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Red Team’s outer tower activated. Energy gathered at the top of the tower, locking onto Goalie’s LeBlanc and firing at her! Goalie slammed down on his W key and his LeBlanc retreated back to where she jumped from. He followed up with Mimic: Ethereal Chains! A second set of chains manifested around LeBlanc and shot at Lin Feng’s Talon!

Lin Feng was in his element. This was a battle of mechanics and reaction speed. And when it came to those two things, there was no one in the world better than him! He pushed the D key to Flash. A ball of light wrapped around Talon and carried him through time and space, past the Ethereal Chains, and spit him back onto Summoner’s Rift right behind Goalie’s LeBlanc.

A second chill ran up and down Goalie’s spine. He searched for the F key to Flash back to his outer tower, but Talon’s Shadow Assault came first. A ring of blades swept out around Talon, a number of them slicing through Goalie’s LeBlanc! Fuck! Goalie gritted his teeth, his monitor flashing a dangerous red. He watched his LeBlanc briefly go invisible as her passive activated. Then there were two LeBlanc’s. I need to trick that stupid dog! Throw him his bone! Goalie smiled and had the real LeBlanc stand still while the fake one ran back towards the Blue Team’s outer tower!

Lin Feng looked at the two identical LeBlanc’s and felt it was too easy. You still have Flash and that one running away isn’t using it. Do you think I’m stupid? Come on… make it a little hard at least! He shook his head and then clicked on the LeBlanc that hadn’t moved. His Talon dug a dagger into her!

“Fucking dog!” Goalie exclaimed over the team’s voice chat. He banged his fist on his keyboard. Several buttons were pushed hard enough to activate, including the F key. A mottled flash of light wrapped LeBlanc up and carried her a short distance. She reappeared underneath Red Team’s outer tower. The tower locked onto her and charged up for an energy shot. Behind her, Talon appeared. The energy shot smashed into her face while the cold, hard steel from a dagger plunged into her back.

You have been slain!

Goalie stared at his dull grey screen, furious. His stomach clenched and he bit so hard on his lips that he drew blood. Different shades of humiliation dyed his sickly pale face. He breathed in short bursts, glancing at his teammates and then over the rim of his monitor at the cheering crowd in the stands. His mind was a swirling dark mess with only a single coherent thought. THAT FUCKING DOG!

At the caster desk, Su Xue shot up from her chair. She grabbed the microphone and screamed into it, “NICE KILL! NICE KILL!” She slammed her palm on the desk and laughed. Then she added, “That’s Lin Feng for you! He’s the best Midlaner I’ve ever seen! He’s even better than the Korean Goalie!”

The audience stared at the large LCD screen in silence, stunned. They knew how good Goalie was and they believed there was no one else as good as him. Not in the Winter Collegiate Cup, anyway. So when Lin Feng outplayed Goalie from a kill behind, something broke. Their minds needed readjustments and that was exactly what Su Xue offered them. They got up to their feets and started clapping, applauding.

“That Talon actually outplayed Goalie’s LeBlanc! He actually… Oh my god!”

“How did he dodge those chains? They’re like undodgeable! You know how fast they come at you? You know the kind of reaction speed you need to dodge those? That’s… Jesus, that was good!”

“Give us a close up of Goalie’s face! I wanna see him rage and tilt! Pleeease!”

“Woooooo! Team Shanghai! TEAM SHANGHAI!”

Su Xue took a long, deep breath, allowing her to soak in the cheers from the crowd. She gazed at her monitor showing Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth and smiled. Thanks, Lin Feng! That’s exactly what I needed. She leaned closer to her microphone and said, “Lin Feng’s reflexes and mechanics are really the best I’ve ever seen. Even Goalie can’t match up to them!”

Zephyr looked at Su Xue and nodded, impressed. He chimed in, “No doubt about it! That was a shockingly brilliant play by the kid from Team Shanghai. And the mid lane is right back to even! Fighting your way back from behind like that, that’s damn impressive!”

Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth:Lin Feng looked at LeBlanc’s corpse on his screen and grinned. Are you really this stupid? Did you really think I would give up after one death? Did you really believe I would just let you jump on me and kill me whenever you felt like it? How stupid are you! It was so painfully obvious you were coming for me!

“Nice one!” Zhang Hao exclaimed over the team’s voice chat.

Tang Bingyao nodded and chimed in, “Mhm! Good job!”

Lin Feng looked at his teammates, grinning, and said, “Thanks!” He then turned back to look at his screen. He narrowed his eyes and he said, “But I’ve only just begun!”

Team Guangzhou’s soundproof booth:Seo scrunched his eyebrows and asked over the team’s voice chat, “Goalie? What the fuck?”

“Shut up!” Goalie yelped. He glanced at his teammates, all four of them staring at him in shocked surprise, and said, “I hit the wrong button! That’s it! It was just a small mistake! Have you never made a mistake? Now let me focus! I have a dog to kill!” He gazed at his monitor and narrowed his eyes. He’s better than I expected. Better than every other Midlaner I’ve played against in this entire tournament so far! But that’s fine too. It’s good! There wouldn’t be any fun if I just won it all without trying. I need to try a bit and then I’ll still kick this dog’s ass!

At 10 minutes, Lin Feng glanced at bot and top. Tang Bingyao and Zeng Rui were being pushed back towards their outer tower and Zhang Hao had just forced Irelia to recall back to base. Good. Looking good. There wasn’t any immediate danger to the lanes, nothing Goalie could take advantage from. So Lin Feng had his Talon fall back and recalled back to base to upgrade his items.

There were three Blue minions in the top lane left. Zhang Hao had his Lissandra push forward into the empty lane to kill them. The sound of a ping echoed in his headphones. He glanced at the minimap and saw that LeBlanc was missing in the mid lane. I’ve still got some health left. And I’ve also got my Glacial Path. She can come and I’ll be fine. He threw an Ice Shard at the minions, killing two of the three.

There came a second ping. This one was on Zhang Hao’s top lane. He scrunched his eyebrows and was about to argue that he had time to back when he saw it. An Xin’s warning sounded distant as he saw the Teleport animation on the brush behind him. Goalie’s LeBlanc then appeared from the river entrance. There were two enemy Champions between him and his outer tower and his health was below half. When did she place that ward? How did she get that!? ShitShitShit! 

Zhang Hao cast Glacial Path. An icy claw ripped through the ground and carved a straight path ahead. When it was at the end of its power, he reactivated the skill to blink towards the hand. That was a mistake. Goalie’s LeBlanc had waited for that exact moment, that fraction of a second where Goalie knew exactly where Lissandra would be, and cast Ethereal Chains. They shot from LeBlanc and latched onto Zhang Hao’s Lissandra, locking her down!

The teleport finished and Irelia appeared from the brush along the top side of the lane. She dashed at Zhang Hao’s Lissandra and hacked at him with her blades. From the other side, LeBlanc cycled through her other skills. The damage mounted up and before the root from Ethereal Chains broke, Zhang Hao’s Lissandra fell.

Zhang Hao stared at his dull grey screen in surprise. The voice announcer reminded him that he’d overextended. It explained to him in just four words that he’d screwed up.

You have been slain.

“Wow!” Zephyr exclaimed. He shouted into his microphone, “What a close match! It’s crazy!”

Su Xue nodded and continued, “LeBlanc has picked up the kill too! She knew how hard it was to get something from mid, so she went and found an opening top! Great play!” She then glanced at the monitor for Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth and mouthed, “Come on, Lin Feng. Kick some ass!”

“Shit! Sorry, guys,” Zhang Hao apologized over the team’s voice chat. He grabbed his hair and added, “I didn’t know she had that ward there. I didn’t see her place it… I should’ve known when you pinged mid…”

An Xin shook her head and grimaced. She said, “It’s a shame we couldn’t get anything back for it either. We should’ve taken Dragon…” She glanced down at the bot lane. Usually, when the opponents sent their Midlaner top and had their Toplaner Teleport to the top lane, it was the perfect time to force a play around the Dragon pit. But Tang Bingyao and Zeng Rui were struggling, and then there was Team Guangzhou’s Jungler who couldn’t be far away. Forcing a dragon play was too risky. She chewed on her lips for a bit and then asked, “Are you two OK in bot?”

Zeng Rui shook his head and replied, “It’s tough. We can’t find any openings to fire back at them.”

“Recall to base and get full health,” An Xin ordered. “We’ll see if we can do something when you two get back.”

Tang Bingyao nodded, and together with Zeng Rui pushed against Team Guangzhou’s Botlaners. They killed the Blue minions and then turned back to their outer tower. There they recalled back to base. When their Champions arrived on the fountain, Tang Bingyao let go of her mouse and shook her hand, biting her lips. It’s hurting… Why does it have to hurt? Can’t it just… stop hurting? I just want to play this series!

Zeng Rui looked at Tang Bingyao, worried, and asked, “You alright?”

Tang Bingyao quickly nodded and said, “Mhm! I’m okay!” She gritted her teeth and put her hand back on her mouse. Then she had her Corki fly back to lane. She moved her pinky finger up and down, pushing the Tab key and forcing herself to look at the game’s stats to try and take her mind off the dull pain radiating from her finger. We’re just over 10 minutes in. I’m at 81 minions and my pinky– She shook her head and blinked the thoughts about her pinky away. Then she focused her gaze back on the game statistics. Seo. That asshole. His Draven is at 84 minions. It’s almost even. We’ve also both got one kill. But he’s got the advantage because of the bonus gold he gets from his passive for a kill. Still, that’s not a lot and my pinky– No! Stop this! Stop thinking about it! Focus on the asshole who did this! You’re playing against him! You need to beat him and make him suffer where it hurts him the most! Mhm! 

“Tang Tang, Zeng Rui, if you guys see an engage, go for it! I’ve got Teleport and Irelia doesn’t!” Zhang Hao said over the team’s voice chat.

Zeng Rui glanced at Tang Bingyao and said, “If you find an opening, go for it. I’ll follow up on your engage.”

Tang Bingyao stared at Seo’s Draven. Glared at him. There weren’t many people she hated–truly hated, but Seo was on top of that list. She wanted nothing more than to make him suffer, and she knew that the best way to do that to him was by beating him in a game of League. He kept going on about his Korean Challenger this and his Korean Challenger that. I’ll show him that his Korean Challenger doesn’t mean shit! Mhm! That’ll show him! A fire lit in her eyes. It blazed determination. She nodded at Zeng Rui and replied, “Mhm! Let’s do this!”

Anger, frustration and all other distracting thoughts had disappeared from Seo’s mind. Right now he was playing League of Legends. It calmed him. He watched his Draven throw the Spinning Axes, mesmerized. How they went round and round in his hand, how they cleaved into minions and how they ricocheted back for him to catch. He would occasionally watch his two opponents. Corki and Braum. But never more than a glance. They simply weren’t good enough to require more than that.

A ping sounded in Seo’s headphones and it flashed on his minimap. He clicked on it and saw Jarvan IV, his Jungler, running down the river. I guess he’s coming for a gank. He really should learn how to say that in Korean. That would make this so much easier. He shook his head and grinned, then focused back on his lane. The ping was, in the end, all he really needed.

Corki and Braum pushed forward. Seo laughed when he saw it. It’s like they’re asking me to kill them! As if they know Jarvan is coming to gank! He scrunched his eyebrows, taking a brief moment to translate what he wanted to say to Chinese, and then said over the team’s voice chat, “Thresh, follow! Not get away!”

“Oh shit!” Zephyr exclaimed. He pointed at his monitor and continued, “Look at that! EveningSnowfall, look! Draven’s going in! That’s Blood Rush and he just activated his second Spinning Axe! And up there in the river, that’s Jarvan IV! Team Guangzhou is coming to finish the job in bot!”

Su Xue looked at the screen that was focused on the bot lane. She then squinted her eyes and searched the minimap. It’s going to be a big fight! She reached for her microphone, nearly knocking it over, and shouted into it, “It’s going to be a big fight! Look up there! An Xin’s Gragas is also running bot AndAndAnd the teleport! That’s Lissandra! HaoBro is coming down!”

Tang Bingyao hesitated. Zeng Rui barked at her over the team’s voice chat, asking her what she was doing. Asking if they were engaging or backing off. That was quickly followed by Zhang Hao saying he was already teleporting and that if she didn’t want to fight, to say so fast so that he could cancel his teleport. She breathed faster. Faster. Faster! A Spinning Axe cleaved into her Corki and Thresh flashed on top of her and Flayed her backwards!

Every last bit of tension suddenly slipped away from Tang Bingyao’s body. She relaxed, the determination in her eyes burning away every trace of worry trying to burrow its way into her mind. She nodded and said, “Mhm! ZengZeng, on me!”

Zeng Rui’s mouse was already hovering over Tang Bingyao’s Corki and his finger on the W key, waiting for Tang Bingyao’s decision. He pressed down and cast Stand Behind Me! Braum leaped at Tang Bingyao’s Corki. Right then, Tang Bingyao’s Corki flashed towards Seo’s Draven. Zeng Rui’s Braum followed after her and landed in front of her, raising his shield to protect her!

“Hoooly shit! The turn around! It’s gonna be a turn around!” Zephyr exclaimed in shock.

Su Xue clenched her fists and shouted, “That’s more like it! Tang Tang is really good at playing aggressively! There is no one who’s better at engaging like this than she is! And the rest of her team knows exactly how to follow up on this! Just look at how Zeng Rui cast Stand Behind Me at just the right time! Their teamwork is immaculate!”

Seo’s eyes opened wide. Something felt wrong. It was a feeling that appeared in the pit of his stomach, slowly whittling its way up. A visceral clenching. Wrong! So wrong! It’s all wrong! She shouldn’t! She can’t! He shook his head, faster and faster! This is all wrong! He flicked his mouse away from Tang Bingyao’s Corki and towards his outer tower, then clicked. I need to get out!

Tang Bingyao smiled and said, “Q! Q!”

Zeng Rui aimed at Seo’s Draven and cast Winter’s Bite! His Braum projected ice from his shield! The chunks slammed into Draven and slowed him! More importantly, it applied the first of four stacks necessary to stun Draven!

Tang Bingyao’s Corki fired an auto attack, triggering the second stack on Draven! She then activated the Gatling Gun on Corki’s helicopter, a hail of bullets piercing Draven, and bombarded Draven with a Phosphorus Bomb! She continued with an auto attack and then fired an empowered missile with Missile Barrage!

Tang Bingyao was a Draven expert. She knew exactly how much damage he could take and how much damage he could deal. There was maybe no one who knew this better than her. Corki’s burst is enough to beat Draven! Especially when we’ve got the stun from Concussive Blow! And with Gragas and Lissandra coming too, it doesn’t even matter if they get a gank! Mhm! We’re winning this! We’re gonna kill that jerk– She suddenly narrowed her eyes and flicked her mouse to the side, then decisively clicked.

Seo was screaming over his team’s voice chat everything he knew in Chinese to get across to his Support and Jungler what it was he wanted. But they didn’t seem to understand him. The Thresh took several more seconds than he should’ve to line up for a Death Sentence. And when he finally did throw it, the Corki had had enough time to sidestep it. Seo looked at the three stacks from Concussive Blow and then at Corki again who was right in front of him. He knew the next auto attack was coming. There was nothing he could do to stop it. He was going to get stunned.

“Stupid girl! Fuck her!” Seo yelled over the team’s voice chat. He then added, “Protect me! Protect!”


Shanks Thought: The longer I stay in the UK, the more I realize that I need to get a car and learn how to drive. After living in Toronto almost my whole life, I got too used to the concept of reliable public transportation. You want to get downtown? That’s a 20-minute bus ride on a route where the bus comes every 10 minutes. You want to get to the other side of the city? That’s gonna take about an hour on the subway. But if you tried to drive there, it would probably take more than 2 hours with all the traffic.

Here, in the UK, at least where I’m currently staying over the summer, it’s completely different. I have to take at least a 5 mile walk to get to the nearest grocery store. If I want to go to a different place that’s another 5 mile walk from a different direction. I don’t understand why everything is so freaking far apart!

A bicycle makes the journey slightly less inconvenient, but it still just barely increases your range of travel, and it’s still a bitch if you want to go anywhere further. So, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need a car.

The problem is that I’ve never sat behind a car wheel until the age of 24. I don’t know how to drive. I’d like to think that with all my experience with video games, including driving games, it should be easy enough? My hand-eye coordination isn’t so bad. But I really don’t know. Then, there’s the whole issue of paying for car insurance, maintenance of the car, etc. AGH! The world would be so much easier if everywhere had reliable public transport. Or teleportation. Why can’t I just teleport everywhere I want to go?

But I digress. I am going to learn how to drive this year, and I’m going to put my honed Mario Kart skills to use! So when you see me on the road, you better watch out! You might get blinded by how cool and dazzling my driving skills are! Joking aside. I’m actually not sure if I should drive a car. If genetics plays a factor into driving skills, my sister narrowly ran us off the road and swerved into another car the other day, when she decided it was a good idea to point at something while behind the wheel… If she’d actually driven us off into a ditch or swerved into that car, I probably wouldn’t be here typing to you guys right now.

Sietse Thought: Shanks, uhm, you do realise you need to get a driver’s license first, right? And to get a driver’s license, you need money. Money you don’t have. Even if you have the money, you need to take practical lessons and a practical exam as well as a theoretical exam. When are you going to do this? But let’s assume you magically find the hours in the day to do all this, even though you are already so tight on time, and manage to by some stroke of fortune get your driver’s license.

Now you need to buy a car. You think that’s just finding some cheap thing on Ebay for $200? That’s not what you– Actually, no. I was going to explain to you how this works and then I realized something. You’re going to get convinced by some far off relative that they’ve got a great car for you for the low price of $1500. You buy the car because you’re that stupid. Turns out the car wasn’t worth $1500 and that it was, at best, worth $15. But hey, you got the car and the sunken cost fallacy takes over. You spend the next few weeks trying to figure out how to make the car run, until another relative convinces you to take it to a far too expensive car dealership.

That car dealership? They’re scammers. They ain’t trying to fix your car, but to fix the particular issue you were facing while making sure a new one will appear within a week. That way you have to go back to them. But since you won’t know enough about cars and you’re way too gullible, you’ll just take their word at face value. It will most likely take several months and somewhere in the excess of $20,000 before you realize something is wrong. (Again, $20,000 you don’t actually have. $20,000 that is enough to buy a new car). That is when you come to Devshard and me and explain to us how your family made you buy a car and how they made you take it to this specific car dealership. And finally you ask us how to fix it, and if maybe we can fix it for you.

Devshard will groan and whine and ask me to please talk some sense into you. I will tell Devshard that there is no talking sense into you. And then eventually we’ll decide to help you out of your problems by selling the cursed car and making you accept the fact that you wasted an insane amount of money on it. Then we’ll help you find a car that actually fits your needs, all the while listening to your complaints about how your family forced you to do this.

News flash, Shanks. They didn’t force you, they just tried to help you. But they’re stupid, like you. It runs in the blood.

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