Qiu Yijie was the Midlaner for Fudan University. He sat at the front of the venue in the player seating area and glanced over his shoulder at the crowd behind him. Everyone had shifted their attention to the large LCD screen that was showing the fight in mid lane. It was the showdown between Lin Feng from Team Shanghai versus Shi Hang from Zhejiang University! And the audience made it very clear who they believed to be the better of the two. Qiu Yijie turned his head away from the crowd and listened to what his teammates were talking about.
“So that’s what a professional Midlaner looks like…” Fudan University’s Support muttered.
Fudan University’s Jungler nodded and added, “My gawd! I’d choke so hard if I had to play against AyDeeCee! He’s contesting Varus for every CS!”
“You guys are wrong about one thing,” Qiu Yijie interjected. He shook his head and grimaced before explaining, “I’m an A- Midlaner, right? Means I’m basically the lowest possible pro. Sorta. Shi Hang over there? AyDeeCee. He’s not A-, or A at all! They look at him in percentages. He’s the best of the best in China! You compare him to the likes of Lightless, maybe even Hermes! Don’t make the mistake of thinking about AyDeeCee like some random Midlaner from the LSPL… That’d be dumb.”
Qiu Yijie ignored the stares from his teammates as he turned his attention back to the large LCD screen above the two soundproof booths. They consider me at the level of a pro. But what the fuck would I do against him? My Ahri stinks next to his! He nodded and concluded, “Seems like Shi Hang hasn’t stopped playing the game all these years. He might not have played professionally, but there’s no way in hell he’s still this good after just straight up quitting! He probably practiced hard in the solo queue to keep some of his skills. We gotta be careful. He’s still right up there with the best!”
Fudan University’s Jungler looked from Qiu Yijie up to the LCD screen and then back at Qiu Yijie. The cap looks way serious! He exclaimed, “Oh shit! My gawd! Kiddy Lin Feng bashed his head into a rock solid wall this time, ey? He can be whatever grade he wanna be, AyDeeCee is better! That’s right, right?”
Qiu Yijiye nodded absentmindedly. His eyes were locked on the LCD screen. On Varus. He knitted his brows. Gotta give it to that Varus, he’s playing great. Don’t think I could hold my own against AyDeeCee after giving away a kill, but he’s up there doing it! Too bad that won’t be enough. He’s still playing against one of the best pros ever. You don’t come back from a deficit against them. They’re too good to let that happen! Unless, unless you’re not just having a really good game on your Varus and are actually better than Shi Hang… He clicked his tongue and shook his head. Nah, that’s impossible.
Rollfire shook his head, incredulous. What is this Varus doing? He’s practically asking to get his ass kicked! He grabbed the microphone from its stand and said, “Shi Hang is using his kill advantage to pressure Varus, but Varus isn’t having any of it! He’s trading blow for blow!”
“That’s right! He’s playing this very cleverly!” Silent Reed jumped in. She pointed at the LCD screen and continued, “See how he’s hiding behind the minions? Ahri can’t Charm him like that! And whenever he uses his skills, he last hits minions and also attacks Ahri! All in one go! It’s brilliant!”
“But he’s a kill down,” Rollfire argued. He shook his head again and added, “He’s playing far too aggressively for someone who’s a kill down! If he keeps this up, he’s just gonna give another kill to AyDeeCee! He needs to sit back and scale up!” He turned his head to look into Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth. What kind of idiot are you!? You have no mobility! NIL! ZILCH! ZERO! And you’re playing against an Ahri! Her ultimate skill gives her three dashes! THREE!
But Lin Feng wasn’t comparing Champions in this manner. He knew that each Champion had its strengths and weaknesses. Mobility was just one of many variables. He stared at his monitor, laser focused. Each minion’s health appeared before his eyes. He knew how much damage his minions dealt and how many seconds he had before he had to last hit the next minion. He glanced at Ahri. She still has 15 seconds on her ultimate. Flash is down a bit longer. Enemy Jungler hasn’t shown himself in a bit… Too obvious! I got this! He grinned and inched towards his monitor. He tapped his fingers on his keyboard and grasped his mouse a little tighter.
Across the stage in Zhejiang University’s soundproof booth, Shi Hang was almost jumping with joy. He smiled and felt his heart thumping in his chest. Most players would’ve given up after that first kill. Even most pro’s would’ve! But not only are you still fighting, you’re even contesting me for lane control! This really brings me back… He smirked. What did we always say back in the day? Sometimes, all the mid lane comes down to is guts!
You were the best. No question. Shi Hang glanced at the soundproof booth from Team Shanghai. You were the invincible laner! You have no clue how happy I am to see you still got that fire! He shook his head and grinned, tingles rapping against the back of his neck and down his shoulders. I watched you play at Worlds. I was cheering you on when you played against Phoenix in the semis! Fuck! Just thinking about it has my heart racing all over again! The way you crushed him was something straight from some fairytale!
Shi Hang breathed in and then sighed loudly. It’s too bad. That was then. Right now, all I see is the spirit. It’s not enough. You need to have the strength to back it up. Show me that you’ve still got that too! He glanced at his minimap and noticed Rek’Sai pathing towards the mid lane. Time to turn this up another notch. He looked at Varus and smiled. Don’t let me down, Maple. Show me more. I don’t want to beat you just like this. I want a real fight!
At 9 minutes, the Red minions were pushing into Blue Team’s outer tower in the mid lane. Shi Hang glanced at his health bar. Half health. That’s fine. Then he looked at Varus. Specks of green jumped into being around him. He’s also at half health and he just popped his last health potion. Good, good. He finally turned his attention to the Red minions, isolating one specifically. Its health was low and it was slightly more towards the back of the minion wave. He’ll have to run forward a bit to get it. That’ll be when I engage.
Shi Hang placed his index finger on top of the R key and ever so lightly pushed down. His mouse was hovering over the Red minion he had isolated. He didn’t have to wait long. Lin Feng’s Varus ran forward to get the last hit. Shi Hang pressed down and activated Spirit Rush! Ahri dashed towards the minion, an essence bolt coalescing next to her before shooting at Varus! She then raised her hands to her mouth and blew Varus a kiss!
“IT’S THE ENGAGE!” Rollfire cried out. He clutched his microphone and shouted, “AHRI IS ENGAGING! AHRI IS ENGAGING!”
The casters and the audience lacked the insight and awareness required to see this play coming. They saw the Rek’Sai pathing towards the mid lane and were expecting her to lead in a gank, but that was all. To someone like Lin Feng, though, it was painfully obvious the engage was coming. He knew exactly where Rek’Sai was, a ward he’d placed earlier in the Jungle revealing her. She dug a tunnel underneath the Jungle wall towards him. He smirked, just smirked. Really? You really think I’ll fall for this again? I thought you knew me better than that, Shi Hang!
One would never stop laughing at me if I fell for this again! Time slowed down in Lin Feng’s eyes. He stared at the monitor, calculating exactly where the Charm would land and where Rek’Sai would Unburrow to try and knock him up. His mouse was already moving towards the optimal location. Then he clicked down on his right mouse button. Gotcha! Time resumed at its normal pace. Varus lowered his bow, cancelling his auto attack, and started running again.
Shi Hang’s Ahri arrived in front of Lin Feng’s Varus. A magical heart manifested in the air and flew towards him! But it flew to where Varus was preparing to auto attack, and not the three steps to the left which he’d taken since! The Charm missed its target!
Silent Reed lunged towards her microphone. She pressed it almost into her mouth and shouted, “HE DODGED IT! HE DODGED THE CHARM!”
“Oh my god, how!?”
“Holy shit! He dodged it!?”
“Rek’Sai is coming in hot!” Rollfire exclaimed. He leaned closer to his microphone and added, “She’s gonna Flash! There it—”
One mottled flash of light was followed up by another! Rek’Sai appeared right beneath where Varus had been only a moment ago and Unburrowed! She clawed her way out from underground and smashed against the air! The knock up intended for Varus missed! He had escaped with a Flash towards his outer tower!
Rollfire’s mouth fell wide open. The microphone slipped from his hand and clattered on the caster desk, a sharp ring blasting through the speakers! But no one in the audience seemed to notice. Their eyes were on the large LCD screen and their mouths were just as far open as Rollfire’s.
“H-he dodged that too!?”
“Both? He dodged both? How!”
“I didn’t even see the Charm coming!”
“D-did he… Did he predict all that?”
“God. He’s a god! HE’S A FUCKING GOD!”
“He’s really just a high schooler? Really? HIM?”
“What the… How? Just how?”
“WOOT WOOT! LIN FENG IS THE BEST!”
Shi Hang’s eyebrows twitched and his scalp tingled. There was no time to think. Everything was happening too quickly. But in that exact moment, he knew he fucked up. Oh shit, oh shit, OH SHIT!
Lin Feng was completely prepared for the gank when it happened. He knew exactly how he was going to play it. There was no delay between his plays, from dodging the Charm to flashing the Unburrow to now casting his ultimate skill! His Varus raised his bow and fired Chains of Corruption! Two ribbons of baleful, blight energy rushed straight at Ahri! They wrapped around Ahri and rooted her to the ground! Then they started searching for another victim. Rek’Sai was within their range. The Chains of Corruption duplicated, a second set firing from Ahri at Rek’Sai, rooting her too!
Shi Hang’s Ahri had arrived within the outer tower’s range when she dashed at Lin Feng’s Varus. The idea was to dash back out after unleashing her full damage combo and claiming his life. But now she found herself rooted. She was unable to activate the second dash from Spirit Rush. Blue Team’s outer tower had locked onto her and was charging up for an attack. Then an energy shot fired at her! This was followed by Varus unleashing his full damage combo!
Shi Hang’s eyes were wide open. ShitShitShit! He clicked away and smashed on the R key, frantic! He watched Varus raise his bow and fire a Hail of Arrows. They rained down on his Ahri, as Varus was already charging up for his next attack. Piercing Arrow! A thick, massive arrow releasing a blightful aura shot at Ahri! SHIT! The arrow pierced Ahri and dealt a devastating amount of damage!
“IS HE GONNA GET IT!?”
Lin Feng glanced at his minimap. He’d pinged the Ahri and told Tang Bingyao to cast her ultimate at the moment of engagement. Shi Hang’s Ahri still had a bit of health remaining and there was less than a second remaining on the root from Chains of Corruption. But Lin Feng had calculated all of that. That was why he needed the help from Tang Bingyao’s Ezreal. More specifically, he needed Ezreal’s Trueshot Barrage which was already flying across the map. The crescent-shaped beam of energy sped into the mid lane and cleaved through Ahri and then Rek’Sai!
The root wore off. Ahri still had a fraction of health remaining. She activated Spirit Rush and dashed away! But not before the large ball of energy that had gathered at the top of the outer tower fired at her. Nor before Lin Feng’s Varus targeted her with a final auto attack. Ahri activated the third and final dash from Spirit Rush, trying to get even further away, but the energy shot and auto attack followed after her. And then they hit her.
《You have slain an enemy!》
“OH MY GOD! OH MY GOOOOOD!”
“THIS IS MAAAD!”
“Good job!” Zeng Rui cried out over the team’s voice chat. He then nodded at Tang Bingyao and added, “You too!”
Tang Bingyao smiled and relaxed the grip on her mouse a little. “Mhm! Thanks!” She breathed out in relief and mumbled to herself, “YES!” It hit! She suddenly noticed how her heart was slamming into her ribcage and how her hand felt clammy and sticky. Beads of sweat had popped up on her forehead. She glanced at her teammates, who were all focused on their monitors, and quickly wiped her face dry.
Lin Feng didn’t hear Zeng Rui congratulate him nor did he notice Tang Bingyao’s glance. His complete focus was on the game. Shi Hang’s Ahri was dead, but the Rek’Sai was still in front of him. The female monster had a little more than half of her health remaining. He moved his cursor over her and clicked the right mouse button. Varus raised his bow and fired an auto attack.
Zhejiang University’s Jungler focused his attention on Lin Feng’s Varus. He’s half health and he didn’t have too much HP to start with anyway. He glanced at his inventory and smiled. Plus I’ve got my boots and I’ve finished my first defensive item. I can kill him! I’ll get revenge for Shi Hang! He had his Rek’Sai run at Lin Feng’s Varus! She charged forward and tried to attack, but Varus kited his way backwards through the minions. Goddammit! How are those stupid minions not slowing him down? WHY ARE THEY SLOWING ME DOWN!? He narrowed his eyes and clicked on Varus again. Attack him for fucks sake! Stupid minions!
“What the fuck? He’s playing Varus! How’s he kiting her like that?”
“He’s playing Varus like he’s some kind of Vayne or Draven! Nuts!”
“He’s doing it damn perfectly though! Look at that! That Rek’Sai must be tearing his hair out!”
“Holy shit! He’s even using the minions to block Rek’Sai! Haha! This is insane!”
“What is this kid? That’s a fucking textbook example of perfect kiting!”
“A monster! He’s a fucking monster! He killed Shi Hang!”
“HE IS STILL AUTO ATTACKING! HOW!?”
The outer tower fired an energy shot at Zhejiang University’s Rek’Sai just as she finally got in range of Lin Feng’s Varus. Her high health helped her tank it. She then activated Queens Wrath to boost the damage of her next three basic attacks and chomped into him with Furious Bite! Varus’ health dropped sharply and fell below 10%! Rek’Sai followed by striking out with her claws for a second auto attack!
“What?” Zhejiang University’s Jungler suddenly exclaimed. His eyes went wide and he muttered, “He still had Heal?”
Varus’ body lit up with a green rejuvenating glow! His health jumped back up to 30%! He then pulled away from Rek’Sai and lifted his bow, firing another auto attack! The outer tower was supporting him from the rear. It had charged up another energy shot and fired it at Rek’Sai!
Zhejiang University’s Jungler knew he couldn’t kill Varus anymore. He’d die first to the tower. So he gritted his teeth and had his Rek’Sai run away from the outer tower. Varus kept firing auto attacks at her, but she had enough health left to tank through those. More importantly, she had a higher movement speed. She got out of the tower’s range and then out of Varus’ range. I got out! At least I got— His eyes went wide. Varus had raised his bow. The arrow resting on the string was charging up with a brilliant crimson light! NO! SHIT! NO! Dodge and weave! Dodge and weave! He had his Rek’Sai move left and then right again. She went a bit more to the right and then straight. Right, left! Dodge and weave!
Lin Feng was breathing calmly behind his monitor. His finger was pressing down on the Q key, charging up Piercing Arrow. Its range increased faster than Rek’Sai could run, and soon she fell within his attack range. He moved his mouse a little to the left and then a little to the right. He paid attention to the rhythm in Rek’Sai’s dodge and weave tactics. Then he smiled and let go of the Q key.
The fully charged Piercing Arrow shot from Varus’ bow! The winds howled as it pierced through the air, heading straight for Rek’Sai! It was as if she were being pulled towards it! She turned left at the last moment and walked straight into the arrow’s path! It slammed into her and knocked life out of her!
The entire venue was silent. Everyone, from the people in the audience to the staff members backstage, were staring at the two lifeless corpses on the various TV screens. The esports club members from Zhejiang University sat with hunched backs and their mouths wide open. Even the casters didn’t know what to say or do. Silent Reed had never casted a game with real big names before. She was thrilled to cast Shi Hang winning. But she never expected the famous professional player to die. She was opening and closing her mouth, trying to say something. That was still a better reaction than Rollfire. The shock was so much for him that he slumped back in his seat, except that he was already sitting on the edge. When he leaned back, his buttocks moved forward and off the chair. The loud sound of flesh hitting wood rang out through the venue.
A lone voice suddenly erupted from the audience, reverberating through the roof of the venue. “HOOOLY FUCKING SHIT! THAT WAS AMAZING! WHAT A MOTHERFUCKING GODLY VARUS! WOOOOOOOOOOO! LIIIIIN FEEEEEEEENG!” Ouyang had jumped to his feet, his hands wrapped around his mouth for extra volume. “YOU STOMPED A PROFESSIONAL PLAYER! WOOOOOOO!”
Ren Rou’s first instinct was to slap Ouyang and shut him up. But that wasn’t what she did. She looked up at him and smiled. Then she jumped up from her seat and punched her fists up into the air, yelling, “LIIIIIIIN FEEEEEEEENG!”
Ouyang looked around at his friends who were just sitting, numbly staring at the LCD screen. He shook his head and then grabbed Liu Yue and Yang Fan by their shoulders. He shouted, “CHEER FOR THEM!”
It was the shove the friends and former teammates from Team Shanghai needed. Not just Yang Fan and Liu Yue, but all of them found themselves getting up to their feet. They stamped down on the ground in a steady rhythm, threw their arms up in the air, and shouted, “WIN FENG! WIN FENG! WIN FENG!”
Little by little, the people in the audience started to find their bearings again. It wasn’t long before they all jumped to their feet and started cheering. The ground shook and their voices blasted against the thick glass windows of the soundproof booths, making them tremble!
“WHAT A COMEBACK! WOOOOOOW!”
“OH MY GOD! HOLY SHIT! WHAT THE, WHAT THE, AAAAAAAAAH!”
“DID YOU GUYS SEE THAT? DID YOU? DID YOU?”
“HOW DID HE TURN THAT AROUND? HOW?”
“TEAM SHANGHAI FOR THE WIN!”
“THEY BEAT A FORMER PRO! THEY BEAT A FORMER PRO!”
“WIN FENG! WIN FENG! WIN FENG!”
“HE BEAT SHI HANG! HE BEAT AYDEECEE!”
The players from the other six teams still competing at the Winter Collegiate Cup forgot to cheer entirely, deaf to the thundering sounds slamming into them from behind. They stared at the large LCD screen, stunned speechless. Then they turned to look at each other. For a rare moment, there was no separation between the various teams. They were all looking at each other, searching for the one amongst them who could explain what just happened.
“Zhejiang University had the perfect gank there. How did he do that? He walked out of Ahri’s Charm! I didn’t even see she was going to jump on him there, but he canceled his auto attack to dodge it! How did he see that?”
“I don’t know… It, it looked perfect! I thought the Varus was dead. I… I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense. It just… It doesn’t add up! How, how did he know? How did he dodge all of that? And that Heal at the end? Just, what the fuck!?”
“Who the hell is that kid? That isn’t some random A grade. There is no fucking way in Heaven or Earth that a fucking A grade Midlaner could make that play happen! Just how fucking good is he!?”
There were only a few people in the entire venue who knew who Lin Feng was. Shi Hang was one of them. He stared at the dull grey colours on his monitor, watching Varus farm minions on top of his Ahri’s corpse. Fuck yeah! He grinned and suddenly felt warm tears in his eyes. FUCK YEAH! That was the real you! Welcome to the game, Maple! You were the one I wanted to play against! Now show me more of this! Make me fight! Make me give it my all! He balled his hand into a fist and clenched it tight. “Fuck yeah!”