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Hydralisk the Terrible! Well, they weren’t terrible. They played in the secondary pro league in Korea. That made them one of the better teams in Korea! But they were performing terribly. For a team like them, their eyes were supposed to be on the entry tickets to the LCK, and not on the relegation spots of the pro league like they were right now. And normally, when a team went through a rough patch, they’d work even harder to turn things around. To battle through the blockade and come out the stronger! But not Hydralink. The players, coaches, analysts, and everyone else who worked in a function for the team had stopped trying. They weren’t going to turn this around. It was easier to just give up.

Zeal and Ron, the Botlaners for Hydralisk, were the perfect example for this. Instead of working on their game in high ELO games. Instead of trying to get that little extra training in, those few extra hours that might see them win their next games. Instead of that, they were fooling around on their smurfs. This was a grave sin for professional players. Most professional teams across the world even forbade their players from smurfing, because it could negatively affect their gameplay when it really mattered. It was to the point where a team’s management watched over their players’ shoulders to make sure they didn’t do it. Except for Hydralisk. Management had given up. Their players could do whatever they felt like.

The morale scale had hit an all time low in Hydralisk. It was to the extent that management didn’t even notice that Zeal and Ron were smurfing in the headquarters. It was to the extent that Zeal and Ron smurfed just to feel better about themselves. To let out their frustration and just win a couple of easy games. There wasn’t any pressure here, nor were there players at this rank who could pose any kind of challenge to them. These were quick and easy games that helped them feel a little better about themselves. And, even though they weren’t in the best of form right now, they were still professional players. Even if they met another smurf, it wasn’t that hard to get the advantage. As was the case in this game.

Old Huang watched Cup Noodles struggle in this Tristana and Nami versus Vayne and Thresh matchup. Cup Noodles’ Tristana was being pushed back and forced to miss out on last hitting minions. Everytime she did try to come forward for a last hit, specifically when it was about last hitting a cannon minion for the extra gold, the Vayne would Tumble and hit her with an Empowered silver bolt, while the Thresh aimed his Death Sentence. Old Huang took a puff of his cigarette, inhaled the smoke, and then blew it out. “Ah! What the fuck is this shit!” he exclaimed. “They’re smurfing together, right? It must be. This is ridiculous! How good are they!”

Cup Noodles gritted his teeth, frustrated, then said, “Yeah. They’re duoing. Their synergy is too good for it to be a coincidence.” He looked at the two Champions. The Vayne and Thresh that still had a perfect last hit record this game. “Shit! This shit is annoying!” He wanted to teach this Vayne a lesson. This asshole who’d said, “Fuck all Chinese!” That was unforgivable. Cup Noodles wanted to do something about it! It was just, even with his skills as a Master on the Ionia server, he was getting played around with by these two. Whether he liked to admit it or not, they were better.

Before Level 6, Vayne didn’t have a lot of killing power. So Cup Noodles could still trade with his Tristana and get some last hits on minions in. In a normal situation! This wasn’t a normal situation. His Support Nami was a regular Platinum player. One of countless. While that Vayne had a Thresh, a strong Champion, and an incredibly skilled player. There was such a massive difference between both sides that even before Level 6, this lane was dangerous. Case and point was when the Thresh landed a Death Sentence on the Nami, hooking her and dragging her back towards him. If she hadn’t flashed away, that would’ve been first blood.

The Nami didn’t have Flash anymore. For the next few minutes until it got off cooldown, she had to be extra careful. One misstep, and these two smurfs would take advantage of it and kill her. Cup Noodles knew this, so he pinged the Nami back when she tried to walk forward. Just a quick warning. He figured it’d be enough. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t even half a minute since she flashed, but she was already going back in. Moving forward to poke the Vayne. “Uh?” Cup Noodles mumbled. “What’s this guy doing? Shit.” He pinged again, several times in quick succession. He then hit enter and typed a few letters and slammed on the enter key again. Anything to get her to retreat!

Cup Noodles forgot to look at his Tristana. His entire focus was on the Nami. And on the Thresh. The Thresh who reacted to the Nami engage by flashing forward! He disappeared in a flash of light. And then. Then he didn’t reappear on the Nami. Cup Noodles felt his heart drop. His eyes went wide. He looked at his Tristana. There was the Thresh. “Fuck!” he exclaimed. Then he slammed down on his W key–Rocket Jump!

The Tristana aimed her cannon towards the ground and fired. The recoil launched her up into the air, away from the Thresh. The Thresh who whipped his chain and scythe backwards, dragging her back to the ground–Flay! Then he wound up his scythe and flung it at the Tristana. Point blank range. There was no missing this skillshot. The Death Sentence hit. All the while, the Vayne had moved up and past the Tristana, getting the angle for Condemn. She pulled the large crossbow from her back and squeezed the trigger. A large bolt flew out and pierced the Tristana, launching her back and pinning her to a wall. Stunned. She couldn’t move for the next 1.5s. 1.5s in which the Thresh ignited her and the Vayne fired off silver bolts, the third attack causing the silver rings around the Tristana to explode.

First blood!

Cup Noodles threw his mouse away and his arms up in the air. His screen was grey. He’d given away first blood. “Fuck!” he cursed. “Shit! I messed up. Dammit!” He slammed down on his desk in frustration. Then he looked back at the screen. A message appeared in all chat. A message from the vayne. Two letters. Cup Noodles lost it. “God fucking dammit! This little piece of shit! I’m going to show him! This little f— Argghhh!”

Zeal (Vayne):EZ

Cup Noodles came back to his computer after blowing off some steam by walking around his apartment. He sat down and had his Tristana, who’d respawned in the fountain, walk back towards bot lane. “Old Huang?” he asked. A deep breath. In and then out. “Sorry. It’s going to be hard to hold this lane…”

Old Huang unwrapped a new pack of cigarettes, nodding. “That Thresh has some moves on him. What a dirty son of a bitch. That Condemn was pretty good too… Yeah, this game…”

Cup Noodles smiled, bitter, and said, “Well, isn’t this what you wanted? This should be an interesting game. It’s going to be a long one I guess. We’ll have to rely on top to carry and turn things back arou—”

An enemy has been slain!

An ally has been slain!

A brief pause followed as the players on both teams moved up to top lane to see what was going on there. Then the announcer’s voice rang out across Summoner’s Rift again.

Double kill!

“Ha! Holy crap!” Cup Noodles laughed. He panned his camera to the top lane. There were three Champions underneath Blue team’s outer tower. Nasus, Jarvan IV, and Riven. “Ha. Top traded a double kill for one? Nice!”

Old Huang had been keeping an eye on the whole map. That was his job. He hadn’t seen exactly what happened in top lane, but enough to get the general gist of it. It was a failed towerdive. He laughed and said, “Haha, they really wanted the kill. The Riven and Jarvan IV both towerdove. I don’t know how that Nasus did it, but he got them both. Hahah! That’s brilliant!”

The Nasus was going to lose out on some minions, which meant missed experience and gold. But it’d be the same for the Riven. They were both dead. On top of that, the Nasus got the double kill. A late game Champion picking up a double kill so early was a massive boon. This Nasus was well on his way to becoming a raid boss, with a massive health bar thanks to his ultimate skill and massive damage thanks to Siphoning Strike, a skill where he whacked minions, monsters, and Champions into the next life!

Lin Feng laughed and pumped his fist in the air. “Worth! Haha! I won that trade!” He then spent the gold he earned from the two kills on items at the fountain shop before having his Nasus walk back to lane.

“That really was amazing!” Su Xue exclaimed. “I thought you were dead for sure! It looked completely lost! But you somehow got both of them! Haha!”

When the game started and the minion waves arrived in top lane, Lin Feng had taken the cautious approach. Nasus was a late game Champion. He couldn’t do much against a Champion like Riven, who wanted to snowball in the early game. So he kept to last hitting minions, building up the stacks of his Siphoning Strike skill. But the Riven wouldn’t have any of that. She attacked him every opportunity she got. It was just that many of her skills were area of effect skills. That meant that when she hit him, she also hit the minions around him. It didn’t take long for the minion wave to push into Blue team’s outer tower.

Pushed under his tower, Lin Feng continued his cautious approach. He last hit minions and did nothing more. Until the Jarvan IV appeared from the Jungle. There was a brush connecting the lane to the jungle just below his outer tower. The Jarvan IV walked out from the brush, while the Riven walked into tower range and jumped on the Nasus. Then the Jarvan IV followed up with a flag-toss combo. A skill combo that Lin Feng sidestepped. The knock up failed. Lin Feng could do everything on his Nasus. Normally, that’d be the cue for the Jarvan IV to retreat. But he didn’t. He kept going and the Riven went in after him.

Two tower energy shots were enough to almost kill the Riven. She only had a sliver of health left, but still tried to attack the Nasus. She was committed. The Nasus raised his staff in reply and whacked the Riven back to the fountain–Siphoning Strike! Then he turned to the Jarvan IV who was attacking him with everything he had. The Nasus cast Wither on him. The Jarvan IV grew old in a moment. Walking became more difficult and his pike suddenly felt heavy. He managed to raise it one more time to slam down on the Nasus. It was enough to get the kill. But at his old age, he wasn’t fast enough anymore to walk out of tower range. One last energy shot killed him too.

Lin Feng had picked up two kills. On top of that, the Jarvan IV lost his double buffs. He’d have a much harder time clearing jungle camps and being a presence on the map. For the next few minutes that was, anyways. So Lin Feng was pretty happy. When his Nasus arrived back in lane, he looked over towards Su Xue and smiled. “It’s over. I’ve won the lane!”

Sadface Emoji

Dev Thought: So it’s been a weird week around the world, eh? There was that straight odd election in the United States, news outlets around the world are tripping over themselves to spew some sort of verbal diarrhea about… something. Then there’s the whole COVID situation that started out bad, got better, and is now getting much worse than back in April. It’s a weird ending to what’s been a weird year, yeah? And everyone’s got a lot of thoughts and concerns about mental health. How could you not with the whole world falling apart at the seams?

So we’ll do this for this chapter’s thought. What do y’all want to talk about with the clusterfuck that we find ourselves in? You want to vent, go for it. The comment section is yours. If you have questions about mental health or anything medically-related, we can do that too. If you want to talk about how everyone’s lost their minds, that’s fair game. Literally anything you want to say about this last year so far, concerns about the next two months, questions, anything. Go wild.

I’m leaving this as open-ended as possible. Hit us with whatever you’ve got. Or just hit us with a “:(“ if that’s how you feel. A picture’s worth a thousand words, so an emoji has to count for at least 250, right?

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