Top Riven? What the hell… The Toplaner for Tonji Aff. High looked over his screen at the players from High School 13. He didn’t get a great look at their Toplaner’s face, but he had a hunch as to who it was. It was the guy who’d played mid lane against High School 7 and beat their Master Midlaner! From there, it was easy to guess High School 13’s plan. They were singling him out. He was the lowest rank, so they considered him the weakest link. He was the easy player to get fed on. He sneered. You think I’m that easy? We’ll see about that…
The Toplaner from Tonji Aff. High was the mechanically worst player on the team. That was true. But just because he wasn’t the best in one aspect of the game, that didn’t make him the worst player on the team. Nor did he believe he was the worst player on the team. As for this game, he could prove that by not feeding High School 13’s Toplaner. He would take a safe pick in Darius and play his lane defensively, overly so. As long as he made sure he didn’t give away any early game kills, High School 13’s plan would go up in smoke. Then once the laning phase came to an end and they started teamfighting, he would show everyone just how good he was at the game!
An audible gasp sounded through the Wembley Arena when Roundy Round locked in Riven. Riven was an offensive Toplaner. Players picked her when they planned to win the lane. This was a Champion with which you’d get fed with early on in the game and carry your team. Legend was the Emperor team. They had the more skilled players. So no one expected this coming out of KG. They’d expected a safe pick, something tanky and strong in the current meta.
The Chinese casters didn’t know what to think of this pick. They wanted to be excited, but they were also worried. This was a big risk KG was taking! Stone was the first to open his mouth. He wanted to say something interesting, but failed to find the words for that. All he said was, “God Roundy pulled out the top Riven!”
Qinghe looked at the two guest commentators and asked, “What do you guys think? Is he planning to jump in and try to snowball?” Stone and Lolo looked at him, but neither said a word. They didn’t know the answer. It sure looked like Roundy Round was planning that. But this was Legend they were playing against! Qinghe turned to the camera and grinned, “A bold choice, I’ll say that! KG is risking it all! But if they can get the Riven ahead in the early game, then who knows… Maybe they can actually win the game!”
On the main stage, the players from Legend looked at Phoenix. They didn’t expect to see this pick coming out of KG and wanted to know if this would change the way they were going to play this game. Phoenix nodded at his screen, at the Riven pick. He felt the gazes of his teammates on him and could hear them asking him for his plan over voice chat, but he kept staring at his screen. Interesting… This could be fun. He then turned to Demon and said, “Alright, let’s change the plan up a little. Scrap the lane swap, we’re doing normal lanes this game. Demon, just play it safe. Don’t give him a kill and we’ll get an easy win.”
“Sure, no problem,” Demon replied. He bit on the inside of his cheek as he looked at the Riven in the loading screen. Should be easy enough. He knew how poorly Roundy Round played last week, but he’d also seen how good Roundy Round had played last game. They were like two different players. If the first one showed up, it was an easy win. And if the second one showed up, it should still be relatively easy. He trusted in his own skills. Even if he didn’t outright win the lane, he was confident he could keep the Riven from snowballing in the early game.
《Welcome to Summoner’s Rift!》
Lin Feng looked at his screen. His Riven stood in the fountain in the bottom left corner of the map. He opened the fountain shop and bought his starting items before walking out of the base. Then he took a deep breath. This was an important game to him. He wanted to win it. He needed to win it. So he got in the zone. His eighth grader syndrome went on full display as he started narrating, “Smoke hovering over the battlefield, a tattered battle flag flutters in the wind.
“Soldiers dropping like flies, a wanton disregard for human life. A sight wholly unique to war.
“A silhouette wielding a heavy runic blade charges into enemy ranks. Dark, green flashes of runic light fly out, severing space itself. Then the cries ring out as jets of blood spray into the air. Heads start rolling and bodies drop limply to the ground.
“Above the scorched earth, surrounded by a mountain of corpses, a lone and heroic silhouette stands tall.”
The scene perfectly encapsulated Riven. Her combat style was to jump into the midst of battle and take over. She would slay anyone standing in her way! This was exactly what Lin Feng was looking to imitate in this game. And what better Champion to do that on than Riven! In his opinion, there was none. His Riven reached the outer tower in top lane. He felt butterflies in his stomach. Excited for what was to come. These were the moments he lived for! He started smiling, grinning, and then laughing. This game is mine!
After loading into the game, Tian Tian pathed to top lane and placed a ward in the tri bush at the entrance to Red team’s Jungle. Fiora was already waiting there. It seemed like Legend planned to play a standard laning phase. With this information, Tian Tian joined his Jungler and helped him clear the first two jungle camps, getting enough experience from it to hit Level 2. Then he took a deep breath. It was time to go to lane. The knot in his stomach pulled tighter. The nerves were starting to overwhelm him again. If he screwed up. If he didn’t get ahead in the early game. If he didn’t snowball into the mid game… He could go on. There were too many ifs he could think of. His hands started shaking. Instead of walking into lane, he clicked towards his outer tower. That was the safer option, though his Champion wasn’t one you picked to play safe on.
Tian Tian didn’t have any tricks to focus his attention. He couldn’t completely immerse himself in the game like Lin Feng. He didn’t have a knack for painting grandiose scenes in his head, nor could he lose himself in these delusions anyway. A grin floated onto his face. He couldn’t help but reminisce about his friend. H-he’d probably be saying silly things to himself, like her j-jumping in and heads rolling… N-no. That doesn’t matter. I want to win. In order to win, he had to play out of his mind. There was no room for error and no room for hesitation. He either went all in, full of confidence, or he could just as well surrender and go home right now.
The Riven arrived at the outer tower in top lane. Fiora was already in lane, last hitting the minions in the first wave. Tian Tian snorted, expelling hot air out of his nose and his nerves along with it. He stopped shaking. His eyes locked onto the Fiora. I’ll beat you! The words came so easy. He knew exactly what he had to do and what he wanted to do. It was his ingame version of: I want to eat steamed buns!
Ren Rou stood a little to the side from the isle of computers. The match between High School 13 versus Tonji Aff. High had kicked off. She couldn’t help but feel worried. “Chen Ze?” she asked, looking at the regular Toplaner of the team. “What do you think? Can we win?”
Chen Ze made all kinds of pensive faces and sounds with his tongue. “Ah, I don’t know. Honestly? Probably not. Tonji Aff. High is really good. We’ve gotten a lot better. But we’re not that good. Only Lin Feng is.” He bit on his lips and shook his head. “I don’t think we’re ready for this game yet.”
“Don’t be such a downer, bro!” Ouyang nudged in. “We got the two wins! We’ve qualified for the main tournament! We’re in, bro! We’re in! Who cares about this game? Let’s just have some fun. We’re in! We’re advancing to the next round! Oh yeah!”
Ouyang had the mindset most people would have. This game didn’t matter. If they lost, that was no big deal. The millions of fans watching the KG versus Legend game shared the same sentiment, just for a different game. It didn’t matter if KG lost against Legend, they could still make it through to the next round in the tiebreaker. Legend was an Emperor team. There was almost no one in the world who could beat them. As long as KG didn’t disgrace their region, the fans would be proud and show their support!
If Lin Feng had heard what Ouyang said, and seen Ren Rou and Chen Ze nodding in agreement, he would’ve thrown a tantrum. No! This wasn’t alright! This was a terrible mentality! The mentality of a loser. The mentality of someone who’d never reach their dreams, because they gave up before they even got close. This game against Tonji Aff. High was the most important game in the first qualifying round! It didn’t matter that they’d already advanced to the next round. The only thing that mattered was that if they ever wanted to amount to anything, they would have to face their struggles head-on. Losing after having given it your all was acceptable, but not even trying was unforgivable!
The fans watching the KG versus Legend game were just as pessimistic about KG’s chances as Ren Rou was about High School 13’s. They didn’t think KG had any chance of winning and were already thinking about the next game. If Tian Tian was to learn of this, he wouldn’t know how to respond. He wasn’t outgoing like Lin Feng. No. He was timid and the type to avoid conflict. But he didn’t want to walk away. Not this time. He wanted to win! Sometimes, the most timid cowards had the potential to be the bravest and most courageous of men. All they needed was the right push.
The previous game against Flash had shown Tian Tian what he already knew but didn’t dare to believe. He was really good at this game. There were very few players who could beat him when he was at his best. Last game, he beat a King in Chris. One of the Seven Kings! This was a phenomenal achievement! In this game, he was up against an Emperor. Phoenix wasn’t his lane opponent, but he was playing for the opposing team. Tian Tian was nervous, anxious, and scared. But, more than anything, he was excited. He wanted to see just how far he could get. He wanted to know if he could beat an Emperor!
“When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” Lin Feng’s mentor had said these words many times. Just because something was difficult, or tough, that didn’t mean you’d give up. If someone better at the game challenged you, you shouldn’t decline and walk away. You should stand up to the challenge! Because at worst it’d be a valuable experience, and at best you’d be two steps closer to reaching your dreams! After all, it was a person’s dreams that gave them the desire and passion to chase the impossible. It gave them the attitude to stand back up and laugh after falling face first to the ground. It gave them the determination to press forward no matter how difficult the path was.
The players from High School 13 thought Lin Feng was crazy for wanting to go 3-0 in the first qualification round and win the Shanghai 16 School Tournament. They gave up before the journey had even begun. Their reasoning? Their poor performance last year. They lacked the vision to chase after the impossible. Instead, they were shackled by their past failures.
The millions of fans watching Worlds saw Tian Tian’s Riven pick as overconfidence. They didn’t share his confidence. All they did was think back to the games a week prior and how KG had almost lost to a wildcard team. That setback was enough for them to give up on this game. After falling flat, they didn’t get back up. They didn’t laugh. All they did was worry.
Lin Feng’s mentor had another piece of wisdom he liked to share. “When chasing your dream, falling is the start of the journey. No one begins at perfection. We begin at the bottom and fight our way up. And yes, along the way, you will get knocked down. It’ll be difficult. There’ll be times when you want to just walk away and give up. It’s only by persevering through these setbacks that we stand a chance of reaching our dreams. And when we do, everything will have been worth it!”
Riven was a Champion who lived by this wisdom. The lore explored how when she got knocked down on the battlefield, she’d grit her teeth and climb back up to her feet. Even though she walked with a broken blade, the day would come when she would see it truly reforged. She never gave up, no matter what life threw at her. She always fought onwards. Because obstacles were meant to be torn down! And opponents were meant to be defeated!
Three minutes into two different games. Separated by 10,000 kilometers of land and sea. Riven played in both top lanes. Lin Feng and Tian Tian were on the same wavelength, again connected by a single string of fate. Lin Feng had his Riven slash out with a strike–Broken Wings! Then she stunned the Darius with a Ki Burst. Another auto attack and the second strike from Broken Wings. The Darius started burning from an ignite. A third auto attack and the final strike from Broken Wings. It knocked Darius airborne before he fell to the ground. Dead.
KG versus Legend. Rek’Sai came to gank the Fiora in top lane. She flashed on top of the Fiora and Unburrowed, knocking her airborne. Then Tian Tian arrived with his Riven. She slashed out in a series of strikes, releasing a burst of ki in between to keep the Fiora locked down. The Fiora was burning, just like the Darius in the other game. Her health dropped. Then with one last slash of Riven’s runic blade, she died.
People watching two different games broke out into the same cheer! They couldn’t believe what they were seeing! Both lanes, both games looked impossible. Yet somehow, these two players managed to pull it off. They got the advantage. They got the early kill. And now they could snowball the game!
“WOW! NICE! LET’S GO GOD ROUNDY!” Stone shouted on the caster desk. Qinghe and Lolo were equally excited. The former clenching his fist and screaming, “WWOOOOOO!” While the latter was just jumping up and down and throwing her arms up in the air. “IT’S FIRST BLOOD FOR GOD ROUNDY!”
Lin Feng and Tian Tian sat behind their monitors, half a world apart. But they felt the same. They felt that same excitement that came from a great play, and the start of a special game. It didn’t distract them. If anything, it helped them focus more. Only the strongest opponents could push them to their limits and force them to go all out! The opening of the Blade of the Exile’s massacre slowly started to play. The heroic voice of a woman faintly rose above the surrounding sounds, “My spirit… is not lost!”