East China University of Science and Technology had come into the Winter Collegiate Cup thinking they could make it all the way to the main tournament. They were convinced that they finally had what it took to compete with the big teams. But that confidence disappeared and morale crashed after Wang He’s death in the mid lane. It was just the latest instance of how their game against Team Shanghai was going. Terribly. They weren’t just losing the game, they were getting schooled by a group of high schoolers!
East China University of Science and Technology’s soundproof booth was silent. The players looked at their screens in numb horror. They knew what was happening. Zhu Feng glanced at his teammates, chewing on the inside of his cheeks. We’re losing. We’re losing this. They’re so much… better. He took a deep breath and then said over the team’s voice chat, “Come on, guys! Next game will be ours. We just need to…” He couldn’t even get himself to finish his motivational speech. His words were all lies. He knew it and his teammates knew it too. It was so obvious how vast the chasm between them and Team Shanghai was that it wasn’t even funny.
The audience came to the same conclusion, as did the players from the other teams present. Team Shanghai was the better team and was more than likely going to win this series. There wasn’t much in terms of excitement, most people in the crowd remaining silent. They’d made fun of the high school team by telling jokes about how Team Shanghai was going to get eliminated in the first round. But no one was laughing now. Team Shanghai displayed incredibly high individual skill levels. And now that the game was moving into the mid game, they proved that their map control and macro ability were of an equally high level.
“They’re going to be a tough team to beat,” someone in the audience said. It was a notion that received a lot of agreement. Team Shanghai wasn’t here to sightsee, they were here to compete. To win this local division of the Winter Collegiate Cup and move on to the next round!
“40 seconds until the next Dragon,” Zeng Rui said over Team Shanghai’s voice chat. “Get ready.” He was already on the move himself, clearing wards in the river around the Dragon pit and placing down wards of his own to gain vision.
Zhang Hao nodded and said, “Just pushing out this wave and then I’m coming down.” There were only a few more Red minions in the top lane. He used his skills to kill them and then recalled back to base. Teleport is still on cooldown. I shouldn’t have used it… Ah, nevermind. He clicked towards the Dragon pit. There’s still plenty of time. Let’s go and help the team.
The calmness and focus in Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth was completely missing in East China University of Science and Technology’s soundproof booth. Zhu Feng watched his team’s wards disappear in the bottom side jungle. We need to stop them! We can’t just sit here and do nothing! But… Dammit! STUPID! He sighed in annoyance. The Jungle was a combination of small, winding paths and monster camps. It was suicide to walk into there without proper vision. All Team Shanghai had to do was wait in one brush and then land their area-of-effect skills on the members of his team. Thresh’s Q… Lux’s Q and ult… J4’s EQ… They’ve got all the skills to fuck us up. He shook his head and gnashed his teeth. But he finally made the only call he could make. “We’re giving up on the Dragon. Let them take it.”
Zeng Rui was slightly surprised when he saw the opposing team giving up on the Dragon. They’re not even trying to steal it? Do they really think some CS in mid and top is worth more? Though it is probably the right call. We’re really far ahead. They made a fast call and followed it. That’s something to remember. He turned to look at An Xin and said over the team’s voice chat, “They’re decisive.”
An Xin smiled and replied, “Yep. Guessing they realised that it isn’t worth the risk to contest this Dragon.”
“Nooooooo! Why would they do this to me?” Lin Feng whined. He curled his lips and added, “And I just hit my power spike too!” His Lux had pulled so far ahead in experience and gold that she was an absolute monster. Her burst damage was so high that Red team’s Jinx and Syndra would instantly die to it, while even the tanky frontline Champions would find it difficult to survive. Team Shanghai didn’t even really need the rest of their team anymore. Just Lux alone could engage, deal the damage, and the cleanup!
“Good call to give up. That Lux is unkillable.”
“I think they should just surrender… This game is over. That Lux…”
“Look at her items! Oh my god! How did she get so strong this early?”
“I mean… she’s at almost 12 CS a minute. That’s just insane…”
“That must be some kind of record, right? 12! Holy shit!”
“It’s mental. Absolutely fucking mental! That Lux is just crazy strong right now!”
The game was only 18 minutes in, but by the way Team Shanghai was pushing it felt more like the 35th minute. And the 12th minute for East China University of Science and Technology in terms of items. Zhu Feng gritted his teeth and glanced at his minimap. We’re all here defending our mid inner tower. All five of us. And those cocky high school kids are pushing with only two! Lux and Thresh! Their Toplaner is pushing the top lane and we can’t stop him, because we’ll lose mid if we do! And I don’t even know where their Graves and Jarvan IV are. Probably coming mid? Best to assume that. But the only one defending the Lux right now is Thresh. If we’re ever going to do anything to get back into this game… A jolt sparked in his stomach. He realised that this was probably their last chance at a comeback. He made the call and said over the team’s voice chat, “We have to act now! Kill the Lux!”
Zeng Rui was trying to keep up with Lin Feng’s Lux, who just kept pushing and pushing. “Lin Feng!” he shouted over the team’s voice chat. “Don’t push so deep! We need to wait for the others!”
An Xin followed up by saying, “Yeap! Wait for me and Tang Tang! We’re almost there!”
But Lin Feng didn’t worry. He ignored the yellow retreat pings on his minimap and the sound they made in his ears. ZengZeng has my back. We’ll win this. It’ll be easy. He had his Lux auto attack a minion and said confidently, “It’s fine! I’ve got really good items! There’s nothing to worry about!”
Zhu Feng flicked his mouse, moving around the mid lane to make sure everything was in place. Their Alistar was hiding in the Jungle, ready to Flash over the wall and catch the Lux off guard. The rest of the team was in position to follow up on that. He smiled. We’ll get him and then win the fight! Without the Lux, we can kill them! He shouted over the team’s voice chat, “GO!”
There was a small nook in the entrance to the top side Jungle from the mid lane. Team Shanghai didn’t have vision on it. But Lin Feng’s Lux still walked dangerously close to it. The Alistar waited, waited, and then flashed forward! He arrived right on top of the Lux with a mottled flash of light and activated Pulverize! He clenched his massive fists and raised them up high above his head. Then he slammed down on the ground with all the force in his body! The earth cracked and the two Champions from Team Shanghai caught in its radius were hurled up into the air! The Alistar used this brief period that the Lux was airborne to run behind her and then, as she landed back on the ground, he Headbutted her towards the inner tower!
“OH SNAP! That engage!”
“WOOT WOOOO! Let’s fucking goooooo!”
“NICE-LA! We turning this around! Beat ‘em high schoolers!”
“RIP the high schoolers! GOOOOOOOOOO ZHU FENG!”
“Is this the turn around?”
“They caught the Lux! She’s gonna die! AND THEN THE WHOLE TEAM WILL DIE!”
“TURNTABLES TIME! WOOOOOOOOO!”
The players from East China University of Science and Technology moved into action. Hu Hui’s Kha’Zix leaped onto the Lux and cleaved her with his claws, while Wang He activated Flame Chompers. His Jinx took out her bazooka and fired three grenades! They landed right underneath Lux, where they exploded! And rooted her!
“Nice!” Wang He exclaimed over the team’s voice chat. He had his Jinx take out her minigun and switched to automatic. Bullets flew through the air and pierced Lux, shearing away at her health!
Lin Feng didn’t panic. He stared at his screen, his fingers gliding over his keyboard. Jinx’s Flame Chompers rooted his Lux to the ground. But he could still cast his abilities. He waited for a brief moment as the Kha’Zix moved ever so slightly to line up with the Jinx. Then he cast Light Binding. A sphere of light flew through Kha’Zix and then Jinx, rooting them both! He followed up with Lucent Singularity and Final Spark, completing Lux’s full damage combo!
An anomaly of twisted light flew out from Lux’s wand and covered a circle wide enough to encapsulate both the Kha’Zix and the Jinx. Then Lux threw her wand up in the air and had it spin in front of her! She jumped up, arching her back backwards and gathering all the power she could muster! Then she unleashed it all! A massive laser beam blasted through the Jinx and Kha’Zix!
The Jinx and Kha’Zix survived the burst damage from Lin Feng’s Lux for one reason only. Wang He managed to get off a Heal between the detonation of Lucent Singularity and the damage from Final Spark. But they were both at critical health. One more auto attack was enough to kill the Jinx, and two for the Kha’Zix. But right then Zhu Feng’s Syndra flashed towards the Lux. She used Dark Sphere to set up for Scatter the Weak! I’ll stun you! See how you dodge this!
Lin Feng smirked. I’m really good at baiting too! He pressed down on the ‘2’ key, activating the active skill on his item ‘Zhonya’s Hourglass’. The golden grains of time flashed into existence. They wrapped around Lux and paused her very existence in time and space! She was untargetable and invulnerable for a brief period of time. For a valuable few seconds.
“HOLY SHIT! How? HOW!?”
“Did he plan this all along? Was he actually baiting them?”
“Fuck me, what a bait!”
“DAYUUUUM! Crazy plays by that Lux! Absolute madman!”
“I like him. Really fucking like him!”
Time ground to a halt in the soundproof booth from East China University of Science and Technology. No one knew what to say. Their last ditch effort had failed, and all because they forgot to take the item ‘Zhonya’s Hourglass’ into consideration. Zhu Feng hit himself in the forehead in annoyance. I should’ve known. I should’ve fucking known! STUPID!
There was one player on the team who was dealing harder with this loss than Zhu Feng, harder than the rest of his team combined. Wang He was staring at his screen, metaphorical smoke rising up above his head. Just a few seconds ago, he’d been ecstatic. They’d caught Lux out of position and were going to finally turn this game around! It all began so perfectly. Alistar got the catch, he got the root, and then Syndra arrived for the stun. It was the perfect plan! It shouldn’t have failed! It… He gritted his teeth, a familiar anger appearing in his eyes. FUCKING BULLSHIT! ZHU FENG SHOULD’VE LINKED THAT BETTER! HE WAS TOO LATE!
The game had started terribly for Wang He. His Jinx was constantly forced to play on the backfoot, even after he’d told his teammates that they should give him some help! But he didn’t get the help he needed. And wherever he went, he died. If not in the bot lane, then in the mid lane. And then there was his creep score. He didn’t even want to look at it. The game was 18 minutes in, yet he’d only gotten 74 last hits. That wasn’t anywhere near enough. He needed at least double that number to be competitive! THIS IS FUCKING BULLCRAP! WHY DOES IT ALWAYS GO LIKE THIS? WHAT THE FUCK! I SHOULD’VE WON THIS! I’M BETTER THAN THAT STUPID THOT!
They’re only high schoolers. High Schoolers! They can’t be this good. They aren’t. I’m just seeing things. Zhu Feng is having a bad game, that’s why that Lux looks so good. That Lux… Wang He took a deep breath. He needed to find an excuse as to why the Lux was so far ahead of everyone else. Even after roaming around to the bot lane and helping pick up kills there, she still breached 200 CS at 18 minutes. IT’S FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE! Cheating! He must be cheating somehow. He has to be. You can’t get 202 CS this early! IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!
WE HAD HER! WE FUCKING HAD HER! WHY DID ZHU FENG FUCK UP!? Wang He was completely losing it. His head was turning red and purple and his hands were trembling. I HATE THAT FUCKING BITCH! STUPID SHIT LUX! WE FUCKING HAD HER! SHE GOT KNOCKED UP!
She should’ve tried to escape! Why did she engage? No one engages 1vs5. She should’ve ran away! That was the plan. Chase her down. Kill her. And then kill the rest of the team! Why did she turn on us? That was just suicidal! But she isn’t dead yet. She isn’t… Wang He stared at his screen, time slowly winding up again. He faintly heard Zhu Feng’s voice in the background, “BACK! NOW! BAAAACK!”
Zeng Rui watched Lin Feng going in. Shit! Why doesn’t he back? I told him he has to… He gritted his teeth. No time. He made his decision and said over the team’s voice chat, “We’re fighting this!” He then flashed towards the still rooted Jinx and Kha’Zix and whipped his chain and sickle backwards, flaying them towards the approaching Jarvan IV and Graves.
An Xin’s Jarvan IV was the next to arrive at the fight. She engaged Jinx and Kha’Zix with her flag-toss combo, knocking them up right as the root wore off. This gave Tang Bingyao’s Graves enough time to get in range for her ultimate skill. She pressed down on the R key–Collateral Damage! Graves fired an explosive shell that smashed into the Jinx and blasted away the last of her health, while also splashing damage onto the Kha’Zix.
《You have slain an enemy!》
Zeng Rui’s Thresh had an easy target for his Death Sentence. The Kha’Zix was still airborne and couldn’t dodge. The scythe hooked the Kha’Zix and Zeng Rui’s Thresh dragged him backwards. An Xin followed up with Cataclysm! Jarvan IV leaped up above the Kha’Zix and then came back to the ground with such force that the earth terraformed into an arena! But there was no opponent inside this arena. Kha’Zix had died on impact.
《You have slain an enemy!》
Zhu Feng watched on in horror as his team’s perfect engage ended in them giving away two kills without getting anything in return. It’s over. It’s… It’s over. He said through gritted teeth, “Retreat. Get out if you can.” He then took the lead, running away and giving up on his teammates and the inner tower.
“WOOOOO! That’s game! THAT’S GAME!”
“G fucking G!”
“How did they win that fight? SNAPPERINO!”
“I know! Crazy, right? So much luck for that Lux!”
“Dunno about that, mate. Did you see the player cam? That dude did not look worried at all.”
“Shit. You’re right! Look at the replay! He’s grinning!”
“THE DUDE IS GRINNING! WHAT A CHAMP!”
The large screen above the two soundproof booths was showing the replay of the last fight. Right next to the minimap was the player feed. Everyone was staring at it, including the players from the other teams. The replay was shown a second time, and then a third. The players in the player seating area started discussing what they saw on the replay.
“Could it be… No way. Did he let himself get caught on purpose?”
“No way… Right? But that smile… He looks scary.”
“Guys, guys. Those are high schoolers! HIGH SCHOOLERS! What crap are you all talking?”
“Right. High schoolers who are stomping Zhu Feng’s team…”
“That Lux is fucking mental if he did that on purpose!”
“I’LL EAT A ROCK IF THAT WAS ON PURPOSE!”
“If that was on purpose, then he’d be some kind of LPL pro…”
Lin Feng grinned and turned his head to look at Zeng Rui. He said over the team’s voice chat, “My bait worked! Everything went according to plan! See, ZengZeng? I told you I hit my power spike!”
Zeng Rui wasn’t amused. He replied, “Attack the inner tower.” He then took a couple deep, long breaths. No. I have to say something. He added, “You do realise we would’ve lost a big teamfight if we didn’t follow up on your engage, right?”
“What do you mean?” Lin Feng asked, confused. He laughed and said, “I knew you guys would follow up! That’s why I engaged!”
Zeng Rui felt his eyebrow twitching again. Thundering dumbass! I really want to strangle you! I’m going to go bald because of you! Dammit! I… He gritted his teeth and glared at Lin Feng. As long as I have to play with you, all I’ll be doing as a Support is running after you and wiping your ass!
An Xin giggled and said, “Seems like you still have that bad habit. Didn’t I tell you to do something about that?” She glanced at Zeng Rui and read the rage in his expression. Maybe I should say something… She hesitated for a brief moment before adding, “At least try to change a bit.”
“Huh? What’s there to be changed? It worked great back then and it’s clearly still working great right now! Didn’t you see that teamfight? We won it!” Lin Feng answered over the team’s voice chat, puzzled. He shrugged and continued, “You guys are my teammates. I can make these plays because I believe in all of you!”
There was a rare moment of complete silence in Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth. No one expected these words from Lin Feng. He said them as though it was the most normal thing ever. But it wasn’t normal. It was easy to tell someone that you trust them. It was another thing entirely to actually trust them. The players from Team Shanghai were doing this too. They told each other that they believed in each other, yet they didn’t play like it. There was reservation and uncertainty in every play they made. And then there was Lin Feng, who went in deep behind enemy lines utterly unconcerned. “I can make these plays because I believe in all of you!”
Zhang Hao found himself looking at Zeng Rui. I’m… Waiting for him to give an answer. Why do I always do this? He glanced at Lin Feng. He’s right. Lin Feng is right. I’ve always just done what Zeng Rui told me to do. I trusted him to make the right calls. But that isn’t what Lin Feng is talking about. With Shanghai High School, we all trusted Zeng Rui to lead us. It was a one way street that we were all happy with. But we never trusted each other, or got his trust.
What Lin Feng is saying is that he trusts me just like I trust him. It’s a back and forth. It’s… Zhang Hao smiled. This is how it should be. He nodded at Lin Feng and said over the team’s voice chat, “Well said! Don’t worry about making crazy plays like that! I’ve got your back!”
Zeng Rui stared at Zhang Hao. It was the second explosion that went off in his head. What Lin Feng suggested was an approach to the game he’d never considered. Each team needs a shotcaller. A leader to tell the rest what to do! What he’s saying… No… Or… Yes? I… He chewed on his lips. What if…