Lin Feng flicked his mouse and pressed a quick combination of keys on the laptop’s keyboard. An Xin’s question barely registered in his mind, and the hesitation in her voice escaped him entirely. He had his Ryze kill another minion while also dodging a skillshot from Ezreal and then said, “Yeah. Didn’t you say you liked the Ashe plushy? That’s why I wanted to get you it.”
An Xin stared at Lin Feng, her eyes round and wide. She chewed on her lips, hesitating, and eventually mumbled, “I just kinda said it…”
“But I promised you I’d get it, so I have to get it,” Lin Feng replied, his gaze locked on his monitor.
An Xin felt the corners of her lips tugging upwards. She put her hand on Lin Feng’s shoulder and rested her head on it, her heart racing in her chest. You idiot. Only when you’re playing League do you not have the spare space of mind to think of something stupid to say. She took a deep breath and said, “I would’ve really liked it–”
“Ah! So close! Damn delay!” Lin Feng exclaimed. His Ryze had just hit Level 6. He’d activated his ultimate and engaged on the Ezreal. But there was a short delay between each of his skill activations. He got the initial root on Ezreal, but the subsequent gap meant that he couldn’t complete his usual damage combo before the root broke and Ezreal flashed away. Lin Feng shook his head and focused back on farming minions. He then replied to An Xin, “Yeah. I really tried too. Just isn’t my day I think. Look at how I’m playing! It’s so bad…”
“You big idiot,” An Xin said, her voice soft.
Lin Feng glanced at An Xin and he yelped, “Hey! What are you doing!? Why are you leaning on me! And why am I an idiot? What did I do!?”
An Xin sat up straight again and narrowed her eyes a bit. She replied, “You’re a big idiot because I say you are. What? Are you going to tell me I can’t call you a big idiot?”
“You’re bullying me! You’re a bully!” Lin Feng exclaimed.
“So what? Are you gonna stop me?” An Xin asked.
Lin Feng looked at An Xin and suddenly chuckled. He nodded at his laptop and said, “Want to duo with me? The net here is so bad… It’d be way easier to carry these games together!”
“No way!” An Xin replied. She shook her head and added, “I already took a shower. I’m going to bed soon.”
Lin Feng recoiled in surprise. He mumbled, “Showering? What does that have to do with League? Can you only play it dirty?”
“It’s got everything to do with League and with everything!” An Xin replied. She wagged her finger at Lin Feng and continued, “After I shower I go to bed! That’s just how it works! Speaking of which, you should also go to bed. We still have to get up early tomorrow to watch the two games!”
“I’m fine, I’m fine!” Lin Feng said, waving An Xin’s suggestions away. He looked at her, searched her body, then scratched the back of his head and asked, “I thought you brought your laptop? Where is it? Go and get it! Let’s play a game! Just the one!”
“Nope!” An Xin said. She crossed her arms and added, “Don’t wanna!”
Zhang Hao looked at the wall separating his room from Lin Feng’s room and chuckled. He turned to look at Zeng Rui and Chu Fang and said, “Wow! Those two are really going at it.” He briefly paused before adding, “Again.”
Zeng Rui knitted his brows and noted, “Are they talking about duo queuing? Are they playing League? Why?”
“They always remind me of a married couple…” Zhang Hao mumbled. He looked at Chu Fang and asked, “They’re childhood friends, right? Have they always been like this?”
Chu Fang nodded and replied, “Yes. They met in kindergarten or something. But I only met them back in Season 1. Lin Feng was, well, Maple. Team captain and Midlaner of his team. BunBun was the coach.” Chu Fang chuckled as he thought back to those times. He continued, “Those two would argue like this all the time back then. We always joked about how they were like a married couple. I guess some things never change.”
Zhang Hao laughed and said, “I know right! When we first met them, well like met them, you know? Not when we played them in the school tournament but when we got onto the same team. When we met them then, Zeng Rui and I both thought that they were a couple!” He scratched his head and added, “And then we’ve got Tang Tang added into the mix…”
Zeng Rui nodded, staring at the wall. Those three and their weird love triangle… I just hope there won’t be any broken hearts during this tournament. I don’t want them suddenly playing poorly. But it’s been going well so far. I’m sure they can keep going for a bit longer. All they have to do is not fight! Like they are… He chewed on his lips. It’s so hard to tell if they’re actually mad with each other or just messing around! BunBun slaps him all the time too… So annoying! I wish they would just make a decision already.
Chu Fang chuckled and replied, “Tang Tang is also falling for Lin Feng? That boy sure is lucky. I wonder who he’s going to choose. Or if he ends up marrying the game.” He laughed for a bit before adding, “Probably the last one.”
It was early the next morning. Su Xue walked out of her hotel room and took the elevator down to the floor where Lin Feng and them were. When the doors opened, she heard screams coming from the far end of the hallway. She scrunched her eyebrows and followed the sounds. Is that… Lin Feng? What’s gotten into him?
“I don’t wanna get up! Why do we have to get up so early to watch these matches? Can’t we just watch the replays later? We aren’t even playing! I’m tired! Let me sleep! I just wanna sleep for another 15 minutes! I’ll join you guys later!” Lin Feng cried out. He grabbed his covers and pulled them over his head before continuing to shout, “Just go without me! It won’t make a difference anyway! I’ll carry you guys to the next round!”
Su Xue walked into the room and saw everyone gathered around Lin Feng’s bed. An Xin was trying to pull the sheets off and telling Tang Bingyao to go get a basin filled with cold water. Tang Bingyao in turn stood there, stuck in place, hesitating. Su Xue looked at Zhang Hao and asked, “What’s going on…?”
“He won’t get up,” Zeng Rui replied. “Played League all night and now…” He shook his head.
“Oh! Here, let me,” Su Xue said. She brushed past Tang Bingyao and stopped next to Lin Feng. His head pushed against the blanket. She tapped there and asked, “Hey, Lin Feng? Do you want me to go and get a cleaver from the kitchen?”
“I’m up! I’M UP!” Lin Feng shouted. He let go of the blanket, causing An Xin to lose her balance. But he ignored her curses as he jumped out of bed and pushed past Tang Bingyao to the bathroom. “I’ll be ready in a minute! Just a minute!”
The others from Team Shanghai turned to look at Su Xue, surprised. She scratched her head in response and explained, “He doesn’t like to go to school either…”
Team Shanghai ran up the walkway to the Tianhe Stadium half an hour later. Zeng Rui took the lead, yelling over his shoulder that they were going to be late and that the first game was starting in only a couple of minutes. At the back, lagging a good bit behind the rest, Lin Feng complained that he was still tired and that he wanted to go back to bed.
Su Xue paused and waited for Lin Feng to catch up to her. She then walked next to him and said, “Who told you to stay up so late? I keep telling you you have to go to bed earlier! It’s like this every morning! Here.” She gave Lin Feng a steamed meat bun and added, “You always forget to eat in the morning, somehow. You’re lucky you’ve got me.”
Lin Feng grabbed the bun from Su Xue and sunk his teeth into it. He chewed on it and swallowed it, letting everyone hear his satisfaction. When he’d worked away the food, he looked at Su Xue and grumbled, “I still don’t get what’s so important about these matches. Why do we have to watch them? I won’t learn anything from watching them play! It’s a waste of time!”
Zeng Rui stopped at the entrance to the stadium and turned around to look at Lin Feng. He said, “We will learn from watching them play. We’ll know their tactics, which we can use in later rounds. Now hurry up.” He then walked into the stadium straight to their seats in the player seating area.
The Tianhe Stadium wasn’t even half-filled. Lin Feng looked around the stands and complained, “Even the fans aren’t here! No one cares about these two matches! They’re between four bad teams!”
“There are no bad teams. Now sit down and shut up. We’re going to watch,” Zeng Rui concluded. He sat down and looked up at the large LCD screen. It was showing the Champion Select for the first game.
The player seating area was almost entirely full. Every team competing had come to watch this ‘in-between’ round in which the remaining 18 teams were reduced to 16. More specifically, they’d come to find out who they might play in the next round. Any and every bit of information could help them find the perfect tactic and strategy to beat their next opponent. So too Zhejiang University.
Zuo Cheng looked at his teammates and said, “I just hope we don’t end up facing Team Shanghai. That Lin Feng…” He shook his head and continued, “Anyone else and we’ll be fine. But them? No.”
“Yep,” Sun Ruinian replied. He nodded and added, “It’d be some really bad luck if we have to play them. Our scrimmages against them were plenty proof of that.”
“I know!” Zuo Cheng exclaimed. “That Lin Feng! I don’t think I even went even against him in a single match! Even when I got help, I still lost! The way he plays… I don’t know. There’s just something about it that makes it impossible to play against! And it looks so easy, right? It doesn’t look all that special! Until you have to play against him. Then you suddenly realize that it’s impossible to beat him…”
“You think he’s better than Goalie and Yu Ping? Those two from Team Guangzhou and Team Beijing?” Zhejiang’s Jungler asked.
Zuo Cheng nodded and replied, “Definitely. 1,000,000 per cent!”
Sun Ruinian smiled bitterly and chimed in, “He did beat Shi Hang… Honestly, I’d rather face U-Tech Beijing or one of the other big ones than any of the three high school teams. Those kids are just insane!”
The players from Fudan University were also watching the games at the Tianhe Stadium. They were in quiet discussion about the teams they could draw for the next round and which ones they wanted to play against. Their team captain, Qiu Yijie, didn’t participate in this discussion. He wasn’t even listening. He stared past his teammates at the group from Team Shanghai. At their Midlaner. Lin Feng.
Qiu Yijie had received a call from Aurous a couple of days ago. Aurous was also a student at Fudan University and had played on the university’s esports team before going professional. He told me to be careful about Team Shanghai. That we should pray that we don’t meet them and that if we do that we have to give it our all… And that the rest depends on luck… What was that about? We beat Team Shanghai in the East China Regionals finals. I know they didn’t look quite on their game, and their Midlaner was sniffing, maybe sick, but that can’t make that much of a difference, right?
“Yo, Captain, what do you think? You wanna play Team Shanghai?” Fudan’s Toplaner asked.
Qiu Yijie looked at his teammates and shook his head. He replied, “No. Aurous sounded serious. He wouldn’t tell me why, or rather he said that he didn’t know either. But he did say that Shi Hang knows something and that it has to do with Team Shanghai’s Midlaner. There is something about that kid. I’m not sure if we want to find out what that is by playing against them. Let’s just hope we don’t see them again until we reach the finals.” He turned his head to look back at Lin Feng again. Aurous said that Shi Hang values the kid higher than he does Aurous! That’s just… What’s so special about that kid? He glanced at the players from Team Guangzhou and then the players from Team Beijing. I thought those two teams were going to be strongest at this tournament, but from the way Aurous was talking… I don’t know what to think anymore. He took a long, deep breath. If Aurous takes the effort to call me just to warn me about this Lin Feng… Yeah. That’s serious. I’ll take him seriously. We’re going to be watching Team Shanghai.
The other university teams still competing didn’t have the information the players from Zhejiang University and Fudan University had. They judged Team Shanghai on the games they’d seen and concluded that Team Guangzhou and Team Beijing were simply better. But there was one thing everyone agreed on. The high school teams weren’t here to gain experience, they’d come to win.
Fan Yuan was the coach for Team Beijing. He looked at his players and said, “It’s best if we don’t meet Team Guangzhou this early on in the tournament. We’re a strong team, true. But with their two Korean imports, they’re really strong too. I rate them at at least A grade. They’ve also got the home field advantage. The crowd basically counts as the 6th man on their roster.” He paused briefly and then continued, “But if we do end up drawing them, I want you guys to be careful. Any other team, you guys can do whatever. But against Team Guangzhou, I want you guys to be careful.”
Zhang Hongyi, Support for Team Beijing, nodded and replied, “There’s no way they’ll make the real finals match happen this early. I just hope we get matched up against Team Shanghai.” He looked towards Team Shanghai’s section in the player seating area. He then sneered and added, “I’m itching to knock those noobs out.”
There was a similar conversation happening in Team Guangzhou’s camp. Team Guangzhou’s coach got the attention of the players and said, “Your only real opponent in this tournament is Team Beijing. They’ve been hiding their best players, so we don’t even know just how strong they are. I don’t want you guys to hold anything back against them!” He then chuckled and added, “I, of course, have complete confidence in our team. I don’t think Goalie and Seo won’t have any problems carrying us to an easy win. Still, I’d rather we draw a weak opponent for the next round.”
Goalie grinned and replied, “No need to worry. All teams here are weak.”
Seo nodded and mumbled, “Yeah.” He then looked in the direction of Team Shanghai, narrowing his eyes. He slowly said, “I just hope that the weak opponent is Team Shanghai. Getting rid of a high school team will be great for the Guangzhou Esports Association, and that team is the obvious first target. I’ll stomp them! Easy win for us!”
Lin Feng listened to Zeng Rui explaining to the rest of the team that they didn’t want to face Team Guangzhou or Team Beijing in the next round. He scratched the back of his head, confused. A few minutes later, he couldn’t keep listening any longer. He asked, “Why are you worrying so much about playing them in the next round? We’re going to win the whole tournament, so we’ll play them at some point anyway. Why not just get them out of the way?”
Zeng Rui sighed loudly and explained, “Because if we play against an easier opponent now, we can hide more of our tactics for stronger opponents at a later stage of the tournament. For example, if Team Beijing and Team Guangzhou get matches against each other, we only have to beat one of them. That’s one less opponent for us to make a specialized tactic for. Then there’s also–”
“Who cares! We’ll win anyway!” Lin Feng interrupted. He pumped his fist in the air and added, “You guys have got me!”
An Xin giggled and said, “When you talk like that, we only start to worry more.”
Tang Bingyao nodded and said, “Mhm! What BunBun says.”
“Hey! What does that mean!?” Lin Feng exclaimed.
Su Xue rolled her eyes and explained, “That whenever you go off on one of your rants, you end up screwing up something. That’s the joke… and the truth. God, this really isn’t any fun when you’ve got to explain it. Just laugh next time!”
The two matches finished at noon. Lin Feng was already itching on the edge of his seat, rubbing his stomach and shouting, “Let’s go! It’s lunch time! I’m hungry! There’s this restaurant that Fatty and I talked about that has the perfect lunch for when you’re really hungry! Their sizes are the biggest in all of Guangzhou!”
Su Xue looked at Lin Feng, speechless, and finally muttered, “But I got you several meat buns already… How are you hungry again?”
“I just am!” Lin Feng exclaimed. He got up from his seat and started walking towards the exit, just like everyone else in the stadium. Su Xue got up in practiced motion and followed closely behind him, as did Chu Fang. But the others weren’t as fast. Chu Fang looked over his shoulder and saw them mixed with several other teams. He then turned to look at the other seats on the grass and the stands above. Everyone was being led to the same exit. Shit! It’s going to get way too crowded! He shouted after Lin Feng, “Hey! LIN FENG! Slow down! Wait for the others! It’s going to get really crowded! Let’s go as a group!”