The North China region from which Team Beijing came didn’t have as many top grade teams like East China had. But they did have U-Tech Beijing, current Champions of the Collegiate Cup. Team Beijing had played against U-Tech Beijing in the grand finals for the region and won in a thrilling best of five series that went all the way to the fifth game! And even in that series, Team Beijing used their substitutes in the top and mid lane. No one had ever seen just how good this team was with their main roster.
Zeng Rui sighed and said to his teammates, “That’s the advantage of a strong roster. Even their ‘weaker’ team can win everything.”
Tang Bingyao nodded and agreed, “Mhm, they look really strong.”
“Don’t forget there was nothing at stake in those grand finals,” An Xin interjected. She looked at Zeng Rui, Tang Bingyao and Zhang Hao who all wore dejected expressions. They’re just a strong opponent! Don’t look so down just because we lost our finals! She forced a smile on her lips and continued, “U-Tech Beijing didn’t really try either. Just like how it went in our finals, with Lin Feng and Tang Tang both being sick. Those series weren’t important. Right now. These series. They are important. So let’s not worry about what happened in the finals and focus on this game!”
Lin Feng grinned and said, “Look! I’m wearing a coat! I won’t get sick again!”
His teammates shook their heads and were about to focus back on the game when Chu Fang spoke up. He looked at them and said, “Zeng Rui is right about one thing. Pay careful attention to this match. Team Beijing might be our biggest opponent in the entire tournament.”
The players from Nanjing University sat behind their computers, staring at the screens with tense expressions. Their coach had reminded them before the game that they were competing in the Winter Collegiate Cup, and that everyone was waiting for a university team to finally show just that by beating one of these high school teams. He’d shown them footage from Team Beijing and explained to them with which tactics they could be that team.
The team captain looked across the stage at the other soundproof booth. Why are they still playing with their substitutes? Do they really think so little of us? He chewed on his lips, his stomach in turmoil. We’ve watched them play and we’ve identified weaknesses. But we’ve also been assuming that they’d field their strongest line up! That’s wrong. Those tactics are worthless now. We need to adapt. He sighed and said over the team’s voice chat, “So they don’t think much of us, huh?”
“Fuckers!” the Toplaner cursed. He glared across the stage at Team Beijing’s soundproof booth and continued, “Fuckers won’t even take us seriously! We came in 11th in the previous Collegiate Cup! We’re one of the strongest teams!”
“Exactly right!” the team captain said. He looked at his team members, one at a time, and continued, “We’re one of the best teams in this tournament. And those guys …” he pointed across the stage. “… they’re not taking us seriously. We’re going to make them pay for that!”
“Sounds good, cap,” the Support replied. He focused on his screen and asked, “What tactic are we going with?”
The team captain took a deep breath. I don’t know… Hmm… Honestly… He nodded and said, “Let’s just go with our original plan. Okay early game team that grows stronger and stronger the later we go.”
Nanjing University picked their Champions, as did Team Beijing. They loaded onto the Rift and bought their starting items. The 10 Champions walked down the lanes and waited for the minion waves to spawn, neither side looking to invade. And then it all went so fast. Team Beijing made plays in every lane. They forced Nanjing University to make mistakes and capitalized on them every single time. Team Beijing won every lane, and then they won the game. There was no suspense to it.
Nanjing University’s team captain looked over the edge of his monitor at the massive stadium and at the crowd jumping and cheering. He shook his head, dejected. They should be cheering for us right now. We should’ve won this one! If only… He sighed. They’re so much better than we expected. He looked at his teammates, each of them visibly sharing the same emotions he felt, and said, “Come on, guys. We can’t give up! Let’s go with strong laners in this game. Beat them in lane and do to them what they did to us! We’re going to force that third game!”
The Toplaner nodded and said, “Fuck yeah! We’ll show them!”
Both teams knew how they wanted to play the second game. They flew through Champion Select and it wasn’t long before 10 new Champions spawned on Summoner’s Rift. Nanjing University went with the early game composition and Team Beijing was doing the same. Fast and aggressive. Both sides went at it. There was combat from the first to the last minute of the game. A game that lasted 17 minutes. It was a complete stomp.
The players from Nanjing University slumped back in their gaming chairs. The red ‘Defeat’ message floated on their monitor. They’d lost to Team Beijing 0-2. They were out of the Winter Collegiate Cup. After only two short games in which they failed to show half of what they were capable of, they could fly back home and start preparing for the next edition.
Nanjing University’s team captain grimaced and said, “Better luck next time…” He then sighed and shook his head. What fucking monsters! Where did the Beijing Esports Organization find these kids!?
Sun Ruinian sat with his teammates from Zhejiang University in the player seating area. The game between Team Beijing and Nanjing University had just come to an end. There was one more match on the first day of the main tournament, but he didn’t care about that. He was just staring at the screen, shocked. Stunned. How… How are they this good? This isn’t even their main roster! They’re playing with substitutes! I don’t even know if we can confidently beat this team! How are we… He gritted his teeth and shook his head. I’m not letting Shi Hang down! If we have to play against them, we’re going to win! I just have to come up with a tactic for it!
“What’s up with all these damned high school teams!” Zhejiang’s Support exclaimed. He threw his hands up and continued, “I thought Team Shanghai had enough freaks! But it looks like Beijing found even bigger freaks! Where do they find these kids? Why are none of them in university yet!?”
Zhejiang’s Toplaner glanced at his Support and then mumbled, “Can we even beat those guys from Team Beijing…?”
“Of course we can!” Sun Ruinian said. He looked at his teammates and narrowed his eyes. He continued, “We aren’t some weak team, guys. Just because we lost a few times doesn’t mean we’re suddenly shit! These are some strong teams, yes. But we’re fucking strong too! Can we beat them? You bet we can! We’re going to practice our damndest and win this whole tournament! We’ll prove to Shi Hang and everyone else that we belong on this stage!”
The speech had the desired effect. Sun Ruinian smiled when he saw the expression from his teammates lift. He then turned back to look at the large LCD screen. And frowned. Can we beat them? If Shi Hang was here, we could, I’m sure of that. But without him? With this team…? He sighed and shook his head. We’ll have to give it our all. And we’ll probably need to get lucky as well.
Lin Feng nodded and said, “They’re actually not half bad! That Thresh Support-guy was pretty decent even! I’d score his hooks at about half as good as mine!”
An Xin glanced at Lin Feng and shook her head. Always bragging… She then smiled and noted, “Their Support was pretty solid on his Tresh. His Nami in the first game was strong too.”
Zeng Rui massaged his temples and interjected, “Zhang Hongyi.” He looked at the others and continued, “That’s his name. The Support, I mean. Zhang Hongyi. He’s a senior student at Beijing Chaoyang High School #4. A Master on the Ionia server, though he’s closer to a Challenger than a Master. His grade is about B+ to A- and he specializes in aggressive Supports.”
Lin Feng’s eyes went wide and he said, “Wooow! It’s so cool how much you remember! Did you read about him once too? Do you do this for everyone we play against? Hey! Do you also know what every opponent’s favourite food is?”
Zeng Rui clenched his fists until the white showed on his knuckles and explained, “There’s some history between me and Zhang Hongyi. It’s complicated. Too much to go into right now.”
Lin Feng scrunched his eyebrows. History? Complicated? Too much to go into? His eyes lit up and he exclaimed, “I wanna know! The last game is boring anyway! Just tell me! Tell me!”
Zeng Rui shook his head.
There was a short moment of silence. Lin Feng stared at Zeng Rui waiting for a response. More and more impatient. He was about to say something, when Tang Bingyao stood up and asked, “Uhm, where’s the restroom?”
Chu Fang pointed at the backstage area and said, “Down there and then in the corridor to the left. There are signs, you won’t miss it.” He briefly paused before adding, “Be careful. The match is about to end and it’ll be busy. We’ll wait here for you.”
The players from Team Guangzhou were also present at the Tianhe Stadium on the first day of the main tournament. They were sitting on their spots in the player seating area, watching the last game of the day. The three Chinese players weren’t paying much attention, though. They were still talking about the previous game in which Team Beijing showed an overwhelming performance.
Team Guangzhou’s Support said, “Team Beijing is looking really strong… Can’t believe that was with their second roster too!”
“Yeah!” Team Guangzhou’s Jungler exclaimed. He shook his head and continued, “I really wonder how strong they are when they’ve got their best Top- and Midlaner playing!”
Team Guangzhou’s Toplaner shrugged and said, “What if it’s all just a trick? You know, that they’ve been playing with their main roster this whole time and that the two who’ve been sitting out are the real substitutes?”
Team Guangzhou’s Support chuckled and replied, “You do make a strong point. I don’t believe they’re so cocky that they won’t field their strongest team in the main tournament! Even by our standards that’s way out there!”
Team Guangzhou’s coach relaxed back in his chair and smiled. Good kids. They’re just the right amount of arrogant! This is such a strong team! I might not play League, but I know sports. I’ve worked in sports all my life! We’ve got the best team and we’ve got the best players! He glanced at Goalie and Seo and grinned. Especially with those two. Koreans are just better than Chinese players right now. I don’t know if it’s the environment in which they grow up or what, but they’re better. Our team is better. He nodded at the three Chinese players and said, “You guys are right. Team Beijing does look strong. They might very well turn out to be our strongest competition in this entire tournament! But even if they are, what’s there to worry about? I don’t believe for a second they’ve got a stronger team than ours.”
“Exactly,” Team Guangzhou’s Toplaner replied.
Team Guangzhou’s coach turned to Goalie and asked, “What do you think? About Team Beijing I mean.”
Goalie looked at his interpreter, listening to the translation. He then grinned, his sickly pale skin looking like it was about to crack, and replied, “A bunch of trash. I can wreck their Midlaner with one finger on the keyboard!”
Team Guangzhou’s coach chuckled and then turned to look at Seo and asked, “What about you, Seo? Think you’ll have any problems down in bot?”
Seo moved his hand through his blonde dyed hair while listening to the interpreter. He then replied in Korean, “These guys have never seen a good ad-carry in their lives.” He stood up from his seat and added, “Waste of my time to think about these teams. I’mma take a piss.” He then walked away, shaking his head. Why do I have to play against all these shitty players? I don’t care about beating some scrubs at League! Fuck that shit! The only reason I even accepted this offer is because of all the Chinese hotties! There are so many of them and they spread their legs right away when I mention I’m a Korean Challenger! Hehe! The guys back at home are going to be so jealous when I show them who I all did!
Tang Bingyao stood in front of the sink and stared at her reflection in the mirror. Team Beijing is really good. Really, really good! And because they made sure the footage of their games wasn’t uploaded, we didn’t know they were this good until now! This is so unfair! They’re basically cheating! But Chu Fang said it was some server error… She bit on her lips. Mnh-mnh! I’m not going to give up!
Tang Bingyao sighed loudly and muttered, “Why do they have to be so good?” She shook her head as she walked out of the restroom. Their Support was just on another level! He looked like Zeng Rui but then more aggressive, more like me! Mhm! Maybe… She shook her head. Zeng Rui is the better Support. And I’m the better ad-carry! We’ll win the bot lane! And with Lin Feng in the mid lane, we’ll win that too. MHM! We’re going to beat them! She smiled and looked around her. The long concrete corridors of the Tianhe Stadium felt cold to her. She shrugged and looked at the far end of the hall where she saw someone walking in her direction. She squinted her eyes a bit and then chuckled. He looks like a girl! Is he a trap? Look at his hair! Why did he dye it like that? He’s like… like one of those magazine models! I really don’t get what girls see in those guys! That hair just looks so stupid! I like the unkempt, just out of bed, dark hair way more! Kind of like… Lin Feng. She smiled.
On the other end of the corridor, Seo walked towards Tang Bingyao. He grinned and mumbled, “They’re so easy! It’s like they’ve never seen anyone with any kind of talent befo–” He stopped himself and looked across the hall. Is that…? He squinted his eyes, and then they opened wide. It’s her! It’s that cutie from yesterday! She’s the one from Team Shanghai! SWEET! It’s like it’s meant to be! God’s put us together here! He glanced up and nodded. Thanks! He then looked back at Tang Bingyao. Really looked. She’s so hot! The way that t-shirt shows her tits, hehe! The Blitz raising his hands to hold ‘em tits up, hehe!
Seo licked his lip and flicked his hair back. Game time! He ran up to Tang Bingyao and winked at her. He then leaned towards her and said, “귀염둥이, 안녕? 난 팀 광저의 한국인 ADC 서야. 심심한데 오빠랑 뽀뽀나 할까?”
Tang Bingyao took a step back and frowned in disgust. I-is he trying to smell me? She looked at Seo, shook her head and mumbled, “Leave me alone, creep.”