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The Good, the Bad, and the Stupid

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Fuzhou Tech was in a terrible mood after the disappointing loss in Game 1. But they could change their fortunes right away! The Winter Collegiate Cup’s Round of 16 was a best of three series. They were down one. Now it was time to go up two! The five players sat behind their computers in the soundproof booth, eager. And Silent Reed had the perfect vantage point to see this from the caster desk! She held her microphone close to her mouth and said, “Just look at the players from Fuzhou Tech! So serious! So ready for this game! Oh, and look! We’re loading in!”

Welcome to Summoner’s Rift!

“TEAM SHANGHAI IS GOING TO QUARTERS! WOOT WOOT!”
“They really are if Fuzhou Tech doesn’t bounce back from that abysmal performance. I’m honestly stunned that they’re still willing to show their face—”
“WOOOOOO! FUZHOU TECH GONNA GET BACK INTO THIS!”
“Please let this be a more entertaining match to watch!”
“Us neutrals want some spectacle! OR DRAMA! DRAMA IS GOOD TOO!”

The players from Team Shanghai and Fuzhou Tech spawned on their respective fountains and spent the 500 starting gold in the shop. This was the moment Silent Reed chose to move the focus away from the Fiddlesticks discussion and towards the matchup in the mid lane. She said into the microphone, “Last game was a fierce battle in mid with two strong players going head to head! Team Shanghai won that round, so Fuzhou Tech is certainly looking for redemption! That Fizz pick is plenty proof of that! And don’t forget that their Midlaner is a Master on the Ionia server!” She waited for the crowd to respond and then continued, “But we’ve all seen what Team Shanghai’s Midlaner can do on an assassin! The real question now is if his Zed is as good as his Yasuo!” She turned to look at Rollfire and asked, “What do you think? Does this Zed have the skill to outplay Fizz like he did in Game 1? Or will something else happen?”

Rollfire knitted his brows and looked at the large LCD screen above the two soundproof booths. His Yasuo last game actually looked pretty decent. Better than that Lux anyway. I’m not going to make myself look like a fool again! This game I’m going to be the hero and show the Shanghai Esports Association why I’m too good for this stupid series! I’ll make them regret not putting me on a better game! He smiled and said, “That’s hard to say. Technically, Zed versus Fizz is a pretty even matchup. It’s all going to come down to skill.” Those damn kids got lucky in the first game. But this time they’re going to make a mistake. Fiddle is proof enough! And when those stupid representatives of the stupid organizers screw up, I’ll be ready to jump on it! Make the best commentary by flaming those jackasses who put me on this stupid noob game! It’d be even better if the Zed is the one screwing up. Talking about Zeds… He grinned and added, “I don’t know how many of you guys remember, but there used to be a Zed main on Zhejiang University’s roster. He was a Kage! I wonder how this Zed will measure up to him.”

Kage was the highest rank title for masters of the shadows in the popular manga series Naruto. And Zed just happened to be a master of the shadows himself. So Chinese League of Legends fans used Naruto’s ranking system to rank Zed players. The lowest rank was Genin, followed by Chunin, Jonin and finally Kage. Right now, Rake was recognized as the strongest Zed player in the world. His outstanding achievements during the 2014 OGN Summer Playoffs on Zed had cemented that position. He was the real Kage. But there were plenty of other strong Zed players who’d been given the Kage title by their fans. One of them was the former captain of Zhejiang University’s esports club.

The players from Zhejiang University’s team looked at each other when Rollfire mentioned the Kage from their university. The Jungler asked, “He’s talking about Shi Hang, right?”

Zuo Cheng who was the current Midlaner for Zhejiang University nodded and said, “He is! He’s talking about the Captain! Captain Shi Hang is my idol! I’m still watching old videos of his Zed and trying to play just like him!”

Sun Ruinian smiled and chimed in, “Yes. That’s Shi Hang for you. His Zed is unbelievably good.” Shi Hang, you made us who we are today. You were the first all the way back in Season 1 to start about League. You made the esports club at our university. And then you went on to become a professional player! One of the best in all of China! He shook his head and grimaced. But why did you have to retire so early…? You still have so much more to give! Graduating from university can wait! You can be a professional player again! Sun Ruinian breathed in and smiled. But whatever you choose to do, we’ll always remember you for all the good you’ve done for our university!

“His Zed is the best!” Zuo Cheng continued, excited. He turned to look at Sun Ruinian and added, “If Shi Hang wants to play, he just needs to say the words! I’ll sit out! He can have my spot! Oh man, I so badly want to see him play again! I’ll be the waterboy! Benchwarmer! Anything just to see him play again!”

The other members from Zhejiang University’s team all nodded and spoke out their agreement with Zuo Cheng’s statement. They’d talked about this subject more than a few times over the last couple of months, especially in the period following their elimination from the previous edition of the Collegiate Cup. It wasn’t that they weren’t happy with Zuo Cheng. He was a great Midlaner and won them many games. But he wasn’t Shi Hang. If Shi Hang had played on their team, they believed that they’d have won the entire tournament.

Sun Ruinian scrunched his nose and sighed loudly. “Forget it, guys. He’s not interested. I’ve asked him about it too many times already. His answer is always the same. This tournament is kiddy stuff to him. And he’s right. He was one of the best professional players in the LPL! Even if he’s taken a break from competitive play, he still has the skill to cruise through this tournament! We’d just be along for the ride.” He looked at his teammates and concluded, “So let’s stop daydreaming. Professional players, former or current, won’t ever bother with a tournament at this level. We’re a kiddy league to them. You guys know how good Shi Hang is. You know what I’m saying is true. So let’s focus on what we can control, our skill. Now, let’s watch this game.”

The players from Team Shanghai and Fuzhou Tech had bought their starter items and were now heading down their respective lanes. Team Shanghai opted to go with a lane swap. Zhang Hao went to the bot lane with his Gnar to face off against Kog’Maw and Alistar, while Tang Bingyao’s Ezreal and Zeng Rui’s Leona went to the top lane to fight Rumble.

“I don’t understand this lane swap,” Rollfire commented from the caster desk. He knitted his brows and continued, “Kog’Maw is very strong in the late game, but weak early on. Leona and Ezreal can really shut him down and make him irrelevant before getting strong enough. Gnar can’t do that. I’m really struggling to see the point of this lane swap.”

Silent Reed felt just as confused as Rollfire. She stared at the large LCD screen and guessed, “Maybe they’re really afraid of the Rumble getting one over on the Gnar? I mean, if he gets ahead, that’ll make it really tough for Team Shanghai to contest the first dragon. Rumble’s ultimate skill is just perfect to win fights at the Dragon Pit!”

Rollfire raised an eyebrow and glanced at Silent Reed, but he didn’t react to her assessment. I won’t give you the pleasure of lucking your way into a correct guess!! You’re WRONG! The high school kids are being dumbfucks! I just hope Fuzhou Tech will finally punish them for it! It’s about time these representatives of the Shanghai Idiots Association get knocked down! He narrowed his eyes and turned his attention back to the large LCD screen. I’ll just wait for the— DAMMIT! NOT AGAIN!

Fuzhou Tech’s Midlaner had picked Fizz as a direct result from what happened in the first game against Team Shanghai. He was convinced he got duped into losing by a trolling Yasuo. So he went with an aggressive Champion in Fizz who could push and punish the type of player he believed the Yasuo, or Zed in this game, was. But the start of the laning phase went anything like he’d expected. How did he get the minion wave to freeze right outside of his tower!? We’re barely a minute into the laning phase! And he keeps hitting those damn Shurikens! They’re impossible to hit! How do I keep walking into them? Does he know where I’m going to dodge or something? NoNoNo! Stop this! Focus and beat this troll! He’s just trolling!

The Blue and Red minions were in a fierce struggle just outside Blue team’s outer tower. Melee minions were clashing swords while caster minions fired their magic from the backline! Fuzhou Tech’s Midlaner watched this play out and gritted his teeth. I’m missing out on CS if it keeps going like this! The Junglers should still be clearing their camps. It’s a little bit risky, but I need to act now! I need to break this freeze open! Fuck! He moved his mouse over the nearest Blue minion and clicked on it. His Fizz started running towards it.

Lin Feng was slowly getting back in his old groove. He’d noticed the patterns in how Fuzhou Tech’s Midlaner  moved during the first game and applied that knowledge in the second game. Every time Razor Shuriken came off cooldown, he activated the skill. His Zed threw a shuriken in a straight line and each time it connected with Fizz, shaving away at his health! And then, just like in Game 1, Fuzhou Tech’s Midlaner crossed the midway section of the lane without having ward coverage. Lin Feng laughed and said over Team Shanghai’s voice chat, “He really fell for it again? He really fell for it again! ZengZeng, go in!”

“I’m going in,” Zeng Rui replied over the team’s voice chat.

“NOT AGAIN! GO BACK FIZZ! GOOOOOO BACK!”
“Shit! I can’t watch this. That Leona roam is so dirty!”
“How did that Fizz not learn from the previous game? Jesus!”
“RETREAT FIZZ! DON’T DO THIS!”
“Oh my god, he’s falling for it again… What a fucking noob!”
“FUCK ME! What’s wrong with this dude? Is he trolling?”

“It’s the Level 1 roam!” Silent Reed cried out from the caster desk. She grabbed her microphone and moved it close to her mouth. “Leona timed this roam perfectly! Fuzhou Tech won’t know what hit them! It’s going to be first blood in the mid lane again!”

Rollfire was steaming in rage next to Silent Reed. Why can’t they fucking ward? How stupid is this Fizz!? He said through gritted teeth, “It’s going to be really hard to escape from this roam for that Fizz.”

Zeng Rui’s Leona had walked down the river from the top lane and arrived in the mid lane just as Fizz ran forward to break the minion freeze. Zeng Rui had his Leona charge at Fizz and cast Exhaust on him! A debilitating energy wrapped around Fizz and drained away most of his stats! His movement speed slowed to a crawl and he was forced to use the only escape ability he had. Flash. But Zeng Rui was prepared for this. He flashed right after Fizz and then slammed his shield into the Fizz. Shield of Daybreak! It rammed into Fizz with such power that it stunned him!

“Nice!” Lin Feng cried out over the team’s voice chat. He last hit a caster minion, which brought him to Level 2, and then learned Living Shadow! This skill allowed him to place a living shadow of himself in front of him. “I’m coming!” he shouted as he activated the skill. A Living Shadow appeared right next to Fizz. Lin Feng then used the second part of this skill, switching positions with his shadow! He cast Ignite on Fizz! An unquenchable flame burned away at Fizz’s health bar! Zed followed up with an auto attack, his sharp blade dealing a ton of damage, before finishing the job with a Razor Shuriken!

First Blood!

The crowd erupted with cheers! Their voices boomed through the venue and slammed into the glass of the soundproof booths! And it wasn’t just the regular audience members who were impressed. Even the players from Zhejiang University were in awe. More specifically, their Support was deeply impressed with Zeng Rui’s gank. He exclaimed, “That roam! Holy crap that was beautiful! The way they set up the top lane to make it seem like nothing was going on! Wooo that was impressive!”

Zuo Cheng looked at the large LCD screen, entranced. He saw how Zed broke the minion freeze after picking up the kill and bit on his lips. “That Fizz just lost so much there. If that death wasn’t bad enough, losing out on all those minions is going to hurt real bad! This is looking rough for him already.”

Sun Ruinian looked from the large LCD screen to Zuo Cheng and felt his stomach drop. That play looked good and Zuo Cheng looks worried. He chewed on the inside of his cheeks as he turned back to look at the large LCD screen. Is he better than an A- Midlaner? A? How good is this Midlaner? Shit! How are we going to beat them? That Midlaner is better than Zuo Cheng! We need, we need… He gritted his teeth and closed his eyes. We need Shi Hang. We’re not going to win without him.

Tang Bingyao’s Ezreal froze the minion wave in the top lane. She could hold her own against a Rumble the first few levels because of her ranged attacks. This was also what allowed Zeng Rui to make the roam to the mid lane. But freezing a minion wave wasn’t as easy as Lin Feng often made it look. She tried to manipulate the minions to the best of her ability and the freeze persisted for a good while. But between Rumble trying to disrupt it and making small mistakes herself, the Blue minion wave grew in size. More and more Blue minions slaughtered their way through the Red minions until Tang Bingyao couldn’t hold the freeze anymore. A massive wave of minions started marching from the Blue outer tower to the other side of the lane.

Tang Bingyao pursed her lips and tightened the hold on her mouse. I can’t let Rumble get all this gold and experience! I just got a nice head start. Mhm! I’m going to stop him! I’ll push him away from the minions and make him retrea—

“Get ready, Tang Tang. We’re circling around,” Zeng Rui said over the team’s voice chat.

An Xin added, “I’ll engage!”

“Almost there!” Lin Feng chimed in.

The Blue minions charged at Red team’s outer tower, unafraid of death. Tang Bingyao’s Ezreal followed right behind them, firing skills and auto attacks at the Rumble to keep him from getting last hits on them. And then, right as the minions slammed into the outer tower, An Xin, Lin Feng and Zeng Rui walked into the top lane.

An Xin’s Fiddlesticks got close to the Rumble and cast Terrify on him! Nightmarish illusions incapacitated Rumble for a second, which allowed Zeng Rui’s Leona to land an easy Zenith Blade! A solar projection of her sword pierced through Rumble and Leona dashed at him! Then she slammed her Shield of Daybreak into him! Stunned!

Lin Feng’s Zed jumped in with his Living Shadow and then attacked with his Razor Shuriken and the blades attached to his gloves! It dealt a lot of damage, even this early in the game. Rumble’s health dropped fast. But they were fighting Rumble right underneath his tower. The turret locked onto An Xin’s Fiddlesticks and fired an energy shot at her. She had to move out of range before a second one could hit, which caused the tower to shift aggro onto Zeng Rui’s Leona. He ran away before the tower could attack him. As did Lin Feng’s Zed, because Tang Bingyao’s Ezreal had fired a Mystic Shot at the low health Rumble! The damaging bolt of energy whizzed through the air and knocked Rumble out cold!

You have slain an enemy!

“WHAT A TOWERDIVE!” Silent Reed shrieked at the top of her lungs. “Team Shanghai did it all perfectly! Fuzhou Tech didn’t know what hit them! And now with Rumble dead, Team Shanghai can take the top tower! That’s just going to make life so much harder for Rumble! Where’s he going to go? Is Fuzhou Tech going to follow along with the lane swap now? They really have to do something if they wanna stay in this! It’s their tournament life that’s on the line here!” She turned to look at Rollfire and asked, “What do you think? You have to admit that that was a beautiful play, right!?”

“It was,” Rollfire replied. He took a long, deep breath and added, “It was a good towerdive.” Those words were incredibly difficult for him to say. It was him admitting that Team Shanghai wasn’t just a team of high school students who didn’t know how to play the game. They were a team that could compete against university teams. That the game he was hired to cast wasn’t all that terrible after all. That the Shanghai Esports Association hadn’t screwed him over. He gritted his teeth and glared at the large LCD screen. It’s not over yet! Yeah, that 4 man collapse was impressive. Yeah they juggled the tower aggro correctly. And yeah they baited Fuzhou Tech well enough. And yeah there was no way Rumble could escape that. But that was just one gank! Or two now. But the game has only just begun!

Silent Reed was getting used to the little input Rollfire was giving in this series. She glanced at him but decided against mentioning it. I’ll just do the best I can! I’ll be Westwind and me! She grabbed her microphone and shouted, “Team Shanghai has the initiative again! But we haven’t seen too much from the Fiddlesticks yet. I’m really curious to see how they’re going to play with him! He’s such a niche Champion! But with how Team Shanghai is playing, they must have something special planned for him!”

Rollfire didn’t entertain the audience or Silent Reed with his opinion on the Fiddlesticks. But he clenched his fist under the table until his knuckles were white and gritted his teeth. You think they got a plan to use that Fiddle? Piss off! Yeah, Team Shanghai’s lanes are doing well and it might look like they’re winning now, but this is still a 5vs5 game! And that Fiddle is basically useless! Just wait until Fuzhou Tech sets up their line of vision! That Fiddle pick is going to look stupid then! Fuzhou Tech is going to fight their way back into this game after this minor setback and secure a win! Then we’re going to an all deciding Game 3 and the Shanghai Idiots Organization will find out that their team is also a group of cocky idiots!

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Mouth Farts are Funny

Announcement:

You guys know this message like the back of your hand by this point! That’s right! This was another merged chapter (315+316)!

Translator Thought:

Sietse Thought: The life inside your head is different for everyone. I know people who say it’s empty for them and then there’s me. I can see stuff happen. I think words and even when I type I say them in my head. When I make up a story, the world unfolds before my eyes. I can actually see the mountains in the distance with clouds drifting along the edges, I can breathe in the fresh air and faintly smell something burning behind me, and I can turn around to look at the man on fire and talk with him while he’s screaming at me in what looks like rage-instilled agony.

Now, there isn’t always someone on fire, nor is there always a world I find myself in. But my mind is always active, except when I want to sleep. When I want to sleep, I empty my head on purpose to fall asleep within a couple of seconds. But when I’m awake, there is activity in my head. Something is always happening. A story, thought, anything. Not today.

I woke up this morning and I felt tired and nothing more. I got up and went to take a piss, then stood under the shower for 10 minutes longer than I probably should’ve before finally going all the way downstairs for some breakfast. Oatmeal and Soy milk. Then I went to work on Rise for a couple of hours, switched to my studies, and got back to Rise again. More specifically, I opened up a file to write a translator thought. That was when it hit me. I hadn’t actively thought all day. Sure there was a little bit of Rise. But that’s normal. I was mapping out the story and the direction it’s going, I was looking at the two casters and how their presence fits into the narrative, and so on. Just the usual. Same with study.

But when I sat down and cast those things aside, when I let my mind wander free, it hit me. There wasn’t anything there. Blank. Nada. Nops. I just sat there staring at my screen for a good 15 minutes, trying to figure out what the fuck was going on. It was so bad that I even went to the others and asked if they knew something. And then it dawned on me. There are people for whom this is normal. This… this nothingness! How do you live like this? I don’t get it. It’s like a part of me is missing.

Fortunately, as I started to pen down my feelings concerning the lack of activity in my head, the wheels started spinning again. Thoughts returned and as I wrote down about the world and the man on fire, they appeared in my mind. The world took shape and the story started playing. The man on fire was coming after me after I’d burned his village down, looking for revenge. It sucked to be him because I was chaotic evil.

Shanks Thought: I know someone exactly like that, a person who has zero internal voice. When they aren’t speaking, their mind is just blank. At first, I thought it was a misunderstanding, and I asked a ton of questions to confirm that was actually the case. “Like, you don’t actively think about what you’re going to do at all?”, “You don’t hear a voice in your head when you read words out loud?”, “You can’t imagine a story playing out like a movie scene in your head?”, etc. But nope. My friend hated to admit it, but he described it as his head just being completely empty when his mouth isn’t open. It blew my mind. 

It still blows my mind, to be honest. So much so that when I first found out, I ran to Devshard like a giddy little kid to tell him my discovery! And you know what he did? He dumped a bucket of cold water all over my enthusiasm. Told me in no uncertain terms, “Shanks, everybody has an internal monologue. They just don’t know it. I’m Dr. Devshard. I know what I’m talking about.” Fair. Maybe in the most abstract sense, everybody has an internal dialogue. But I know what I heard and saw! These people do exist, They don’t think with words, or images, or anything! Just the most basic subconscious impulses!

Dev’s Internal Voice: Mouth farts are funny. That time they put marshmallows in Fruit Loops, that sucked. What a dumb thing to do. Why do people like the weird chemical tasting marshmallows in cereal anyway? Shoes prevent me from picking up things with my toes. If we had better designed shoes, we’d probably have way more manipulation with our feet. From the years of practice. How stupid is it to throw away the functionality from two additional limbs for no reason? But how do you make shoes that offer protection and support while still letting you pick things up with your toes? We’d need to investigate materials that allow for this. Possibly redesign the entire model of a shoe. Dev! You’re supposed to be working on doctor stuff and then studying. Stop trying to redesign shoes for no reason. You know what you need? A snack. Go get some cereal. 

Sietse Conclusion: I killed him.

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