Chu Fang ground his teeth in annoyance. Yin Wei was the exact type of person he disliked. I spent years searching high schools and universities for talented players. Those I found I trained. I gave them opportunities and I helped them find each other! I did everything I could to help raise the Chinese esports scene! And then you’ve got these people like Yin Wei who care nothing about actually improving the Chinese esports scene. All he cares about are his personal victories, and there isn’t a length he won’t go for them! Recruiting those Koreans and defending Seo is just another instance of that. It’s everything that’s wrong with the Guangzhou branch!
Lin Feng took a long, deep breath and said, “I get that a coach wants to defend his players. But isn’t there a line up to which they defend their players? What Seo did…” He shook his head in frustration and continued, “There’s no excuse for it!”
“He is a real piece of work, that Seo,” Chu Fang said, frowning. “We’re not blind. His expression had guilt written all over it, yet he kept denying it! Such a nasty personality… Sure doesn’t help that he’s got Yin Wei and probably the entire Guangzhou Esports Association behind him, enabling this behaviour. Who cares that he’s a guest from Korea? That doesn’t mean you’ve got a free pass to being an asshole! If all Koreans were like that…”
Lin Feng shook his head and replied, “I’ve met quite a few professional players from Korea back in Season 1. None of them were like Seo. They were easy to get along with and down to Earth. Even Han Seho…” He briefly paused, pushing down the powerful emotions intertwined with this name, and continued, “Even he isn’t a bad person. People see him and they think he’s an asshole because of the way he looks at others. But that’s not true at all. It’s just that he knows he’s better than everyone else and has pride in that. That’s perfectly normal! But beyond that? The person behind the player? He’s a cool dude! When I lost… When I lost to him, we shook hands and he told me that I was the first person who really pushed him. What I’m trying to say is that he showed respect, something these two Koreans from Team Guangzhou are clearly lacking.”
Chu Fang chuckled and said, “It’s like with dogs. When a small one sees a big one, they start barking. They jump up and try to look big and scary. But in the end, they’re small and weak. All they’ve got is their big mouths–” He suddenly laughed and added, “Which reminds me of Season 1 Worlds. Remember that European Midlaner? What was his name again… Well, anyway, remember how he was trash talking you to everyone who would listen? And then you gave him the option to apologize or the ‘I’ve remembered your face, and I’ll make sure no one else will after I’m done with you’! Just like today!”
“And then I beat him the next day!” Lin Feng chimed in, laughing.
Chu Fang laughed loudly and said, “You completely stomped him! I still remember that sour look on his face by the end of it all. Oh, right! You were gone so soon after that that you might’ve missed the fallout. So, his teammates were actually really upset with him, as was the management. They kicked him off the team and no other team has accepted him since. You really made sure no one recognizes him anymore!”
Lin Feng scratched the back of his eyes and asked, “Did I really do that…?” He squinted his eyes and tried to think really hard, but the memory wouldn’t come back to him. He then shrugged and said, “Anyway, I really do hope we get to play against Team Guangzhou in the Round of 16!”
“FUCK!” Seo yelled. He squished a plastic cup in his hand and then threw it against the wall of their practice room at the Guangzhou Esports Association headquarters. “FUCK!” He glared at the people around him, his teammates, the interpreter and coach Yin Wei and cursed in Korean, “These fucking Chinese donkeys! How dare that ugly ass demand me to apologize! And in front of so many people! I DIDN’T EVEN DO ANYTHING! FUCK HIM!”
Seo heaved in loud bursts, infuriated. He slammed his fist down on the dark leather of the couch and continued, “People were pushing into me and I was just pushing back! I never even touched that girl! I NEVER EVEN TOUCHED HER! How can they blame me for that? I didn’t do anything! And what were they even bitching about? There was nothing wrong with her! Just a few scrapes! Who the fuck cares! She probably didn’t even feel it!”
The Chinese players from Team Guangzhou looked at the interpreter, trying to figure out what Seo was saying. But the interpreter just shook his head and mouthed, “Please don’t ask. Please don’t ask.”
Seo narrowed his eyes and said with a chuckle, “That ugly kid will remember my face, huh? Of course he will! Look at me!” He ground his teeth in anger and continued, “And then he said he’ll make sure no one else will remember my face? Ha! As if! Screw him! Fuck! I really wanna play against him now! If we do get matched up against him, I’ll smash that stupid whiny bitch in bot and then go mid and camp his ugly ass until he’s 0/20!”
Goalie didn’t hear Seo’s outburst. He was stuck in his own head, listening to Lin Feng’s voice echoing in his mind. And you are? And you are? And you are? He gritted his teeth and narrowed his eyes. You really had to go and pretend you don’t know who I am, huh? I’m the best Midlaner in this entire tournament! There is not a single worthy opponent here! YOU KNOW THAT! But that’s alright too. You want to play it like this? Okay. Okay. I’ll show you the vast chasm that separates scrub like you with first rate talents like me!
Yin Wei sat behind his desk, playing with his phone. He’d made several calls and sent a couple of texts to employees working on the Winter Collegiate Cup. Now he had to wait, patiently, something he wasn’t great at. Those rude, snot nosed brats! And the biggest brat is that Brat Fang! Just because he’s a little bit more important than me, because for some stupid reason the Shanghai Esports Association is ‘better’, he thinks he can shove me around! He clenched his fists until his knuckles turned white. I’ll show him! No one pushes me around! I really hope the draw is a success! We’ll play your stupid Shanghai team and beat them! And on the back of that I’ll become more important than you! I’ll have you fired and make sure you never do more than making coffee ever again!
The phone buzzed in Yin Wei’s hands. He slammed his thumb on the device and unlocked it. He then opened the message and read it. His lips curved up. Followed by laughter. The others in the room all turned to him, but he didn’t notice. He was laughing until tears ran down his face. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that he pointed at his phone and shouted, “Now that’s what I call sweet karma! We’re playing them! We’re playing them!”
Chu Fang was watching Lin Feng play on his CN•HOOK2 account when his phone buzzed. He felt around inside his pockets, trying to find the device without missing a moment of what was happening on screen. Lin Feng was playing Yasuo in the mid lane against Twisted Fate. The game was still relatively. The lag is really a big handicap! I don’t think I could play at half my normal skill with it, yet he’s still playing in Challenger! It’s insane! He glanced at his phone before looking back at the laptop screen, then turned back to look at his phone.
“The brackets are out!” Chu Fang exclaimed a brief moment later. “And we’re playing Team Guangzhou! It really happened!”
Lin Feng briefly paused; he stopped breathing, his hands stopped moving and every thought stopped. Then he moved. He flicked his mouse over a minion and cast Sweeping Blade on it. His Yasuo dashed through it and then also through the next minion Lin Feng clicked on. He followed up by thrusting his katana forward, cutting through two minions! Wind particles gathered at the top of his blade, a storm brewing. He needed one more Steel Tempest before he could unleash the storm.
Twisted Fate ran back towards his outer tower and activated Pick a Card. He then chose the Gold Card, a single target stun. When Yasuo was almost upon him, he turned back around and threw the card.
Lin Feng’s Yasuo swept his blade up in front of him. The wind gathered around it and burst upwards to form a wall! The Gold Card slammed into the wind wall and lost its power, fluttering up and then falling down to the ground. Yasuo then thrust out with Steel Tempest again. The storm brewed at the top of his blade. STEEL TEMPEST! He swept his blade forward. A tornado appeared in front of him and carved a path through Summoner’s Rift!
Twisted Fate couldn’t escape in time. The wind lifted him off his feet, after which Yasuo blinked on top of him with Last Stand and kept him suspended in midair. A flurry of strikes cut away at his health bar, until the last one–powered by the winds–slammed him down to the ground! All the while, the unquenchable fires from Ignite burned on his skin. When his feet touched the ground, his knees buckled and he collapsed. Dead.
Lin Feng chuckled and mumbled, “Good.”
The players from Team Beijing also received the news that Team Guangzhou and Team Shanghai were playing against each other in the Round of 16. The Winter Collegiate Cup was a tournament for the best university team, but this time it was also a contest between the three main branches from the China Esports Association to see who had the best players. This was going to be the first showdown for that. And Team Beijing was skipping straight to the finals of that contest.
Yu Ping, Team Beijing’s main Midlaner, sneered and said, “What luck. Now we don’t have to take the trash out ourselves! Team Shanghai is better than I expected, but it would’ve still been a waste of my time to play against them.”
Coach Fan Yuan chuckled and added, “It’s quite a coincidence. I wasn’t expecting this matchup until the quarters or even semifinals.” He then turned to look at Zhang Hongyi and continued, “You must be disappointed, though. Didn’t you want to face that Zeng Rui yourself?”
Zhang Hongyi shrugged and replied, “Doesn’t matter to me. I just want to see that bastard lose.” Though it would’ve been great if I could be the one slapping that bastard out of the tourney. I’ll have to settle for watching him get slapped.
Chu Fang gathered everyone from Team Shanghai while Lin Feng completed his game of League. When everyone, including Su Xue, was in the room, he shared the news. Team Shanghai was going to play against Team Guangzhou in the Round of 16.
“That’s… awesome!” Zhang Hao cried out. He grinned and continued, “We actually drew them! This is perfect! We can teach them a lesson for what they did! Shit! I’m still so angry for what they did to Tang Tang!”
Zeng Rui smiled and said, “Good. Good. It’s about time we go all out. We’re going to teach them some humility.”
Chu Fang noted, “You’re all pretty pumped up, huh?”
Tang Bingyao nodded and replied, “Mhm! I hate them! I’ll do my best at bot! My hand doesn’t really hurt too much anymore either!”
An Xin smiled and said, “Seo is their ad-carry. You better show him what real skill looks like!”
Tang Bingyao nodded and replied, “Mhm! I will!”
Lin Feng grinned and shouted, “That’s the right attitude! We’re going to give it our all tomorrow and crush Team Guangzhou!”
The initial burst of excitement from learning about their next opponents died down a bit. Su Xue spotted this and coughed to get everyone’s attention. She then said, “I’ve got something to report too. Huya got back to me and informed me I’m casting two matches in the Round of 16. One of them is yours.”
“No way!” Lin Feng exclaimed. “Today is full of coincidences!”
The sun had yet to rise above Guangzhou’s skyline when a long line of people gathered outside the Tianhe Stadium. The Round of 16 was starting a little later and no one wanted to miss out on this. They pushed through the six entrances, bought breakfast at the concession stands, and found a place high up in the stands. Down on the field were the more expensive seats, but even those were filled well before the first game started, as was the player seating area.
When the sun finally rose over the rim of the Tianhe Stadium, bathing the field in golden rays, the Guangzhou Esports Association posted the brackets for the Round of 16 online. Most of the biggest names didn’t play each other, though there were still several matchups that promised an exciting fight. One of them in particular. Team Guangzhou versus Team Shanghai.
A buzz went through the Tianhe Stadium. Scattered voices grew in power and number. Everyone discussed this matchup. Not just because of the fact these were two high school teams that both looked like they could become the first high school team to win a university tournament, but also because of what happened the day before. The incident between Seo and Tang Bingyao itself hadn’t been filmed, but the fallout afterwards had been. And most fans in the stadium had watched the replay of it at least half a dozen times by now.
“First they have that whole thing yesterday and now they’re playing each other?”
“Looks like a lot of coincidence! But all the better! We get a real match!”
“They’re both pissed, so they’ll both really want this win! It won’t just be tactics, it’ll also be that something extra!”
“I wonder who’s going to win this one…”
“Who cares? It’s gonna be a real show! We’re getting a real show!”
“I’m so happy I bought tickets for today! This is going to be one of the best series all tournament!”
The discussions leaked from the audience to the other competing teams in the player seating area. All of them looked in the direction of Team Shanghai and Team Guangzhou, whispering amongst each other about which team they believed would win. Or rather, which team they wouldn’t have to prepare for in the next round.
After a lot of arguing and going back and forth, most teams reached the same conclusion. They really wanted to see Team Guangzhou getting knocked off their high horses. But at the same time, Team Guangzhou clearly had the skill to sit on their high horses. Odds were they were going to win and Team Shanghai would go home early.
The deciding argument for a lot of teams went: “Team Guangzhou’s got Goalie and Seo. Who does Team Shanghai have?”