The Red Team was just like High School 13’s esports team in the sense that they were a group of friends who played the game together. But the similarities didn’t stop there. They also had a strong Mid-Jungle pair. The Ahri and Evelynn were the players usually carrying the team to a win. Just last game they went Legendary and the game before that they were Unstoppable! They’d been on a winning streak, rising up the ranks, until this game. This game was different. There was no settling in here. There was no scaling to a point where they could comfortably fight. They were getting crushed. Ahri was losing badly to the Yasuo in mid lane, while in the Jungle… From the first minute of the game, the Lee Sin seemed to know exactly where the Evelynn was and where she was going, even when she didn’t know it herself. And he was there, waiting for her and then killing her.
The Ahri was fortunate that she could huddle near her outer tower and soak up some experience from the minions that died in lane. But the Evelynn wasn’t so fortunate. She needed to kill the Jungle monsters to get experience. To do that, she had to go into the Jungle where the Lee Sin was waiting for her. No matter from what side she entered the jungle, he was always right there. The Evelynn was lost. She didn’t know what to do. So she hovered around her jungle, searching desperately for a hint of Lee Sin before ever so carefully threading between the walls of trees.
At 9 minutes, the Evelynn had spent a good 30 seconds searching for any hint of the Lee Sin near her bottom jungle. Only when she was absolutely sure that it was safe to go in, did she walk in. Her Blue Buff Camp was empty, taken by the Lee Sin. But the Gromp was alive. So she went up to it and started attacking it. And there he was, as if on cue. “Shit! Not again!” the Evelynn cursed while flashing away.
“Want to run?” An Xin mumbled, smiling. She moved her mouse over towards the Evelynn and pressed down on the Q key–Sonic Wave! Her Lee Sin punched out with his fist, sending out a blast of air. It connected with the Evelynn and revealed her. Then he dashed towards her with the second part of his Q skill–Resonating Strike! He followed up by placing a ward behind the Evelynn, Safeguarding towards it, then turning around with a powerful roundhouse kick and sending the Evelynn flying back–Dragon’s Rage!
All the while, the Ahri had been farming in mid lane. The Yasuo was gone for a couple of seconds and she was going to get the most out of it. She figured he went back to base to spend his gold. But he hadn’t. The Yasuo had followed after the Lee Sin into the Red Team’s bottom jungle. When the Evelynn was kicked up into the air, he dashed towards her with his ultimate, suspending her in mid-air–Last Breath! Then he smacked her down to the ground and hit her with an auto attack.
In the NetCow Cafe, Ouyang and Liu Yue stared at An Xin, shocked, while Yang Fan stared at Lin Feng with that same look in his eyes. There was no vision of the Evelynn before they went into the jungle. But it seemed like An Xin had information the others didn’t, and that Lin Feng knew she had this information. They worked together like they’d been doing it every day for the last five years. It looked so smooth and easy, but the three spectators knew that it was anything but easy. This was an incredibly impressive play that they couldn’t hope to imitate. They simply weren’t anywhere near good enough to pull something like this off.
Lin Feng wasn’t impressed. He shook his head and said, “Bunbun, what was that? It looked like a granny playing Lee Sin!”
“Got the kill, didn’t you? My kill,” An Xin replied, glaring at Lin Feng. “Give me my kill back!”
“What? No way. That was my kill,” Lin Feng said. Then he smiled and added, “Can’t give away kills if you want to win.”
The two kept bickering back and forth, a never ending stream of words flowing from their mouths, but their hands never left their mouse and keyboard. They moved their sights to bot lane. There was no need to talk about it. They were near bot lane already, only one brush away, and Red Team’s Botlaners were having a hard time facing Tang Bingyao and Wei Dong. They were being pushed back into their tower. But they didn’t recall back to the fountain. Even after seeing the Evelynn die, they stayed in lane. Lin Feng and An Xin were going to punish that mistake. They ran through the brush and into bot lane, then towerdove.
“AAHHHH! WHY! Why would you do that, Tang Tang?” Lin Feng wailed, grabbing his hair and pulling on it. “Why! You could’ve left a kill for me!”
An Xin laughed, carefree, “Good job, Tang Bingyao! Don’t give that idiot any kills! Killsteal from him whenever you can! Oh, right, you should leave a kill or two for me and help me win.”
“Win what?” Tang Bingyao asked, tilting her head in confusion. She’d been so focused on bot lane that she hadn’t really noticed what these two were talking about. They were more of a background noise to her.
“Didn’t you hear?” Lin Feng asked. “We’re having a little competition! Most kills wins! You should join!”
Tang Bingyao thought about it for a moment and then asked, “Is there a prize?”
An Xin smiled and said, “Of course there is! The loser treats the winner to food!”
Treating the winner to food? If Lin Feng wins, then… Tang Bingyao started smiling without even noticing it. She nodded and said, “Mhm, sure!”
This game was never going to be interesting. The skill difference was just too big. Lin Feng and An Xin were toying around with the Red Team from the start of the game and now Tang Bingyao had joined in too. They were running around the map, searching for whoever was still alive and killing them. The two who had the least kills were dragging the game out, trying to get that kill that would get them to the top, while the current winner was pushing to end the game. But even through this individual focused gamestyle, there was still nothing the Red Team could do to even pick up a single kill. The game announcer talked a one-sided conversation in kill messages.
《An enemy has been slain!》
《You have slain an enemy!》
The Red Team suffered through 20 minutes of this, though they did discuss quitting the game early. But that would get them a warning for unsportsmanlike behaviour, so they stuck around. They tried to play and win for most of the 20 minutes, at which point they could finally surrender and move on to the next game. And that was exactly what they did. It was a unanimous surrender vote.
An Xin jumped up from her chair and pointed at Lin Feng with both hands. “Ha! YES! I won! Suck that! You’re treating me and Tang Tang!”
Lin Feng scratched the back of his head and said, “Ah… I was almost second…”
“Your competition aside,” Yang Fan interrupted. He waited for everyone to look at him. Then he adjusted his glasses and said, “An Xin, you’re a really good Jungler! That was a strong performance.”
Chen Ze nodded at An Xin and said, “Yes, you’re really good. Your synergy with Lin Feng was next level. If you play against Shanghai International, we might actually win. We probably will win.”
The rest of the team nodded in agreement. Chen Ze was right. She was good. She did play great together with Lin Feng. And with her on the team, their chances of beating Shanghai International were substantially higher than with Ouyang or Liu Yue. It wasn’t that Liu Yue was worse than her on an individual level, but he couldn’t compete when it came to shotcalling and the Mid-Jungle synergy between Lin Feng and An Xin. Liu Yue wanted to play the game, but more than that, he wanted for his team to win. Right now, An Xin looked like the answer to achieve that. So he was more than willing to take a step back and let her help them.
“Thanks! But let’s not do that quite yet. That was actually my backup plan,” An Xin said. She nodded at Liu Yue and then continued, “I’m not here to be on the roster. My role is to be your coach. That’s what I’m best at.”
High School 13’s esports team played a couple more games before calling it a day. It was nearing dinnertime and they were all hungry. An Xin called a cab, while the others all walked home. Lin Feng and Tang Bingyao lived in a different direction from the rest, so they walked together, like they did nearly every day. The cold autumn breeze was in the air and the sun was starting to set early. Street lamps illuminated the sidewalk, and Tang Bingyao was hopping from one tile to the next, never letting her feet touch the cracks. She always played this game that she called, ‘Don’t Step on the Cracks’. It was just that today she wasn’t quite as good at it as she normally was. She touched the cracks several times before almost stumbling over her own feet.
Tang Bingyao felt her ears heat up. Fortunately, it was already quite dark outside. H-he can’t see it, right? She glanced over her shoulder, sheepishly, to look at Lin Feng. He was watching her and grinning. But he looked like he was grinning about her almost tripping, and not about her burning ears. She felt the tension in her body relax a little, until she put her hand in the pocket of her jacket. The cash she had counted out earlier was there. I should ask him. She twirled around and looked at Lin Feng, then opened her mouth. H-hey, Lin Feng. Want to go for some milk tea? My treat! She spoke the words in her mind, but they wouldn’t come out of her mouth. They just wouldn’t.
“Uh, are you okay?” Lin Feng asked.
“Mhm,” Tang Bingyao nodded. Stupid. Stupid. Just ask him! She bit on her lips as they kept walking. Now she walked by his side. She could feel the warmth radiating from him. Do you want to get some milk tea? The words were spoken in her mind, again. She moved her mouth, testing that it still worked, and then tried it again. But no matter how she pushed herself, she couldn’t get herself to say the words. They walked past an intersection and in the distance, she could see a couple of shops. One of them was a fast food place. This is my last chance! I gotta ask him RIGHT now!
Tang Bingyao took a deep breath, clutching the money in her hand. Then she stopped walking and grabbed Lin Feng by his jacket. He stopped and looked back at her. She looked at him and could see the confusion in his eyes. I have to say it now. Her heart started pounding, racing faster and faster until it started slamming into her ribcage. NOW! Her hands felt sweaty and her face got hot, and then it started burning. NOW TANG TANG! Tang Bingyao started panicking a little bit. She forgot how she wanted to start this conversation, forgot what to do next. Oh no! What was I going to say to him? I don’t remember. No..no..no DO SOMETHING TANG TANG! So she quickly reached into her pocket and pulled out some money. Which she then showed to Lin Feng. And then stood there awkwardly for a minute before saying, “Um… Lin Feng? Look! Money! Wait. No, not that. What I wanted to ask was… Do you want… to go get milk tea…” Then the world started spinning a little, and she felt faint. But she was also Tang Bingyao, and she wouldn’t back down! “… withme?” She did it! She managed to get the question out. But she forgot the most important part, the one that would make her actions make sense. She was still standing there, holding money in her hand out to him. “M-my treat. I have money!”