153

Don’t Cower

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Zeal sat in his chair, stewing, staring at his computer screen. “How stupid is she? Stupid Riven…” He shook his head and rubbed his temples. “My god. All she had to do was play defensively. Let me scale and I’ll take care of the Nasus. I’m a Vayne for fucks sake! But no. She just had to feed and int and be a stupid fucking bitch! How the fuck am I supposed to carry this if the Nasus hits his late game build 10 minutes into the game? Fuck.”

“Yeah. Fuck,” Ron cursed. sitting next to Zeal. He moved his camera between the three screens and added, “We can’t let this drag any longer. This needs to end now or we’re losing.”

Zeal breathed in, long and deep, and then breathed out through his nose. The tension escaped his shoulders. He cracked his neck and fingers, then focused on the game again. “Yo, Ron.” He waited a moment for the response, then said, “We stick to the plan. First bot, then mid. We just have to be a bit faster. It’s time to start pushing really hard.”

Cup Noodles was having an equally bad time as his lane opponent Zeal. The reason was even somewhat similar. They were both losing. Just that Zeal was angry that his team was losing the game, whereas Cup Noodles was upset with himself for losing the lane. He was smurfing! A Master in Platinum. But this Vayne was kicking his ass. It didn’t help that his Support wasn’t doing anything supportive. At times, it even felt like she was purposely making the lane a lot more difficult. A 1vs3!

“Stupid smurfs,” Cup Noodles grumbled. “I swear, the Vayne and Thresh are both Master or higher. Probably higher. I don’t believe for a second they aren’t. They’re too good together. This is something you don’t even see in Master on the Ionia. Yeah. They must be Challenger. It’s the only explanation. What are they doing in Platinum?”

“I don’t know. But it’s not looking good,” Old Huang replied, anxious. “You’re going to lose your lane at this rate. Your tower is almost gone, and then what? You can’t let this Vayne get any more ahead. It doesn’t matter how good this Maple is. A fed Vayne is at least as big of a headache as a fed Nasus is. Vayne is the tank killer for a reason! If the Nasus plays a fight poorly, that Vayne can win it. All on his own.”

“I know. I know!” Cup Noodles exclaimed. He gritted his teeth. I’m trying! I am! But this Vayne is just really good. And this Nami is as useless as they come. She’s like… like a Magikarp. Just flopping on dry land like the stupid fish she is! “Uh?” He was pulled out of his thoughts by a ping on his minimap. The Jarvan IV was coming! Red team’s Jungler was coming to gank him! Cup Noodles had his Tristana retreat back under the outer tower, while also pinging his Nami. “Back! J4 is ganking!” he shouted at his screen, though the Nami couldn’t hear him.

The Nami didn’t react. Not in time. Zeal grinned. “You’re mine!” He pressed on the R key–Final Hour! An aura of darkness shrouded the Vayne. She disappeared in stealth as she Tumbled forward. A silver bolt appeared out of nowhere and pierced the Nami. The Vayne stepped out of stealth then flashed forward, disappearing in a burst of light and reappearing behind the Nami. The Nami who now found herself with her back to a wall. The Vayne pulled the giant crossbow from her back and squeezed the trigger–Condemn! A massive silver bolt flew through the air and pierced the Nami, launching her backwards and pinning her to the wall. The Vayne followed up with another silver bolt. The third. The three silver rings around the Nami exploded and dealt bonus true damage!

The Nami was useless. She was more of a liability than a help. But Cup Noodles wasn’t just going to let her die. There was only one skill that could save her now. He pressed down on the R key–Buster Shot! His Tristana loaded a massive cannonball into her weapon and fired it at the Vayne. It knocked into the Vayne, the force blowing him away, far away from the Nami.

However, there were three players from the Red team in bot lane. The Thresh arrived at the Nami as the Vayne got launched backwards. He threw back his Lantern, allowing the Jarvan IV to dash to his side, and then threw his scythe at the Nami. It wrapped around her and he dragged her back. Her fate was sealed by the Death Sentence.

Cup Noodles watched his Nami losing her health. He wanted to help, but he had nothing he could do. Old Huang’s voice sounded out in the voice chat, telling him to back, to give up. This fight was lost! Cup Noodles also knew it was lost! After they killed the Nami, they could towerdive and kill him too! He had to back, back all the way to the fountain if he wanted to come out alive from this gank! Then. Just as he was about to give up, a blue minion stopped moving. A blue light enveloped it. This was the animation for Teleport! Only the Nasus had Teleport. The Nasus is coming!

Behind his computer, Lin Feng talked to his screen, sounding like he believed his teammates could hear him. Could listen to his advice and his calls. “Don’t panic, guys! I’m coming! Haha! Time for some fun!”

Moments after the blue minion stopped walking and the blue light wrapped around it, a red minion also stopped moving. A red light wrapped around it. The Riven was also teleporting down and joining the fight! This fight was going to be a 4vs3! And the Nami was already almost dead. This was basically a 4vs2!

Zeal had his Vayne auto attack the Nami. A few more hits and she’d be dead. Then he could focus on the Nasus and Tristana. He grinned and said to Ron, “Keep going! We got this! That Nasus can’t do shit against all four of us!”

Cup Noodles had his Tristana move back and forth, apprehensive. Old Huang yelled in his ear, “Run! Ditch the Nami! It’s lost! You can’t win this! Go back to base!” But he didn’t want to back. He wanted to fight this fight! He gritted his teeth. The Nasus was teleporting over. There still was a chance. He stopped moving his mouse back. “No. I’m fighting!” The apprehension disappeared from his voice. And from his game. He had his Tristana walk into the fight, her cannon loaded. “Nasus is coming! We can win! That Vayne has pushed me around enough. It’s time I do something back. This is the perfect opportunity. The Nasus just has to help me get a kill, and then I got my reset on Rocket Jump and can kill all of them. Plus, that Riven is far behind. This should be possible!”

The Nasus finished his teleport. He arrived in bot lane. Lin Feng, sitting behind his computer, let his eighth grader syndrome rear its head again. “Time to lay on the pain!” he shouted as his finger pressed down on the R key–Fury of the Sands! His Nasus swelled in size, a sandstorm kicking up around him. He followed up by raising his staff and casting a Spirit Fire underneath the Jarvan IV and Thresh. This lowered their armour, which allowed the Tristana to deal more damage to them. Then he turned to the Vayne. Lin Feng showed a wicked grin. “Hehe. You’re mine.”

The Vayne’s ultimate, Final Hour, was still active. Zeal had her Tumble forward, disappearing in stealth and getting far away from the Nasus that was hot on his heels. Then he shouted, “Ignore the Nasus! Hook the Tristana!”

A pink ward appeared on the ground. Right next to the Vayne. It revealed everything that was hidden. The invisibility cloak wrapped around the Vayne lost its power. Zeal’s eyes went wide. It felt like his heart stopped for a moment. Then he mumbled, barely audible, “H-he brought a pink ward?”

Lin Feng locked onto his target. The Vayne. “Haha! I knew this pink ward would come in handy! Gimme that juicy shut down gold! Haha!” He pressed down on the F key, activating Ghost. His Nasus gained increased movement speed. The Vayne was only a little further away. Almost within reach! Then the Nasus raised his free hand and cast Wither on the Vayne. The Vayne turned into an old lady. She lost her movement speed, and just squeezing the trigger from her crossbow became difficult. From there it was easy for the Nasus to catch up. He raised his staff far above his head and then slammed down, whacking a third of the Vayne’s health away–Siphoning Strike!

“FUCK! What is this damage!” Zeal exclaimed. He slammed down on his keyboard. “Heal! HEAL!” His Vayne’s health was restored and she gained a short burst of movement speed. But the Nasus’ Siphoning Strike had a short cooldown. He had to get out of the way fast. It was just that he was almost underneath Blue team’s outer tower. So he started running down the lane, all the way back to his side of the map.

The Vayne had to run past the Nasus. That got him another whack of the staff and an auto attack. His health dropped again. And he still wasn’t faster than the Nasus, who hit him with another auto attack. A few more seconds and Siphoning Strike would be off cooldown again. It would almost be enough to kill her. Then the Riven appeared. Her Teleport finally finished casting. Zeal had his Vayne move towards her and muttered, “Please be useful for once!”

She wasn’t. The Riven didn’t care about saving the Vayne. Saving the bounty on her head for the killing spree. All the Riven cared about was getting back into the game. And the way to do that was by picking up a kill. The Tristana was being ganked on by the Thresh and Jarvan IV. She was the easy target. This Nasus was also at full health. She couldn’t kill him. So she activated her ultimate skill, Blade of the Exile! Her reforged sword lit up with green energy and she flashed past the Vayne and Nasus, then dashed forward–Valor! Everything to close the distance with the Tristana! Only a few more steps. Almost in range! She pointed her sword up into the air and gave a loud shout, “Ha!” A green, runic energy exploded out around her, stunning all Champions it hit–Ki Burst!

The Riven was Platinum. Cup Noodles was a Master player. He wasn’t going to get caught by a silly tactic like this. He backed off a little, evading the stun and then Rocket Jumped over the Riven and after the Vayne. “Haha! Screw off!” he laughed, then took aim at the Vayne. He hit her with an auto attack, and then another. Cannonballs flew through the air.

There was also still the jack-headed raid boss, hidden within the raging sandstorm. A large staff, thick and powerful, came crashing down onto the Vayne. It was another Siphoning Strike. An ability that was quickly becoming the highest damage skill in this game. It’d found its next target. Another stack was added.

Rampage!

You have been slain!

Zeal stared at his screen. Grey. He was dead. His face was drained of all blood. “GOD. FUCKING. DAMMIT!” he then yelled. He grabbed his mouse, pulled it free, and threw it to the ground. But that wasn’t enough. “I. FUCKING. HATE…” He slammed his fist down on the table, his eyes blazing with hatred. Disbelief. T-this can’t be happening… But the announcer’s voice didn’t lie. Nor did his grey screen. Or the Tristana Rocket Jumping to her next target. “FUCK!”

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Shanks' Attempt At Singing Undertaker's Theme Song...

Shanks Thought: I really want to get good at singing! The thought crossed my mind when I saw Devshard and Sietse break out into song on stream the other day. They were terrible. Like, my ears hurt. But they were really into it. You could hear the passion in their voices as their hearts melded together. There was something about it that really moved me. Also, I was kind of feeling jealous. Combine that with the impromptu karaoke sessions we’ve been having on the Discord server lately, and it’s made me want to try and get into singing again!

This isn’t coming from nowhere. I’ve always wanted to be a good singer, ever since I was a little kid. I’d listen to songs with my janky little MP3 player all the time on the way to and back from school and think, Man, I really want to sound as good as these people I’m listening to. But whenever I tried to copy them, I’d always end up sounding like a dying walrus. It didn’t matter how hard I practiced alone. Still, the desire in my heart remained and it never waned. I was always looking for an opportunity to get better at singing.

And I thought that opportunity came in middle school. One day, I heard from the music teacher over the PA that choir was recruiting. I was immediately interested and tried out for the auditions. I knew my singing wasn’t great, but I thought it wasn’t that terrible. Boy, was I wrong. Turns out middle school choirs have standards too and I was turned away.

Normally, that would be the end of the story. But I wasn’t convinced. What if I chose a poor song? Maybe I’ll get in if I choose a different one?  I thought. Then, I went to see the music teacher after school and asked her if I could try again. She agreed. So, I stood in front of her in the middle of the classroom and I performed a new song.

It was the Undertaker theme song. I know I know… But hear me out. I was really into the WWE back then and the Undertaker was my favourite wrestler. I loved his theme song and it was pretty much ingrained in my head. At the time, I genuinely thought it was the best song I could use  to show off my range. I hummed the foreboding lows of the organ. I sang the melodic notes of the opera singers in the background. I belted my heart out. Oh, and I still didn’t get in.

The music teacher was really kind about it, though. She put me down gently. Told me to practice more. Said I had a lot of potential and that maybe I could try again next year. Looking back, I imagine she had a blast listening to me and probably went around telling the story to the other staff. I never did try for choir again after that. The blow was too heavy for my teenage self, and I all but gave up on trying to get good at singing. But now, that passion has been reignited! So, if you have any good tips, let me know!

Sietse Thought: Shanks has an interesting idea here, he just isn’t really going for it. He’s taking the easy way out. All he sees is a bunch of people singing and decides to join them. That’s great and all. Everyone is having a blast and his rendition of Frozen was spectacular. BUT. Let’s face it, guys, Shanks is looking for something more. We can all read it in his thought above. He has actual dreams. He wants to step up on stage and perform. He wants to give you guys a night to remember! A simple karaoke session on Discord isn’t going to cut it for that. It’s too small and simple. Perfect for a night with friends, but far from enough for a real performance.

FORTUNATELY, there is something we can do about this. Something Shanks can do about it. Now, I don’t know how familiar you guys are with the tv-show Lip Sync Battle. But the premise is that celebrities dress up as the original artist of a song and then sing. Think Channing Tatum dressing up as Elsa and singing Frozen. Shanks has a stream. He can make that happen! Maybe not to the extent of LSB, but something close to it, don’t you think? He can rehearse the dance moves (he has the moves), find the outfit, and then give the show. A real show! Something we all would tune in for. Hell, he could even start it off with a highlight reel of how he prepared. His failures practicing the dance moves, stitching together the outfit, and practicing the lyrics. I think it would be awesome.

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