Climbing the Pits of Despair

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Goalie was trying his best to last hit minions underneath his tower, frustrated. This second game against Team Shanghai wasn’t going anything like he imagined it’d go. The gank that was supposed to launch him into a convincing lead had backfired. We were 2 against him! How did he stay so calm? Why didn’t he try to run? Everyone runs! How did that fucking dog ignore me to kill the stupid Lee Sin? FUCK! He gritted his teeth, glaring at the waves and fire flowing below Riven’s feet. They were the visual representation for the Blue and Red buffs. One lowered skill cooldowns and the other added a burn effect to every auto attack. Two buffs to change the entire dynamic of the lane.

The fact that Riven was a kill up was bad enough for Goalie. It made it far more difficult to win the lane. Yet at the same time it was also still winnable. But a Riven powered by the Blue and Red buffs was invincible. One well executed combo by her could kill him. That was why he sat under his tower, grumbling, trying to get a couple of last hits while staying as far away from the Riven as he possibly could. But even underneath his tower, protected by its powerful energy shots, he didn’t feel safe.

Lin Feng’s Riven was the first to hit Level 6. Goalie knew it was coming, but it still stung at his ego when it happened. He felt his stomach clench and the faint taste of bile traveled up his throat and swirled in his mouth. How the fuck am I supposed to fight this fucking double buff dog!? Maybe if I have my ultimate and catch him off… But then I first need my ultimate. Level 6… He glanced at his experience bar that was almost full. Just one more minion, then I recall and buy another stupid ass ring to get some more damage. It’ll put me behind in the long game, but if I can get something from it… Yeah. And when I get back, that double buff will be  gone!

Goalie watched the minions that were fighting at the edge of his outer tower’s range. Three blue caster minions fired their magic at Red caster minions. One of them had fallen to low health. Just that one. Then I back. Goalie hovered his mouse over the caster minion and cast Urchin Strike. His Fizz dashed through it and sheared away the last of its health with his trident! A small flash of light blazed around Fizz. The level up animation! Great! Now I–

Lin Feng’s Riven moved. She dashed forward with Valor and fluidly continued with the first slash from Broken Wings. Goalie’s eyes went round in shock. His entire being screamed at him to escape before Riven could cast Ki Burst and stun him. He slammed down on his E key–Playful! Fizz planted his trident in the ground and hopped on top of it. Right then, with Fizz sitting far above the ground safe from a potential Ki Burst, Goalie realized his mistake. Fuck. FUCK! That fucking dog baited me!

Most people in the stadium didn’t notice Goalie had fallen for Lin Feng’s trap. All they saw was an exchange between the Midlaners without much actual damage done. Even Zephyr and Su Xue at the caster desk thought as much. But there were several people in the player seating area who understood what was going to happen next. Qiu Yijie from Fudan University was the first of them to say it out loud. “Goalie used his E too early. Lin Feng can tower dive him now.”

Lin Feng sat up a little straighter, grinned a little brighter. He mumbled just loud enough for his teammates to hear, “Oh, you messed up bad!” He licked his lips as his left hand glided across the keyboard, pressing various keys with accurate precision.

Goalie’s Fizz jumped off his trident back towards his tower. When he did, Riven chased after him and activated her ultimate skill. Blade of the Exile! Runic energy, the representation of her sheer willpower, burst out from her body! It reforged her broken blade and boosted all her stats! Fizz splashed down on top of her and dealt some damage. In the distance, the outer tower was charging up an energy shot. She ignored both, stabbing at Fizz and following up with the second cast from Broken Wings–another sweep of the blade! She then raised her weapon up to the sky and screamed, “Ki Burst!”

Green, runic energy exploded out around Riven! It swept across Fizz and stunned him! Riven followed up with another auto attack, cancelling the end of the animation with the activation of Wind Slash! This second part of her ultimate skill gathered the excess runic energy on her blade and gave it the weapon’s sharp property. She then released the energy. It cut through the air. It cut through Fizz! His health bar almost disintegrated!

Riven grasped her blade with both hands and raised it up above her head. She then jumped at Fizz with the third cast from Broken Wings and hacked down on him! The sheer power contained within this attack knocked Fizz up into the air right as the stun from Ki Burst wore off! There, as he dangled in the air, Riven stabbed him with her blade. Twice.

You have slain an enemy!

There was a stunned silence in the Tianhe Stadium. The audience stared at the large LCD screen, shocked. Gobsmacked. Then, from the speakers installed all around the stadium, Su Xue’s voice blasted. “YEEEEEES! YOU DID IT! YOU LITTLE PUNK, YOU DID IT! YOU SOLO KILLED THAT ARROGANT ASS!”

Zephyr turned his head to look at Su Xue. He covered the microphone with his hand and asked, “Little… punk? Arrogant ass? What?”

Su Xue’s joy fell flat. Her eyes grew wide and round as she slowly turned her head to look at Zephyr. She bit on her lips and asked, “Did I really just say that…?” Her face flared when Zephyr nodded. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit! I’m a caster! I have to be impartial! I’m the impartial judge here! I can’t take sides! She smiled and said into her microphone, “Uuuh, what I meant, yeah, I was just channeling my inner high schooler! That’s it! That was my best inner high schooler! You know how those high school kids are!”

Zephyr covered his mouth to stop a burst of laughter. He then leaned in towards his microphone and said, “Well, that was some high school cheer, EveningSnowfall! But you’re right! The high schooler did it! He got the solo kill! And what a solo kill that was! Did you see it coming? I didn’t! The way he just towerdove there? Absolutely amazing!”

“WOOOOOOOO!” Su Xue cheered, smiling uncomfortably. Please tell me no one heard that! Yeah, everyone was too busy cheering for Lin Feng! She nodded at herself again and then added, “That was a fantastic display of skill by Lin Feng from Team Shanghai!”

“That dive was sick! OH MY GOOOOOD!”



“Fucking insane! In-fucking-sane!”

“I didn’t even see that mistake from Fizz! How did that guy… HOLY SHIT HE’S GOOD!”

“Some LPL level skills right there! That guy’s going pro!


The players from Zhejiang University found themselves on their feet, cheering for Lin Feng and Team Shanghai. Leading them was Zuo Cheng. He’d wrapped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “See? SEE? I TOLD YOU ALL! Lin Feng is waaaay better than Goalie! He wrecked Goalie! Look at that! Look at that! Did you guys see that? He solo killed Goalie in a towerdive! HE TOWERDOVE GOALIE AND GOT THE KILL!”

Chu Fang, Vice President of the Shanghai Esports Organization, looked around the player seating area at the players from various teams who were up on their feet cheering for Team Shanghai. Then he looked at those still seated and found most of them clapping and applauding. He grinned, gratified. He’s doing it! We’ve got ourselves Maple! The guys from Guangzhou and Beijing won’t know what hit them! How stupid are they thinking they can beat us. We’ve got Maple!

The coaches from Team Beijing and Team Guangzhou watched the replay of Lin Feng’s kill on Goalie on the large LCD screen, shocked. Team Beijing’s coach kept glancing at Yu Ping and tried to figure out who between him and Lin Feng was the better player and if there was something he could do to help his team. But his team wasn’t playing right now. He still had time to come up with a solution. That wasn’t the case for Coach Yin from Team Guangzhou. He was pulling on his hair, desperate, and cried out, “How is that kid this good!? How is he beating Goalie!? I found Goalie in Korea! He made it all the way to the Top 10 Korean Challenger ladder! How did the Shanghai division find someone even better! How is this possible!?”

In Team Guangzhou’s soundproof booth, Goalie sat behind his computer, seething. The dull grey colours stung, but not as much as the people he could see cheering over the rim of his monitor. They were all cheering for a solo kill on him. He gritted his teeth and slammed his fist down on the desk. I hate him! I hate him so much! So fucking much! I’ma kill that dog! I’ll show him! I’m gonna, gonna, gonna… “Aaargh! I’ve never been this humiliated!” He yelled in Korean. His teammates glanced at him but he ignored them. He glared at Lin Feng’s Riven and mumbled, “You watch your back. Sleep with an eye open. I’m going to get you!”

Only 8 minutes into the game, Team Shanghai held a commanding lead. Mid was practically lost for Team Guangzhou and bot was struggling. But top was still relatively even. So when the opportunity for a gank presented itself, they jumped on it. Goalie’s Fizz snuck away from the mid lane and joined Lee Sin in the tri brush behind Blue Team’s outer tower.

Zhang Hao’s Dr. Mundo was throwing cleavers at the minions there, passively farming. When he walked a bit close to the wall of trees and boulders separating the lane from the Jungle, a fish flew at him. Hit him. It started swimming around him, a portal opening beneath. A dark shadow appeared from the depths, waiting for the portal to grow big enough.

After casting his ultimate skill–Chum the Waters–Goalie’s Fizz dashed at Dr. Mundo with Urchin Strike! Lee Sin joined behind him with a Sonic Wave into Resonating Strike! From the other side of the tower, Fiora Lunged into the fight, stabbing Dr. Mundo with her rapier! That was when the portal beneath Dr. Mundo fully opened and Megalodon jumped out, knocking Dr. Mundo up in the air and mauling him!

Dr. Mundo was known for his high health bar and frightening regenerative abilities. More specifically, his ultimate skill called Sadism was basically a second health bar! But there was a very clear counter to this. Ignite. The unquenchable flames didn’t just burn away at his health bar, they also lowered the efficacy of health regeneration skills and abilities! Goalie’s Fizz cast Ignite, then followed up with Playful! He stabbed his trident in the ground and hopped on top of it, stopping the outer tower from firing energy shots at him. When the tower switched aggro to Lee Sin, he hopped back down from his trident with Trickster, activated Seastone Trident to empower his basic attacks and dug the three prongs from his trident in Dr. Mundo!

You have slain an enemy!

“Tower, tower!” Goalie ordered over the team’s voice chat, the hints of a smile appearing on his face. Getting a kill on Dr. Mundo wasn’t the same as getting revenge on Lin Feng’s Riven. But it was something. A lifeline to help him get back into this game. He smiled and panned his camera across the map. Down in the bottom side river, Team Shanghai was countering their play at top by taking the Dragon, but he’d expected as much. He’d be disappointed if they hadn’t done that. This is all going as I want it to go. This is how it should be! Now all that remains for me to do… He zoomed in on the Riven and gnashed his teeth. All that remains is to kill that dog!

“Woooo! A kill in top on Mundo!” Su Xue exclaimed, smiling. I’m impartial! 

Zephyr glanced at Su Xue and then said into his microphone, “Team Guangzhou got the kill on Mundo and the top outer tower from that gank. But Team Shanghai used that opening to take the Dragon. That’s a pretty standard trade.”

“I think we also can’t forget about what’s happening in the mid lane,” Su Xue added. She pointed at her monitor and continued, “Lin Feng’s Riven has almost destroyed it. That isn’t a direct advantage, but it could prove important later on. And. On top of that, we can’t forget that Team Guangzhou’s Botlaners backed away real quick when their team made the play in top. Imagine what could’ve been if they stuck around!”

Zephyr laughed and said, “A beautiful skirmish is what could’ve been! But slow and steady is the game plan for Team Guangzhou’s Botlaners this game! And who can blame them? Vayne is a Champion that only gets stronger as the game progresses. He’s perfectly happy letting this game drag on to the ultra late game!”

“Mm-mhm!” Su Xue agreed.

Zephyr’s deduction was spot on. In Team Guangzhou’s soundproof booth, Seo had retreated deep under his outer tower, far away from a possible gank by Team Shanghai. He’d moved his camera towards the Dragon pit and watched Team Shanghai slay the creature, steaming. Calm, calm. Goalie’s right. I need to be calm. I’m playing Vayne. Late game! I’ll be the hyper carry in the late game. I’m one kill up. This is only going to get better! I’ll make those… those… He closed his eyes and forced himself to take deep, long breaths. Stay calm. Don’t call them names. That’s just going to work you up– FUCK THOSE BASTARDS! I’M GONNA KILL THEM ALL AND MAKE SURE NO ONE REMEMBERS THEIR FACES! He slammed his fist on the desk in frustration.

There was a short lull in the game. The players from both sides returned to farming their respective lanes and the Jungle. But this could never last long. Top lane was completely in Team Guangzhou’s Fiora’s control. But at the same time, Zhang Hao’s Dr. Mundo was tanky enough where he could survive everything she tried. He simply clung to a defensive position halfway up his lane and farmed minions. If Fiora tried to push, she’d become susceptible to a gank from An Xin’s Sejuani; if she didn’t, she’d fall behind in levels due to lost experience. So she had to take a different tactic. More specifically, she roamed down to the mid lane for a gank.

Lin Feng’s Riven was pushing so hard in the mid lane that Goalie could only place his Fizz defensively next to his outer tower. Even then, the tower only had a couple of auto attacks worth of health remaining. Goalie chewed on his lips and grumbled quiet complaints, clicking around his tower furiously. That all changed when he glanced at his minimap and saw Fiora running down the river. A smile crept onto his face. The slightest opening is all I need! Thanks Fiora! He smashed down on his keyboard to activate Chum the Waters! His Fizz stabbed his trident forward to fling a fish at Riven! It hit Riven and started swimming circles around her, a portal to the deep opening beneath her.





Zephyr chuckled and said into his microphone, “Sounds like we’ve got some fans from Guangzhou in the stadium with us today! Let’s give it another one for Team Guangzhou!”

“Team Guangzhou! Woooooo!” Su Xue exclaimed, cringing. It feels all kinds of wrong to cheer for Team Guangzhou… But I’m impartial! No one is more impartial than I am! I’ll hype up both sides and then cheer nice and loud when Lin Feng wins!

Lin Feng narrowed his eyes. He counted the seconds until Megalodon would jump at him through the portal to knock him up and how long until Fiora would arrive in the lane–a ward had revealed her seconds earlier. He placed a finger on the D key. Flashing was the only way to escape the initial engage. He turned his complete focus to Goalie’s Fizz. You’ll jump on me first, won’t you? You’re impatient like that.

Team Guangzhou’s Fiora arrived in the brush right above the mid lane and the portal to the deep beneath Lin Feng’s Riven was growing wider. Goalie couldn’t wait any longer. He dashed at Lin Feng’s Riven with Urchin Strike and followed up with Playful! He hopped on top of his trident and waited to see where Lin Feng was going to escape to, ready to flash after him.

Fiora was in the lane and almost upon Lin Feng’s Riven and the Megalodon could jump through the portal at any moment. Yet Lin Feng didn’t Flash. He waited, patient. Careful. Then it all happened. A mottled flash of light wrapped around Goalie’s Fizz as he guessed the direction in which Lin Feng was going to escape, the Megalodon jumped out from the water and Fiora Lunged at Lin Feng’s Riven! And Lin Feng flashed. A veil of light fell over his Riven and carried her a short distance towards Red team’s outer tower. Behind him, Fiora stabbed Megalodon who failed to knock up Lin Feng. And even further behind him, Goalie’s Fizz had flashed the wrong direction.

“OH MY GOD! HE JUST…” Zephyr cried out. “HE JUST DODGED IT ALL!”

Su Xue clenched her fist, her knuckles white, and shouted, “THAT’S LIN FENG FOR YOU!”



Goalie’s eyes twitched and his mouse hand trembled. He glanced up towards his outer tower where Riven was. How did he…? He just… His mind was numb, his passive self taking control over his body. He clicked towards Lin Feng’s Riven, though all his skills were on cooldown.

Lin Feng was in his element. He was playing a high mechanical Champion and relied on his high mechanical skills to outplay not one but two Champions. His fingers glided over his keyboard in practiced motion and he moved his mouse in short bursts with frightening accuracy. There were two targets in front of him. Two victims. He grinned as he activated Blade of the Exile!

A thick hue of runic energy appeared around Riven. It reforged her blade and boosted her stats! She followed up by jumping towards Fiora and Fizz and sweeping out with her blade! This was the first cast from Broken Wings and brought her exactly in range for a double stun! Riven pointed her reforged blade up at the sky and shouted, “Ki Burst!” Green energy exploded outwards and smashed into Fiora and Fizz! Both were stunned. She then cast Ignite on Fizz while also stabbing at him with an auto attack!


Shanks Thought: Let’s talk about video games! Or rather, the gaming habits of the Rise Crew, cause they’re really weird. Let’s start with Devshard. After several years of knowing the man, I’m convinced that he games almost exclusively on the toilet. It’s the only explanation for why he takes so long on the shitter. Like, he can excuse himself for a toilet break, and you think, “Alright, he’ll be back in 20 minutes tops.” Nope, sometimes he’s gone for more than an hour. Then he pops back in like nothing happens.

I get it, man. The toilet is your sanctum. It’s the only place where no one can intrude on your peace. But do you really need to play Breath of the Wild on the shitter? Or Genshin Impact? Or Wild Rift? I’m sure there are much more appropriate, and more comfortable, places to play video games. A sofa, a bed, or any other piece of furniture that doesn’t have him squatting over a toilet bowl for extended periods of time…

Stop it, Devs! It’s weird! Also, you could really hurt yourself! Don’t your legs get pins and needles or something? What if you accidentally fall off the bowl while fighting an extremely hard boss? It’s a health hazard! If we lose you, Rise is doomed!

As for Sietse, he’s a lost cause. He can’t live without games, but he also doesn’t want to play games. So, he just goes around looking for games on the Google Play Store that play themselves. So he spends months at a time, jumping from game to game, all the while never actually playing the game himself and letting the auto battlers inside the games do it instead.

Dev Thought: Okay. I’ll admit. I do spend an excessive amount of time on the shitter. It’s a habit from when I was young. See, I’m old. And back in my day, we didn’t have tiny super computers with instagram in our pockets all the time. So I had to entertain myself in some way while dumping out. I started reading Archie’s, Superman, Batman, and other comics on the toilet. Then I switched to books. And then I switched to even longer books as I grew older.

Occasionally (as in at least once a day), I’d find myself so drawn into the book I was reading that I’d lose track of time. I’d just be there, squatting on the toilet, reading chapter after chapter for an hour or longer. One time, I was in there for so long reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that the little bits of poop around my bumhole had dried up and stuck to the skin. So I was unable to wipe and it caused me pain. I had to shower to get it off. It was an important lesson.

Anyways, now I don’t read in the toilet anymore. I just play games on my phone in there because its so much more comfortable to read in b

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