The esports clubroom at the Shanghai University of Finance was jam-packed with students. News about the main roster scrimming against another team competing at the Winter Collegiate Cup had circulated around campus, drawing a lot of attention. But it was the argument between Luo Yu and Zeng Rui that created the bigger influx of students. Most didn’t really know what happened, they only arrived when the sparks were already flying. But the university’s second roster quickly filled in those blanks. They stood at the front of the clubroom and were loudly talking with each other.
“These kids really don’t know what’s good for them! Hahaha!”
“Did you hear that one guy talk to Luo Yu? Like they’re equals! How did a high schooler get so cocky?”
“Lol. I heard they won some small high school tournament. That’s probably why!”
“Hahaha! I remember when I was in high school. Our esports team sucked back then!”
“I don’t get what the Collegiate Cup organizers were thinking when they invited high schoolers… It’s a waste of everyone’s time. They’re just going to get knocked out in the first round of the qualifiers…”
“Eh, who cares? It’s a nice warm-up match for whoever gets to play against them.”
“Real talk, though. Those two girls are hot as hell! Should I ask the one with the long black hair out?”
“Dude… They’re high schoolers. Don’t be a perv. And who cares what they look like? League isn’t a beauty contest. It’s a game of skill and teamwork!”
“Tsk. Such a shame we didn’t get to play them.”
“How long do you reckon we’d need to beat them? Five minutes? 10?”
Han Ying sat in the back of the room. She glanced in the direction of the second team and briefly listened to what they had to say. Guys bragging. What’s new? She turned to look back at her friends sitting around her. She’d called them over after finding out that Team Shanghai had two girls on its roster. They were busy gossiping.
“Are those on the right really high schoolers?”
“That’s what the guys from the second roster are saying. Didn’t you just hear them?”
“Hehe! Can’t you tell? They even look like little kids! But those girls are kinda pretty.”
“For high schoolers. I’m surprised they’re actually playing though.”
“Me too! I wonder if they’re any good.”
“Check the guy in the middle out, the one with the messy hair. He’s hot! What do you girls think?”
“That you like them young, haha!”
“I always knew you were a bit of a cougar! But that’s why I love you so much. You like who you like!”
“You should go and get his number after the game. You’re sexy. He’ll fall for you in an instant!”
Han Ying shook her head and giggled. Then she looked up at the large LCD screen that was affixed to the wall above the two rows of soundproof booths. Those two girls should be good, right? The esports association wouldn’t choose them if they suck, I think? I hope they’re going to do well. The screen showed the final champions being locked in, after which the game went into the loading screen. The lineup looks promising at least. Come on, girls! Win this one! It’s about time a few girls entered the competitive scene!
Team Shanghai (Blue) versus Shanghai University of Finance (Red)
Top lane: Rumble versus Fiora
Jungle: Sejuani versus Jarvan IV
Mid lane: Yasuo versus Twisted Fate
AD-carry: Kalista versus Tristana
Support: Alistar versus Morgana
《Welcome to Summoner’s Rift!》
The start of the game was rather uneventful. Zhang Hao’s Rumble went to the top lane where he met Red Team’s Fiora. They kept a distance from each other and waited for the first minion wave to arrive. It was a similar situation in the mid lane, while both bot lanes were empty; they were helping their Junglers clear the first camps of the game.
An Xin played Sejuani who was a brutal, unforgiving iceborn warmother. She rode across the Rift on her drüvask boar Bristle and wielded her True Ice flail. But she wasn’t an offensive-minded Champion. Sejuani was a tank, someone with a lot of health and defense and very little in terms of damage. So An Xin didn’t follow her usual tactic of invading at Level 2. She instead focused on clearing her own Jungle.
The crowd watching the game grew confused. They understood that Team Shanghai wasn’t playing overly aggressive in the early stages of the game. But they couldn’t comprehend why their own team wasn’t being more aggressive. And that confusion turned into dismay as they watched the game develop over the next few minutes. It wasn’t anything like the one-sided stomp that they were expecting.
Shanghai University of Finance’s team wasn’t pulling ahead in the top lane. Their Fiora was staying even with Zhang Hao’s Rumble. They weren’t even really trying to damage each other, instead opting for farming minions. And this was already a far better result compared to what was happening in the mid lane. Luo Yu couldn’t seem to find any opening to attack Lin Feng’s Yasuo and was even forced to stand back. But most worrying was the bot lane. Qiu Le and Xie Qing were getting straight up bullied by Tang Bingyao’s Kalista and Zeng Rui’s Alistar.
Qiu Le’s Tristana kept losing the trades against Tang Bingyao’s Kalista, and his health bar was showing it. He grunted and complained, “Shit! Why is that ad-carry so aggressive? I can’t do anything! And she’s a girl! A GIRL! What the…”
Xie Qing had his Morgana walk back and forth, searching for an opening to cast Dark Binding. But he couldn’t find one. Tang Bingyao’s Kalista always hid behind a minion. I’m basically useless here. All I can do is throw a few auto attacks that do virtually no damage. But that Alistar is doing a ton of work. He lets Kalista deal some damage and then Headbutts Qiu Le’s Tristana away. Fuck, this is frustrating! It’s like a 1vs2 for Qiu Le and there’s nothing I can do about it. I could just as well not be here. Damnit! How is that Kalista so aggressive without making a mistake? It’s so controlled…
Qiu Le’s Tristana took another chunk of damage. Xie Qing glared at his teammate and said over the team’s voice chat, “Stop trying to trade! You’re going to give them a kill!” He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down, and then continued, “Can’t you see? They’re toying with you. And I can’t help you. We need levels. Just focus on farming minions and try to take as little damage as possible. I’ll keep looking to hit a Dark Binding, and I’ll tell you when to engage again!”
Lin Feng was having a good time in the mid lane. He was actually really happy with how Team Shanghai had come together. An Xin and Zeng Rui were very serious about tactics, strategy, and shotcalling, which gave him the opportunity to wholeheartedly focus on improving himself in the mid lane. This is great! Finally an opponent who’s actually good! I can see why an LPL team is interested in him. He really is quite good. But I’m really good too! He grinned as he had his Yasuo dash through a minion to dodge a volley of wild cards from the Twisted Fate. There was a strong sensation flowing through his veins. A kind of tension that was exhilarating. This is how it’s supposed to feel! This is great! I’m finally starting to get there again!
Lin Feng took a deep, long breath in. He let the air fill his lungs as he looked at his monitor with a wide grin on his face. Then he slowly breathed out, the grin disappearing. He flexed his mouse hand and carefully placed his other hand over his keyboard. His eyes locked onto Luo Yu’s Twisted Fate. One step at a time. Beat the opponent in front of you. No distractions. Just you and me. I’m going to kill you.
Several months ago, Lin Feng started to get back into League of Legends. It was the first time in four years that he took the game seriously. But he was far from being a top player when he returned. And it didn’t help that his initial games were against players so far under his basic skill level that he really wasn’t learning anything from them. He was just having fun playing with friends or on stream. But little by little, he started challenging himself. He climbed up the ranked ladder and he joined High School 13’s club team. Still, he rarely ever played against truly good opponents.
Luo Yu was a truly strong player. Lin Feng was forced to focus on just the mid lane, and for the first time in a long time that came easy to him. Because he trusted his teammates. They were capable of winning their own lanes, and they could take the tasks upon them that he wasn’t all that good at. And he trusted them to do that. I’ve only got the obstacle in front of me. Something that was gone for four years suddenly returned to him. He didn’t even realize it himself. It was the most miniscule aspect of his game, yet also one of the most important. It was the pressure that only the real Maple could put on his opponents.
Luo Yu tightly gripped his mouse, sweat popping up on his forehead. He gritted his teeth and controlled his Twisted Fate, searching for an opening. Many players believed that Twisted Fate was at a disadvantage in lane versus Yasuo. But this was only true at the lower ranks. Luo Yu knew very well that a skilled Twisted Fate had every opportunity to outplay a Yasuo. But no matter how he tried, he couldn’t find that opportunity. Lin Feng’s Yasuo didn’t make a single mistake. Every trade he engaged was perfect, and his positioning was flawless. Luo Yu bit on his lips. Zeng Rui said he was good. But what is this? How is this possible? I can’t do anything! Everything misses! I’m not even getting through his shield! This is insane! He has to make a mistake. I just have to find it. But he hasn’t made one yet! How is he doing this?
Luo Yu knew early on in Champion Select that he had to play against Yasuo. And he’d prepared for just that. The plan was simple. Yasuo was a melee-ranged champion, while Twisted Fate had ranged auto attacks. So all he had to do was let the Yasuo push the first wave and then freeze it right outside his own outer tower. That would force Yasuo to stay back and miss out on last hitting minions, which in turn would see him getting ahead. From there it was going to be an easy game.
But Lin Feng’s Yasuo didn’t push the minion wave. He did something far more impressive. Before the first minion wave arrived in the mid lane, he blocked his minions’ path ever so slightly. This resulted in them arriving in lane a second later. The wave was pushing towards Blue Team’s outer tower because of this. And from there Lin Feng perfectly controlled the wave to never pass the halfway line of the lane.
If Luo Yu wanted to last hit minions, he had to move forward. He had to be the aggressive one. He had to leave himself open to potential ganks. All the while, Lin Feng’s Yasuo could farm minions and engage only when he chose to.
Luo Yu stared at his screen, focused. I need to know where the Sejuani is. If she ganks, I’m dead. And I need to somehow break this freeze. I can’t keep pushing like this. I’m playing right into his game. How is he even doing this? It doesn’t make any sense! He should be the one pushing. He’s playing a Yasuo! Yasuo’s always push and go for their 0/10 power spike! Why is this one playing so defensively! And why… He took a deep breath. Why is his defensive play putting more pressure on me than any aggressive style I’ve ever played against?