Fuzhou Tech believed that all they had to do to win this game versus Team Shanghai was to keep their eyes on Fiddlesticks. Know his moves and take preemptive measures to stay far away from him! This method worked flawlessly for the first 12 minutes of the game. There wasn’t a single instance where Fiddlesticks could use his ultimate. But that all changed around the 12 minute mark. More specifically, Zed changed. One pair of eyes on him suddenly wasn’t enough anymore. He ran around the map, half of the time using the shadows to cloak his movements. And when he did appear, it was with two sharp blades. He brought chaos to the game. And it was within this chaos that Fiddlesticks thrived.
There was nothing Fuzhou Tech could do once Fiddlesticks cast Crowstorm. They were caught with their pants down. Team Shanghai killed them and then went on to destroy the mid inner tower, inhibitor tower and inhibitor. After which they turned around and made their way to the dragon pit to take the second Dragon of the game. And finally, they recalled back to base to spend all the gold they’d earned in the last few minutes. All the while, the players from Fuzhou Tech stared at their dull grey monitors, waiting for their death timers to run out. It was this calm after the storm that allowed the audience to breathe out and digest the carnage they’d just witnessed.
“No way. No fucking way! How did they lose four Champions there? They didn’t even kill Zed! They didn’t even kill Zed! How is that even possible? They all jumped on him! How did he survive…?”
“Fuzhou Tech is out. They’re done for. It’s over for them! I spoke with their Jungler the other day and he told me they were going to make it to Nationals! And now they’re out this early! That’s going to sting so badly! But what a fight! What a fight! WOW!”
“No kidding! I don’t know what that was. I thought for sure Zed was dead when he did whatever the fuck that was! Did you see him flash-ult that Kog’Maw? How does that even work? And then he just jumped right out before going back in and getting a double kill! Insane! Mental! NUTS!”
“That could’ve been over at the very start of that fight. All Alistar needed to do was respond in time. But at the same time, can’t really blame him that he didn’t. That Zed came out of nowhere and was gone before anyone even knew what the fuck just happened. But still… if Alistar had responded in time, he would’ve killed Zed. And then, then Fuzhou Tech would be the one winning this game…”
“Not really. Never mattered if Zed survived. He was just the decoy to create an opening for Fiddlesticks. Fuzhou Tech lost the moment they committed four players on Zed. That was when they lost sight of Fids and let him cast his ultie.”
Sun Ruinian glanced over his shoulder at the audience and listened to what they were saying. Then he turned his head to look at the casters, who were surprisingly quiet. The initial shock he felt from Lin Feng’s engage and Team Shanghai’s follow up settled down a bit. He pursed his lips and closed his eyes. That guy is right. The fight was over when Zed engaged. He created the chaos his team needed. Team Shanghai knew it from the start. All they needed was a bit of chaos to throw this deadlock wide open. They played that so well.
Zhejiang University’s Jungler sighed loudly, drawing the full attention from his teammates, and said, “I guess that’s it for Fuzhou Tech. Team Shanghai is moving on to the quarter finals.”
“Pretty much,” the Toplaner replied. And the Support chimed in, “Just look at that gold gap! Zed alone can probably 1vs5 them at this point…”
Zuo Cheng hadn’t heard a word his teammates were saying. His eyes were locked on the large LCD screen and his mind was in a complete mess. T-t-that… What. That. It… Zed. He opened his mouth, his jaw trembling, and mumbled, “S-so strong…”
Sun Ruinian nodded to this and said, “Really strong. That was impressive.” He looked at Zuo Cheng and grimaced. Everyone on Team Shanghai played that really well. Leona with the follow up, Fiddle with his ultimate, Ezreal with the damage, Gnar… I guess Gnar wasn’t even there. But Zed. That Zed. He suddenly shivered, a cold spike pinning into his back. He sat up a little straighter and found himself staring at Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth. B+, A-, A… I just keep having to reevaluate him. Every time I underestimate him. And this is just in a single series! There’s something wrong, very, very wrong about that guy! He’s too good! He doesn’t belong here! He looked down at his hands that were shaking, then balled them into fists and pushed them against his thighs. Calm down. Just calm down. Take a deep breath. He breathed in, filling his lungs with air, then blew it all out. But he couldn’t find any relaxation. I’ve seen Shi Hang play so many games. He’s really good! But is he this good? Would he have played this fight just as good as that Zed? Who is the better Zed player? He shook his head, incredulous. This Zed is so good that I’m comparing him to Shi Hang… I’m comparing him to an actual professional player!
An Xin and Zeng Rui had given Lin Feng free reign over the game at 12 minutes. Since then, he’d picked up a kill on Rumble and a double kill on Kog’Maw and Fizz. That all happened within 3 minutes, but it set the tone for the remainder of the game. He spent the gold reward from the kills on finishing two items, further increasing the gap in stats with the players from Fuzhou Tech, and went on a murder spree.
The announcer’s voice lacked the superlatives for Lin Feng’s Zed. He didn’t even need his ultimate to assassinate Kog’Maw or Fizz, neither having enough health to survive a basic Living Shadow into Shadow Slash and Razor Shuriken combo. As for the tankier members on Fuzhou Tech, it wasn’t all that different. Zed tore through their health bars, sometimes with and other times without his ultimate skill and Ignite. He killed them all, repeatedly.
But Fuzhou Tech refused to give up. This was their last chance to make it to the next round of the Winter Collegiate Cup. They persevered beyond the 20th minute, arguing that only Zed was fed and that the rest of Team Shanghai didn’t really amount to much. It was a flimsy excuse. They knew it and they knew their teammates knew it too. But it was enough to keep them going. That was, until Lin Feng’s Zed dropped all pretenses and simply walked into Fuzhou Tech’s base to 1vs3 Fizz, Kog’Maw and Alistar. The rest of Team Shanghai was pushing the top lane. Zed was all by himself taking on three members from Fuzhou Tech. And he won. The voice announcer called out the triple kill and moments later Fuzhou Tech surrendered.
Lin Feng’s Zed was running towards the inhibitor tower in the top lane, about to tower dive the two Champions from Fuzhou Tech still alive, when his camera suddenly panned towards Red team’s nexus. The large crystal exploded and the energy inside burst out! Large red letters popped up onto his screen.
The second game in the best of three series between Team Shanghai and Fuzhou Tech lasted 23 minutes. It was another decisive victory by Team Shanghai, who were moving on to the quarter finals of the Winter Collegiate Cup East China Regionals! The audience had long forgotten about their annoyances with the fact that Team Shanghai was a high school team. They only saw a strong team putting on a phenomenal performance, and that deserved respect. Their cheers rocked the venue!
The original players from High School 13’s esports team were also in the venue. They were on their feet, leading the celebrations for Team Shanghai! It wasn’t until their voices were hoarse that they calmed down a little. Ouyang turned to look at his friends and laughed. He said, “We won! We actually won! See, what did I tell you guys? Lin Feng is a Challenger on the Ionia server! This bro never doubted him!”
Ren Rou giggled and said, “You always believed him? Even when you wouldn’t let him join our esports team?” But then the smile disappeared from her face. She looked at a group of five sitting right in front of the soundproof booth and continued, “I’m just worried about their next round. They’re probably going to go up against Zhejiang University. That might very well be the best team in East China!”
Wei Dong, Chen Ze and Liu Yue looked at Ren Rou and then each other. All joy from the victory over Fuzhou Tech disappeared. They started biting their lips and chewing their nails, but didn’t say anything. They didn’t know what to say. Zhejiang University was one of the strongest teams in the entire Winter Collegiate Cup, everyone around them kept saying. And in their minds, Team Shanghai was still just a high school team. There was a certain amount of respect the former High School 13 members had for the status of a university team.
Liu Yue looked down at his shoes and muttered, “Everyone keeps saying we don’t stand a chance against Zhejiang University. Those guys aren’t even in the quarter finals yet! But no one doubts they’ll beat their opponents. And then us… I wonder if we really don’t stand a chance against them.”
Yang Fan adjusted his glasses and said, “I don’t know. But I won’t say that we don’t stand a chance at all. I’ve watched Zhejiang University play, and yes they’re good, but they aren’t invincible. When I compare them with how our team played today, I’m thinking we have about a 30% chance of winning.”
Sun Ruinian had his eyes closed and was focused on his breathing, until his hands stopped shaking and the cold shiver disappeared from his neck. Then he got up from his seat and said to his teammates, “It’s our turn. Come.”
The other players from Zhejiang University got up from their seats and followed behind Sun Ruinian towards the empty soundproof booth. They walked with straight backs and steady steps, neither too fast nor too slow but just right to show to the audience how full of confidence they were. This round was just another they had to get through on their way to Nationals. Because anything less was beneath them.
“Look! Those five down there! That’s Zhejiang University’s team!”
“Oh my god! Sun Ruinian is soooo hot! HAVE MY BABY!”
“They look so calm! Their opponents must be shitting their pants right about now!”
“I think they are! Hahaha! Look over there, those five! Haha!”
“It is time for the second best of three series in Group A!” Silent Reed announced from behind the casters desk. She held the microphone in front of her mouth and continued, “Over there we have Zhejiang University! I don’t think we need any introduction for them, but let’s give them one anyway! Their captain is Samsara, or Sun Ruinian, one of the best Ad-carries at the university level! He led his team all the way to the semifinals in the previous edition of the Collegiate Cup! And they almost made it to the Finals!” She briefly paused to shake her head and then added, “But University of Science of Technology Beijing— Wow, that was a mouthful! Let’s go with USTB from now on! Anyway, USTB was too strong for them then. It was a big disappointment for the sky-high goals of this team! But they’ve had 6 months to prepare! They’re more ready than ever!”
Rollfire smiled when he saw the second game he was hired to cast. Now this is a series that has my name written all over it! Zhejiang University is a real team! Heck yeah! He grinned and grabbed his microphone. He then stood up and leaned on his desk before saying, “You’re right on that, Silent Reed! Such a shame that they went out too. They almost beat USTB! But they haven’t sat idly by these last few months. I have it from good sources that they’ve all improved tremendously! Did you know that Sun ‘Samsara’ Ruinian even made the massive leap from B+ to A-? He’s practically at the professional level! I don’t think anyone here can beat this handsome monster of an ad-carry! Let’s give it up for Zhejiang University!” He paused to let the audience cheer before eventually adding, “… And whoever they’re playing.”
The players from Team Shanghai sat down in the player seating area at the very front of the venue to watch Zhejiang University’s games. Zhang Hao was playing with his fingers nervously, while Tang Bingyao became even more quiet than usual, her eyes trained on Sun Ruinian. Zeng Rui looked at his two teammates and saw the nerves and worry in their every motion. Then he turned to look at the other two members on his team. An Xin looks like her normal self. I can’t tell what she’s thinking with that smile. He shook his head and turned to look at Lin Feng and then furrowed his brow. What’s the thundering dumbass doing? Is he thinking really hard or something? Why is he scratching his forehead? Why… Why am I still surprised by all the stupid shit he does? I should be used to it by now.
Lin Feng felt the burning gaze from Zeng Rui and glanced over at his teammates. “ZengZeng!” he said, excited. But Zeng Rui only nodded, so he turned back to look at the soundproof booth in which Zhejiang University’s team had taken place. He tapped on his forehead with one hand and ruffled his hair with the other. Zhejiang University… It’s been nagging me for days now! Why does it sound so familiar? Do I know someone from there? That has to be it, right? Why can’t I think of it? I’ll figure it out! He shook his head and turned to look at Zeng Rui who had started talking to Tang Bingyao.
Zeng Rui pointed at Sun Ruinian and said, “He’s a solid A-. Play close attention to him. He’ll make the jump to the professional scene soon.”
“Mhm!” Tang Bingyao replied, nodding. Zeng Rui says I’m a B right now. When I’m playing my game, I can hold my own against B+ ad-carries. But I need to get better! A real A grade player is a professional player! This guy is practically a pro already! I need to watch him play and learn from him! There are many players who never make it to A grade! You need something special for that! If I want to be on Lin Feng’s superteam, I need to find that something special! I need to get even better! Mhm! She glanced at Lin Feng and raised her eyebrow. What’s gotten into him anyway?
Lin Feng had briefly listened to the exchange between Zeng Rui and Tang Bingyao before delving back into his mind. I’m sure of it! I know someone from Zhejiang University! Who is it? Where do I know them from? Maybe if I can figure that out I know. Aghh! This is so annoying! Why can’t I remember this? Stupid memory! Just tell me who I know from Zhejiang University. Zhejiang University. Zhejiang University. He shook his head, annoyed. Think!
The series between Zhejiang University and Stepping Stone University was a massive one-sided beatdown. Zhejiang University was just far better, so much so that people in the audience only found themselves cheering for one team. The first game lasted 18 minutes, the second making it to minute 20 before Stepping Stone University surrendered. The cheers of the Zhejiang University fans in the audience drowned the venue. It was too easy. Zhejiang University was just far too strong.
“Zhejiang! Zhejiang! Zhejiang!”
“Woooooo! What a game!”
“So fast! Zhejiang! Zhejiang!”
“I attend Zhejiang University! Best uni in all of China!”
“Gee-gee to Stepping Stone University! Well played!”
“Goooooo Zhejiang! All the way to the Championship title!”
Silent Reed sat at the caster desk, smiling. This wasn’t so bad in the end. A lot better since Zhejiang started playing. She glanced at Rollfire and then back at the game. I can finally cast! She giggled and said, “That was something! What a display of pure skill by Zhejiang University! They dismantled Stepping Stone University! It was a little hard to watch at times, to be honest. But this gives us some real hope!” She briefly waited, drawing in curious gazes from the audience, before continuing, “East China is the esports region in China, yet we haven’t won the Collegiate Cup for quite a while now. It’s about time that changes! And Zhejiang University is looking like the team who might just bring about that change! If they keep playing like they are, I think we have a real shot at winning the Winter Collegiate Cup!”
Rollfire grabbed his microphone and said, “Our last win was four years ago. Back then, it was also Zhejiang University who clinched the win! And that was all thanks to their former team captain, Shi Hang! The man doesn’t need an introduction, we all know him as the best Midlaner from China from Season 2! But his replacement is starting to look just as impressive!” Rollfire had completely forgotten about his anger and was even starting to enjoy casting this second game with Silent Reed. He smiled and continued, “Like Silent Reed just said, it looks like Zhejiang University has a real shot at winning this edition of the Winter Collegiate Cup! East China is back baby!”
Chu Fang sat in his private room backstage. The games were finished but he was still watching the videofeed, listening to what the casters had to say. They’re right. Shi Hang was something else. Such a top talent. And now they’ve got Sun Ruinian. He isn’t quite as good, but he’s still a phenomenal player. If this was any other year, they would’ve made it to the main tournament. And then they’d have made it to the Finals and maybe even won it all. He pursed his lips into a smile and lightly shook his head. But this time Lin Feng is playing. Maple is in the house! He grinned at himself. Sun Ruinian can be A- all he wants, he still falls well short of Lin Feng. Even Shi Hang fell short of Lin Feng. He might’ve won the Collegiate Cup, but he never beat Lin Feng. It’s funny how I still remember them competing way back. A couple of times, in fact. And it was always Lin Feng who came out on top. Maple really was the best! Still is.