Tang Bingyao stared at her screen, lost. I misplayed that, but Sun Ruinian is just so good. Mhm, far better than me… She closed her eyes and focused on her breathing. I knew he was better. I’m only B grade and he’s A-. Zeng Rui explained it all to me. Within a grade it’s possible to jump around. My awareness, teamfighting ability and some other things are at B grade or lower. Only my mechanics and laning ability are good enough that I can play against B+ grade players. But I need to be good at everything to get to B+ and from there I need something extra to get into the A grade rankings. Mnh-mnh. I’m nowhere near that. Sun Ruinian is just too good for me right now. She slumped back in her chair and opened her eyes. Her screen was still a dull grey, the last few seconds of her death timer counting down.
Sun Ruinian is even better at the things I’m good at. What did I expect? Helping Lin Feng? I can’t even beat this guy! The dull grey colours vanished from her screen and the vibrant greens and blues jumped back in. But Tang Bingyao wasn’t back in the game yet. Enough! If I want to help Lin Feng, I need to be better! Mhm! She bit on her lip and forcefully nodded once. She then sat up straight again and tightened the grip on her mouse. Back to lane and, uhm, how did I screw up?
The fight scene played before Tang Bingyao’s eyes again as her Ezreal walked back to lane. Leona tried to jump on me with Zenith Blade. I saw it coming so I used Arcane Shift to jump away. Ah, yeah, that was my first mistake. Jumping away was fine, but I jumped toward the wall when I knew I’m up against a Vayne. How could I make that mistake!? She breathed in and then blew her frustration out in a short burst. That was the screw up! Sun Ruinian got the angle for Condemn. And from there I was perma-stunned. Leona flashed on me, exhausted me, stunned me before Condemn wore off… She glanced at Zeng Rui before quickly turning her attention back to her screen. Her Ezreal was almost at the outer tower in the bot lane. He tried to save me. But I screwed up. There was nothing he could do there. He must be upset…
Zeng Rui was also replaying the fight scene, considering the implications from his point of view. This sucks. He shook his head almost imperceptibly. Tang Tang isn’t even playing poorly! She’s maybe even better than usual! But Sun Ruinian isn’t just good. He’s really good! He’s… Zeng Rui closed his eyes and bit on his tongue. He’s better than I considered in my prognoses. I fucked up in my preparations. There aren’t many amateurs, if any, who can play Vayne at the level he’s displaying right now. He opened his eyes and narrowed them. But I’m also very good. I can adapt to this. Bot lane will be ours. Still, that doesn’t change my real worry… He panned his camera over to the mid lane just as Ahri engaged Varus again. His hands started trembling as a chill ran up and down his spine. Shit! I’m only watching it and I get the chills! He isn’t just A+, he’s a real professional! Dammit! This is ridiculous! How could they let him play? He’s a pro!
Zeng Rui turned his head to look at Lin Feng. The thundering dumbass… I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this focused. Usually he has some stupid comment ready when I look at him. He chewed on his lips and fought back the nausea he was feeling in his stomach. I actually feel sick from the nerves! This game is all coming down to him! If he can’t hold his own against AyDeeCee, if he doesn’t beat the actual professional player… He blew out the breath he didn’t even realise he’d been holding. We need him to beat AyDeeCee if we want to win this series!
Silent Reed held the microphone close to her mouth and analysed, “That bot lane fight was really something. Sun Ruinian is so good! The way he used his mechanics and reflexes to pick up that kill there…”
Rollfire smirked and replied, “He’s practically a pro! It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if a professional team comes knocking for him after this tournament is over. But for this game specifically…” He paused briefly, grinning, then added, “A Vayne getting early kills is a death sentence. Team Shanghai is done for in the bot lane.”
“Mid lane might be decided soon too!” Silent Reed exclaimed. She pointed at the large LCD screen that was focused on the mid lane and continued, “It’s 8 minutes in! Ahri and Varus both have their ultimates. One of them has to use it soon, right!?”
It was as if Shi Hang was waiting for Silent Reed to say this. He glanced at his cooldowns and then at the lane. The Blue and Red minions were fighting each other in the middle of the lane. Varus was standing behind them. His Flash is still on cooldown and mine is coming up in a few seconds. I have to time this right. A few seconds, that’s all I have. Two, three…
Shi Hang pressed down on the R key and activated Spirit Rush! Ahri dashed forward, a burst of fire flying at Varus and striking him. There were still minions between them, so she jumped a second time, arriving right next to Varus! Varus raised his bow and fired his ultimate skill at her–Chains of Corruption! Two glowing purple ribbons flew through the air, twisting around each other and releasing a dark glow. Shi Hang smiled, his finger pushing down on the D key. Ahri flashed through the Chains of Corruption and then blew a kiss at Varus!
A magical heart manifested in the air and slammed into Varus! He was charmed! Shi Hang followed up with Ahri’s full damage combo! His Ahri targeted Varus with Ignite, the unquenchable flame sticking to his body and burning away at his health! She then cast Fox-Fires, three honing blue flames appearing around her. They locked onto Varus. Ahri continued with Orb of Deception! She commanded the orb that floated by her side to slam into Varus! Orb and fire intertwined and combined to shear away at Varus’ health!
Shi Hang grinned. Got you now! He theatrically lifted his left hand up before pushing down on the R key to activate the third and final charge of Spirit Rush. His Ahri dashed away from Varus, an essence bolt appearing by her side. It locked onto the nearest Champion within range. That was Varus. The essence bolt flew towards him. It couldn’t be dodged or blocked.
《You have slain an enemy!》
Rollfire jumped up from his seat and leaned in close to his microphone, screaming, “AyDeeCee picked up the kill! It’s a solo kill in the mid lane! AyDeeCee has done it! He killed the kid from Team Shanghai! WOOOOOOO!”
“HE DODGED THE VARUS ULTIMATE!” Silent Reed shouted. “That’s why he didn’t engage when he hit Level 6! He wanted to wait for Flash! Oh my god! That’s some next level plays!”
Rollfire turned his head to look at Silent Reed and grinned. He pulled the microphone from its stand on the desk and placed it close to his mouth. He said, “Of course they’re next level plays! A real professional player is making them! WOOOOOOOOO!”
“AAAYYYY DEEEEE CEEEEEEEE!”
“OMG THAT WAS SOOOOOOOOOO COOL!”
“DEM AHRI MECHANICS! WOOOOOOOOO!”
“THAT’S SOME MATRIX LEVEL REACTION SPEED!”
“GOD DAMN! THAT WAS SEXY AS FUCK!”
“OH SNAP! SICK PLAY! SICK!”
But not everyone in the audience was excited to see Shi Hang pick up the kill. Team Shanghai’s friends and former teammates had slumped back in their seats, their fears of Lin Feng losing coming true. But also the other competing teams in the player seating area were quiet. They were all staring at the large LCD screen, grimly. One of them eventually said what they were all thinking, “How do they expect any of us to beat that…? Fuck! Why don’t they just give Zhejiang University the trophy right now!?”
Lin Feng stared intently at his screen as it lost its vibrant colours and turned to a dull grey. His Varus collapsed to the ground, dead. He’s good. Way better than I expected. But that’s fine too! The fire blazing in his eyes intensified. He grinned and rolled the tension out of his shoulder. He’s playing really good! GOOD! I wouldn’t want it any other way!
A single kill could open the flood gates, it could break the camel’s back, it could end the lane. The victor could push his advantage, force his opponent to play defensively, force his opponent to make mistakes, force his opponent to fall further and further behind until they were powerless to fight back! But it didn’t have to go like that. A single kill wasn’t necessarily enough to decide who would win the lane. When Lin Feng’s Varus returned to the mid lane, he didn’t hide behind his tower nor did he let Shi Hang’s Ahri toy around with him. He focused on his control over the minions, making sure they never fought too far from his tower. And he landed the last hit on every single one of them.
Shi Hang sat behind his computer in Zhejiang University’s soundproof booth, smiling. He pushed with his Ahri to exert his will over the minion wave, trying to make them crash into Blue team’s outer tower. But Lin Feng’s Varus fought back. Maple, Maple, Maple… It’s good to see you’ve still got that unshakable confidence! The worst thing a player can do when they’re behind is tilt. We all know that, but it also still happens. Even to the best of us! But when you stay calm, there is always a chance to get back into it. You need to hold strong, patiently farm and wait for the opening to strike back. But you know all that! His eyes narrowed and he smirked. Your only problem is that you’re playing against me. The me right now is good enough to not give you any opportunity to get back into this game! And you can’t rely on me underestimating you either! I know exactly how good you are. Still. Still I wonder if you’ll find a way. He grinned and glanced through the thick glass of his soundproof booth to where Team Shanghai was sitting. I’d be sorely disappointed if you don’t at least try.
Tang Bingyao’s Ezreal lost a lot from her death in the bot lane. Not only did Sun Ruinian’s Vayne get the gold from the kill, he also managed to make Ezreal lose two full minion waves worth of gold and experience. And he used that gold and level advantage to take complete control of the lane. Tang Bingyao tried to fight and take back control, but all that achieved was her missing last hits on minions and becoming progressively annoyed with herself.
Zeng Rui glanced at Tang Bingyao and then said over the team’s voice chat, “Stay calm, Tang Tang. Just play it safe. We’ll win this.” He looked back at Sun Ruinian’s Vayne and his Leona Support. That Leona is B- grade. I knew he wasn’t good. That is our opening in the bot lane. But we won’t get to use that if Tang Tang tilts. She needs to calm the ef down! She’s playing Ezreal! It’s so easy for her to escape, as long as she doesn’t stick too close to the walls… He added, “Avoid the walls.”
Ok, situation update. Zeng Rui panned his camera across the lane. They’re in complete control. Vayne has the item and level advantage, nothing we can do about that. Leona is looking to engage on Tang Tang, and she might find that opening if Tang Tang really starts tilting. So I can’t engage Vayne, because I have to be there to Headbut Leona away before she can get on Tang Tang. That locks me down, but I also have to place wards or leave ourselves susceptible to ganks… He breathed out loudly and moved his camera around the lane again. What’s there we can use? How can we buy some breathing room? The minions are pushing. They’re going to hit our tower. Then we’ll have to push…
It was looking like the bot lane was going to slip so far out of Team Shanghai’s control that Zhejiang University would win the entire game just by pushing the bot lane down. But right then, arriving precisely when she meant to, An Xin said over Team Shanghai’s voice chat, “Bot, get ready. I’m coming from their Jungle. We’re taking down the Vayne first.”
An Xin pulled Zeng Rui from his thoughts and brought him back into the game. He glanced at his minimap and then ordered, “Tang Tang, get ready.”
Tang Bingyao nodded and replied, “Mhm! I’m ready!”
Zhejiang University was pushing hard in the bot lane, pressing Team Shanghai back against their outer tower. This left them open and vulnerable to ganks. So Leona had worked together with Sun Ruinian’s Vayne to set up a wall of vision high up in the river and in Team Shanghai’s bottom side Jungle to warn them early about potential ganks. Neither of them, however, expected An Xin’s Jarvan IV to find her way undetected into Red team’s bottom side Jungle. She ran between the trees, past the Blue Buff Camp and Krog Camp until she arrived in the tri brush right behind Zhejiang University’s outer tower.
The large LCD screen was showing the game in spectator mode. Everyone in the audience could see An Xin’s Jarvan IV sneak her way into Zhejiang University’s Jungle, somehow dodging all the Red wards. So did Silent Reed. She leaned in towards her microphone and said, “Wow! Are you all seeing that? Look at Jarvan IV! He’s got some kind of sixth sense! How did he avoid all of those wards!? Zhejiang University doesn’t have a clue he’s there!”
Rollfire nodded and in a rare moment of consideration for Team Shanghai chimed in, “It’s like she’s playing the game on spectator mode! The way she dodged those wards is showing a really high level of awareness!”
The play was set. An Xin was ready. She glanced at bot lane, where Zeng Rui and Tang Bingyao had been pushing Sun Ruinian’s Vayne and the Leona back after letting the minion wave collapse into their tower. This was enough to make the two from Zhejiang University vigilant. But not vigilant enough to expect a gank from behind them.
An Xin said over Team Shanghai’s voice chat, “Go in now.” She then had her Jarvan IV walk up to the corner of the jungle closest to the bot lane. There, she flashed over the wall of trees and boulders. The outer tower briefly targeted her, but not long enough to fire an energy shot.
Zeng Rui’s Alistar flashed forward and then targeted Sun Ruinian’s Vayne with his Headbutt into Pulverise combo! Alistar aimed his horns at Vayne and then launched himself at her! He smashed into Vayne with such immense force that she was knocked off her feet and started flying backwards! But right then he balled his massive hands into fists and smashed them into the ground! He pulverised the earth and the resulting shockwave knocked Vayne up into the air!
Tang Bingyao’s Ezreal fired a Mystic Shot at Vayne! The damaging bolt of energy sheared away at Vayne’s health! Then she spotted Leona raising her sword. It was the start of the animation for Zenith Blade. She activated Arcane Shift! Ezreal teleported towards Vayne and sent a honing bolt of energy after her!
“Retreat! BackBack!” Sun Ruinian shouted over Zhejiang University’s voice chat. I’m dead. My Flash is on cooldown. GET OUT!
An Xin’s Jarvan IV flag-toss comboed on Vayne, knocking him up right as he was about to fall back down to the ground. Ezreal fired auto attacks that bit into Vayne’s health bar, and Alistar smashed his big fists into Vayne. Zhejiang University’s Support knew he couldn’t save Sun Ruinian. He clicked on his outer tower and flashed. Leona blinked a short distance and ran the rest of the way. She was halfway towards her outer tower when Zhejiang University’s Support heard the voice announcer screaming into his ears.
《An ally has been slain!》
“Nice kill, Tang Tang!” An Xin complimented.
“Yeah, nice work,” Zeng Rui agreed. He then pinged on the Dragon pit and added, “Let’s get Dragon!” He didn’t wait for an answer as he had his Alistar run up the river and into the Dragon pit, where he started clearing wards to take away vision from Zhejiang University.
An Xin’s Jarvan IV and Tang Bingyao’s Ezreal followed right behind Alistar. The three of them engaged the Dragon. It fought back, spitting fire at them. But the three were more than strong enough to take it down. Zhejiang University didn’t try to contest. With Leona having blown her Flash to retreat and Vayne dead, they didn’t have the strength to fight for it.
《The Blue Team has slain the Dragon!》
Zeng Rui breathed out in relief. After Tang Bingyao had given away a kill, he’d started to worry more and more and more. Every small mistake suddenly started looking big, because Sun Ruinian was making the most out of it. But we bided our time and found our way back into it! We’re almost back to even now! Tang Tang is getting that second chance! She can’t screw this— He shook his head. No, that’s not right. We can’t screw this up.
“YES! That’s it, Tang Tang!” Ren Rou exclaimed, throwing her arms up in the air. The crowd around her was doing the same. She looked at them, a feeling of weightlessness rising up from her stomach and swirling at the lower end of her ribcage. People are cheering for us! They’re saying Tang Tang and BunBun are playing good! Even that guy caster said it! Everyone is finally supporting us! A smile blossomed on her face. She glanced at her new friends from Shanghai High School hugging each other and dancing, yelling Zeng Rui’s name. She then turned her head a little to look at Ouyang and Liu Yue. They’re so loud that Tang Tang and BunBun might even hear them!
Ren Rou clapped and joined her friends around her in a ‘Team Shanghai’ chant. Yang Fan, Wei Dong, Chen Ze… Everyone’s here. It’s like we’re part of the team! We’re the hardcore fans! She giggled, quickly moving her hand to cover her mouth. Uh? She noticed a section of the crowd from the corners of her eyes who weren’t cheering. They sat on their seats, staring at the people around them. Aren’t those the guys from Zhejiang University? Oh my god, they’re so mad! They’re so mad! That makes this so much better! She tugged on Ouyang’s shirt and said, “Look at them over there! They’re so mad!”
Ouyang turned his head to look at Ren Rou and then followed her outstretched hand to the esports club members from Zhejiang University. His excitement morphed into schadenfreude. He started laughing and tapped Liu Yue on the shoulder. He then pointed at the club members from Zhejiang University and shouted, “LOOK AT THOSE GRUMPY FACES!”
The audience had just quieted down a bit, making Ouyang’s shout sound that much louder. They all turned to look at him and then followed his outstretched arm to look at the esports club members from Zhejiang University. A couple of people started grinning as whispers and murmurs sounded through the crowd.
Zuo Cheng turned his head to look at Ouyang and narrowed his eyes. He said, “Yeah, yeah, your Jarvan IV gank was good. I’ll give you that!” He then snorted and amped his voice up before continuing, “So what? A kill and a Dragon. Big fucking deal! Vayne is still better than Ezreal. Vayne outscales Ezreal. And maybe you didn’t get the memo, but we’ve got a former pro in the mid lane! We’ve got this game in the bag!”