Drowning in Self Doubt, Gasping for Hope

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“WOOOO! What a level of play! Phenomenal teamplay by both sides!” Westwind shouted into his microphone. He looked out at the audience and then back at the screen above the stage. “Now, some of you might not play that much League, so let Reed and me give you all a little insight into just how good this game is!” He turned to Silent Reed and said, “Why don’t you kick it off? What’s happening in the… hmm, top lane?”

Silent Reed glanced at her spectator screen and said into her microphone, “Top lane is an interesting match up. Darius versus Dr. Mundo. It’s a time battle. Mundo is way scarier after he gets a couple of defensive items. You wanna go one of two extremes. Ignore his existence, or beat him down until he can’t leave the fountain anymore! Looks like Shanghai High School is going with the first option. That makes it a question of how good this Mundo is. Can he annoy Shanghai High School enough to make them focus him down? But until Mundo gets those items, Darius is going to enjoy the advantage. His dunk to win style will be the far bigger threat for the next couple of minutes.”

Westwind laughed and responded, “Couldn’t agree more! Exactly right! Alright, let’s move on to another lane. I’m sure the crowd would love to hear what I think of the mid lane. RIGHT? RIGHT? I CAN’T HEAR YOUUUU!” He grinned at himself, the audience still going along with him, and then continued, “Lin Feng is ahead. That’s right! You heard it here first! The guy on the killing spree is stronger than the one on a dying spree! High School 13 has the clear lead here! Now… Drum roll… Reed, talk us through the bot lane?”

“I think we just saw what it looks like in the bot lane. Zeng Rui is just so much better than High School 13’s Support. You don’t need to be an expert to see that,” Silent Reed started. She then took a long look at Tang Bingyao and continued, “I would’ve liked to see the girl do well. We don’t see enough female players on the big stage. But Shanghai High School is just better in the bot lane.”

Westwind nodded and shouted, “It’s okay! Because High School 13 has two female players! Their ad-carry and their Jungler! Oh boy. Let me tell y’all something. That Jungler. She’s good. She’s really, really good! Her ganks are what’s keeping High School 13 in this game! But the Elise is also doing pretty well for herself, especially considering how painful the start of the game was for her. Taking everything into consideration, I’m going to give a small edge to High School 13 in the Jungle!”

Silent Reed giggled and said, “That is why this game is so even! Top and bot are in Shanghai High School’s favour right now, while mid and jungle are going High School 13’s way. There really is no telling who’s going to win this one. But I have a feeling that something is about to happen. Something big. Game deciding big. I’m really looking forward to the fight that’s going to turn this game in one team’s favour.”

Tang Bingyao sat behind her computer, beads of sweat popping up on her forehead. I need to be better. Mhm, better! She focused on the game, like she’d seen Lin Feng do so many times before. The minions were losing health. Right before one died, she had her Vayne fire off a silver bolt. The minion was pierced and collapsed to the ground. Another point added to her creep score. Her tally was steadily increasing, but she was still lagging behind Shanghai High School’s ad-carry. I can’t lose. I have to be better! Maybe if I say the voice lines like Lin Feng does… She thought of Vayne’s quotes and mumbled under her breath, “I bring swift death.” She cringed.

No. No. Mnh-mnh! Tang Bingyao shook her head and kicked the back of her desk in frustration. “Ah!” she groaned before shutting up again. I’ve lost a lane in three games now. All three. I’m losing. Losing. Again and again. I must be better. For the team… For Lin Feng. Her mind distracted her just a bit too much. She missed a minion. No! She bit her lips, fighting back more and more against her own spiraling thoughts. In Game 1 I only got kills because Lin Feng gave them to me. He could’ve gotten a penta if he didn’t try to help me… Then the second game I lost. We lost because of me. And now again. I’m losing. I’m losing…

The only pressure Tang Bingyao felt was the pressure she was putting on herself. But it was suffocating. She could only think of the mistakes she’d made, glossing over everything she had done right, and how she had to play better. She bit hard on her lips, the sweet taste of iron seeping onto her tongue. Stop. Stop thinking about this. Focus. I just need to play better. I can’t drag them down. I… Mhm, I need to try harder. I won’t drag Lin Feng and the others down. I can’t disappoint him!

Tang Bingyao focused on her screen. The game was 11 minutes in. Shanghai High School’s Botlaners were pushing the minion wave towards the Red Team’s outer tower. Jinx had taken out her bazooka and was firing off missiles, their splash damage poking down at the Vayne and Thresh’s health bars. 

I can’t let this continue Tang Bingyao thought. The Jinx could just keep abusing her range and eventually force her back to base, dead or alive. Her heart was pounding in her chest. Her hand was shaking, nervous. I have to play better and make something happen! I’ll finally help the team! Mhm!

Tang Bingyao’s Vayne was hit by another Jinx rocket while she was trying to last hit a minion from under her tower. I can’t sit here. I have to move! She ignored the minions, letting her outer tower kill them, and fired off a silver bolt at the Jinx. I’m going in! She moved forward, another Jinx missile taking a bite out of her health bar. She fired off a second silver bolt. The Jinx threw out her Flame Chompers in reflex. The three stun grenades landed right in front of the Vayne.

Tang Bingyao’s face lit up. Mhm. This was what she’d been waiting for. She pressed down on her R key–Final Hour! A dark aura wrapped around her Vayne, increasing her stats. Then she Tumbled forward, dodging the stun grenades and disappearing into stealth.

Zeng Rui narrowed his eyes. He expected a move from the Vayne and here it was. There weren’t many directions the Vayne could go in. Jinx’s Flame Chompers and the wall of trees along the lane forced the Vayne onto a small path. One, two… Now! Zeng Rui pressed down on his Q key–Aqua Prison! His Nami manifested a large bubble of water and tossed it out in the path of the Vayne.

Tang Bingyao was anticipating the Aqua Prison, ready to Flash over it. Her Vayne disappeared from the exact spot the bubble landed and reappeared a short distance away. But there was more to this Flash than just dodging the stun. It also positioned the Vayne perfectly for a Condemn! She lifted the large crossbow from her back, aimed at the Jinx whose back was to the wall, and squeezed the trigger. A thick, massive bolt flew through the air and pierced the Jinx, lifting her off the ground and pinning her to the wall. Stunned!

“We have an engage in bot! HIGH SCHOOL 13 IS GOIN’ FOR IT!” Westwind shouted into his microphone. He was up on his feet, supporting one arm on the desk and clutching his microphone with the other. “WHAT A FLASH-DODGE! INSANE! Is this going to be the comeback? Maybe! MAYBE! Watch out for the Tidal Wave! WATCH OUT!”

Tang Bingyao had been so caught up in her own head that she forgot to communicate with Wei Dong. She’d engaged without telling him a thing. He chased after her, trying to catch up while being out of range to offer any support or help. “Tang Tang! Wait! We don’t have any wards in the river! Tang Tang!”

“Now,” Zeng Rui said over the team’s voice chat as he pressed down on the R key–Tidal Wave! His Nami called forth a giant wave that washed over the Vayne and Thresh, knocking them up into the air. Elise then walked out of the brush at the river entrance, which was only a few steps away from where the Jinx was stunned into the wall. She fired off a globule of webs at the Vayne–Cocoon! The sticky webbings wrapped around the Vayne until they fit so tightly around her that she couldn’t move at all anymore.

Tang Bingyao felt her heart drop. The Jinx only had a little bit of health remaining. Just a few more hits. A few more! Please! She frantically clicked, chewing on her lips and shaking her head in refusal. I won’t die. Mnh-mnh. But just because she didn’t want to die, that didn’t mean Shanghai High School would let her live. The Elise transformed arachnid form. She pounced on the Vayne and sunk her fangs deep into the Night Hunter’s flesh–Venomous Bite! Then the Jinx broke free from the stun and switched to her minigun before firing off a close range Super Mega Death Rocket!

《You have been slain!》

Tang Bingyao slumped back into her seat as her screen turned grey. Shit. She could feel vibrations come up from the ground beneath her feet. She looked up past her screen and saw the audience. They were jumping and cheering. If she focused on it, she could even hear them. They were cheering for Zeng Rui, shouting at the top of their lungs that his Support was the best.  I… I… She let go of her mouse and keyboard as her hands fell down past the desk and to her side. It took her everything she had not to let her head fall down on the keyboard. That was all my fault. I… I should’ve… I’m losing these Finals. I don’t want to… I don’t want to play anymore.

“WOOOO!” Westwind shouted, enjoying the moment. Then, after waiting for the cheering crowd to quiet down, he turned to Silent Reed and said, “So much for an even game. That girl in the bot lane is tilting hard! She had no vision and tried to 1vs2! These are the Finals of a big tournament, not some random solo queue game! I wonder what in the world she was thinking…”

Silent Reed shook her head and replied, “Yep. She’s showing that she has skill. But why waste it like that? There were no wards. She didn’t know where Elise was. Her mechanics are so good! But come on, you can’t just go in 1vs2 when you don’t know where the enemy Jungler is. That’s just common sense.”

Back on stage, Zeng Rui nodded at his screen. At the Vayne’s body. She’s tilting. That’ll make this game a lot easier. She won’t be much of a threat and we can get a few more kills on her if she keeps falling for these obvious baits. We’re going to need that for… He turned his attention to the mid lane and frowned. … those two. Their mid-jungle synergy is really good. That’s going to become a big problem. We have to do something about them. Soon preferably, or…

Lin Feng pushed out the lane and attacked the Blue Team’s outer tower. The Syndra was desperately trying to hold it, but Lin Feng dodged all of her skillshots while hitting back with his own, The outer tower almost didn’t have any health left, so the Syndra started retreating back towards her inner tower. Just then, An Xin appeared from the jungle entrance between the outer and inner tower.

“Shit!” Shanghai High School’s Midlaner cursed as he slammed down on his D key–Flash! His Syndra flashed past the Lee Sin and towards her inner tower. There she kept running all the way back to her base and then the last bit to the fountain. She was terrified of the Ahri and Lee Sin, and scared that if she stopped running the two would catch up to her and kill her. “These stupid… Ugh! Sorry guys. I’m trying, it’s just. Shit! Sorry, that was close. I don’t have Flash anymore.”

Lin Feng and An Xin didn’t mind that their play in the mid lane didn’t end with a kill. Forcing the Flash and taking down the tower was more than enough. Besides, the Syndra was on a dying spree and wasn’t worth much gold to begin with. The same couldn’t be said about the Jinx. She was a nice, juicy target with a big bounty on her head. Lin Feng grinned and said over the team’s voice chat, “Let’s go shut that Jinx down!”

“Sure, she’s had enough fun,” An Xin replied.

Sietse's Thoughts on Dating & Shanks Being Hopelessly Single

Sietse Thought: I got my morning cup of coffee this morning and was browsing the Reddit frontpage, as is habit, when I came across a truly baffling post:


Now, what truly confused me about this post, and the one linked to it, is how both sides are utter and complete opposites of each other. The girls are saying walks are a bad date, it looks like. And the guys saying it doesn’t matter, because it’s the getting to know you part that’s important and, “who cares if that’s on a hike?” Now, I don’t really care what these people think. If you meet a girl, you go and do something you both enjoy. If that’s a hike, it’s a hike. If it’s a martini and sex, well you catch my drift. But nobody cares about that. What I do hope to get some support for is more of a social experiment, because we got thousands and thousands of people who do seem to give a damn about it. What happens when we match these people up and we point a camera at them? Just imagine the endless drama and fun.

Now, what if we put them together in a house in let’s say Bali and watch their lives. And then we get those close up shots where they explain just why the date was so terrible and why he is a terrible human being for suggesting a walk on the beach, or whatever he/she doesn’t like. I want a Love Island version of these two groups!

Shanks Thought: I thought walking dates were a new trend? At least, I’d never heard of it referred to specifically as a term up until a year ago. But you know! That means Lin Feng was way ahead of the curve. It’s still 2015 for him, but he’s going on walking dates with Tang Bingyao every day after school. He’s even got her treating her to chicken cutlet and bubble tea! Talk about a smooth player.

Anyway, I’m down with the idea of a walking date. The logic makes sense to me. But it also terrifies me. You have up to an hour or longer of time to fill just talking to another person! What if we don’t have anything in common? What if I can’t think of anything to say? What if I’m an absolute shell of a human being who’s devoid of any interesting traits and can’t hold up a conversation for longer than 30 seconds? Thinking about  it that way, it just seems so much easier to go watch a movie together and sit in silence for 2 hrs.

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