Shi Hang stared at his monitor. He’d just had his first exchange with Lin Feng, and he was surprised. I can hardly tell you took a four year break! Prediction, reaction, animation cancelling… you played that perfectly! It’s like back then! All those idiots talking about Goalie being so good. They’re all stupid! This. This right here is what it’s all about. This focus is something you don’t even see consistently in the LPL! He nodded and smiled. This is exactly why I wanted to play you. For this feeling in my stomach! The thrill of the fight! I’m all tense from just that one exchange!
The last couple of years were all about university for Shi Hang. He’d played League of Legends casually, but never with the focus or attention required to play the game at the highest level. It was only after facing Lin Feng again that he found that old state of complete focus. That place where nothing existed except him and his opponent. The smile on his face grew brighter and he nodded happily. I’m impressed! Nice work, Maple! It’s a good thing I was expecting you to be, well, you! I could’ve died there if I’d played it differently! There was a spark in his stomach, a moment of lightness, the thrill. But this is just the beginning. This is going to become more and more intense! I’ll slowly ramp things up a notch! Let’s see how much of your old form you’ve gotten back, Mr. Former #1 Mid in China!
The audience expected a dull early laning phase in the mid lane, and so voiced their surprise when Shi Hang and Lin Feng went at each other from the get-go. They mumbled to each other how Varus was supposed to farm up and scale in the early game, and that it was the easiest to do that by playing defensively. Some argued that maybe Lin Feng wanted to show off against Shi Hang. And for all they were concerned, he succeeded in doing that. Shi Hang was a former professional player and one of the best Midlaners China had ever seen! He was supposed to pull ahead right from the start. But the first exchange in the mid lane ended in a draw. Confused and surprised shouts rang throughout the venue.
Back in the game, Shi Hang’s Ahri and Lin Feng’s Varus leveled up. They unlocked their second skills and used that to up the tempo of the lane. Ahri’s magic was flying through the air, barely missing the minions and accurately hitting Varus, who in turn fired his arrows. They too blew past the minions and pierced Ahri! Every next wave they pushed harder, searching for the limits. And then they hit Level 3. Their dance evolved into a Waltz as they unlocked their third main skills.
Lin Feng’s Varus raised his bow and pulled back the string. There was no arrow resting on the string, but when he let loose 13 sharp red bolts flew up into the air! The Hail of Arrows rained down on Ahri, blighting the land under her and slowing her movement speed! Lin Feng then smashed down on the Q key–Piercing Arrow! Come on! Varus raised his bow and pulled back. A thick, massive arrow was fired at Ahri, smashing through a magical heart that was flying towards Varus and penetrating its target!
Shi Hang hadn’t tried to escape the range from Hail of Arrows, because it also presented an opportunity. Varus was briefly stuck in animation. Shi Hang’s Ahri stepped ever so slightly to the side to find the perfect angle and then cast Charm! She blew a kiss. A magical heart took shape and flew between the minions before smashing into Lin Feng’s Varus, charming him! Varus walked lovestruck towards Ahri, blind to the Orb of Deception piercing through him and the three flames from Fox-Fire bombarding him!
Varus’ health bar dropped. But he was an ad-carry while Ahri was a mage. There was a distinct difference in how they dealt damage. His damage relied far more on auto attacks than hers. The effects from Charm wore off. He’d walked towards Ahri under its effects and was now standing right in front of her. He raised his bow and fired an auto attack! Shi Hang’s Ahri turned around and ran towards her outer tower. He chased after her and kept shooting arrows. By the time Ahri reached her outer tower and Varus was forced to retreat, both Champions had lost about half their health bars.
“What a fight! They hit all their skillshots! THEY HIT ALL THEIR SKILLSHOTS!” Silent Reed exclaimed from behind the caster desk. She caught her breath for a brief moment and then continued, “The mid lane is getting really heated! We’re only four minutes into the game and we’ve already seen a game worth of action in the mid lane!”
Rollfire gritted his teeth, then grabbed the microphone and said, “Shi ‘AyDeeCee’ Hang pulled ahead early in that exchange—”
“And Lin Feng made it even again!” Silent Reed finished the sentence. She pumped her fist into the air and shouted, “What a fight! What a fight! This promises so much for the rest of the game! Can you imagine!? 30 minutes of pure action like this! WOOOOOO!”
Rollfire just nodded to this. He glanced at the audience and chewed on his lips. They can all see it. We’re all feeling the same way! How can AyDeeCee not be winning this already!? He’s the pro here! HE SHOULD BE WINNING THIS! Rollfire turned his head to look at the large LCD screen. Varus and Ahri were still alive, exchanging blow for blow. I know you retired a few years ago. But come on! You were a professional player! Don’t tell me you can’t beat some stupid high school representative from the Shanghai Stupid Organization! Kill that stupid kid! Show them why you were a real pro! People called you the best Midlaner in China for fucks sake! Do you really expect me to believe that that stupid kid is just as good as you, a former pro!?
The audience only wanted to see the mid lane. Lin Feng’s Varus and Shi Hang’s Ahri were exchanging damage quicker and quicker. More impressively, they were timing their movements so accurately that they always had just enough time to switch targets at the last second to land a last hit on a minion and keep their perfect creep score going.
“Look at them going! Oh my god! I thought the early game was gonna be boring! It usually always is with a Varus! But those two clearly didn’t get the memo! Look at them going ham! They’re going fucking ham! My god, I’ma piss my pants!”
“How does that even work? Even when that Varus gets Charmed, he doesn’t miss minions! It’s like they magically stop dying when he gets Charmed! How are they playing this good? It’s like I’m watching an LPL game!”
“It’s like they’re on the same wavelength, man. Look at them going at it full aggro! They’re both just pushing and last hitting and pushing and pushing and man I can’t fucking breathe anymore! There’s just too much action!”
The people in the crowd unconsciously shifted forward in their chairs until they sat at the edge of their seats. They held their breath and stopped blinking, showing undivided attention for the game playing on the large LCD screen. Lin Feng and Shi Hang just kept upping the aggression. And each time they did, they lessened the wiggle room. They were playing to the maximum potential of their Champions, only one small mistake away from dying. But the two players didn’t look worried in the slightest, they looked excited even.
In Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth, Lin Feng sat behind his monitor. He was in a great mood, grinning brightly. You haven’t let me down, Shi Hang! Or do I call you gramps? You are kind of old already! I thought that might make you worse, but it didn’t at all! Your grading is still at like 80%! Maybe a bit higher even! This is exactly the kind of game I wanted to play! Thank you!
At 5 minutes, the Red minion wave in the mid lane pushed towards Blue team’s outer tower. When they arrived within the turret’s range, it came to life and targeted the nearest minion. A powerful ball of electricity shot towards the minion, just as Lin Feng’s Varus raised his bow and nocked a thick, large arrow. The Piercing arrow shot from the bow and pierced the minion, killing it before the energy shot could, and then kept flying until it struck Ahri!
Shi Hang’s eyes went wide. I can’t believe you fell for that! He shook his head once and then tapped on the E and D keys. E was Charm. The animation of Ahri blowing a kiss in Varus’ direction started. But before it could finish, Flash activated. It carried her a short distance through time and space, placing her to Varus’ side. There were no minions between Ahri and Varus here. A magical heart flew straight towards Varus!
“AHRI’S GOING IN!” Rollfire cried out on the caster desk. He watched the Charm land on the Varus and then continued, “That’s the former pro for you! He used the animation from Piercing Arrow against Varus! WOOOOO!”
Lin Feng’s Varus fell in love with Ahri. He couldn’t see danger anymore, the strong desire to be close to Ahri pulling him towards her. From the side, Red team’s Rek’Sai dug a path into the mid lane and towards Varus. Then she flashed towards Varus, who was still under the effects of Charm, and Unburrowed! She clawed her way out from underground and knocked Varus up into the air!
Shi Hang’s Ahri unleashed her full combo on Varus! She started with Ignite, the unquenchable flame sticking to Varus and burning away at his health bar! Then she summoned three Fox-Fires that floated around her and searched for a target. They found that target in Varus, flying towards him and shearing away at his health! And Ahri finally commanded the orb by her side to fly out towards Varus and then back to her. The Orb of Deception sapped Varus’ health!
Silent Reed grabbed her microphone and placed it against her lips. She shouted, “First blood! This is going to be first blood for AyDeeCee!”
Zhejiang University had engaged Lin Feng’s Varus underneath his outer tower. Shi Hang’s Ahri was sticking to the outer edge of the turret’s range, but Rek’Sai was within its range. An energy shot fired at her! Her health dropped, and right then An Xin’s Jarvan IV arrived from behind the outer tower! She threw her standard down behind Rek’Sai and struck out towards it with her lance! The flag-toss combo saw her dashing at Rek’Sai and knocking her up into the air!
Jarvan IV, Rek’Sai and Varus were stacked on top of each other. It was hard to target Varus, who finally broke free from all the crowd control. Ahri hit him with an auto attack, and then he Flashed away. Varus reappeared behind his outer tower, far out of range from Ahri and Rek’Sai, with a mottled flash of light!
Liu Yue jumped up from his seat in the stands and cried out, “Nice save, BunBun! WOOT WOOT!” He turned to look at Ouyang and said, “I love her jungling! We can learn so much from her! Do you get how she does that? She’s always right there! I wish I was that good!”
Ouyang clapped and cheered for An Xin’s timely arrival to save Lin Feng. He then turned to look at Liu Yue and replied, “I told you, bro! BunBun is the best Jungler! Zhejiang will never get past her!” He jabbed Liu Yue in the side with his elbow and added, “You should watch closely how she does that! Maybe you can learn a thing or two from brophina and apply that to your own game! Just imagine how cool it’d be if you had her awareness!”
Ren Rou rolled her eyes and shook her head. She looked at Ouyang from the corners of her eyes and asked, “I thought you were also a Jungler? What, are you suggesting you don’t need to learn from BunBun? Last night’s games would suggest differently…”
“Rou Rou!” Ouyang exclaimed. He stared at her wide eyed, then scratched the back of his head and laughed awkwardly. He explained, “Well, you see, that’s… That’s… Uhmm… That’s because I know my limits! I’m not talented enough! Right, right! BunBun is too good! A normal pleb like me can’t learn from her! I’m just not good enough for that! Us normal plebs need to know our limits!”
The moment that Shi Hang saw the Jarvan IV appear from behind the blue team’s outer tower, he said over the team’s voice chat, “Retreat. We can’t kill Varus with him here. The tower shots are too strong.” He clicked towards the middle of the lane, his Ahri following his commands. Then he moved his camera back to Blue team’s outer tower. Red minions were still clashing against the tower, allowing him to see the last ticks of Ignite eat away at Varus’ health. He shook his head. It’s not enough. One more tick… Yeah. He’s got 109 health remaining. Unfortunate that the Jarvan arrived. We would’ve gotten first blood otherwise. That Jarvan… He narrowed his eyes and moved his attention away from Varus and towards Jarvan IV. I miscalculated. My focus was entirely on Lin Feng. I forgot about An Xin, I forgot BunBun is also playing. I knew she was a good strategist and analyst, but I never really saw her play. He breathed out loudly through his mouth. Should’ve seen this coming. Her Jungling skills are pretty good. That save wasn’t luck. She knew. I’ll have to keep that in mind.
Across the stage in the other soundproof booth, Lin Feng leaned back in his gaming chair and theatrically put the back of his hand against his forehead. He exclaimed, “Whew! I almost died there!”
An Xin glanced at Lin Feng and said over the team’s voice chat, “Don’t forget who you’re playing against. He won’t let you get away with stupid slip-ups!”
“No worries!” Lin Feng replied, laughing her concerns away. He suddenly stopped and scrunched his eyebrows. Then he turned to look at An Xin and said, “Though you were a little later than I expected there. If you’d EQ-Flashed we could’ve gotten the kill on Rek’Sai. The tower was even helping us!” He chewed on his lips and frowned. Did I miscalculate that? I knew Rek’Sai was coming, but BunBun was right behind me. We both knew the gank was coming! I figured she was just waiting for the right time to engage. Why was she late? She’s always on time! This is so unlike her…
An Xin pursed her lips and closed her eyes. Why can’t he be stupid and clueless when you need him to be…? She opened her eyes and forced a smile onto her face. She then shook her head and said, “Forget it. Just play more safe from here on out. The lane is going to be a lot more difficult now.”
Rollfire sat behind the caster desk with a satisfied smile. He leaned back a little and said into his microphone, “AyDeeCee used his Flash there, but that’s a small price to pay for forcing Varus back to base. Team Shanghai’s Midlaner is gonna lose a wave and a half worth of gold and experience, which means he’s going to reach Level 6 after AyDeeCee.” His lips curved up a little higher and he narrowed his eyes before adding, “That means we might see AyDeeCee jump straight in for the kill at Level 6!” He leaned forward and looked over the rim of the caster box into Zhejiang University’s soundproof booth. That’s a former top pro right there! He didn’t get the kill, but he got all the advantages! He’s got the initiative in the mid lane and he can pull that into a win now!
I hate it when he’s right! Stupid asshole! Silent Reed glared at Rollfire and shook her head. But he’s right this time, dammit! She took a deep breath and then said, “You’re completely right! Team Shanghai’s Midlaner is in a tough spot right now! And when AyDeeCee hits Level 6, Varus is going to be in a world of pain!”
Liu Yue looked from the casters back to the large LCD screen and muttered, “He’s too good. How is this fair? Why would they let a former pro join this tournament… Lin Feng is just going to lose if it keeps going like this…”
Yang Fan adjusted his glasses and analysed, “Lin Feng is playing really well. He was actually keeping up to AyDeeCee until that gank. But that gank is the only reason the mid lane got to this situation. Maybe if BunBun can get a good gank off, we’ll see it turn even again. Wh—”
Ouyang jumped to his feet and pulled Liu Yue up with him. He pointed at the large LCD screen and shouted, “HaoBro got the kill! WOOOOOO!”
The old teammates from Zhang Hao also jumped from their seats and threw their arms in the air. They shouted and cheered for the kill in top lane. Zhang Hao’s Lissandra, with the help from An Xin’s Jarvan IV, had picked up a kill on Zhejiang University’s Rumble!
“Good job,” Zeng Rui said over the team’s voice chat.
An Xin smiled and nodded in agreement. She added, “That was a good play, Zhang Hao. Nicely played!”
Zhang Hao scratched his nose to hide his joy, embarrassed. He replied over the team’s voice chat, “Thanks. But it was all thanks to your gank, and I think their Toplaner underestimated me!”
Lin Feng laughed and shouted, “I knew HaoBro was the bes—”
《An ally has been slain!》
“Huh? What happened?” Lin Feng asked. He panned his camera to the bot lane and saw Tang Bingyao’s Ezreal dead on the ground. “Tang Tang?”
Tang Bingyao gripped her mouse tightly and bit on her tongue. Her stomach twisted into a knot and blobs of black started spinning in front of her eyes. I misplayed that so hard! I gave Sun Ruinian’s Vayne a kill! The one game where Lin Feng needs me to step up, and I make a bad play! Why couldn’t I just do it right!? Just this one time!