“Alright, we’ll have our second team play them,” Luo Yu said to his teammates. They were sitting in the room next to the university’s esports clubroom, discussing what to do about the scrim against Team Shanghai. Qiu Li, Xie Qing and Huang Yang were already feeling apprehensive about playing against a high school team. But after learning that the team had two girls on its roster, they outright refused to play them.
Huang Yang said, “Fine.” Then he looked at his watch and snorted. “We’ve made them wait half an hour. If we’re lucky, they’ve already left. Haha! Oh, I’ll send the guys from the second team a text.”
Luo Yu stood up and walked past his teammates out into the hallway. “Let’s go.” He didn’t wait for them to follow as he strode to the next door over and placed his hand on the door handle. Only then did he glance over his shoulder to make sure his teammates were there. They were. He pushed the door open and stepped inside. And as he did his entire demeanor changed. He straightened his back, becoming the tallest person in the room, and an air of confidence appeared around him. This was his arena. This was where he belonged.
Just as fast as the confidence appeared on Luo Yu, it lapsed. Han Ying had told them that there were two girls on Team Shanghai’s roster, but it was only now that he really believed her. He had to take a second take and then searched for Han Ying to get confirmation. She nodded at his questioning gaze. So she was right. They do have two girls on their team. And, they’re pretty! He felt his heart skip a beat. They’re high schoolers. Control yourself! He scrunched his eyes and forced his surprise down. Then he scrutinized the two girls. Why do they have two girls on the team? Isn’t this supposed to be the team representing the Shanghai Esports Association? Was this really the best roster they could form? It’s good we’re having the second roster play them. He forced himself to stop this line of thought. Don’t think like this. Just because they’re girls, doesn’t mean they’re bad. Maybe they’re really good. It’s just… You rarely ever see a high elo female player. Let alone two of them. And they’re both high schoolers! It just… It doesn’t make any sense. They can’t be that good. Can they?
Luo Yu shook his head ever so lightly and straightened his back again. This is my place. He nodded at Zeng Rui with an apologetic smile and extended his hand. “We’re a little late. My apologies. Something came up at the last minute that kept us busy.”
Zeng Rui accepted Luo Yu’s handshake and calmly replied, “It’s fine. But next time, give us a head’s up. Messages on Wechat are free. I don’t like wasting my time.”
Luo Yu nodded, smiling wryly. I know. I should’ve sent you a message. But I didn’t expect that discussion to take so long… He’d played with Zeng Rui on the Rift before and they’d met in person on occasion too. They were acquainted at the least, maybe even friends, and he was being anything but a friend. He wanted to say something about it, but his teammates beat him to the punch.
Qiu Le narrowed his eyes. He looked over at Huang Yang and said loudly enough so that everyone could hear him, “Can you believe these high schoolers, Huang Yang? I swear. Luo Yu told them we were busy. He even apologized! What more do they want? We should just tell them to piss off!”
Huang Yang nodded at Qiu Le. Then he turned to look at Zeng Rui and said, “If you don’t like waiting, you can walk right outta here. We’re not forcing you to stay. And also quit the tournament while you’re at it. I can’t believe the esports association invited high school teams…”
Luo Yu coughed and glanced over his shoulder, signalling his teammates to tone it down. Then he looked back at Zeng Rui and said, “It was just an unfortunate combination of events. We screwed up, okay? And for that, I do apologize. Please don’t take it personally.”
Zeng Rui nodded and said, “Ok. It happens.” He wasn’t happy about it, but he also understood that there was nothing he’d gain from pushing this matter any further. So he changed the conversation to the main topic. “Since we’re both here, let’s scrim.”
“About that,” Luo Yu said. He hesitated briefly, glancing past Zeng Rui at the two girls. “Well, there is a slight change of plans. We were talking about the scrim and felt it might be better if you guys play against our second roster first.” He hesitated for a brief moment, then added, “We… Since you guys only just formed your team, it seemed unfair to pit you against us right away. Our second roster is pretty good too and probably more at your level.”
Zeng Rui puffed out his chest and stared at Luo Yu. He’d had enough of the way they were being treated. He said, “That’s not what we agreed to. I very specifically asked to play against your main roster. And you agreed to that.”
Luo Yu smiled wryly and explained, “Er… I know. I agreed to that. But the guys and I talked about it and we realized you guys were a new team. You don’t have much experience playing with each other yet. We think you’ll learn more from playing a game against our second roster. I think it’s unfair to make you play u—”
Qiu Le interrupted Luo Yu with a loud snort. He glared at Zeng Rui and said, “What? Got a problem with it? Don’t get ahead of yourselves because you won some silly high school tournament. Oh, wait, you didn’t. You lost. Ha! Show some respect. Just be happy we’re even here. Now stop wasting our time and play against our second team.
Zhang Hao had been holding himself back for more than 30 minutes now. But now he’d finally had enough. He shouted, “Don’t screw with us!” He then took a short breath before continuing, “We don’t want your faked pity. We came here to play your main team and you agreed! Stop making these weak excuses! This is all bullshit and you know it! If you don’t want to play against us, just say so! We don’t have to waste our time here!”
Huang Yang shrugged and said, “So what if it’s bullshit? What are you going to do about it?” He paused and nodded at An Xin and Tang Bingyao standing behind Zeng Rui. “We initially planned to play against you ourselves, since Luo Yu had already agreed to. But then we heard you guys don’t even have a serious team. I’m not going to waste my time on playing around with a bunch of kids.” He snorted and added, “You know you guys are crap. Just look at your lineup. Our second team will kick your ass, and you might learn something from that. So are you going to play, or what?”
It was clear to everyone that Huang Yang wasn’t impressed with Team Shanghai having two girls on their roster. The way he looked at them and then snorted in derision was telling enough. This was a common theme in League of Legends. There were many girls who played the game, but very few of them reached a competitive level. The LPL didn’t have a single team with a female player on it. And it hadn’t been any different in the Shanghai 16 School Tournament, with the exception of High School 13. It was with this knowledge that it became very hard for Huang Yang to even consider the possibility of a woman being good at League of Legends. I won’t entertain some fucking high school kids. We should be practicing against a good team and get ready for the Collegiate Cup!
Tang Bingyao pursed her lips and frowned. This is just like the Shanghai 16 School Tournament. They always talk and make fun about me being on the team, just because I’m a girl. It’s always, “Oh, she’s a girl. She can’t be good. This will be easy.” She glared at Huang Yang. They just called him Huang Yang. Asshole. All people like him are assholes. Mhm! I’m going to show him just how wrong he is!
An Xin took a completely different approach from Tang Bingyao. She smiled, warm and friendly, and pretended as if it didn’t bother her. But her hands tensed up and she grit her teeth. Every single time. “Oh, she’s a girl! They must only have her around because she’s a pretty face!” I’m tired of it. Why can’t a girl be good at League? It’s this stupid mentality that makes girls not want to play. Or when they do play, pretend they’re a guy. We always get singled out. It’s never, “Oh that dude looks like a buffoon, he must be bad at the game.” I’ll make this stupid buffoon eat his words!
“Thanks for your ‘consideration’,” Zeng Rui said. He looked at Huang Yang and Qiu Le before turning back to Luo Yu. “But we didn’t ask for your ‘consideration’. We came to scrim against your main team. And that’s the only team we’ll be playing against.”
Luo Yu was about to look over his shoulders at his teammates, but stopped himself at the last second. I’ve been a terrible friend and host for long enough. It’s time to start fixing that. He took a long, calming breath and said, “You’re right, Zeng Rui. You asked for a scrimmage against our main team and I agreed. So that’s what we’ll be doing. We’ve wasted enough time talking. Let’s play a best of three.”
To recreate the environment in which the Winter Collegiate Cup was being held, Luo Yu decided to use the soundproof booths for the scrim against Team Shanghai. He showed Zeng Rui and his teammates to their booth and explained how it worked before joining his teammates in their booth. They all turned to him and he could see in their eyes that they were about to complain. He sighed and said, “Come on, guys. It’s just a best of three. And after we stomp them in the first game, we’ll tell them to play against the second roster in the second game.”
Qiu Le glanced over at Team Shanghai and chuckled. “I can’t believe how rude high schoolers are these days. I wouldn’t have dared to talk like that. They really deserve a good beating.”
Huang Yang laughed and added, “This is going to be so easy. They’ve got girls on their team! But whatever, we gave them a way out, they should’ve taken it. Now I’m itching to see their faces after the game.”
Luo Yu sat down behind the middle computer, shaking his head. Zeng Rui should’ve told me there are two girls on his team. I know he’s good. We’ve played together plenty of times. But there just aren’t many strong female players. He can’t have found two of them. It just doesn’t make sense. And the other two didn’t look all that impressive either, though I suppose looks say nothing about skill. Just look at God Roundy… Right, I need to focus. It’d be really embarrassing if we lost here because we got careless. He looked at his teammates who were still making fun of Team Shanghai’s line up. We have to focus, if only to keep Zeng Rui down. “Guys, focus up. We’re going to play against them like we would in a normal scrim.”
Huang Yang snorted a laugh and said, “You must be joking. They’ve got two girls on their team! If we need to play seriously to beat them, we might as well drop out of the Collegiate Cup…”
Xie Qing grinned and asked, “Zeng Rui is the Support, right? So what are the girls going to be? Ad-carry and mid? That’d be hilarious! Imagine, two girls being the carries!”
There was no laughter or joking around going on in Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth. Zhang Hao and Tang Bingyao were both glaring through the glass windows at Shanghai University of Finance’s team, while Zeng Rui and An Xin frowned, staring at their monitors.
“Assholes,” Zhang Hao said. He looked at his teammates and continued, “Talking shit like we weren’t even there. Who do they think they are?”
Tang Bingyao nodded and said, “Mhm. I don’t like them.”
Lin Feng scratched the back of his head, confused. He said, “I don’t get what the problem is. We could’ve played against their second team too.” He shrugged and continued, “We would’ve beaten them and then the main team too. Same result but double the games!”
Zeng Rui turned to look at Lin Feng, stunned. Did he just say something sensible? He shook his head. No, that can’t be. But it does make sense. He opened his mouth to say something. The words came slowly and were incredibly hard for him to say. But he did. “You’re not wrong, Lin Feng.” He felt a cold shiver rush up his spine. What did I just say!? He shook his head and continued, “Let’s crush them and see if they want us to play their second roster next.”
An Xin smiled warmly at Lin Feng for perhaps the first time. Then she looked at the rest of the team and said, “So we all agree, let’s play our absolute best.” She then turned to Tang Bingyao and added, “And you and I are going to make them pay for looking down on us. Screw them and every other guy who thinks girls can’t play video games!”
Sietse Thought: Today Devs is busy at the hospital all day, Shanks has to play in his school tournament, and I’m so very, very tired. Why am I tired? Because I had a very eventful night last night. And not in the way most of you are thinking right now… I got into it with a bowling ball…
I went to bed like I do every night. Life has been kind to me. I fall asleep within seconds of closing my eyes. And then I dream. Boy, did I dream. A lot of things happened, most of which I really can’t remember. But it was a busy dream with a terrifying climax. From out of nowhere, I’m very aware that I’m laying in my bed. But there’s also a fucking bowling ball rolling through my room. It sounds absolutely deafening and I can see it coming straight for me. I knew it’d pass underneath me. But something about that felt so very, very wrong. So I jumped straight out of my bed to dodge the bowling ball. And I… think I did? I don’t know. The motion of jumping up also woke me up.
It was a very confusing way to wake up. I’m looking around in the dark and can’t see a thing. So I felt my way to the lightswitch and turned it on. Then I looked through the room and searched for the bowling ball. There was no bowling ball. But I sure as hell was wide awake. At 1 A.M. I was so awake that I couldn’t fall back asleep again. I tried to. I lay back down under my cover and closed my eyes. SLEEP, SIETSE! SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! But it wouldn’t happen. I was awake. The bowling ball had ruined my normal sleeping rhythm, and my heartbeat might’ve still been up a little.
The next several hours I was mostly awake, just laying in bed and trying to sleep. You know how annoying that is? I counted sheep, told myself the most epic cultivation stories, and emptied my head to see if that’d work. But I couldn’t fall asleep for more than a few minutes for the rest of the night. The bowling ball cursed me.
Shanks Interjection: Hey, guys! Shanks here. Back from the League tournament, and I’m just reading Sietse’s thoughts from the future. I’ll be honest… When Sietse said he got into it with a bowling ball, my mind immediately went degenerate.
I pictured a scene of Sietse and a bowling ball in a dim, candle-lit room. Cheesy romantic music is playing in the background. Sietse is lying in bed. He holds up the bowling ball to his face and whispers, “No pins for you to knock down, but I’ve got a gutter and lots of lube…”
And then Sietse starts—
Oh god. Actually, no. Let’s stop. I blame Sietse and Devs for that erotica thought the other day. It’s their fault my mind is in this state. That, or I’m still reeling from getting my ass reamed in the tournament. We went 0-3 this week. Big sad. :/
Sietse (Continued): Right, enough about my stupid dreams. I have something else to tell you guys! More of a reminder. We have a Teamfight Tactics community event taking place on Saturday! Everyone who can find the free time should come and join us! It doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard about the game before, or if you despise it. More than anything, this is meant to be a fun event. There are plenty of people who’ve got no clue how to play the game, myself included. So please don’t be off-put if you haven’t tried the game. Just come by, chill with us on voice chat, and maybe try and play a game! I’m expecting to see all of you here on Saturday!
Don’t forget to sign up, so that we know what to expect! You can do that here: https://forms.gle/JxV8QjxFXMDCEokx7
Also for those that were asking in the last chapter, the link for the Rise discord community server is: https://discord.gg/risethewebnovel.