"Why are you so infectious Step-Feng?”

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Chu Fang turned his head to look at Lin Feng and said, “You just ate more than two families eat in a week! How are you not tired? Let that after dinner… after lunch dip settle in and go nap!”

Tang Bingyao covered her mouth and yawned. She rubbed her eyes, tired, and said, “Yeah, after lunch dip. I’m tired. I think I’m going to nap. See you guys tonight…” She smiled a bit and then walked away to the elevator, yawning again. I couldn’t sleep at all last night! I shouldn’t have been so nervous… It was just flying! There wasn’t anything special about it. But… She yawned again. It was my first time.

Su Xue blinked and shook her head. Why are yawns always so infectious!? She covered her mouth and yawned, then said, “Looks like I’m also ripe for a nap. See you guys!” She then ran after Tang Bingyao and shouted, “Tang Tang! Hold the elevator for me!”

“For me too!” Zhang Hao exclaimed. He quickly nodded at Chu Fang and said, “I didn’t get much sleep last night. I’ll also take a nap!”

Lin Feng watched everyone leave, frowning, and complained, “You guys suck! All of you! Do I have to go out by myself now?”

“No, I’m good. I’ll tag along,” An Xin interjected.

The usual grin reappeared. Lin Feng struck his victory pose and shouted, “Awesome! Come! Let’s go find a place to eat!”

“But we just ate…” An Xin muttered, speechless.

“I’m still hungry!” Lin Feng exclaimed. He then grabbed An Xin by the arm and pulled her with him, babbling, “Come come! Don’t you hear my stomach growling? I’m super hungry! I’m almost starving!”

“But we just ate…” An Xin muttered again.

Chu Fang watched the two leave, relieved. Thought for a second there that I’d have to tag along with him. We can’t have Lin Feng go out by himself. Knowing him, he’ll get himself into trouble and that can’t happen! Everything from here on out has to go perfect! Especially with him. We need him to beat Beijing and Guangzhou. The rest doesn’t matter, just that he beats those two teams! And then preferably wins the tournament. He smiled and shouted after Lin Feng and An Xin, “You kids have fun! Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!”

Lin Feng dragged An Xin through the streets of Guangzhou. Several familiar sights jogged his memory and he started to find his way around. Then he stopped. He looked around at skyscrapers all around them and exclaimed, “Wow! BunBun! Guangzhou has changed so much! That big building over there? I don’t remember it! And over there! Wasn’t that building a different colour? It all looks so different! And there are so many people! Where did all these people come from!?”

An Xin smiled and replied, “You idiot. Of course it’s even bigger and more beautiful! It’s been four whole years! You know how long that is?”

Lin Feng paused to look at An Xin. Four years… It has been long. With the guys, with Fatty… He suddenly grinned and said, “So I was on the phone with Fatty the other day and we were talking about the best small restaurants in Guangzhou. We based it on the reviews and the places we’ve been to. But that’s not enough! We need to taste every place to confirm our choices! So how about we go to every restaurant on the list and try out their food!?”

“I’m not getting fat for you,” An Xin blurted. She shook her head and added, “You’re already calling me BunBun…–”

“Because you looked like a bun!” Lin Feng interrupted. He threw his hands up in the air and complained, “Why won’t you eat with me? You’re not fat anymore! I wanna go eat! Why did you even come along if you didn’t want to go eat with me!?”

An Xin shook her head and smiled. She looked at Lin Feng and said, “To sightsee. I want to walk through the city with you! Maybe visit a museum! Play a game at the arcade! I just want to have fun and explore the city!”

The grin disappeared from Lin Feng’s face. He stared at An Xin, stunned. “No,” He said, slowly shaking his head. “No… I don’t like sightseeing! If that’s what you want to do, then just let me go back to the hotel! I’ll try out their restaurant and see if it needs to get added to our list!”

“Nope, you’re not going back,” An Xin replied. She grabbed Lin Feng by the arm and started walking again, saying, “You dragged me here, so we’re going. I’ll drag you the rest of the way if I have to!”

“The rest of the way where?” Lin Feng asked.

An Xin shrugged and said, “You’ll see.”

Lin Feng grumbled quiet complaints for the next 10 minutes as An Xin led him through the streets of Guangzhou until they arrived in the commercial district. The already crowded streets became even busier. Shop owners were selling their wares and pedestrians would randomly stop in the middle of the road to look at something for sale behind a window. Lin Feng’s eyes opened wide. He screamed, “No! NO! I don’t wanna! NO! Let me go! BunBun! Let me go! I wanna go back!”

“Not happening,” An Xin replied, smiling. She stopped in front of a perfume boutique and smelled the different fragrances coming out from the store. She winked at Lin Feng and suggested, “Let’s go in here! I wanna see what they have!”

“You can go in. I’m going back!” Lin Feng shouted, pouting.

An Xin grinned and pulled Lin Feng inside. She winked at the people watching them and then whispered to Lin Feng, “They’re all watching you, wondering what a pretty girl like me is doing next to a cryboy like you. You want them to think that about you?”

“I DON’T CARE!” Lin Feng exclaimed. He huffed and said, “I just wanna go back to the hotel!”

Every complaint Lin Feng threw at An Xin made her smile grow bigger. She pestered him for the next half an hour, going from one shop to the next, each progressively worse for Lin Feng. She finally stopped in front of a Victoria’s Secret and said, “Shall we go in—”

“NO! NO! NO!” Lin Feng screamed. He pulled his arm free with actual force and shook his head. He looked around in search of an escape. WhereWhere, anywhere! I need to— His eyes lit up. He pointed at a claw machine outside a small store and said, “There! I wanna go to that shop! Please? Can we not go in…” he grimaced and pointed at the Victoria’s Secret. “… here?”

An Xin looked at Lin Feng, still smiling. Guess I teased him enough. She nodded and said, “Sure. Let’s go to the… claw machine. Why do you even like a claw machine anyway? Aren’t you a bit old for that?”

Lin Feng shook his head and pointed at a sign above the machine. He said, “Don’t you see that sign? It’s a League of Legends claw machine!” He then ran towards it and pushed his face against the glass. They’re plushies! There is Ashe! And Ahri! That’s LeBlanc! He turned to look at An Xin and shouted, “They’re League of Legends plushies! I was right! It really is League of Legends! They look amazing too!”

An Xin caught up to Lin Feng and looked through the glass at the plushies. She said, “The Ashe one is really cute.”

Lin Feng pulled up his sleeve and said, “I’ll get it for you!”

Each attempt cost ¥2. Lin Feng threw the money in and grabbed the joystick. He then moved it, trying his best to aim, before sending the claw down to grab the prize! The claw moved down and wrapped around the Ashe plush. It started pulling her up. Lin Feng leaned closer to the glass and whispered, “Come on, come on!” And then the Ashe slipped from the claw’s grasp and fell back down. “Aw, come on!” Lin Feng exclaimed.

Lin Feng felt around in his pockets and took out some more money. He threw it into the machine and exclaimed, “Again!” He grabbed the joystick and aimed for the Ashe. The claw went down. It was a monumental miss. Lin Feng groaned and complained, “So close! I thought I had it!” He turned to look at BunBun and said, “I don’t have any more cash on me. Do you have…”

“You suck at this, you know?” An Xin replied, smiling. She then took out her wallet and gave Lin Feng some money. He grabbed the cash from her and threw it into the machine to buy four more attempts. And he failed four more times. The only consolation was that on a particularly poor attempt, he grabbed a different plushy. It was a Garen. He took it from the machine and gave it to An Xin, saying, “Here.”

An Xin examined the plushy from every angle before complaining, “This is Garen… I wanted Ashe.”

Lin Feng pursed his lips and kicked against an imaginary rock. He mumbled, “I’ll come back for that Ashe plushy! Trust me! Just take the Garen for now! But we’re going to come back here and I’mma bring all my money to get you that Ashe!”

An Xin looked at Lin Feng and smiled. Why is he so nice today… She hugged the Garen and said, “With your goldfish memory and our full schedule, I doubt you’ll remember it. Guess I’ll have to learn to like this Garen.” She then winked at Lin Feng and suggested, “Wanna get a pastry? I still got my card.”

“Yes!” Lin Feng exclaimed. He grinned and added, “You always come so well prepared! I don’t know what I’d do without you!”

It was almost 6 P.M. when Lin Feng and An Xin returned to the hotel. They took the elevator up to the 23rd floor and walked over to their rooms that were opposite each other. Lin Feng swiped his keycard to unlock the door and pushed it open. A wave of noise slammed into him. He furrowed his brows and looked into the room. Chu Fang was sitting at a table with the team and Su Xue, talking about something. Lin Feng asked, “What are you guys doing here?”

Chu Fang looked up and said, “Good. You’re back. I was about to call you.”

An Xin looked over her shoulder into Lin Feng’s hotel room. She raised an eyebrow and asked, “What’s going on here?”

Zeng Rui looked up from his phone and said, “The Guangzhou Esports Association posted the brackets for the first round of the tournament online.”

“We got super lucky!” Zhang Hao exclaimed. He turned his phone to show Lin Feng and An Xin and continued, “We got matched up against Guangzhou Tech Institute! The game is in two days!”

“Guangzhou Tech?” An Xin asked. She tilted her head and looked up at the ceiling for a brief moment before asking, “They’re the third place team from South China, correct?”

Zeng Rui nodded and explained, “Correct. They’re a B grade team. They’re a weak team. We shouldn’t have any trouble beating them.”

“So we’ve already practically qualified for the next round?” Lin Feng asked.

Zeng Rui looked up at Lin Feng and frowned. He then slowly shook his head and replied, “We haven’t. Until we’ve beaten them, we aren’t in the next round. And just because we’re better on paper doesn’t mean we’ll show that ingame. We have to come prepared.” He briefly paused before adding, “Beyond that, we also need to pay attention to the other teams.”

Chu Fang lifted his hand and said, “Someone couldn’t count, so there might be a few more teams than there should be. After the first round, we move on to an in-between round before going to the Round of 16. The half of 36 is 18 and we need 16 teams. So four teams will be drawn at random from the winners in the first round. Then when we’ve got 16 teams, the real thing starts.”

Lin Feng waved his hand and replied, “Who cares? We’ll just win both series and move on to the Round of 16. Easy enough!”

Zeng Rui closed his eyes and massaged his temples. You, you, you thundering dumbass! It’s not all that easy! We can get matched up against the winners from last year in that ‘in-between’ round if we’re unlucky! Our tournament could be over then and there! Stop taking everything so damn, so damn… He took a deep breath, trying to calm his raging emotions. Don’t let him get to you. Don’t let him get to you. He took another deep breath and said, “Something else entirely. I got contacted by Sun Ruinian. He’s asking if we want to scrim tonight.”

Chu Fang chimed in, “Zhejiang University was a lot less fortunate with their draw. They’re up against the China University of Political Science and Law. Those guys nearly knocked out Fudan University last year! It was a super close 5-game series! And the bad news doesn’t end there for Zhejiang. They also have very little time to prepare. They’re playing in the second group tomorrow!”

“A scrim, huh?” Lin Feng mumbled, rubbing his chin. He then clapped his hands and said, “Sure, why not! But I’mma count this as doing Shi Hang a favour!”

Zeng Rui snorted and said, “I’ve already agreed. We need a strong scrim partner to practice. Zhejiang is a great team for that.”

Su Xue looked up from her phone at Lin Feng and An Xin. She scrunched her nose. Why is BunBun hugging that Garen? Wait, where did she get it? It looks great! I want one! She pointed at the Garen plushy and asked, “That looks so cute, BunBun! Where did you get it?”

An Xin smiled and said, “Lin Feng got it for me from a claw machine.–”

“After the scrim I’m going back there and getting the Ashe!” Lin Feng interrupted.

Zeng Rui looked up at Lin Feng and said, “That’s right. After the scrim. Until then I want you focused!”

Team Shanghai and Zhejiang University met up at an internet cafe at 7 P.M. The players from both teams nodded and looked at each other but didn’t really say anything. That all changed when Lin Feng grinned and stepped forward. He grabbed Sun Ruinian’s hand, shook it and said, “Long time no see!”

“Whu?” Sun Ruinian blurted. He looked down at his hand in surprise. What just… He shook his head and pulled his hand back. He then turned to look at Chu Fang and bowed. He said, “Thanks for agreeing to this scrim request on such short notice.”

An Xin smiled and replied, “It’s fine. You guys are a strong team. This scrim will be great practice for us too!”

“Hey! Where’s Shi Hang?” Lin Feng interrupted.

Sun Ruinian looked back at Lin Feng and explained, “He joined a team that competes in the LPL, so he won’t be playing for us anymore. But we’ve got a strong team, even without him! We won’t be easy to beat!”

The players behind Sun Ruinian all nodded. They stared down their lane opponents, fires of determination blazing in their eyes.

“We’re going to make it all the way to the end!”
“We’ve got this, for the cap!”
“Tomorrow, we’ll show everyone why we deserve to be here!”
“For Shi Hang!”

Chu Fang looked at the players from Zhejiang University and smiled. Looks like they took their loss against Team Shanghai pretty well. Shi Hang sounded worried the other day that these guys might sulk and give up, but they’re not looking like that at all! Guess he was worried about nothing. These guys look like they’re here to win! It’s great to see them with so much confidence! This will be great for the East China region!

“Let’s play already!” Lin Feng suddenly shouted. He looked at everyone and continued, “Why aren’t we playing yet? What are we just standing around here for? Let’s play!”

Team Shanghai and Zhejiang University played a total of six games. All of them were close, with minimal differences deciding the outcome of the match. Yet it wasn’t anything like their series in the quarterfinals of the East China Regionals. The players from Zhejiang University were ready. Prepared even. They played to the best of their ability and really pushed Team Shanghai to fight for all they were worth. As for Team Shanghai, Tang Bingyao had practically breached the A- grade, An Xin wasn’t experiencing any flare ups and hadn’t for the last couple of weeks, and Lin Feng was better than everyone else.

The mid lane difference resulted in the series ending in four wins for Team Shanghai and two for Zhejiang University. Both teams learned a ton. Zhang Hao was initially losing hard in the top lane. But with the help from An Xin, it became pretty even between the two of them and Zhejiang’s Jungler and Toplaner. Down in the bot lane was another very even battle that went back and forth between the games and during the games. The only lane that wasn’t all too exciting was the mid lane. Lin Feng was far better than Zuo Cheng. Something that was of incredible value to Zuo Cheng.

When they were all done, Lin Feng clenched his fist and raised it up to his head. He said, “You guys were great! If you play like that tomorrow, you’re gonna make it to the next round easily! Maybe you’ll even make it all the way to the Finals if you keep playing like that!” He briefly paused before adding, “Just remember that we’ll knock you out in the Finals and claim the Championship Trophy!”


Sietse Thought: When I wake up in the morning, as part of my morning routine, I like to scroll Reddit a bit and see what the latest news is. This morning I came across something interesting. Someone on r/TooAfraidToAsk asked why there are so many creepy Indian men on the internet. The first person I thought of was, of course, Devshard! He’s obviously the biggest creep around this corner of the internet! Right? RIGHT!?

So I opened this post, ready to find out why these Devshards are such creeps. Turns out they go to the internet to talk to girls… Hey, wait! That’s exactly what Devshard also wants to do! He isn’t quite at the stage where he can figure out which usernames belong to women, but he’s trying! His entire reason for playing League of Legends was because he heard you could meet girls on there! And he figured the same would hold true with Rise. Sad for him, it still hasn’t worked. There is, after a good eight months+ of Rise, still no girl in his life.

But that doesn’t stop him from simping for PanPiano! (I think I got the name of the headless piano girl on YouTube right…)

What I’m getting at here is that I always figured that Devshard was a unique human being, searching for his true love on the internet. Turns out he isn’t all that special, and apparently it has everything to do with Indian television series. Being an incel is cool in India. Devshard just doesn’t know any better! All the media he digested when he was younger, before he made the big move to the States, was instilled with incel! So really, we shouldn’t be making fun about Devshard’s incapability of talking with women which has led him to chat and gossip with Shanks all day and night, we should feel bad for him.

To give you guys an idea about why Indian media is so fucked up, I shall give you guys an excerpt from the Reddit thread. Written by a user called Air320:

“In around 95% of local language ‘Romance’ movies the story generally goes like this:

  1. Boy/man sees some pretty girl in public once and becomes obsessed with her.

  2. Stalks her everywhere she goes (This is portrayed as ‘romantic’). His friends encourage him by saying that she will eventually come around.

  3. She complains to the police/her parents and he is reprimanded but no actual action is taken against him.

  4. After this she lands in some sort of trouble (local mafia/police harassing her/her parents over some issue generally property or even could be that they’re also interested in her)

  5. Then the protagonist becomes the ‘hero’ by way of various contrived circumstances and beats up all the villains.

  6. She then apologises to him for doubting his ‘character’ and falls in love with him and they marry and live happily ever after. Lol.

Can you really blame Devs for being Lord of Degens, Master of Incels and still single?

Shanks Thought: I have no idea how much of this is true, but a lot of media tends to reflect the culture of the place it originates from. So, I’m inclined to believe this Reddit thread. I do recall that one conversation I had with Devshard where he tried to convince me that incels were simply misunderstood. All they needed was somebody to guide them, and they could be redeemed into true gentlemen.

Wow, the more I start recalling, the more puzzle pieces start falling in together.

Jokes aside, I do get iffy on a lot of these r/TooAfraidToAsk threads because a lot of the questions there are disingenuous and an excuse for people to spew racist shit. Like, I can make a post right now and title it, “Why do Dutch people think Black Licorice tastes good?”

And you’ll get answers like:

NotHya555:「Their language sounds like they’re gagging on cock all day, so I guess they need something equally disgusting to wash off the haste.」

AmphratBoy69420:「As a Dutch person myself, I can tell you it’s because our people simply have no taste. That’s why we got the most extreme of flavour ranges, like raw herring and onions or black licorice. Some of us have our tastebuds so shot that all we can do is consume ludicrous amounts of sugar to get the dopamine rush of flavour back in our lives.」

DunkyFirePire:「You see, it has to do with the Dutch historical roots as colonizers. They went around bringing so many countries into our empire  that they lost their traditional cuisine. Now, they’re left with only the weird and disgusting food that they brought back.」


Sietse Thought: Shanks completely lost the thread of this thought. We ain’t talking about licorice! Which, by the way, is one of the best inventions in like ever! Man, I try to have a serious discussion here for once about Indian men all being creeps (Hey Devs and Tas), and you have to protect them by attacking my totally normal love for licorice! Damn you, Shanks! I thought you were on my team!

Dev Thought: Sigh. Just. Sigh. Okay. This is going to be a long one. Let’s start with the easy things first.

I did some research into the whole Incel subculture on a whim. It led me down a strange internet rabbit hole and at the end of it, I was convinced they’re just misguided souls with a lot of rage and no one to properly lead them. So I speculated that with proper leadership and direction, they could become a force for good. Or chaos and entertainment. All depends on perspective.

As for the whole creepy Indian men on the internet thing… that’s complicated. The first thing you guys need to understand is that India is a massive country. Both in terms of land mass and population. There’s a billion people there and a vast portion of them aren’t super exposed to the globalized world that we now live in. The country is slowly modernizing and changing. That’s a process that’s been going on for the last decade or so. But ideas that have gotten entrenched into a culture for generations take time to change, yeah?

Unfortunately, in the middle of that slow change, some jackass decided the easiest way to make money was to give dirt cheap internet access to the entire country in one shot. So now you have hundreds of millions of people exposed to… well, the internet. The greatest and ever-expanding repository of mankind’s degeneracy ever envisioned or created. To illustrate it visually for you, think about going from stick figure porn that some kid of the playground draws for you with an occasionally naughty sentence speech bubble one night. And then waking up the next day with an entire library of VRMMO porn available to you via a NerveGear-like device. Just all kinds of obscene things that you never even DREAMED existed available to you at the click of a button in life-like glory.

The entire concept is mindblowing. Especially when you come from a very conservative and closed-off society that treats sex as something secretive and shameful. Then you’re on the internet where you have thots and instagram-thots and tumblr-thots and YouTube-thots and OnlyFans-thots and just general attention whoring thots and women celebrating their sexuality. The cognitive mismatch is a lot to deal with. So the brain finds the simplest path/explanation through the whole thing.

Which is that local Indian women aren’t easy and the foreign women available on the internet are easy. And under that cognitive architecture, it doesn’t come off as inappropriate to tell a 16-year-old girl dancing in a very skimpy tank top to “show bobs and vagine” in a comment. Is it smart? No. Is it appropriate? Absolutely not. But when you consider the perspective, it does make a certain amount of sense.

Eventually, the cognitive dissonance and lack of exposure will even out and we’ll see less and less of that. Hopefully. Or COVID will do its thing and a younger, more savvy generation will step up. Either way, Nature exists in balance and will always self-correct.

Let me close this with platitudes of “judge not, lest ye be judged” and “creepiness is in the eye of the beholder”, etc, etc. But more importantly, I have a FANTASTIC “creepy indian dude” story from when I was in school. It’s got everything. Terrible high school love poetry, blood, Devshard at a police station in India completely missing the overt hints the police officer was giving him about wanting a bribe, pure awkwardness, and love in a time of tribulation. Its a testament to the sheer fucking will of the human spirit, and an ode to the love that can be found in the darkest times.

So I’d come back on Monday (May 31st, 2021) when we’re back for that story.

P.S If I were Lord of the Incels, I would lead the revolution that would plunge the world into both chaos and hilarity. Just saying. If there’s ever a vote or a nomination process or something. Just throw my name into that Goblet of Fire. I’m ready for this responsibility.

P.P.S Why is Shanks such a fatass that everything always relates back to candy for him in some way?

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