For the first time in history, High School 13 had qualified for the Shanghai 16 School Tournament! They had done it! The impossible was made possible! They were going to fight 15 other teams for the title! High School 13 was now officially one of the best esports high schools in Shanghai! “Everyone has a dream, but what if you can make that dream come true?” It was something Lin Feng liked to say. One of his main motivators! The what if was now answered by Ren Rou, Ouyang, and the others who’d fought for this opportunity ever since setting up the esports team. They were jumping up and down with joy! Cheering and hugging and professing their undying loyalty to Lin Feng.
High School 13 had played their matches. Their next would be in the Round of 16 of the main tournament! They stuck around a little longer to see how their potential opponents played before deciding to go and have some dinner together. A team celebration. The rest of their research would come some other time. They went to a barbeque restaurant that served special Belgium beers. It was one of Ouyang’s favourites, if the amount he talked about it was anything to go by.
After the waitress brought them their beers, in full and big glasses, Ouyang turned to Yang Fan. “Do you really think we can win this thing? Even you?”
Yang Fan adjusted his glasses and nodded. “Yeah, I really think we can.” He believed this team could do it. They had the talent and the drive. That golden trophy would be theirs! No one could beat them! They would fight and win! Not for the legacy they’d leave behind at High School 13. Not for the teachers, the students or anyone else but themselves. This was their dream! It was their hard work and never giving up mentality that got them here! And it would lead them to the trophy! Their dream would come true!
Ouyang laughed. He shook his head and raised his glass. “Then first place will be ours! Cheers!”
The players from High School 13’s esports team lost themselves in their joy for qualifying for the Shanghai 16 School Tournament. They forgot for a moment they would still have to play in it. All they’d done was pass the qualifiers. This was nothing. A first, tiny step. Tonji Affiliated High was the only strong team they’d faced so far. A team that never took them seriously and was caught off guard more than anything. A second game against them wouldn’t go the same. Then there were other strong teams like last year’s finalists Shanghai International School and Shanghai High School. These teams had the talent to make it far in higher level competitions, even at the National level. This was the kind of opposition High School 13, a team that averaged at Platinum only a few weeks ago, would have to beat to claim the title. It seemed nothing short of impossible.
“Mhm. It’s good that there’s a challenge!” Lin Feng exclaimed, flushed. He raised his empty glass to the air, another empty one on the table, and said, “How boring would life be if it was easy! Right? Let’s fight!”
However, High School 13 wouldn’t be fighting again that night, or the next day. The main tournament wouldn’t start until a week later. This gave the teams some time to research their opponents and prepare for the matches. Higher quality League games were what the organizers were looking for! The only deviation from this structure, and they’d only learned of this from hear-say, were the semi finals and finals. Those would be on the same day. But all of this was good news for High School 13. They were the ones furthest behind. They were the ones who had the most room to improve. And most importantly, they were willing to put in the time to improve! There was no relaxing. No slacking off. No anything but working their asses off and preparing for the next set of games!
Practice! Practice! Battle! And then practice some more! Through exhaustion! Through setbacks! Through anything and everything thrown their way! They would never give up! They would keep fighting! They would keep improving! And when the main tournament of the Shanghai 16 School Tournament finally began, they’d be ready to show all of Shanghai who the best school was! Battling their way through the rounds and lifting up the trophy! Anything less would be a massive disappointment.
The weekend came and went. High School 13’s esports team spent all their free time practicing. Working hard, just to improve enough before the start of the main tournament. After another long day, Lin Feng got home. He took his shoes off and went to wash his hands, peeking his head into the living room to see what was going on. There were two voices. One belonged to Su Xue, but he also recognized the other one. It was Su Xue’s friend who would come over to mooch for food. Mooch for his food! He’d have to eat twice as fast when she came by!
Lin Feng walked inside the room and stopped for a moment. His foot hung in mid air. There was something different about Zuo You. Something a little more fiery. He looked her up and down and then stared at her hair. “Oh, wow! It’s even redder than normal!”
Zuo You chuckled and winked at Lin Feng. “I just had it re-dyed. Liking what you see?”
“Uhh…” Lin Feng scratched the back of his head. “It’s not very different. I mean, it was fine before…”
Zuo You rolled her eyes, annoyed. “Pfft. No point in talking to a kid. Do you even understand why I dye my hair? Let me tell you. I dye it to my mood!” She pointed at her hair and added, “This is my mood today!”
“You’re feeling really lucky and thinking you’re going to win the lottery?” Lin Feng asked.
“No. Idiot. It means I’m pissed off! I’m fuming! I’m raging! I’m fucking angry!” Zuo You yelled.
Lin Feng raised his eyebrows high and nodded, wisely keeping his mouth shut. He knew better than to argue with an angry woman. So he sat down next to Su Xue and put some rice in his bowl while listening to Zuo You vent. It turned out she had every reason to be upset. Life had handed her a couple of bad cards. Back in the day, she used to work for the editing department of a large corporation. She hated it. Destested it. And wanted nothing more than to find another job. Which she had. She got accepted to the marketing department of another company and worked her way up until she was the woman in charge! But just when everything looked up, when she was enjoying her work life, upper management came to her. Their editing department was lacking in manpower and they couldn’t find qualified replacements for the short term. Upper management knew of her past in editing. So they decided to transfer her over. Temporarily. She had no say in the matter.
“Honestly, you have no idea how terrible an editor’s job is!” Zuo You grumbled. “It’s the absolute worst! I wake up and I have to think about it. I want to have lunch, but I can’t. There is work to be done. I want to go to sleep early, but there is a deadline that has to be made. There is no rest. No fun. Nothing except the next project. And I was just having so much fun with the marketing. All I had to do was take a client out for coffee, charm them a little, and everything else would fall into place. It was fun and relaxed. That’s what I want! Not this constant stress!”
Su Xue looked at her friend, worried. “So, what are you going to do about it?”
“Do about it? What can I do about it? Quit another job again? How’s that going to look on my resumé?” Zuo You asked. She slammed her chopsticks on the table and then wiped away the tears, that weren’t really tears, from her eyes. “I’ll work at this shitty editing department. Work behind my stupid computer all day and night and fight with this stupid fucking video editing software that crashes every ten seconds! I’m going to die from stress before I even hit 30!”
Su Xue didn’t eat. She’d placed her chopsticks down and leaned with her elbows on the table, staring at her friend. “It’ll be okay. You’ll be fine. This is just temporary. I’m sure you’ll get transferred back soon. Just a week or so. They just have to find someone for the position. Right? That can’t be that hard! I’m sure everything will be fine!”
Zuo You curled her lips and looked down at her bowl. Her loud voice turned quiet, even sounding a little weak. “Who knows? Maybe they’ll be so impressed with my skills that they make the transfer permanent. I’m just really good at this video editing. But I hate it. I don’t want to do it. Maybe I should start slacking off… That might help them send me back to the marketing department.”
“You’re actually a good video editor?” Lin Feng asked.
“What do you mean, am I actually good? Of course I’m good! Didn’t you listen? I was a video editor at my last job! They tried everything they could to keep me! I’m that good!” Zuo You grinned. Though she didn’t pat herself on the shoulder, it very much felt like she was from the expression on her face to the tone in her worse. She then put up her index fingers and pointed at Su Xue. “Speaking of which. You’re still dead set on that streaming stuff, right? It won’t ever work if all you do is stream a little. You need more. Have you thought about recording some videos and putting those up? You know, a vlog, commentary, reaction videos, those kinds of things?”
“Huh?” Su Xue blurted out, sitting up straight. “Posting videos? What do you mean?”
“Posting videos is what I mean! Every popular streamer has a video channel! If you want to become like them, you have to get one too! There are people who get really popular just making videos! You don’t even have to stream! All you need is some content and a good video editor. And well, you got me! You can be like that guy Smut Sentinel. He’s been getting crazy popular by making all sorts of funny and sexual jokes while doing commentary. His videos are already averaging in the hundreds of thousands of views!” 1The name of the video content creator “鉴黄师” translates to something like porn viewing master, basically a reference to a specific government censoring position whose sole job is to scour the internet for pornographic content.
Su Xue glared at her friend, sitting back in her chair and far away from Zuo You. “What. Are you saying I should copy him? Make some sexual jokes? Wear a sexy maid costume?”
“Is this even a question?” Zuo You asked, her voice thick with ridicule. “Of course that is what you should do! Tell me. What is better than a guy making sexual jokes? A hot girl making sexual jokes, obviously! Oh. But I don’t mean you should copy him. All I’m saying is that his thing works. There are plenty of other styles that also work. You just have to find what works best for you. And I’m serious here. This could really help your stream.”
Zuo You grabbed up her chopsticks again and looked at her bowl, which still had some rice in it. Then she looked back up at Su Xue and continued, “I’m not telling you to stop streaming. Just make the videos on the side and send them to me. I’ll handle the video editing and special effects. You don’t have to worry about it. If the video tanks, whatever. Lesson learned, right? But if it does well, you’ll get more viewers, more fans. Your stream will become more popular. There are only ups to this plan!”
“That does sound good,” Su Xue admitted. She turned to Lin Feng and asked, “What do you think?”
Lin Feng had just stuffed a big piece of red braised pork into his mouth. He looked up and nodded. “Shounds god rto me.”
Zuo You started smiling. This was her chance. The kid was eating and her friend was interested. She said, “Plus, you won’t have to worry about finding any original source material. You got the kid. He’s pretty damn good at the game. Just have him play and you can commentate on his gameplay! It’s a match made in Heaven!”
“I’m not sure about that. That feels a little dishonest,” Su Xue countered.
“What dishonest?” Zuo You chuckled, shaking her head. “Other commentators do this all the time! They invite a professional player to make the gameplay while they talk. It’s just how these things work. But you got no connections. All you have is Lin Feng. But he should be good too. I saw him play against my friend. He’s good. So that’s good.” She turned to Lin Feng and nodded at him. “What do you think? Think you’re good enough to help Su Xue?”
What Zuo You asked of Lin Feng wasn’t as easy as him playing a few matches on the same Champion. Other video content creators invited famous players in different roles who played different Champions to get different perspectives. This was impossible for Su Xue right now. She could only rely on Lin Feng and his Champion pool. But Lin Feng didn’t seem one bit worried about this. He just laughed and pumped his fist into the air. “No worries! I got this! My Champion pool is really deep! I can play anything!”