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Blind Man Walking

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High School 13’s students in the audience were living the dream. Their team was beating Shanghai International! For the first time in the school’s long history, one of the clubs was performing at a big tournament! The students were so surprised that they didn’t know what to do. But their emotions compelled them to jump, scream and shout, “WIN FENG! WIN FENG!” High School 13 had always been the butt of every joke, knocked out early in every competition they participated in. No one ever took them seriously. But not today! This day, High School 13’s esports club was breaking tradition! They were on the verge of advancing to the Finals of the biggest high school esports tournament in all of Shanghai!

Most students from High School 13 hadn’t started supporting their esports club until a few days ago. They were afraid to. That was how much the losing mentality was ingrained into them. It all started with the principal who wouldn’t give the school’s open support to any club team. He believed they wouldn’t amount to anything anyway, so he thought it best not to announce their next big disappointment to all students. That was reinforced just last year. The basketball team had qualified for a regional tournament, and the principal made a one-time exception, giving the team his full support. Suddenly, all students were basketball fans and the players became overnight celebrities. Then the tournament came around. The hopes for the team were sky high. They were so high that it was impossible to meet them. In the end, High School 13’s basketball team got knocked out in the first round. They didn’t win a single game.

It was always difficult to deal with loss. High expectations only made that that much harder. The basketball players were disappointed in their own performance, and the students were disappointed in them. High School 13 should’ve been proud that their team made it to the regional tournament, but all they remembered was the first and last game at the regional tournament. A loss. It reinforced the beliefs of the students. High School 13 had no good, or even decent clubs. They were attending an average high school that would never amount to anything.

The students stuck to this loser mentality until a few days ago, when word went around the school about the Shanghai 16 School Tournament. Their esports club had made it to the Semifinals of a big tournament! That meant they were in the top four in all of Shanghai! Their school wasn’t all that bad! Their negative thoughts disappeared. Suddenly they saw a new hope. Their esports team had complained multiple times about being unlucky. Perhaps that explained why they hadn’t performed until now! The students clung onto this idea. It explained perfectly how the esports team had made it to the Semifinals. How they might make it to the Finals! High School 13’s students had even started dreaming about their team winning the whole tournament and becoming the best esports club in Shanghai! Many of them had gathered after school on Friday and traveled to the venue for the Shanghai 16 School Tournament, excited to see their team kick Shanghai International’s ass!

High School 13’s esports team repaid the support of their fellow students with a stellar performance. They were facing off against Shanghai International, one of the favourites for the title, and were up 2-0! They were only one victory away from making it to the Finals! High School 13’s students in the audience were losing their minds. This was it! Their school was finally making a name for itself! They finally had something to be proud of! Their esports club was one of the best in Shanghai! Maybe even the best!

“HIGH SCHOOL 13! HIGH SCHOOL 13!”
“WIN FENG! WIN FENG!”
“WOOOO! WE’RE GOING TO THE FINALS! WE’RE GOING TO THE FINALS!”
“CLEAN SWEEP, LET’S GOOOOO!”
“OH MY GOD IT’S HAPPENING!”
“CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? WE’RE THE ABSOLUTE BEST!”

Ouyang, Ren Rou, and Liu Yue were moving around in their seats. The hurricane of cheers smacked into them, lifting them up! They couldn’t hold back anymore. After all the hard work, the many hours locked up in a private booth in the NetCow Cafe, they were only one step away from reaching the Finals! Their team, of which they were very much a part, was doing the impossible! They were beating Shanghai International!

Ouyang was the first to jump up to his feet. He turned around to face the crowd and shouted, “SHOW THOSE DICKTWATS HOW LOUD WE ARE! WE ARE HIGH SCHOOL 13! WE ARE THE BEST! MY BROS ARE GOING TO WIN THIS WHOLE DAMN THING!”

Liu Yue shot up from his seat and put an arm around Ouyang’s shoulder, jumping up and down with his friend, screaming, “WOOT WOOT! WE’RE THE BEST AND SHANGHAI INTERNATIONAL SUCKS BALLS!”

Ren Rou didn’t pull Ouyang down like she often did. She didn’t tell him to take it easy or to calm down. Instead, she got up and wrapped her arm around his shoulder. She started jumping in sync with him and Liu Yue and screamed at the top of her lungs, “HIGH SCHOOL 13 IS THE BEST! NO ONE CAN STOP US!”

An Xin looked up at her three new friends acting like happy fools. Then she glanced over her shoulder at the crowd, taking the whole scene in. She smiled and nodded. This is what it’s all about. This is what that big idiot lives for. It was also what she lived for. She felt goosebumps as another wave of cheers hit her. She grinned and turned back to look at the stage. At the man at the center of all of this. She nodded at him and said to herself, “You’ve done it. This game is over.”

Yan Liang refused to give up. His eyes were bloodshot and his breathing uneven. He glanced over his monitor at the crowd. Stupid fuckers cheering for the wrong team… He looked back at his screen and at the ever growing kill and gold difference on the scoreboard. DAMMIT! He gritted his teeth. We can’t lose! Not like this! We’re stronger than we were last year! We were going to finally beat Shanghai High School! It can’t end like this! These fuckers don’t even know how to play the game! God fucking dammit! He panned his camera to the different lanes and started shouting commands over the team’s voice chat, 

“NO GIVING UP! We can still win this! Focus! FOCUS!”
“Liu Zhengjie, freeze that damn minion wave! I don’t want to see you pushing it out! And help your stupid Support get some vision! WE NEED VISION! VISION, GUYS, VISION!”
“Hey, Rek. Stop trying to gank. The Olaf is on your fucking ass the whole damn time! It’s not working! Get your level up! BECOME RELEVANT AGAIN!”
“Ward the jungle entrances! Buy pink wards! Don’t let that Olaf get back in our Jungle! WE HAVE TO STOP THAT DAMNED OLAF!”

The players from Shanghai International all agreed with Yan Liang. They couldn’t lose this game. This mentality didn’t stem from pride or the desire for a trophy. No. This was about something far more important. High School 13 was the butt of all jokes. Losing to them would be the single greatest embarrassment in their lives. They’d have to go to school and face their friends, knowing everyone was aware about their humiliating defeat at the hands of a no-name team. Just the thought of their friends laughing at them and joking about them behind their backs was enough of a motivator to give this game everything they had, and then some.

Fuck! Shit! To hell with it! We need to win! Shanghai International’s Toplaner was the first to take action. He had his Fiora Lunge at the Jarvan IV and then used her ultimate skill–Grand Challenge! The Blue tower targeted her, firing off an energy shot. But she pressed on. The four vitals were revealed on the Jarvan IV. She attacked three of them, then flashed behind him and hit the fourth. The Victory Zone appeared on the ground beneath her, healing her as the tower fired off another energy shot. She attacked the Jarvan IV with one final auto attack to kill him, then retreated back towards her side of the lane.

《You have slain an enemy!》

Westwind stood on his feet and cried out, “BEAUTIFUL! Shanghai International hasn’t given up yet! What a play by the Fiora! Let’s see if they can keep this up!”

Down in the bot lane, Shanghai International’s Morgana landed a Dark Binding on the Thresh. Liu Zhengjie’s Tristana fired a cannonball at the ground, launching herself towards the Thresh. She threw a bomb at the Thresh and charged it up with her auto attacks, only to get Exhausted by the Thresh. Then the Thresh flashed away and the Jinx healed him so that he could survive through the explosion of the bomb on his head. Liu Zhengjie didn’t give chase. He’d forced High School 13’s Botlaners to use three Summoner Spells. This would give him a huge advantage in lane for the next couple of minutes. That was enough.

The Shanghai International students in the audience erupted into cheers! This game was not lost yet! Their team just had to keep playing like they were right now, forcing High School 13 on the backfoot and picking up kills. Then, maybe, they could still win this game! This would be the start of their comeback. They started shouting words of encouragement to their stars, 

“Beat those lucky fuckers!”
“Show them how good we are!”
“HIGH SCHOOL 13’S LUCK HAS RUN OUT! LET’S KICK SOME ASSES!”
“Liu Zhengjie will carry this, trust me!”
“They were just giving High School 13 the idea they stood a chance. Haha! Brilliant!”
“THIS IS WHAT WE WANT TO SEE! MORE PLEASE!”

High School 13’s team wasn’t at all concerned with the sudden aggression from Shanghai International. It didn’t affect their game plan, nor did it threaten their control over the game. Lin Feng’s Olaf was still running amuck in Shanghai International’s Jungle, searching for opportunities to gank one of the three lanes. He found one in the mid lane. The Orianna pushed just a bit too far towards High School 13’s outer tower. He pinged in the mid lane and shouted over the team’s voice chat, “I’m coming mid! Attack her! Go in!”

“Got it!” Yang Fan answered, pressing down on his E key–Glacial Path! His Lissandra shot a claw of ice towards the Orianna. It glided over the icy ground until it was almost on top of the Orianna. Then the Lissandra blinked to its position and targeted the Orianna with her ultimate skill. Frozen Tomb! Two pillars of ice shot up from the ground and froze the Orianna solid within.

Lin Feng’s Olaf charged into the mid lane, a dense and thick bloody aura billowing out from him. It was the visual effect of his ultimate skill–Ragnarok! He was immune to all crowd control effects and had received a boost in movement speed! He threw his axe at the Orianna, damaging her–Undertow! He followed up with an auto attack. Then he jumped up into the air, raising his two axes above his head, and hacked down with such force that it dealt true damage to the Orianna and himself!

Yan Liang was frantically slamming down on his keyboard, impatient for the stun to break. It broke. His Orianna still had some health left. She flashed away towards her own inner tower, calling her Ball to her side for a shield–Command: Protect! Then she gave herself a movement speed bonus to negate the slow from Olaf’s Undertow.

“My axe is thirsty!” Lin Feng laughed, unconcerned. He had his Olaf chase after the Orianna and entered the outer tower’s range. He tanked the energy shot that was fired at him and continued to hack away at the Orianna. Another energy shot hit him. They ran past the outer tower and into the range of the inner tower. That was where the last bit of Orianna’s health disappeared. A third energy shot took Olaf’s health down to a dangerous level. But there were no Shanghai International players around to exploit this. The Olaf disappeared into the Jungle right above the mid lane, moving towards the closest Jungle Camp. He started attacking the monsters, using his lifesteal to get his health back up.

The crowd was eerily silent for a second, processing what’d just happened. The Olaf was so strong that he could tank multiple energy shots and attacks from the Orianna! That meant that he could run under any tower and kill any of Shanghai International champions he desired! He really was invincible right now! Ouyang was the first to break the silence. He screamed out, “FUCK YEAH! WHO ELSE WANTS TO DIE? NO ONE? I THOUGHT SO! HAHAHA!” This set off a new wave of cheers. The audience, save for the students from Shanghai International, shot up from their seats and threw their arms in the air, shouting, 

“KING OLAF FOR THE WIN!”
“SHANGHAI INTERNATIONAL ARE ALL BITCHES!”
“HIGH SCHOOL 13 TO THE FINALS!”
“WOOO! EASY GAME WITH OLAF!”
“WANNA DUO QUEUE WITH ME, OLAF?”
“Damn. Hard carry by that Olaf player again. What a boss.”

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Shanks Mundane Life Updates Again

Shanks Thought: Before we move onto today’s thought, I’d like to add some clarification. NO! I did not receive a lump of coal for Christmas. I just happened to find it under the Christmas tree. >_> I have no idea how it got there, but I’m 100% sure it wasn’t my parents. They didn’t know enough about Christmas to pull that kind of thing off, and I don’t think they would either. It was purely by coincidence. Also, yes, 8-year-old Shanks was absolutely crushed, even after I learned that Santa wasn’t real. That’s why I still remember it to this day.

Anyway, how was your Christmas? I spent the eve drinking half a bottle of whisky and three pints of beer on stream with readers. I was pretty damn out of it near the end. Oh, and then I woke up hungover and spent 8 hours calling different extended family members and wishing them a Merry Christmas. Man, it’s kind of lame  I miss the days when I was a kid, and you could get away with running from a voice call with relatives if you got too bored. Then I opened my Christmas presents! I got socks, scarves, and gloves. Wow. I’m really feeling that 24 right about now.

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