Monday morning, the start of a new week at the Shanghai Esports Association. Fang Hao walked into the building and rode the elevator up to his office. He opened up the doors to his office and walked in. Then he looked around his office and asked, “Back here already, eh?” He wasn’t speaking to anyone in particular, or himself. He just wanted to break the silence in his office with some noise. Fang Hao walked over to his desk and sat down in his chair. Then he sighed and looked out the window. The weekend always goes by so quickly, and the week goes on for so long. I miss my bed already. How long is it going to be until I get two days off again? Weekends like the one that just passed were a rare occurrence for Fang Hao. Those special weekends where he got two days off, he called those Golden Weekends.
He looked at his desk, wondering if he should start clearing space for everything that was about to be piled on it. “Hah, I miss my soft bed already.” He just couldn’t bring himself to start.
Fang Hao reclined against the soft, plush leather of his chair and closed his eyes. He was preparing himself mentally for what was about to start. This was the one moment of peace he got every morning in this office. In the next few minutes, people would start walking in and filling whatever space existed on his desk with documents. Piling them high. Then he’d have meetings, phone calls, and constant reminders for what he had to check up on or provide input on. And any time in between all of that, he’d have to spend it working on the never-ending pile of documents. Once he started working in the next few minutes, that’s all he’d be doing for the rest of the day until he went home.
The life of an Esports Association President, eh? Not as glamorous or laid back as you thought it was going to be, is it Fang Hao? You thought all the work was getting here and then you could sit back and relax. Turns out the work was just starting out! You sucker! Fang Hao thought to himself before rubbing the Monday Blues out of his eyes and getting down to work.
Shanghai was known as the Capital of China’s esports scene. Beijing also had a thriving esports scene, but it just wasn’t as competitive or as well-known as the Shanghai scene. The third largest city with an esports scene was Guangdong. But the city and the esports scene had taken major hits in the last few years, and was nowhere near what was happening in Shanghai or Beijing. Together, the three Presidents of the Esports Associations from Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangdong decided all things concerning China in the international scene. They also decided the country’s future in esports. Since Fang Hao was the President of the Shanghai Esports Association, he had as much power and influence as the President from the Beijing Esports Association. And significantly more influence and say in the country’s esports future than the President of the Guangdong Esports Association.
Fang Hao wielded near-complete authority when it came to China’s esports scene. But with that great power comes great responsibility, and the weight that comes from such responsibilities. But Fang Hao did not mind that weight, or the stress that came with being President of the country’s biggest esports association. Because this was the path he’d chosen for himself, and he’d willingly accepted all of that.
Fang Hao had devoted himself to esports from the very beginning. He’d been one of the few people who saw the potential in competitive video games, and worked to make sure China was ready to make a name for itself when the international scene came into being. He saw the potential in the Defense of the Ancients MOBA, but it didn’t capture his heart. Then League of Legends came out, and that’s where he saw China’s future in esports. He poured blood, sweat, and tears into the Esports Association. Devoted himself to climbing up the ladder until he was in a position where he could start influencing the scene. Then he continued to push until he climbed to the position he was in today as the President of the Esports Association. But for Fang Hao, this journey that he was on was not about fame, money, or authority. What he wanted more than anything was to spend his lifetime and his career cementing esports as a viable career path and international competition. One where China was known as a force to be reckoned with. Fang Hao was one of those rare people who climbed to the top of the corporate side of esports with a pure love of gaming and competition.
And now that he had made it to the top, Fang Hao had one goal left to fulfill. One last dream. That was the rise of the LPL under his leadership. Then he could finally relax, having accomplished everything he set out to accomplish all those years ago.
Thinking about his dreams and the rise of the LPL naturally turned Fang Hao’s thoughts to the Finals of the Season 5 League of Legends World Championships. The game that took place last Saturday. His mood immediately plummeted and he no longer wanted to get himself into a productive headspace. Instead, he stared through the giant glass windows of his office out into the city of Shanghai. Hm… Season 5 Worlds… It did not feel great when SSK won that championship trophy. Again. But I’m not even mad at the LPL teams who made it all the way to Worlds. HoG, Dust, and KG all trained hard. They played hard. It wasn’t their fault they got knocked out. But still… there has to be something I can do! I’m so tired of Korea always winning! Why are we stuck in a place where we’re always behind them?
Fang Hao regretted the fact that no matter what he did, the LPL could not overcome Korea. He started to wonder if the situation they were in today was his fault. Then he thought about the Season 1 World Championships. Season 1. Now that was a show! Our miracle team… those guys tore through every other team in their path until they made it all the way to the Finals. Everyone thought China was worth shit back then. We only got a pity ticket to the World Championships. But we sure showed them! Until the very end. Where Korea managed to knock us back and win again. Fang Hao sighed as he thought back to those days. And how they had made it to the very end of the World Championships and then lost to Korea 2-3. The Korean team they lost to was equally amazing. It was disappointing that they lost the Championship Trophy by only a single game. But they had firmly cemented China as an Esports Powerhouse!
Thinking back to that moment, and what happened after soured Fang Hao’s mood even more. We made it to the very top back then! Everyone talked about us, the entire country was buzzing about esports. What did we do with all that energy? NOTHING! We didn’t capitalize on the momentum that the miracle team generated for us at all! And since then… well, since that one team and one Championship, we haven’t even had a team get to the Finals. Not a single LPL team in the Finals in the last four years!
Fang Hao sighed. “What a pity. We were so close…” Then his thoughts turned to what happened at the end of the Finals. When Lee Dojae handed the Summoner’s Cup to Rake at the end of the Finals. And made his speech about passing on the torch and the Dynasty of Rake. Dynasty of Rake… an unbroken line of champions! Fang Hao smacked himself in the face when he remembered that moment and Lee Dojae’s speech. “What a moron! How could someone be that pretentious? And his whole passing-the-torch bullshit? Where did that even come from? This new Rake is a winner and an actual legend. When was Lee Dojae a legend while he played as Rake? Is Lee Dojae delusional? Thinking he was the legend of his era? Back when that pretentious moron was playing DotA under the name Rake, the real legend was someone else! Lee Dojae was so far behind in second place that no one even cared that he existed! Now he’s up on stage spewing horseshit to rewrite history!”
Fang Hao was known for being a calm and composed leader. Everyone thought of him as someone who calculated and thought before he spoke, and believed that he never lost his temper. But that wasn’t always the truth. Fang Hao was calm and preferred resolving issues rationally more often than not. But even he had his limits, and a fierce temper that he constantly kept in check. His fuse was long and it took a lot to trip it. But it did happen every once in a while. The last time that he could think of right now was back during the Season 1 League of Legends World Championships. He was only the Vice President of the Shanghai Esports Association back then, but that didn’t stop him from going toe-to-toe with the bigwigs from the Global Esports Association. He went off on them and refused to back down until they agreed to let China’s miracle team play. Fang Hao took great pride in his actions that day. He had stood up for and represented a team that counted on him, and that single action built a reputation for China in esports!
As he thought back to that moment, Fang Hao chuckled at his younger self. But he didn’t regret his actions that day at all. He’d done what needed to be done for China’s Esports Association, and he’d continue doing what needed to be done to support the Shanghai Esports Association and China. But moments like that were only memories now. He’d been unable to do anything to get the LPL past the barrier they’d been stuck at for years. He shook his head to snap out of the thoughts of the past. The future is what matters! I need to do something for the LPL like I did for the miracle team back then!
Fang Hao started working for the day. He flipped through the first file of documents on his desk and raised an eyebrow. Arrangements for the All-China University Tournament. Otherwise known as the Collegiate Cup. The sister-tournament to the Shanghai 16 School Tournament, but one that was meant for College and University level players, rather than high school students. This tournament used to be held once a year as an annual event. But it had been changed to a bi-annual event starting this year. More opportunities to compete would lead to better players filtering into the LPL was the reasoning. A month from today marked the start of the next All-China University Tournament!
Fang Hao looked through the details of this tournament and thought about Chu Fang again. As Vice President of the Shanghai Esports Association, Chu Fang was the person that Fang Hao trusted the most. And a potential successor once he decided he was done. Fang Hao had let Chu Fang handle the Shanghai 16 School Tournament entirely on his own. That was a relatively small event, but one that gave Chu Fang some much needed and valuable experience. Chu Fang did really well with the 16 School competition. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Hm… I should probably let him handle this next one too. He’s going to need to know how all of them work if he’s going to be President one day. Actually! Speaking of Chu Fang…
Fang Hao remembered asking Chu Fang to send him information on the two teams that had made it to the Finals for the Shanghai 16 School Tournament this year. He turned his computer on and checked his email. And the message from Chu Fang with a document containing the information he requested was sitting right there. Chu Fang… what a responsible guy! He opened the PDF and skimmed over the names of the players. Let’s see who I’m going to keep an eye on for the next few years. Hm… WAIT! Fang Hao’s thoughts froze when his eyes skimmed over a name on the list. He stood up so fast that his chair hit the back wall of his office. And he continued to stand there, staring at his screen in disbelief. Staring at the name in disbelief. The name of High School 13’s Midlaner. “L-lin. F-feng…? Lin Feng? LIN FENG!?
A certain face popped into Fang Hao’s mind. Could it be… ? He quickly shook his head and took some deep breaths to calm himself down. “No, it has to be a coincidence. It can’t be, right?” But the possibility kept creeping back into his mind, refusing to disappear. His heart started racing. ”But what if it really is him!?”
Monday afternoon in High School 13. The students had already sat through most of their classes. The excitement from winning the Shanghai 16 School Tournament two days ago had mostly died out. Life had returned to its normal routine pace of classes, assignments and exams.
Lin Feng was stuck in class and starting to doze off. His eyes were heavy and every blink lasted longer and longer. Right as Lin Feng was about to drift off to sleep, his phone buzzed. The sharp vibration woke him up a little, and he checked his phone. A message from Tian Tian. That was exciting enough to completely wake Lin Feng up. He opened up the message and read it.
Fatty:「Lin Feng, what are you up to? I don’t have practice today! Wanna hang out? Get something to eat?」
After their knock out in the Semifinals of the Season 5 World Championships, KG returned to China. But they didn’t come home to mope around or go on vacation. They spent their time analyzing their games at Worlds, talking about what they needed to change up and what they needed to practice more, and setting up goals for next year’s Worlds. It was a lot of work and many hours of team meetings. Tian Tian had been busy ever since he got home. Until now. The first thing he did once he got a chance to leave the gaming house for a bit was to message Lin Feng to see if they could hang out.
Fatty wants to hang out? Lin Feng’s face lit up. He immediately replied to Tian Tian’s text.
Lin Feng:「Great! I’ll take the train over. Then we can decide on a place when we meet up!」
The two of them agreed to meet up after school and wander about until they found an internet cafe to hang out at.
Once he finalized plans with Tian Tian, Lin Feng put his phone away. But he sat there with a happy smile on his face. Then he looked around to see what everyone else was up to, and found Ouyang staring at him. Lin Feng scratched his head, confused by the suspicious glare Ouyang was giving up. He waited for Ouyang to say something, but nothing happened for a few awkward seconds. Eventually, Lin Feng decided to speak up. “Uhm… what’s up, Ouyang? What’s with the look?”
Ouyang inched himself closer to Lin Feng and asked, “YOU WERE TEXTING BRO! Who were you texting? I saw how you looked. The only time a bro looks that happy while sending a message is when he’s texting a girl. I know that look! No bro has that much fun texting another bro. You were really into those messages!” Then he paused and whisper-yelled, “YOU WERE TEXTING A GIRL!” He was loud, but not loud enough for the teacher at the front of the classroom to hear him. It was a loud whisper. And, unfortunately, just loud enough for An Xin and Tang Bingyao, sitting ahead of them, to overhear. Both of them turned around to look at Ouyang and Lin Feng.
The two girls had the same exact thought. Lin Feng was messing a girl…? They looked at each other, and then shook their heads. An Xin raised an eyebrow, and Tang Bingyao scrunched up her nose.