The audience couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Conversations, discussions and arguments broke out between all of the High School 13 students in the audience! Some of them didn’t understand why this change was even necessary. They argued and yelled at the stage about how perfectly in-sync An Xin and Lin Feng were during Game 3 of the Finals. Others yelled about how the two of them made Shanghai High School, who were the favourites for the title, look like beginners. But most of them were just upset by the change and nervous. They looked at each other and talked about how High School 13 only needed one more game to win the whole tournament! They wanted someone to explain what was happening, and none of them could. They moaned about how they thought they were going to be the Champions of Shanghai at the end of the last game!
The change agitated High School 13’s students because they were already picturing the trophy sitting in their school’s trophy cabinet! But right as they started to taste victory, the esports team threw a curveball at them. The magical Mid-Jungle duo had been broken up! An Xin left the Jungle to Liu Yue and decided to hook up with Tang Bingyao as a Support in the bot lane.
“Crazy? Or crazy GOOD? Maybe she’s an even better Support!”
“Calling it right now! Best Support China! Go Nami, gooooooo!”
“Show us that girl prowess! Guys have nothing on us! GIRLS WILL RULE THE WORLD!”
“Oh my sweet lord, this is sooooooo exciting!”
Shanghai High School was just as surprised as High School 13’s students. The team members had watched Zeng Rui struggle for the last half of the previous game and also during the subsequent break. Zeng Rui had looked lost, as if for the first time ever he didn’t have the answer. He couldn’t come up with a strategy to beat the Mid-Jungle pair of Lin Feng and An Xin. And they’d worried with him. They came to him with suggestions, which he wouldn’t even listen to. But they still tried to help him. They wanted to do anything they could to help their team captain. But now they didn’t need to worry about that anymore. High School 13 brought them the solution by changing strategy. They leaned back in their chairs, smiling, relaxed.
Zeng Rui, on the other hand, didn’t share the optimism of his teammates. Something’s wrong. What is she doing? He looked across the stage at High School 13’s team. And at An Xin. Why do I have this feeling again? Last game was the same and then… He shook his head and tried to rid that thought from his mind. Last game is played. I need to focus on this game. If she wants to compete with me for Support, I’ll… I’ll just… He grinned and said over the team’s voice chat, “We’re going to win this one. I’ll show her exactly how good of a Support I am.” I’m going to beat her!
Westwind sat at the caster desk, dead silent. It looked like he’d left his tongue in the breakroom as he was staring at the large screen above the stage. They didn’t just change their lineup, they also changed their strategy. He finally looked over at Silent Reed who was sitting next to him and nodded. Then he grabbed his microphone and said, “Looks like High School 13 has a different plan in mind for this game. What do you make of this, Reed?”
“It’s interesting. Very interesting,” Silent Reed replied. “Honestly? I don’t get it. They were so good last game. They looked unbeatable! And now they change everything. Lin Feng, who is by far their best player, even picked Lulu! Lulu is a Support Champion! She is the defensive choice in mid lane when you’re afraid your team is going to lose! He’s so much better than Shanghai High School’s Midlaner. Why is High School 13 doing this?
Silent Reed knew the answer to her question perfectly well. She was merely creating a dialogue, something for the audience to latch onto. She winked at Westwind, who grinned and answered, “I think it’s pretty obvious what they’re going for! They’re building a team around the Vayne! She basically has two Supports now! You know what we call this? The ‘Protect-the-ad-carry’!”
Silent Reed shook her head and said, “I believe you, but… Ok, listen up here. Don’t get me wrong. I really want the girl playing Vayne to do well. I really do. But if today’s games are anything to go by… I mean, it’s just… It looks like a bad choice by High School 13. Maybe they got a little overconfident after the ease with which they won the previous game.”
Westwind nodded and said, “Yeah! Totally agree with you! I hope for High School 13’s sake that this decision isn’t going to bite them in the ass. Don’t forget, this is the Finals of the Shanghai 16 School Tournament! You wanna use your best lineup right now! If you wanna try something new, you do it in a practice game!” He shook his head a couple of times before continuing, “Anyway, the Champions are locked in. Let’s give it up for both teams one final time before we get into the game. Wooooo! High School 13!” He waited a moment to let the High School 13 fans cheer before shouting, “Wooooo! Shanghai High School!”
Tang Bingyao, the girl at the center of all the upheaval, was not at all convinced of An Xin’s gameplan. I lost us the second game. And if it wasn’t for Lin Feng and An Xin, we would’ve also lost the first and third game. I’m feeding! I’m playing terribly! They shouldn’t trust me. We can win this. They can carry us to a win! Why don’t they just do that? I just… I don’t want to feed! They were on the loading screen. There was no going back and reassessing their strategy. Tang Bingyao knew this, but she still couldn’t keep herself from asking over the team’s voice chat, “B-BunBun, are you really sure about this? Y-you’ve seen the last three games. I… I…” She lowered her head and sulked. I don’t want to play Vayne and I don’t want to keep feeding and I just want this Finals to end. I want to go home, mhm. I just want to… I don’t know. I don’t know. Just let this end and let me forget it! I—
Tang Bingyao jerked her head up in surprise as she felt a hand touch her shoulder. She looked up at An Xin, who was sitting next to her, and found the girl smiling at her. Tang Bingyao bit on her lips and wanted to say that she couldn’t do it, but there was something in An Xin’s eyes that kept her from doing that. She looks so confident. How can she be confident after everything that’s happened? She knows how I’ve been playing. Zeng Rui is just too good. I still need to practice more. Just let me practice some mor—
“Don’t worry. You have me! You saw it last night, right? I’m a pretty good Support,” An Xin said. Then she leaned in closer and whispered in Tang Bingyao’s ears, “Plus, we can’t have you embarrass yourself in front of Lin Feng, now can we?”
“N-no! You—” Tang Bingyao’s eyes went wide. She felt a stone drop to the pit of her stomach. Her heart nearly leaped out of her chest. She knows! S-she knows! H-how? She looked over to her side, where Lin Feng sat. He was staring at his screen, mouthing something. H-he didn’t hear her… Please, please! Tell me you didn’t hear her! She swallowed and turned back to look at An Xin. “P-please, don’t say…”
An Xin placed a finger over her lips and shook her head, as if saying, “I won’t tell a soul.” Then she winked at Tang Bingyao and said, “Try your best! I know how good you are, and I know I’m not asking too much of you. Now carry us to that trophy!”
《Welcome to Summoner’s Rift!》
High School 13 and Shanghai High School loaded onto the Rift. They bought their starter items at the fountain shop and moved down the lanes. Both teams were happy to open with a normal start to the game; there were no lane swaps nor any jungle invades. The minion waves spawned from the Blue and Red nexuses and marched down the lanes.
Zeng Rui was playing Leona, a strong defensive Champion. She used her large healthpool to apply pressure on Tang Bingyao’s Vayne and An Xin’s Nami, allowing Shanghai High School’s Kalista an easier time last hitting minions. This is going well. That girl is a good support. But not that good. I can handle her. He glanced at the Vayne, but then quickly looked back at the Nami. The Vayne is still the same. She won’t be much to worry about. I need to focus on the Nami.
The new match up in the bot lane led to both teams playing defensively. The Botlaners focused on farming minions and were very carefully feeling the other side out, searching for openings to land some poke damage. The mid and top lane, on the other hand, saw a lot more action.
In the mid lane, Lin Feng’s Lulu was dominating the Yasuo. Lin Feng was a far better player and Yasuo generally had a difficult early laning phase against casters. Lin Feng’s Lulu waved her wand around, firing off magic bolts of energy at the Yasuo. She didn’t have much in terms of burst damage, but the constant damage from her ranged auto attacks stacked up. Yasuo was forced away from the minions and missed out on last hitting them. Then he was forced back to hide underneath his tower. And finally Lin Feng’s Lulu forced him to recall back to base.
In the top lane, the Junglers of both teams were looking to make a gank happen. This evolved into a 2vs2 skirmish. Liu Yue’s Jarvan IV and Chen Ze’s Irelia were fighting against Shanghai High School’s Lee Sin and Gragas. Shanghai High School was the more experienced side, while Liu Yue and Chen Ze couldn’t seem to agree on which Champion to attack, Shanghai High School focused down Chen Ze’s Irelia. He was forced to Flash away. Liu Yue flashed right behind him, but not before forcing Shanghai High School’s Lee Sin to also Flash away. In the end, Chen Ze’s Irelia had to recall back to base, while the Gragas could stay in lane. He got to free farm a full wave of minions, picking up the gold and experience, while the Irelia missed out on it.
Back in the bot lane, everything was still even. The minion wave was frozen in the middle of the lane, right below the river entrance. Both ad-carries, Tang Bingyao’s Vayne and Shanghai High School’s Kalista, were almost even in creep score and there also wasn’t much of a difference in terms of health. But even though she was doing well right now, Tang Bingyao wasn’t feeling good. H-how much does An Xin know? Will she really not tell Lin Feng? Did she already tell him? She glanced at Lin Feng, who was laser-focused on his screen. He doesn’t know… Does he? She pulled her eyes away from him and focused back on her screen. I can’t worry about this now. Mhm! I have to focus on the game. Like Lin Feng! But… What if he knows? W-what will he think? She shook her head and tightly clutched her mouse. Stop this! Stop this! Focus on the game! The game!
Tang Bingyao’s Vayne last hit another minion. She was lining up for the next one, finding a better frame of mind. And then it was all gone again. She remembered what An Xin had said to her. “We can’t have you embarrass yourself in front of Lin Feng, now can we?” Her breathing became flustered. H-how does she know? Did Ren Rou tell her… She looked over the edge of her screen at Ren Rou sitting in the audience. She wouldn’t do that, would she? No. No. Stop this! Stop this, Tang Bingyao! She breathed out sharply and focused back on her screen. Mhm. BunBun is right. I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of Lin Feng. Lin Feng… She thought back to everything he’d told her since they first met. She remembered his kind words full of passion and energy. He’s always believed in me. He keeps saying how good I am… She started smiling, finding it suddenly very easy to focus on the game. His words rang out in her mind.
“You’re an amazing ad-carry!”
“Join my team! If we’re teammates, I’ll always have time for you!”
“Since you don’t have a dream, I’ll lend you mine! You can keep it for as long as you want! No need to thank me!”
Tang Bingyao felt all tension escape from her body. Her grip on her mouse loosened and she started breathing in long, calm breaths. She looked over at Lin Feng and felt her smile grow a little wider. I… I’m going to impress you! I won’t ever disappoint you again! I’ll show you I can be the best ad-carry in the world! For you, I want to become the best ad-carry in the world! That’s my dream. Mhm!
Tang Bingyao’s Vayne was almost Level 3. She attacked a caster minion. Shanghai High School was still Level 2. Every small advantage was one. She landed a third auto attack on the caster minion. The three silver rings underneath it detonated and killed it. Almost immediately, she heard An Xin’s voice over the team’s voice chat, “Tang Tang, go in!” She nodded. “Mhm!”