Su Xue glanced at Lin Feng and watched his reaction. Hehe! It’s so much fun to tease this stupid kid! Of course I want to cast Team Shanghai’s! Those are the easiest games! I know how half your team plays and the rest I’ve also seen before! It’d be perfect if I got to cast your game! I really don’t want to cast some random team though… She giggled for a brief moment before recovering her pout. Keep the act up! Make him believe you! I’m casting in the Round of 16. Team Shanghai just has to get there and then, with a tiny bit of luck, I’ll get to cast their game! Hehehe!
Lin Feng grinned and said, “Don’t worry! You’ll do great! I believe in you! You’re the best caster!”
Su Xue breathed in deeply, then exhaled loudly through her mouth. She said, “Sure… I guess, maybe… Let’s just take it one bit at a time, I guess…” She shook her head. All I need is to get to cast Team Shanghai and this’ll be fun! But I still don’t know all the Champion skill names… I’ll need to do some research before the game and find out about the players on both teams, AndAndAnd… The list of things she would have to do before casting her first game became longer the more she thought about it. Her heart started pounding in her ribcage. Do I really want to…? Yeah! Come on, Su Xue! This is a chance most streamers can only dream about! Stop being so pessimistic! Best case scenario you get to cast Team Shanghai! Worst case, you gotta cast some random team, and you will make that fun!
Zhang Hao watched Lin Feng and Su Xue and said to no one in particular, “We’ll have to win our first round first…”
Everyone turned to look at Zhang Hao. Zeng Rui nodded and replied, “Correct. Our opponent is the 3rd placed team from the South China Regionals, the Guangzhou Institute of Technology.”
“We’ll stomp them!” Lin Feng exclaimed.
Zeng Rui nodded and continued, “That’ll be our goal, yes. We want to end this series as quickly as possible so as to give as little information away as possible.”
An Xin smiled and said, “That’s simple enough. All we have to do is stay focused and give it our all! But we can’t give away our tactics. So we’ll have to give it our all on the weakest of our strongest tactics!”
Lin Feng scrunched his eyebrows and said, “That doesn’t sound easy at all!”
“Idiot,” An Xin said. She turned her head to look at Lin Feng and explained, “For you that means that you pick a Champion and that you stomp your lane with that Champion.”
“Nice!” Lin Feng exclaimed. He patted himself on the chest and continued, “That’s something I can do! No problem! Just tell me the Champion and I’ll win my lane asap!”
Zeng Rui watched the exchange between Lin Feng and An Xin quietly. Personal skill is unimportant. Anyone can see that in every game. We’re not going to play worse… Typical the thundering dumbass thinks we would though… He shook his head and chuckled. He then breathed deeply and closed his eyes. We want to use as little tactics and strategy as possible. The more we can rely on individual skill in these first rounds, the more information we can hold back and keep hidden. Then when we face an actual strong opponent in the later rounds, they won’t know what to expect. He sighed loudly. Then again, we’ve got Maple on our team. He’s known for stomping the opponent. If we can get him to focus and really tryhard on this series, we won’t have to give away any tactics. That’d be perfect!
Su Xue joined Team Shanghai for dinner at a restaurant Lin Feng had selected. They enjoyed a small feast, after which they went to an internet cafe for another scrimmage with Zhejiang University. The two teams sat opposite each other, with Su Xue watching the game on spectator mode. To practice her casting, she’d told them.
The scrimmage went well for Team Shanghai. They played seven games against Zhejiang University and won five of them. By the end, the players from Zhejiang University were speechless. They just stared at their screens, at the 21 minute loss, and shook their heads.
Zhejiang University’s Support finally muttered, “Did, did you guys get even better…?”
Sun Ruinian scratched the back of his head and said, “If you guys play like this tomorrow, then Guangzhou Tech is going to be in for a bad, bad time…”
Lin Feng grinned and shouted, “That’s what I keep saying! We’re going to 2-0 stomp them!”
Su Xue ruffled Lin Feng’s hair and said, “Always with the bragging!”
“I don’t!” Lin Feng exclaimed. He then grinned and added, “But it doesn’t feel right when I don’t.”
It was the second day of the main tournament. There were another nine matches on the schedule today. Team Shanghai was the second team to play in the afternoon. A lot of people were looking forward to it. So much so that the interest for the first game that afternoon dwindled and disappeared completely when it became obvious that it wasn’t going to be a spectacular match. A murmur swept across the stands and the player seating area.
“Team Shanghai is up next. The second high school team! I wonder how good they really are…”
“They’re the only high school team who didn’t win their Regionals. But then again, East China is the most competitive region. You can’t really expect them to win that.”
“Didn’t you see the footage? They never even tried in the finals against Fudan University! Neither side did, really. It was such a dumb series!”
“But they beat Zhejiang University with AyDeeCee, right?”
“That’s the word on the street, yeah. They won 3-2 is what I’ve been told.”
“Not just that. Team Shanghai’s Midlaner beat AyDeeCee. For real! I watched the replay! It really happened! I’ll bet all my money on it if anyone here wants to!”
“Damn… All these high school kids. Freaks! All of them!”
There were two subjects in the League of Legends community that drew in every fan’s attention. The first was pro player gossip. Many people said they hated gossip, but no one could resist the urge to read more about it and talk more about it. The other was female League of Legends players. It wasn’t strange to come across them in solo queue. Some guys even played specifically to meet girls in solo queue. And when they didn’t find them, they’d get upset and take to social media to complain to their friends and anyone who’d listen that there are no girls playing League of Legends. But where there were quite some female players in solo queue, very few decided to play competitively. An Xin and Tang Bingyao were two exceptions. So when the fans spotted the two girls walking up on stage together with the rest from Team Shanghai, a second wave of murmurs swept across the stands.
“Daaaamn! Look at them! They’re so hot!”
“Sick! You never see girls up on stage! I really wanna see them play!”
“Wow! Shit dude! I totally thought you guys were pranking me! Two girls! Pinch me!”
“Do they stream? Anyone know if they stream? Can I watch them somewhere?”
“All you horny idiots forget the most important thing! Are they any good?”
“OF COURSE THEY ARE! IDIOT! THEY BEAT ZHEJIANG!”
“Right, right. Still. You just don’t see girls. Can’t help but wonder if they’re really all that good…”
“Remember Team Mermaid? The all-girl team? Everyone was saying how good they were, until they actually watched them play. They were hot, definitely. But fuck me did they suck at the game!”
“Oh shit! I totally forgot about Team Mermaid! What happened to those girls? I wanna watch them again!”
“But not to play, right…? Because they were awful. Absolutely dreadful!”
Team Guangzhou’s Jungler nodded at Team Shanghai entering the soundproof booth and said to Seo, “Hey, dude. Ain’t that the girl you fancy? I think I might fancy her too. You still fancy her? Or can I have a go at her?”
The interpreter quickly translated the message to Korean. But Seo wasn’t listening. He was staring at Tang Bingyao and An Xin through narrowed eyes. You fucking bitches! All I did was flirt a bit and then the two of you… Especially the stupid one there… He gritted his teeth in anger. They’d humiliated him! And they’d turned his fun pastime into a constant reminder of that humiliation!
“Yo, Seo, anyone home there?” Team Guangzhou’s Jungler asked, waving his hands in front of Seo.
Seo shook his head and mumbled, “Go fancy that bitch.” His eyes never left An Xin and Tang Bingyao. They’d hurt his pride. All he felt right now was anger fueled by humiliation. I’ll teach you two bitches a lesson you won’t forget! I’m one of the best ad-carries in Korea! You two should respect me! BITCHES! He slammed his fist down on the armrest and shouted, “FUCK!”
Team Beijing sat some distance away from Team Guangzhou in the player seating area. Their attention wasn’t on Tang Bingyao. It was on Zeng Rui. Team Beijing’s Toplaner grinned and asked Zhang Hongyi, “Hey bud, which one is their team captain? You know, your favourite Zeng-guy.”
Zhang Hongyi narrowed his eyes. He pointed at Zeng Rui and replied, “Him. Third from the back.”
Fan Yuan was the manager for Team Beijing and the vice president of the Beijing Esports Association. He ignored the friendly banter going on between a few members from the team and instead turned to look at the two Midlaners. He said, “Sun Lei, Yu Ping, you two pay careful attention to Team Shanghai’s Midlaner. We can’t underestimate him after he beat Shi Hang. Maybe it was a fluke, maybe it wasn’t. Just make sure you two are prepared to play against him.”
Sun Lei rolled his shoulders and smiled. I’m a B+ Midlaner on a bad day. There are so few Midlaners better than me in this entire tournament. Sure that Lin Feng looked good on the footage we watched, but I’m still just the substitute! Yu Ping is way better than me! There’s no way Lin Feng can beat Yu Ping! He nodded and replied, “Mr. Fan. Please stop worrying so much. You’ll go grey and bald! I’m confident I can play against this Lin Feng. And even if I can’t, Yu Ping will stomp him.”
Fan Yuan frowned and said, “I told you to pay attention. Stop tooting your horn. How many times do I need to repeat myself? Know your own skill and, very importantly, know your opponent. Watch him. Dissect him. Make sure that when you play him, there’s nothing he can do that’ll surprise you.” He shook his head and sighed before adding, “He beat AyDeeCee. Respect that fact. He is good! So please, entertain me. Watch him. Dissect him. And make sure that if we do end up going against them, you beat him.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Sun Lei replied, annoyed.
Fan Yuan turned his head to look at a different section of the player seating area. Chu Fang, Chu Fang, Chu Fang… My old rival! I specifically requested to be put in charge of this team because I heard you were in charge of Team Shanghai. We’ll have another fun game on our hands. You versus me. Me crushing you! Proxy style! I’ll show you that your Shanghai branche is terrible! Beijing, that’s what it’s all about!
Fan Yuan shook his head and turned back to look at his team. He said, “They came in second in East China and their Midlaner beat AyDeeCee. We cannot afford to be careless.” He then nodded at Yu Ping and continued, “I believe in your skills. But I don’t just want you to beat Lin Feng, I want you to crush him! This isn’t about winning a game in minute 50, this is about stomping them and winning within 20 minutes! I trust you can do that.”
Yu Ping nodded and replied, “I understand.” He then looked up at the stage. The two teams were sitting in the soundproof booth and the large LCD screen above showed Champion Select. He stared through the glass panels of the soundproof booth at the person sitting behind the middle computer. So you’re Lin Feng. And you defeated AyDeeCee, huh? Here I was worrying about Goalie not being enough of a challenge for me! I really hope you can give me a challenge! Please, please make me try. Make it interesting.
BAITED AND OUTSMARTED
Devs is caught up in a meeting that’s running straight into another meeting. He hasn’t had the time to write the conclusion of his epic adventure. But fret not, he’ll write the next installment for you tomorrow! And in the meantime, here’s a little something Shanks cooked up. Enjoy!
Gilgamesh, Alexander the Great, Merlin, Leonardo Da Vinci… the Immortal lived many different lives. In some lives, he chose to be a great leader, a teacher, an artist, or even a warmonger. In others, he lived in relative obscurity, blending in with the countless people whose lives popped in and out of history. Yet his life remained an ever-present marker in the river of time.
The Immortal was born to a tribe of early humans. He appeared no different from any of the other people in the tribe. He grew up normally. He hunted, gathered, and contributed what he could do to ensure the survival of the tribe. But then many winters passed. His childhood playmates grew old. Their youthful vibrance was a mere memory as they entered the sunset of their lives. Yet he looked no different than his 21st summer. The tribe didn’t shun him. Not at first. After all, able-bodied men were always welcome.
But one day, there was a great fire in the sky, followed by a great drought. The plants withered; the rivers, lakes, the animals, everything disappeared. The once abundant land became lifeless barren. Many people died, the children and the elderly first. Soon, the entire tribe was pushed to the brink of death and starvation. All except for The Immortal.
That was when the Immortal learned the fickleness of human nature. The tribe that once lovingly welcomed and accepted him shunned him with malice. He was called a demon, an evil existence that stole life away from all around him. He became an outcast. Yet he was still content to stay in the tribe. It was still his home, his family. The people he grew up with were gone, but he could still see them in their children and their children’s children. But when he learned he was about to be sacrificed, he had no choice but to run.
And so, The Immortal embarked on a new journey. He crossed paths with many other people. Sometimes, he even stayed and led them as their great leader. He watched empires rise and fall, kingdoms being built, and nations being toppled and reformed. Sometimes, he was an active participant. Other times, he was a benign observer. He experienced the richness of human history through his eyes. Sure, there were times he wished it would all just end. But deep in his heart, he never believed it would happen. He was taken in by their dreams of the exploration of the stars, the galaxy, and the vast and infinite expanse of the universe.
But humanity ended. Civilization fell. Destroyed by their infighting and greed. The great dream was no more. But he continued on, the last man on Earth, if he could still be called a man. Thousands of years passed. Then the thousands turned to millions. And the millions turned into billions. There was a brief blip in between, where he’d witnessed the rise of sentient squid-men. But by then, the Sun had grown hotter, and the planet could no longer support life. The squid-men, Squdwards he liked to call them, could not evolve past stone tools. Then, they too died off, and he was left alone again.
The Earth was eventually swallowed up by the Sun. Then after a hundred million years, the Sun died to, a dazzling explosion of stardust. Throughout all this, The Immortal remained ‘alive’. Left alone in the emptiness of space, he watched the universe grow colder and the stars disappear. Then, after an innumerable amount of time, there was only darkness. Yet the Immortal remained. He no longer cared to find his purpose, nor why he could not die. He had become weary, weary of existence. So, he fell into a deep slumber and dreamed. He dreamed of time turning back until he was at the beginning of time itself. Then he heard a bang.