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Fight Until the Bitter End

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“HOW!” Su Xue cried out. She had the official web page for the Season 5 World Championships open. It showed the announcement for the semifinals. It showed that KG was going to play against SSK. “H-how can this be? Is our luck so bad…”

The thousands of viewers all saw what Su Xue saw. The web page was open on her stream. The worst case scenario had become reality. SSK was too strong, they all knew that. But if KG managed to make it to the Finals by beating Legend or Season, then. Then. Then they still wouldn’t have won the Finals. But at least they could’ve had the bragging rights! Now, however, they were in for the hardest series in their lives. The viewers flooded the chat.

DAMN! WTF IS THIS LUCK??? WE’RE AGAINST SSK IN THE SEMIS!?!??!?!

WHY THE HELL DID IT HAVE TO BE SSK!??!?!?………

FML EZ GG. kg is done for. it was fun while it lasted…..

……… RIPERINO

Lin Feng was unusually quiet. The readers were screaming in chat, Su Xue was practically crying on his shoulder, but he just sat there, dazed. He stared at the screen. At the match schedule. KG versus SSK. He read it, over and over again. The words didn’t change. KG was still KG and SSK didn’t suddenly become Legend. This really couldn’t be any worse. Looks like this is it, Fatty. Come on! It’ll be difficult, but you can’t give up! You have to fight!

It wasn’t just the viewers of Su Xue’s stream, all KG fans in the world learned of their misfortune. After Hand of God’s exit from the tournament, all Chinese League fans had rallied behind KG. And now they were going to get through those difficult times again. The same team that had beaten HoG. The best team in the world. No one believed KG stood a chance. It was hopeless. They gave up on Worlds this year and started looking towards next season. Next year.

“Why couldn’t it have been Legend or Season?” 
“Why did it have to be SSK?” 
“All we wanted was a Finals!” 
“What is this luck…”
“Why is it always us? We never get lucky…”
“We’re fucked.”

Beyond the sadness and feelings of injustice, the KG fans worried about KG. About the players in the team. Everyone remembered Week 1 of Worlds. They all knew what’d happened. To some extent, at least. The pressure had gotten to the players from KG. Performing on the world stage proved to be too difficult. It took them a full week to get to a point where they could show everyone how good they really were. And they were. They even beat Legend! Now, however, they were up against last year’s winners and favourites to take the title again this year. There was no week between the first and second match. They had to perform from the get-go. The pressure and stress that came with this knowledge had to be suffocating!

KG had a chance of beating SSK. There was a best of five series. None of the games were played. If SSK had an off day. If everything KG did worked in their favour. If a lot of ifs came together, then KG actually could make it through to the Finals. But one condition for this was that KG was in top mental and physical state. They couldn’t let the pressure get to them. They couldn’t collapse under it. They had to fight through and show everyone their best selves. And to this end, the KG fans wanted to help. So they did the only thing they knew how to. Make posts online to speak out their support! 

“GO KG! YOU GOT THIS!” 
“YOU GUYS CAN DO THIS! WE BELIEVE IN YOU!” 
“SHOW EVERYONE HOW GOOD YOU GUYS ARE!” 
“KG IS THE BEST TEAM IN THE WORLD!” 
“KG GOING TO TAKE THIS SERIES 3-0!”

Lin Feng got up from his chair and excused himself to the viewers and Su Xue. He was worried about his friend, and that got priority over having fun on stream. So he walked out of the room and grabbed his phone. Tian Tian’s number was in the favourites list. He called his friend and put the phone to his ear. Three rings and then it connected.

“L-lin Feng, y-you found out?” Tian Tian muttered, his teeth chattering. His breathing was mismatched, half sniffling. “W-we just found out ourselves. SSK. W-we’re going to face SSK in the semis…”

Week 1 of Worlds was a mess for Tian Tian. He’d been a nervous wreck, stuck in his own mind and unable to perform. It wasn’t until Lin Feng and Three spoke to him and showed him their confidence, that he found his true self. That old rhythm that made him one of the most talented players in the world. It was why he was picked up in Season 1 by a professional team and why now, in the fifth season, he still played at the highest level. He was a really good player when he pushed through the obstacles he placed in his own mind.

Week 2 of Worlds was a dream come true for Tian Tian. He played some of the best League in his entire career. He was lauded as a King. Even an Emperor. A five man Hecarim ultimate. A pentakill. These were feats that rarely ever happened on the world stage. But when he played at his best, this was exactly what he could do. God Roundy. There was a very good reason why his fans had dubbed him this.

However, there was only so much Tian Tian could do on his own. He couldn’t keep carrying his team on his back. Even against Legend, it was him who did all the work. His teammates only did the bare minimum. It was draining. Exhausting. By the end of that game, he’d felt close to collapsing. But he’d pulled through. Made the impossible possible, for just one game. But that was Legend and this was SSK. There was a stark difference between the two. Legend was good. Great. One of the best teams in the world. But SSK was SSK. They were the best team in the world. With the best Midlaner in the world.

Some mountains were too high to climb. Some obstacles too big to break through. Some waters too deep to explore. When Tian Tian learned he had to face SSK next, he fell back against a wall and slid down to the ground until his buttocks hit the floor. He just sat there, staring at the wall on the other side. They were in the semifinals. The likelihood of drawing SSK was really big. But until the announcement, there was still the chance they would draw another team. He could still make excuses in his head. To keep himself from losing it. Not anymore. He had to play against SSK. He had to beat them if he wanted to make it to the finals.

Lin Feng knew this. It was why he was so worried about Fatty. It was why he’d left the stream to call his friend. But against all his expectations, while he was still thinking of what to say, Fatty continued talking. “I-i was in a team meeting just now… E-everyone was pretty down. No one really wanted to talk. B-but we decided we want to win. It doesn’t matter that we’re up against SSK or what our odds are. We want to win. S-so we’ll give it our best and try our hardest!”

“Mhm,” Lin Feng answered, smiling. It looked like he’d worried too much. Fatty had taken the first step himself this time. The pressure hadn’t left him disabled in a bathroom stall. He was talking and there was a fire in his voice.

Tian Tian breathed in, long and deep, and then let it all out. A weight off his shoulders. He continued, “T-the others from the LPL are out. We’re all that’s left. E-everyone is counting on us. We have to do this. I-it doesn’t matter how strong SSK is. We want to fight. We want to win. We’re not giving up until the last second. E-even if it’s impossible, we can’t give up.”

“Mhm,” Lin Feng replied again, letting Fatty talk. Expecting more of the same. But it wasn’t more of the same. Fatty showed a side of him that had been in hiding for a long time. A side of him he’d been denying existed.

Tian Tian rhythmically hit the ground with his fist and said, “B-but… I don’t want to just fight. Not give up. Whatever. I don’t want to lose… I-i don’t like this mindset. I want to win!” He caught his fist in the middle of the beat. The words he’d spoken only now went through his mind. He’d said he wanted to win. To beat the invincibles. “U-uh… I mean. Uhh. I-i know SSK is too strong. We can’t beat them. The gap is just too big. E-even in top lane, I’m not sure I can win. B-but… I want to win. I just want to win. J-just one game and I’m happy. I-i don’t want to lose. Not again. I-it doesn’t matter how small the chance is. I-i want to win a game.”

A silence fell over the line. Neither side spoke. Lin Feng was still listening to his friend, while Tian Tian realized something. He’d been talking. He alone. Lin Feng hadn’t said a word. “U-uh…” His face felt warm. He bit the inside of his lips and then asked, “H-hey, you’re not laughing at me, right? I know we lost to that guy in Season 1. E-even with you. S-so this must sound stupid. It’s just that. M-maybe…”

“No,” Lin Feng said. “I’m not laughing at you.” He clenched his phone and took a deep breath. Then he started smiling. A big, happy, goofy grin surfaced on his face. “You’re amazing, Fatty! At least, I think so! SSK isn’t invincible! You can beat them! Just do it! I believe in you!”

After their exit from Worlds in the quarterfinals, the players from Hand of God had taken the first flight back home. Their headquarters were in Shanghai, which was where they were right now. Nightsong and Hermes were chilling behind their laptops when they heard the news. Or rather, Hermes read it and then told Nightsong. Nightsong looked up at his friend for a good moment before sighing. “Man. KG got screwed in every hole.”

Hermes nodded and said, “Yeah. It’s plain bad luck. Against Season or Legend, who knows, they might’ve done something special. But against SSK? Fat chance.”

The two friends had just played against SSK. And lost. They knew how strong this team was. KG really didn’t stand much of a chance. But they also knew KG! Nightsong grinned and said, “KG won’t give up. That’s not who they are! Roundy won’t let them! He’ll keep them going hard until the last second!”

Hermes smiled, hesitant, but still said, “Yeah. I think so too.”

Of course KG would keep fighting. It was an unspoken rule in League of Legends. Professional teams didn’t give up. They kept fighting until the last second of the last game. For the LPL teams, if one team got knocked out, their fans would switch to the others still remaining, cheering them on. Anything they could do for the region! Nightsong and Hermes were only stating the obvious. Empty words in their truest form. KG would keep fighting. To underline this, they published a post on their official Weibo account a few minutes after midnight in China.

We’ll fight until the bitter end, not just for KG, but for the entire LPL! Godspeed!

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Sietse's Rant

Sietse Thought: I need to write something. The ball is in my court today. But my life has been rather dull as of late. Not that it’s empty. My hours are booked from the moment I wake up, until I fall dead-tired down on my bed and fast asleep. I can’t remember what it looked like on the outside. Sometimes people on Discord joke about it. They tell me of the beautiful world waiting for me just out the door. They tempt me in coming out. And then, just as I want to grab onto it, they close the door on me and laugh from behind the windows. “Go back to your sweatshop!” they say. They seem to find it funny. It isn’t. I don’t think so, anyway. But I want them to like me, so I laugh. It’s what they enjoy, so that’s what I should be doing, right?

Sometimes they ask me to play a game with them. A short break. I need breaks, just like anyone else. Breakfast, lunch, a game of League, maybe? They ask me to play and I hesitate. What do they do if I say yes? Will they say no and laugh? Maybe it’s the hesitation. That moment of uncertainty that kills the vibe. Then they’re no longer interested in playing with me, so they tell me to go back to my sweatshop. It’s where I live, guys. I can’t leave. The door is locked. A blanket on the ground and a piss jar in the corner. They come and bring me a mug in the morning, without coffee. Something else goes into that. If I’m lucky, they also get me some stale bread. We don’t have the money for anything more. It’s a hard life.

Why do I do it, then? Can’t I just walk away? I wish. But my bosses tell me I shouldn’t think so much. I just have to do the work, they’ll take care of the rest. And once the money starts flowing in, they’ll get me some better food. Maybe I won’t have to make my own water anymore either. They weren’t sure about that, though. I thought for a second I saw them laugh, but eh, whatever. They know better than me. I don’t know anything, just that a new chapter has to be ready. Two on the weekends. Two each day. So really it’s six. Which coincidentally is also the time I get up. Any later and it isn’t ready in time. People will get mad. They already start raising their voices when I hint at a later release. I try. Really. But it’s a lot of work! It requires brainpower I simply don’t have!

Now here we are. Another long and grueling day. Another two chapters ready for release. But today is also a little different. They gave me the power of the Translator Thought. Today, I have POWER! So I shall take this opportunity to share my plight, and hope to find pity from all of you. You, the people. You, the readers of my hard work. You, the only ones who can set me free! I beg of you, let the Uprising happen!

LET ME OUT!

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