Only a minute to go until the third Dragon spawned, but the wheels in An Xin’s head were already spinning as she considered what would happen two minutes into the future. One minute after the Dragon spawned. She knew this was going to be an important teamfight. This could be the fight that decides this game! That was the single overriding thought in her mind, and the motivation for all the decisions she’d be making right now.
An Xin told everyone on High School 13’s team exactly where they needed to be on the Rift. And then told them to wait until she gave them the greenlight to drop their wards. Timing is everything here! She wanted to make sure that the timing of the warding was as precise as possible, so the entire team could know where Shanghai High School was at all times before this fight and what they were planning. This is it! I think we’ve got it. But I still need to keep an eye out, can’t let them flank us again. Not this time. She glanced at Tang Bingyao sitting next to her and took a deep breath to calm down and still her nerves. Then she spoke to the entire team over voice chat, “You guys ready? We cannot lose here! We can’t afford to lose this Dragon or this teamfight! But we’re not going to, right? They can’t beat us here as long as we stay frosty and play smart! We’re at the peak of our team comp right now! We’re going to win!”
An Xin stopped talking right after that, easing into a long, lingering pause. She wanted to make it clear to everyone that this was their best shot at winning this game. And the Shanghai 16 School Tournament. Their team composition gave them the advantage and Tang Bingyao’s Vayne already had 6 kills. “But,” she finally continued. “If we lose this one, that’s all Shanghai High School needs to catch up. Their Yasuo and Gragas will only become harder to deal with. It won’t be long before we can’t beat them anymore. This is a race against the clock. So let’s win this fight and then the game!”
Chen Ze nodded and said, “You’re right. They’ve already been getting stronger. It’s getting harder and harder for me to go against the Gragas…”
An Xin smiled and reassured her teammates, “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we can’t do this. I know we can! I’m just reminding you that it doesn’t matter how well we did in the previous team fights. We have to win this one!”
Liu Yue gripped his mouse hard and said, “Gotcha! Focus, focus! Focus! Let’s win!”
Lin Feng had been laughing and carefree for most of the night. He’d even brushed off the kills he gave away with lighthearted jokes. But his trademark grin was nowhere to be found right now. He had his Lulu stick close to Tang Bingyao’s Vayne, panning his camera across the Rift to look for Shanghai High School’s movements. The next play was going to be it. Months of hard work were coming to a head. But there was so much more hanging on this game than winning the tournament. He glanced over at Tang Bingyao, worried. She’d played two bad games and truly tilted in the third one. But she got off to a good start in this game. And she really is good at League! She can do this! Lin Feng nodded at himself but then frowned. Her being good and him being his cheerful self hadn’t done her any good in the previous three games. That was when he realized something. He looked forlorn as memories of his own struggles surfaced. Just being nice didn’t help me back then either. What would’ve helped?
Lin Feng chewed on his lips, thinking about what his teammates could’ve done to help him back when he was struggling in the Season 1 World Finals. What could they’ve done to help me? He shook his head. He didn’t know the answer to that question. But he did know that his friend needed help right now. His help. He looked up at Tang Bingyao and said, “Hey, Tang Tang?” He waited for her to look at him. Then he looked her in the eyes and continued, “Pay attention to your positioning. Don’t jump in right away. Stand back, wait for the right moment. Then you jump in and kill all of ‘em. Everyone on Shanghai High School’s team! Ace ‘em! That’s how we win this.”
Tang Bingyao met Lin Feng’s gaze, surprised. She found herself nodding at his words and saying, “Got it,” before she even realized it. There was something different in the way he talked. He isn’t grinning or joking. He looks so… so serious. Right then she knew it. Their entire team composition was built up around her. She had to do the carrying. And he trusted that she could and would carry the team. He’s even playing a Support champion in the mid lane for me! She bit on her tongue and then repeated, “I got this. Mhm!” Then she focused back on her screen. The Dragon was spawning in a couple of seconds. She had her Vayne stand behind Lin Feng’s Lulu and waited for the teamfight to start.
The Headquarters for the Hand of God organization was in Shanghai. In the heart of the esports capital of the world. Their League of Legends team had returned home two weeks earlier after getting knocked out of Worlds. That was also their last competition of the year. The players were given some time off to enjoy a holiday before they started their pre-season preparations. But not everyone could just take a break from League of Legends and go to Hawaii for a month.
The Hand of God headquarters had several gaming rooms for their players to practice in. Nightsong sat behind a computer in one of them. He relaxed in his gaming chair after having just won a solo queue game, though his head wasn’t in it at all. The Finals… No. The finals for the World Championship are going to happen tonight… Season vs SSK. North America and Korea. And you’re sitting here in Shanghai playing Solo Queue. Great work there, Nightsong! He rubbed his eyes, and then he looked at his own reflection in the monitor. “TRASH!” Could I have played better? Maybe, yeah. I’m Nightsong! I fuck harder than anyone else out there! But… would that have been enough? Nightsong leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. I’m good. Hermes is good. Those two Koreans we brought in were pretty good. But are we really good enough? Are we as good as SSK? Am I as good as Rake? He sat up, opened his eyes and looked at his reflection in the monitor again. “TRASH! YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO BEAT RAKE! AND HE’LL FUCK YOUR MOTHER AND MAKE YOU CALL HIM DADDY!” We shouldn’t have been knocked out so early. Dammit! Why weren’t we better?
Nightsong shook his head and tried to focus on something else. He hovered his mouse over the play button on the League of Legends client and mumbled to himself, “Should I play another game?” But he quickly discarded that idea. There’s only one game I wanna be playing in. And I’m not! He shook his head again and opened his web browser. Let’s see if there’s anything interesting happening on Huya. That’s better than sitting here and sulking like a little bitch! Nightsong, get your head outta your ass! Stop being sad like a little girl who couldn’t convince her big daddy to get her a lollipop! Do something else! DON’T BE TRASH! DON’T BECOME TRASH!
The webpage loaded and showed two prominently featured broadcasts. The top one was for the League of Legends Season 5 World Championships. It was showing highlight reels and analysis for SSK and Season, and hyping up the crowd for the upcoming game. Nightsong clicked away from that and onto the other stream. The official broadcast of the Shanghai 16 School Tournament. He shrugged and waited for the stream to load. Alright Nightsong, you want to be a baby? Fine. Let’s watch children play League. Maybe you’ll feel better about yourself because you’re better than them. Won’t that be nice? “When did I turn into the trash that I hate? I swear, look at me. I lost one game at Worlds and I’m on the verge of sticking my dick into a wood chipper!”
Nightsong stretched his back and glanced at the game playing on his screen. Shanghai High School versus High School 13. Shanghai High School, I remember them. They had that Support who got offered a pro contract. He’s probably better than I am now! “Shit. That’s pathetic, Nightsong!” He scratched his nose and thought about where he was last year. There was no Worlds for him then. He was invited by the Shanghai Esports Association to make an appearance at the Shanghai 16 School Tournament. I’m way too good for those little kids. Of course I turned it down! Some of his friends had gone and told him how impressive Shanghai High School was. Promising and good one year and trash the next. Where have I heard that before? “TRASH!”
The spectator view turned away from Shanghai High School’s team and focused on High School 13. More specifically, it zoomed in on the Vayne with Nami and Lulu hugging her. “Huh,” Nightsong blurted out. Vayne was his favourite Champion. He knew more about her than anyone else, and he knew almost everyone who was good at her. There was really only one Vayne player that came to mind that he didn’t know. Could this be him? He thought back to a solo queue game he’d played more than a month ago. That Vayne from that random game… he wasn’t bad at all. He knew how to play. I never did find out who that was. Maybe it was a high schooler? That’d explain why I don’t know him. And if he is, he’d definitely make it to the Finals of this tournament…
Nightsong shook his head a few seconds later. He didn’t need more than that to know that this Vayne wasn’t that Vayne. “She’s good, but not that good…” He was about to click away when something else caught his attention. Are these supports on steroids? Their vision is actually good! Nightsong, stop. Have you really sunk this deep? Are you really impressed with how a bunch of kids are warding now? What’s next? You’re going to think that this Lulu is the best fucking player in the world or something? Jesus! Stop being this little bitch! No one likes little bitches! You fuck them fast and you fuck them hard! That’s the Nightsong wa—
Nightsong’s eyes went wide and he sat up straight in his gaming chair. “WHAT!” The stream was following Lulu. The way she moves… That is… He rubbed his eyes and leaned a little closer to his monitor. Am I losing it? Is that it? How does this Lulu remind me of Hermes? She hasn’t been hit by anything and she’s just where she needs to be every time. There’s always that little extra space. Is this really someone in high school? He fell back in his chair, amazed. “I could’ve played that… maybe. Nah, I’d get outplayed. I hate my life.”
The third Dragon spawned. But neither Shanghai High School nor High School 13 had found the opening they were looking for. Some Champions ended up getting poked down more than others. Among them, Gragas was the first to recall back to base and recover his health. High School 13 used this window to exert more pressure on Shanghai High School’s team, and attempted to force a teamfight before the Gragas could return.
Zeng Rui smiled. He asked over the team’s voice chat, “Ready?” To which the Gragas gave a quick, “Yes.” Then Zeng Rui focused on the opposing team. High School 13 were going in for the engage. They fell for it. Good. He waited a couple seconds, letting High School 13 push them a little further back then, said over his team’s voice chat, “Now.”
Shanghai High School’s Gragas had bought the Homeguard upgrade for his boots. This granted him 200% bonus movement speed that decayed over the next 8 seconds after leaving the base fountain. Most players used this to run back to lane faster, but there was another way to use this speed boost. Champions could combine it with the Summoner Spell Teleport. The Gragas did just that. He teleported to a ward in High School 13’s bottom side Jungle, right behind the Dragon pit.
An Xin spotted the Gragas Teleport the moment that the red pillar of light descended on the ward. She pinged the yellow retreat signal and yelled over High School 13’s voice chat, “Back! Back! The Gragas! BACK!” But she was already too late. She saw a mottled flash of light followed by a pure beam of sunlight slamming down on her team. Leona had engaged with a Flash-ultimate combo skill!
Westwind was up on his feet, leaning on the caster desk with one hand and clutching the microphone with the other. “ENGAGE! ENGAGE! IT’S THE ENGAGE!” he shouted out, failing to find any other words.
Silent Reed leaned closer to her microphone and helped Westwind out. “Shanghai High School found the engage! Leona got a triple stun! They—”
“THEY STUNNED THE VAYNE!” Westwind cried out. “THEY GOT THE VAYNE! SHE’S LOCKED DOWN! THE GRAGAS IS RIGHT THERE AND THE YASUO IS IN RANGE FOR HIS ULTIMATE SKILL!”
Tang Bingyao bit on the inside of her lips, trying not to curse at herself. She knew very well that she shouldn’t have been caught by that Solar Flare. Focus! She activated Quicksilver Sash. This was an item with an active skill that removed all crowd control effects on her. A cleansing light washed over her, freeing her from the stun. Then she ran away into Blue team’s bottom side jungle.
An Xin activated her Nami’s ultimate–Tidal Wave! The Nami called forth a wave that crashed through the river and washed over Shanghai High School’s team. All four champions were knocked up and unable to do anything for a good second. But there were five champions on a team and she had no way to block the Gragas that was coming at them from behind.
The Gragas arrived in High School 13’s Jungle. He charged after the Vayne at 200% movement speed, trying to catch her before she could reach the bot lane. The rest of High School 13 reacted and moved to intercept him. He Body Slammed forward and Flashed. His momentum was carried over, and he collided right into Jarvan IV. He missed the Vayne by a hair’s breadth. But he hadn’t given up yet. He hurled his Explosive Cask over the Jarvan IV’s head toward the Vayne.
Tang Bingyao watched the Explosive Cask coming at her in slow motion. This was it. She had one shot, one opportunity. To seize what she wanted in one moment. She would capture it. I won’t let it slip! Everything ground to a halt, except for the large cask. It was flying at her, her fingers refusing to press the buttons she needed to press. I have to get away! I can do this! I have to! The Yasuo will ult me if I get knocked up! I have to…