a name for themselves, like Han ‘Rake’ Seho or the older Lee ‘Rake’ Dojae, but none of them reached the illustrious height of One. He was renowned worldwide as the best player in the famous massive online battle arena game DotA! He was the first name added to the Esports Hall of Fame! He was everything Lin Feng aspired to be! It’s One! One is calling me! One! One!

“Sir, sir! Are you there?” Lin Feng asked for a third time.

“Hey, hey? Can you hear me?” One asked. “Sorry, I’m in Thailand. The signal is pretty terrible here.”

Lin Feng smiled and quickly replied, “It’s good! The connection is good! I can hear you!”

“Good! That’s good!” One said. “I heard you’re playing in the Winter Collegiate Cup? How’s that going?”

“Yeah, I am! We won the first round! And the second round!” Lin Feng exclaimed, grinning. “We crushed the opponents! It went really well! I guess I’m still really good at winning games too! Oh, I think we’re going to the Regionals next!”

One chuckled and asked, “You’re winning the tournament, yeah?”

“Of course I am!” Lin Feng replied, almost sounding insulted by the question. “I wouldn’t let you down! We’re going to win this tournament easily!”

“Good, good,” One said. He breathed in sharply and looked out the window of his villa at the beautiful green scenery outside. Winning a university tournament when he was the best player in the world. He played at the World Finals! And now he sounds excited about winning a university tournament… How the mighty have fallen, hehe. He shook his head and moved his lips around. But he really needs to start challenging himself. He won’t learn anything from this. Hmm… Can I help him somehow? What could I make him do? He looked at his computer, which had the League of Legends client open. I could do that… The season is almost over. Some last minute climbing of the ladder could challenge him… Yeah, that’ll work. He smiled and asked, “Did you know that the competitive ranked season ends in a month on the Korean server?”

“I guess?” Lin Feng replied. “Why?”

One ignored Lin Feng and continued, “The top ten Challengers in the Korean server are being tracked live until the season ends. Right now, Rake has got three accounts in that top 10. First, second and ninth. And it would be one, two and three if there were more hours in a day. You know how good he is. The entire top 10 could be his if he had the time and energy to go for it.”

Lin Feng listened to One, his usual grin disappearing. He stared at his laptop and chewed on the inside of his cheeks. I know. I know. I know he’s playing really well! He’s the best player in the world! I’m nowhere near good enough to be playing against him yet. I need more time! A lot more time! But he’s using that same time to get better himself! It’s difficult! I don’t know… It’s really difficult! Maybe I’m not good… I’m good enough, but maybe there isn’t enough time… He laughed at himself. He shook his head and laughed at himself. Here I was all happy about beating some Diamond players in a university tournament… What am I doing? Am I really happy about this!? Those guys were never my opponents! I’m way too good for that level! It’s not even… It’s not even worth my time. I’m only falling further behind Rake. All the time I’m spending messing around, Rake is getting better! And better! AND BETTER!

Lin Feng was breathing faster and faster, biting on his lips in frustration. I’m letting myself get distracted! My goal isn’t this Collegiate Cup! I want to become the best player in the world! And I can’t do that if I’m satisfied by beating a couple of Diamond players! That won’t help me improve! There is only one thing I should be focusing on. To get back to my original level. Get on the level of the Four Emperors! Screw these damn qualifiers! They mean nothing! I need to stop letting myself get so happy about winning them! It’d be a disgrace if I lost them! These teams are bad. I’m so much better that I don’t even have to try to win! He knocked himself on the forehead. “Stupid. Stupid. Stupid!” While I’m here having fun, Rake is working hard to become better! I need to get my head in the game! I’ll never get to his level like this!

One breathed out loudly, interrupting Lin Feng’s thoughts, and asked, “That Midlaner from Team Guangzhou? Goalie? You know who I’m talking about?”

“Yeah,” Lin Feng replied, dejected.

One continued with a second question, “He peaked at Rank 7 on the Korean Challenger ladder, right?”

“Yeah,” Lin Feng repeated in the same dejected voice.

“You’re going to beat him, right?” One asked.

“Yeah,” Lin Feng said, still dejected.

One paused for a brief moment before saying, “Alright. Then I have a job for you. Something that might actually push you. Before this whole Winter Collegiate Cup ends, I want you to climb up to Challenger on the Korean server. And you’re not stopping when you get there. You’re going to surpass Goalie’s peak and then break into the Top 5.”

Lin Feng stuttered a few incoherent words, speechless. Top five? Top five in the Korean server? Can I? That is right up there at the top! Rake is there! I’d have to play against Rake… and, and I’d have to beat him! I can’t get to the top five if I don’t play against Rake! Unless I only play when he isn’t around. But he’s always playing… I’ll have to play against…

“What?” One interrupted. He chuckled and asked, “Don’t think you can do it?”

The message landed. Lin Feng clenched his phone and gritted his teeth. He breathed in deeply, letting the air fill his lungs, and then breathed every negative emotion out of his body. His laptop stood on his desk. He glanced at it, determined. “I can do it. Of course I can do it! I’ll do it! I’ll get to the top of Challenger on the Korean server before the Collegiate Cup is over!”

Chapter 279 – A lot of Snacks is More Than Hotpot!

Team Shanghai was through to the next round of the first preliminary of the local division of the regionals of the nationals of the Winter Collegiate Cup! It was just the first step, but a good start was half the work. Zeng Rui looked at his teammates from Team Shanghai and said, “We’re going. East China University of Science and Technology is a stronger team than whoever we’re facing in the next round. We don’t need to spend our time watching them. East China Medical School is the only other team in our local division who’s half-decent. But since they’re in Group 1, we won’t have to play them until Regionals anyway.”

An Xin nodded and added, “What Zeng Rui says. And also, it’s pointless to worry all the time about our next opponent. Sometimes you just have to let go and relax a bit. I think this is a good time for that.”

Lin Feng grinned and suggested, “I’m hungry! Let’s go celebrate our win over a lot of food!”

“Celebrate?” Zeng Rui asked, surprised. There is nothing to celebrate, you thundering dumbass! He shook his head and said, “We’ve only won the first round of the first qualifiers. What’s there to celebrate?”

“What do you mean, ‘what’s there to celebrate’?” Lin Feng countered. “We won! That’s worth celebrating! We’ve taken our first step towards the championship! Of course that’s something worth celebrating!”

An Xin smiled and asked, “Does that mean we’re going to celebrate after every round?”

Lin Feng rubbed his chin. Food after every round? That does sound good! He clapped his hands together and said, “That sounds like a perfect idea! It’s a deal! We’re going to celebrate every win with food! It’s going to be delicious and a great boost to morale! Great idea, BunBun!”

“Enough, goldfish!” An Xin smacked Lin Feng on the back of his head. She then turned around to look at the others, a smile replacing her annoyance with Lin Feng, and suggested, “It’s still early. I like the idea of having some dinner together. Just tonight. We’re not going to do this every time we win.” She turned back to look at Lin Feng and added, “And Lin Feng, I swear, if I hear a peep…” She raised her hand again.

Lin Feng rubbed his head painfully and grumbled, “What was that good for!? You just suggested the same thing I did! This is so unfair! And I’m NOT A GOLDFISH!”

Zhang Hao looked at Lin Feng, sympathetic. He always knows just how to say the wrong thing. Maybe he could use some advice… He said, “Lin Feng, maybe don’t talk so much. She always hits you when you start saying things.”

Zeng Rui looked at the exchange taking place and shook his head. What is wrong with these people? How did I end up with them? What did I do to deserve this…? He finally waved his hand and said, “Alright, fine. We’ll find a food stall and grab a quick bite to eat.”

Tang Bingyao raised her hand and said, “Mm-mhm. I want to sit down and eat.”

“Hotpot! Let’s get some hotpot! I’m really good at eating hotpot too!” Lin Feng exclaimed, walking down the pavement with the others from Team Shanghai.

An Xin glared at him and said curtly, “Hotpot is too heavy. We’re not having that again. Let’s get something a little lighter.”

Lin Feng looked a bit upset when everyone agreed with An Xin. But he got all excited again when they found a small restaurant. If he couldn’t have a heavy dish like hotpot, he could just order a ton of light dishes! So he started ordering numerous dishes, soups and white rice. He grinned at the others, who were all shaking their heads, and proclaimed, “Look! This isn’t too heavy! I’m really good at ordering light dishes too! And my metabolism is really good too!”

An Xin glared at Lin Feng. Her lips curved up into a smile and she narrowed her eyes. “HMM? What was that? I dare you to say that again!”

Lin Feng ignored the stares from his teammates and looked away from An Xin at his beverage. It was mango juice. I really want a beer… He glanced at Tang Bingyao. But she can’t hold her alcohol at all. I don’t want to have to carry her home again! That was such a hassle! Yeah, better to just not bring up alcohol. I’ll have to get really good at not getting Tang Tang drunk too! He grinned again and then raised his glass. “I know it ain’t alco— I mean… Let’s have a toast! We won today! Ganbei!”


Everyone clinked their glasses and took large swigs from their fruit beverages. After which Lin Feng stood up and started shushing everyone. When they were all silent, he exclaimed, “We’re playing again in three days! And when we win that one, we’re going to Regionals! And then we’ve got the main tournament! So many more dinner celebrations! We’re going to win the whole thing! I’m really good at winning games too!”

An Xin looked at Lin Feng, a smile creeping up on her lips while bloody murder started glowing in her eyes. She said, “HMM? Did you put alcohol in that drink? Or are you just that stupid? We’re not even close to qualifying for the main tournament! Don’t get ahead of yourself! Now sit your ass  back down!”

Zeng Rui massaged his eyelid, feeling it starting to twitch again. He said, “The next round should be easy. But the Regionals are going to be tough. We might even run into Fudan or Zhejiang University. We’ll have to be ready for that. Keep training and stay focused on the goal.”

“Hey, Zeng Rui?” Zhang Hao asked. He waited for his friend to look at him and then continued, “I heard Fudan and Zhejiang University both invited coaches and analysts to help them prepare for this tournament. They were already some of the strongest teams in the competition… What are we expecting to do against them now?”

“So what if they did?” Lin Feng interjected, confused. He grinned and pointed at An Xin. “We’ve got a better coach and analyst!”

Zeng Rui ignored Lin Feng and took a minute before answering Zhang Hao’s question. They hired people to help them. Yeah, I know. But they didn’t hire BunBun. Or me. We’re both really good. I don’t think we’ll have an issue on that front. He finally said, “We’re good in terms of coaching. But…” He paused and made sure to catch Lin Feng’s attention before continuing, “Those teams have been playing together for far longer than we have. They have more experience at the big tournaments than we have. They have better scrimming partners. They have better facilities. They have a lot of things in their favour that we simply don’t have right now. We need a lot more than some fancy strategy to beat them.”

An Xin nodded and added, “If we want to beat opponents at that level, we have to start by perfecting our laning phases. We have to win every single lane from here on out. Because if we’re not ready to win against Fudan and Zhejiang in the lane, then we’re certainly not winning against them in the mid and late game. They have too much experience to let that happen.”

Zhang Hao nodded along to An Xin and when she finished said, “I understand. I’ll work hard on improving my laning phase! I’ll give it my all!”

Tang Bingyao tilted her head and then pumped her fist in the air, “Mhm! I’ll win my lanes!”

Lin Feng looked from Zhang Hao to Tang Bingyao and then back at An Xin. He scratched the back of his head and asked, “So you’re saying I have to carry you guys?”

An Xin giggled, covering her mouth with her hand, and said, “Sure. If you want to take it like that, you carry us!”

Zeng Rui wasn’t laughing, or giggling. There is that serious look again… He thinks he can really carry us? Who is he? He looked at Lin Feng, quietly observed him, and finally said, “Only if you can carry the games by yourself.”

Lin Feng waved his hand and replied in complete confidence, “You guys should’ve told me this earlier! Don’t worry! I’ll carry! I’m really good at carrying games too!”

Thundering dumbass! Zeng Rui wanted to argue. Every little part of him wanted to argue. But he reeled himself back, forcing himself not to go down that path. He glanced at An Xin. You said he can beat every Midlaner. I’ve never seen him lose in the mid lane. And he is always so confident. Why can’t you guys just tell me what I’m missing? What’s so special that I can’t know about it? Just tell me already! Can he really beat every Midlaner and carry all the games…?

A phone started ringing, pulling Zeng Rui away from his thoughts. Everyone turned to look at Lin Feng, who was already searching around in his pockets and on the floor. “Where’s my phone? Where’s my phone?” he mumbled repeatedly, until Tang Bingyao pointed at the phone buzzing on the table. “Oh! There’s my phone!” Lin Feng laughed and answered the call, “Hey! Chu Fang! What’s up? Did you see us play? We totally wrecked them!”

“So you’re through to the next round?” Chu Fang asked from the other side of the line.

Lin Feng grinned and said, “Yeah! We won! 2-0! It was super easy! Our next game is in three days!”

Chu Fang replied, “That’s good to hear! Keep at it!”

“Don’t worry! We’ll keep going at it!” Lin Feng exclaimed. He then struck his trademark victory pose before adding, “We’re going to win the entire tournament! Zero losses! Many wins! I’m really good at winning too!”

Chu Fang laughed and said, “Good, good! I’ll be looking forward to that. And when you guys make it a little further, I’ll make sure to come and cheer you on in person!”

“You get to see me carrying again! Just like before!” Lin Feng replied, laughing.

Chu Fang was in Fang Hao’s office at the headquarters of the Shanghai Esports Association. His phone call with Lin Feng was played on speaker, so that Fang Hao could also listen to everything being said. After the connection broke, the two men looked at each other. They knew Lin Feng and how happy he liked to act, especially when things were going right. Fang Hao was eventually the first to talk. “Good,” he said.

Chu Fang nodded and said, “Sounded like he was pretty confident. It’s good to see him like this again.”

Fang Hao laughed and replied, “The happy little kid.” He grinned before continuing, “But it’s too early to celebrate. All I want is to see him return to his real form. This is only a university tournament. It’d be terrible if he lost.” His expression suddenly fell. He gazed out of the window and took a deep, long breath. He finally added, “I’m afraid it’s not enough though. It’s taking him too long to get back to form.”

Chu Fang didn’t reply right away. He sat back in his chair and followed Fang Hao’s gaze out of the window, looking out at the night sky of Shanghai. What Lin Feng is doing is great for anyone else. We’d be jumping around with someone that talented. But… This is Lin Feng. This is Maple we’re talking about! He was already playing in the World Finals when he was only 15 years old. And now, at 19, he’s playing in a university tournament. It is slow. It isn’t going fast enough. The new season is going to start soon and before we know it, Worlds is back. Where will he be? We need him back on his game! We need Maple! Some high school kid having fun at a university tournament is worthless to us. Come on, Lin Feng! Find your rhythm again. We need the real you to step up. Help everyone remember the wonderkid from Season 1! We know you can do it. You just… You need to do it already. Step up! He breathed in long and deep, then let it all out. But he’s still just a kid. Can we really ask so much from a kid? Isn’t that what we did four years ago too? And that’s when he left. It was too much pressure. He chewed on his lips and finally asked, “Don’t you think we’re asking too much from him? Maybe we should just be happy that he’s on his way back…”

“I know we should be happy. Don’t think I don’t,” Fang Hao replied. He then shook his head and continued, “But who else can do what he can? Do you know anyone who’s as talented as he is? Absolutely anyone out there who has what it takes to beat Rake? Because I don’t. I can’t think of a single player here in Shanghai who has even half of his talent.”

Chu Fang had no response to this. They both knew that Lin Feng was still just a kid who liked to act as such. But hidden behind that playful exterior was a monstrous talent. Zeng Rui is good, but not that good. Tang Bingyao is good, but not even close to that good. BunBun… They’re all great players. But they’re not Lin Feng. He is just so much better. And it comes so easily to him. It’s… He shook his head. We need Maple.

Fang Hao stood up from his seat and walked over to the window. He looked at the busy streets below and said, “There’s no one else. We both know it. It has to be him. It can only be him. I wish, I really do wish that there was someone else. Someone who could share the burden with him. But there just isn’t. He is so far above everyone else that we can only turn to him. When he gets rolling, there’s no stopping him. That’s the Lin Feng… We need Maple, it’s that simple.”

Chu Fang slowly nodded. “I know.”

Fang Hao chuckled and shook his head. “Of course One had to be the one to find this kid. It takes talent to find talent, or something inspirational like that. One was so good in his active years. He still is. It almost sounds like a fairytale when you think about it. China’s biggest talent finds an even bigger talent! And we’ve got front row seats. I just really hope Lin Feng can do half of what One did for the Chinese esports scene.”

The second best of three for Team Shanghai took place on Friday. The team traveled to East China Medical School after their classes ended and waited for their turn to play. The audience was a bit more on their side because of the spectacular fashion in which they beat East China University of Science and Technology in the first round. And this second best of three series wasn’t any different. Their opponents just weren’t good enough. Team Shanghai won their lanes and from there carried the two games to quick victories. Both games ended on the 20-minute mark, one by a unanimous surrender vote and the other by a destroyed nexus. With this series in the bag, Team Shanghai secured their spot in the next round of the tournament. The East China Regionals.

Every local division concluded around the same time. Replays of all the games were uploaded to the tournament website, giving a first glimpse into the strength of the teams still in it. This opened up the possibility for teams to prepare for the next round by working through the available data from their potential opponents. They could search for weak spots and come up with tactics to counter a team’s favoured Champions.

Every team competing in the East China Regionals was doing this. And while researching, they also looked at the games from Team Shanghai, who’d made it two rounds further than most people expected. It quickly became evident why Team Shanghai had made it to Regionals. They were a far better team than anyone initially expected. From individual skill to team synergy, they were better at every facet of the game compared to their opponents.

Rumours started floating around that Team Shanghai wasn’t just playing in the Winter Collegiate Cup to get experience at the university level, but to compete at the university level. People started comparing their games with those from Fudan University and realised that Team Shanghai had the raw skill to make it to the main tournament. This was a very important discovery, because that was where it became region versus region.

In the Regionals of the Winter Collegiate Cup, the teams from East China duked it out between themselves to see who would move on to Nationals. But once there, they wanted to make sure that the teams from East China made it as far as possible. So they trained together and gave each other feedback and ideas. Anything that might be of help to see the teams from East China make it a step further in the main tournament. This was especially important this time around because their best team in the previous edition only made it to third place.

The condescending tone disappeared when people discussed Team Shanghai. They didn’t talk about the high school team or about the team with two girls on its roster, but about a team who could potentially make it to Nationals and achieve a great result for East China.

The teams in East China weren’t the only ones reviewing the games from Team Shanghai. The high school team from Beijing, Team Beijing, had gathered in a conference room at the Beijing Esports Association. There was a large projection on the wall, showing the replay of the third game played by Team Shanghai. It was a fast game, where the different lanes beat their opponents with relative ease. There was a lot of action, and somehow it all ended in Team Shanghai’s favour. But the members from Team Beijing quickly lost interest. If they wanted to watch some random team stomping another random team, they could do that anywhere. There was nothing about this game that really stood out to them. And it was the third one of its kind.

Team Beijing’s manager was Fan Yuan, a 28 year old man with short, black hair. He was one of the three Vice Presidents from the Beijing Esports Association. He pointed a couple of things out on the projection with his ruler and kept on talking throughout the entire replay, not once looking at the members of the team. When the replay finally ended, he turned to look at them and asked, “So what do you guys think about Team Shanghai?”

There were a couple of shrugs and one team member was picking his nose. They really didn’t care about Team Shanghai. If these games proved anything, it was that there were better things to waste their time on.

“Hey!” Fan Yuan shouted. He pointed his ruler at the team members and said, “We’re having a team meeting! Pay some attention! Tell me what you guys think about Team Shanghai!”

It was the substitute Toplaner who eventually replied. He snorted and said, “I don’t know? What do you want us to say? You saw the games, right? They look like shit. What are we wasting our time on them for?”

Chapter 278 – TOGETHER. APE. SMASH!

Wang He stared at his monitor, numb. DEFEAT! They were the same letters from a couple of days ago when he lost to Tang Bingyao in solo queue. I-impossible! I lost to her again! This can’t be! No! We were going to win the Regionals this year! We were finally going to make it to Nationals! This… He didn’t even feel angry anymore. Everything he’d worked so hard for crumbled down around him. The long hours he spent practicing with his university team suddenly felt like the biggest waste of time in his life. “W-we lost… We lost to a bunch of high schoolers.”

The other players from East China University of Science and Technology weren’t in much better shape. The game was over after Lux’s play in the mid lane at 18 minutes, yet the game lasted until the 26th minute. They couldn’t surrender, it just wasn’t done in this type of competition. So they played those 8 minutes of pure torture, grinding their teeth and raging at the fact they were losing to high schoolers. Now the game was lost, morale was at an all time low, and they had to play again.

Zhu Feng looked at his teammates and said over the team’s voice chat, “Alright, guys. We can’t sit here and sulk. It’s a best of three series. The next one is gonna be our game! We’re going to win and kick their asses! Let’s make everyone remember how good we are!”

“Just one more game,” Hu Hui grunted. “One more game and we’re out. Out in the first round is bad enough. But out against a high school team? No. Just no. We can’t let this happen. We just can’t!”

Zhu Feng nodded and added, “We can’t! Now let’s focus on the next game. Champion Select is about to begin. We’re just going to have to play our best! We can still do this, guys! We’re starting at zero again. Two wins, same as last game. Two wins and we’re through.”

“Can we ban his Thresh?” Hu Hui asked. It got a quick round of approval from the rest of the team.

That was how the Champion Select started. East China University of Science and Technology banned three strong defensive Supports, while Team Shanghai banned three powerful meta champions. Next up was locking in Champions. East China University of Science and Technology was on the Blue team this game, so they got first pick. They locked in Irelia. Lin Feng and Tang Bingyao were up next, locking in Orianna and Lucian respectively.

Everything pointed towards a lineup that was similar to the first game. But that all changed when Zhang Hao locked in Fiora. He was normally a team-oriented Toplaner. This meant that he chose Champions that provided Support to his teammates. They were defensive Champions like Mundo, high utility Champions like Gnar, or even a teamfight monster like Rumble. What he never played was the aggressive duelist. The kind of champion that won the lane and kept on pushing until they destroyed the Nexus. But that was exactly the type of Champion Fiora was.

There were a couple of raised eyebrows in Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth at Zhang Hao’s choice of Champion. But Fiora fit the strategy An Xin had decided on, so no one said anything about it. But that quickly changed when it was Zeng Rui’s turn to choose a Champion. He glanced at Lin Feng and chewed on his lips. I’ve thought about it enough. That stupid thundering dumbass is right. It’s impossible. It is! But he’s right… I need to trust them. We play aggressively… He scanned through the viable Support options for their game plan and finally landed on Annie. She was a highly aggressive Support, completely different from Zeng Rui’s usual high health and strong crowd control skill type Champions.

Lin Feng grinned and said over the team’s voice chat, “Nice choice, ZengZeng! You really want to set this game on fire, huh! Blast them away with your fire!”

“You’re mistaken,” Zeng Rui replied calmly. “Annie fits in best with our team comp.”

Tang Bingyao looked at Zeng Rui and tilted her head. She said, “Mhm? You’re lying.”

Zeng Rui’s eyelids twitched but he kept his voice calm and steady. “Incorrect. I’m telling the truth.”

Tang Bingyao raised an eyebrow and repeated, “You’re lying.”

An Xin giggled just loudly enough for the others to look at her. She then winked at Tang Bingyao and said over the team’s voice chat, “Alright, let’s move on. Nothing wrong with getting a little pumped up every now and then!”

Game 2
East China University of Science and Technology (Blue Team) vs Team Shanghai (Red Team)

Top lane: Irelia versus Fiora
Jungle: Rek’Sai versus Lee Sin
Mid lane: Ziggs versus Orianna
Ad-carry: Jinx versus Lucian
Support: Nami versus Annie

The audience got excited when they saw the lineups for the second game. East China University of Science and Technology went with a safer team composition that relied more on teamfighting in the mid and late game. It was the safe and expected choice after the first game. But Team Shanghai went fully on the aggressive! They picked powerful Champions, like Lee Sin who was the strongest early game Jungle, to win this game before it could even get to the mid game!

“What do you guys think? Another win for the high schoolers?”
“Maybe they’re getting a bit cocky here…”
“What? Lol. You saw how good they were in the first game, right?”
“Still… This seems like taking unnecessary risk… If you lose you’re out!”
“Doesn’t matter to them. They can lose one and still be in! Haha! Zhu Feng is the one who has to worry!”
“Annie to win the bot lane! Lee Sin in the Jungle! Fiora smashing in top! And then that fucking GOD in the mid lane!”
“WOOP WOOP! Win to Team Shanghai it is! WOOP WOOP!”

Welcome to Summoner’s Rift!

The game started. Both teams went with normal lanes and neither side was interested in invading the other team’s Jungle. The first minion waves spawned and the whispers started sounding throughout the venue. This was a boring start to the game. But that all changed in the next couple of seconds. Completely unlike the start of the first game, Zhang Hao’s Fiora suddenly played hyper aggressively! She Lunged at the Irelia every time the skill came off cooldown and dealt poke damage. This culminated into a beautiful kill at Level 3. Irelia underestimated how much damage Zhang Hao’s Fiora did and was punished for it.

First Blood!

The audience barely had any time to cheer for this kill when the excitement continued in the bot lane. Pyromania was Annie’s passive skill. After casting four spells, her next one would stun the target. Zeng Rui had charged Pyromania up and now waited in the brush for Blue team’s Nami or Jinx to step out of line. 

Nami made the first mistake. She stepped a little bit too far forward in an attempt to dish out some poke damage on Tang Bingyao’s Lucian. Zeng Rui’s Annie flashed forward with a mottled radiance and cast Incinerate! A blazing cone of fire spread out in front of Annie, stunning the Nami!

Tang Bingyao’s Lucian followed up with Relentless Pursuit! She dashed forward and raised both her guns to fire a double shot at Nami. She kept both guns aimed at Nami to fire Piercing Light at her, and then another double shot. The burst damage was too damn high! Nami’s health bar simply disappeared.

You have slain an enemy!

“The heck is going on? That’s the second one already! It’s not even five minutes!”
“Sweet jeezsuss! They’re poppin’ off for real!”
“The high schoolers really are gonna knock Zhu Feng out! Shit! Who would’ve thought!”
“That Support and Toplaner are really fucking carrying this game…”
“It’s like they took something after the first game…”

But the most terrifying aspect of this abrupt change in Team Shanghai’s playstyle was the fact that Zhang Hao and Zeng Rui were still the same as before. Just because they slightly altered their approach to the game, that didn’t mean they lost their heads. Zhang Hao was playing as solidly as ever, though he was channeling that into a far more oppressive and overbearing manner than before. And Zeng Rui still commanded over the lane and the game with his cold, analytical approach. Because, as he realised, it was very much possible to combine the trust Lin Feng spoke about with the methodical playstyle he’d mastered over the last couple of years.

It went without saying that Lin Feng, An Xin, and Tang Bingyao were also playing at a very high level. Tang Bingyao found a rhythm in Zeng Rui’s aggressive playstyle that hummed in perfect harmony with her own. The two played better together than ever before, pushing until the Blue team’s Botlaners were either dead or forced to recall back to their base to buy health pots!

An Xin’s Lee Sin was running around the map. She fought the monsters in the Jungle Camps and only appeared to gank when East China University of Science and Technology’s Jungler did. But she always appeared right when he did. It was like she knew exactly where he was. As if she were mirroring his Jungle paths. But it wasn’t completely similar either, because she was very much pulling ahead in experience and gold.

There was one more player on Team Shanghai. Lin Feng. He was the best player on the map, just like in the previous game. His Orianna pressured Zhu Feng’s Ziggs until she forced him back to hide underneath his tower. Lin Feng built up a lead in creep score, as well as in gold and experience. And the few times Zhu Feng’s Ziggs tried to do anything about it, Lin Feng was always one step ahead. He dodged the attempts on his and countered with attacks of his own.

“How the fuck is that Ori that good!?”
“It’s mental. Just mental. Fucking crazy!”
“Someone call an ambulance! Someone is getting stomped!”

Zhang Hao was completely focused on his screen. He’d already pulled ahead of Irelia and was now looking to extend that lead. Get the last hit, deal some damage. Get the last hit, deal some damage. He looked for every opportunity to attack the Irelia, even if just with an auto attack. In this manner, he’d already gotten her down to about half health. His eyes suddenly narrowed. She’s too aggressive. He glanced down at his minimap. Crap! My ward wore off! Shit, Rek’Sai!

Hu Hui’s Rek’Sai appeared from the river entrance in the top lane. He dug a Tunnel and arrived underneath Zhang Hao’s Fiora. Un-burrow! The Rek’Sai charged out of the ground and knocked Zhang Hao’s Fiora up into the air! Blue team’s Irelia followed up to the gank. She dashed forward to strike Zhang Hao’s Fiora–Bladesurge! Then she stunned him with an Equilibrium Strike!

An Xin saw the gank in the top lane. As expected. She smiled and had her Lee Sin move up into the top lane. That’s why I was killing the Gromp. “Zhang Hao,” she said over the team’s voice chat. “Fight! I’ll be right there!” Oh, wow! I need to hurry if I want to get an assist! He’s killing them both!

An Xin’s Lee Sin ran into the lane and fired a Sonic Wave at the Rek’Sai, who was already below half health. The second part of this skill allowed her to dash at the marked target. Lee Sin flew forward with his leg in front of him, kicking Rek’Sai in the face for some extra damage. She then slammed her flat palm down on the ground for a Tempest of damage!

Zhang Hao’s Fiora was already Level 6, unlocking her ultimate skill. Grand Challenge revealed the four Vitals on Rek’Sai. If he hit all four of them, a healing field would appear on the ground. But there was another way to activate this healing field. And that was by killing the Rek’Sai.

You have slain an enemy!

The healing field spawned on the ground. Zhang Hao’s Fiora had lost nearly half of her health in the gank by  Rek’Sai, but now saw it shoot back up until it was full again. Blue team’s Irelia wasn’t so lucky. Her health was already below half at the start of the fight. Her Jungler was dead now too. She ran away and hid underneath her tower in a final attempt to survive, but that didn’t stop Zhang Hao. He had his Fiora Lunge at the Irelia and finished her off with a couple of quick cuts and slashes.

Double kill!

Zhang Hao grinned, almost looking a little like Lin Feng. It’s so much easier when you’ve got a Jungler that always has your back! BunBun really helped me get the kill on Rek’Sai there before anything bad could happen! He nodded at An Xin and said over the team’s voice chat, “Thanks for that gank, BunBun! You just helped me win the lane! I’ve got this!”

Zeng Rui was playing Annie. The way to play her was to make plays happen. This wasn’t just limited to the bot lane. Zeng Rui scanned the minimap while putting pressure on Blue team’s Botlaners. At 9 minutes, he saw an opening in the mid lane. Red team’s Ziggs was pushing just too far out from underneath his outer tower. That’s a mistake by the Ziggs! Lin Feng can’t kill the Ziggs by himself. But… He’s waiting for me to come, isn’t he? He knows I have to come… Zeng Rui gritted his teeth but still made the move. He had his Annie run up the river and when he arrived in the brush right below the mid lane, he said over the team’s voice chat, “Go in!” Then he flashed forward and activated his ultimate.

Annie’s passive skill was active. Her next skill would stun whomever it hit! She threw her teddy bear up into the air. Fire suddenly blazed from within it! Its eyes radiated a fiery energy as its body grew several times in size! And then it dropped down to the ground, smashing its feet onto the Ziggs. Stunning the Ziggs.

“Coming!” Lin Feng exclaimed. He pressed down on the D key, quickly followed by the Q and W keys. All the while, keeping his index finger hovering slightly above the R key. His Orianna appeared right in front of the stunned Ziggs with a mottled flash of light. He then commanded his Ball to attack! It flew towards Ziggs and landed on top of him. Then it let out a pulse of dissonant energy, rupturing the Ziggs’ health bar!

Zhu Feng’s eyes went wide. “STUPID! Fuck!” he cursed, slamming down on his W key–Satchel Charge! The exact moment that the stun broke, his Ziggs placed down an explosive charge underneath his feet. And then Zhu Feng pressed the W key again. The charge exploded, knocking Ziggs away towards his outer tower. For a brief moment.

Lin Feng’s finger fell down on his keyboard, activating Orianna’s ultimate. Orianna commanded her Ball to send out a shockwave. The pulse of energy wrapped around the Ziggs, who was in midair, and pulled him back towards the Ball. Gotcha! Haha! Lin Feng clicked on the Ziggs. His Orianna threw out a fidget spinner. Its sharp edges cut away the last bit of Ziggs’ health.

You have slain an enemy!

Lin Feng turned to look at Zeng Rui with a grin that reached from one ear to the other and said, “Nice roam! See? Didn’t I tell you, ZengZeng? This is far more effective! We should’ve played like this from the start!”

Zeng Rui didn’t give Lin Feng the pleasure of being right. He ground his teeth and stared at his screen. I hate him so much. I hate him so much! Why does this thundering dumbass have to be right? Why can’t he just be wrong about this? Yes. YES! I’m feeling great! I’m loving this, you stupid thundering dumbass! Dammit! I hate him. I hate him so much!

While Zeng Rui had his Annie return to the bot lane, he glanced at Lin Feng. He took a deep, long breath to calm himself down. Trust. It’s all about trust with him. But he’s right about that. There’s something so… so liberating about playing the game like this. I don’t have to worry about what he might do. All I have to do is trust that he’ll have my back. And he had. He always has. We have each others’ backs. That’s how you play. And together we win. That’s teamwork. Why is this working so well? Why can’t it just fail? He pinched his eyelids closed and took another deep breath. Because it works. Because it’s a really good way of playing the game. He chuckled and said over the team’s voice chat, “Let’s do that again.”

Team Shanghai had more skilled players in each role compared to the East China University of Science and Technology and on top of that, they were the better team. They pushed for an overwhelming advantage in the three lanes, while An Xin started to call Blue team’s Jungle her home. All three outer towers from the Blue team fell before the 10th minute. And a few minutes later, Team Shanghai found themselves in such a commanding lead that it was hard to see them losing the game.

It turned out that it wasn’t just hard to see them lose this game, it was impossible. Lin Feng’s Orianna had the items to burst down any Champion that came her way. And Lin Feng had enough mechanics to outplay every second, third and fourth Champion that came at him to help their teammates. It wasn’t any different in the other lanes. Everyone kept pushing, brute forcing their way towards the East China University of Science and Technology’s base.

The 21th minute of the second game came around. Team Shanghai was pushing all three lanes. Red minions were crashing into the blue inhibitor towers. The East China University of Science and Technology team could only passively defend, and even then had to be careful not to give away a kill. They were too far behind. There was nothing they could do to turn this around anymore.

“FUCK THIS BULLSHIT!” Wang He suddenly shouted over the team’s voice chat. He slammed down on the Enter key and typed /ff.

Zhu Feng bit on his tongue. He wanted to tell Wang He off for starting the surrender vote. This is an official tournament! We can’t surrender! That’s bad manners! We have to play this out! And we’re still in it! If we can somehow win… STUPID! He stopped himself. He knew they couldn’t win. Two more green bars lit up, signaling that two teammates had agreed to the surrender vote. He let his head fall down. “Fine. Let’s surrender,” he finally said over the team’s voice chat.

The energy contained in the blue Nexus broke free. It twisted and turned and morphed into the victory emblem for Team Shanghai. It was game over for the East China University of Science and Technology. Team Shanghai was moving on to the next round after winning the first best of three series in a promising 2-0 fashion!


“HAHAHAHA! The high school kids got Zhu Feng to surrender! This is brilliant!”
“Oh my god, what a disgrace! Absolutely hilarious!”
“GG to the high schoolers. They carried the shit out of that game!”
“Fuck they were good… Who’s gonna beat them?”

Wang He walked out of the soundproof booth behind Zhu Feng. He slightly bent his knees, just far enough to hide his figure behind his team captain. He didn’t want anyone to see him now. We’re going to have to… I’m going to have to… He glanced across the room at the door of the other soundproof booth. Team Shanghai was walking out, cheering and laughing. I’m going to have to shake hands with… with her. After everything I’m going to have to… He chewed on his lips, his stomach twisting in a knot and pulling tight. FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!

Zhu Feng looked over his shoulder and said to his teammates, “Be nice guys. Good sportsmanship and all that. Just congratulate them.” He grimaced before adding, “I know.”

The two teams shook hands. East China University of Science and Technology did the best to hide their shame and disappointment. Even when Lin Feng was telling them how much fun the games were, they just nodded and wished him good luck in the next round. It was especially difficult to face An Xin and Tang Bingyao. When they first saw them, they joked about the two girls. They told each other that the first round was in the bag, because Team Shanghai had two girls on their roster. But they were proven wrong about that in a painful fashion. The two girls had torn them apart.

Wang He glanced past Zhu Feng at Tang Bingyao. He dreaded having to shake her hand. Please don’t recognize me. Please don’t recognize me. Please tell me you didn’t watch my stream. You don’t know who I am! Please tell me you don’t know who I am! He didn’t dare to meet her eyes, extending his hand to her and quietly mumbling a few congratulatory words. Please don’t recognize me. Please don’t recognize me…

Yuck. Why is his hand so sweaty? Tang Bingyao looked at Wang He, surprised and uncomfortable. A cold shiver ran up and down her spine. What’s wrong with him? He gives me the creeps… She squinted her eyes a bit. Do I know him? Mhm? Lin Feng was pushing her forward, dispelling those thoughts. She moved on to the next person in line and gave them a hand. “Well played.”

Wang He glanced over his shoulder at Tang Bingyao. She isn’t looking back. Good. She didn’t recognize me. She really didn’t recognize me! She didn’t! The short burst of excitement disappeared again. She didn’t recognize me. She didn’t recognize me… He shook hands with the next person on Team Shanghai, but kept looking at Tang Bingyao. She… She doesn’t even know who I am. His shoulders slumped and he kicked against an imaginary pebble on the floor. The knot in his stomach tightened so hard that it tore him apart. I spent all day worrying about her and she… she didn’t even recognize me! SHE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW WHO I AM!

Wang He’s world collapsed around him. He stood in front of the soundproof booths. The audience was clapping and cheering, his teammates were trying to push him along, and Team Shanghai was celebrating in the background. None of it registered in his mind. Why did I worry so much about her? I haven’t even thought about the game. All I wanted to do was get my redemption against her… She doesn’t even know who I am! What am I doing here? I had a bad game, that was all. How did I turn that into this big storyline? He shook his head, listless. She doesn’t even know who I am. I’m such an idiot. Everything, it was all just in my head… He gritted his teeth and looked at his teammates who were walking away, leaving him behind. I need to stop living in my head. “Hey, guys!” he shouted after them. “Wait for me!”

Chapter 277 – A Small Step for Lin Feng; A Massive Leap for Zeng Rui

Zeng Rui was only in high school, but his League of Legends achievements were representative of someone much older. He’d reached the top of the ranked ladder in the Ionia server and became famous as an up and comer Support. On top of that, he was the team captain of the Shanghai High School esports team. His team had won the 2014 edition of the Shanghai 16 School Tournament, where he was voted the most valuable player. And in 2015 they came in second place. Professional teams were scouting him and he had even turned down an offer from an LSPL team. His talent at the game was undisputed.

In all his time playing League of Legends, Zeng Rui stuck to one particular playstyle. What he strove for was the most logical and rational way of playing the game. He didn’t like uncertainty, or leaving anything up to chance. A plan had to be perfect, or it was worthless. He needed to have a grasp on every single variable in the game, which included his teammates. They had to listen to him, move as he instructed them to. And then he’d make sure everything came together seamlessly. Just like Autumn! This is how Autumn plays! He’s an Emperor and the only Support Emperor! So he must be doing something right. And it’s always so nice to watch him play. It’s so clean and methodical. That’s how the game should be played, right?

Zeng Rui stared at his monitor. Team Shanghai had taken down the inner tower in the mid lane and was now recalling back to base to spend their gold. He did the same, moving through the actions though his mind was drifting. It all changed when I was put on Team Shanghai. That first training with the thundering dumbass… He glanced at Lin Feng who was grinning like always. His playstyle is everything I hate! He just does whatever he feels like and lets the rest of his team clean up his mess! We always have to clean up after him! It’s impossible! You won’t get anywhere playing like that! But… he does get somewhere. Every single time he gets there… He even beat me in the Shanghai 16 School Tournament. He… He was better than me.

The top lane was the next part of the map that Zeng Rui wanted to focus on. He made the calls over the voice chat, but his mind wasn’t really in the game anymore. Team Shanghai, his team, was so far ahead that losing wasn’t really possible anymore. He makes me go crazy. My eyelids have been twitching almost daily since we started playing together. I just… I can’t control him! And I can’t make him see that we need my level of control to win! Zeng Rui chewed on the inside of his cheeks. He comes up with the craziest tactics in the middle of a game. He only sticks to a game plan as long as it makes sense to him. When he sees something that he believes is better, he just goes for it. He doesn’t tell me or the others. He flashes in and expects us to be there to support him! It’s impossible!

Zeng Rui closed his eyes. There wasn’t a real need to pay attention to the game. East China University of Science and Technology was too far behind. Lin Feng’s Lux alone was enough to win this game. So Zeng Rui had his team take down towers in an orderly fashion while thinking back to the many arguments he’d had with Lin Feng over the past couple of weeks. I get mad. I try to argue with him. Make him understand how wrong he is. But he just never seems to take it seriously. He just laughs it off and does something else entirely in the next game! Just now with that ridiculous engage on his Lux… He shook his head, exasperated.

But… Zeng Rui’s latest argument with Lin Feng was almost exactly the same as the one before that, and the one before that. But there was something this time around. Between the laughter, jokes and brushing off the responsibility, Lin Feng said a couple of words that made Zeng Rui pause. “You guys are my teammates. I can make these plays because I believe in all of you!” There was something about those words that surprised Zeng Rui. It was an approach to the game he hadn’t considered before. He always makes stupid excuses for his own egotistical playstyle! Don’t let yourself be fooled by him! But… It’s just… It sounded so casual. Like he really believed it. He glanced at Lin Feng and muttered to himself, “Teammates… You can make these plays because you believe in us…”

What nonsense! This is completely illogical! Zeng Rui shook his head and felt the urge to start arguing with Lin Feng again. But there was something about the way Lin Feng said those words that stopped him. He really believes it. That wasn’t a joke. He looked actually surprised that we didn’t understand him. Why does he think that’s so logical? It’s completely illogical! But… Zeng Rui took a long, deep breath. He scrunched his eyebrows and rubbed his mouth. It’s so simple and honest. How can he say it like that? It’s just… Why am I even considering this? He’s just… Argghhh! He’s making sense again! Why? WHY! This doesn’t make any sense! He isn’t right! He… He can’t be! It’s impossible!

Zeng Rui looked at Lin Feng and said, “Nonsense.” It was his go-to response. But there was something hidden in that message, a small jump in his voice. Because no matter how much he wanted to disagree with Lin Feng, no matter how much everything he knew about the game told him that Lin Feng was being a thundering dumbass, there was something in the honest, almost childlike way in which Lin Feng said those words. You guys are my teammates. I can make these plays because I believe in all of you! Maybe it does hold some merit… And that ‘maybe’ sounded through in his voice. “Nonsense,” he repeated.

An Xin turned her head to look at Zeng Rui in surprise. They’d just taken down Baron Nashor and were preparing for a final push to end the game. She was just waiting for him to make the call. Nonsense? She read his expression. He’s been distracted ever since Lin Feng flashed in. And now he… She smiled. It all made sense. Looks like Lin Feng made you believe in him too… He’s good at that. You’re not the first. This is the same thing that happened four years ago. He has a way of charming people into playing his style. A kind of game that relies so much on pure trust rather than a carefully planned strategy and game plan. I know how difficult this is for you. I’ve seen you prepare for the Collegiate Cup.

“Push mid inhib,” Zeng Rui ordered over the team’s voice chat.

An Xin looked back at the game and had her Jarvan IV lead the charge. But she didn’t really need to focus or try all that hard. The game was played more than five minutes earlier. She had her Jarvan IV flag-toss combo onto the players from East China University of Science and Technology that were hiding underneath the inhibitor tower in the mid lane. She followed up with her ultimate skill. All the while, her mind wandered. I wasn’t really part of the team four years ago. They called me the coach, and I did help them, but I was more of a spectator. I watched Lin Feng build that team from nothing. And he built it all on trust. He found the players that fit his unique style of play. And I got to watch all of that happen. She smiled, reminiscing.

Lin Feng’s old teammates weren’t always happy with the way Lin Feng played. He had this weird habit of doing something completely random in the middle of a game, forcing everyone else to adapt on the spot. The game plan was gone and they suddenly found themselves struggling to keep up with him. Then, after the game was over, they’d give him a piece of their mind. They scolded him and made him promise never to do something like that again. But that was part of Lin Feng’s charm, the unique way in which he played, and so he did it again in the next game.

Tian Tian, Eleven, Autumn and Silent would complain again in the next game. They’d tell Lin Feng that he was a terrible team captain and that it was impossible to follow up on him when he kept changing their plans halfway through the game without informing anyone. But they followed up on him. They stuck by his side. And no one could put up any kind of resistance when they swept through the LPL. They were invincible. Lin Feng’s style of play paid off every time. Their complaints lost their vigor. The annoyance in their voices disappeared. They started to see the value in Lin Feng’s approach and learned to play like that too.

On their journey to the World Finals, Lin Feng’s teammates became true comrades. They had absolute trust in each other, which helped them grow to become some of the best players in their respective positions. In that process, a bond took shape between them, one where they didn’t need to talk to know what they needed from each other. It was a special situation where skill and trust came together to form an incredibly strong team.

An Xin sighed and shook her head. They got so close. But in the end, they were all following Lin Feng. He was so young. Maybe too young… He really took it hard in the World Finals. That wasn’t fun to watch. He wasn’t playing well and forgot the most important part on which his team was built. Trust. The trust his teammates had in him, but also the trust he should have in his teammates. He forgot about that. But now… She looked at Lin Feng who was grinning while picking up a triple kill inside East China University of Science and Technology’s base and smiled. But that’s all in the past. He’s back now. And he still has that special playstyle. He’s better. All he needs is to find a group of… A group of— An Xin’s expression froze.

Team Shanghai was cheering over the team’s voice chat. The Red Nexus had exploded and morphed into a victory emblem for Team Shanghai! She could hear them compliment each other, but it was more like background noise. She bit on her lips and glanced from Tang Bingyao to Zeng Rui. He’s already found two members for his new team. And then there’s also Fatty… It won’t be long now until he gets his team together. I just hope… She breathed in sharply to push back the tears that were wetting her eyes. I just hope it’s still possible for me to watch him get all the way to the World Finals again. One more time, that’s all I’m asking for. Just one more. That’d be great. She blinked away a tear. It rolled down her cheek and as it fell down she caught it in the palm of her hand. If only that were possible…

Chapter 276 – “I’m really good at having your back too!”

East China University of Science and Technology had come into the Winter Collegiate Cup thinking they could make it all the way to the main tournament. They were convinced that they finally had what it took to compete with the big teams. But that confidence disappeared and morale crashed after Wang He’s death in the mid lane. It was just the latest instance of how their game against Team Shanghai was going. Terribly. They weren’t just losing the game, they were getting schooled by a group of high schoolers!

East China University of Science and Technology’s soundproof booth was silent. The players looked at their screens in numb horror. They knew what was happening. Zhu Feng glanced at his teammates, chewing on the inside of his cheeks. We’re losing. We’re losing this. They’re so much… better. He took a deep breath and then said over the team’s voice chat, “Come on, guys! Next game will be ours. We just need to…” He couldn’t even get himself to finish his motivational speech. His words were all lies. He knew it and his teammates knew it too. It was so obvious how vast the chasm between them and Team Shanghai was that it wasn’t even funny.

The audience came to the same conclusion, as did the players from the other teams present. Team Shanghai was the better team and was more than likely going to win this series. There wasn’t much in terms of excitement, most people in the crowd remaining silent. They’d made fun of the high school team by telling jokes about how Team Shanghai was going to get eliminated in the first round. But no one was laughing now. Team Shanghai displayed incredibly high individual skill levels. And now that the game was moving into the mid game, they proved that their map control and macro ability were of an equally high level.

“They’re going to be a tough team to beat,” someone in the audience said. It was a notion that received a lot of agreement. Team Shanghai wasn’t here to sightsee, they were here to compete. To win this local division of the Winter Collegiate Cup and move on to the next round!

“40 seconds until the next Dragon,” Zeng Rui said over Team Shanghai’s voice chat. “Get ready.” He was already on the move himself, clearing wards in the river around the Dragon pit and placing down wards of his own to gain vision. 

Zhang Hao nodded and said, “Just pushing out this wave and then I’m coming down.” There were only a few more Red minions in the top lane. He used his skills to kill them and then recalled back to base. Teleport is still on cooldown. I shouldn’t have used it… Ah, nevermind. He clicked towards the Dragon pit. There’s still plenty of time. Let’s go and help the team.

The calmness and focus in Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth was completely missing in East China University of Science and Technology’s soundproof booth. Zhu Feng watched his team’s wards disappear in the bottom side jungle. We need to stop them! We can’t just sit here and do nothing! But… Dammit! STUPID! He sighed in annoyance. The Jungle was a combination of small, winding paths and monster camps. It was suicide to walk into there without proper vision. All Team Shanghai had to do was wait in one brush and then land their area-of-effect skills on the members of his team. Thresh’s Q… Lux’s Q and ult… J4’s EQ… They’ve got all the skills to fuck us up. He shook his head and gnashed his teeth. But he finally made the only call he could make. “We’re giving up on the Dragon. Let them take it.”

Zeng Rui was slightly surprised when he saw the opposing team giving up on the Dragon. They’re not even trying to steal it? Do they really think some CS in mid and top is worth more? Though it is probably the right call. We’re really far ahead. They made a fast call and followed it. That’s something to remember. He turned to look at An Xin and said over the team’s voice chat, “They’re decisive.”

An Xin smiled and replied, “Yep. Guessing they realised that it isn’t worth the risk to contest this Dragon.”

“Nooooooo! Why would they do this to me?” Lin Feng whined. He curled his lips and added, “And I just hit my power spike too!” His Lux had pulled so far ahead in experience and gold that she was an absolute monster. Her burst damage was so high that Red team’s Jinx and Syndra would instantly die to it, while even the tanky frontline Champions would find it difficult to survive. Team Shanghai didn’t even really need the rest of their team anymore. Just Lux alone could engage, deal the damage, and the cleanup!

“Good call to give up. That Lux is unkillable.”
“I think they should just surrender… This game is over. That Lux…”
“Look at her items! Oh my god! How did she get so strong this early?”
“I mean… she’s at almost 12 CS a minute. That’s just insane…”
“That must be some kind of record, right? 12! Holy shit!”
“It’s mental. Absolutely fucking mental! That Lux is just crazy strong right now!”

The game was only 18 minutes in, but by the way Team Shanghai was pushing it felt more like the 35th minute. And the 12th minute for East China University of Science and Technology in terms of items. Zhu Feng gritted his teeth and glanced at his minimap. We’re all here defending our mid inner tower. All five of us. And those cocky high school kids are pushing with only two! Lux and Thresh! Their Toplaner is pushing the top lane and we can’t stop him, because we’ll lose mid if we do! And I don’t even know where their Graves and Jarvan IV are. Probably coming mid? Best to assume that. But the only one defending the Lux right now is Thresh. If we’re ever going to do anything to get back into this game… A jolt sparked in his stomach. He realised that this was probably their last chance at a comeback. He made the call and said over the team’s voice chat, “We have to act now! Kill the Lux!”

Zeng Rui was trying to keep up with Lin Feng’s Lux, who just kept pushing and pushing. “Lin Feng!” he shouted over the team’s voice chat. “Don’t push so deep! We need to wait for the others!”

An Xin followed up by saying, “Yeap! Wait for me and Tang Tang! We’re almost there!”

But Lin Feng didn’t worry. He ignored the yellow retreat pings on his minimap and the sound they made in his ears. ZengZeng has my back. We’ll win this. It’ll be easy. He had his Lux auto attack a minion and said confidently, “It’s fine! I’ve got really good items! There’s nothing to worry about!”

Zhu Feng flicked his mouse, moving around the mid lane to make sure everything was in place. Their Alistar was hiding in the Jungle, ready to Flash over the wall and catch the Lux off guard. The rest of the team was in position to follow up on that. He smiled. We’ll get him and then win the fight! Without the Lux, we can kill them! He shouted over the team’s voice chat, “GO!”

There was a small nook in the entrance to the top side Jungle from the mid lane. Team Shanghai didn’t have vision on it. But Lin Feng’s Lux still walked dangerously close to it. The Alistar waited, waited, and then flashed forward! He arrived right on top of the Lux with a mottled flash of light and activated Pulverize! He clenched his massive fists and raised them up high above his head. Then he slammed down on the ground with all the force in his body! The earth cracked and the two Champions from Team Shanghai caught in its radius were hurled up into the air! The Alistar used this brief period that the Lux was airborne to run behind her and then, as she landed back on the ground, he Headbutted her towards the inner tower!

“OH SNAP! That engage!”
“WOOT WOOOO! Let’s fucking goooooo!”
“NICE-LA! We turning this around! Beat ‘em high schoolers!”
“RIP the high schoolers! GOOOOOOOOOO ZHU FENG!”
“Is this the turn around?”
“They caught the Lux! She’s gonna die! AND THEN THE WHOLE TEAM WILL DIE!”

The players from East China University of Science and Technology moved into action. Hu Hui’s Kha’Zix leaped onto the Lux and cleaved her with his claws, while Wang He activated Flame Chompers. His Jinx took out her bazooka and fired three grenades! They landed right underneath Lux, where they exploded! And rooted her!

“Nice!” Wang He exclaimed over the team’s voice chat. He had his Jinx take out her minigun and switched to automatic. Bullets flew through the air and pierced Lux, shearing away at her health!

Lin Feng didn’t panic. He stared at his screen, his fingers gliding over his keyboard. Jinx’s Flame Chompers rooted his Lux to the ground. But he could still cast his abilities. He waited for a brief moment as the Kha’Zix moved ever so slightly to line up with the Jinx. Then he cast Light Binding. A sphere of light flew through Kha’Zix and then Jinx, rooting them both! He followed up with Lucent Singularity and Final Spark, completing Lux’s full damage combo!

An anomaly of twisted light flew out from Lux’s wand and covered a circle wide enough to encapsulate both the Kha’Zix and the Jinx. Then Lux threw her wand up in the air and had it spin in front of her! She jumped up, arching her back backwards and gathering all the power she could muster! Then she unleashed it all! A massive laser beam blasted through the Jinx and Kha’Zix!

The Jinx and Kha’Zix survived the burst damage from Lin Feng’s Lux for one reason only. Wang He managed to get off a Heal between the detonation of Lucent Singularity and the damage from Final Spark. But they were both at critical health. One more auto attack was enough to kill the Jinx, and two for the Kha’Zix. But right then Zhu Feng’s Syndra flashed towards the Lux. She used Dark Sphere to set up for Scatter the Weak! I’ll stun you! See how you dodge this!

Lin Feng smirked. I’m really good at baiting too! He pressed down on the ‘2’ key, activating the active skill on his item ‘Zhonya’s Hourglass’. The golden grains of time flashed into existence. They wrapped around Lux and paused her very existence in time and space! She was untargetable and invulnerable for a brief period of time. For a valuable few seconds.

“Did he plan this all along? Was he actually baiting them?”
“Fuck me, what a bait!”
“DAYUUUUM! Crazy plays by that Lux! Absolute madman!”
“I like him. Really fucking like him!”

Time ground to a halt in the soundproof booth from East China University of Science and Technology. No one knew what to say. Their last ditch effort had failed, and all because they forgot to take the item ‘Zhonya’s Hourglass’ into consideration. Zhu Feng hit himself in the forehead in annoyance. I should’ve known. I should’ve fucking known! STUPID!

There was one player on the team who was dealing harder with this loss than Zhu Feng, harder than the rest of his team combined. Wang He was staring at his screen, metaphorical smoke rising up above his head. Just a few seconds ago, he’d been ecstatic. They’d caught Lux out of position and were going to finally turn this game around! It all began so perfectly. Alistar got the catch, he got the root, and then Syndra arrived for the stun. It was the perfect plan! It shouldn’t have failed! It… He gritted his teeth, a familiar anger appearing in his eyes. FUCKING BULLSHIT! ZHU FENG SHOULD’VE LINKED THAT BETTER! HE WAS TOO LATE!

The game had started terribly for Wang He. His Jinx was constantly forced to play on the backfoot, even after he’d told his teammates that they should give him some help! But he didn’t get the help he needed. And wherever he went, he died. If not in the bot lane, then in the mid lane. And then there was his creep score. He didn’t even want to look at it. The game was 18 minutes in, yet he’d only gotten 74 last hits. That wasn’t anywhere near enough. He needed at least double that number to be competitive! THIS IS FUCKING BULLCRAP! WHY DOES IT ALWAYS GO LIKE THIS? WHAT THE FUCK! I SHOULD’VE WON THIS! I’M BETTER THAN THAT STUPID THOT!

They’re only high schoolers. High Schoolers! They can’t be this good. They aren’t. I’m just seeing things. Zhu Feng is having a bad game, that’s why that Lux looks so good. That Lux… Wang He took a deep breath. He needed to find an excuse as to why the Lux was so far ahead of everyone else. Even after roaming around to the bot lane and helping pick up kills there, she still breached 200 CS at 18 minutes. IT’S FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE! Cheating! He must be cheating somehow. He has to be. You can’t get 202 CS this early! IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!

WE HAD HER! WE FUCKING HAD HER! WHY DID ZHU FENG FUCK UP!? Wang He was completely losing it. His head was turning red and purple and his hands were trembling. I HATE THAT FUCKING BITCH! STUPID SHIT LUX! WE FUCKING HAD HER! SHE GOT KNOCKED UP!

She should’ve tried to escape! Why did she engage? No one engages 1vs5. She should’ve ran away! That was the plan. Chase her down. Kill her. And then kill the rest of the team! Why did she turn on us? That was just suicidal! But she isn’t dead yet. She isn’t… Wang He stared at his screen, time slowly winding up again. He faintly heard Zhu Feng’s voice in the background, “BACK! NOW! BAAAACK!”

Zeng Rui watched Lin Feng going in. Shit! Why doesn’t he back? I told him he has to… He gritted his teeth. No time. He made his decision and said over the team’s voice chat, “We’re fighting this!” He then flashed towards the still rooted Jinx and Kha’Zix and whipped his chain and sickle backwards, flaying them towards the approaching Jarvan IV and Graves.

An Xin’s Jarvan IV was the next to arrive at the fight. She engaged Jinx and Kha’Zix with her flag-toss combo, knocking them up right as the root wore off. This gave Tang Bingyao’s Graves enough time to get in range for her ultimate skill. She pressed down on the R key–Collateral Damage! Graves fired an explosive shell that smashed into the Jinx and blasted away the last of her health, while also splashing damage onto the Kha’Zix.

You have slain an enemy!

Zeng Rui’s Thresh had an easy target for his Death Sentence. The Kha’Zix was still airborne and couldn’t dodge. The scythe hooked the Kha’Zix and Zeng Rui’s Thresh dragged him backwards. An Xin followed up with Cataclysm! Jarvan IV leaped up above the Kha’Zix and then came back to the ground with such force that the earth terraformed into an arena! But there was no opponent inside this arena. Kha’Zix had died on impact.

You have slain an enemy!

Zhu Feng watched on in horror as his team’s perfect engage ended in them giving away two kills without getting anything in return. It’s over. It’s… It’s over. He said through gritted teeth, “Retreat. Get out if you can.” He then took the lead, running away and giving up on his teammates and the inner tower.

“WOOOOO! That’s game! THAT’S GAME!”
“G fucking G!”
“How did they win that fight? SNAPPERINO!”
“I know! Crazy, right? So much luck for that Lux!”
“Dunno about that, mate. Did you see the player cam? That dude did not look worried at all.”
“Shit. You’re right! Look at the replay! He’s grinning!”

The large screen above the two soundproof booths was showing the replay of the last fight. Right next to the minimap was the player feed. Everyone was staring at it, including the players from the other teams. The replay was shown a second time, and then a third. The players in the player seating area started discussing what they saw on the replay.

“Could it be… No way. Did he let himself get caught on purpose?”
“No way… Right? But that smile… He looks scary.”
“Guys, guys. Those are high schoolers! HIGH SCHOOLERS! What crap are you all talking?”
“Right. High schoolers who are stomping Zhu Feng’s team…”
“That Lux is fucking mental if he did that on purpose!”
“If that was on purpose, then he’d be some kind of LPL pro…”

Lin Feng grinned and turned his head to look at Zeng Rui. He said over the team’s voice chat, “My bait worked! Everything went according to plan! See, ZengZeng? I told you I hit my power spike!”

Zeng Rui wasn’t amused. He replied, “Attack the inner tower.” He then took a couple deep, long breaths. No. I have to say something. He added, “You do realise we would’ve lost a big teamfight if we didn’t follow up on your engage, right?”

“What do you mean?” Lin Feng asked, confused. He laughed and said, “I knew you guys would follow up! That’s why I engaged!”

Zeng Rui felt his eyebrow twitching again. Thundering dumbass! I really want to strangle you! I’m going to go bald because of you! Dammit! I… He gritted his teeth and glared at Lin Feng. As long as I have to play with you, all I’ll be doing as a Support is running after you and wiping your ass!

An Xin giggled and said, “Seems like you still have that bad habit. Didn’t I tell you to do something about that?” She glanced at Zeng Rui and read the rage in his expression. Maybe I should say something… She hesitated for a brief moment before adding, “At least try to change a bit.”

“Huh? What’s there to be changed? It worked great back then and it’s clearly still working great right now! Didn’t you see that teamfight? We won it!” Lin Feng answered over the team’s voice chat, puzzled. He shrugged and continued, “You guys are my teammates. I can make these plays because I believe in all of you!”

There was a rare moment of complete silence in Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth. No one expected these words from Lin Feng. He said them as though it was the most normal thing ever. But it wasn’t normal. It was easy to tell someone that you trust them. It was another thing entirely to actually trust them. The players from Team Shanghai were doing this too. They told each other that they believed in each other, yet they didn’t play like it. There was reservation and uncertainty in every play they made. And then there was Lin Feng, who went in deep behind enemy lines utterly unconcerned. “I can make these plays because I believe in all of you!”

Zhang Hao found himself looking at Zeng Rui. I’m… Waiting for him to give an answer. Why do I always do this? He glanced at Lin Feng. He’s right. Lin Feng is right. I’ve always just done what Zeng Rui told me to do. I trusted him to make the right calls. But that isn’t what Lin Feng is talking about. With Shanghai High School, we all trusted Zeng Rui to lead us. It was a one way street that we were all happy with. But we never trusted each other, or got his trust.

What Lin Feng is saying is that he trusts me just like I trust him. It’s a back and forth. It’s… Zhang Hao smiled. This is how it should be. He nodded at Lin Feng and said over the team’s voice chat, “Well said! Don’t worry about making crazy plays like that! I’ve got your back!”

Zeng Rui stared at Zhang Hao. It was the second explosion that went off in his head. What Lin Feng suggested was an approach to the game he’d never considered. Each team needs a shotcaller. A leader to tell the rest what to do! What he’s saying… No… Or… Yes? I… He chewed on his lips. What if…

Chapter 275 – An Understatement

Team Shanghai grabbed a small advantage in the mid lane. Lin Feng’s Lux put full pressure on Zhu Feng’s Syndra, while keeping his Blue minions where he wanted them. It was an expert bit of skill. But the rest of the game was still completely even. Hu Hui, Jungler for the East China University of Science and Technology, was looking to change that. He finished his initial Jungle path four minutes into the game. He then had his Kha’Zix move towards the bot lane while announcing over the team’s voice chat, “Coming bot for a gank!”

The Support Alistar replied, “I got this!” He waited for Hu Hui’s Kha’Zix to be relatively close to the bot lane and then flashed forward, right on top of Tang Bingyao’s Graves. Pulverize! Alistar smashed his two big fists down on the ground with all its power. The impact knocked Tang Bingyao’s Graves up into the air! He then charged past the Graves and turned around behind her. “Watch this!” he said, grinning.

Zeng Rui’s Thresh flashed towards Blue team’s outer tower while all of this was going on. He threw his lantern to Tang Bingyao, opening up the Dark Passage. All Tang Bingyao had to do was click on the lantern and her Graves would dash to safety. Zeng Rui informed her of that with a simple, “Click it.”

Tang Bingyao nodded and replied, “Mhm!” She then clicked on the lantern 300 times in the next second. Graves had to have both his feet on the ground to dash at Thresh. He was falling back to the ground. There was a miniscule opening between him landing on the ground and the Alistar Headbutting him towards Red team’s outer tower. Tang Bingyao needed to get the click in during that brief period of time to survive. All she had to do was click. Click! Click! CLICK! Her Graves landed on the ground and then lost his footing again as Thresh’s lantern pulled him away to safety.

“Ah damn,” the Kha’Zix player muttered over East China University of Science and Technology’s voice chat. “That could’ve been first blood. Probably should’ve been.”

Wang He didn’t say a word. He just stared at his screen, numb. She’s good. YesYes. The stupid thot knows how to play! But she should’ve been the only one! How did that Thresh play it like that? Did he just get lucky? But that was a good play! Shit! Their Support can’t be good! She was supposed to be the only good player on their team! This can’t be happening! It can’t! FUCK! He gritted his teeth. The more he played against Team Shanghai’s Botlaners, the more he realised that they were both better than he was. But that conclusion was quickly pushed away. He still saw himself as invincible. They just have the stronger duo! I need a better Support! That fucking thot is just getting carried! In fact… If I’d had a better Support, we would’ve gotten that kill! Yeah! I’d be up 1-0! All I need is a Support who knows how to play! Why am I stuck with this noob!?

First blood!

Wang He felt his hand twitch. He forcefully restrained himself from hitting the Enter key and typing a message, while also tightly pressing his lips down. NOT FUCKING AGAIN! I already lost to this fucking thot once! We can’t let this happen again! I need to win this! This is supposed to be my redemption game!

“What happened?” Zhu Feng asked over the team’s voice chat, cutting Wang He’s thoughts short.

The Toplaner, who was playing Fiora, replied, “Got baited. I just used all my skills on the Gragas and then the J4 shows up behind me. Didn’t have my flash anymore either, so she knocks me up and gives the kill to that Gragas. Just a stupid mistake from me. Won’t happen again. Sorry, guys.”

Zhu Feng glanced at his Toplaner and shook his head. Come on, guys! I warned you about this! We can’t go underestimating these kids! We’ll lose this series if we do that! He grimaced but understood that arguing wasn’t going to help his team. So he replied over the team’s voice chat, “It’s fine. Just don’t let it happen again.”

There wasn’t much that happened in the next minute. Red team’s Kha’Zix had returned to his Jungle to clear some camps. But by the 6th minute of the game, he made his way through the river to the brush right above the mid lane. He waited for Zhu Feng’s Syndra to move up towards the middle of the lane where Lux was farming minions.

“Now!” Hu Hui shouted over the team’s voice chat. He pressed down on his E key, making his Kha’Zix Leap at the Lux.

There was a Blue ward in the brush Kha’Zix had been hiding in, showing Lin Feng exactly what his opponent’s Jungler was doing. Yeah! Come at me! Lin Feng grinned when the Kha’Zix made the Leap. That was a short moment in which Kha’Zix couldn’t dodge, locked in the jumping animation. Lin Feng’s Lux stepped to the side and aimed a Light Binding at where the Kha’Zix was about to land. The sphere of light flew in a straight line, wrapping around the Kha’Zix right as he landed and binding him.

Right then, An Xin’s Jarvan IV and Zeng Rui’s Thresh walked into the mid lane from the bot side river brush. They aimed their crowd control on Kha’Zix, completely ignoring Zhu Feng’s Syndra. Zeng Rui’s Thresh landed a Death Sentence on the Kha’Zix and An Xin’s Jarvan IV knocked him up with a flag toss combo!

Hu Hui saw his Kha’Zix’s health bar evaporate. He tried to flash away, but the crowd control skills from Team Shanghai were linked together flawlessly. And then there was the Lux. She was auto attacking him, dealing the least amount of damage. But her Lucent Singularity, an anomaly of twisted light, was underneath him. It was waiting to be detonated. Ready to shear away the last of his health. Fuck! I need help! He shouted over the team’s voice chat, “Guys! Zhu Feng! Help me! DON’T BACK AWAY! HELP ME!” He watched his health drop to almost zero. “We can still turn this around!” But Zhu Feng’s Syndra didn’t come to help. She hid underneath Red team’s outer tower.

Lin Feng waited until he was certain his Lucent Singularity would claim the Kha’Zix’s life. Then he pressed on the E key and activated the second half of the skill. The anomaly of twisted light detonated right underneath the Kha’Zix.

You have slain an enemy!

“Sweet!” Lin Feng exclaimed. He then turned to An Xin and said over the team’s voice chat, “See? I told you! I’m really good at Lux too!”

An Xin glanced at Lin Feng and smiled dangerously. “Oh? That was all you? I see. Well I guess you don’t need our help then. You can fend for yourself for the rest of the game.”

“Sounds reasonable,” Zeng Rui chimed in.

“Uh, no no! You can keep ganking! Ganks are always good!” Lin Feng replied sheepishly while scratching the back of his head.

Team Shanghai had picked up a kill in the bot lane, securing the advantage there. Then they moved their attention to the mid lane where they helped Lin Feng pull further ahead of Zhu Feng’s Syndra. And it all went with relative ease. The team members were laughing over the voice chat and there was a focused but relaxed atmosphere in their soundproof booth.

The same couldn’t be said for the East China University of Science and Technology’s soundproof booth. No one was talking there. They were staring at their screen, frustrated and angry. Just a few minutes ago, they’d been joking about Team Shanghai being a high school team. A team with two girls on its roster. It really sounded like a bad joke to them. Yet now they found themselves running after the facts only a couple of minutes into the game.

But from everyone on the team, Zhu Feng was struggling the hardest. Even worse than Wang He. His laning phase got off to a bad start, which had annoyed him. But Hu Hui’s gank was supposed to change that. He was supposed to be back in the game. Why did it go like this? Dammit! He gritted his teeth. His Syndra had survived, but that wasn’t worth anything. I’m the real loser here! STUPID! Lux gets her damn kill! Forces me to recall back to base AGAIN! And she’s just happily spending all her spare gold! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! And there’s not a damned thing I can do about it…

The audience was just like the East China University of Science and Technology having a difficult time accepting what they were seeing. The high school team consisting of three guys and two girls weren’t losing terribly. That alone was enough to shock many of the students watching the game. But not only was Team Shanghai not losing the game, they were starting to pull ahead, picking up two early kills and building up a massive advantage in the mid lane.

“They really threw me off at the start… It’s just not often that you see two girls on a team. And they’re both playing really well!”
“What the fuck is this! What are Zhu Feng and his boy doing? FUCKING START PLAYING!”
“This ain’t looking too hot for Zhu Feng and Wang He…”
“They getting rekt by GIRLS! HAHAHAHA!”
“Oh, come on! Hu Hui, what’s this? Fucking play! STOP FEEDING!”
“Maybe they’re giving away the first game to make it more exciting? Has to be it, right?”
“YUP! No way Zhu Feng loses to a damn kid in the mid lane! I refuse to believe it.”

Zhu Feng’s Syndra arrived back in lane half a minute later. The minion wave was frozen outside of the Blue outer tower. Goddammit! I can’t even go up there for some CS! What the fuck do I do? Zhu Feng chewed on his lips and looked at the minions that were dying off in the distance. They were out of his reach. He wasn’t even getting experience from them. I can’t keep doing this! I’m just going to become useless! STUPID! I need to at least get in range to get the experience. Just a little more forward. He had his Syndra walk forward, doing his best to dodge the skills from Lin Feng’s Lux that were already flying his way. This stupid Lux! How the fuck does she keep hitting me? I just need to dodge it!

The plan worked for the next 30 seconds. Zhu Feng’s Syndra was getting more brazen by the second as he started noticing a certain rhythm in the Lux’s attack patterns. Dodging the attacks became easier. Hehe, you’re still just a kid. You gotta learn more tricks if you wanna beat me! I know exactly where you’re attacking next! He stepped to the side and smiled. That’s another missed Lucent Singularity! SCRUB! He had his Syndra push past the middle of the lane to last hit a caster minion.

Zhu Feng clicked on another caster minion. His Syndra was just out of reach. She floated forward and then started her auto attack animation. UH? It all happened too quickly. Zhu Feng was paying attention to the minion, completely forgetting to keep his eyes on the Lux. He didn’t see the Light Binding coming until it flew straight through his Syndra. The light binded her in place. STUPID! STUPID! Zhu Feng frantically clicked away, smashing his D key to flash away, and hoped the Lux didn’t have enough damage to burst him down.

Lin Feng’s Lux moved forward and hit Zhu Feng’s Syndray with an auto attack. It preceded her passive skill, Illumination! The damage from Light Binding had charged the Syndra with energy and the auto attack ignited that energy for bonus damage! Then she followed up with Lucent Singularity! An anomaly of twisted light flew forward and spread out on the ground around the Syndra. Lin Feng’s Lux detonated it and followed up with another auto attack. The skill procced Illumination and the auto attack ignited the energy!

Zhu Feng’s Syndra was caught in the light binding for another second. Lin Feng grinned. Watch me blast you away with this Final Spark! He pushed down on the R key. His Lux threw her staff up in the air and let it spin in front of her. She jumped up in the air and arched her back backwards. Then she summoned all the light energy she could muster and threw it forward, screaming, “DEMAAAACIA!” A beam of pure light blasted across Summoners Rift. It slammed through Zhu Feng’s Syndra, shearing away at her health and almost killing her!

“He’s alive! He’s going to live! LOOK!”

Zhu Feng was sitting in a soundproof booth, completely focused on the screen in front of him. He didn’t see or hear the audience screaming for him to watch out. All he knew was that he’d survived the Lux’s burst damage and that he now had to get away! So he chose the fastest way home, straight towards his outer tower. And that was exactly where the Jarvan IV was waiting for him. Zhu Feng’s eyes went wide. He stared numbly at the new arrival, then shouted, “STUPID! SO FUCKING STUPID!”

An Xin’s Jarvan IV appeared from Red team’s bottom side Jungle. She ran into the mid lane and then dashed at Zhu Feng’s Syndra with the flag toss combo. It was aimed perfectly. The Syndra was flung up into the air! Lin Feng’s Lux caught up and landed a third auto attack, igniting the energy left behind on the Syndra from the Final Spark skill. Her health dropped to single digits. But An Xin wasn’t leaving anything to chance. She activated her ultimate skill–Cataclysm! Jarvan IV leaped up above the Syndra and then slammed down into the ground! He carried with him such force that the ground terraformed into an area! But he was the only one inside. Zhu Feng’s Syndra was already dead.

An enemy has been slain!

“Are these high schoolers on steroids? HOLY DAMN!”
“Get your asses into the game! You’re losing to HIGH SCHOOLERS!”
“Oh my god, I can’t watch this. It’s too painful. What a bunch of braindead idiots…”

Wang He listened to Zhu Feng complain and knew exactly what was happening. It all felt far too familiar. This isn’t fucking possible! I refuse to believe this! NoNoNo! NOOOOO! They’re supposed to be shit! Just that girl was going to be half decent! Not as good as me but ok. JUST OK! The rest had to suck! He ground his teeth, fighting a losing battle against his own sanity. It was shown in his play. He clicked further left than he usually would, stepping out from behind the protection of a caster minion.

Zeng Rui spotted the mistake straight away. He lined up a Death Sentence and threw it out. The scythe connected with Wang He’s Jinx. He said over the team’s voice chat, “Tang Tang, on the Jinx!”

“Mhm! Okay!” Tang Bingyao replied. She kept her eyes locked on Red Team’s Alistar while activating Quickdraw. Her Graves dashed forward and hit Jinx with an auto attack. She didn’t activate a second skill. Her finger was lightly pressing down on the D key, waiting to activate Flash.

Red Team’s Alistar tried to protect his ad-carry. He targeted Tang Bingyao’s Graves with Headbut. It was Alistar’s go-to move. Headbut the opponent and then knock them up right away with Pulverise. But before he could try this combo, Tang Bingyao flashed past him. She then raised her triple barrel shotgun and took aim at the Jinx.

Wang He froze. His mouse-hand refused to move and his keyboard fingers refused to press down. Fuuuuuuck! How did she do that? How! HOW! HOW!? He was forced to watch as Graves fired a Buckshot at his Jinx. Three bullets slammed into his Jinx! LET ME GET OUT! FUCKING THOT! PISS OFF! But his fingers wouldn’t move. 

Tang Bingyao’s Graves lifted his triple barrel shotgun again. He activated his ultimate skill. Collateral Damage! An explosive shell blasted through the air and slammed into the Jinx. The resulting damage decimated her health bar!

Zeng Rui’s Thresh was still hooked to Wang He’s Jinx. He now activated the second part of Death Sentence. Thresh dashed at Wang He’s Jinx and then Flayed her back and Ignited her. An unquenchable flame burned on Jinx’s body and the Flay slowed her. This combination gave Tang Bingyao’s Graves all the help he needed to finish the job.

“DO SOMETHING!” Wang He screamed over the team’s voice chat. “ALISTAR!” But it was already too late. The game announcer’s voice sounded in his ears.

You have been slain!

Wang He watched his screen turn grey. This… This… It’s like that stupid game from the other day all over again! God fucking dammit! This stupid thot is fucking beating me again! And… He slammed his fist down on the desk in frustration. AND I CAN’T FUCKING QUIT THE GAME! It took him every last bit of constraint not to stand up and walk away. Or to start screaming.

The game between Team Shanghai and the East China University of Science and Technology was only a little more than 6 minutes in, yet it looked like the game was already played. Lin Feng was enjoying a big lead in the mid lane, while Zeng Rui and Tang Bingyao were quickly pulling ahead of their lane opponents in the bot lane. This was everything the audience expected East China University of Science and Technology’s team to do.

“How are these high schoolers this much better…?”
“What in the world is happening? This shit ain’t making any sense!”
“Are there esports steroids? Those kids should be tested!”
“This is borderline insane… The way those kids are playing… Fuck! It’s impressive!”
“Holy sweet moly! That’s a 3,000 gold advantage right there!”
“I know right… Zhu Feng is gonna have a hard effin time!”

Shocked, surprised, and confused comments sounded out in the hall. The audience wasn’t really sure what was happening. They didn’t understand how the university team was losing to a high school team. All they’d been hearing about was how the university teams were going to be so incredibly much better than the high school teams that it wasn’t even going to be funny. Reality was anything but that.

It took highly skilled people to see just how vast the gap between Team Shanghai and the East China University of Science and Technology really was. There were several such individuals on the other teams competing here today. From the small things like positioning to the bigger moves like ganks, Team Shanghai exploited every asset of the game to pull ahead.

“They’re gonna win if it goes on like this…”
“No shit! This Team Shanghai is kicking Zhu Feng’s ass. This could be a sub 20 minute game…”
“Fuck, that’d be embarrassing!”

Zeng Rui glanced at the game clock. It read 9 minutes. He looked at his minimap and said over the team’s voice chat, “Lin Feng, come roam bot.”

Lin Feng panned his camera, glanced at the state of the bot lane, and nodded. “Sure.” He then pushed out the minion wave in the mid lane and retreated to his own outer tower. It was a simple tactic to make the Syndra think he was recalling back to base to upgrade his items. Let’s get some kills in bot too!

Zeng Rui waited for Lin Feng to almost be in the bot lane before engaging Wang He’s Jinx. His Thresh flashed forward and then Flayed the Jinx backwards. Red team’s Alistar tried to protect his ad-carry by Headbutting Zeng Rui’s Thresh away, but by doing so played the exact move Zeng Rui was waiting for. He smiled and pressed down on the Q key–Death Sentence! Thresh threw his scythe at the Jinx and hooked her!

Lin Feng’s Lux walked into the bot lane right as the Death Sentence landed. He cast a Light Binding to root the Jinx and followed up with Lucent Singularity and Final Spark! An anomaly of twisted light flew towards the Jinx and glowed underneath her. Then the Lux threw her wand up into the air and made it spin in front of her. She jumped up herself, arched her back backwards and then pushed all the energy she could muster forward! A laser beam blasted across the map, enveloping the Jinx and evaporating her health bar!

Tang Bingyao’s Graves had followed behind Zeng Rui’s Thresh. She landed an auto attack on the rooted Jinx and then blasted the last of her health bar away with a Buckshot! All the while, An Xin’s Jarvan IV ran into red team’s bottom side Jungle and arrived in the bot lane behind enemy lines. There, she stormed towards the outer tower and knocked the Alistar up with a flag toss combo!

“Alistar! Alistar!” Zeng Rui shouted over the team’s voice chat, ignoring the game announcer telling them about Jinx’s death.

The Lux, Graves and Thresh charged towards Red team’s outer tower and helped An Xin’s Jarvan IV kill the Alistar. Tang Bingyao picked up the kill on her Graves, after which all four players from Team Shanghai made it out with their lives.

“Dragon! Go Dragon!” Zeng Rui ordered over the team’s voice chat. And the other three followed behind him. They ran up the river to the Dragon pit and killed the monster, getting gold and a buff that gave them extra attack and magic damage. All of this only further extended their advantage over the East China University of Science and Technology.

Wang He was going crazy. I CAN’T DO THIS SHIT! SCREW BOT LANE! He’d been playing in the bot lane for 14 long minutes. That stupid thot is more fed than I am! And that Thresh is better than my Alistar! And if it wasn’t for that other thot and the stupid Lux constantly ganking me, I might even get some CS and win this lane! But I’m only falling further behind! I need to do something! He panned his camera across the map, searching for anything that might help him. Then he paused on the mid lane. Well, fuck it all! If I can’t get anything in the bot lane, I’ll just go and get some CS in the mid lane! That Lux can’t do anything to me. I just gotta dodge her Qs. Those stupid Light Bindings… Any noob can dodge those!

Wang He’s Jinx arrived in the mid lane and started attacking minions. He got a couple of last hits and pushed up further into the lane. This is more like it! I’m getting some gold and I’ll be right back int— His eyes went wide in shock. The Lux had appeared out of nowhere and flashed towards him, throwing a Light Binding at him from point blank range! There was no way he could have dodged it. FUCK! NOT AGAIN! NOT FUCKING AGAIN! He pressed on every button on his keyboard, trying to break the root faster!

An auto attack landed on Wang He’s Jinx, detonating the energy gathered on her from the Light Binding. Then the Lux attacked with Lucent Singularity and Final Spark. The two skills blasted away almost all the health his Jinx had. But it very importantly didn’t kill him. He grimaced. I’ll just have to recall back to base again. Fucking dammit! He slammed down on his F key, infuriated. The root broke and his Jinx Flashed away towards the safety of his outer tower. At least I’m still alive. Unlike that idiot Zhu Feng! Feeding this noob Lux!

And then, from over the Jungle wall below the mid lane, an explosive shell flew towards Wang He’s Jinx and exploded in her face. The damage was massive. Wang He watched his screen turn grey again. But more painfully was the game announcer’s message that followed. It echoed in his mind, a constant reminder of how the thot he hated so much was kicking his ass. How she was the better player.


Chapter 274 – There is no such thing as Coincidence; Lesson Learned, Maybe?

It was time for the first match in Group 2! The audience at East China School of Medicine were sitting on the edge of their seats! This was the moment they’d all been waiting for! The high school team, representatives of the Shanghai Esports Association, were finally going to be put in their place!

“I just don’t get it… Why did the Shanghai Esports Association feel the need to add this, this group of kids to the Collegiate Cup? It just brings the level of the entire competition down.”
“Were they bribed or something? You never see girls play competitively…”
“I guess this ‘Team Shanghai’ came just for the lols… Doubt they’re going to take even a single game.”
“Doubt they’re even going to get a single kill!”
“It’s really just silly. No one’s going to be having any fun with this matchup.”
“Serves those cocky kids right for waltzing into this place like it’s theirs!”

The players from Team Shanghai heard the commotion that broke out when they got up and walked towards their soundproof booth. It was the same reaction they kept getting wherever they went. They found it exhausting. Tang Bingyao shook her head, An Xin mumbled a few quiet complaints, and even Lin Feng was clearly fed up with it. They’re talking about us! But we’re not bad… We’re going to crush this uni of science and techno! They’re going to look like idiots… He grinned and said to An Xin, “The audience is really good at being idiots too!”

An Xin looked up at Lin Feng, surprised. Then she giggled and replied, “Here, let me try something.” She puffed her chest forward and did her best imitation of someone in the audience, “For real? Two girls playing? They must be so bad!”

Zhang Hao laughed and joined in with his own imitation of an audience member. “I know, right! Can you believe it? Two girls playing!”

“A high school team at a university level competition? What is the Shanghai Esports Association thinking?” Zeng Rui said.

Lin Feng chuckled, quickly becoming more excited, and said, “Nice one, ZengZeng! OhOhOh! I’ve also got one—”

“Maybe the rumours are true. Their parents bought them a spot in this tournament. Spoiled brats,” Tang Bingyao interrupted, smiling.

The team arrived at the soundproof booth. Zeng Rui pushed open the door and then paused. He turned around to look at the rest of the team and said, “Alright, that’s enough fun. Complete focus when we step in here. Let’s show them how good we are.”

Team Shanghai disappeared in the soundproof booth, but the audience didn’t stop giving their opinions. They kept going on and on about how girls didn’t belong on a team that was trying to compete. And how high schoolers shouldn’t act like they could beat university students. This last bit riled up the other teams competing. They’d kept mostly quiet while Team Shanghai could still hear them, but they now found themselves speaking up louder and louder.

“When those kids get 2-0’d, they go home, right? We won’t have to look at their stupid faces again?”
“Who knows… Maybe their parents will also buy them into the next round…”
“They can’t do that! But boy will it be embarrassing for the Shanghai Esports Association when their team gets knocked out in the first game! Serves them right for pulling this shit! A high school team… Fucking embarrassing!”
“Money talks, my friend. If their parents just throw enough money at the tournament officials, I’m sure they can get a second chance at Regionals.”
“Maybe they’ll buy a spot at the main tournament from one of the teams that make it there.”
“Not gonna lie. I’m kinda looking forward to seeing them getting stomped. That’ll feelsgoodman!”
“Hahaha, yeah! I can’t wait to see that!”

Team Shanghai were seated behind their computers. From left to right, it was Zhang Hao in the top lane, An Xin in the Jungle, Lin Feng in the mid lane, Tang Bingyao as the ad-carry and Zeng Rui as the Support. Their monitors showed the League of Legends client. They were currently waiting in a lobby for the game to move into Champion select.

An Xin looked over the edge of her screen at the audience. She couldn’t hear what they were saying, but she could guess. “Hey, Tang Tang,” she said, turning to look at Tang Bingyao. “Looks like it’s the same everywhere we go. It’s always the same, ‘girls can’t play League’ crap. I really want to make sure they don’t say that again for the rest of this tournament. That’d be nice, right?”

“Mhm!” Tang Bingyao nodded. She looked back at An Xin and replied, “We’ll prove them wrong.”

An Xin smiled at Tang Bingyao. That’s the spirit! Then she turned back to look at the audience. Her smile remained but the expression around it changed. Her eyes narrowed and she scrunched her nose a bit. It was her trademark murder-smile. “Good. I dare them to ever look down on us again! We’re going to make them see how good we are!”

The game moved to Champion Select. An Xin took the reins, telling the team which strategy they were going for and instructing the individual players on the team which Champions they were to play. She then explained her vision for the early game, to which Zeng Rui nodded. He was in charge of the game itself. And he knew exactly what she wanted to see. During their conversation about the game plan, the client opened up the loading screen. Everyone could see the lineup for Game 1 in the best of three series between Team Shanghai and East China University of Science and Technology.

Game 1
Team Shanghai (Blue) versus East China University of Science and Technology (Red)

Top lane: Gragas versus Fiora
Jungle: Jarvan IV versus Kha’Zix
Mid lane: Lux versus Syndra
AD-carry: Graves versus Jinx
Support: Thresh versus Alistar

The players from East China University of Science and Technology sat in the soundproof booth that was right next to Team Shanghai’s. Zhu Feng was their team captain and Midlaner. He sat behind the middle computer, switching between looking at his monitor and glancing at his teammates. “We have a strange start to this game, guys,” he finally said. “They’re the representatives from the Shanghai Esports Association. And the rumours suggest they might be good. But… It’s really hard to believe that when you see their lineup.” He took a long, deep breath before continuing, “We can’t let that line of thought get to us! It doesn’t matter how bad we think they might be. They’re here because they have skill! That’s what we have to believe! So we have to focus on this game!”

Zhu Feng hit the right note. His teammates turned to him, all of them confused. The Jungler was the first to talk. He said, “You gotta be kidding me! Focus? They’re a bunch of high schoolers! How good can they possibly be?”

“Right! There’s no way we’re losing to them,” the Support chimed in. He then turned to his ad-carry and asked, “Yo, Wang He, whaddya think?”

But Wang He wasn’t listening to his teammates. His gaze was focused on the loading screen. I thought I recognized her, but I brushed it off… Shit! How is this even possible? He gritted his teeth in shock and disbelief. That’s her! It’s that girl! I played against her the other day on stream… Her Draven… How is this even possible? This can’t be a coincidence! It’s stupid!

“Wang He! Wang He! Yo, bud! Tell us. Whaddya think?” the Support asked again.

Wang He turned to look at his teammates and said, “Uh, oh, uh, we should focus bot lane. Camp it please. We just need to shut down their bot lane! Yeah! Shut down their bot lane! That’s how we’ll win this quickly! Camp bot lane!”

“Uuuuh, huh?” the Jungler replied, confused. Wang He never asks for help… He complains when he gets help… What’s wrong with him? He glanced at Wang He, searching for an answer. Why does he look so pale? Is he sick or something? What’s going… Eh, whatever. He shrugged and said, “Sure, I’ll come around bot for a gank or two.”

Wang He exhaled the breath he’d been holding. He chewed on the inside of his cheek and stared at his monitor, scenes from a few days ago playing in front of his eyes again. She got lucky then! Not again! I’ll fucking stomp on her stupid fucking Graves! He grinned and mumbled so quietly that only he could hear it, “Alright, little girl. Let’s see what you can do when I try a little.” He chuckled loud enough for his teammates to give him a couple of strange glances. But he ignored them. His eyes were on the Summoner ID below the Graves. You’re probably their starplayer too. The ad-carry. A strong girl. Sure, sure. Makes sense why the Shanghai Esports Association would build a team around you. Too bad I’m going to kick your ugly ass out of here!

Welcome to Summoner’s Rift!

The game started without much fanfare. Both teams went with a normal start to the laning phase and waited for the first minion waves at their outer towers. And even after the first real exchanges, things remained passive for the most part. Zhang Hao and his lane opponent were focused on last hitting minions, seemingly oblivious to each other’s existence. Over in the bot lane, Wang He was scared of Tang Bingyao’s Graves. He played the lane very defensively, giving up last hits just for some more safety, and waited for his Jungler Kha’Zix to come down to the bot lane for a gank.

The only lane with any kind of action was the mid lane. Lin Feng was playing Lux against Zhu Feng’s Syndra. If both players were roughly equal in terms of skill, this was a very fair matchup. But Lin Feng was the far better player. He had a way of positioning himself at just the right angles to land both poke damage on the Syndra while also keeping a perfect creep score.

Zhu Feng was getting more and more annoyed by the second. How is this Lux controlling the wave so perfectly? She’s pushing me away without even doing anything! I don’t get it! What in the world is happening!? He was forced to move his Syndra back again to dodge an anomaly of twisted light that was flying towards him. Her Lucent Singularity’s keep hitting me! And never the minions… How the hell is he freezing the minion wave here? Shitting shit! And I can’t afford to get hit by it either. That just proc’s her passive skill and makes her next auto attack against me deal more damage!

“Take this!” Zhu Feng suddenly exclaimed. He slammed down on his Q key. Syndra moved forward a bit and then conjured a Dark Sphere underneath the Lux. The dark magic exploded on creation and dealt splash magic damage. Zhu Feng’s expression dropped. He exclaimed, “How the fucking dammit did she dodge that!”

The Syndra’s attack had looked flawless. Lux was moving to last hit a minion, while Zhu Feng ignored a minion to land some poke damage with Dark Sphere. But not only did Lux get the killing blow on the minion, she also sidestepped the Dark Sphere and then fired an anomaly of twisted light at the Syndra! It exploded, slowing and damaging the Syndra.

Zhu Feng watched his Syndra drop below half health, incredulous. “How am I the one pushing the minion wave?” he mumbled. I can’t even get near the minions anymore! He’s frozen the wave right outside of his tower! If I move up there, they can just gank me… And if I sit back here, I’m missing out on gold and experience! Either way, I’m fucked! Screw it, I’m just going to go back to base and get some extra health potions. I just have to play it a bit more aggressively when I get back to force her to go back to base as well!

Zhu Feng retreated back to behind his outer tower and then pressed down on the B key. A blue light flared around his Syndra as she started channeling the recall skill. It took a couple of seconds, but then she appeared in the fountain at the heart of Red Team’s Base. Right then, An Xin’s Jarvan IV appeared in the mid lane and helped Lin Feng’s Lux to clear the minion wave and push it into the Red Team’s outer tower.

What the fuck? I just… I… Zhu Feng felt numb. I lost so many minions there… All that experience and gold… It’s gone. Gone! He shook his head in disbelief. Why didn’t I bring Teleport? Shit! I need to get back to lane and kill him! We need to get a kill on him, or I’m just going to fall behind. He chewed on his lips for a moment, then said over the team’s voice chat, “Hu Hui, if you see a chance, come and gank mid with your Kha’Zix.”

Chapter 273 – High School Kids Can’t Play League!

High school teams competing at a university tournament. The official reason was that these were some very talented players who deserved to get the experience. But it was never that simple. In this particular case, it was a pissing contest between the three big Esports Organizations in China. Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai were using their high school teams to show who’s next generation was the best. A couple of old men in their big offices were betting on who had the best kids.

The Shanghai Esports Association had given Team Shanghai two objectives to achieve during the Winter Collegiate Cup. The obvious goal was winning the entire tournament and showing that they were better than everyone else! But more importantly for the Shanghai Esports Association was that Team Shanghai beat the high school teams from Beijing and Guangzhou. And if they never got to face those two teams, then they had to at least rank higher in the tournament.

Chu Fang dropped the smile and pleasantries. He looked with a serious expression around the cybercafe’s private room. He said, “The high school teams from Beijing and Guangzhou are actually really strong. They’re far better than we initially expected.” He passed around a document, allowing the members of Team Shanghai to read through it, before continuing, “On there you can see the information I gathered on the Beijing team. They have seven members on their team. From what I could find, they’ve scrimmed against both Beijing U-Tech and China University of Political Science and Law. They won every game in both scrims.” He paused for a brief moment and then added, “Those two university teams were both quarter finalists last year.”

“So what?” Zhang Hao asked with a shrug. “We scrimmed against Shanghai University of Finance and kicked their asses! Sounds like we’ve got nothing to worry about.”

“Eh…” Chu Fang shook his head and said, “It’s not that simple. Don’t start underestimating them. The Beijing team didn’t even play with their main roster. Their strongest two players were sitting out in those games. And they crushed both teams. I’ve been told that they were really impressive.”

Zeng Rui closed his eyes and massaged his temples. It was hard to get any information on them, since we didn’t know much about them. I hoped that they were at most at the level of quarter finalists. But it sounds like I was wrong. He looked up at Chu Fang and said, “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

“Uhm…” An Xin knew Chu Fang a little bit better than most others in the room. He likes to start with the good news… She observed Chu Fang’s expression briefly and then asked, “What about the Guangzhou team?”

Chu Fang smiled bitterly and replied, “Yeah… They’re better than the Beijing team. A lot better, supposedly.”

Long before esports there was the geek culture, which was little more than a group of Japanese animation, science fiction and video games enthusiasts. This culture grew faster in Guangzhou than anywhere else in China, quickly becoming a part of the city’s identity. Many people even called Guangzhou the first real cultural center of China! There were countless companies, like comic book publishers and streaming platforms, that had set up their base of operation in Guangzhou for this very reason. Yet Shanghai had overtaken Guangzhou in recent years to become the esports capital of the world. This was difficult to accept for the City of Nerds. And they were looking to bring esports back home!

All of this background information was important for Team Shanghai, because it explained how Guangzhou’s high school team had attracted some of the most talented high school players from Korea. They’d done this with their connections to big companies like Huya TV. Chu Fang took a deep breath and then asked, “Have you guys heard about a player called Goalie?”

“No? I’ve never heard about him before. Is he a strong player?” Lin Feng asked, puzzled.

The other members of Team Shanghai didn’t reply right away. They thought about it, because the name did sound familiar to them. It was eventually An Xin who made the connection. She raised her eyebrow and mumbled, “Him? They actually got him?”

Chu Fang nodded and explained, “Yeah. They got him. Offered him a nice fat contract it looks like. He flew over from Korea and started attending a high school in Guangzhou approximately two months ago. His rank on the China server isn’t all that high yet. But that’s just because he hasn’t spent much time on it. He mainly plays on the Korean server, where he has consistently been in the top 30 of the ranked ladder. His peak was rank 7. And…” He turned to look at Lin Feng. “…he’s a Midlaner.”

Zhang Hao’s eyes were wide. He stared dumbly at Chu Fang and mumbled, “7th place Challenger on the Korean server? What the fuck! That’s so impressive! He’s right up there with Rake! He’s played against Rake! How are we supposed to beat someone like that!?”

Zeng Rui hadn’t felt his eyelids twitch involentarily all day. But now they did. He finally remembered who Goalie was. Huya TV offered him a fat contract! That’s probably what Chu Fang is talking about. But I haven’t seen him stream the last few weeks. I was already wondering what happened… I guess this explains it. He’s been busy practicing with his team. Crap! I didn’t expect that he could be on Guangzhou’s high school team. All my predictions and expectations for the high school teams were wrong! I have to reconsider all of that! Why couldn’t they let us know about this sooner? This is really screwing with our schedule! He grimaced and scratched his head. It’s going to be so much harder to win now. Can we even win? Goalie is only a high schooler, but he has so much experience already! We’re basically screwed in the mid lane!

Lin Feng didn’t share any of the shock his teammates were feeling. He was a little bundle of joy! A true grin reaching from one ear to the other was somehow still growing wider on his face. His eyes were beaming in anticipation. He exclaimed, “Goalie is a mid main? Nice! That should be so much fun! You know, I’m really good at beating rank 7 Challengers too!”

An Xin giggled and said, “Right. Just leave him to Lin Feng. There’s nothing to worry about.” She then nodded at Lin Feng and added, “You might like to hear that Goalie is known for his LeBlanc and Fizz and all those hard-carry champions.”

“Sweet!” Lin Feng exclaimed. His grin was somehow reaching all around his head. “This’ll make it so much more fun to stomp him!”

Zeng Rui looked at Lin Feng in shock. Then a memory came back to him from the night before. It was his conversation with An Xin. She told me not to worry about it. Lin Feng was better than every other Midlaner at the Collegiate Cup. But that was before we knew about Goalie. He looked at An Xin, scrutinizing her every action. She… she doesn’t look worried? Is she? Is this all an act? Does she really believe Lin Feng can even beat Goalie?

Lin Feng suddenly turned to An Xin and asked, “Hey, how do you know so much about Goalie?”

“Huh?” An Xin mumbled. What’s gotten into him? It usually takes him weeks to make any kind of connection, if he does at all! Why is he so sharp now all out of a sudden? “Uhm…” She looked around for an answer and then explained, “I saw him stream on Huya TV a while back. He was playing really well, so I remembered him.” She giggled briefly before adding, “You know, not everyone is as short of memory as you. You couldn’t remember him if you saw him play this morning! You’re kinda like a goldfish.”

Lin Feng scratched the back of his head, his grin faltering. He muttered, “My memory isn’t that bad.”

An Xin smirked and said, “Did you bring your house keys with you last night? Or were you stuck at the door and forced Su Xue to close her stream again?” She smiled knowingly before adding, “Told you. Goldfish memory.”

“That isn’t fair!” Lin Feng protested. “That’s something completely different! You see, the keys…” He stopped himself and glared at An Xin. “I don’t have a goldfish memory!”

“Yes you do,” An Xin quickly countered.

Tang Bingyao tilted her head, quietly watching the childish quarrel between An Xin and Lin Feng. She zoomed in on An Xin, blocking out Lin Feng’s attempt at a defense. She made him completely forget about Goalie and how she knew him… Did she do that on purpose? Am I seeing things? Hmm… It feels like she did that on purpose. Mhm.

Chu Fang brought a lot of explosive news. Team Shanghai continued talking about it until long after he left. They went over all the information on Team Beijing first. It was impressive. Team Beijing looked like an incredibly strong team. But Zeng Rui and An Xin weren’t too worried. They only had to slightly adjust their preparations and expectations. There were some backup plans for a scenario like this, though. The real shock was the information on Team Guangzhou. The thought of having to go up against the brightest high school talent in Korea was daunting, suffocating and absolutely terrifying.

After going over Team Guangzhou’s information, they kept coming back to Goalie. He was their starplayer, the one Team Shanghai had to really prepare for. An Xin turned to look at Lin Feng and asked, “How confident are you in beating him? Please, I need a serious answer.” I know how good you were. But I also know you’re not there yet. It’s just… It’s really hard to see all the small things. How far along are you?

Lin Feng shrugged and said, “I won’t lose to him. Honestly, perfectly serious, more serious than I ever am…” He grinned and assured, “He’s just the right opponent. It’ll be a good challenge!”

An Xin watched Lin Feng. Really watched him. Every small move he made, she caught. She listened to the rhythm in his voice and searched for any kind of defensive mechanism at work in his mind. But she found none of that. He’s looking forward to it! It’s giving me goosebumps! It’s like four years ago all over again! Before every game, he was always so excited about beating a strong Midlaner! He’s getting to that point again, mentally anyway. Good. She faintly smiled and said, “Are you now? Well, that’s good. Do your best. I believe in you.”

Zeng Rui stared at Lin Feng in a daze. How can he be so confident? And why does BunBun just believe him? I just don’t get it… It doesn’t add up. He played professionally. That’s the only thing that makes any sense. Maybe he went by a different name. I just… I don’t get it. This is the only explanation I can think of. How else can he be so confident about beating Goalie? He only got to Challenger a while back! He sighed loudly and shook his head. Then he suddenly looked very serious and said, “Then let’s prepare. The tournament is starting soon. We need to be ready.”

Lin Feng started grinning again. He struck his trademark victory pose and shouted, “YEAH! Prepare and then conquer the Collegiate Cup! High School 13 is getting its second trophy! We’re going to fill the entire trophy cabinet!”

Tang Bingyao imitated Lin Feng’s victory pose and nodded. “Mhm! Let’s fill that trophy cabinet!”

Team Shanghai spent the next few days practicing as much as they could, until Tuesday came around. It was the 8th of December. The Winter Collegiate Cup was officially starting. University teams from all around the country started in the first round of preliminaries, fighting against local opponents in an 8-team knock-out bracket. Only two teams from each bracket would advance to the next round. And then there were still far too many teams left. Just in the Shanghai League alone, there were five different local divisions.

Team Shanghai’s first round of preliminaries were at the East China Medical School. They agreed to meet up there at 5 P.M. sharp. Zeng Rui and Zhang Hao were a little early. They waited, impatient. Lin Feng, Tang Bingyao and An Xin were late. The two both had their phones in their hands, checking the time and looking if there were any messages. They were just about to call, when the thundering dumbass’ familiar voice rang out. “Hao Bro! ZengZeng! Look, look! I brought you guys egg crepes! Do you want one? You can’t get hungry while playing! Here, take one! I brought enough for everyone!”

Zeng Rui’s eyelid started trembling. He put his hand over it and looked past Lin Feng, where An Xin and Tang Bingyao were both nibbling on their own egg crepes. He then shook his head and said, “No thanks. We don’t have the time to laze around. Let’s go inside.”

There were signs on campus pointing Team Shanghai towards the playing hall. Lin Feng wanted to look around a bit, but Zeng Rui didn’t allow that. He pulled everyone along, constantly reminding them that they were already late and that they really had to hurry up. He kept this up until they entered the hall. That was when he turned to the others and said, “We’re in Group 2. It’s a single-elimination, best of three series, and only the top 2 teams in each group advances. So we have to win everything.”

Lin Feng grinned and replied, “So we just gotta win two best of threes, right? Okay, got it!”

Tang Bingyao looked at Zeng Rui and asked, “Who do we play first?”

“East China University of Science and Technology,” Zeng Rui replied.

East China Medical School had pulled out all stops to create an impressive arena for the first preliminary round of the Winter Collegiate Cup. There were two soundproof booths for the players and a large stage that could easily hold 300 people. And it was packed. Completely jam-packed. Many students from East China Medical School had come to watch the preliminaries of the Collegiate Cup. They were chilling in their chairs and gossiping about the latest news. They were laughing and joking about the teams that were terrible in previous editions and would probably be terrible again. And they were complaining about having to sit through a high school versus university game.

One guy in the audience suddenly stood up. He gazed past the stage to where Team Shanghai just entered the hall. “Hey!” he shouted. “Hey! Hey! Guys! Look! Over there! There! You see those kids? I think they’re the high schoolers! Yeah! They’re the high schoolers! That’s the high school team!”

The noise in the hall came to a grinding halt. 300 pairs of eyes turned around to look at Team Shanghai, scrutinizing them. And then a commotion broke loose.

“You’re shitting me, right? That’s the high school team everyone has been talking about?”
“They look so young! Are they really good at the game?”
“Are those girls actually on the team…? Please tell me they’re just there for moral support. PLEASE!”
“I don’t have a good feeling about this… They look like shit.”
“What a strange team… Are those girls on the roster? Maybe their other two players are on the toilet?”
“Can’t wait to see them feed their asses off and make an embarrassment of themselves!”

The first best of three series was between two teams from Group 1. The players from Team Shanghai sat down in the player seating area next to the stage and looked up at the large LCD screen that was suspiciously similar to the one at the Shanghai University of Finance.

Zeng Rui glanced at the two teams and then said to his teammates, “The first match is between the East China Medical School and some other tech school.”

“We just have to win Group 2. What do we care about Group 1?” Lin Feng asked.

Zhang Hao wasn’t listening to Zeng Rui or Lin Feng. He was glaring at a couple of other players who were sitting together a little distance away. He grumbled, “Those damn shits are talking shit about us! Why do they keep saying we got in through our connections? What connections? I don’t have any connections! This is so stupid! Just because we’re the only high school team in the East China region, we get all this attention. Why can’t they just shut up about us? I’m not rich!”

An Xin smiled, unconcerned, and said, “Don’t take it to heart. They’re just salty that we’ll knock them out of the tournament.”

Lin Feng laughed and chimed in, “Yep! We’re going to stomp them! I’m really good at stomping people too!”

East China Medical School won their best of three series in two quick games. The crowd was cheering. Their team had made it to the next round! They didn’t even quiet down as the host stepped up on stage and announced the next game. “Next up, we have East China University of Science and Technology versus Team Shanghai!”

But when the words ‘Team Shanghai’ flowed from the host’s lips, everyone stopped talking. All eyes turned towards the players from Team Shanghai. Some were curious, others venomous. Tang Bingyao slumped back a little, while Zhang Hao wanted to stand up and fight all the angry glares! But Lin Feng didn’t seem to notice the reaction in the hall. He only paid attention to the host. It’s our turn to play! Finally! He jumped to his feet and pumped his fist into the air, shouting, “It’s finally our turn! Let’s stomp them!”

Chapter 272 – High School Teams ROOOOOOOOOCK!!!

Team Shanghai started the day after their drinking party with two casual games, just to flex their muscle memory. The games didn’t take very long. Their opponents weren’t very good and the statistics at the end of the match reflected as much. An Xin smiled and said, “Well played! Seems like we’re still in decent form.”

The long days of practicing and sleepless nights of researching their opponents was showing its results. Team Shanghai had really come together as a team. They knew what to expect from each other and were able to play to each others’ strengths. It even started to look like winning the Winter Collegiate Cup wasn’t as crazy as it sounded just two weeks ago. The only real problem, the big limiting factor, was that most real teams didn’t play in ranked on the League of Legends client. They opted for practicing their tactics against a sister team or even a competitor, because that helped to increase the quality of their training. This was also the kind of training Team Shanghai needed to make larger strides in their training.

Zeng Rui shook his head in annoyance and said, “It’s not like I haven’t been trying to find us some scrim partners either. But Luo Yu and his team are refusing to play against us again, and most others hang up before I can even ask them… The few who do stay on the line, well, they complain that we’re high schoolers. Like that’s some kind of big issue.”

Tang Bingyao and Zhang Hao nodded in understanding, and An Xin had a few choice words for the situation as well. But Lin Feng didn’t get why everyone was so worked up about this. He shrugged and asked, “Why do we care? The regionals are starting in a few days. We’ll get plenty of practice against university teams!”

Zeng Rui grimaced. Somehow, the thundering dumbass is right again. I don’t like how this is going… He then nodded and said, “That’s true. I’ve seen the schedule. Our first game shouldn’t be too hard, and the rounds after that are relatively easy as well. We really need to use this opportunity to practice seriously.”

There were a lot of universities competing in the Winter Collegiate Cup. Far more than made sense in a normal tournament setting. So to dwindle the numbers before it got to that point, there were various levels of qualifiers. This meant for East China that the Regionals started with preliminary rounds in Shanghai, Zhejian and Fujian. The top teams from these qualifiers would then duke it out at the regional level. And from there, the top four advanced to nationals. That was the last step. The final showdown for the ultimate honour of Winter Collegiate Cup Champions!

An Xin wasn’t really listening to Zeng Rui talk about their matchups. She’d done the research as well and knew exactly who they were going to be up against. She checked the time and suddenly turned to look at Lin Feng. She said, “Hey, Lin Feng. Chu Fang should be here any minute now, right?”

Chu Fang arrived at the cybercafe where Team Shanghai was practicing. He stepped out of the cab with a briefcase and a large stack of documents under his arms. I’m a little late. But it should be fine. What room did Lin Feng say again? Was it 3? I think… He turned his head and searched for a note within the pile of files. Yeah, 3. He walked into the cybercafe and then knocked on the door of private room 3.

Lin Feng opened the door and said, “Chu Fang! Hey! You’re late!”

Chu Fang laughed and replied, “Hey Lin Feng. Can I come in?”

Lin Feng stepped aside and let Chu Fang in, after which the rest of Team Shanghai stood up from behind their computers. They turned to look at Chu Fang and slightly bowed, greeting, “Welcome, Vice President Chu!”

Chu Fang nodded and said, “Hey, it’s good to finally meet all of you. How i—”

“You look like a truck ran over you!” Lin Feng interrupted. “Did you forget to sleep or something? You look terrible!”

Chu Fang shook his head and chuckled. “Can’t be helped, Lin Feng. The Collegiate Cup is starting soon and I’m in charge of most of it. I just rushed over from a meeting with a potential sponsor. Now I’m here for a bit and then it’s straight to the venue where the main event will be held and make sure everything is progressing as scheduled.”

Zhang Hao looked at Chu Fang, impressed, and said, “Wow. That sounds like a lot of work, Vice President Chu.”

An Xin smiled and chimed in, “Doesn’t sound all that different from normal, does it? You always work hard!”

Lin Feng finally processed what Chu Fang was telling him. He’s really busy! He doesn’t even have the time to sleep! He looked at Chu Fang and suggested, “Maybe you should go home and get a quick nap! You really didn’t need to come all the way here just to watch us play. Our practice is going great! We’re going to win the tournament no problem!”

Zeng Rui watched the exchange between Lin Feng and Chu Fang with both disapproval and confusion. He’s talking to a senior! He should show some respect! This thundering dumbass sounds like he’s talking to BunBun… Or anyone else… He always talks like… Ughh! He scrunched his nose and watched Chu Fang. But why is he going along with it? Why is he talking so casually with Lin Feng…? It’s like… Do they know each other? Is that even possible? Where would they’ve met? The Shanghai 16 School Tournament? But why would they’ve kept in touch? No, something is fishy here.

Chu Fang looked at Lin Feng and smiled. He’s just like he was back then. So full of confidence. He reminds me of a bigger version of Maple. He explained, “I know you’re good, Lin Feng. I’ve got complete confidence in you and the rest of the team. That’s not why I’m here. I’m here because you guys are representing the Shanghai Esports Association. It only makes sense that I come and check up on you guys every now and then. And then I can report that back to the boss.” He suddenly raised his finger and turned to look at the others. He asked, “You guys are in the middle of practice, right? Lin Feng mentioned something about that. How about I watch a game? Give me an impression of how good you guys already are!”

Lin Feng shouted in excitement, “You should watch me in the mid lane! I’ll go Legendary in the next game, I’m feeling it!”

Zeng Rui glanced at Lin Feng, annoyed. Of course he’s at it again. Can’t he show some proper etiquette? He then turned to look at Chu Fang and replied, “Of course. It’d be our honour. We won’t disappoint you, Vice President Chu.”

Team Shanghai wanted to show off to Chu Fang. An Xin took on her role as coach, talking the team through their strategy and telling them which champions to pick and ban in Champion select. Then, when the five players loaded onto the Rift, Zeng Rui took over. He gave the calls, following along the game plan An Xin had just explained. He did this as well as he could, using the opportunity to show Chu Fang exactly how good Team Shanghai was. To prove to Chu Fang that it’d been the right choice to invite him.

The first 10 minutes of the game flew by. There was action in every lane, kill announcements following each other up in quick succession. It was a true stomp. Team Shanghai was slaughtering the opponents, leaving nothing of them untouched. The kills just kept coming. Lin Feng was the first to go legendary, claiming his 9th kill of the game in the 14th minute of the game. Tang Bingyao followed right behind him, claiming the legendary status three minutes later. The game lasted another three minutes. At 20 minutes, the surrender feature unlocked. The enemy team unanimously voted to surrender.

Chu Fang’s smile grew wider and wider as he watched the game conclude. They’re fantastic! Even better than I thought they’d be! That Toplaner is doing pretty well and the ad-carry really is a lot more talented than I expected! Seems like their practice is paying off! He’d had full faith in Team Shanghai before coming here today. That was why he hadn’t come sooner. Why he left them to their own devices. But to see them reach this level of skill was outside of his expectations. They might actually win this tournament! They’re going to shock a lot of people at the very least. That much is certain. None of those university teams knows what’s coming for them!

There were five pairs of eyes turned towards Chu Fang, pulling him away from his thoughts. He took a deep breath, then gave a thumbs up and said, “Fantastic, guys! That was great!”

Tang Bingyao nodded and said, “Mhm! Thanks!”

Zhang Hao stood up and bowed towards Chu Fang. “Thank you, Vice President Chu!”

Zeng Rui smiled and said, “This means a lot coming from you, Vice President Chu. Thank you!”

This was the first time for these three to interact with Chu Fang. They knew who he was. He was the man behind the scenes. A real professional and veteran in the world of esports. To receive a compliment from him meant incredibly much to them. So it wasn’t strange to see them beaming with joy.

And then there were Lin Feng and An Xin. They didn’t really care about the compliments from Chu Fang. It wasn’t anything new to them. They’d heard those same words back in Season 1. Back then it wasn’t just Chu Fang either. Other bigshots like Fang Hao were practically fighting over who could give the biggest compliments. So Lin Feng did what Lin Feng does best. He struck his victory pose and shouted, “Of course we did great! We’re going to win the Winter Collegiate Cup!”

Chu Fang smiled and said, “I’m glad to see you so confident. And I have to admit, after watching you guys play, I believe you actually stand a chance.” He suddenly paused. The smile vanished from his face. He looked seriously at Lin Feng and the others before continuing, “But it won’t be easy. There are many really strong teams. And I’m not just talking about the university teams.”

Tang Bingyao tilted her head and asked, “Not?”

An Xin raised an eyebrow and asked, “Are you talking about the high school teams from Beijing and Guangzhou?”

“I am,” Chu Fang confirmed. He searched through the pile of documents he brought with him while saying, “I gathered some information on those two teams. From what I can tell, they’re going to be some of your toughest opponents in the entire tournament.”