Lin Feng sat on an office chair at a tv table, playing League of Legends on his laptop. It was the best he could manage in the hotel he was staying at. “Just a bit more, almost there. Almost there…” he mumbled to himself, laser focused on his screen. He almost didn’t hear the door to his room opening or An Xin walking in. He briefly glanced at her and asked, “What’re you doing here?”
“Just checking in on you,” An Xin replied. She pulled a second office chair over and sat down next to Lin Feng, then leaned towards him to look at his screen. “Oh?” she said. “Still on your Korean account, I see.”
Lin Feng replied, “I have to—” He suddenly narrowed his eyes a bit and stopped listening to An Xin. The game he was playing had started slowly with a laning phase that saw no winner. Moving into the middle game, both teams started fighting more and more aggressively for game objectives. Towers fell and Dragons were slain. And then, right when An Xin walked into the room and Lin Feng lost his focus for just a moment, the opponent engaged Baron Nashor. “I have to focus,” he finished.
A ward revealed the Baron pit to Lin Feng’s team, showing them that all five opponents were there fighting the big, purple worm. Two players from Lin Feng’s team hovered around the entrance to the Baron pit. They were searching for a way to stop the enemy from slaying Baron Nashor, or at least to buy their teammates some time to arrive. It looked like a losing battle for Lin Feng’s team.
Lin Feng’s Fizz ran through the mid lane and up into Red team’s Jungle. The opponents were huddled against the back wall, creating as much distance as they could from the entrance and the two Champions from Lin Feng’s team there. But that left them vulnerable from behind.
When Lin Feng’s Fizz arrived behind the baron pit, he cast his ultimate skill–Chum the Waters! A small fish flew at Red team’s Lucian and started swimming around him, a portal to the deep opening up beneath him. It grew in size and a dark shadow could be seen swimming in the depths below. Lin Feng’s Fizz then dashed through Lucian with Urchin Strike! He followed up with Seastone Trident, empowering his basic attacks! Megalodon jumped from the water and knocked Lucian and two more enemy Champions up into the air! Lin Feng’s Fizz continued by dealing an auto attack and then planting his trident in the ground and hopping on top of it–Playful!
《You have slain an enemy!》
Three crowd control skills hit where Lin Feng’s Fizz was. But on top of his trident, he was untargetable. Lucian died and Lin Feng focused his attention on the other carry on the opponent’s team. Ziggs. He hopped down on Ziggs and dealt splash damage with the skill Trickster! That also made him targetable again. Two more crowd control skills flew at him.
Lin Feng smiled. He glanced at Zhonya’s Hourglass in his inventory and activated it. Golden grains of sand rained down from the sky and stuck to only Fizz, placing him in stasis. The crowd control skills shot right through him and disappeared. Lin Feng took a deep breath and mumbled, “… And now my teammates help.”
The two teammates from Lin Feng who were at the Baron pit entrance finally reacted. They charged at their opponents and unleashed their full damage combos. Lin Feng’s Fizz left stasis a brief moment later. He cast Ignite on Ziggs and followed up by auto attacking Ziggs with his still empowered trident!
Lin Feng’s opponent lost its two carries and was getting attacked not only by Lin Feng and his teammates, but also by Baron Nashor. It didn’t take much effort to kill all of them, Lin Feng picking up one more kill in the process. His team then shifted their focus towards Baron Nashor and killed it, claiming its buff.
This play hurled Lin Feng’s team in front in every aspect of the game, and before long they were knocking on the enemy’s base. Inhibitor towers fell, followed by inhibitors. Super minions spawned and marched down the lanes, assisting Lin Feng’s team as they lay siege on the Nexus towers. And finally, after another ace, Lin Feng’s team destroyed the two Nexus towers and the Nexus to win the game.
Lin Feng leaned back in his chair and put his hands behind his neck. He then looked at An Xin and asked, “What were we talking about again? Something about…”
“About the fact you’re still playing on the Korean server,” An Xin said, smiling. She nodded, impressed, and added, “You’re in pretty good form from the looks of it. How many have you won so far today?”
“I think, uhm, I don’t…” Lin Feng started. He scrunched his eyes and nose, thinking really hard, before sighing and opening his character page. It showed five wins in the last five games, three of which were from the day. He stuck up three fingers, and said, “Three.”
An Xin looked at Lin Feng. She noticed how his back wasn’t quite as straight as it usually was and how the grin on his face didn’t have that lively energy it usually had. Is he flexing his shoulders…? She asked, “What’s wrong? Isn’t three wins good? And you’re pretty high up on the Korean Challenger ladder too!”
“Yeah, yeah… I guess,” Lin Feng replied, grimacing. “It’s just. You see, I’ve only got a few more days left and still so far to go! Look at this! Look! I’m only Rank 24! And how long do I have left? Tonight just a bit, but not too much because we lost so much time eating!”
“And whose fault was that?” An Xin interjected, giggling.
Lin Feng didn’t seem to notice her joke. He put up a second finger and continued, “Then there’s tomorrow. The next day we’ve got the semis, so I can’t play until we’re through to the Finals. Which are two days later. Which means I only have the day before Finals to get all the way to the Top 3! You know how little time that is? That’s like… two days and four nights!”
An Xin smiled and said, “From what I recall, One wanted you to reach the Top 5. You’re now Rank 24, so that means you’ve got 19 ranks to go. That’s not too bad, especially not for someone as good as you.”
“Yeah yeah, usually,” Lin Feng replied. He leaned back in his chair again and sighed, annoyed. He then shot up from his chair and flung his arms at his laptop. “But do you know what they’re doing?” he blurted. “They’re banning my Champions! They’re camping my lane! They’re trying to make my life impossible! It’s like they know they’re playing against me in Champion Select, but they can’t know that! Why are they only banning my Champions!?”
An Xin pulled Lin Feng back down on his chair and ruffled his hair. She winked at him and said, “What did you expect, silly? Did you think One would give you an easy challenge? This is a test. Show One and everyone else you’ve still got it.”
Lin Feng pulled himself free from An Xin’s grasp and grinned a bit brighter than before. He clenched his fist and said, “I know! That’s why I can’t waste even a second! I need to get into my next game and win again! Maybe I can hit the Top 20 tonight! That’d make my life so much easier!”
“Well, at least you’re motivated,” An Xin said, winking. She then briefly paused, hesitating, before asking, “Oh, right, that reminds me. You heard it too, right? The Beijing Esports Association’s President is going to present the championship trophy to the winners of the Winter Collegiate Cup.”
Lin Feng’s eyes grew round and wide. He slowly turned his head to look at An Xin and replied, “Oh? That so? I might’ve heard something similar…”
An Xin narrowed her eyes and smiled. She said, “I remember a little bit of something. Hmm, what was it again? Something, something, last name Lin. Right! There’s you, Lin Feng, and then there’s the president of the Beijing Esports Association Lin—”
“He is? Wow! Hahaha!” Lin Feng interrupted, awkward. He turned his head away from An Xin and focused on his screen right as the queue popped. He pointed at the pop up notification and said, “Look! Look! Game! I need to focus! Game! I need to play!”
“Mm-hmm,” An Xin replied, giggling. She then got up from her chair and added, “This chair is terrible. I don’t get how you sit on it for so long. I’m gonna go for a walk and then sleep. Good luck with your games and see you tomorrow.”
“Sounds good! Yeah, yeah! Goodnight! Bye! Close the door behind you!” Lin Feng said, staring at his screen.
At the door, An Xin turned around one last time. Lin Feng still wasn’t looking in her direction. She smiled and mouthed, “Idiot.” And then she closed the door behind her. The strain of the day was too much. She knew it the moment she got up from the office chair, and now it hit. Her knees buckled and her legs went limp. She lost balance and fell to the floor, catching herself on the door handle. She bit down hard on her teeth and closed her eyes, forcing herself back up and leaning against the wall for support. Breathing heavily, she searched for the strength in her legs and then for her balance.
“BunBun?” Chu Fang asked, worried. He’d just walked out from Zeng Rui’s room and saw An Xin pulling herself up on the door handle. “Are you okay? Is Lin Feng not letting you in?”
An Xin took a long, deep breath, gathering herself. She then lightly pushed herself off the wall and turned her head to look at Chu Fang. She forced a smile on her lips and said, “You know him, probably caught up in a game of League. And then when I wanted to turn around and go to bed I kicked myself against the back of my foot and stumbled.”
Chu Fang looked at An Xin and shook his head. He said, “Be careful, BunBun. We need you in top condition for the next two rounds. Uh, do you want to say goodnight to Lin Feng?”
“NoNo!” An Xin replied, waving her arms. She smiled a bit brighter and continued, “I don’t want to interrupt him. I know how focused he is on reaching the top of the Korean ladder, and he’s almost there! I’ll just go to bed and I’ll see him in the morning.” She briefly paused and then added, “Thanks, Chu Fang.”
“Alright,” Chu Fang replied. He looked at her again and scratched the side of his head. She stumbled while standing still…? How? But she looks okay… He moved his lips around for a bit before finally saying, “Alright, if you say so. Just be a bit more careful, okay? Now get some rest and don’t forget to brush your teeth!”
An Xin bit on her teeth and walked across the hallway to her room, showing to Chu Fang that she was okay. She then twirled around victoriously and said, “I never forget!”
After Chu Fang entered his room, An Xin turned back around and looked at her door. She reached out to it with her right hand and touched the handle, tried to grab it, but no sensation was registering in her mind. She bit on her lips as tears appeared in her eyes. It’s back. I’ve lost the feeling in my hand again. It went so well. It’s been more than a month since the last time I had it this bad. But now… She shook her head, trying to get rid of the tears. She then tried to open the door again, but her right hand wouldn’t cooperate. No! NO! It felt like the world collapsed around her again, just like when the doctor had first diagnosed her and explained to her what it meant for the rest of her life. I won’t let this rule my life! I WON’T!