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Oh Lord of Cliffhangers, What Have you Done!?

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“OH YEAH! YOU WANTED HEAT? WE GONNA BRING THE FIRE!” Liu Yue screamed when he saw Lin Feng pick LeBlanc for mid lane. He knew just how good Lin Feng was with this Champion. skill on this Champion. Everyone at High School 13 had heard of Lin Feng’s insane Le Blanc skills by now. The story of how Lin Feng crushed a potential esports club member who was Diamond ranked at tryouts had turned into a school legend. Liu Yue pumped his fist in the air and shouted, “We’re winning this 10,000,000% guaranteed!”

Ouyang grinned. Sort of. It was a grin through teeth clenched in excitement as his entire body trembled and shook. His knuckles turned white from his tightly balled fists. This gonna be good! He looked left and then right, searching for someone to share his excitement with. He finally said, “About goddamn time! Best bro is gonna carry this one! This is the comeback! I swear on my great grandma’s grave! His LeBlanc is gonna tear through Shi Hang! He’s gonna teach those arrogant shitheads and their pro cheater a lesson they won’t be forgetting!”

Yang Fan adjusted his glasses and analyzed, “It appears Lin Feng is going to pop off this game. It is 99% likely that he will, as Ouyang so nicely put it, tear through AyDeeCee!”

Ren Rou glanced at Yang Fan, surprised. Then she grinned and turned her attention to a different section of the audience. It was where the students from Zhejiang University were sitting. They won’t know what’ll hit them. This is going to be so sweet!

Shi Hang sat behind his computer, his gaze locked on the LeBlanc pick. His LeBlanc. His… Nerves fluttered in his stomach and tied it into a knot. He glanced past his teammates at Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth. His LeBlanc… He grimaced and lightly shook his head. I’ve been having so much fun playing against him for the last two games that I completely forgot to prepare for… Well. This.

The four other players from Zhejiang University didn’t notice that Shi Hang’s body language changed or that his mood was completely different. They laughed when they saw that Lin Feng had locked in on LeBlanc. Then they quipped at each other about how Lin Feng seemed to really enjoy playing Ability Power assassins in the mid lane.

“Well, it doesn’t matter,” Zhejiang’s Jungler said. He shrugged and continued, “He played Fizz last game and lost to Shi Hang. Eh, he did fine at the start, sure. But once we got into the second half of the game? He didn’t do much of anything!”

Zhejiang’s Support laughed and said, “With Shi Hang as our Midlaner, there’s nothing that kid can do! 3-0, here we come!”

Shi Hang looked at his teammates and couldn’t stop himself from smiling. If only you guys knew who he is. If only you guys knew about his LeBlanc… He started laughing and shaking his head. LeBlanc was Maple’s signature Champion! No one, absolutely no one could beat his LeBlanc! He bit on his lips and sunk back a bit in his gaming chair. I have to play against Maple’s LeBlanc. Playing against his Fizz was hard enough… but now it’s LeBlanc. Now he’s serious. He laughed again, helpless. Fuck. Fuck it. I’ll do what I can. It’d be really embarrassing if I feed, but… I mean… He raised his shoulder and shook his head again. This is Maple’s LeBlanc. What can I do? The only saving grace here is that I don’t have to worry about his teammates. They just aren’t good enough to keep up with him. Shi Hang rolled his head and flexed his shoulders. We’re up 2-0 because his teammates aren’t great. If he had his old team… No. Scratch that. If all he had was Autumn, I’d have never agreed to play. I’d be running so fast that they wouldn’t even see me! Just the two of them, we’d get our asses kicked! It’s really crazy how strong his old team was. Two players in the Top 10 of the world! Shi Hang grinned. He grabbed his mouse with one hand and placed the fingers of his other hand on his keyboard. Thank god I don’t have to play any of them on top of Maple. His current team is a fantastic handicap for him!

Zeng Rui sat in his gaming chair, looking at his screen while also glancing at Lin Feng. I’m fucking done with you! Egotistical asshole! Yeah, you’re playing great! Fuck, you’re going even against AyDeeCee! But that doesn’t mean we’re suddenly shit! We’re all good! We’re a strong team! You need to get your head out of your ass and be a teamplayer! He turned his head to look at Lin Feng and said, “You don’t have to worry about bot. Just focus on mid lane. Tang Tang and I’ll take care of things down here.”

Tang Bingyao stared intently at Jinx’s portrait on the loading screen. What he says! Mhm! We’re going to win the bot lane! Screw everything else! She nodded, more to herself than anyone else.

“Don’t think about top either, Lin Feng!” Zhang Hao exclaimed. He balled his fist and continued, “Even if I have to cling to his leg and scream for my mommy, I won’t let him get away from me! I don’t give a single fuck about his B-whatever-grade! I’ll keep him down! Trust me.”

Lin Feng smiled and nodded, and then suddenly scrunched his nose. He turned to look at An Xin and said, “BunBun, will you be fine playing Rengar? The last two games…”

An Xin tilted her head to look at Lin Feng. Her lips were still smiling, but she’d narrowed her eyes. A cold chill swept through the soundproof booth as she said, “OH? Are you doubting your teammates again? Weren’t the others clear? Do I have to repeat them!? Don’t worry about Top. Don’t worry about Bot. Don’t worry about Jungle! You nitwit! If you feed, I swear!”

Tang Bingyao, Zeng Rui and Zhang Hao unconsciously pushed themselves away from Lin Feng and An Xin. They knew better than anyone what could happen next. But Lin Feng didn’t argue back for a change. He just scratched his head and said, “Ok, ok! Don’t worry! I’m best at LeBlanc! I’ll win mid!” He then turned his attention to his monitor. His right hand wrapped around the mouse, his thumb lightly pressing against the side of it. He then moved his left hand to hover right above his keyboard. His pinky finger moved first, tapping down on the Q key. His ring finger followed, pressing the W key. His middle finger then pushed down on the E key. Good. He gazed at his screen, narrowing his eyes just enough to block everything else out, and said over the team’s voice chat, “Let’s give ‘em hell!”

Welcome to Summoner’s Rift!

The game announcer’s voice boomed through the speakers in the venue. Team Shanghai’s Champions spawned on the blue fountain in the bottom left corner of the map and Zhejiang University’s Champions spawned on the red fountain on the other side of the map. They bought their starter items and then made their way out of the base down the various lanes and into the Jungle.

Rollfire held his microphone close to his mouth and said, “What a pick from Team Shanghai! They went with Rengar! The Jungler who’s been struggling on Lee Sin goes with another mechanical heavy Champion! She really wants to go all out in this final game!”

“Hoh, hoh, hoh!” Silent Reed countered. She shook her head and replied, “Who says this is the final game? I’m saying this game is all Team Shanghai’s! Definitely! Because how sweet would it be if we get to cast another three games? An epic five game series! Just imagine!”

Rollfire grinned. Trying so hard to kiss Shanghai Stupid Organization’s ass, huh? Well, that’s one way to get invited to cast again. Being an actually good caster might also help. But we both know you suck at that! He nodded at himself and then said, “I feel like if we wanted to get a Game 4, Team Shanghai should’ve gone for something else. Maybe something like that Fiddlesticks from before!”

Silent Reed sighed loudly into her microphone, spooking herself. She shook her head and focused her attention on the large LCD screen. She said, “Let’s just get into the game! Looks like we’re starting with a normal lane setup! Rengar is starting on the Red buff and Maokai on the Blue buff!”

An Xin had Rengar kill the Red Brambleback, smiling. She tapped her fingers on her mouse and felt them reacting like she wanted them to. The meds are finally kicking in! This is good! I can play like this! I can finally do what I normally do! Her smile turned brighter as she panned her screen towards the top-side Jungle from the Red team. Level 2 invade on their Red Buff? Yeah! 

An Xin’s Rengar stalked through the Jungle, running between brushes down a practiced path. He dodged the wards and vision from Zhejiang University and slipped into the brush next to Red team’s Red Buff Camp. Maokai had just arrived and was attacking the Red Brambleback. He was slowly whittling its health down, while taking substantial damage himself.

An Xin smiled. He isn’t expecting me at all. I can just wait. She watched Zhejiang’s Maokai fight until the Red Brambleback was down to half health. First blood! She clicked on Maokai! Rengar leapt from the brush and struck out with his claws!

Zhejiang University’s Jungler hadn’t expected the gank at all. His eyes went wide and he slammed down on the D key before he even realised he had. A mottled flash of light wrapped around his Maokai and carried him a short distance. But Rengar followed right behind him with a Flash of his own. ShitShitShit!

First Blood!

“OH MY GOOOOOOOOD! WOOOOO!”
“WOOT WOOT! FIRST BLOOD FOR BUNBUN!”
“WOOOOOOOOOOO!”
“TEAM SHANGHAI FOR THE TURNAROUND!”
“SICK GANK! HAHAHA!”

Inside Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth, An Xin breathed out and relaxed. She then turned to look at Lin Feng and teased, “Watch out. I’ve already got a lead on you.”

Zhejiang’s Toplaner raised his brows and turned his head to look at his Jungler. He shook his head and said over the team’s voice chat, “Really, dude? Really? How the heck did you get caught there?”

The Support sat all the way on the other end of the long desk. He leaned back a bit to look at his Jungler and added, “Be a little careful! Shit! You wanna play against a fed Rengar or something?”

Sun Ruinian narrowed his eyes and interrupted, “Guys. Focus! Don’t be careless, please.”

“Fuck! Sorry, guys…” Zhejiang’s Jungler shook his head and kicked against the back of his desk. He grimaced and continued, “I just… Fuck! I really didn’t see it coming! She was so bad the last two games! Why the fuck is she suddenly invading? Dammit! I should’ve been more careful. One ward would’ve helped me survive there. And I even panic-flashed. Seriously, I’m stupid. Sorry, I’m really sorry.”

Shi Hang scrunched his nose and tilted his head. This feels, it feels wrong. He’s on LeBlanc and after that Lee Sin, she goes with Rengar? It’s all wrong. He said over the team’s voice chat, “Calm it. That Rengar is more aggressive than before, so let’s be ready for it. Get some wards up and don’t rush back to your Red Buff. She might still be there.”

Maple. Maple, Maple, Maple. Shi Hang focused his attention back on the LeBlanc he was playing against in the mid lane. She always stood behind you. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen her play. The girl with the pigtails. Everyone knew her. She was the genius! But she never played. She just followed after you. I’m starting to get really curious to find out just how good she is. He grinned and narrowed his eyes. I saw that kill on Maokai. But I was too late. I couldn’t collapse on her. She played that really well. If she starts playing like that… It’ll be interesting again!

“Well, that was a great invade by Rengar!” Silent Reed said into her microphone. She shook her head and continued, “Such a nice first blood! I’m really impressed! And look at this.” She pointed at the large LCD screen, which showed Zhejiang’s Jungler carefully entering his Jungle and placing wards in every brush, and continued, “Rengar has already returned to her own Jungle. But Zhejiang’s wards didn’t catch her, so they’re probably thinking she’s still in their Jungle! It’s such a nice play!”

Rollfire grabbed his microphone and argued, “Nothing wrong with being careful! See how they’re placing down wards and getting up some good vision around their Jungle? That’s exactly what Fuzhou Tech should’ve done to stop Team Shanghai in the previous round! Then it’d be Fuzhou Tech facing off against Zhejiang University here today!”

Silent Reed turned her head to look at Rollfire, annoyed. Shut up! She breathed out loudly and then leaned back towards her microphone. She said, “Enough about that! Let’s see how the other lanes are doing! We’re starting with the top lane where we have a Dr. Mundo versus Irelia matchup!”

Zhang Hao was completely focused on his monitor. I can’t beat him in a 1vs1. He’s the better player. But I don’t have to fight him! I just need to farm and not give anything away. No one beats Mundo in the late game! I’ll throw cleavers at them all day and all night! He grinned and activated Infected Cleaver! His Dr. Mundo hurled his cleaver at Irelia! The attack didn’t just deal damage, but also slowed Irelia. It slowed her enough that she missed a last hit on a minion! Hehe! That’s the way! I’ll make her miss last hits and win this lane!

Dr. Mundo was a purple monster who took great pleasure in watching his victims suffer. It was to such an extent that when he hit a target with his Infected Cleaver, he healed himself a little bit. Zhang Hao used this to keep his health up while interrupting Irelia. I just gotta play it safe. Throw cleavers and get CS! And then I just need to look for opportunities to make a Teleport Gank! He nodded at himself and smiled. I’m not going to drag the team down this game, no matter what!

“Huh?” Sun Ruinian mumbled. He scrunched his nose and turned his head to look at his Support. He asked, “You seeing that?”

“Yeah,” Zhejiang’s Support replied. He shook his head and added, “I’ve tried to hit her with my Howling Gale twice now, but both missed. She’s suddenly dodging my skills!”

“Hmm…” Sun Ruinian responded. Something has changed. That Vayne is playing far better than in the previous two games. It isn’t even just dodging the Howling Gales. Those things take time to charge up. It’s not so hard to dodge. But she’s also cancelling my Jinx’s auto attack animations! Every time I try to go in for some poke, she knows exactly how much range I need and makes sure I don’t get that. He chewed on his lips and glanced at the soundproof booth across the stage. It’s like I’m playing a different player. She’s actually good this game…

In Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth, Tang Bingyao sat on the edge of her gaming chair. She was leaning forward, close to her monitor, and was clicking rapidly on her mouse. Mhm! I can do this! WinWinWin! The Lin Feng way! My mechanics and reflexes are the best! Go full on them! Auto attack! Range! Dodge! Mhm! I got this! She kept making the smallest adjustments to her positioning, just enough to stop an auto attack from Jinx while still getting the last hit on a minion. She played it perfectly, her complete focus on her Vayne.

Zeng Rui glanced at Tang Bingyao and smiled. That’s more like it! You’re great! He then looked back at his monitor, at the minimap in the bottom right corner of his screen. BunBun is coming down for a gank. He said over the team’s voice chat, “Tang Tang, get ready.”

An Xin pinged on the Janna and added, “Kill Janna first.”

“Mhm!” Tang Bingyao replied. She glanced at the minimap and judged how long it would take An Xin’s Rengar to arrive in lane. Then, just at the right moment, she pushed forward.

Zhejiang’s Janna saw the change in Tang Bingyao’s Vayne right away and cast Howling Gale! A storm started brewing on the Rift, slowly gaining in power until it erupted into a powerful tornado! It carved a path straight ahead!

Tang Bingyao’s Vayne Tumbled to the side and the Howling Gale blasted past her. Another dodge! She looked at Janna and Vayne who were already running away, and knew she had time. Zeng Rui’s Leona had flashed through the Howling Gale and arrived right in front of Janna. He’d followed up by smashing his Shield of Daybreak into her! Janna was stunned!

Tang Bingyao had her Vayne walk towards Janna and fired an empowered auto attack! She then ran past Janna, firing a second silver bolt! And finally, when the angle was just right, she activated Condemn! Vayne pulled the large crossbow from her back and squeezed the trigger! A thick, massive bolt shot at Janna and pierced through her! Janna got knocked off her feet and pinned to the wall behind her! A third silver ring appeared beneath her and exploded for massive true damage!

“Almost there!” An Xin said over Team Shanghai’s voice chat. 

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Shanks is an Outrage Junkie!

Announcement:

A merged chapter? Really? Yep, really. Author person does not write very long chapter thingies. This was 354 + 355!

Translator Thought:

Shanks Thought: Sietse and I have this thing we do together, where we basically look around for different mobile games we can play together. After we find one, we play it together until either one of us gets bored. And then we move onto the next one. Over the years, we’ve jumped from Summoners War to  Darkness Rises, Black Desert Online, etc. And the latest mobile game on our radar has been Diablo Immortals, which I have to admit looks pretty damn interesting from the gameplay footage I’ve seen.

Yesterday, I learned there was a closed alpha for Diablo Immortals, where you could sign up and get in early. Of course, since I was interested in the game, I went on the sign-up page and tried to register. That’s when I hit a little roadblock. You see, you need a Blizzard login ID to register for the alpha. The problem with that is that my stupid ass deleted my Blizzard account a few years ago because of the whole Blitz Chung and Hong Kong protest debacle. I was pretty heated and passionate about it when it happened. Now, not so much, but I’d like to think that my stance is still the same.

So. I have two options. I can recreate my Blizzard account, or I could keep to my vow and maintain my boycott on Activision Blizzard and Activision Blizzard games. The decision is easy yet hard at the same time. Depends on the perspective you’re looking at it from. I’m pretty sure Sietse would just tell me to stop being a dumbfuck and create a new account. After all, I’m just one guy. Me playing or not playing this stupid mobile game makes zero difference to Activision Blizzard’s bottom line. Nor does it do anything to help any cause in a practical sense. BUUUUUUUUT, I’d also be admitting to myself that I’m a hypocrite and no better than the rest of the outrage crowd who jump from boycott to boycott, like Mario from Goomba to Goomba. Which is why I’m in a little moral pickle right now….

Most likely, I’m going to stick to my guns and not play Diablo Immortal. But, I’m also as squishy as a fucking overripe avocado when it comes to peer pressure. So, I don’t know… Standing up to censorship and an authoritarian regime… or video games? Tough choices.

Sietse Thought: Sietse wouldn’t call Shanks a dumbfuck, he would call Shanks a whiny little bitch. Then, depending on Shanks’ reaction, he’d have a little fun saying the opposite of everything Shanks wants to hear. You see, since he is a whiny little bitch, he’s very easily riled up. Easy and cheap entertainment, really.

But don’t worry, Shanks. I won’t put peer pressure on you. No one will make you play it. We’ll just play the game without you!

Dev Thought: Shanks is absolutely an internet SJW. Or an Outrage Junkie. Literally, every big cause that comes out where there’s a clear black and white good guy-bad guy situation, Shanks jumps onto it. WITHOUT EVER THINKING THROUGH THE ISSUES!

I remember the Blizzard-Hong Kong debacle well. Because I argued against the outrage and told Shanks he was an idiot for buying into the hype. Honestly? I think less of Blizzard for giving into the outrage and giving that dude back his prize money and reducing the ban. That was the stupid thing to do. And let me be clear, this has nothing to do with Hong Kong or any other human rights issue. This has to do with common sense. 

The world is an objectively terrible place. The last year should’ve taught everyone that. Bad things happen all the time all over the world. Most of those terrible things happen to good people who don’t deserve it and just want to live their lives out in peace. And with our increasingly global society, we’re all affected by every terrible thing that happens all over the world all the time. That’s a lot to deal with every goddamn day. 

Which is why we play video games and watch streamers and tournaments and sports and TV shows and movies and read books and webnovels and all the other forms of entertainment that we have available to us today. So that for a couple of hours, we can have a good time and forget about how objectively terrible the world is and all the horrible things that are happening every minute of every day. 

When someone decides to bring that terrible shit back into a place where it doesn’t belong simply because they feel they have a “platform” that they need to “use responsibly”, they should absolutely be punished for that. The Hong Kong protest dude that got banned from a Hearthstone tournament? No one was watching him for his activism. No one was watching that tournament for political coverage. His credential was his skill at the game, not his political motivations. He brought horrible shit into something that people used to escape from the horrible shit. And we’re supposed to celebrate that and have his back? 

Sietse wants to add: Shanks is gonna lose his shit and call Devs a terrible human being for thinking through his actions and coming to a normal fucking conclusion. And I might be standing off to the side, laughing as I watch Devs slam his face into his desk hoping that that’ll kill the sound of Shanks whining about how the dude was standing up for something that’s bigger than all of us and how we should celebrate his “bravery”.

Dev Addendum: Just to be clear, Dev does not approve of nor does he condone humanitarian rights violations or attempts at squashing public protests of governmental actions. The citizens of a nation are the ones that have the right to decide how they should be governed and the ability to voice their disagreement of decisions made by the Government. 

But real talk here, Hearthstone gamers and people who watch Hearthstone tournaments are not the right audience for this sort of activism. You know what happens when you make Hearthstone gamers aware of a world issue? Absolutely nothing. Aside from some idle banter during games and maybe a few posts on the Hearthstone subreddit. Which means that what that dude did was not activism or even a brave attempt at a lone David vs Goliath face-off. It was a cry for attention at best, and an attempt at subverting/hijacking a serious issue for personal clout at worst. Both are things that I heavily disapprove. 

Shanks Final Word: Eh, not really losing my shit. Hardly, in fact. I think the crux of the issue was that Blizzard was doing a lot of virtue signalling and profiting off it when it suits them? Like with the stuff they do with Overwatch in the west? But as soon as it touches their bottom line, like with the Hong Kong situation, it becomes, “Oh, we’re just about video games, we’re apolitical. That kind of talk has no place here.” Either way. You don’t really need a grandiose reason to not play Blizzard games anymore. They’ve become a shell of the company that they used to be.

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