My Pinky Hurts! It Really, Really Hurts!

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Lin Feng hummed to the rhythm of Riven’s boots hitting the mossy grass of the Jungle. To his left was a Camp of wolves, to his right the big Blue Sentinel. And straight ahead of him, past the confines of the Jungle and into the bot lane, stood a lone brush. Five more seconds till I get him. He grinned. Oh Vay-ayne! Come out, come out wherever you are! He clicked on the brush and then tapped on the Q key for the first cast of Broken Wings!

Riven swept out with her broken blade, covering a slightly larger distance than she did running. A wave of minions marched her way from Red team’s inner tower. She ignored them and went straight for the brush. When she was only a couple of steps away from it, she cast Blade of the Exile! Green, runic energy erupted from her body! It coated her skin, boosting her stats, and it reforged her blade! She followed up with the second cast from Broken Wings, swiping out with her blade and arriving at the brush.

Seo watched death approaching. Hopeless. His anger turned into rage and reached such levels that there wasn’t a clear thought left in his head. Darkness played at the edge of his vision and his heart kept slamming against his ribcage. He jabbed at the E key, making his Vayne pull the large crossbow from her back and squeezing the trigger. A thick, massive bolt pierced Riven and pushed her back. But there was no wall or structure behind her, nothing to pin her to. She dashed straight back at him with Valor. He jabbed at his keyboard harder, more frantic.

Lin Feng’s Riven raised her sword and shrieked, “Ki Burst!” Energy seeped out from her feet and shot out around her! It grabbed onto Vayne’s feet and locked her in position! Riven followed up with Wind Slash into the third cast from Broken Wings! A sharp wave of energy cut through Vayne right as Riven hacked down on Vayne and knocked her up! She then continued with an auto attack, and another.

You have slain an enemy!

Zephyr shook his head and said into his microphone, “There was no escaping that. Riven is so fed. It’s ridiculous how much damage she does. Even Flash wouldn’t have saved Vayne there.”

“Mm-mhm! Mm-mhm!” Su Xue agreed, nodding. She then added, “But it’s not the damage part that was impressive here. It was finding the opportunity that was impressive! Lin Feng knew just when to roam through Team Guangzhou’s Jungle to get to Seo before his Vayne could complete the recall! That’s really good timing!”

Summoner’s Rift had the Dragon and Baron Nashor, and this game also Riven. Lin Feng’s Riven was levels ahead of everyone else and he also had more items than anyone else. Team Guangzhou knew they had to stay far away from him if they held any hopes of turning this game around and winning it. That was precisely what Goalie explained to his teammates. He forbade them to fight Riven and instructed them to look for opportunities to catch the other members, those not fed, out of position.

At 19 minutes, Tang Bingyao had her Kalista run to the mid lane to catch a wave of minions for some extra gold and experience. She didn’t have vision on Goalie’s Fizz, but believed she was close enough to her outer tower in case he did appear. She underestimated Fizz’s speed and damage.

Goalie’s Fizz charged into the lane and activated his ultimate–Chum the Waters! A fish struck Tang Bingyao’s Kalista and started swimming around her, a portal to the deep opening up beneath her feet. Fizz followed up with Playful into Trickster, pole vaulting to cross the gap between him and Kalista. He then targeted Kalista with Urchin Strike, dashing through her and piercing her with his trident!

The portal to the deep opened wide enough for Megalodon to jump up and take a bite out of Kalista! Seo’s Fizz stood at the edge of the portal, his trident glowing from the effects of Seastone Trident! He jabbed at Kalista, each empowered attack shearing away at her health bar!

You have slain an enemy!

Tang Bingyao looked at her dull grey screen and slowly shook her head. She mumbled over the team’s voice chat, “My bad. I thought I could get away…”

At 19:30 minutes, Zeng Rui’s Morgana was moving through the bottom half of the river, placing down wards. He glanced at his minimap and searched for where Team Guangzhou’s Champions were. Fizz is still mid and their Jungler is top. I should be fine to place a ward in their Blue Buff Camp. If I can just get it in the brush next to it… He glanced at the mid lane again, then had his Morgana slip into Red team’s bottom side Jungle.

Seo had spotted Zeng Rui’s Morgana placing wards, and smiled. The clouds of swirling darkness in his mind spread apart just far enough for him to find that singular sparkle of light. An opportunity; a chance to get back into this game. He had his Vayne hide in the brush next to the Blue Buff Camp and waited for Zeng Rui’s Morgana to go too deep. They always do.

Zeng Rui kept glancing at his minimap, double and triple checking that no one was moving in his direction. Nothing showed a potential collapse on him. So he pushed onwards, deeper into Red team’s Jungle until he was right in front of the brush next to the Blue Buff Camp. He breathed out, relieved, and placed down the ward. It revealed Vayne. Zeng Rui’s eyes grew wide and round and he mumbled, “Shit!”

Seo’s Vayne Tumbled to the side, dodging Morgana’s Dark Binding. He then made full use of his Vayne’s passive skill that boosted his movement speed while chasing an enemy to run after Morgana. He grinned. Yeah, you use that Black Shield! Good, good. I’ll just wait it out. No worries. You can’t get away from me! Yes, yes! Cast your Soul Shackles! Do it! He had his Vayne stop running as the Soul Shackles flew his way. They only reached so far around Morgana. All he had to do was let the distance between them grow a bit, just enough to make the magical shackles miss him, and then he continued the chase–his boosted movement speed allowing him to catch back up to her.

Silver bolts struck Zeng Rui’s Morgana. Every third was followed by an explosion of true damage. Zeng Rui’s Morgana ran into the river. Team Shanghai’s bot lane outer tower was destroyed, but the one in the mid lane was still up. So he took a right in the river and ran up, shouting over the team’s voice chat, “Help! Help!” But there was no one around to help him. Tang Bingyao’s Kalista had died in mid and An Xin was on the wrong side of the map.

Seo’s Vayne caught up to Morgana and then passed by her, just enough to get the angle. There was the wall from the Dragon pit behind Morgana. Vayne raised the large crossbow from her back and squeezed the trigger. The thick, massive bolt pinned Morgana to the wall. Another round of silver bolts followed.

You have slain an enemy!

Sun Ruinian from Zhejiang University watched the large LCD screen and shook his head. The fans behind him were cheering for their team from Guangzhou and the casters were further boosting the hype. All of them were focused on the kill and how Seo had dodged the Dark Binding and kept his Condemn until the Black Shield wore off. But there was something else entirely that kept Sun Ruinian’s attention. His mechanics are great, no doubt. He is a Korean Challenger. But his awareness. To know to wait in that brush there. That’s difficult to deal with. He nodded and said to no one in particular, “This guy… Seo… We can’t underestimate him.”

Zephyr reached for his microphone and said, “That’s now twice in as many minutes that Team Guangzhou catches Team Shanghai out of position! All the while staying far away from Riven! I have to say, the game is getting closer. If this happens another time or two, we’ll find it back to even.” He briefly paused to glance at the statistics and then continued, “We’ve basically got Riven versus Fizz and Vayne. Kalista is kind of useless at this point. If Fizz and Vayne get scale a bit more, we’ve got ourselves a real series!”

“Except…” Su Xue replied. “I don’t think Kalista is all that useless. Sure she got caught there and she isn’t as fed as Riven or Fizz or Vayne. But that doesn’t make her useless! If Team Guangzhou focuses all their attention on Riven, she’ll still be doing a ton of damage to them!”

“Right. If,” Zephyr agreed.

Down in the player seating area, Yin Wei from Team Guangzhou leaned back in his seat. For the first time in this series, he felt in control. His two Korean imports were getting kills and their only opposition was a fed Riven. He smiled wickedly. It’s just the Riven, like the caster-guy said! Goalie and Seo versus that stupid kid from Shanghai! This is going to be our win! There is no way those two lose to that kid! They’ll catch up and surpass him and then all those kills your stupid Riven has won’t mean anything! My team is going to win this game and the next two! We’re going to the quarterfinals and you can go back on your plane and go home!

Zeng Rui said through gritted teeth, “I knew something was off. But I couldn’t see it… Sorry guys, my bad. We really can’t let that Vayne get much stronger.”

“My bad too,” Tang Bingyao added over the team’s voice chat. “I really thought I could get away faster, but it’s just…” She bit on her lips and sucked back the tears gathering at her eyes. A lump filled her throat. I have to tell them. I can’t play three more games… She continued, “My… My pinky. It hurts. I don’t know if I can…”

An Xin looked at the minimap and saw Team Guangzhou moving towards the Dragon pit. She glanced at Lin Feng who was staring intently at his screen. He can carry this. She nodded at herself and then said over the team’s voice chat, “Don’t worry, Tang Tang. Don’t worry. Don’t strain yourself. If it doesn’t go, it doesn’t go. Until then, we’re going to end this game asap. Right, Lin Feng?”

Red Team has slain the Dragon!

Lin Feng panned his camera down to look at the Dragon pit. The players from Team Guangzhou were walking away from it. He narrowed his eyes and replied, “Yeah. Let’s end this. We’ll force this. Hmm, Okay! Help me push top!” He pinged on the inner tower in the top lane, while he had his Riven sneak into Team Guangzhou’s top side Jungle and towards the brush right next to the Red Buff Camp.

An Xin and Zhang Hao responded to Lin Feng’s pings. They pushed through the top tower and marched together with the minions towards the inner tower. The plan was simple. Get the towers in exchange for the Dragon. And if Team Guangzhou tried to defend it by running towards the inner tower, they’d run past Lin Feng.

“Oooh!” Zephyr exclaimed at the caster desk. He looked at his monitor that showed the game in spectator mode. He saw exactly where everyone from Team Shanghai and Team Guangzhou was. More specifically, he saw four players from Team Guangzhou recalling back to base to run to their top lane from there, while Lee Sin was running through the top side Jungle to the top lane.

Su Xue smiled and said into her microphone, “That’s gonna be a kill! Calling it right now! Lin Feng is going to get another one!”

Coach Yin from Team Guangzhou hit himself on the head, repeatedly. “God dammit! You stupid noob! Place a ward! Throw a Q! Don’t go into the damn brush blind! You can’t see what’s in there! STOP RUNNING! DON’T– Oh my god. You learned nothing…”

Team Guangzhou’s Lee Sin ran through the Jungle and straight into the brush that Lin Feng was hiding in. In his hurry, he wasn’t even looking at his Lee Sin. His camera was focused on the top inner tower. His screen suddenly flashed Red and his teammates started barking at him over the voice chat. He hit Spacebar, centering his camera on his Lee Sin, and saw Riven hack away the last of his health.

You have been slain.

Team Guangzhou’s Jungler stared at his dull grey monitor, embarrassed. Humiliated. He’d made such a rookie mistake. An unforgivable error. He said through gritted teeth, “Sorry. I shouldn’t have… If I’d…–”

“Shut it!” Goalie interrupted. He looked at the Jungle and forced long, deep breaths. Riven didn’t need to use anything there. And they’ve got Mundo and Sejuani to attack the tower. Those two are so tanky that they can just towerdive us. The three of them are just far stronger and then there’s the crowd control from Riven and Sejuani… We can’t fight them. We just can’t… He shook his head and said in broken Chinese, “We retreat. Base.”

Lin Feng’s Riven moved through the Jungle and came out behind Team Guangzhou’s inner tower. Zhang Hao’s Dr. Mundo and An Xin’s Sejuani barreled into tower range from the other side. They were pretending to engage on Team Guangzhou, and it had the desired effect. Team Guangzhou retreated fast, giving away their tower, giving away an important game objective which would allow Team Shanghai to close out the game faster.

Zephyr said into his microphone, “That was a good disengage from Team Guangzhou. The Condemn from Vayne probably saved his life! Just… I find it strange that Riven didn’t use her ultimate. Neither did Sejuani. Dr. Mundo is the only one who did and his ultimate has such a short cooldown that it’ll be up before the next fight anyway!”

“Yeah, I’m thinking this was all planned,” Su Xue agreed. She looked at the monitor showing the game and continued, “Look how they made Fiora Flash and Leona burn her Exhaust. Those are long cooldown skills. Team Shanghai really got the most out of this without wasting any cooldowns basically. It’s a really cool play if you ask me!”

“Nice work,” Zeng Rui said over the team’s voice chat. His Morgana had respawned on the fountain and he was now looking around the map, searching for their next objective. He eventually continued, “I think we maybe should attack bot lane next. I don’t think we can attack their inhibitor towers yet.”

“Why not?” Zhang Hao asked. He turned his head to look at Zeng Rui and continued, “You think it won’t be enough with my ultimate? I can tank that tower for days! We just need Lin Feng to kill them all and he won’t need days! Seconds will be enough for him!”

“No,” Zeng Rui replied. He shook his head and explained, “Two reasons. One. They’ve got Vayne. He can meld through your health bar. The tower might not be scary to you, but that Vayne definitely is! And two. Vayne has Condemn. Leona has two stuns. Lee Sin has his Dragon’s Rage. They all have skills that can limit Lin Feng’s movements. At the outer and inner towers, that comes less into play because there’s more room to maneuver. But the inhibitor tower has far less room and more walls to think about! Lin Feng will just get perma CC’d and killed if we dive.”

Tang Bingyao nodded and said, “Mhm. But what do we do then?”

Zeng Rui smiled and replied, “Like I said, I think bot–”

“Baron! That’s it! We’re doing Baron!” Lin Feng interrupted. He grinned and continued, “We’ll force them to come and stop us, because with Baron they can’t defend their base. And when they come, I’ll penta them!”

An Xin giggled and said, “I like the sound of that.”

Zeng Rui felt the faint twitching of his eyelid. I’m the shotcaller! Me! Dammit! DAMMIT! He gritted his teeth. Why does his plan have to make more sense…? Why didn’t I decide on it…? He shook his head and agreed, “That might be better, yeah. You’re… You’re right.”

The players from Team Shanghai all recalled back to base. Zhang Hao had his Dr. Mundo running down the bot lane to split-push. The goal was to drag attention away from Baron Nashor while the rest of the team set up vision there. And in case he was needed, he had his Teleport available and could join them in seconds. The others all bought wards and vision wards and started warding the entire top half of the map.

“They’re planning to force Baron! They have to be!” Zephyr said into his microphone. “It’s such a bold move! But it makes sense! They can’t push the base, so they’re going to force Team Guangzhou to leave their base! Shit! The more I think about it, the more sense it makes! What a brilliant move by Team Shanghai!”

Su Xue nodded and chimed in, “If they get the Baron, they win the game! There’s no way Team Guangzhou can stop them when they’ve got the Baron Buff!” She clenched her fists under the caster table and mouthed, “Come on, Lin Feng! Finish this! I know you can!”

“There’s only one thing that Team Shanghai needs to keep in mind,” Zephyr continued. “And that’s that Team Guangzhou isn’t as far behind as they were a couple of minutes ago. Fizz and Vayne are both big threats damage-wise, while Team Shanghai only really has Riven. Sure, they’ve got some tanky units in Sejuani and Dr. Mundo, but beyond that? I don’t know, EveningSnowfall. I think Team Guangzhou might actually win this one if they play it well.”

Su Xue chuckled and replied, “Fat chance.”


Sietse Thought: Shanks got me a smartwatch a while back. I’ve been wearing it for a couple of weeks now, maybe a month already, and it’s like my life has changed. I suddenly find myself caring about things I never used to care about. Like my sleeping score. Who cares if I get a 69 or an 88? What difference does it make? It’s just an app on my phone telling me how good I supposedly slept. But I haven’t changed any of my old habits. I’m not sleeping differently. And I’m not using this data to change anything. Yet I find myself every morning opening the app and checking my score, because for some reason I care about this damn score.

Why am I so happy that I scored an 88? The app says I slept well, but I still felt a bit drowsy. I’ve had nights where it feels like I slept better, but the app only scored those nights around 78-81. What does this app even know!? But damn it I care. I care what this damned app is telling me about my sleeping habits. I even proudly texted my girlfriend this morning to let her know my sleep score was 88. Why the fuck do I care so much about this stupid sleep score?

I’m reaching the point where I feel tempted to take the watch off. To not let my life be influenced by what some numbers on a screen are telling me. But then again, isn’t that what life has already become? We care about numbers everywhere. So maybe I should accept that. Maybe I should do as the machine tells me and start walking those 10,000 steps. Maybe I should let it help me manage my stress. Maybe I should let it become part of me, let myself become part cyborg. Because although the machine isn’t inside of us, it has become very much a part of us. So in a sense, are we not all cyborgs

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