The esports club arrived at the barbeque place much more glum than they intended. The original plan was to celebrate their victory with grilled meat. But watching Worlds and the unstoppable might of SSK put a damper on things. They walked in quietly, everyone lost in their own thoughts about Worlds and SSK. But the smell of grilled meat and the happy atmosphere of the restaurant soon snapped them out of it. They all ordered, and soon the conversation turned to the food that was about to arrive. Then the food arrived and everyone started eating.
Lin Feng grabbed a pork belly rib and gnawed on it. Grease stuck to his lips and his fingers were a saucy mess. But he couldn’t care less as he took another bite. Superteam. Superteam. We were so good back in Season 1. Eleven and me… Those were the days. Fatty and me… He grabbed a piece of char siu and wolfed it down, completely ignoring the conversation around him. I’ma make a new team! A new superteam! Better than last time! A 2.0!
An Xin tried to follow the conversation Ouyang and Liu Yue were having, but found herself glancing over at Lin Feng. Are you also thinking about our old team? I think about those days all the time. We had something great! She closed her eyes as a touch of a smile appeared on her face. We had a top 3 in the world player in each position! And we had you in the midlane. I don’t care what happened in those finals. You were the best. You really were. We lost, yes. But that was only because we got unlucky. You were the better Midlaner!
The food at the barbeque place tasted great, but An Xin wasn’t really hungry. She tried to get out of her own mind and looked over at Ren Rou, who was talking about how the LPL never really achieved anything in the world of League of Legends. We did. People just forgot. We were great in Season 1! We would’ve won, if we didn’t get so unlucky. Our team was better than SSK! And that’s an honest assessment. We were just better. But they got lucky. That was the difference. We lost because they got luck—
Lin Feng jumped to his feet and clenched his fists, shouting, “Don’t worry, guys! We got this! We’re going to win Worlds!” He wiped the grease from his lips with his sleeve. A fire burned in his eyes. He looked at his friends, each in turn, then proclaimed, “Trust me! We’re gonna climb to the top and win Worlds!”
Ouyang shook his head and said, “There he goes again. Bro, be a little realistic here. How are we going to win Worlds?” He sighed, letting his gaze fall down, and added, “You’re my bro. I don’t wanna make fun of you. But you’re kinda asking for it right now… What? You think HoG or KG will win it next year? Did you forget how SSK stomped them?”
An Xin looked at Lin Feng and smiled. Then she interjected, “HoG and KG aren’t good enough. You’re right about that, Ouyang. But why can’t a new team rise up? Who knows, maybe there’ll be a new superteam next season!”
Ouyang was stumped for words. He just stared at An Xin and then finally argued, “What’d ya mean, superteam? A team with five super players who can magically beat SSK? Tell me, where should these super players come from? The LSPL? Have you watched their games this season? They’re dogshit! Nightsong is a million times better than all of those ad-carries combined! You know, there’s a good reason why those teams aren’t in the LPL! And why we aren’t winning Worlds…”
An Xin shook her head and giggled. “Who said anything about the LSPL?”
There was a stunned silence. Everyone glanced at each other but no one said anything. It started to turn a little awkward when Lin Feng suddenly slammed his hand on the table and shouted, “There’s my team! I’m going to remake my team!”
Ouyang pointed at Lin Feng and asked An Xin, “Is this your superteam? Our challenger bro and hi—” Wait. Hold on! Remake? He abruptly turned to look at Lin Feng and said, “Yo. What do you mean, remake your team? When did you ever have a team?”
Lin Feng smiled at Ouyang and shook his head. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, just like the Challenger thing all over again. I’ll just have to show it to you. He smiled and said, “Don’t worry about it. That’s not important. All that matters is that we’re going to win Worlds! I’m sure of it!”
Everyone started laughing and no one took Lin Feng seriously. Ouyang eventually raised a cup and proposed a toast to Lin Feng’s new superteam! This evoked a second round of laughter, after which Liu Yue chimed in with a joke. More laughter. Followed by another joke. They’d known Lin Feng for a couple of months now, and had grown accustomed to his wild and impossible-sounding claims. But they appeared to have forgotten that each one had been realized. Him being a Challenger. Them winning the Shanghai 16 School Tournament. All of it came true.
An Xin laughed. Not at Lin Feng, but at his friends. She knew Lin Feng better than anyone. She knew exactly what he was capable of. And winning Worlds, he was capable of doing that. We’re going to go back there. And this time, it won’t come down to luck. I have to get better, and come up with stronger strategies. There’ll be nothing left to chance.
Tang Bingyao was the only one who didn’t laugh. She looked at Lin Feng and knew he was serious; the determination in his voice told her that. He asked me to join… I always said no. She pursed her lips and looked at her friend. Her best friend. Do I want to play League of Legends professionally? Do I want to do that with him? With BunBun? She glanced over at An Xin and then nodded. I do. Mhm!
High School 13’s esports team feasted and celebrated at the barbeque place until well after 3 A.M. They eventually paid the bill and started saying their goodbyes, until Lin Feng turned to look at An Xin. Everyone stopped talking. It was an almost reflexive move by now. They’d seen this exact scenario play out many times before in just the last week! A circle spread out around the two. No one wanted to be caught in the crossfire!
Lin Feng nodded at An Xin and said, “You coming over to my place again?
An Xin raised her eyebrows and asked, “You’re missing me already?”
“Missing? You? No,” Lin Feng denied, shaking his head. “I just wanted to know if I had to sleep on the couch again…”
On the couch? Wait… Ouyang’s eyes went wide. His desire for the latest bit of gossip clashed with his fear for An Xin. I need to know what happened the other day! Did he say something stupid while they were in bed together? WERE THEY IN BED TOGETHER? He was about to take a step forward when An Xin shook her head. She looked at Lin Feng and said, “You worked hard today. The least I can do is let you get a good night’s sleep in your own bed. I’m going to take a cab home and sleep in my own bed.”
“Oh, okay!” Lin Feng replied. Then he turned around to look at Tang Bingyao and said, “Tang Tang, let’s walk home together!”
Tang Bingyao chewed on her lips, thinking for a moment, and then nodded. “Hmm, sure.”
Liu Yue had snuck over to Ouyang and pulled him to his side, whispering, “Man, Lin Feng’s so lucky. When he tires out one, he just moves to the next!”
Ouyang grinned and replied quietly, “BunBun says no, so he takes Tang Tang. Haha! My best bro always has a girl wrapped around his arm!”
Liu Yue nodded and said, “And they’re both so pretty… Out of all the girls in our school, he gets the prettiest two… Three if you count his roommate. How the hell is he so good with girls…?”
“Yeah! He should teach his bros the magic! Maybe we can also get some hot chicks!” Ouyang whisper-shouted, dreaming of a life with a hundred gorgeous girls fighting each other for a night with him.
Liu Yue looked from An Xin to Tang Bingyao and then back at An Xin. “I wonder which one he’s gonna pi—”
“Enough, you two,” Ren Rou interrupted. She grabbed Ouyang by the ear and glared at Liu Yue. “Or maybe you want to speak up a bit, so BunBun can hear you?”
Ouyang and Liu Yue froze. They slowly, very slowly, turned to look at An Xin. She was saying something to Tang Bingyao. And more importantly, wasn’t looking in their direction. They still felt a chill run up and down their spines as they thought of An Xin’s scary smile. They shook their heads and said to Ren Rou,
“Uhhh… I’ll shut up! I promise!”
The streets were empty in the dark of night. The first winter chills lingered in the air and a white mist draped the street, refracting the light from the lampposts to a yellow haze. Lin Feng walked with his hands buried deep in his coat and his shoulders raised to protect his neck from the cold. He watched Tang Bingyao hop over the cracks in the pavement in front of him, smiling.
Tang Bingyao smiled. This feels right. She hopped over another crack and quickly glanced back at Lin Feng, making sure he was there. I missed this. It feels like so long ago that we… She shook her head. So much happened after BunBun transferred to our class. And after I bought Lin Feng chicken cutlet… She glanced over her shoulder but couldn’t make out Lin Feng’s face in the dark. He’s probably thinking about Worlds. He did seem a lot happier tonight, even after Rake won Worlds… She shivered from the cold chill in the air and stuffed her hands in the pockets of her jacket. Then she hopped over another crack and started smiling again. This feels right. He’s behind me. He has my back. Hmm, I didn’t think I’d miss this so much.
The streetlights jumped to green as Tang Bingyao approached. There was almost no one else out on the streets. She skipped over the street, humming to a calm melody. I finally feel myself again. This feels great! Mhm! She slowed down a little and looked up at the sky. No stars tonight. She giggled and nodded. We’ll become stars! I’ve thought about it enough. Way too much. Rou Rou was right. He’s a little clueless and I don’t really know what it is I want either. If something happens, it happens. And if it doesn’t, then so be it. Hmm-mm! It doesn’t really matter if nothing happens. I quite like things the way they are. But… I do want to stay by his side. I wonder if he still wants me to be his team’s ad-carry… I did carry in the Finals today. And he knew I would!
Tang Bingyao abruptly stopped and swirled around. Then she tilted her head and asked, “Lin Feng, are you really going to remake your superteam?”
“Huh?” Lin Feng blurted out. He looked at Tang Bingyao who was suddenly standing right in front of him, surprised. Guess I got lost in my thoughts again… “Superteam? Oh!” he exclaimed. Then he nodded and said, “Yeah! Of course!”
Tang Bingyao opened her mouth, but then paused. Come on, say it. You can say it. She bit her lips, a nervous feeling in her stomach, and then said, “Remember what you asked me before? I’ll do it. I’m in.”
“Uh? What did I ask you?” Lin Feng asked, trying to figure out what was going on. Did I ask her something today? No. I don’t think so. I told her to carry with Vayne, but that can’t be it. Can it? What were we talking about again? Superteam? If I’m rema— He slapped himself on the forehead and said, “OHHH! You’re talking about you being my team’s ad-carry!”
Tang Bingyao nodded. “Mhm!”
Lin Feng ruffled his hair and asked in confusion, “But hadn’t we already decided you were going to be the ad-carry?”
“Whuh?” Tang Bingyao mumbled. Did I… No! She shook her head and said, “No! You kept telling me yes and I said no! I never agreed to it!” She paused for a moment and then added, “But now I do.”
“I see!” Lin Feng laughed. “So it’s all good! Nothing’s changed! You’re the team’s ad-carry!”
Tang Bingyao stared at Lin Feng, speechless. Then she took a deep breath and then turned around. Hmpf! Stupid Lin Feng! She started hopping over the cracks in the pavement again with a little more aggression than before. I think I understand why BunBun beats him up so much…
Dev's Thoughts on Greta Thunberg
Dev Thought: So today’s thought was about Greta Thunberg. I have very strong feelings about this. Mainly that Greta’s entire childhood is textbook bad parenting. Instead of encouraging their child to go to school where she could’ve gotten an education, maybe become a scientist who actually came up with solutions to environmental issues, her parents decided it was okay to let her waste months protesting. And now she’s essentially become an attention whore not for entertainment, but for misguided good intentions. And there is a fundamental truth to the world that the greatest harm comes from the best intentions. Sietse and I genuinely do not like everything that Greta Thunberg represents, and we ranted about this for a while. Shanks, on the other hand, has been strangely defensive of little Greta. Sietse and I didn’t understand for a while. But it turns out that Shanks might have something of a crush on her. Sigh.
So now we’re going to talk about Disney movies. Take it away, Shanks.
Shanks Thought: !?!?! In what world did I ever give the idea that I have a crush on Greta Thurnberg? Listen. I just don’t know why these two dislike her so much, exactly what it is about her that invokes such strong emotions in them? The two of them have been listening and watching the same media as I have for the past two decades.
Greta Thurnberg hasn’t been relevant for the past two years. I literally have not heard a peep about her. Then, all of a sudden, these two go, “Let’s talk about how much we hate Greta Thurnberg!” And they’re surprised when I say I don’t really hate her. I don’t like her either. I HAVE NO STRONG FEELINGS FOR GRETA THURNBERG. She’s just someone who’s been on the news cycle once or twice, and the only passing thought I had was, ‘Oh, god for her.” THEN I MOVED ON WITH MY LIFE LIKE A NORMAL PERSON.
I swear to god Sietse and Devshard are baiting me with this topic. They’re playing some kind of 4D chess that’s going way over my head. Am I in cuckoo town!?
Dev Addendum: Sietse, it really sounds like Shanks is trying to hide how much he’s thirsting after his Viking Princess, eh? She’s the Freya of his dreams, and he thinks he’s Thor. Wielding the Mjolnir that is his tiny Asian penis.
Sietse Thought: Yeap! And then he tries to defend himself with the good old “I don’t even know Greta’s name!” Don’t worry, Shanks. We won’t laugh at you. And better yet. She’s finally 18, so your feelings for her are legal now! You can stop hiding them!
Shanks Addendum: You guys are making it sound like I have posters of Greta Thunberg plasted over my wall… Like I’m some kind of obsessed teenager thinking about my idol. Guys, she’s younger than me by like 6 YEARS!
Dev Addendum: You think we can get big enough that we can finally do a “collab” with Greta Thunberg? A Lin Feng Environmentalism chapter? That’d be super fun for you, right Shanks? We fly you to wherever she is, and the two of you work closely together to talk about how important the environment is for League of Legends, Gamers, and how Lin Feng calms himself in nature? And then you two bend over a laptop together, typing furiously. Your cheeks touch, there’s a spark. Suddenly, you find yourself “worthy” to wield all the power of Mjolnir. Right, Shanks?
Sietse Addendum: She could find it? He knows how to use it? Since when? I think Devs is vastly misunderstanding something. What these two kids probably consider a romantic, sensual evening is drawing posters for the next protest that will land them the attention this girl is so desperately craving for. That’s the only way for her to get off, and Shanks is ready to provide.
Now Shanks is asking Devs and me what’s wrong with us, because we’re poking a little fun at his crush with Greta. You’re right, Shanks. Nothing wrong with liking her. You do you, bud.
Dev Addendum: Well. This is a twist that no one expected. All of you thought it was Dev x Shanks or Sietse x Shanks or Dev x Sietse. And you thought we could only go to Dev x Shanks x Sietse from there. But no! It turns out that the real Rise power couple is Shanks x Greta.
Also #MitchMcConnellIsAClosetWeeb! Spread the word! We gotta make it safe for him to do his Naruto Ninja Run in the morning on his way to his Senate offices! BELIEVE IT!