Zeng Rui looked at the celebrating members from High School 13’s esports team. He shook his head and turned to his teammates, saying, “Come.” Then he got up from his seat and walked towards Lin Feng. He correctly guessed that the others from High School 13’s team would gather around Lin Feng the moment they noticed him walking over. There were six guys and three girls on High School 13’s team. Zeng Rui didn’t care about most of them. There were really only two… and a half who he felt deserved his attention. After stopping in front of High School 13’s team, he sized them up. The thundering dumbass… That new girl… and her. High School 13’s players stared back at Zeng Rui. Neither side said anything.
Shanghai High School wasn’t just any opponent for High School 13. They were the opponent. Shanghai High School had won the Shanghai 16 School Tournament last year. They’d been the undisputed best high school team in Shanghai. Only Shanghai International had ever given them a difficult time. High School 13 had just beaten Shanghai International. But just because they swept Shanghai International 3-0 didn’t mean that they could beat Shanghai High School. The victory today was in large part thanks to An Xin’s game plan. She had drafted the perfect line-ups to shut down Yan Liang and Liu Zhengjie, the two strongest players on Shanghai International’s team. More than that, she understood Liu Zhengjie’s personality and how that could affect an entire team’s dynamic. Shutting him down was almost the same as shutting the entire team down.
Shanghai International wasn’t a team. They were two carries with three slaves. An Xin had correctly spotted this and prepared accordingly. She’d created a solid plan that could see individually weaker players win. High School 13’s average skill level was relatively low compared to the other Semifinalists, with Lin Feng and Tang Bingyao being the only two exceptions. But High School 13’s team was stronger than the sum of its individual parts. Shanghai International failed to recognize this, and they paid the price. They were knocked out, blaming Lin Feng and his insane skill. They never realized that they themselves were the real problem.
Shanghai High School was a different beast altogether. They wouldn’t make the same mistake Shanghai International had. Zeng Rui recognized that High School 13 wasn’t just a mishmash of individual players; they were a strong team. He would need more than five individually good players to beat them. He needed a game plan, a strategy to exploit High School 13’s weaknesses while simultaneously curbing Lin Feng. The first ideas were already floating in his mind. Zeng Rui was one of the best in all of Shanghai when it came to strategy and tactics.
The members from High School 13’s team, with the exception of Lin Feng and An Xin, stared at Zeng Rui. They knew who he was. They’d seen him on stage last year, leading his team to the title. Every League of Legends fan in Shanghai knew who he was! He was one of the best Support players in all of China! He was a Challenger on the Ionia Server! He was a master strategist who never got outwitted! There were plenty of rumours going around suggesting he was approached by a professional team multiple times during the year. Other rumours took it a big further. They said he was going to join a professional team as early as next season!
Zeng Rui ignored the stares. He was used to it. It came with his fame. He looked at the different members from High School 13’s team, then cleared his throat and said, “Let me be the first to congratulate you on making it all the way to the Finals. Shanghai International wasn’t an easy opponent.” The words were there, but they sounded empty, as if he didn’t mean them at all. As if he wasn’t the least bit impressed with High School 13’s recent form. Then he turned to Lin Feng and said, “You’re a really good Jungler.”
It was a simple statement that no one could disagree with. Lin Feng’s Olaf was just that good. But Zeng Rui’s teammates standing behind him widened their eyes in surprise, staring at the back of their team captain. Zeng Rui rarely ever gave a compliment. But when he did, he really meant it. Lin Feng didn’t know this. He scratched his hair and laughed, “Oh, you think so? Thanks! My Jungle is pretty good! But I’m a way better Midlaner!”
Ouyang stood off to the side, incredulous. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Lin Feng, you… you idiot! He smacked his face with his palm and shook his head. Bro… Get some humility! Stop with all the bragging! My god! And now you’re also giving away secrets to our opponent! You’re supposed to be our secret weapon! SECRET! What the fuck, bro…
Zeng Rui didn’t bother with Lin Feng’s reply. He turned to look at Tang Bingyao, nodding at her, and said, “Your ad-carry was half decent.”
“Thank you,” Tang Bingyao replied.
Zeng Rui finally turned to An Xin. There he paused. He looked her in the eyes, searching for something that could help him prepare for the Finals. But she didn’t give away anything, except for an innocent smile. How good is she… I need to find more information on her before tomorrow. He smiled back, weakly, and asked, “That was your strategy, right?” She nodded, prompting him to continue, “That was…” He shook his head and took a deep breath. “That was brilliant. You have my respect.”
If Zeng Rui’s teammates were surprised to hear the compliment he gave Lin Feng, then they were astounded right now. They could count on their fingers the number of times he’d called someone brilliant. Zeng Rui never gave compliments to his opponents when he played for Shanghai High School’s esports team. He never had anything positive to say about his teammates or opponents in solo queue. The only players who could impress him performed on the professional stage. And even then, there were only a few of them. They were the likes of Autumn from the North American team Season, who was a master strategist much like Zeng Rui.
“What in the world… Is he feeling ok?”
“Are you feeling ok, bud? Not catching anything bad I hope, haha.”
“Ha! He must be in a really good mood today!”
“I wish he would give me a compliment once…”
An Xin smiled at Zeng Rui and said, “Thanks. You’re flattering me. I heard you’re pretty good at coming up with strategies yourself. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Zeng Rui nodded and said, “Right. Tomorrow should be interesting. I’m looking forward to it too.” Then he nodded at his teammates and turned around to walk away. His teammates said a few congratulatory words to the players from High School 13, then hurried after their team captain.
High School 13’s team watched Shanghai High School’s players walking away, dazed. Liu Yue was the first to turn his head away from them. He scratched the back of his head and asked, “What the hell was all that about? Did he really just come here to congratulate us…?”
Ouyang snorted and said, “To congratulate us? No, bro. Are you deaf? Didn’t you hear what he said? He’s looking forward to playing against us! He was challenging us! He only came to provoke us! That’s how those asshats work! But we’re better than that! We’re going to beat them!”
Lin Feng shrugged and said, “I didn’t hear him provoke us. He seemed like a pretty nice guy.”
“Of course he does to you!” Ren Rou said, rolling her eyes back. “He only had good things to say about you! You like anyone who gives you a compliment!”