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NetCow Cafe Nostalgia

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“Holy shit! Dude! Holy shit! Did you see that? Did you?” Zuo Cheng asked his teammates from Zhejiang University. He then leaned over his Toplaner and shouted to the players from Fudan University, “Dudes, dudes! Holy shit! Did you see what a beast Lin Feng is? What a beast! Damn! Did you see how he stomped Goalie? That was intense as all shits! That penta at the end there? I thought for sure he wasn’t going to get it, but then he did!”

Qiu Yijie from Fudan University stared at the large LCD screen above the stage. It was showing the game’s highlights and all of them featured Riven. He shook his head and mumbled, “I knew they were good. But… But there’s good and there’s this. How did he… That penta at the end? Wow!”

“It’s, it’s… yeah,” Sun Ruinian agreed. He looked at Zuo Cheng and said, “Shi Hang warned us about him–”

“As did Aurous us,” Qiu Yijie interjected.

Sun Ruinian glanced at the Support from Fudan University and then continued, “Shi Hang and I guess also Aurous… Two Midlaners from the LPL are telling us to watch out for that kid from Team Shanghai. We should’ve seen this coming, yet somehow I still find it hard to believe. He didn’t just beat Goalie. He stomped him!”

Zhejiang University and Fudan University were both from East China and had played against Team Shanghai already. They had a level of understanding about Lin Feng. The same couldn’t be said for the other competing teams or the fans up in the stands. They were in shock. The team hyped up to become the eventual Champions were on the brink of being knocked out.

Murmurs swept through the audience. There was a distinct difference between being told a team was good and seeing them being good. They’d all heard about how Lin Feng had beaten AyDeeCee and how Team Shanghai had bested Zhejiang University. But it wasn’t until this series against Team Guangzhou that it started to dawn on people just how good Team Shanghai was. Fans and competing teams alike started to agree with each other that Team Shanghai wasn’t some underdog and that they weren’t some dark horse appearing out of nowhere, they were real competitors competing for the championship title, and they had been since the very start of the tournament. They were the team to beat.

Fan Yuan was the manager for Team Beijing. He was sitting with his team in the player seating area, listening to the lively discussion around him. He finally turned his attention to Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth and focused on the player standing at the center of all this. Lin Feng. Who are you? He chewed on his lips and scrunched his eyebrows. I thought I knew who you were. We watched you play against Zhejiang University. We prepared for that level of play! And then. Then you do this? Goalie isn’t some random Midlaner in Bronze, yet you made him look like that… He shook his head, troubled. How could I have underestimated you this much…? I should’ve known better…

“I think…” Fan Yuan started, dragging it out until his team members all turned to look at him. “I think we need to stop making jokes about how bad Team Shanghai is and start to really worry about them.”

Zhang Hongyi stared through the glass windows from Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth at Zeng Rui with bloodshot eyes. What is this bullshit!? Your useless ass should’ve been knocked out by now! Dammit! He replied through gritted teeth, “Stupid Koreans can’t get anything right.”

“Fan Yuan is right,” Yu Ping said. His stomach clenched when the words left his mouth. It was difficult to admit, because it wasn’t Team Shanghai that impressed him, or worried him. He looked at Lin Feng and narrowed his eyes. Those Riven mechanics were so damn smooth. Everything just worked out. It always does for you, somehow. I need to admit that maybe it isn’t luck. Maybe you’re actually that good. He rubbed his face and groaned. Why is it so hard to admit? He’s better than me. He is better than me. Fuck! He quietly added, “He’s good.”

Chu Fang leaned back in his chair, relaxed. Smiling. There was a short break between the games. That was the opportunity a coach had to redirect his team and prepare them for what was coming next. But Chu Fang wasn’t the coach for Team Shanghai, he was the manager. He took care of everything outside of League of Legends, so that when Team Shanghai had to play, they were at their best. It was different for Manager/Coach Yin from Team Guangzhou. He was very much hands on. And that was what Chu Fang was enjoying right now. He watched the metaphorical smoke rising up above Coach Yin’s head and he laughed as Coach Yin kicked a chair and then stormed up onto the stage.

“Poor guy doesn’t know what hit him!” Chu Fang said to no one in particular. He then turned his attention to Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth. Through the glass panels he watched his team huddle up in a circle. They’re looking good in this series. And with Zeng Rui and BunBun taking care of the coaching part, there’s nothing for me to worry about. I can just… He glanced back at Team Guangzhou’s soundproof booth, where Coach Yin was visibly screaming and yelling at his players. I can enjoy the show. He started laughing loudly.

Zeng Rui looked at the faces from his teammates that were so close to his. A shiver ran up and down his body. This was a level of intimacy he wasn’t comfortable with. But he also understood how it helped team morale, so he pushed through his own struggles and focused on the job ahead. He said, “Team Guangzhou is probably tilting hard right now. Let’s push this third game and secure the win.”

Zhang Hao raised his head and looked across the stage at Team Guangzhou’s soundproof booth. He laughed and said, “They are tilted! Look at their coach! He’s losing it–”

“Come on, focus,” Zeng Rui interrupted. He turned his head to look at Tang Bingyao and asked, “You were struggling at the end there. Are you good to go one more game?”

Tang Bingyao bit on her lips and looked down at the ground, gently caressing her painful pinky. I’m not letting the team down! I’ll push through it! Mhm! She looked up at Zeng Rui and mumbled, “I think… Yeah, maybe. Mhm.”

“What about Lin Feng’s plan?” An Xin asked. “The one from last night.”

Lin Feng glanced at An Xin and then started grinning. He clenched his fist and replied, “Yeah! We haven’t punished them nearly enough! We should go with my plan! I told you it’s a great plan! Imagine their faces when we stomp them! They’ll be so mad!”

Zeng Rui’s eyes grew wide and round. I… I thought… That was just a joke, right? You don’t really plan on… He looked at An Xin with a mix of confusion and worry and asked, “You’re joking, right?”

“Why would I joke about that?” An Xin asked. She shrugged and added, “I think it’s a fun plan. Let’s go with it!”

“You sure…?” Zeng Rui asked.

An Xin nodded. She winked at Zeng Rui and said, “Don’t worry about it. It’ll work out. Trust us!”

Zephyr sat back down at the caster desk and rolled his shoulders. He looked at Su Xue next to him and smiled back at her. “You ready?” he asked.

“Yep!” Su Xue replied, excited. She pointed at the monitor and added, “I think they’re about to start!”

Zephyr turned his attention to the main monitor and nodded. He replied, “They’re all in the lobby. They’ll start any– There we go! It’s starting!” He glanced at the camera in front of them. A small red light started flickering on it. They were live again. He grabbed his microphone and said, “We’re back for the third game between Team Guangzhou and Team Shanghai! And what a series this has been so far, don’t you agree, EveningSnowfall?”

“Mm-mhm! Mm-mhm!” Su Xue replied, nodding. “Team Shanghai is showing Team Guangzhou every corner of the Rift! And I can’t begin to imagine how Team Guangzhou feels after that penta kill in the previous game! They were looking like they were going to make a comeback and then, well, boom! All their chances were gone because Lin Feng got a penta kill on his Riven!”

“And what a penta kill that was!” Zephyr continued. He shook his head and said, “It sent chills down my spine! I got goosebumps from that penta! That was the best penta and the best play of the tournament so far! Huh, it might even be the first penta of the tournament. I wonder if we’ll get another one…”

Su Xue laughed and said, “Me too! I can’t wait to see Lin Feng get another penta!” Her eyes grew round as she heard her own voice in her headphones. Shit! I need to stop doing that. She shook her head and looked at the large monitor. She pointed at it and said, “Look! They’re racing through Champion Select!”

Zephyr looked at Su Xue and chuckled. He then turned his head to focus on the monitor and replied, “They really are. Bans are done and they’re almost– They’re through Champion Select! That was the fastest I’ve seen in a while! Let’s see who they’ve all picked…”

Round of 16 Winter Collegiate Cup, Game 3

Team Guangzhou (Blue) versus Team Shanghai (Red)

Top: Irelia versus Rumble

Jungle: Lee Sin versus Jarvan IV

Mid: Twisted Fate versus Morgana

Ad-carry: Tristana versus Kalista

Support: Thresh versus Braum

“That is a surprise!” Zephyr said into his microphone. “Look at that mid pick from Goalie! Twisted Fate! Now, mind you, Twisted Fate isn’t a bad pick. He’s a very strong pick even! But Goalie is known for his AP assassins. He hasn’t played anything but AP assassins this entire tournament! Until now!”

Su Xue grabbed her microphone and took over. She said, “It looks like the pressure is getting to them! They know they need to change something if they want to win. Looks like this is their last ditch effort to turn the tides and get a game back against Team Shanghai!”

“Wait, wait! Hold up!” Zephyr suddenly said. He scrunched his eyebrows and looked at his screen again. Team Guangzhou and Team Shanghai were in the loading screen. There were two rows of five Champions. Beneath each Champion portrait stood a Summoner Name. He focused on the names below Team Shanghai’s Champions and muttered, “An Xin is playing in the mid lane, Zeng Rui in the Jungle, Lin Feng as ad-carry and Tang Bingyao the Support? What?”

“Are they crazy!?”

“Hahaha! I love this! The disrespect!”

“Imagine if they beat Team Guangzhou like this? I’ll bet you those guys from Team Guangzhou will uninstall the game and tell their friends they never even played anyway!”

“It would be hilarious if Team Shanghai won. But… What if they lose? Why would they risk this? Isn’t this just giving Team Guangzhou a way back into this series?”

“Cocky kids will be cocky kids. Hopefully they’ll learn some humility from this game.”

Su Xue smiled. She’d been there the previous night when Lin Feng came up with the idea. This is something only Lin Feng could come up with! She pushed the microphone against her lips and said, “I have some secret information. Earlier, before this series, I spoke with Team Shanghai and they told me about this strategy. They made me promise not to say a word about it unless they used it. So I can tell you guys now…–” 

“Tell us!” Zephyr exclaimed. He looked at Su Xue and added, “What is the strategy!?”

“There really isn’t much to it,” Su Xue explained. She giggled and continued, “Lin Feng and An Xin are very good players. They can play multiple roles. So as for this game? The plan they have going in? It’s to confuse their opponents and make their opponents underestimate them! And if I look at Team Guangzhou’s soundproof booth…” she pointed at the monitor which showed the players from Team Guangzhou furiously arguing, “… look at them! I think Team Shanghai’s plan is working! Team Guangzhou is going to be so upset that they forget to pay attention! By the time they do, they’ll realize that Team Shanghai isn’t being cocky. All they’re doing is putting on a good show!”

Zeng Rui glanced past Lin Feng at An Xin, then looked back at his monitor. At his Jarvan IV. How did I let them talk me into this? Why am I playing Jungle…? I’m a terrible Jungler! I only know the normal pathing and I do know where to ward and everything, but I’m not BunBun! I don’t have her awareness! I don’t know when to be where and I don’t know exactly how hard I can push these Champions! I don’t even know about the Champions in the lanes I’m ganking! I’m the Support! I… I need to Support in the Jungle. Yeah. I can do that. He glanced at An Xin again. I get why we’re doing this. We kind of had to…

Tang Bingyao’s finger injury was causing her enough trouble that she couldn’t play her best game. And even her best game wasn’t enough to beat Seo. She simply wasn’t that good yet. Zeng Rui chewed on his lips and slowly nodded. Tang Tang needs rest. She can play Support. It doesn’t require as many quick movements and with Lin Fe– Maple as ad-carry, we’ve got nothing to worry about. Even if he’s half as good an ad-carry as a Midlaner, he’ll still crush Seo. But what about BunBun? He grimaced and looked at Twisted Fate’s summoner portrait. Goalie is still a very talented Midlaner. Lin Feng can beat him, of course he can! He’s goddamn Maple! But BunBun isn’t Maple… Can she…?

“Why do you look like you need to poop?” Lin Feng asked over the team’s voice chat.

Zeng Rui was pulled away from his thoughts when he heard the question. He turned his head to look at Lin Feng and found a pair of eyes looking straight at him. He mumbled, “Uh, me?”

“Yeah you!” Lin Feng replied. “Oooh!” He smacked his forehead and laughed. He said, “You’re worried! You always worry! But you’ve got nothing to worry about! I’m a really good ad-carry and BunBun is a great Midlaner! She’s definitely better than that Goalie anyway!”

An Xin looked past Lin Feng at Zeng Rui and smiled. She nodded and said, “He’s right, you know? I’m not as good as he is, but I’m at least as good as Goalie. I can guarantee you that much.” She turned her head back to look at her screen. At Goalie’s Twisted Fate. She narrowed her eyes. I’m kind of sad that I didn’t use my Korean ID for this tournament. Now Goalie won’t recognize me… Oh well, maybe he’ll remember me when I play against him. I did leave a deep impression on him. She giggled. I doubt he’ll ever forget about that.

Welcome to Summoner’s Rift!

The announcer’s voice blasted through the headsets from Team Guangzhou. The five players sat behind their computers, tense. They were 2-0 down in this best of five series. And the main plan going into this third game was to play better. That was what Coach Yin had demanded from them. 

The three Chinese players stared at their screen, upset. They were playing their best, they were giving it their all, they were trying everything in their power to win their lanes and beat Team Shanghai! But they were getting outclassed. It was that simple. And on top of that, to make it so much worse for them, Goalie and Seo were both furious. From the start of the series until now, they were steaming with rage. There was nothing fun about this match against Team Shanghai for the three Chinese players. They gritted their teeth and clicked their mice, mad.

Goalie was furious. He wanted to kill Lin Feng! He ground his teeth, glaring across the stage at Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth. You son of a bitch! Do I really look that easy to you? Did you get bored? Is that it? Did you get bored? Did you want to give someone else the pleasure of beating me because I’m bad? FUCK YOU I’M NOT BAD! I’m not bad! He closed his eyes and slammed his hand on the desk. FUCK! Fight me! Fucking fight me! I’ll show you who sucks! I’ll beat you! He growled in Korean, “I’ll make you pay for this humiliation!”

“We’ll both make him fucking pay!” Seo exclaimed. He pushed his hand against his twitching nose, trying to make it stop. He then pointed at Lin Feng and shouted in Korean, “You think you’re all amazing because you’re good at Mid? You think that alone is enough to be a good ad-carry? Or do you think I suck? Is that it? Are you saying I suck? FUCK! You really don’t know what’s good for you! I’ll kill you! I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU!”

Lin Feng had his Kalista run down the bot lane, past the inner tower and towards the outer tower. He then glanced at Tang Bingyao and said over the team’s voice chat, “It’s been a while since we duo’d. Remember the NetCow Cafe how we always stomped our opponents? That was fun! Let’s do like we did then!”

“Mhm!” Tang Bingyao replied, nodding. “I’d like that!”

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SIETSE AND GILMORE GIRLS

Sietse Thought: Why is it so easy to find excuses after the first excuse? You work your ass off on something and you’re doing great. Bit by bit you see yourself improving. And it’s making you feel better too. But then that one day pops up where you can’t do it. You have a valid excuse. Next thing you know the floodgates open. Excuses are flying at you from all directions and you’re latching onto them and searching for more. Any reason to skip the thing you were doing is suddenly a valuable commodity!

I tell myself to do something everyday for a week. Monday goes great, Tuesday something comes up which makes it impossible to do it, and then Wednesday through Friday I’m just laying on the couch watching Gilmore Girls and hating myself. Gilmore Girls is a great show by the way. Don’t need an excuse to watch that. But yeah, I wish there was a way to stop making those excuses. And it’s not even for things I don’t want to do. I know I enjoy doing these things. But getting myself to start doing them is usually the most difficult thing. Why can’t starting something be a bit easier?

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