After U-Tech Beijing, Team Shanghai was the second team to qualify for the Winter Collegiate Cup Semifinals. They did that by beating Shenyang University 3-1, a surprising result to many. Sure, the fans had watched the highlights from the East China Regionals. And yes, they’d seen the highlights from Guangzhou where Team Shanghai stomped the Korean wonder duo of Seo and Goalie into the ground. But they always had an excuse ready, a reason why Team Shanghai’s accomplishments weren’t ‘all that’. “AyDeeCee hasn’t played for years, what did you expect?” “Goalie is just having an off day.”
The series against Shenyang University was the final drop in the bucket. It got rid of the last few doubters. No one argued any longer about whether or not Team Shanghai belonged at the Winter Collegiate Cup. After not just beating, but crushing the third ranked team from the previous tournament, Team Shanghai more than deserved to be recognized. They were the team to watch out for. They were the ones to beat.
The usual haughty Beijing locals forgot about their superiority complex. A powerful urge drove them to silence as they waited for Team Shanghai to exit their soundproof booths. It was a strange moment fueled by pure admiration. They watched the door to the soundproof booth open. Zeng Rui and Tang Bingyao walked out and they stayed quiet. An Xin and Zhang Hao walked out and they stayed quiet. And then Lin Feng walked out. A roar so powerful that it shook the entire stadium on its vestiges exploded from the audience. It slammed into the players from the other competing teams, sending shivers up and down their spines, before hitting Team Shanghai.
Zhang Hao gasped at the crowd and muttered, “Wow!”
Tang Bingyao’s mouth dropped open. She meekly muttered, “F-for us?”
“For him,” An Xin said, pointing at Lin Feng with her thumb. “Always for him.”
Lin Feng looked up at the audience and grinned. He waved and shouted, “Thanks! Thanks! I know right! My Fizz is amazing! I totally carried that game!”
An Xin sighed and mumbled, “Idiot.” She then pulled Lin Feng by his arm and said to him, “Come, come. The guys from Shenyang are waiting to shake our hands.”
“Oh, oh right!” Lin Feng replied. He followed An Xin towards the middle of the stage.
The players from Shenyang University greeted the players from Team Shanghai, forced smiles on their faces. They bowed towards Team Shanghai and their Midlaner said, “You were the better team today. Congratulations and good luck in the next round.”
Team Shanghai returned the bow and thanked Shenyang University for their good luck wishes. They then turned to look at the audience and bowed towards them. It was the moment the fans had been waiting for. Lin Feng was giving them his attention. They chanted his name, “Lin Feng! Win Feng! Lin Feng!”
The second half of the Quarterfinals were played that same afternoon. First up were Team Beijing and China University of Political Science and Law. Team Shanghai sat in the player seating area and were eager to watch this series. This far in the tournament, their odds of drawing either team for the next round grew exponentially, and every bit of information on their opponent could mean the difference between winning and losing.
Zeng Rui pulled out a notebook and flipped to a specific page. The top of the page read ‘Team Beijing, Preparations’. To him, there wasn’t a question about who was going to win, but how Team Beijing was going to win. He narrowed his eyes as he watched the players walk up on stage and then scribbled down that Team Beijing was playing their strongest lineup. He then flipped to the next page and held his pen ready to write down every small detail he noticed.
Lin Feng turned his head to look at Zeng Rui and scrunched his nose. Why’s he doing this? He always has that notebook on him and he’s always scribbling stuff down. And it’s definitely not notes for a webnovel about a group of high schoolers who play League! And the more he writes, the more he’ll have to explain at practice! When the realisation hit him, he groaned loud enough for his teammates to look at him. Shitshitshit—SHIT! He smiled like a peasant with a toothache and assured them everything was all right. He then glanced at Zeng Rui again. Still writing. So weird… He’s like Four!
Four! Lin Feng smacked himself on the forehead and exclaimed, “How could I forget!?”
Tang Bingyao looked at Lin Feng and tilted her head. She asked, “Hmm? Forget what?”
“Well… Hm. No, nevermind. Its nothing!” Lin Feng replied, grinning. He then scratched the back of his head and chewed on his lips. That’s who ZengZeng reminds me of! How did it take me this long to see the resemblance? Am I blind o? I’m so stupid sometimes! But I definitely need to introduce ZengZeng to Four! That’ll be so much fun! Yush! I’ma do that! Right after this series, maybe…
The first game between Team Beijing and the China University of Political Science and Law started. And ended 20 minutes later. Team Beijing was simply the better team. They crushed their lanes and then the game. And it was in similar fashion that they won the second and third games of the series. None of them lasted for more than 20 minutes.
“Hot damn!” Lin Feng exclaimed. “They’re out for blood!”
“Uh-huh, uh-huh!” Zhang Hao agreed, nodding. He turned his head to look at Lin Feng and replied, “They’re like making a statement after your Fizz game! Trying to show they’re better!”
Lin Feng laughed and said, “They can try! But my Fizz is still better!”
An Xin smiled and suggested, “Maybe they’re trying a bit harder because they’re playing on home ground. They can’t disappoint their fans.”
“Oh,” Lin Feng replied, scratching the back of his neck. “I guess that makes sense too…”
One series remained in the Winter Collegiate Cup Quarterfinals. It was an East China party, with Fudan University and Zhejiang University fighting for the fourth and final spot in the Semifinals. The two sides had played against each other in practice and official matches countless times. They were evenly matched and showed as much in this series.
Zhejiang University started the first game by invading Fudan University’s Jungle at Level 1 and picking up a kill on their Jungler. That set Fudan University a bit behind and they never managed to claw their way back from that. They eventually lost the first game after 50 minutes of playing. And then they turned it around on Zhejiang University in the second game, copying Zhejiang University’s Level 1 invade and claiming the win after 50 minutes.
The third game of the series was all Fudan University. They got the better Champions in Champion Select and managed to let that advantage dictate the outcome of the game. But then they started to realise they might win this series. Their nerves got the better of them and they fumbled up the fourth game of the series, basically giving it to Zhejiang University for free.
It all came down to the all deciding fifth game. Both sides fought for all they were worth. It was a bitter struggle that went back and forth. Both teams slipped up. Both teams made beautiful plays. And in the end it was Fudan University who drew the longest straw. They won a teamfight at the Baron pit, and rather than killing Baron Nashor, they charged down the mid lane, took down the inhibitor tower, inhibitor, nexus towers and the Nexus before Zhejiang University respawned.
“Wow!” Zhang Hao exclaimed. “That was crazy! Absolutely great! Did you guys see how good Fudan played that? They knew they had the chance to finish it! I would have stuck to Baron, but they went and finished the game! That was so cool!”
Lin Feng grinned and said, “Yeah, Zhejiang University is really missing AyDeeCee. But Fudan’s Midlaner played way better than in the previous rounds. He was almost as good as Goalie!”
“Correct,” Zeng Rui said, browsing through his notebook before stopping on a specific page. He traced his finger over his scribbles and read, “Qiu Yijie, Midlaner and team captain for Fudan University. A- grade player, bordering A grade. Can reach A+ grade on a good day. Still improving.”
Aurous was a student at Fudan University and the Midlaner for the LPL team Light Dynasty. He was also a good friend of Shi Hang. After he watched his University beat Shi Hang’s, he grabbed his phone and waited for the call to connect. And then he blurted, “Told you! Fucking told you! Didn’t I tell you? We’re the best! We were last year and we are this year too!”
Shi Hang laughed and replied, “Yeah yeah, you beat us. Grats mate! Fudan played that really well. And the Qiu guy played really surprisingly well that series.”
“I know! I know! I trained him myself, of course he’s great!” Aurous said, proud. “You know, in a couple of years when I retire, I plan on having him follow in my footsteps! He’s already an A grade Midlaner. Just give him a bit more time and he’s right up there with me and you and the other good Midlaners! He can already stand his ground in the LSPL no problem! I’m sure of it! And better yet, you lost! Fudan is the best! We’re gonna be the champions!”
Shi Hang shook his head and replied, “I know Light Dynasty isn’t doing too hot, but isn’t it a little low to get so excited over winning some kids’ tourney?”
“The kids’ tourney you played in!” Aurous fired back, laughing.
“I did! It was fun,” Shi Hang replied, chuckling.
“Yo, dude. What the fuck?” Aurous said. He briefly paused and then asked, “Why aren’t you fighting me here? You should be mad that I’m gloating! Come on, you know the game! I gloat, you get mad; you gloat, I get mad. And then we get a beer!”
Shi Hang shrugged and said, “Don’t matter who won this round. Fudan or Zhejiang… You know, usually we have a shot of winning the tournament. There’s still excitement, you know? But this time… Heck, you guys might reach the Finals if you get a lucky draw. But you won’t win the Finals. And it’s kind of difficult to get mad when I know how hard you’re gonna get your asses kicked.”
“Huh? What?” Aurous asked. He scrunched his eyebrows, thought for a few seconds, and then continued, “Is this Shi ‘SuperMysterious’ Hang? Come on, can’t you just tell me? It’s that kid, right? Lin Feng? Tell me who he is already! I’m dying from curiosity here! I need to know! Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!”
“Nope. You’ll find out soon enough,” Shi Hang replied, laughing like Dr. Doofenshmirtz.
The president of the Chinese Esports Association sat behind his desk in the Beijing headquarters. There was a stack of files on his desk detailing the four teams still competing for the Winter Collegiate Cup. The bottom four files were on the teams, and the top file was on Lin Feng. His name was highlighted with bright red ink and the president was staring at it. He knew.